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February 18th, 2003


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03:27 am - Football Focus
The brand new congestion charge started in London today and, against all the odds, it seems to have actually worked vaguely well on day one. This is not to say that it will work well over month one, year one or decade one, but it made for rather happier news programmes than I had feared. Hurrah. Unfortunately it's not as cool as the congestion charging scheme in Singapore where drivers are mandated to keep stored-value cards and specialised readers in their vehicles. Should you drive under one of the very cool-looking gantries surrounding the central areas of Singapore then zap, beep, some money is deducted from your stored value card. (Drive in at peak hours and the size of the zap increases. Accordingly the traffic races between 0827 and 0829 to try to beat the price increase at 0830 and dawdles between 0857 and 0859 to try to catch the price decrease at 0900.) Should the money run out and you keep using the facilities then the boys are sent round.

Admittedly you've got to be remarkably rich to own a private car in Singapore anyway - to import a vehicle, the only option, you have to pay some of the most swingeing of import duties. On top of that you have to purchase a Certificate of Entitlement for the right to run a private vehicle for ten years - a mechanism to keep the number of vehicles on the roads strictly controlled. Prices are decided in auction and vary, but you're looking at around S$30,000-S$35,000 (GBP 12,000-15,000) for the right to run a car for ten years. (By comparison, motorbikes are a trivial S$600-ish for ten years.) All told, effectively you're looking at paying something like S$150,000-S$200,000 (GBP 60,000-80,000) for what would be regarded as a GBP 15,000-30,000 car over here. However, Singapore has very good public transport: the Mass Rapid Transit system isn't comfortable, but is extremely efficient and getting more widespread, and taxis are actually very reasonably priced. Oh, and the probably the world's best airport, too.

I travelled to Singapore to work at the (effectively) government-supported Mind Sports Olympiad event we held there in 2000. The place had quite a few advantages, but the weather was reliably oppressive and - closed-minded Little Englander that I am - I felt that I could trust little of the food. Accordingly I'm in no rush whatsoever to want to return.

The BBC report on the availability of Internet access and external news in Iraq - surprisingly, more than you might expect. I wonder if there are any LiveJournal users who regularly update from there? Apparently so. Some of them actually seem not to have been kidding when they said they were from Iraq. Wow.

Woke up at 10am this morning, really not so keen as I was on the concept of registering with local recruitment agencies. However it hasn't been a wasted day - I have printed out 10 clean, crisp copies of my CV (less trivial than it sounds, for my printer here does not produce output of nearly application form quality) and I have made a list of 14 local agencies. If I am feeling braver tomorrow then I will actually get started submitting them.

The nice thing about nothing happening today is that I can now catch up on some of the things I've wanted to LJ for a while. :-) About three weeks ago, hmtriplecrown and others produced a list of the 32 NFL teams in order of support/preference. If I subvert the essential concept to (English) association football Premiership teams, does this make it a proper meme?

Association football, which in this country is referred to around 90% of the time as just "football" (or even "footy" for short) and around 9% of the time as "soccer", is essentially based around a league competition referred to as the Premiership. This features 20 teams from various parts of England which play each other home and away over about eight or nine months of the year. (Teams from Scotland have their own competition, which is very broadly rather weaker. Welsh teams play with the English ones. Northern Irish teams have their own separate competition again.) The three teams which perform worst in the Premiership are relegated to a subsidiary competition called "Division One", which in turn sends its three top-performing teams up to the Premiership. Below Division One there exist Division Two, Division Three, the Nationwide Conference (effectively Division Four) and dozens of regional competitions.

There is an organised scheme called the non-league pyramid which dictates the interactions between the three sixth-level leagues, five seventh-level leagues, fifteen eighth-level leagues, twentyish ninth-level leagues and thirty-or-forty-you-lose-count tenth-level leagues. I am not sure quite how far down the non-league pyramid goes; it could well be further. Around the tenth level you start to get to the point where it's far more about the beer than anything else.

