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November 21st, 2003


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06:10 am - Not all memes are bad
1. According to my userinfo, I am at last 28 years old and no longer suffering a weight gain due to a big Christmas 2002, just in time for December 2003. radinden and mhw have inspired a meme protocol which strikes me as a singularly excellent idea; I've added a link to my Friends-only offline contact details within the userinfo and as a Memory within Memories > Contact Details. If everyone did that, then it would be very easy for me to know where to send you Christmas cards without you having to type their address in to a form of mine and forty different forms as well. On a vaguely related subject, I have no idea who among you like getting random chatty phone calls for no other reason than fun. We're all busy people, but friendly conversation is time well spent.

2. On a holiday greeting-y theme, Brits, last posting dates for Christmas: airmail round the world, 8th December; airmail to Canada, USA, Japan and Eastern Europe, 12th December; airmail to Western Europe, 15th December; second class inland, 18th December; first class inland, 20th December. (Isn't this last one rather earlier than usual?) Surface mail: small packets within Europe still actually have a chance.

3. George Bush is coming to Sedgefield tomorrow, which is about 20 miles away. Protest starts 10am on the Village Green in Sedgefield. Problem is, actually getting there; the cordon closes roads within about a mile and a half for several hours in advance and public transport anywhere near the village has been told to forget it. No chance of me going to the demo, then. Evidently colour me "easily put off". :-(

4. On a recent walk to kick the autumn leaves, I noted that 6 of the last 60-70 houses I passed had "for sale" boards outside. Similarly, 4 of the 41 lower-numbered houses than ours in Arlington Road TS5 7RE (whoops) were up for sale. 10%'s a lot, isn't it?

Then in the newsagent last night, I overheard mention that the corner of Barnabas Road and Latham Road had been taped off by the police, and the gossip concerned what event might have caused this, possibly even murder most foul. Ah! Juxtaposition!

5. It would be ever so much fun to get a bunch of nice LJ people and associates around an online poker table together. I propose playing for play-money chips rather than real cash, not least because I want something that's accessible fun for even crap players like me and won't be worth the pros' time. :-) Ten would be a good number if we can agree upon a suitable date, time and location. Please comment if interested and feel free to circulate this to other potentially-interested nice people.

6. What is the missing item in this sequence:

[...] BABABA BABABA BABABABABABABA BABABA BABABABABABABA BABABA ? BABABA BABABA BABABABABABABA BABABA BABABABABABABA BABABA [...]

(Please don't think too hard about this one.)

7. Poll results: 51 voters. From the first four options, 2 picked "essential", 11 picked "strongly desirable", 26 picked "weakly desirable" and 17 picked "unimportant". Adding it up, those 56 votes came from 1 person who picked 3 options, 4 people who picked 2 options, 45 people who picked 1 option and 1 person who didn't picked any. (Cheers!) 14 people added the "more than just recreation" tickybox and 15 the "gratuitous tickybox" tickybox, including Mr. "none of the real options, just the gratuitous tickybox". Gratuitous tickyboxes beat spirituality, film at eleven.

As usual, the insight was in the comments. I really liked rialtus's excellent model as to how an effective relationship where one person picked "unimportant" might work, even though he picked "weakly desirable". I would love to hear... not a justification, but an explanation of the "In addition to the above, music is more fundamental to my well-being - even to my spiritual existence - than merely being a source of recreation" option from the 14 who picked it, not least because it probably means a different thing to each of them. It's a box that I know I wouldn't tick and one that I know I Just Don't Get.

The other thing that was in the comments was a pick from applez, who is making a name for himself as a top-quality reccing machine, for the Cowboy Bebop "Blue" .mp3 on the page to which I linked. (This is a song called "Blue" from the Cowboy Bebop anime show, not a song called "Cowboy Bebop" from a band called "Blue" - either of them.) My "99 Red Balloons" kick has proved embarrassingly short, having been replaced by a "Blue" kick. I recommend it for some right righteous wailing, but it's definitely a song that sounds better when you don't pay attention to it. I make no claims about the lyrical merit or otherwise of this song; in fact, I suspect the lyrics may be English translated from Japanese, based on the weak rhymes. Again, see the discussion.

