Teesside Snog Monster (jiggery_pokery) wrote,
Teesside Snog Monster

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Miscellaneous intrigue

Had a fairly displeasant dream last night and have just received some news that something similar to some of the events within might well come to light. However, it coming to light tends to beat the alternative. This partly explains a bad mood of mine since last Thursday.

I'd rather not discuss the exact content of said dream (except to say "non-sexy", you seekers of cheap thrills) but not for no reason is this segue here.

Reigning World Chess Champion (kinda-sorta-effectively-probably) Vladimir Kramnik is signed to play in a man vs. machine chess match in Bahrain against top computer chess program Deep Fritz in October. It's effectively a vague descendent of Kasparov's famous loss to Deep Blue four years ago. This is being promoted by einstein.tv, the organisation who are also promoting Vladimir Kramnik's world chess championship. They also bought out, effectively, the Brain Games Network, the previous owners of the rights. The creation of the Brain Games Network and the conduct of some of its directors is a matter of public record. (Specifically, the interaction of the Brain Games Network and the Mind Sports Olympiad.) As I have worked for people associated with the Mind Sports Olympiad movement, I naturally have an opinion on this matter, which I should prefer to keep to myself.

However, strangely enough, Garry Kasparov (probably still the world's #1 chess player) has just signed a match against Deep Junior, the winner of the recent International Computer Games Association World Computer Chess Championship, which will start three days before the Kramnik - Deep Fritz match does. (For reference, the ICGA is the legit and credible organisation in this field.) The gent in charge of the ICGA is David Levy, also associated with the Mind Sports Olympiad movement. "This Week In Chess" reports that this "seems to be intended as a spoiler for that match."

My continued involvement with the Mind Sports Olympiad movement means that it would probably be politic for me not to express any opinions on the matter. Indeed, my opinion on the subject is not an informed one. However, when the proposed amalgamation and reunification of the (classical) world chess championship is at stake, the fact that FIDE are sponsoring the Kasparov - Deep Junior match and einstein.tv the Kramnik - Deep Fritz one ain't really boding well.

Expect developments.

I live in a house with lots of thermometers. Specifically, there are five overt thermometers in the house and there used to be six. I'm not counting things like thermostats in the heating system, in the heating fan in my bedroom and so on.

One of them is a bath thermometer - you float it (or, more specifically, its blue fish-shaped plastic container) in your bath water and it tells you the water temperature. This means that I know I like to soak in a bath at about 40 to 41 degrees Celsius - specifically, a little (but just a little!) hotter than blood temperature. A quick check reveals that the ambient air temperature (for it isn't in water) in the bathroom at the moment is a bit over 26 degrees Celsius.

Another of them is a min/max thermometer. We have a little porch (erm, think of a conservatory, but make it a very small one such that it's not really intended for relaxation) at our back door. This isn't heated and as a floor uses the same stone that makes up our back yard and our back path. It's probably the coldest part of the house, except some of the outdoor store cupboards and our cludgie (outdoor toilet). Even so, it's still distant from the outside world by a thin wall of wood and glass. A quick check reveals that it's 24 degrees Celsius down there, with minima and maxima of about 3.5 and 34.5 recorded. (We very seldom reset it, so that's probably not far from an all-time figure.)

We have two thermometers in the main living room. They're both Galileo thermometers, filled with some liquid. Inside this liquid are a number of little weighted glass balls. These glass balls have weights hanging from the bottom and themselves are filled with liquid. The liquids chosen are such that the densities alter according to the ambient temperature around the thermometer. Denser objects sink, less dense ones float; the higher the temperature, the denser the liquids in the balls gets, the denser the balls get and the more of them sink.

Having two such thermometers in the same room is due to historical accident; one of them has five balls, the other around ten. (Happily, we have the model of thermometer where the liquids in the balls are different colours.) The little thermometer says the living room is between 24 and 26 degrees Celsius, the big thermometer says it's between 25 and 26. (Yes, sometimes they do contradict each other. It's like owning a watch; the man with a watch always knows the time, the man with two is never sure.)

The fifth thermometer, which is no longer there, used to be seen from the living room as well. Specifically, it was attached to the outside of one of the living room windows, so we could tell the temperature outside from the inside. (Of course, being so close to the window, it never gave a very accurate measure - the heat leaving the house always affected the reading.) We've had at least two different thermometers there over the years, only for them to stop working or for the bulb to drop out of the glass or whatever.