So this is the way that the class-ridden British society organises and stratifies its favourite sport. Very roughly, I would estimate that 40% of the women and 10% of the men in England have essentially no interest in club football whatsoever (I say "club football" as distinct from international football) and that only 10% of the women and 40% of the men take more than a passing interest of what goes on outside the Premiership. Typical attendances at Premiership matches will be somewhere around 35,000 fans, though this varies strongly from club to club. Division One attendances might be about 10,000 or so (though there is a lot of variation from club to club) and it might not be too unreasonable to suggest that each level down tends to cut the attendance to about 40% of the level above. (OK, maybe 50% or 60% at deeper levels.) Generalising, the clubs in the Premiership are big-time and general, interested sports fans from outside England might have heard of some of the clubs and some of the players, whereas the clubs not in the Premiership are not big-time. I could go on in much greater detail here.

I support Sunderland Association Football Club, known almost exclusively as just Sunderland. Almost all clubs will include some indication of whereabouts they are based in their team name; some also include a secondary word (most frequently United, usually a club formed by the uniting of two or more previous clubs) which will convey their background or their relationship with other teams from the same geographical area. Most teams will also have one or more nicknames; for historical reasons, Sunderland are known as the Black Cats. However, it would be very affected indeed to refer to them as the Sunderland Black Cats - indeed, using the word the before a team name at all is unnatural.

Incidentally, my support for Sunderland is based on historical grounds - I am a fourth-generation Sunderland fan. My great-grandfather used to support them in the last century but one (ha, the first time I've used that phrase!) - indeed, in the late 1890s, Sunderland actually used to be one of the best teams in the country. Most people will support their local team, wherever they live, but more exotic reasons are quite common. I live in the town of Middlesbrough which has its own Premiership side; Sunderland is about 30-35 miles further north of here. Indeed, we are the first generation of the Dickson family to abandon the Sunderland - South Tyneside - Wearside area (and even then we haven't travelled too far!) but that's another story.

At this point I shall attempt to cast a spell on you. Yoink! If you previously had no allegiance to any English football clubs, you now support Sunderland. After all, every self-respecting sports fan chooses to follow one team in every sport and I'm guessing that most of the overseas readers will have no Premiership preferences. There is also the principle that you care for my well-being and want to share in my ups and downs, rejoicing when the team enthrall me and commiserating when the team play badly. Did my spell work? :-)

Unfortunately you have picked a very unfortunate time to be yoinked into Sunderland fandom, for the team are currently languishing at the bottom of the Premiership, twentieth out of twenty. The epitome of such bad play came in a game two weeks ago in which they managed to score three own goals - that is, deflect the football into their own net three times. An own goal might be compared to a safety in American Football except that it concedes the full value of a touchdown rather than just two points; you might also compare it to two or three errors in a MLB game. Scoring three own goals in a single game is some kind of record, certainly once-in-several-years infrequency.

After the game, the relatively-new Sunderland manager (cf "head coach") Howard Wilkinson refused to regard relegation as inevitable, which is far more optimistic than most of the Sunderland fans. Again I could go on in much more detail here, but that's not the point of this particular post. If you like cheeky sports columns, though, you'd be likely to enjoy Derek Robson at the BBC who adopts a very jaunty, downbeat character for all his commentary. Part of the gag is that "Robbo" is purported to come from here in Middlesbrough and there are many gags throughout his columns about stereotypical Teesside life. Thus if you ever want to try some local humour with me then here's the place from which to find background material... maybe.

For what it's worth, I'm not a particularly strong Sunderland fan. Specifically, I have only ever been to see them play once - in 1986, when we were in the third league, playing local-ish rivals Darlington in the second round of the Rumbelows Cup. This would take some explaining, but effectively it's close to being one of the least important yet competitive fixtures possible, were it not for the fact that it was against some plucky semi-local rivals who traditionally have been far weaker and would have relished the chance to pull an upset. Dad gets to go and see about five games per year these days. I probably could go with him if I wanted to, but it's expensive (I think somewhere between GBP 20 and GBP 25?) and I'm evidently not that bothered by it.