Now I've re-established my lack-of-credibility as a flavour-of-the-monthday dabbling dilettante, I have been trying to analyse songs and work out why I like the music I do. Here are four reasons why I like the music I do, which are clearly not the only four reasons:
  • I like a song if it contains good bits.
  • I like a song if it contains good sounds.
  • I like a song if it makes me laugh.
  • I like a song if I associate happy memories with it.
Let's cover those one at a time.

A. I like songs which surprise me. If a song has established some sort of pattern, then somehow unexpectedly improves on it, that is likely to be a pleasant surprise. Likewise, the introduction of an important instrument at a crucial moment can be the sort of pleasant surprise which endears a song to me. Ditto a wonderful key change. This is why that "red" in the last line of the fourth verse of 99 Red Balloons appealed so much. I admire the musical professionals and theorists who know what sorts of surprises sound good - and, more to the point, when to use them.

B. There are just some combinations of instruments and notes which sound wonderful, or at least which sound wonderful in the context of a song which has established that they might sound wonderful. The crashing bells in Blue are spectacular successes; the reintroduction of the choir at 2:38, mid-wail, gets me every time, and the tremolo on the wailing really improves the effect. I'm not sure whether the decision to include the tremolo (and, at least as much to the point, what not to include) should be credited to composer or producer, but it works really well here.

C & D. There are lots of songs I like which clearly do not fall into either category above (see the previous link to Mad Music and Weatherman, John Kettley Is A). Nevertheless, these can be sufficient reasons on their own. Examples, C intersection D': "Mr. Rubik", The Barron Knights, which I think is funny though I'm not familiar with anyone else who does; C' intersection D: about half of these.

8. Union Pacific was released in 1999 by the German game company AMIGO Spiel, with an English-language translation by Rio Grande Games. It was designed by Alan R. Moon and is known to be a revision of his older title, Airlines. Playable by 2-6 players, with 4 or 5 recommended, the game nominally takes 1½ hours to play. In practice, actual playing times vary from 1-1¼ hours for four players who know what they're doing to 2-2½ hours for six players who are slow and/or unfamiliar with the game. The rules are comparable in complexity with those of Monopoly.

This is, at heart, a stock-accumulation game with a train theme. There is a board which takes the form of a map of North America, with about 40 towns dotted on the map, each town connected by rail tracks to (usually two or three) other nearby towns. The rail tracks are marked with spaces on which plastic train playing pieces can be placed, to represent the growth of ten local passenger railway operating companies at the dawn of American rail services. In addition, the nationwide Union Pacific freight railroad company of the title expands its influence over time.

Two separate things happen in the game. The train companies expand their services across the map, serving more and more cities and becoming more valuable as they do so. Players compete for share ownership in both the ten passenger rail companies and the Union Pacific freight rail company. On four occasions, in a uniquely board-game-like, unrealistic mechanic, each company pays dividends to the players who own most and second most shares in it. The player with most money after the fourth such payment wins the game.

On a turn, a player can make one of three choices. The first choice, the usual one, is that they can expand one of the passenger rail companies on the board. There are constraints as to where and how each passenger rail company can expand and some strategy in dealing with these constraints. Expanding a passenger rail company permits a player to take some stock in a passenger rail company; you may choose one of the constantly-replenished selection of four stock cards visible to all, or a stock card whose identity you do not know in advance.

The second choice is that a player can trade a secret stock card of their choice in a passenger rail company for a stock card in the Union Pacific freight rail company. However, this doesn't represent a net increase in the number of shares held overall, so no increase in earning potential.

The third choice is that a player can choose to play some stock cards from their hand to the table - either one in each of two different companies, or as many as you have in your hand of one company. It is only stock cards played by this method which are considered when working out to whom each company pays dividends.

