Have discovered a new crop of Oxford-esque LiveJournalists who are fine folk and greatly worth of attention, hurrah. Have also discovered the DeadJournal of worrals, possibly better known better as Alice Dryden (aka Owen Massey's girlfriend). Owen and Alice are both fascinating, charming, worthwhile, socially minded, excellent company and very, very geeky. All of these are good things.
Bit of a shame that all Alice's wit and wisdom is secreted away on DeadJournal and so all the cleverly integrated LiveJournal self-reference and navel-gazing must exclude her, but (preusmably) most of her friends are DeadJournalists so it makes sense for her to hang her hat there. It will be a good day once both LiveJournalists and DeadJournalists (and UJournalists, and...) can mingle together on a single, glorious Friends List. Tant pis.
It's also quite interesting to compare the most popular LiveJournal interests and the most popular DeadJournal interests. Obviously different communities will choose to congregate on different journaling systems, so it's probably more surprising how close they are than how distant they are.
Meme making the rounds at ManorCon courtesy of me:
Dog In A Coat. ("Chamberlain Hall, Chamberlain Hall... Chamberlain Hall..." - or, indeed, any other four-syllable phrase you care to name/sing.) See also Shape Farm. Surprisingly many people recognised the joke: specifically, two people who I regarded as not especially geeky. The growth of the b3ta mailing list of silly Flash movies and the like is frankly pretty scary - but nice-scary.
The Internet - or, specifically, my interactions with people over the Internet - have really changed quite dramatically over the last year or two and I can't imagine considering the ways in which they might have changed. What further social changes will take place over the coming years? Micropayments and reputation managers, mmm?
The Treasure Hunt that I co-ran at ManorCon evidently really did go well - we're giving first refusal on the rights to next year's hunt to this year's winners. Furthermore, one of the other players turns out to be a hunt-organising veteran and is enthusiastic enough about the whole enterprise to consider running a hunt at ConSummation and we might yet repeat a remix of the ManorCon hunt at Winter StabCon which has quite a different constituency. (Maybe even TowerCon in Blackpool, too.) The world has gone Hunt-shaped! Hurrah!
Incidentally, the gent with whom I co-ran the Treasure Hunt has pointed out that there is a job available as one of his direct charges in the statistics and research team of Manchester Council's Education Department. It's a job that I think I could do well and might even enjoy. However, the concept of having a prior friend as your boss is rather strange. (Having your prior boss as a friend is much less strange - and, indeed, nice.)
I'd be curious to get advice from anyone who has been in the situation of employing, or potentially employing a friend, in the past. When you're organising a competitive interview but you know one of your candidates as a friend, is it possible to remain impartial and avoid conflicts of interest? When you're attending an interview panel but know one of the interviewers well already, how can you look at him as an interviewer without thinking of him as a friend with whom you have bought vegetables and orchestrated mischief? Would getting the job - even if I did - just lead to intense office politics?
I have a little experience from the other end of the spectrum - when a friend moved to the US, I encouraged him to telework for the company I was working for at the time. His relationship with the company... well, had high points and low points. Can't work out whether the highs and lows would have been different if he hadn't previously been known as someone with a connection through me.
Back to ManorCon. Another particularly interesting dinnertime discussion was the subject of which sports made interesting games. A cricketer convinced me of the hidden depths of cricket as a game - the variety of tactics in and double-think the apparently simple relationship between bowler and batsman, let alone the consequences of field placement. One of the many croquet players argued in favour of their game, where the game-like strategies and tactics are more immediately apparent to board gamers.
Our conclusions were:
1) Croquet could do with some ramps. If you double-peel your partner's ball through two hoops and then lock one ball at the top of each ramp, this should start MULTIBALL with the central peg earning the jackpot.
2) Football has only one redeeming factor as a spectator sport. Spectacular goals.
I'm still not going to take up watching cricket, though.
The Commonwealth Games have started today! For the Americans, imagine a smaller version of the Olympics restricted to the seventy-(mumble) countries of the British Commonwealth. Effectively, it's a four-team competition between Australia, Canada, England and Rest Of The Commonwealth - yes, this is a massive oversimplification, but not without a fair degree of justification. This quadrennea's shebang takes place in Manchester, England, which is a fantastic city and possibly the most exciting place in the land to live.