As is common with most sports, there are strong traditions of local rivalries. It is not enough for your team to do well, it is required for your neighbour's team to do badly so that you can crow at their expense. (If you put one over on them, so much the better.) Sunderland is about sixteen miles away from Newcastle (Sunderland is effectively coastal and a little further South, Newcastle is a port ten miles inland) so that's a strong rivalry. Some say that the Sunderland/Newcastle rivalry is one of the strongest in the country, but at least it's not based in religious roots. Some years the animosity has been so bad that the police have stopped Sunderland fans travelling to the game between the two clubs played in Newcastle and vice versa - that is, all home fans and no away fans for both games.

Both teams also have long-established regional rivalry with Middlesbrough, though traditionally Middlesbrough has been the weakest of the three. (He said in a not at all biased fashion.) My father, who has been a Sunderland fan for over fifty years, reports that the Newcastle rivalry is actually relatively friendly compared to the rivalry between Sunderland and Leeds, the next most local team (see previous entry; Sunderland is about 30 miles North of here, Leeds about 60 miles south.) This apparently started about forty years ago when both clubs were struggling to gain promotion to the top division (which was then called Division One - a long story) and Leeds got a reputation for playing a very hard, negative game.

With all this in mind, you can start to imagine the process by which most Sunderland fans would generate their "order of preference" lists. The hardcore approach would be "Sunderland first, everyone else equal nowhere" with the only slightly more subtle variant being "Sunderland first, the local rivals last because I want to see them pounded into the dirt, everyone else in the middle". Indeed, I'm not sure whether the psychology is for the local rivals to get relegated out of the division altogether or to remain just in the division so we can pick up two more easy and humiliating wins over them next year. It might be quite interesting to poll the, shall we say, less thoughtful fans to get their views.

Cutting to the chase, here are this season's twenty Premiership teams in descending order of my preference. (You might like to compare this with their actual current positions.)

1. Sunderland. Obviously.

(big identifiable gap)

2. Blackburn Rovers. They won the top competition the year it was called the "Premier League" (long story). At the time, they were owned by Sir Jack Walker, the first GBP 100,000,000+ person to be a high-profile football club owner. I guess we can thank them for at least half a jump forward in the concept of exciting, big-money football. Blackburn is also a small, obscure town with very little otherwise going for it, their kit is quite nice and "Rovers" is a cool name. (Downside: managed by Graeme Souness, who has proved himself to be a pretty lousy, dislikeable manager several times.)

3. Middlesbrough. There's definitely a positive buzz around town when Middlesbrough are playing well. For the past few years they have been most famous for signing a young Brazilian chap named Juninho - they have been so keen on this that they've done it three times now. The first time he was here, he had a tremendous impact on the side. Then they sold him to some team in Spain for a ludicrous profit where he promptly broke his leg and he has never been the same since. Middlesbrough since signed him for a second season where he was injured and played badly, doing much to erase his reputation. He then went back to Spain, continued to play badly and threatened to drop off the radar altogether. So Middlesbrough signed him for a third time only for him to go and injure himself terribly in a meaningless pre-season game and he hasn't played again since. Hee!

4. Manchester United. Sharp intake of breath... they gain points for being the most famous team in the country, almost certainly the English-speaking world. They lose points for winning so damn many times over the past decade or so. They gain, overall, because they are managed by Sir Alex Ferguson who is long been an outstandingly good manager - more to the point, an outstandingly fun manager to follow, not averse to a little... chicanery.

5. Newcastle United. Another sharp intake of breath. Traditionally very exciting in attack and a horrible shambles in defence, traditionally a team who do high-profile things (whether good or bad) at remarkable scale. Also traditionally far more strongly connected to their home town than most clubs, being particularly keen on local talent. Currently they gain great sympathy from the neutrals for being managed by Sir Bobby Robson, who was an excellent manager of the England national side, particularly in the 1990 World Cup. People would love to see Sir Bobby win another league title at 70 years of age.

(identifiable gap - the reasons get much less pronounced, as you'll see)

6. Everton. (Everton is a part of Liverpool.) Best friend from childhood supported them before he switched to Middlesbrough. Were particularly prominent for a couple of seasons when I was starting to take an interest in football.