The final thermometer - my favourite - lives here in this bedroom. It's my favourite because it gives a digital reading of the temperature on a LCD with digits about an inch high. (Maybe bigger.) Unlike the others, it also measures temperatures to the nearest one-tenth of a degree. It also came with a little thermistor attachment on a wire so that it would display both the temperature inside and at the thermistor, which you might choose to store outside. (Yes, when both thermometer and thermistor were in different places, the two would frequently waver in reading, sometimes by over half a degree.) Unfortunately I once tried putting the thermistor out of the window, but when the window closed, the thermistor snapped off the end of the wire. Accordingly it is currently LL.L degrees Celsius outside.

In my room it is currently 28.4 degrees Celsius, a shade over 83 degrees Farenheit. Specifically, "a lot". The fact that there is a midi tower PC and a 19" CRT monitor, plus a great big sweaty bloke, in the room may contribute considerably to this. Yes, I have a draught blowing through the room - the air comes through the window, through an open door and out through the landing window. This doesn't seem to be helping much because it's very hot and humid outside. There was a heavy shower earlier which cooled things down by half a degree, which was nice, and there's just been another shower with a couple of rumbles of thunder so hopefully that'll have the same effect again.

I can therefore tell you that I really start to feel the heat once this room gets above about 28-29 degrees Celsius - it's getting to the point where it's too hot to concentrate. (I have worked in temperatures of over 30 degrees Celsius in the past, but I really start to lose efficiency.) In the winter, room temperature drops as low as 15-16 degrees Celsius, but I will tend to put the room heater on to lift things above 20-21 degrees Celsius which is what I need as a comfortable lower limit. It's also useful for judging how best to get to sleep at night - I operate on a rule that if the temperature is higher than 26.5 degrees Celsius then it'll be easier to sleep on top of the duvet, instead of underneath it.

Now of course this is all taking things far too seriously. The thermometer doesn't advertise any particular extent of sensitivity, accuracy or tolerance and I certainly don't think it's three digits accurate. If it's about right to within a degree or so then that's fine for me - really, I don't care too much whether it's high or low, so long as it doesn't vary from being two degrees low to three degrees high on a regular basis. Thermometers produce numbers, and that's why I like them.

I would like to buy another mercury thermometer with which to measure the temperature of my soup as it simmers, and I'd also love to see an oven which had built-in thermometers so you know at just which temperature your produce is cooking. Oh, and I'm not sure whether we have the type of thermometer that you stick in your mouth, below your tongue, to measure your body temperature. Any other recommendations for particularly good thermometers to buy or good places to buy them?

Oh yes, one more fact about thermometers which I forgot to mention first time and have had to use "Edit Entries" to include. The German for "thermometer" is apparently "thermometer", but pronounced in a rather different way than it is in English.

As the story goes, EVERYONE LOVES GOOD OLD B1FF CUZ HE USES HIS C64 TO POST TO TEH INTERNET!!!!!!!1 - and so on and so on with lots of gratuitous capitals, punctuation, typos, substitution of digits for letters and so forth. The jokes have become almost mainstream by now.

When I went to Columbus, OH in March, I joined the Club Ramada "frequent hotel guest" scheme on the grounds that my one stay in a Ramada hotel each year will probably add up to one free night every second year. Not much, but worth the little effort required. When you sign up, you supply your address and postcode. However, American ZIP codes are five digits long (or five plus a hyphen and four more if you live in an enlightened part of the land) and British postcodes are letter-plus-number-combination monstrosities.

My postcode is TS5 7RE. (It's not hard to find my address on the Internet even if I don't tell you the postcard here.) Use the good old-fashioned 37331speak converter on the chain of letters and you get 755 783. Accordingly, I got mail today from Club Ramada dispatched to the 755783 version of my postcard. Not sure whether it will have helped the postman or not, but I dare say he vaguely saw the resemblance, even if it looked a bit alien.

Incidentally, Club Ramada managed to completely miss all the details of my stay in Columbus, OH this year. Wahey. I shall have to try to chase this through the system. *grumble*

One of the games conventions I attend called StabCon (which doesn't have a web site) takes place at one of the halls of residence of one of Manchester's universities. (I've never been sure whether it's part of the University of Manchester or one of the others.) This year, it was part of the athletes' village for said Games.