However, I was surprised (but pleasantly relieved) to learn that there are lots and lots of similar multi-sport festivals. Much as the Commonwealth Games are effectively the "British English speaking parts of the world" Games, there are also the Francophone Games in which the French prove they can be just as colonial as the British. The French are particularly lucky because they get to take part in not only the Francophone Games but also the Mediterranean Games as well. Unsurprisingly, we never hear anything about the progress of either event in this country - even in the supposedly cosmopolitan "World Sports Special" and the like. ("It's the number one sports show in the world... World Sports Special!")
There really are pots and pots and pots of these wannabe-Olympics events. (He said, having worked for a company which is the de facto wannabe Olympics for bridge, chess, go, backgammon and so on...) It's not unusual that people get a easy, homophobic chuckle at the (in?)famous Gay Games; when I was in Indianapolis last year (waves at lambertman) there were lots of signs around for the World Firefighters Games, which have extended to include cops, ambulance workers, most likely coastguards and possibly even dozens of other types of rescue-minded public sector workers.
Everyone's heard of the X Games, of course, which is probably the most successful of the purely-commercial artificial events as a brand. The Paralympic Games are famous and limpet-like, too. (Not that that's a bad thing.) But it took this fantastic, encyclopaedic list to inform me of the existence of the World Dwarf Games.
First events of the Commonwealth Games - before the opening ceremony, even, which always cheers - were both genders' diving contests off the one-metre springboard. Diving is great as a spectacle and also as a statsfest (how can you resist any sport with a fantastic chart of tarriffs of difficulty?) but I'm not convinced it's all that good as a spectator sport. I have a private suspicion that the judges are required to mark the divers out of seven and then add (1d6)/2 to produce their overall score, which doesn't help.
In diving's defence, any sport where a 13-year-old kid can win the Commonwealth gold medal diving from the 10m platform has got a lot going for it. It also has an admirable degree of absoluteness for a judged, scored sport.
By way of comparison, take the 100m sprint. It's clear that anyone who can run it in 12 seconds is fast, 11 seconds very fast, 10.5 seconds specially fast and 10 seconds world class. In diving, there is a pretty well-defined scoring scheme. Anyone who can do a 30-point dive is pretty competent, a 50-point dive is a bit of a star, a 60-point dive really rather hot and a 70-point dive world championship material. This is a far better scale for comparing different performances - even at a relatively modest level - than most sports.
For instance, the expression "someone who can shoot a 75 at golf" is pretty flaky as a descriptor - you don't know whether this is on the first play of a pro-standard course or whether it's a lifetime fluke performance on the same course they've been hacking around for 15 years.
Anyway, a British - er, English - lady won a bronze medal in the diving today. Happily, they made mention of the fact that she (Jane Smith) had won Gladiators in the past. In fact, she even won the Supreme Championship, which presumably involved beating the mighty Yooooonisssssss Huthart (one of the very few temporarily-famous game show contestants that Britain ever had, at least pre-Big Brother) in the final. The presenter who made mention of this fact while interviewing her was Sharon Davies - who had in fact been doing duty on the show as a Gladiator ("Amazon") at the time. And they let it get mentioned on the BBC!
Lest we forget, one Kelly Holmes (athletics, 800m) also took part in Gladiators. She - then Cpl. Kelly Holmes - reached the semi-finals of the first series. My knowledge of Gladiators is not generally this encyclopaedic, but there was a feature on her in The Times at the time when the impact of Glads was just starting to be felt.
Years ago - a good six years ago, maybe ten - I played a character with a top-class diving background in a wrestling postal RPG. (Long story.) Nice to see, albeit years after the fact, that divers can be excellent all-round sportsmen after all.
They've just shown that "Top Bombing" diving-themed beer ad again on Channel 4 in the middle of Big Brother! Hee hee!
I have tons of different opinions on Big Brother, many quite negative. However, the best thing about the show is the partying. Normally, I don't like parties, except if I know the majority of the people involved very well and feel comfortable in the circumstances. That said, when the Big Brother contestants are having fun, they really have lots of fun. Lots and lots of good, simple, silly fun. I think this is the best reason to go on the show.
Many people criticise the contestants on the show for behaving like children and spontaneously inventing the most infantile games. However, isn't this a good thing? Wouldn't the mood, behaviour and even prosperity of the British populace improve if good, simple silly fun (in its place!) were generally recognised as a good, beneficial, even laudable goal?
The Big Brother housemates are excellent role models. Who'd have thought it?
OK, not much shorter. Two hours, two thousand words. One huge chunk of catharsis.