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Wednesday ten-spot - Many a mickle maks a muckle

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May 28th, 2008


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03:21 pm - Wednesday ten-spot
1) The Department of Corrections wishes to apologise: I have been a strong proponent of the concept that the Instant Runoff part of the vote in the ongoing LiveJournal Advisory Board election won't generate a candidate with 51% of the vote and so the result will be decided by just first preferences. I misunderstood the process, I was wrong, I was loud and publically wrong about it; I am sorry for not thinking about it harder before I spoke out in an attempt to make a first post - or, at least, the first expression of my viewpoint.

Barring a fluke, the Instant Runoff procedure will determine a winner as expected and so all three of your preferences could count. See Iain's analysis of how preferences might transfer based on a snapshot of the numbers and some reasonable-seeming assumptions; in conclusion, it may well still be very close.

The deadline for votes is 9pm PDT on Thursday 29th May, which is 5am BST on Friday 30th May and you can work out the time in other time zones yourself. Read information on the candidates, then cast (or change) your vote. To me, this has become an election that is about the polarising sense of humour of a leading candidate, which I consider to be so offensively mean-spirited that I am prepared to cast my vote in order to make sure that that candidate does not win. (Not what I had hoped or expected to base my voting rationale on, but sometimes you don't get a choice.)

I am happy to discuss my voting preferences privately; if you consider yourself fannish, you may wish to consider aligning with this bloc vote. I wouldn't necessarily expect conclusive voting results immediately after the announced election deadline, either, as there are may well be some accusations of malpractice from, and on, all sides that run on horribly for days, weeks or months. The whole election has caused me to re-examine some of my attitudes about apparently unrelated matters; possibly more of that some other day.

2) I'm really enjoying Fighting Talk, a weekly panel game on BBC Radio Five Live that can reasonably be considered the British counterpart to American "competitive" sports punditry shows like Around The Horn. It's one that rewards repeat listening simply because it is hosted so confidently as to be able to play with its format, build up in-jokes and so on, and frequently the humour is far closer to the knuckle than you'd expect for a show broadcast on a Saturday morning, when people might be eating a light brunch.

There are a few of you out there who I think would enjoy it, potentially enough for the hilarity and atmosphere to outweigh the downside of a degree of unfamiliarity with British sports. There's a "best of" programme coming up this Saturday which could be a good starting point for first-timers; read more and listen live or download the podcast from Saturday afternoon onwards. There may also be some old podcast .mp3s available if you decide you're a fan.

3) While we're talking about radio, a show I ought to listen to more than I do in practice is More Or Less - easy listening about numerical matters in real life. (As it's an Open University co-production, full archives are readily available. Thumbs up!) Weeks ago, Iain pointed to an episode with a feature on the passing of Dungeons & Dragons (co-)inventor Gary Gygax, which is very well-handled. The show is presented by Tim Harford, who some of us were fortunate enough to first bump into (twice!) at university; he is an entertaining writer with a style of explanation that is unsually easy to read, so there's no surprise at all he has grown up to be a high-calibre economic journalist and an up-and-coming presenter.

A lesser-known fact is that he has genuinely cool indie RPG credentials, and lesser known still is that he was (and quite possibly still is) pretty damn accomplished at laser games. In short, if you are an RPG fan who has long wondered "when will a genuine RPG fan become famous and talk passionately but perfectly naturally about RPGs in the mass media without it being part of a freak show?" then this is your opportunity. Enough name-dropping. (Boing!) Given that two out of my first three points here have come from Iain's hat-tips, you really should just read his very fine blog; here's his RSS feed; it's worth using non-LJ-Friends-list means to do so.

4) And while we're really clearing off the list of things I meant to blog about weeks ago, many congratulations to radinden for his imperious form on University Challenge: the Professionals weeks ago. He was backed up by a strong team, but they couldn't have been nearly as confident as they were if they had not known they had a Rob on board as a not-so-secret weapon.

5) For a long time, I opined that I really didn't particularly care about cheese. Recently, I have discovered a couple of cheeses that I quite like; good mozzarella has a certain something to it, and I can see why people pair it with tomatoes and olive oil so much, whether that's on a pizza base or not, and I'm enjoying Applewood Smoked Cheddar. I don't claim to be a cheese connoisseur making remarkable discoveries, but it's nice to know what you like.

6) It's annoying that I feel the need to have so many different media players on my system. RealPlayer and Apple's Quicktime are sufficiently annoying, principally with their update nagging but also in other ways, that I have installed Real Alternative and QT Lite, which come with "Media Player Classic" because they won't work with the otherwise wonderful VLC. (As usual, do your own research and checks for malware; I reckon they're OK, but I've been wrong before, as recently as point one of this post.) Don't get me started on requiring separate players for odd formats; theoretically this is the sort of job that the One True Player and half a dozen plug-ins ought to fix, but it just doesn't seem to work like that in practice. Grumble, grouch.