7. Leeds United. Vaguely local, had a couple of very exciting great seasons, have a bit of punk charm to them and are identifiably one of the second tier of perennial-could-spring-a-surprise contenders. Currently managed by Terry Venables - see Sir Bobby Robson, only rather less so. Terry has made a right pig's ear of management this time and is struggling because the club peaked at GBP 100,000,000 of debt. Accordingly they are selling off most of their best players, which is quite funny.

8. Liverpool. Won something like twelve championships out of twenty over the '70s and '80s, had greater dominance than Manchester United are thought of as doing today. Have been rather endearingly wobbly since.

9. Arsenal. (North London.) Typically referred to as "Boring, boring Arsenal" - traditionally very strong defensively and dull in attack. Manager Arsene Wenger is really very good. Sometimes beat Manchester United, always at least run them close. Starting to get annoyingly good.

10. Manchester City. Only particularly redeeming feature is current manager Kevin Keegan, not a little responsible for teams who are great at attack and lousy at defence. Kev was a popular but lousy England manager for a while and once threw a wonderfully petulant rant at Sir Alex Ferguson. Everyone likes Kevin, but he's not really very good.

11. Aston Villa. (Birmingham.) As the biggest club in England's second biggest city, they ought to be able to be vaguely good some of the time. Birmingham has lots of good board gaming memories for me. Good name.

12. West Bromwich Albion. (Birmingham.) Have a slightly better name than Aston Villa, often abbreviated to West Brom or (even better) WBA. Arguably the smallest, most-likely-to-struggle club in the Premiership this year.

13. Bolton Wanderers. Good name, small town with fighting spirit (cf Blackburn) and a guy I knew vaguely liked them.

(identifiable gap)

14. Charlton Athletic. (London-ish. South London, I think.) Good name. Obscure, small place.

15. Tottenham Hotspur. (North London.) Have pretentions of being a very big club but really aren't. Currently managed by Glenn Hoddle - see Terry Venables (Leeds above) but less so.

16. Birmingham City. Between Aston Villa and West Brom but with a worse name.

17. Fulham. (Southwest London.) Owned by mad rich sweary dubious Harrods proprietor Mohammed Al-Fayed who has decided that he doesn't really like owning a football club after all.

18. West Ham United. (East London.) Rough Cockney club. Fairly good name. Stick with their managers far longer than most teams, even when the managers aren't actually any good. Will win my friendship if they get relegated and Sunderland do not.

19. Southampton. Based on the South coast, have the word "south" in their name, so just way too south to be allowed, really. Nicest thing to be said for Southampton is that flybe.com have a hub at the airport.

20. Chelsea. (Southwest London.) Painfully trendy, offensively rich team with a strong continental European feel, completely against the English traditions of hard work. (Dad also has something against them due to some sort of stitch-up with Stoke City to deny Sunderland promotion one season forty years ago.)

Now the nice thing about the promotion and relegation system is that it isn't always these twenty teams who are in the competition; for instance, if Wimbledon or Nottingham Forest get promoted from Division One this year then they would jump straight up to #2. A truly complete list would attempt to rank all 92 English clubs, which seems more trouble than it's worth; I might try a version with edited highlights at some point, though do believe me when I say that I am neutral, possibly even beyond distinction, between Gillingham and Colchester United. Yes, I really should get round to reading or watching Fever Pitch at some point.

If this article has annoyed more than it's entertained, perhaps you could take up supporting Chelsea instead just to spite me... :-)
Current Mood: pessimisticpessimistic
Current Music: acid jazz Super Mario Kart thing as previously discussed

(20 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:lambertman
Date:February 17th, 2003 08:09 pm (UTC)
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some also include a secondary word (most frequently United, usually a club formed by the uniting of two or more previous clubs)

Ooooooooh. Okay. That's one of those things I wasn't wondering, but am glad to know. :)

A good read this was. I like having opinions, even if they were given to me by someone else. I spent a fair amount of time trying to draw correlations between your comments and various sports teams/personalities stateside. They're not perfect, but here goes:


4. Manchester United. Sharp intake of breath... they gain points for being the most famous team in the country, almost certainly the English-speaking world. They lose points for winning so damn many times over the past decade or so. They gain, overall, because they are managed by Sir Alex Ferguson who is long been an outstandingly good manager - more to the point, an outstandingly fun manager to follow, not averse to a little... chicanery.