The strategy in the game comes from trying to maximise your stockholdings in the companies which are likely to make you the most money. It is fundamental that only the two biggest stockholdings in each of the passenger companies earn any dividends at all, so competing and coming third is a giant waste of time and even competing and coming second offers a relatively poor return. The number of stock cards owned is irrelevant, merely your position relative to the other players; second place with one stock card earns money where third place with many stock cards does not. There's also a bonus to be earned by being the only player with stock in a particular company - specifically, you earn both the "most" and "second most" payouts.

Things to bear in mind when playing the game: which companies are likely to be the biggest, which companies might never be at all big, which companies are likely to earn you a dividend for a low number of shares, which companies might pay out both dividends to the sole stockholder, how much effort to spend competing in Union Pacific as opposed to the passenger railways, which companies are your opponents paying most attention to. You also do not know exactly when (though you do know roughly when) the four dividend payment opportunities will arise, so there is a "race against time" / "how far dare you push your luck?" aspect in terms of timing your play of stock cards before each dividend payment.

The game is more exciting than most board games in that, while there are no dice, you cannot always guarantee getting the stock you would most like; the randomness of the card draws provides a satisfactory level of lack of control, counterbalanced by the fact that you always can choose one of four visible stock cards should they appeal rather than an unseen stock card. A technique is to try to compete with the player on your left rather than the player on your right; in principle, the player on your left will only get the chance to draw a visible card in a particular company if it becomes visible on the single opportunity after your turn, whereas you will get the chance to draw a visible card in that company if it becomes visible immediately after any other player's turn - rather more frequent.

Another key technique is to benefit from other players' passenger rail company expansions. If another player spends time and effort in expanding a company only for you to end up with majority control of it, this represents an excellent return for little effort on your part, particularly if you have been expanding a company which you know you control. Get the other players to make you money!

I played a very enjoyable game on Tuesday (finishing third of five, final scores 112/106/102/84/80) and so we played the game again today. Today's game was strange in that the four stock cards visible for trade were all in unattractive companies which would have taken considerable work to turn into a good investment, so all the players tended to prefer to choose the unseen mystery stock card instead. The way these draws turned out, I ended up in an unprofitable third place in two of the large companies - a lot of time and effort spent for no return. Accordingly, despite a few neat plays providing excellent returns, I ended up finishing fourth of four, with the final scores 130/124/120/110. At a guess, I've played the game 20 times over the years and this is the first time the game has stagnated in this particular way.

After about twenty plays, I think I have a reasonable grasp of the game, though evidently I am not always able to perform what I'd like! I've reached a point in my understanding of it that I have a definite strategy and a definite style, so a large part of the fun working-out-how-to-play-the-game experience has gone. Nevertheless, there are aspects where I'm still finding my way; I haven't reached a definite conclusion as to how best to approach the Union Pacific company compared to the others. It's probably not in my personal top ten board games, but I can see being happy to play this a few times each year for many years to come.

The game is broadly highly regarded (#15 in the Top 100) and is regarded as one of the best new releases of 1999, but not quite an all-time great. Unfortunately, it is now out of print and a little difficult to obtain; see Funagain Games in the USA, the second-hand BoardGameGeek Marketplace as well as other typical online market locations such as EBay.

Alternatively, consider Fantasy Flight Games' "Through The Desert" (originally Kosmos' Durch die Wuste in German) which combines similar competing-for-first-and-second-place charms with tile placement challenges akin to three/four/five player Go on a hexagonal grid. It's a slightly shorter game, has very nice components and remains in print. On the other hand, it's significantly more abstract, has rather less of the thrill of chance and offers far fewer opportunities to make train whistle noises.

9. It would be useful to produce a list of Common Cultural Assumptions For LiveJournal Users, which would inevitably pick up a subtitle of The Common-Sense LiveJournal Rules For Less Stress. This will probably be a WIP in 77 parts, but these are examples of things I'm thinking of.
  • If someone has made an obviously difficult post, you have replied to it but your reply has not received a reply in return, this doesn't mean that your reply offended, just that the original poster finds the subject a difficult one to discuss.
  • Human beings are shy and will seldom say how much they like each other. Accordingly, if there are people on your Friends list you really like but you don't dare tell them how much, it's just as possible that there are people on your Friends-of list who really like you but don't dare tell you.
No one person specifically in mind in either case here; I believe I may have been on both sides of both a few times, but this isn't a boast - it's nothing unusual in the least.

