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It's only a game, so put up a real good fight - Many a mickle maks a muckle

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October 29th, 2005

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10:22 pm - It's only a game, so put up a real good fight
1) The clocks go back tonight. Well, they do for a minority of the world, but the majority of my Friends list. (No move for Arizona folk and lambertman, I think, and they go forward for at least sylvertongue.)

2) If you want to know a little more about the Quidditch tournament we held at The Witching Hour a couple of weeks ago - though it feels like months back! - then you may well enjoy this extremely accessible piece that the US National Public Radio's "Only A Game" radio show featured about us. It is affectionate, supportive and lovingly produced, with several people getting air time. Well done, everybody! (Slight inaccuracy: the referees had significantly more than five minutes' training before the start - an hour, though it was frequently interrupted throughout.) The Quidditch segment starts about 37 minutes 28 seconds through. It appears to be in RealAudio format only, I'm afraid, which might put a few folks off. Suddenly I want to go and listen to all Karen Given's quick overview pieces now... ;-)

3) I have had something like 50 hours of driving lessons by now - probably more - and will be sitting my practical test at 9:37am on Saturday November 12th. While I made 10 minor faults and 3 serious errors in only 20 minutes' driving in the lesson before last, the most recent one went so much better that I'm not giving up hope. The most recent driving lesson also featured a spectacularly beautiful double rainbow, which was a real treat; possibly the single best rainbow(s) I've seen.

4) Very interesting article from the BBC about the development of weather records. The backlash is surprisingly rational and unsensational, possibly to excess; I have a theory (there is so little, or no, evidence or rationale behind it, so either superstition or supposition are probably more accurate than theory) that we are not so likely to experience mass global warming as we are to experience mass global climatic extremism: not only will the hottests get hotter, the coldests will get colder, the driests will get dryer, the wettests will get wetter, the windiests will get windier and so on - to a significantly greater extent than if we were simply continuing to take many data samples from a distribution that does not change over time.

5) People travelling from the UK to the US may well be interested in Thomson's current offer: load an American Express Traveller's Cheque Card up with at least $700 and they'll give you $50 free. The card works as a prepaid stored value card wherever Amex is accepted; I loaded mine with $714, plus $50 free, so to be able to withdraw $380 from cash machines twice and pay $2 fees each time (unless I use one of a few particular banks, which I probably won't). The free money makes the effective exchange rate exceptionally good; my USD 764 cost me GBP 418.02 for a rate of USD 1.827 per pound, a full five cents better than Interbank. Heck, there's even an arbitrage opportunity here (bring $760 back home and sell them for more than £418.02) but we don't need arbitrageurs.

ETA: I think AmEx will hit the card with a $2.50 fee every time I use it to withdraw cash from an ATM as well as the ATM owners charging me $2. Woe. Must stick another $5 on there accordingly. Still a good deal, but not as good a deal as I thought.

6) Lastly, would this make an interesting solo format for basketball, (association) football or any other similar goal-based game?

Format: six players, half a pitch. No goalkeepers (etc). The game is played over ten rounds. In each round, each player (in turn) gets a chance to lead an attack, being named lead attacker for that attack. In the first round, the order is random; in round two, the players are lead attacker in order of their round one scores (least to most), in all future rounds the players are lead attacker in order of their total scores (least to most). Highest score wins.

On each attack, each player can be either an attacker or a defender. To begin with, the lead attacker is the only attacker and all the other players are defenders. The lead attacker starts with the ball at the half-way line and the other players start behind the goal. When the attack starts, players have unrestricted motion and the attacker has 30 seconds to score a goal, or until the ball goes out of bounds.

However, the lead attacker can pass the ball to any of the defenders, and a defender who receives the ball becomes an attacker too. As more players touch the ball, they all become attackers - so, in any attack, there will be at least one attacker (the lead attacker) and potentially all six. Should a goal be scored, all the attackers for that attack share 60 points (so a sole lead attacker scores 60, two attackers score 30 each, three attackers score 20 each and so on).

The key rule is that should an attack be unsuccessful - whether the ball goes out of play or the time expires - then all the unsuccessful attackers on one attack are unable to become attackers on the next attack. (Exception: the lead attacker on an attack is always an attacker.) Fouls are punished by points being deducted from the player who commits the foul and repeating the attack.

Accordingly, this is solo sport with elements of diplomacy: the team structure will be forever changing and the decision whether to pass to a player and make them a co-attacker depends on your perception of not only how likely they are to score but also whether they are likely to pass to someone else outside your control. Alliances could well shift throughout the game - there may be some co-operation (you make me an attacker one time, I'll make you one next time) and such co-operation may be punished by other players choosing to refuse to co-operate with them.

Would this work? Would this be interesting to play? Would this be interesting to watch? For which goal-based sports would this be most or least likely to work?
Current Mood: happyhappy

(14 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:October 29th, 2005 09:49 pm (UTC)
I know it's a catchphrase, but why don't we need arbitrageurs? If we can do it right, we'll make pots of money from abrbitrage, and the people paying me will have nobody to blame but themselves.
[User Picture]
Date:October 31st, 2005 02:48 am (UTC)
Broadly I agree with you up to a point; see the Tobin tax, passim, and beingjdc's surprising defence thereof. Really it was just an attempt to score cool points by using the catchphrase. I saw a minute or two of the show, and listened to possibly a minute of it. It's an attempt to do a money show using the sensibilities of a wrestling show. Booyah indeed.
[User Picture]
Date:October 29th, 2005 10:23 pm (UTC)
The football idea sounds intriguing, but would need a few more rules. To start with, what counts as a pass ? Can I take a shot at goal and then treat it as a pass instead if some defender intercepts it ?