The NFL's Dallas Cowboys in the '80s under coach Jimmy Johnson. Perhaps one of the three most charismatic coaches in the league's history, alongside Vince Lombardi and John Madden. Not nearly as popular since suffering a decade of poor performance since under various no-name coaches.


5. Newcastle United. ... Currently they gain great sympathy from the neutrals for being managed by Sir Bobby Robson, who was an excellent manager of the England national side, particularly in the 1990 World Cup. People would love to see Sir Bobby win another league title at 70 years of age.


Not quite the same, but the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers are coached by Larry Brown, who won a college title at Kansas and has also coached the NBA's L.A. Clippers, Denver Nuggets and Indiana Pacers. Every job he takes is the one he's "in for the long haul," but this time he might actually mean it. Everybody likes the guy, but the Sixers aren't a terribly popular team.


20. Chelsea. (Southwest London.) Painfully trendy, offensively rich team with a strong continental European feel, completely against the English traditions of hard work.


Clearly, the New York Yankees. Probably the most beloved (by their fans) and hated (by the other 29 teams' fans) team. Have much more money than anybody else and spend it liberally.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:February 18th, 2003 05:20 pm (UTC)
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Interesting to learn about the other teams as you back-relate them to the ones I'm likely to know about. :-)

I don't think Chelsea biject to the Yankees - the description far more strongly fits Man U. It's probably not just coincidence that Manchester United and the New York Yankees have a cross-promotional deal, sort of the two famous Evil Empires working together for maximum money-extraction evil.

Chelsea aren't particularly well-supported, but their supporters are almost universally too rich for their own good, too trendy for their own good or both. From the very description I give them you can see why they are the anti-Sunderland. Sort of.

Sir Bobby's Newcastle United won 3-1 away at Bayern Leverkusen in Germany tonight to give Bob the 70th birthday present he was after. Hooray!
[User Picture]
From:ericklendl
Date:February 18th, 2003 12:45 am (UTC)
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Oh, I definitely recommend Fever Pitch - Nick Hornby was a student in Cambridge in the mid eighties, and there are passages in the book that explain a lot, considerably better than I can.

For the record, Gillingham are vaguely unpleasant but Colchester United are vaguely unpleasant and vaguely near Cambridge, so I think I can help you with the ordering on that.

I think that I've seen a statistic somewhere that on a typical weekend more people will go to see a non-league match than will go to see one in the Premiership. Considering how many non-league teams there are, this seems plausible (notwithstanding the fact that I rather mischievously regard Premiership teams as being non-league since 1993 :-) )
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:February 18th, 2003 05:26 pm (UTC)
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For the record, Gillingham are vaguely unpleasant but Colchester United are vaguely unpleasant and vaguely near Cambridge, so I think I can help you with the ordering on that.

I can believe that. At the Gillingham/Colchester level it would be down to friends' preferences to decide which team would get the nod.

Premiership vs. Non-League: interesting. There ought to be some stats about this. Off the top of my head I'd estimate the combined Premiership attendance at about 300,000-350,000, so we'd need fifty non-league leagues with ten matches per league and a mean attendance of 600-700 to beat the Premiership. Plausible? Mmm... probably not, but within a factor of two, I'd say.
[User Picture]
From:ericklendl
Date:February 19th, 2003 04:55 am (UTC)
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The Premiership vs. non-league thing is still interesting. It strikes me that I heard that statistic some years ago, when the highest capacity club stadium held something like 45,000. I believe Old Trafford will now hold something close to 70,000 (and generally does!) - calling that 20,000 extra people on one of the gates absorbs close to 1000 10th-level games. And there probably aren't 1000 10th level games.

