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November 4th, 2004


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10:54 pm - Come on, 'Boro
Just to annoy, here are the recommended last posting dates before Christmas in the UK:
Special Delivery Inland
First Class Inland
Second Class Inland
Parcels Inland
Airmail Western Europe
Airmail East Europe/N America/Japan
Airmail ROTW
Surface mail Western Europe
Surface mail Iceland and SE Europe
Surface mail Eastern Europe
Surface mail outside Europe
Wednesday 22nd December
Tuesday 21st December
Saturday 18th December
Wednesday 15th December
Monday 13th December
Friday 10th December
Monday 6th December
Wednesday 1st December
Wednesday 24th November
Wednesday 17th November
Surely you jest?

which are, happily, more or less the same as those from last year and those from the year before. I think daweaver has the details from previous years. (ETA: here they are!)

Middlesbrough were at home to Lazio of Rome in the UEFA Cup, the second most prestigious European-wide association football (soccer) competition. This is by far the most glamorous match in international competition that Middlesbrough football club have hosted, though they do get occasional international national-team football matches and have hosted fine teams in friendly competition in the past. Middlesbrough won 2-0 through playing an effective and pretty sophisticated long-ball game against a relatively weak Lazio team. (Bear in mind that three teams qualify from the group of five, so there must be a tendency for the nominally-top-three teams to only try hard against the nominally-lower-two in the group and take games against their top-three rivals rather less seriously.) Nevertheless, it was an impressive display and Middlesbrough will be very hard to beat at home throughout the rest of the competition. A very fine day for the town's team, reflected in hefty traffic.

The North Eastern England local assembly results are expected at about midnight tonight. I did vote "Yes" in the end, rather hesitantly, and look forward to seeing whether the WHY AYE campaign or the HADDAWAY, MAN campaign has been successful. Turnout has been estimated at about 47%; I have a gut feeling that this compares reasonably favourably with counterpart figures for Wales, Scotland and London, which I shall look up and edit in later. ETA: Scotland voted 74.3% in favour with a 60.2% turnout, Wales voted 50.3% in favour with a 50.1% turnout - mandate, mandaaaaate! - and London voted 72% in favour with a whopping 34% turnout.

ETA: North-East England votes AGAINST by 77.9% to 22.1% on a 46.5% turnout. Full figures, modulo mistyping, here.

A new version of http://www.meetup.com/ was launched a couple of months ago, which seems to have rather done away with the concept of there being specific Meetup cities. Every city can be a Meetup destination, and there is a focus on the concept of "if there isn't an X group in your city Y, there are X groups in cities Z1, Z2 and Z3 which are the closest to city Y". Good stuff, but I'd also like to see similar concept of closeness in subject as well as closeness in geography.

In any case, I have signed up - and effectively founded, because someone has to be first onto the dancefloor - an LJ Meetup in Middlesbrough, a board games Meetup in Middlesbrough and a The Settlers of Catan Meetup in Middlesbrough. (The latter is a specific board game.) It's interesting to see the groups represented in nascent Meetup cities; there is one Meetup member in nearby Durham, who has founded the Durham Dragons group and the Durham Otherkin group, not that there's anything wrong with either of those. Nevertheless, it's amusing to note that there's only one Meetup to get to two members in Middlesbrough so far: Teen Vampires. After mocking Newcastle for Teen Vamp Meetup prevalence some time ago, that shuts me up...

The school I (and sir_gareth) attended was in the news today. Not only is the head of mathematics the same as it was 15 years ago - a good sign, in my view - he has spoken out against the way that the GCSE qualification in mathematics has become statistics-heavy and coursework-heavy. Consequently, Yarm School will no longer offer GCSE Mathematics but instead offer the International GCSE in Mathematics. An interesting development and I tend to trust his judgement, but I tend to worry a little about whether the award will properly be accepted by employers.

I'm very idly considering starting a weblog dedicated to following that school in the news. It's easy to search the local newspaper for a school name; a really good weblogging tool would be able to compare the results of the same search from one day to the next in several different newspapers and then automatically post the relevant links. Does such a tool exist? What aspects of such a tool exist? I know there are utilities which will visit a page every day to see whether it has changed from one day to the next, but don't know whether these can cope with sites that have plenty of adverts and where changes may not reflect new news stories.
Current Mood: hungrylocal weblog for local people
Current Music: Tyne Tees coverage - local assembly referendum results soon

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[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 4th, 2004 04:38 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Tyne Tees are letting the "The Region Decides" show run on and on and on. They started about ten minutes late, shifted the UEFA Cup highlights back to the wrong side of midnight and they're just letting the show roll and roll. Happily, there are lots of wigs of considerable size present who can be tapped to talk on TV - heck, who would probably pay to do so. In the background of the Crowtree Leisure Centre there's a lovely big video screen which shuffles between a number of information screens at slightly too low a resolution/definition to make out. I think they've counted the results from most of the area, but not all of it.

