The Snow In The Summer or So-So

Knowledge is liberation


The Labour Party: cowardly where it matters, bull-headed where it doesn't. #

28 May 2019
Glickoblog looks at the cricket world cup

Going into the men's World Cup, here are the Glicko rankings of the competing sides:

Team  R     RD
SA1   1141  86.9
IN1   1132  83.8
EN1   1088  85.5
NZ1   1085  92.3
AU1   1080  82.3
PK1   981   77.7
BA1   981   82.7
WI1   902   82.7
AF1   856   82.2
SL1   840   86.8

Very roughly, we reckon that a 40-point gap is required to make a side clear favourites, and an 85-point gap is required to make a side more than 70% favourites. (That's what the RD means: a Rating difference of the average RD is 70% favourite, an R difference of the combined RDs is 95% favourite.)

If we get the same weather as last year (no rain), the semi-finalists following the round robin should be drawn from South Africa, India, England, New Zealand, and Australia. Pakistan and Bangladesh will do battle for sixth place, the West Indies should take eighth, and Afghanistan v Sri Lanka on 4 June is for the wooden spoon.

Were the World Cup played as best-of-seven series between every team, we'd be sure of the top five. But it's not, and luck - and rain - will get in the way. We'll keep an eye on the contest.

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24 May 2019

Fire the cannon, Foxface has fallen. Let's take a look at her best bits.


And the rest of her obituary.

Foxface has been a small-minded bigot since she first arrived at the Interior Ministry in 2010; her personal crusade against anyone "not of us" is a stain on her soul.

All of her failings as prime minister come from her personal flaws. She's always put the Conservative party ahead of the good of the country she claimed to run, and ahead of humanity. Lynne Featherstone gave us good warning. Foxface plots in secret, and listens only to her inner coterie.

Foxface *chose* to be a xenophobic bigot. She chose to witter on about "citizens of somewhere", she chose to send out the "liberals and homosexuals go away" vans.

Foxface *chose* to deny the truth at every turn, she would find reality did not meet her ideas, and insist on her day in court to litigate against the facts. When the court ruled in favour of reality, she'd demand her day again.

She refused to acknowledge the shaky democratic mandate, and pretended that the will of all the people (not just some of them) didn't exist.

Dave the Eager Young Space Cadet spent six years getting shit done, and six weeks to screw it up again. Foxface's entire tenure is shit upon shit upon shit.

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21 May 2019
1994 was a Prison of My Own Making

Caity Weaver of the New Amsterdam Times goes back to 1994, just for one week. She's mostly interested in the tech (or lack thereof) and obsessed with her mobile telephone. The biggest surprise: only four payphones remain in the whole of Manhattan.

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20 April 2019
The Elton John pop canon

Over in the Top of the Pops recaps, we're annoyed that Elton John's Sad songs say so much has slipped off playlists over here. What is the Elton John canon according to worldwide radio, and how does the broadcast radio here differ?

We've used data from, which monitors a good number of broadcast and internet stations around the world. Data relate to the period 3-16 April 2019.

Nikita is Elton's most-played track globally, and notches 234 plays on UK stations. No broadcast station spun it more than 5 times in the survey period.

Sacrifice is number 2, and 436 spins here come mostly from The Twenty Five Smooth Radios, where it's in every-other-day rotation. Your song ranks third globally, the UK leader with 707 spins - 450 of those from The Twenty Five Smooth Radios.

Number four globally is I'm still standing, 388 domestic spins with Heart 80s and Union Jack playing it at least once every day. Rocket man rounds out the international top five, 393 in the UK.

(More: The rest of the global 25, and the domestic airplay chart)

Looks like Elton has six big hits (plus Step into Christmas), another eight or so that appear fairly regularly, and the rest is deep catalogue. Sad songs say so much is one of the biggest in this deep catalogue.

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9 March 2019

Scala Radio launched, tagline "classical music for modern life". It's a DAB-and-internet commercial station from Bauer. We've dipped in and out over the working week, and we're rather liking it.

The BBC's Radio 3 is "serious classical music done seriously", long-standing commercial rival Classic FM is "relax, relax, relax, don't do it, relax". Scala treats its classical music as a jumping-off point for other interests - Simon Mayo's "Confessions" slot, book reviews, short speech pieces. There is lots of light classical and modern choral work, and a few pieces of pop music in a classical style. We particularly like the commercial-free segment from 6.40am, a montage of music and natural sounds for alarm-clock listeners. Might be commercial-free from 6.03, we're not getting up so early to check [smiley_face emojus].

Not everything is perfect: the station plays short pieces, three to six minutes long, there's no full works or concerts in its schedule. The audience tends to be middle-class yummy mummies, the review show promoted Scala's own schedule, gave a critical review to Harriet Tye's book, and plugged plays in That London. And the station's musical motif isn't good - an ascending scale does a crescendo, then finishes with a "waaaaaaaaah-plunk." Sounds like a sneeze, or a bunch of lemmings jumping off a cliff.

Most of all, we're reminded of Classic FM before it became "relax relax when you want to suck it relax". There was an effort to build out from classical music, make a lifestyle that GWR and Warner Bros. could sell to advertisers. GWR pulled back from that endeavour after about five years and concentrated on their core radio business. It was a loss to the greater culture milieu.

Technical notes: 112kpbs original-flavour DAB, but sensitively processed. We can hear artefacts when listening through earphones, not through loudspeakers. And we've not heard the weekend schedule: it could be that Scala's going for ratings by day and critical kudos by night.