A glance at the newspaper on Sunday suggests that Nationwide Conference games probably average a little over 1000, 6th-level leagues can be between 150 and 1000+... part of the question then is how far down do you go? There are plenty of organised leagues below the 10th level - when I was at Uni I house-shared with a chap starting out as a referee (he's now climbed the ladder to the point where he's either assistant referee or actually refereeing AFC Wimbledon, amongst others), and remember taking phone messages allocating him some seriously exotic fixtures. Dilham vs. Trunch is one that has stuck in my mind as particularly comical, and this would be well below anything listed in the pyramid. To cut to the chase, this was something like Norfolk County League Division 5, and some people undoubtedly will have watched that game.
[User Picture]
From:ringbark
Date:February 18th, 2003 01:00 am (UTC)

Various comments to this post

(Link)
I wait keenly to read about the congestion tax in news:comp.risks - PGN will surely have something to say about it shortly.
Your sudden switch in subject from Singapore to Iraq fascinated me. I undersatnd that free (thought) internet in Singapore is pretty much non-existent too (excuse me if I'm out of date) because everything comes through 4 mega proxy servers and if Singov don't like the site, it's not available to you unless you dial up to a foreign ISP.
It is a bewilderment to me why so many people who can't point to Manchester on a map should support the Scum. They even seem to think that I will be impressed by it. You can read or buy Scum fan magazines here. Generally, they are the only team which gets Sky coverage. Why? Why? Why? (see Martha, the soul of a beast - non sequitur) Pity my fellow non-Scum supporters. In our office we have Man City and Ipswich supporters too.
Chris, you really need to get a job, if only to stop you writing such enormously long LJ entries.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:February 18th, 2003 05:08 pm (UTC)

Re: Various comments to this post

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Actually, Singapore is a lot more liberal than other Asian countries. There's pretty much free access to the Internet (p0rn, kazaa, political and satirical sites like talkingcock.com).

[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:February 18th, 2003 05:30 pm (UTC)

Re: Various comments to this post

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Chris, you really need to get a job, if only to stop you writing such enormously long LJ entries.

Workin' on it. :-) (Though help that people can offer certainly would be appreciated!)

One of the unwritten rules about nicknames is that there is no one team whose nickname is The Scum. Your least favourite team (no... your deadliest rivals) will generally earn the nickname The Scum. That said, for the last few years, Man U have probably been referred to as The Scum more frequently by the inhabitants of the UK than any other team.

Do I think of Chelsea as The Scum? Well, not really. I'd give you The Overpaid Overhyped Undertalented Poncy Gits, though.
[User Picture]
From:tall_man
Date:February 18th, 2003 01:26 am (UTC)
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> An own goal might be compared to a safety in American Football except that it concedes the full value of a touchdown rather than just two points; you might also compare it to two or three errors in a MLB game

I'd almost say it's even more than just the equivalent of a touchdown or a couple of errors (or even walking a batter with the bases loaded). From what I've seen of international play (the US pro soccer league -- MLS -- is different enough to potentially be excluded from this statement, as have the 2 Mexican league games I've seen), a single goal in a soccer game is often the deciding factor. There's a lot of 1-0 and 1-2 games, as well as ties, right? Not so many American football games, nor baseball, are decided by a single scoring event.

> 8. Liverpool. Won something like twelve championships out of twenty over the '70s and '80s, had greater dominance than Manchester United are thought of as doing today. Have been rather endearingly wobbly since.

Sounds like the Chicago Bulls in the NBA during Micheal Jordan's stint with them. Most assuredly the most recognized NBA franchise at the time, and still well-known because of it. Probably one of the best basketball teams ever assembled (well... with the exception of the US Olympic basketball teams from 1992 to present).