7) The counterpart of the above is that one way around is to start converting media from one format to another - if everything's in one format, then, in theory, you only need one player. Meg very kindly got me a lovely wee music player for Christmas that has brought me a surprising amount of joy, and that's why I need to get things that aren't in .mp3 into .mp3. Much as I am not a cheese connoisseur with a demanding palate, I am not a music connoisseur with the finest of ears for lossless vs. lossy compression formats; Koyote Soft's Free Converter does a perfectly adequate job as far as I can tell.

8) Not so long ago, my wife and I went to some restaurant and enjoyed it. We submitted a happy feedback form and I even blogged about it here with a mostly positive review. The restaurant in question has since contacted me (from the data on the feedback card) and invited me to supply a review to a restaurant review site in return for a free meal. Somehow doing that seems unethical in a way that praising it, unprompted, in a manner of my choice does not. Anyone else draw the distinction? Such a practice even seems to come uncomfortably close (though I know it's not and can see the distinction) to sock puppetry, which is apparently now an illegal practice in the UK.

9) I like fig rolls. (These may or may not be the same UK biscuits as the US cookies known as Fig Newtons.) In general, I like fruity biscuits; it doesn't hurt that relatively few of the other people who I see most frequently seem to like them, so they are a safe bet for "sharing biscuits" if you're greedy like me. There was a shortage of them a couple of months ago, which has concluded. Branded fig rolls from a major manufacturer are available once more, but I fear the shortage has permitted them to be rebranded as a premium product among the snack range. Will we ever see own-brand fig rolls at own-brand prices again?

10) My wife made a wonderful (but Friends-locked) post about our holiday in her journal a couple of weeks ago. I'll not attempt to re-tread her ground, but here are some bullet points.
  • Gino's, one of the two famous cheese steak stores in Philadelphia, is probably one of the most patriotic-bordering-on-jingoistic places I've ever visited in the USA, to the point where I preferred to keep my alien accent down. Damn good food, though.

  • It was a huge thrill to see two pandas in real life at the (admirably entrance-charge-free) National Zoo in Washington, DC. We were lucky enough to see them at one of the gaps of a few minutes where there aren't hordes of school parties attracting the pandas' attention, and they were both awake! One panda climbed up a tree to scratch on the branches and then climbed back down in a curious half-dangly fashion. It was wonderful!

  • Washington DC is very probably a world-class museum city; we saw far fewer than we would have liked, but the National Postal Museum was surprisingly good and the National Holocaust Museum was appropriate and appropriately horrible.

  • Yay baseball, but the Washington Nationals may now be very close to the top of my "root against" list.

  • The Washington DC metro system is really pretty good - well, at least for tourists, if possibly not for locals. The seats are unusually comfortable for light rail, though the ticket machines could stand to be redesigned.

  • Thumbs up for Eddie Izzard! I like my comedy fast, but there's always a temptation when you're watching a fast comic to think hard about your laughter so that you don't miss the next laugh to come along the road, which is not as relaxing as watching comedy might be.

  • Weirdest thing I ate was a "Chesapeake club sandwich". The BLT - or, at least, a BLT of the bacon, lettuce and tomato variety, for other sandwiches do attempt to steal the initialism - is known as a classic among sandwiches. Adding chicken and calling it a club sandwich is also well-known and well-appreciated. This added not only chicken but also cheese and a thin layer of crab salad. The end result was overwhelming, rather than good. In the end I ate the ingredients separately, as a fine crab salad open sandwich, a moderate chicken-and-cheese open sandwich and a classic BLT. The three don't combine well, though.

  • Chick-Fil-A remains fantastic, but the burrito I had from Moe's was even better still. Rice, black beans, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, mild peppers, pickles, olives, salsa, guacamole... so many of my favourite things, and by contrast they all did combine well. Very, very well!

  • I have come to the conclusion that I don't like NYC quite as much as I ought to, given how much I like other big cities, and I'm fine with this even though I don't really know why. Central Park is surprisingly well packed with interesting things, though, and I enjoyed watching the chess hustlers at Union Square.

  • The wedding weekend in NYC was lovely, but it made me realise just how lucky we were with the way things outside our control turned out at our wedding. I know Meg's extensive preparation meant that our radius of control encompassed a wide area, but someone out there likes us!

Current Mood: happyhappy

(18 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:matgb
Date:May 28th, 2008 02:44 pm (UTC)
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FWIW, I thought pretty much the same as you on the first point, it was going to devolve to first prefs, I hadn't thought to add up the number of first, 2nd and third prefs. And yes, I'm voting similarly, positively for two candidates then for the best placed to beat the arse candidate, glad I don't need to put the best placed first.