My first thought about strategy is that you kick the ball in a very high arc, aiming to come down very near the goal, then call it as a pass to whichever defender you think is best placed to finish the job.
[User Picture]
Date:October 31st, 2005 02:51 am (UTC)
I was intending everything which could be ruled a pass, deliberate or otherwise, to be ruled a pass.

Is there any reason why a potential attacker wouldn't want to score from whatever they could, or refrain from involving themselves in any attack that they thought had a good chance of scoring? Perhaps the penalty for being involved in a failed attack - "miss a go" - isn't large enough.
[User Picture]
Date:October 31st, 2005 06:59 am (UTC)
Is there any reason why a potential attacker wouldn't want to score from whatever they could

Not that I can think of. Which is the problem.

In normal football, a big but hopeless kick at the goal is a bad idea, because most of the players in that area are defenders, who will be trying to stop a goal. In this version, everyone in the area will be trying to put the ball in the net, which isn't going to be hard. The only question is which of them manage to be involved. By starting off taking the ball most of the way to the goal through the air, you maximise the chance that only one or two will get a touch in.
Date:October 30th, 2005 02:13 am (UTC)
How cool to have been on Only a Game! Looking forward to listening.

[User Picture]
Date:October 31st, 2005 02:52 am (UTC)
Thanks! There's not many people for whom the appearance would have a cachet, but I think it has some gamer geek cred :-D
[User Picture]
Date:October 30th, 2005 04:42 am (UTC)
I loved that they aired the clip of you informing us that we 4 refs were the world's leading quidditch experts. I am attempting to not let it go to my head.
[User Picture]
Date:October 31st, 2005 02:53 am (UTC)
I was rather hoping they'd use that line... :-D

It was true, though, and it gave you the confidence you needed and deserved!
[User Picture]
Date:October 30th, 2005 08:00 am (UTC)
I think your proposition that we're going to see extremes of weather beyond temperature increases makes a lot of sense, and indeed I think some of those believing in global warming think that themselves. It's just that a general global increase in temperature is the headline-grabbing fact and also leads to other changes, which include but aren't limited to increased temperatures.

And talking of extreme weather, as I type Hurricane Beta - the twenty-third named Atlantic storm of the season - is about to make landfall in Nicaragua, potentially as a Category 3 major hurricane. This is scary.
[User Picture]
Date:October 31st, 2005 02:59 am (UTC)
Wikipedia's coverage of the hurricane season has been quite something. It's interesting to see that Greek letter hurricane names cannot be retired; fingers crossed, there is no reason to reconsider that convention. Hurricane Aleph, Beth, Gimel and the rest await. (Actually, there doesn't seem to be a single definitive transliteration of the names of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet; several characters have more than one transliteration.)

Are there other alphabets whose characters have names that might be used for hurricane-naming purposes?
Date:October 30th, 2005 11:06 am (UTC)
1. Unless, that is, you are setting your clock by BBC-1 Ceefax. My video recorder does that, and (at 10.42 GMT), the Beeb is still reporting the time in BST. Do I have to write another two-page screed about the inaccurancy of Auntie's clocks?

3. Well, good luck. And if you do see another rainbow, do tell Rod, Jane, or Roger.

4. You're right: the "global warming" hypothesis suggests that the weather will get more extreme, as various changes tend to introduce more energy into an otherwise closed system.

Just to add to the awkwardness, there is plenty of evidence that the climate does change over time, independently of human activity. The 1600s were particularly cold, the Domesday Book records vinyards across southern England. Some degree of climate change is inevitable, and we can presume that climate change is occurring at the moment.

The largest variable, though, is the power output of the sun, which tends to be correlated to the number of sunspots. In turn, this has been on a general upward trend since the 1600s, perhaps reaching a peak around 25 years ago, and perhaps a cycle length of ~800 years. Just as the weather continues to heat up for about an eighth of a year following the longest day, so one might expect the weather to become more energetic for the next hundred years or so.

The fundamental question thus becomes: is the activity of humanity altering this climate change process in any way? If it is, are there steps we can take to stop altering the natural process, or does humanity have the ability and the right to attempt to reverse the natural process? Sticking one's head in the sand and pretending that climate change isn't happening is a policy for fools. Oh.

6. Which game? I'd suggest something like Aussie Rules, in which the object is to kick (or more likely run) the ball between two posts, height no object.

Practical objection. How are you proposing to denote those players who can be an attacker in that play? Reversible shirts? Sashes? That'll make it relatively slow and bitty to play.
[User Picture]
Date:October 31st, 2005 03:07 am (UTC)
3. Thanks!

4. Thanks also; you're trying to put some actual substance into (at best) a half-baked speculation. Seems entirely reasonable, though I haven't thought about this nearly enough to reach definite conclusions.

6. I was thinking sashes or similar velcro indicators (consider a large white patch and a similarly shaped and sized black patch on each jersey, of which exactly one must be covered at any time according to the attacker/defender status) on the kit but with today's technology, there are many exciting possibilities. Remotely controlled LEDs woven into the fabric of the kit, in colours and/or patterns to reflect the attacker/defender status, spring to mind.
[User Picture]
Date:November 1st, 2005 04:08 am (UTC)
Hey, thanks for the wedding gift!! It was entirely unexpected, and will be quite useful!

We'll be sending out a more formal thank you later, but I thought I'd acknowledge.

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