> 20. Chelsea. (Southwest London.) Painfully trendy, offensively rich team with a strong continental European feel, completely against the English traditions of hard work. (Dad also has something against them due to some sort of stitch-up with Stoke City to deny Sunderland promotion one season forty years ago.)

ericklendl compared them to the New York Yankees, which I can agree with, but I think you could also compare them to the Florida Marlins during the 1997 season ("the season they bought the Series," as many non-Marlins baseball fans call it). It's a simple plan, really -- assemble one of the best lineups in the game, all costs be damned, to win a championship. Heck, the Yankees have been doing it for years :-) . And, the Marlins are from Miami, arguably the trendiest city east of the Mississippi.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:February 18th, 2003 05:35 pm (UTC)
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Yes, you're right about the magnitude of the effect of a single goal. I think the mean number of goals per Premiership game is somewhere around two and a half. I have a vague feeling that the distribution is not too far from Poisson. Oh, and n-n games are always draws, never ties. :-) (You do get both ties and draws in cricket - or, rather, ties in one-day cricket and draws in extended games, but that's another matter.)

I'd believe the Bulls analogy. There was a piece on the BBC News web site about Jordan's 40th birthday a day or two back, which was rather higher-profile than I would have expected.
[User Picture]
From:tall_man
Date:February 18th, 2003 09:39 pm (UTC)
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What's the difference between a tie and a draw? Does one go to a shootout format (like MLS, or some hockey leagues), while the other just leaves the game as even?

And how does that apply to cricket? (Not that, as an American, I have a great deal of knowledge about cricket, but I've at least read through the rules once... So I'm slightly better-informed than my compatriots...)
From:daweaver
Date:February 19th, 2003 06:08 am (UTC)
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In cricket, a tie occurs when both sides are all out twice, with scores exactly level. For instance:
Australia 250 & 225
India 275 & 200
would be a tie.

A draw occurs when the match cannot be completed (both sides are all out twice) within the alloted playing days. This tends to happen in the event of rain, slow play, or strong batting. The largest test score - Lara's 375 - took place in a match that ended in a draw. So few wickets were taken that both sides were all out just once, not twice.
[User Picture]
From:ringbark
Date:February 18th, 2003 01:37 am (UTC)

Iraqis

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Which of the LJers might really be in Iraq? All the ones I looked at seemed to be American wankers.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:February 18th, 2003 05:48 pm (UTC)

Re: Iraqis

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Hmm, maybe we don't need "Is my blog hot or not", we need "Is my blog Iraqi or not"? :-)

letsgiveup - tend to believe Iraqi, but could be convinced not.
oger - "Los Angeles, California, Iraq", so not.
greensinger - not, but kind of interesting.
itsacardigan - not.
thrilainmanilla - not.

OK, those are the five most recently updated ones on the list and we're batting .200 at best. I found some Russian-language ones which I was prepared to believe were actually Iraq-based last night, but further thought suggests that maybe they're actually Russian and just wanting to make an anti-American reference instead.

I'm curious now. If any of the Iraq ones really were Iraqi, would their authors be big LJ stars by now, I wonder?
[User Picture]
From:bateleur
Date:February 18th, 2003 02:25 am (UTC)

Tax and Cars

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"against all the odds, it seems to have actually worked vaguely well on day one"

What odds ?

As I see it, the congestion charge could never be other than a huge success (except in the event of computer systems failure or similar). Remember that the detractors were - surprize, surprize - mostly members of various pro-motoring pressure groups. Motoring advocacy is certainly the darker side of libertarian philosophy... if I can use 'philosophy' to refer to a horde of selfish and shortsighted randoms who prefer not to think about any issue except to sweep their dirt under someone else's carpet.

The only thing which surprized me about the whole thing is that Red Ken actually managed to weather the pre-charge storm and get the thing up and running. So a big round of applause to him, then !
[User Picture]
From:addedentry
Date:February 18th, 2003 05:45 am (UTC)

Re: Taxes and Taxis

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An intellectually honest libertarian might balk at the massive state subsidies for the road network: as The Guardian pointed out last week, electronic road pricing was advocated by Milton Friedman.

