The Snow In The Summer or So-So

Introspective

Sat 17 Jun 2006

Administrivia

Owing to limitations on the server holding this website, it is no longer possible to supply individual pages for new entries. Existing pages dated 2006 will be retained for the forseeable future; links to pages dated 2005 and 2004 are now broken and will not be repaired.

The preferred method of linking is now to the weekly archive page.

We apologise for the inconvenience.

permanant link
posted 17 Jun 2006, 21.24 +0100

Sat 01 Jul 2006

Somme you win, Somme you lose

At 7.30 on this morning in 1916, the Battle of the Somme began. Almost 20,000 would not see sunset.

It would be pleasing to find the fans of war were silenced to-day. That there were no chants revisiting the enmities of two generations ago. More chance of pigs flying than England's football fans growing up.

permanant link
posted 01 Jul 2006, 10.06 +0100

Thu 06 Jul 2006

Correspondence course

Overnight, we've been inundated with as much reader response as Humphry Lyttleton usually gets in six months.

Matttt on tennis:

Surely the answer to the question of equality is a mixed competition? Let the cream rise to the top, etc. etc.

It would, I think, be useful to have a short tournament, perhaps towards the end of the season, putting this idea to the test. Maybe invite four top women, and four men with decent rankings. All gents play all ladies, then the top in each pile meet again for the title.

Jiggers on charity, pace Maimonides:

Highly interesting, though I'm not clear whether those eight divisions comprise what we would consider to be a partition of the world of charity donations.

I think the divisions are collectively exhaustive - I can't come up with a counter-example, a charitable act that falls into none of these categories. However, I strongly suspect that different people would put the same act in different categories, suggesting that the divisions are not mutually exclusive, and hence not a partition in the mathematical sense.

It would be interesting to learn of the current scholarly position - is a charity that gathers together donations from many people less well regarded than one-to-one acts? A couple of examples at random: Southgate have signed up to Make Geldof History, and uses Fairtrade products. Tzedek says that it supports small-scale, self-help and sustainable poverty relief projects, and has also signed up to Make Geldof History.

Quirks on football:

Of course, that first semi-final was notable for a classic 'do we fix the tournament or don't we?' moment, when a very minor challenge just inside the penalty area that should have come to nothing was punished... by a free kick just outside the box.

Italy earned their place in Berlin at least partly due to a blatant dive in the final minute against Australia; France earned theirs at least partly through Henry throwing himself to the ground against Spain, holding his face and letting slip the moral high ground he had claimed in Paris in May. Can we say that either have any right to be contesting the final?

France, I suspect, have a better claim to be there, as the side's match against Spain looked to be a one-way contest. Italy, sadly, owe much of their progression to a jammy break in the match against Australia; that was probably the worst single refereeing decision of the finals. (Yes, I include Graham Poll's balls-up - the third yellow did not affect the result of the match.)

If we were to follow that to its conclusion, would we be down to third-rate teams contesting the final?

Looking back over the tournament, Germany required no particular assistance from the refs to reach the semis. Portugal, of course, needed every trick in the book to beat the Dutch in their achtelfinals. In France's quarter, Brazil might have been a bit lucky to beat Australia, but a draw there would only have altered the group if the Aussies had had the extra two seconds to beat Croatia. Portugal's quarter could have been won by England.

The final four could have been Germany, England, Australia, and France, giving the enticing prospect of the Ashes match being played for third place. Well, enticing for us, but not for the rest of the world.

The final will be an embarrassment, potentially even worse than 1990. I won't be watching.

Looking back, I don't think there's been a decent final (as opposed to late-stage match) since I've been watching. I suspect that I shall watch the match in highlights form only.

But let's be glad that the final isn't Italy - Portugal. We would need to replace the pitch with a swimming pool, with the winner to meet Peter Duncan.

permanant link
posted 06 Jul 2006, 18.34 +0100

Tue 25 Jul 2006

You will talk, and I shall listen
langsite

Back at the start of June, Six Apart was suffering from one of its many and regular bouts of stupidity. In the cross-fire, I picked up on someone asking if anyone was prepared to pick up sticks entirely. Two months after the event, there's a response.

I said,

The scarcely-literate Langsite wonders if anyone really will pack up sticks and leave Livejournal. Allow a brief moment for this writer to jump up and down like an over-excited eight-year-old and shout "Me, sir, me!" Six Apart will not get one penny from me while it continues to deny its obligations under the Livejournal Social Contract. Nor shall I act in any way that suggests it would be advantageous to pay money to those liars and cheats.

They said,

By gosh I think I have been besmirtched *laughing*

Talk about desperate for attention. Then trying to insult me (and not doing a very good job). What a creepy person. And beware, you might need to take a headache remedy before viewing the color scheme of this so called "blog".

Just mention "Live Journal" and watch the idiots come out of the woodwork.

I decline to comment on either ad hominem.

On the substantive point, I have taken a difficult decision, and - unlike many of the people mentioned in Langsite's recent post - I have stuck to my word, a claim that can be independently verified. In the interests of full disclosure, yes, I do have a replacement account elsewhere, and on a site that neutralises most of my criticisms against Six Apart.

Langsite is more than a little disingenuous in pointing out the current paid status of other accounts; the real test will come at the end of May next year. How many of those five will still be in paid time? If these are people of their word, then none of them will be.

As for Six Apart's new baby, Currybet had a go. Wondered how anyone would fare if they couldn't manage precise control over their mouse movements. A lot of the layers appeared to overlap. This doesn't spell good news for those of us who really don't like using mouses. Currybet's summary? I didn't think there was anything compelling enough about the service to make me want to continue to use it on a day-to-day basis.

permanant link
posted 25 Jul 2006, 19.20 +0100

Wed 20 Sep 2006

Pulling threads

In discussions elsewhere, a couple of points have emerged that are worth recording in a more public place.