10. There's a concept going round (here via praetorianguard, unanon, apocalypsos. justbluemyself, ...?) where people state ten unpopular opinions. As thegraybook points out, it's not clear who these opinions are meant to be unpopular with. Accordingly, I present Ten Things I Want To Argue About. Come fight with me, let's fight, let's fight today...

Prefixing all these with "they're just opinions, so I don't have to justify them here, but I'm happy to do so in comments":

A. Harry Potter has passed its peak as a mass media phenomenon. Books 6 and 7 will almost certainly be very good, the remaining movies will almost certainly be "very good but..." and the fandom is not likely to {ex|im}plode, but each future release will not be as mainstream an event as the previous ones.

B. Cheese is overrated.

C. The NCAA conference system is antiquated, anti-competitive and has no place in modern society. For football, I'll permit the first six weeks of the college season to be against regular, long-standing or local rivals, but the remaining weeks of the year should be run on the Swiss system to guarantee competitive, exciting match-ups between pairs of teams who are doing equally well. In this way, the best teams really will eventually play each other to generate a team who has proven their superiority.

D. Some company (no clue who) will buy all the land in a country by 2025. Not a big country, not a famous one, but a company will own a country. Then they will buy up several more small countries and migrate all the important people from these other countries to the first country. I can't work out what the consequences of this are likely to be, but the possibilities are scary.

E. Bridge, the card game, will never have three consecutive years of increasing popularity again. Its overall popularity (summing both offline and online play) will die out over time, with a half-life of about ten years. Poker and Spades will gain somewhat at Bridge's expense.

F. Schadenfreude is such a disutility to the human condition that governments should tax mass media entertainment producers who incorporate it into their work. It's impossible to police small media schadenfreude, but any activity which will make people stop and recognise the unkind nature of their amusement would be a net public good. I'd pay for some from time to time, but not much.

G. None of the Wallace and Gromit films released so far have actually been funny. Admirable, clever and cute, I will grudgingly concede, but not funny.

H. A truly enlightened society has no taboo subjects and governments should work towards encouraging this for the sake of the mental health of their people.

I. The politics of the chess world championship are truly screwed up. Vladimir Kramnik would gain immensely in stature, respect and credibility by refusing to accept the legitimacy of FIDE's latest championship proposals and instead playing a title match against Peter Leko, Garry Kasparov or even Alexei Shirov for a relatively small sum of money - six digits of dollars rather than seven as for the last few Kasparov title matches.

J. Suicide is a terrible thing and not to be encouraged or glorified. It is also, under some circumstances, a rational act of ultimate self-interest.

J'. Even mentioning suicide in an abstract sense is enough to make lots of people go Warning! Warning! Danger! Danger, Will Robinson! and it's really nice to have people looking out for me. However, anyone putting two and two from recent posts together and getting seriously worried is making five. Observe the cheerful mood and don't panic; I shall tell you when to panic. I promise that there are no grounds for concern and I shall write about my situation in lieu of physical self-harm. While I believe all of point J literally (and refer to point H) I mention this at least partly to press people's buttons in an overtly button-pressing exercise. Get it? Got it? Good.

Let's just see how unpopular these opinions are. Fire away.
Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
Current Music: "Blue" - Cowboy Bebop

(80 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


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[User Picture]
From:ringbark
Date:November 20th, 2003 10:41 pm (UTC)

Mostly, I agree with you

(Link)
A - yes, HP has nowhere to go but down.
B - yes, cheese is OK, but nothing to rave about.
C - no opinion.
D - yes, this would mean a corporation would have a seat at the UN, which is probably a Bad Thing. It wouldn't be expensive, either. I can even think of a country that would probably accept it.
E - no, I don't think bridge will die out. It's here to stay.
F - no, this is an absurdity, and I'd never be able to afford my own tax bill.
G - yes, there is nothing at all funny about W & G.
H - yes, I agree in principle.
I - no opinion.
J - half, agree with first half, severe misgivings about second half
J' - no, the mention of suicide is NOT of itself a Bad Thing.