It's been entertaining watching the media cope with the absence of problems. Yesterday's Metro had printed an anticipatory front page screaming that motorists 'are battling into work this morning amid scenes of chaos' (not a direct quote, but you get the idea). This was contradicted by the uniform impression of my friends and colleagues that central London streets had never been so wonderfully, delightfully clear.
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:February 18th, 2003 05:52 pm (UTC)

Re: Tax and Cars

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except in the event of computer systems failure or similar

Those were the odds. :-) I was also vaguely expecting some rather better-organised civil disobedience, too.

Indeed yay for Ken! I'd vote for him. I do hope he isn't rewarded for his vision by immediate de-election - or, at least, that the congestion charging part of his vision survives his term of office.
[User Picture]
From:picklepuss
Date:February 18th, 2003 07:28 am (UTC)
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So this congestion charge, it is a fee you pay to drive around in the city during peak business hours. Is that correct? That seems like a lovely idea for promoting mass transit which will NEVER reach this side of the Atlantic. We are fiercely protective of our traffic problems.

Sunderland it is. You supported my beloved Raiders despite the embarrassment and I shall return the favor. But it'll be soccer until the day I day.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:February 18th, 2003 06:02 pm (UTC)
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To be fair, you have High Occupancy Vehicle lanes on some roads, which are a baby step in the right direction. I understood they had been considered and rejected here, mostly because implementation of detecting and catching offenders is tricky, but I definitely saw one on the A58 into Leeds on Saturday - the first one I'd ever seen in this country. (Admittedly, just a 2+ passenger lane, so not very high occupancy.)

Next: the roundabout, the underground tunnel roundabouts of Norway and the magic roundabout of Hemel Hempstead.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:March 8th, 2003 07:58 am (UTC)

footballing stuff

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some very interesting footy lists there.:) charlton is in SE london btw, in the borough of greenwich. their nearest big team is millwall, which i think is in lewisham, or near that borough anyway. re. your pessimism about gates going down next season when the mackems go down (sorry about that, i've always liked the mackems and a mate from barnard castle is a fan, it is a shame, especially personally given i have no love lost for the toon; this current sunderland team have on occasion this season played some of the worst footy i have ever seen in the top flight tho' as i'm sure you'd agree frankly), never fear! if a team like the baggies goes down, then someone like pompey won't have much worse gates, and certainly leicester have good support. however, the crucial point to remember here is that man city are moving into their new ground 48,000 capacity, and they'll fill it (indeed, will pick up a better average gate than sunderland currently have) so really, if anything, it's entirely possibly the prem average gate might go up again. as for more people watching a non-league match than the prem on a saturday, that is *definitely* true. the comments about only there for the beer are probably fair.;) nah, seriously, i think the best way to define a team that takes it seriously, has heritage, support, isn't *just* a pub team etc. is one that can be entered in the FA vase. so, by that standard, there's a certain identifiable bottom level before the outfit you watch with your dog turns into a works/pub team etc. there's probably about a dozen or more levels between that and the conf' i'd say. re. the comments about the scum, i don't really hear that at all nowadays about anyone. there was a time when of course you'd refer to one of your main rivals as the scum and think of something more imaginative for the other rivals, but nowadays everyone seems to have thought of some clever slur to label local rivals with, and done away with the scum. i dunno, it all seems a bit twentieth century or something. i apologise for waffling on, but i'm going to close now with my version of your descending order prefs list. i loved reading your list. cheers! 1. man city }my team etc. ----------- 2. the albion 3. blooz (of brum) }wonderful teams ----------- 4. mackems 5. the hammers }all muy pretty good 6. charlton 7. saints ----------- 8. boro 9. gooners }nowt against any of these 10. blues (of chel-soi) ----------- 11. fulham 12. villa }these are all joke clubs/fans, esp' villa 13. bolton ----------- 14. spurs 15. blackburn }only londoners i genuinely don't like 16. newcastle ----------- 17. leeds }leeds "nobhead team nobhead fans" etc. ----------- 18. everton }not quite as bad as our red rivals, but still scousers ----------- 19. liverpool }truly, the face of evil 20. united ----------- P.S. was very impressed you'd not relegated the toon and boro to the bottom, like a 'normal' sland fan.;) not everyone is a sad tribal git! kudos sir.

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