1. Minnie the Moocher is one of those songs that has become a standard without ever providing a particular hit recording - the Polyhex UK charts database records just one hit single, and that was a number 35 smash in late 1988. The incredibly incomplete "Allmusic" site lists about 200 different recordings, one of which is in the famous motion picture The Blues Brothers. (Must be famous if this correspondent has heard of it...)

2. Why are there 231 cubic inches in a Yankee gallon? It's all from the legal definition of a gallon in the early eighteenth century, the Wine Gallon. In those days, wine was carried in diddy one-gallon barrels - a cylinder 6 inches (15cm) long and 7 inches (17.5cm) in radius. In a feat of parliamentary innumeracy that would leave Gordon Brown green with envy, the British legislature decreed that 6*3.52*π = 231, rather than the 230.9... it really works out at. That was in 1707, and by the time the correction had worked its way through the select committees, the Yankees had not only started to be revolting, but had secured de facto independence for forty years. More reading at Custom units and Doctor Maths.

3. Television shows of the now - comedies Broken News, That Mitchell and Webb Look, Mock the Week. Light entertainment Antan Dec's Saturday Night House Party, Bremner, Bird and/or Fortune, Veronica Mars, Blue Peter. And the obgameshows Countdown, University Challenge, La Carte aux Tresors. How Do You Solve a Problem Like Andrew Lloyd Webber's Ego was entertaining in a frothy manner, but I shan't be watching Strictly Come Prancing. Nor The Cow Factor. I was mildly interested in seeing High School Musical, more to see what the fuss is about than anything, but given the saturation advertising and the fact that it'll clash with the Ryder Cup, I'll give it a miss. It seems that the British television channels aren't doing full-length drama series any more, merely soaps and one-offs. And no sign of the next Gilmore Girls series, which is just annoying. We're only three years behind production anyway.

Old stuff that might justifiably get a repeat? Press Gang is the obvious take, it's been off the screens for over a decade now. Gosh. Remember when ITV made programmes for children, rather than programmes to advertise at children? Byker Grove from start-to-finish would be a marathon effort for CBBC, and the science programme Tomorrow's World could take a revival.

, , ,

permanant link
posted 20 Sep 2006, 19.02 +0100

Mon 25 Sep 2006

Early doors

Thanks to Mark Cumming, the breakfast host on BBC Gloucestershire. He always* plays a record at about 6.47, and it's playing when my alarm springs into life at 6.49. To-day's record was Iris, and my alarm came on just as the performance was going into the long instrumental break. Just to add shine to the moment, when the vocals eventually kicked in, they turned out to be from the Goo Goo Dolls original, and not the rubbish karaoke version that some Irish twunt has made.

* - Except for Tuesday, when he has the editor of the Gloucester Citizen in to plug his local version of the Daily Hell.

In other music news, I hear that Noel Edmonds is to make a record. Bet it won't be as good as his last one, remarkable for the unorthodox rhyming scheme that paired "president Reagan" and "Kevin Keegan".

, , , , , ,

permanant link
posted 25 Sep 2006, 19.05 +0100

Thu 12 Oct 2006

In memoriam

The death has been announced of Richard Sedgley, a security solution, who was killed following a roadside explosion in Dhi Qar. He was 32.

Richard was in the same teaching class as me for the majority of our time in primary school, and through into middle school. Though the lads of Mrs Thomas's class were so difficult to split that we were all taken into one class at the middle school, I couldn't honestly say that I ever knew Richard all that well. He came across as a beefy lad, but behind the muscle was a definite intellect and respect for learning. Richard was an accomplished player of the French horn, and his swift wit ensured he was never lost for words.

When Mrs. Thomas's class was finally split, on entry to the high school, Richard became very much a face in the crowd. We'd see each other from time to time, and say hello, but that was about the limit of our interaction. I assmue - though I don't even know for sure - that Richard took his GCSE examinations before leaving school. It certainly wasn't a surprise to learn that he had decided to exploit his physical presence.

This news, sadly, is evidence that year head Mrs. Rodgers was right. The Codsall High class of 1990 will never again be gathered in one room.

, , ,

permanant link
posted 12 Oct 2006, 19.08 +0100

Wed 01 Nov 2006

Happy new year!

Goodness, yes. Many happy returns to everyone's favourite artist from Rovanemi.

permanant link
posted 01 Nov 2006, 19.21 +0000

Tue 14 Nov 2006

Letters

Correspondence outstanding

* Six Apart, regarding disclosure of personally-identifiable data to advertisers. Four emails and web forms submitted since March 2006; no response to any.

* Margaret Beckett, regarding her dismissal of the Iraq death survey. Letter sent 14 October 2006; holding response received 31 October.

* Bloglines, regarding their retention of my copyright. Letter sent 31 October; response received 5 November; response sent 5 November; no acknowledgement.

Yuletide cards

Readers who wish to receive a Yuletide card should email with their name(s) and postal address. Offer closes 30 November, and is subject to the availability of card.

permanant link
posted 14 Nov 2006, 19.51 +0000

Sat 09 Dec 2006

Doing good

Sarah Wheeler goes to Malawi to see how microloans help. Readers may wish to donate money at Opportunity International

Readers with footware to spare can donate used shoes to this year's Blue Peter appeal.

Et c'est le jour pour le telethon; on peux aider: tappez 3637, ou visitez telethon point fr.

permanant link
posted 09 Dec 2006, 10.50 +0000

older writing... write to