Hey, let's search Google for "suicide poems"
http://www.google.com/search?q=suicide+poems
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 21st, 2003 03:56 pm (UTC)

Re: Mostly, I agree with you

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yes, this would mean a corporation would have a seat at the UN

...which is why a corporation would want to do it. One country alone isn't likely to have much influence, but (say) ten small nation states owned by the same company might start to have an influence on a reasonably regular basis.

I wonder whether the country you're thinking of would be the one hinted at by your usericon.

F. I would seek to tax the producers rather than the consumers.
[User Picture]
From:missingdonut
Date:November 20th, 2003 10:49 pm (UTC)
(Link)
6. Ram (if it's a Far Side comic)

-bara Ann (if it's a song)

What do I win?
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 21st, 2003 03:57 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Nothing.

To be fair, I really don't expect you to be able to get it, even with your knowledge of British culture.
[User Picture]
From:debellatrix
Date:November 20th, 2003 11:02 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Anyone who thinks cheese is overrated has not tried St.Andre Triple Cream Brie.

I agree with you that the NCAA conference system is outdated, but college football is so much about tradition. Many of the more infamous rivalries are between schools that are historically strong contenders anyway, both inter-conference (Florida/Georgia), and outside of them (Florida/Miami & Florida/Florida State). While, yes if my preferred team was rated in the top three, I would want them to have the chance to play the other 2, I would be sorely disappointed if we did that instead of playing an old rival. On the other hand, it always irks those of us who's school plays a difficult schedule, or are in a very competitive conference, when other school plays a very easy schedules, and thus by default has a great record. In that case, yeah, I want my team to get the chance to beat that weenie team into a bloody pulp. *smiles sweetly*

I don't think HP has passed it's peak, not in the mass media anyway, but I wonder if the fandom has. Could Nimbus have been the Zenith? Now, I know that it was less than perfect, but it was the first and there's something really special about that. Just think, we were there.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 21st, 2003 04:06 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Anyone who thinks cheese is overrated has not tried St.Andre Triple Cream Brie.

Correct in this instance. I dub thee cheese!defender as well as slash!defender. :-)

college football is so much about tradition

I get the impression that American sport in general is so much about tradition. Certainly British sporting organisation seems to be rather more dynamic, possibly to a fault of inconsistency. I'm happy for tradition to continue to an extent - hence six hand-picked permanent matches per team at the start of the season - but some other traditions seem to be of remarkably dubious merit (see an interesting discussion in calliaume's journal about minor bowl games).

I wonder if the fandom has

Not convinced. I believe HPFGU and FA are both growing and that future Nimbus-class events will grow over time too. I do think there will be a fandom zenith, but this is not likely to arrive before book seven - probably, at a guess, within the next seven years afterwards. Hopefully the tail should keep us all entertained for years to come.
From:songmonk
Date:November 20th, 2003 11:12 pm (UTC)
(Link)
LOL! I take it you don't care to (at least until the discussion has somewhat played out) state which of those opinions you agree with, if any. :-)
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 21st, 2003 03:47 pm (UTC)
(Link)
No, no; the lot, quite literally, as written.

Although "ten unpopular opinions... which I don't actually happen to share" would be fun, it would also be needlessly raising hackles for hackle-raising's sake.
[User Picture]
From:bateleur
Date:November 21st, 2003 12:36 am (UTC)

Poker

(Link)
I'm up for your Poker suggestion - particularly if it's "Hold 'em", since I've enver played it before.

I might be slightly tricky to schedule though, so it depends when others are free (20:00-23:00 weekdays is usually best for me).
[User Picture]
From:brigbother
Date:November 21st, 2003 02:15 am (UTC)

Re: Poker

(Link)
Hold 'Em ROCKS.

I recommend www.pokerroom.com for all your Hold Em needs, but if anyone knows anywhere better...