Tyne Tees are making this up as they go along and the financial controller will have a fit tomorrow morning when he's found out how much all this live TV must have cost. They're doing a pretty good job, cutting in all sorts of neat inserts (which, presumably, they have had on standby for a long time). Were I on form, I would daweaver it up with live coverage, but this is really small-scale stuff.

Everyone accepts it's a HADDAWAY, MAN, certainly.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 4th, 2004 05:19 pm (UTC)

NO wins by about 78%-22% on a turnout of over 45%

(Link)
Local Government result for County Durham

                REARRANGE TO   REARRANGE TO
                      SINGLE   THREE
                     UNITARY   UNITARY
                   AUTHORITY   AUTHORITIES

Chester-le-Street     10 363    9 628
Derwentside           13 734   17 648
Durham                21 778   10 661
Easington             10 500   17 790
Sedgefield            17 312   13 511
Teesdale               4 334    6 177
Wear Valley           11 128   11 635

Totals                89 149   87 050

Local Government result for Northumberland

                REARRANGE TO   REARRANGE TO
                      SINGLE   TWO
                     UNITARY   UNITARY
                   AUTHORITY   AUTHORITIES

Alnwick                4 563    9 335
Berwick-upon-Tweed     3 933    6 429
Blyth Valley          11 719   15 603
Castle Morpeth        11 160?   9 641
Tynedale              10 125   14 830
Wansbeck              10 104   10 302

Totals                51 560   66 140

Local Assembly for North-East England

                        Y E S       N O

Alnwick                 2 771    11 666
Berwick-on-Tweed        2 250     8 597
Blyth Valley            7 523    21 178
Castle Morpeth          4 776    16 952
Chester-le-Street       5 487    15 610
Darlington              4 784    32 282
Derwentside             9 718    22 888
Durham                  9 791    24 106
Easington               8 065    21 520
Gateshead              17 011    52 459
Hartlepool              4 887    24 240
Middlesbrough           7 977    33 543
Newcastle-on-Tyne      19 984    61 477
North Tyneside         15 203    55 121
Redcar and Cleveland    8 493    43 250
Sedgefield              9 040    23 583
South Tyneside         11 329    41 029
Stockton-on-Tees       11 050    52 040
Sunderland             17 927    71 893
Teesdale                2 020     8 972
Tynedale                5 146    20 975
Wansbeck                5 947    15 503
Wear Valley             6 131    17 635

Totals                197 310   696 519

NO wins by about 78%-22% on a turnout of over 45%.
[User Picture]
From:sir_gareth
Date:November 4th, 2004 05:25 pm (UTC)
(Link)
A lot has changed since I lived up there it seems. I can't figure out whether I lived in the North East from these regional names. Maybe that just means I didn't have a good grasp on the nomenclature of where I lived.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 4th, 2004 05:30 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Nah; you were almost certainly in North Yorkshire, which is part of Yorkshire and Humber.
From:daweaver
Date:November 5th, 2004 10:44 am (UTC)
(Link)
Hmm, I can't seem to lay my hands on the Historic Last Posting Dates post, though I know I made it, because I cited a younger Mr jiggery_pokery as a source. Darn.

Middlesbrough were at home to Lazio of Rome in the UEFA Cup, the second most prestigious European-wide association football (soccer) competition.

Recently upgraded from third by the effective demise of the Cup-Winners' Cup, but still not a patch on the fun, excitement, and glamour of the Intertoto Cup.

This is by far the most glamorous match in international competition that Middlesbrough football club have hosted

It's only the second one they've hosted, isn't it?

(Bear in mind that three teams qualify from the group of five, so there must be a tendency for the nominally-top-three teams to only try hard against the nominally-lower-two in the group and take games against their top-three rivals rather less seriously.)

One might think so, but the draw structure for the UEFA Cup's Third Round Proper might mitigate against this. Group winners will play away-and-home against a Group Third Place (not their own group, and not a team from their own country.) Group runners-up will play away-and-home against the third place teams from the European League League phase (again, not against a club from their own country.)

The net result is that by finishing third in their group, Lazio may well find themselves up against an easier opponent than they're likely to get by finishing second. The phrase "UEFA's still got some work to do on their competition structure" springs to mind.

Middlesbrough will be very hard to beat at home throughout the rest of the competition.

I'll go so far as to stick my neck out and make an Official CNN Projection: that Middlesbrough will qualify for some form of European football next season. I'm immediately going to qualify that projection by including an entry in the Intertoto Cup as European football, whether they take it up or not.

It's easy to search the local newspaper for a school name; a really good weblogging tool would be able to compare the results of the same search from one day to the next in several different newspapers and then automatically post the relevant links. Does such a tool exist? What aspects of such a tool exist?

Google News might be a good place to start, at least for getting the new results. I suppose that automatic scraping of GN wouldn't be too heavily frowned upon for small enough projects.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 5th, 2004 05:00 pm (UTC)
(Link)
You deny Middlesbrough the glory of participation in the Anglo-Italian Cup. I suspect there is an extremely obscure trivia question to be asked about English teams having played both Lazio and Roma.