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12 February 2019
What in a Hundred

From this week's The Riddler:

Given any three random integers X, Y and Z what are the chances that their product is divisible by 100?

To make a number divisible by 100, there must be factors of 2, 2, 5, 5 somewhere in the three multiplicands. There can be other factors - we're partial to a tasty 37 ourselves - but any combination of numbers with two 2s and two 5s as prime factors will be divisible by 100.

Let's think about factors of 2. There's a 1/2 chance that X will have no factors of 2, 1/4 that X will have precisely one factor of 2, and 1/4 that it will have two or more factors. The same applies for Y and Z, of course.

So these arrangements have the required factors of 2:

X	Y	Z	prob
2	0	0	1/16
0	2	0	1/16
0	0	2	1/16
1	1	0	1/32
1	0	1	1/32
0	1	1	1/32

As these are mutually exclusive possibilities, we can add them up. 9/32 combinations have the required factors of 2.

We can run a similar analysis for factors of 5: a 4/5 chance of no factors, 4/25 of precisely one factor, and 1/25 of two or more factors. Plugging these into the table gives:

X	Y	Z	prob
2	0	0	16/625
0	2	0	16/625
0	0	2	16/625
1	1	0	16/3125
1	0	1	16/3125
0	1	1	16/3125

That's a total of 288/3125 with the required factors.

And, as the factors of 2 are independent from the factors of 5, we can just multiply these probabilities together. The final answer: 2592/100000.

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27 January 2019
PERKINS Stephanie (ed) - My True Love Gave to Me

Twelve sweet stories about wintertime love. All have happy(-ish) endings for the lead characters, some endings are happier than others. There's not a weak tale amongst the twelve, a couple were flat, but we'll come back to at least three in coming years.

Content notes: marketed as "young adult", we'd shelve it in "teen fiction", suitable for 10-13s. No-one does anything more than kiss or hug. No heavy petting, no taking advantage, no consent problems. These stories were written in 2013-14, so there are same-sex couples in the background of most stories, no trans kids.

(More: Capsule reviews of all the component stories)

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12 January 2019
Happy New Year - signed, A Politician

Metro_Land asked When exactly did PMs start doing these new year messages? Metro_Land doesn't remember Thatcher or Major ever inflicting them on the nation.

Well, the Margaret Thatcher Archive contains a message to her potential constituents in Dartford, for New Year 1950. But that's a bit parochial...

By tradition, the Conservative and Labour leaders (and we assume the Liberals, and the Communists, etc) would write a piece to their party members at the start of the year. Thatcher and Callaghan's messages for 1977 were exactly that: partisan, for supporters only. This continued for some years, and then something changed.

For new year 1986, Ronald Reagan had delivered an address on Russian television, and Mikhael Gorbachev had spoken on American telly. The new year message had moved from the partisan to the public sphere. Why weren't our leaders doing the same? Good PR at a quiet time of year.

Margaret Thatcher issued a public statement for new year 1987. It was a classic example of repurposing content - in message and strident tone, it was barely distinguishable from her party statement a year earlier. Neil Kinnock also put out a public new year's statement.

By new year 1988, these messages were expected and embargoed. By the start of 1990, the "new year's message" from politicians was an established tradition.

Another tradition was the Archbishop of Canterbury's message, shown on BBC1 at 12.05am on New Year's Day until new year 1998. Yep, straight out of Big Ben and into a prayer with the establishment. For 1999, it moved to 12.30am. 2000's prayers were live from the North Greenwich Marquee in the hour to midnight, and the ABoC's been a movable feast since.

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30 December 2018
Top of the Pops at Christmas

Fearne Cotton and Clara Amfo are back, everyone! Keep clapping! Keep clapping! They want the crowd to applaud and cheer right through the opening speech, previewing all of the coming attractions.

Great performances from Zara Larsson, Freya Ridings, a double-hit from Sigrid, Christine and the Queens, Tom Odell with Rae Morris, and George Ezra.

But also: which performer reminded us of a foghorn? Who was lucky to be collecting silver tokens? Which newcomer impressed us with stagecraft, and who was the typical BBC Eurovision entry?

All of the answers are inside!

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2 December 2018
Pick a playoff or two

One last time for the results service:

MA: #27 Buffalo vs #62 Northern Illinois 29-30
PX: #9 Washington vs #13 Utah 10-3
BT: #6 Oklahoma vs #15 Texas 39-27
SB: #24 Appalachian State vs #64 Louisiana-Lafayette 30-19
CU: #36 UAB vs #40 Middle Tennessee 27-25
AA: #7 UCF vs #60 Memphis 56-41
SE: #2 Alabama vs #3 Georgia 35-28
MW: #10 Boise State vs #17 Fresno State 3-6 (aet, following 13-13)
AC: #1 Clemson vs #28 Pittsburgh 42-10
BX: #5 Ohio Province vs #26 Northwestern 45-24

(More: Who's in and out of the bowls, and the new top 15)

All of which leaves our eight-team playoff as: Alabama vs Washington, Clemson vs UCF, Notre Dame vs Ohio Province, and Georgia vs Oklahoma The Rematch. Other play-off systems might omit the first round, but any playoff system rooted in reality will produce the same final four.

It's not possible for Georgia to overhaul all of the sides in front of them, so they will not be able to retain their position as Glickoblog Champion. UCF may yet remain as Reigning National Champions.

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