Re Tim and More or Less, I managed to snag most of the podcasts but have never got around to listening, really ought to—Iain mailed me about one but I'd already picked up on it from his blogs (tim_harford_fd & undercover_econ). Really must sit and listen, really like both his first book and his blog.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:June 2nd, 2008 11:29 am (UTC)
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I'm hoping for two or more candidates to represent the non-Cyrillic-alphabet part of the electorate next year - though, if that happens, I fear that the electorate will probably split not so exactly nearly two ways. :-)
[User Picture]
From:huskyteer
Date:May 28th, 2008 02:54 pm (UTC)
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Whoa. I missed the fig roll thing entirely!
[User Picture]
From:lambertman
Date:May 28th, 2008 03:30 pm (UTC)
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Yay for spreading the love of Moe's! \o/

What was it about the Nats that turned you off?
[User Picture]
From:meggitymeg
Date:May 28th, 2008 03:40 pm (UTC)
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I'm going to guess he's referring to the part where they beat the Braves 6-3 on a cold night in late April. ;D Though as bookwench31 pointed out, there's nothing quite like hearing an entire stadium of fans yelling "GO NATS!" at the top of their lungs. ;)

What happened to my Braves icon? Or my Sox one, for that matter? *sigh*
[User Picture]
From:rialtus
Date:May 28th, 2008 03:43 pm (UTC)
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6) I have been ripping all of my CDs into a format called FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Compression). It results in a file that is exactly what is on the disc with no audio loss. I can then play that on my computer with (wait for it) a plug in or a FLAC player. But I can play the native files on my Sonos just fine, and that's where I want the fidelity anyway.

7) If you are needing to rip CDs and convert existing files to MP3 or practically any other format, I highly recommend dBpoweramp. I rip the CDs in both FLAC format (see above) and MPEG-4 for Jen's iPod at the same time. Again, if only everyone would agree to a single standard...

8) Sounds very fishy to me.

10) Jen and I also partook of the National Postal Museum and had teh same reaction -- unexpectedly fun! IIRC, we didn't even know it existed, but ended up near Union Station once and heard something about it. We figured it'd be something to do for an hour or two and ended up spending quite a bit of time there.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:June 2nd, 2008 11:32 am (UTC)
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See, one of the things that I had to use that music converter was to convert FLAC files to .mp3s... :-)

There's a surprisingly large quantity of fascinating things at the NPM, isn't there?
[User Picture]
From:devjoe
Date:May 28th, 2008 04:14 pm (UTC)
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I enjoy Fig Newtons, though I don't find them very biscuity; they are more like fig wrapped in a thin layer of dough. Here's a comparison of them with some of the traditional fig rolls you may be familiar with. Your "may or may not be the same" seems to be right on; they are at least vaguely alike, though not quite the same.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:June 2nd, 2008 11:33 am (UTC)
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Awesome link, thank you!
[User Picture]
From:irinaauthor
Date:May 28th, 2008 04:47 pm (UTC)
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I'm not a big fan of NYC either. It's too loud and fast and crowded. After about three days, I start to get sensory overload and have to leave. I couldn't imagine living there.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:June 2nd, 2008 11:36 am (UTC)
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See, I don't mind loud and fast and crowded, at least in London-sized doses. (That said, I've never been to [e.g.] Oxford Street at Christmas, so arguably I don't really know loud and fast and crowded.) There is something about NY that slightly sticks in my craw, and I'm not sure what it is. I respect the city's relatively high levels of safety in the zero-tolerance era; it may just be what I perceive to be relatively low levels of safety in transport.
[User Picture]
From:brigbother
Date:May 28th, 2008 04:59 pm (UTC)
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Fig rolls? Fig RULES, more like.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:June 2nd, 2008 11:37 am (UTC)
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I discovered that I had stashed a sleeve of Sainsbury's own-brandedest in my backpack for work the other day. Hurrah! If the "best before" date is not too egregious, I wonder whether I could get a fiver for them on EBay?
[User Picture]
From:sophie10
Date:May 28th, 2008 05:09 pm (UTC)
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You are still getting a huge thrill from saying 'my wife' aren't you? :P
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:June 2nd, 2008 11:39 am (UTC)
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Sure am! :-)

I want there to be a neat linguistic construction in English that reverses the concept of ownership, so that I can say to a third person that I belong to Meg, not that Meg belongs to me.
[User Picture]
From:sophie10
Date:June 2nd, 2008 12:02 pm (UTC)
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That would be useful. Also very sweet :D
[User Picture]
From:hermorrine
Date:May 28th, 2008 05:12 pm (UTC)
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Pickles on a burrito?! THE HORROR!!!

;P
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:June 2nd, 2008 11:39 am (UTC)
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Whisper it, when we made tacos (were they tacos or burritos? I cannot remember) at home the other day, I added a little mustard to mine. 'Twas damn fine. ;-)

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