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?