2. The world has nagged me into getting a mobile phone - or, rather, doing something with the mobile phone I was given for the Christmas before last. Much against my better judgement and cultural mores, there may be a "send a text message to jiggery_pokery" option springing into life when I can get it to work. Some day I might even tell you the number.
3. Puzzle preparation continues apace; I retried the 2001 qualifying test as part of my practice schedule. In 2001, competing for real, I scored 110; this year, with the benefit of experience, I went as high as... 95. Oh. For those practicing at home - just six more days to register, remember! - perhaps beating me may not be such a daunting challenge after all.
4. In boxing, apparently the cruiserweight division's weight limit was recently raised from 190 pounds (13 stone 8) to 200 pounds (14 stone 4). Given that the best light heavyweights - 175 lbs. and below - have proved that they can bulk up sufficiently to compete in the unlimited weight category, doesn't this make the cruiserweight division even more irrelevant than before?
5. Call me cynical, but I wonder if pre-eminent British polling site YouGov's transition from paying lots of small 50p payments (which accumulate until payout at £50) to paying a small number of large payments, distributed by lottery, is coincident with many accounts starting to approach the crucial £50 level? Wouldn't it be lovely if YouGov were to offer those it polls a choice of a definite 50p or, alternatively, a chance to win hundreds at their preference?
6. Three cheers for Cartridge World, a chain who sell and refill printer cartridges. I went there for a refill today after my driving lesson and promptly left my driving lesson record book there, also forgetting to collect my change from paying for the refill. I phoned them up later and asked whether it was possible that I had left my change there, which might explain a £10 discrepancy at the end of the day. Sure enough, I got a phone call letting me know that they would send the money through along with the record book which I had left there and forgotten about.
7. British board game fans note that the booking deadline for Manorcon is next Friday, June 17th. Without my work hat on, this is easily the best con in the country for board games ranging from the likes of The Settlers of Catan (and shorter) up to Diplomacy (and longer). I've missed the last two years' events due to Nimbus - 2003 and my gorgeous girlfriend dezzikitty but it would take incentives as large as those to make me miss out on the event for another year. Birmingham University, 15th to 18th July. It's friendly and welcoming to those whose passion for, and desire to learn new, board games exceeds their knowledge of specific ones.
8. One news story we haven't been hearing nearly as much as perhaps we could have done is that new calculations have reduced Britain's calculations to the EU budget by £630,000,000 - so we stand to get pay less money than we used to. In these times when the EU want to limit the size of the rebate Britain pays, but Britain (comfortable in the size of its current contribution) does not want its rebate to be reduced, would the win-win solution not be for Britain not to accept this contribution cut? In this way, Britain pays no more than it used to and so can claim victory that way and Europe can be pleased that they're getting £630,000,000 more than they had expected from us.
Obviously more money for Britain is good from our perspective, but when we've been performing better than the other major contributors for years it probably stands to reason that it's our turn to contribute more to the pot - after all, if the reverse were true, then we'd want to get more back. Additionally, there must be at least some of the moral imperative to make poverty history in Eastern Europe if we wish to do so in Africa. Admittedly only one of those two regions has catastrophic, almost inhospitable natural geographical disadvantages and years of government that we would consider bizarre, but... er, hang on...
9. The World Series of Poker has started! Already it's looking like last year's roughly threefold growth is set to continue this year - after 2,576 players last year and 839 the year before, this year's announced limit of 6,600 is set to be reached fairly soon and they might conceivably break their self-imposed limit yet. However, there's a whole month of poker competitions before that, already well under way. (Happily, the British players seem to be sending a very promising number of representatives to the final tables.) Indeed, the opening $1,500 no-limit texas hold'em event attracted 2,305 entries, the second highest in WSoP history behind only last year's main event. Mike Paulle and Daniel Lazerek are blogging live from the event.
The other fun poker development is The Poker Show, hosted by Late Night Poker commentator Jesse May, of whom I have written once or twice in these parts. It's an attempt to do a traditional Carson/Letterman style talk show with poker player guests, running features and co-host Padraig Parkinson who I'm well prepared to believe is extremely funny most of the time but so far (two shows in) doesn't look quite used to being expected to be funny on demand, though he does get an odd zinger in. On the negative side, the music is terrible, there's lots of time dedicated to a small number of adverts (repeated over and over again) and some gags outstay their welcome quickly - for instance, the Fabulous Las Vegas canned laughter gag only worked once, if that, not twice a show. On the positive side, everything else. Net result: +EV. It's far better than, say, chess.fm, and that was the best going at the time.
10. Earth is sending a spaceship of its finest specimens to conquer the universe and there is only room for one passenger within whose contribution will be a voice to commentate upon the universe's sporting events. There are clearly only two real contenders. Who survives? You decide!
Who's the voice? Or, rather, whose the voice?
Jesse "The Voice Of Poker" May (see The Poker Show above)
Alan "The Voice Of The Balls" Dedicoat (NB this has deliberately been included as a blatantly wrong option and anyone who selects it is confessing to ignorance and poor taste of the highest order)