The con took place three weeks before the Games started, but even so there was still a fearsome security presence when the convention was in progress. Accordingly, we had to walk about an extra mile to get to the designated grounds from which we could pick up our security badge and then pick our way back through the innards of the village to the hall. It was very interesting and showed us much of the facilities that we would never normally see. Another legacy of the games is the vast improvement in student accommodation - the quality of the rooms (and, even more so, the bathrooms which service them) has improved almost beyond recognition in the last four years. They're not great (the walls are very thin) but they're far better than they were. But I digress.

One of my theories about the Commonwealth Games is that the medals table rewards Australia too much for their dominance in the pool. "What if", I wondered, "I produced an alternative version of the medals table which justified a placement of England above Australia?" Why, not for no reason did I choose my journal name to be jiggery_pokery.

Well, I've been applying both jiggery and pokery to the medals table on the Commonwealth Games web site. Happily, it has a feature such that it can present tables of medals pertaining to individual sports. So, for instance, we can produce a medals table for only the swimming events and another medals table for only the athletics events.

At this point, let's combine the medal tables for swimming and synchronised swimming, because they're both swimming. We also combine the three separate medals tables for cycling on mountain bikes, on the road and in the velodrome, because they're all cycling. We justify this with lots of hand-waving on the grounds that it's no less fair than lumping running, jumping and throwing events together as "athletics".

Now let us abstract the process a little. For each sport, let us award a gold meta-medal to the nation which is top of that sport's medal table, then silver and bronze meta-medals for those nations finishing second and third likewise. This gives us a table of tables, if you will.

Anyway, the way this meta-medals table looks is...
                    1st 2nd 3rd Total
 1. Australia        7   3   3    13
 2. England          3   5   5    13
 3. Canada           2   4   1     7
 4. India            2   2   0     4
 5. New Zealand      2   1   3     6
 6. Singapore        1   0   1     2
 7. Malaysia         1   0   0     1
 8. Cameroon         0   1   0     1
 8. Fiji             0   1   0     1
 8. Scotland         0   1   0     1
10. South Africa     0   0   4     4
11. Jamaica          0   0   1     1
11. Nigeria          0   0   1     1
11. Wales            0   0   1     1

...from which we conclude that Australia and England are both within the top three nations of the Commonwealth at exactly thirteen sports and so equally as good as one another. QED, good hard science at work, no arguments are possible.

But what's this? Why, it's the late results of the hitherto little-known Greco-Roman Data Amalgamation event... and by a quirk of fate it's gold, silver and bronze for jiggery_pokery! The auditors haven't seen such a display of creative summarisation since the Enron accounts!

Needless to say, this gives us another sport for which to award meta-medals. The adjustment is nice and easy, making it absolutely clear what this does to the medals table. Read it and weep, Australians:
                    1st 2nd 3rd Total
 1. England          3   5   5    13
 2. Australia        7   3   3    13
 3. Canada           2   4   1     7
 4. India            2   2   0     4
 5. New Zealand      2   1   3     6
 6. Singapore        1   0   1     2
 7. ** Blogistan **  1   0   0     1
 8. Malaysia         1   0   0     1
 9. Cameroon         0   1   0     1
 9. Fiji             0   1   0     1
 9. Scotland         0   1   0     4
11. South Africa     0   0   4     4
12. Jamaica          0   0   1     1
12. Nigeria          0   0   1     1
12. Wales            0   0   1     1

...and there you have it - the crowd go wild!

Do you think that fanfiction.net would accept this as a piece of Commonwealth Games medals table fan fiction?

(No, this wasn't the story I wrote a couple of nights ago.)

However, now the Commonwealth Games are over - and already the season has moved on to the European Athletics Championship, with four and a half hours of it on TV every evening for the rest of the week. Today saw day one of the decathlon. Guess what? Dean Macey DNS. Now perhaps it's asking a bit much for him to recover in the week or so between Commonwealth and European championships, especially if his injury is a longer-term one. Lest we forget, though, he originally planned to participate in both contests and now he's participating in neither. We can only wonder if he's going to be fit enough to take part in a single thing this year. Good luck, Dean!

The sky outside is extremely purple compared to normal. I don't know about the shepherds, but it'll certainly bring delight to me if only it'll cool down a bit.

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