2. Google-proof lyrics quiz. Identify the following pop music hit:
Bah-bo bay-bo bubbadah bah-bah-bah bu-bubbityIt charted respectably in the UK and elsewhere at some point within the last 20 years. dezzikitty is disqualified as I sent her an .mp3 of it. ETA: radinden wins! See his comment for the answer.
Bah-bo bay-bo bubbadah bah-bah-bah de-bubbity
Pah-bo pay-bo pubbadah pah-bo pay-bo pubbadah
Pah-bo pay-bo pubbadah bah-bah-bah ba-bubbity
3. I had a dream a while ago about a new (US) American team in Formula One racing who had signed Mike Tyson as a driver. It's not as if he's much of a boxer any more, what with having won exactly one bout since 2001, and Formula One needs something to raise its US profile after the Indianapolis GP this year. I think the F1 team may have been Golden Palace Racing - it's the sort of publicity stunt they'd pull...
4. Are any of you going up to the Whitby Goth Weekend in a couple of days by train? I intercepted the train on which lnr et al arrived into Middlesbrough (where you must change en route) last year and it was a good opportunity to catch up with people who I wouldn't otherwise see.
5. Interesting to see you can now "Pick 1" on National Lottery HotPicks; pick a number from 1 to 49 and if it's one of the six regular balls out in the draw then you get £5 back. Sure, a poor gamble (you ought to get £81/6 back) but this represents an expected return of 61.22% rather than other National Lottery games' expected return of 50%. If the good causes still get 28%, the government still takes 12% and Camelot pay the retailer 5% commission, do Camelot really lose 6.22p on each ticket sold?
It's still not a good game to play, but it's significantly better than most. Arguably you would be better off by placing a 72p bet on the 49s game offered by Blue Square because you can pick which Good Cause the remaining 28p goes to and a successful selection would return £5.04 instead of £5, but this must still surely be considered good news for lazy people with exactly one lucky lottery number.
6. A fascinating insight into how brands are viewed in the UK is available at BrandIndex, though I can't imagine the freebie-download PDF will be at all frequently updated; I was surprised to see that the single least well-regarded snack brand in the UK is the mighty Krispy Kreme. Admittedly, the one KK store I found in London didn't seem to have a HOT sign at all, so no telling when the doughnuts would be at their best. Without the HOT sign being lit, they're just doughnuts. From the right-hand column, we also learn that the most desired places in the country at which to work are Aston Martin, Sony and Virgin Atlantic.
7. I do like The Times; while the news stories must be taken with at least as large a pinch of salt as you would any other paper, the columnists are a lot of fun and it's like following a frequently really interesting Friends page. Matthew Parris is very charismatic, Julie Birchill writes whatever she likes and gets away with it because she's her, Portillo and Rees-Mogg can at least write even if their views abhor me and the sports line-up of Giles Smith and Simon Barnes is peerless. (Barnes' piece on Britain's World Cup policemen is hilarious and affectionate and this piece reveals Jose Mourinho to be the most human football manager since Brian Clough.
8. Further down the line, we have dates announced for the 2006 MIT Mystery Hunt. For practice, it might be fun to get a group of us together to try to crack at least parts of The Puzzle Boat (as pointed out by quiz_master_man). Trying to fix a time and a date to have a go at this for several hours is probably the way ahead. Anyone else interested? (tablesaw - not you, you know too much, obviously... *grin*)
9. Meg and I inadvertently watched a very bizarre TV show on our last night in the USA, called An Eye For An Eye. It seems to be Jerry Springer without even that show's vague attempts at providing a moral to the story, in a courtroom format. The plaintiff and the defendant have a highly tawdry dispute and insult each other greatly. The audience insult both of them; in the episode I saw, it ran along the lines of "the plaintiff is just jealous, but the defendant is a slut". The judge, "Extreme Akim", insults both participants and issues a ludicrous punishment - for instance, in the episode we saw, he sentenced the participants to mud wrestling. (It wasn't even a good mud wrestling segment at the end of the show... not that I'm an expert on the subject. Perhaps.) Some accidental fixture of pop culture called Kato Kaelin hosts. I'm glad I saw the show once, but I have no desire to see it a second time.
10. Finally, some quick reviews of books I read on my trip:
Are YOU Dave Gorman? by Dave Gorman & Danny Wallace. Dave Gorman bets Danny Wallace that he can take him to meet 54 other people, all called Dave Gorman. Wacky hi-jinks ensue. Dave and Danny write affectionately about their adventures and the people they meet, with some lovely silly wordplay. This is as much fun as Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure, which succeeded it by a couple of years; somehow, this was a pleasant surprise. Both authors write well. Silly feelgood fun and very easy reading.
Busting Vega$: the MIT Whiz Kid who brought the casinos to their knees by Ben Mezrich. If I have a favourite extremely obscure sub-genre of books, it might just be books about casinos losing money. A classic MIT oddball observes and exploits anomalies in the way casino blackjack dealers shuffle and cut cards, so that one hand per deck, the players have a massive edge over the house. They exploit this by playing small stakes and losing little bits until the hand where they have a big advantage, then usually making a massive win. The casinos catch on quickly. They move to casinos around the world and get caught pretty quickly at each one. Can't help feeling that they might have had much more success in the long term if they had flown under the radar by not milking their advantage so hard. Surprising, but fitting, conclusion; easy reading, satisfyingly detailed, well written. If the premise appeals, recommended.
America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction by John Stewart. Have only read a little over half of this so far, but clearly very lovingly written with tons of jokes packed in. Pressed my "heh, that's clever and funny" button more than once most pages, but has only made me laugh out loud a couple of times so far. Seemed to be very similar in tone to the UK's Have I Got News For You? book, based on the little I've seen of it. Am looking forward to finishing this.