Dad asks a far more interesting question: are there any other Italian league football teams in Rome apart from Lazio and Roma - your Italian Leytons Orient and Old School Wimblesdon? I have never been able to find a good explanation of how third and subsequent tier Italian football works; I think there are two parallel third flights, your C1s, and possibly ten parallel forth flights, your C2s, but I'm not sure.

Automatic scraping of Google News is a very clever idea, but it's not picking up an article that I know exists, so unfortunately I must reject it as insufficient for the time being. However, it's a damn clever idea, and some sort of Google Alerts to syndicated feed tool might be the killer app to turn use of syndicated feeds mainstream. I'm sure they've thought of this themselves, or had it suggested a hundred times already, but they have feedback just in case it is new.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 28th, 2004 08:23 am (UTC)

(Link)
Hmm, I can't seem to lay my hands on the Historic Last Posting Dates post,

Here we go! Your speculation from last year is accurate.
[User Picture]
From:earthquake1906
Date:November 5th, 2004 10:03 pm (UTC)

and then there's days and knights, or is it days and nights?

(Link)
There's a coven of Catan-game fans in Boston too, and I've watched them play for hours! Hope it's fun on the 20th!

German games - and the German family game playing culture. I remember hearing Andrew Looney lecturing on what USian board game designers need to learn from the Germans. He said (paraphrase), "The German games offer two specific types of satisfaction: Schadenfreude and Gemutlichkeit." By the latter he explained that he meant "everyone likes to have a little bit of the board where they can be comfy and safe and build a cozy fort (or game equivalent)" - in other words it's not fun if you're in mortal danger on the board all the time, just some of the time. And of course the former is the joy one feels when bad stuff happens to other players - "especially if you caused it," he said with a laugh.

Another game company was mentioned and someone said, "They're just a couple of guys," and Andrew said with a sigh, "All US (board) game companies (not talking Wizards here) are just a couple of guys!" Except in his case it's him and 2 women, but same idea. Have I told you all this before? *is confused*

I actually liked the local news - and of course thanks for the clock warnings too. I'm almost used to this now: you "fall back" and we "spring ahead" so we're 2 hours farther apart suddenly. It is now much MUCH more convenient for me to call my mom than it is the other six months of the year. It's all good as far as I'm concerned, except for Aussie use of Northern Hemisphere Christmas imagery including snow: at high summer under the ozone hole, we won't have much of on the 25th. The latest trend is to have a outdoor fish barbecue for Christmas dinner.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 7th, 2004 08:58 am (UTC)

Re: and then there's days and knights, or is it days and nights?

(Link)
Well, anything happening on the 20th rather relies on at least one other person signing up - and three more would be ideal... :-)

I've been reading http://www.wunderland.com/ for probably at least a couple of years (wouldn't a syndicated feed of it be great?) so know a fair bit about them. I think their hearts are in the right place, though some of their attitudes rankle a little with me, and I've not found any of their games yet terribly... meaty, somehow. (Which is appropriate, as I think I recall they're vegan.) Their Zendo is a lot of fun, though, and I adapted it to play with playing cards with the World Puzzle Championship folk. (Should've thought of bringing along my Icehouse set, come to think of it, for display value as much as anything else.)

I am going off Civilization II at the moment. Simply, I'd prefer a development game which is much more about the Gemutlichkeit and much less about the Schadenfreude; I keep developing level-lots wonder-cities by the early Middle Ages, only for the Vikings to roll catapults in and knock them down. I would rather not have to spend my time, money on research on defence. There may be a lesson here.

Christmas barbecues sound superb! We shall have to try that one day in the Northern Hemisphere primarily to be contrary. Besides, we'll get everyone standing outside around the barbecue just for warmth.
[User Picture]
From:earthquake1906
Date:November 8th, 2004 05:20 am (UTC)

interesting!

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You're right about the "attitude" at Looney Labs. And I will trust you on the meatiness (you've played more games of theirs than I have, I don't even have my set of pyramids yet)! The only one I've played a lot of is Fluxx, and Andrew said of that one (paraphrased),

"It was designed to meet my needs for a game that - when it wasn't my turn, I wouldn't have to pay any attention to the play. Like I could walk out to the kitchen and get something to eat and when I came back I'd just look at the goals and the rules and maybe they'd have passed hands to the left but I'd just pick up my new hand and continue."

I play this one with the 10 (now 11) year old and she has made up some of her own cards too (just goal and keeper cards, not new rules - I think those would be more challenging). It's not easy to win on purpose by being rational and/or cagey - you have to just stay loose and jump at opportunities. Some games are 10 minutes and some are at least an hour. I've never gotten one to go longer than that, despite what Andrew claims. Anyway, that game is full of attitude...

Your comments on CivII are fascinating. I trust reviews MOST from people who have played A LOT, and the Viking pillaging does sound frustrating.

"Not one cent for tribute!" / eq
[User Picture]
From:meggitymeg
Date:November 9th, 2004 05:37 pm (UTC)
(Link)
*spammity snogs*

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