And Chris, B: You are wrong.
[User Picture]
From:black_dog
Date:November 21st, 2003 12:42 am (UTC)
(Link)
A. I think this extrapolates from the fandom's sense of loss and uncertainty after OOTP. A unique sort of hysteria built up, and OOTP itself was a disorienting climax to all that. So as fandom members we perhaps see HP as a letdown right now from last year's peak. I'm curious to see what things will be like in 6 months or so, with the popular excitement over Cuaron's POA and perhaps some more firmly established new conventions and classics in the fandom. And then the excitement will start to build for Book 6 . . .

B. This would depend on what one really asks for from cheese.

C. Am complete sports illiterate, sorry.

D. A related very scary thing is the outsourcing of governmental functions to private companies in the name of rationalization. The classic U.S. example is prisons and security. But I could imagine the outsourcing of regulation, investigtion, adjudication as a logical extension of Republican crony capitalism.

E. When I think of bridge, I remember the very odd fact that it was a fad among stoners in my high school. I could never play it, because something about how my brain was wired made it impossible for me to calculate the probabilities for taking a trick while stoned.

F. I like your observation that you would pay for "a bit" of schadenfreude now and then. Whether it's a disutility or not, I suspect it's fundamental to the human condition, that we're wired to calculate and cherish small bits of relative unhappiness as part of sustaining our own egos. But I agree that this really ought to be a possible starting point for moral introspection, rather than something people are glib or complacent about.

G. Haven't seen them. Am video illiterate, too.

H. I partly agree depending on what you mean. To the extent that taboos interfere with rational public policy in a harmful way, we should fight that as a public policy matter. But in ordinary social relations, taboos can be kind of fun; they show respect for charged emotional situations and obliquely celebrate the mysterious nature of other people. I don't think it's a good or fun thing to fail to respect boundaries or to insist on complete transparency about people's interior lives. That doesn't mean you shouldn't play off taboos . . . but this is getting too abstract.

I. It's heavyweight boxing, all over again. What a shame.

J. The glorification of suicide is a revolting thing, especially given the emotional instability of many adolescents in society. I suppose I agree in principle that it may be appropriate in some cases (painful terminal illness, an honorable response to the incompetent conduct of a war) but I have trouble working out a specific rule in practice, because there is always the issue of the emotional clarity and judgmental competence of a person who may be sliding into despair.

As always, interesting and provocative questions.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 21st, 2003 04:54 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I think this particular iteration of the meme has turned out differently to the other times I've seen it played out in that I'm male and getting responses from mostly males whereas female to female seems far more common. Men seem to feel it's a badge of honour to have an opinion on every subject to a considerably greater extent than women, or perhaps I've just demanded opinions of people in a way that other askers have not. Most ladies seem to pick up on only a small number of points. Not negative criticism of male behaviour, by the way, merely an observation.

D. A related very scary thing is the outsourcing of governmental functions to private companies in the name of rationalization.

This (or, at least, a closely related subject) is a big issue in the UK at the moment - debate as to what extent schools and hospitals should be run by the private sector. We keep registers of our politicians' business interests in an attempt to get transparency over whether politicians might not be neutral in their dealings, but I believe there have been some, ahem, irregularities in these registers over the years.

H. We may be at slight cross purposes here; I'm more interested in this at a nationwide level. Certainly I would hope that people would show sensitivity in discussions with their friends where there are good reasons not to discuss certain topics; however, cultural norms of "we all don't talk about that" can only lead to discomfort.

Incidentally, although nobody has suggested this, I don't see a troubling overlap between F and H. I don't intend to eradicate schadenfreude altogether, merely to make sure that it's clear when it's being used and that people think about the issues involved.

I. I say "well, not quite" here, because there was what I believe to have been an honest attempt to sort this all out ("the Prague agreement") between all the parties some time ago. Now admittedly one of the four strongest-placed competitors backed out of the deal for reasons that the world cannot easily understand, but the real reason for the agreement's collapse has been a lack of funding for one of the matches.

Vladimir Kramnik, who beat Kasparov in their match a few years back and so is the linear ("the man who beat the man who beat the man who...") champ, even issued a statement that he personally took on responsibility for fundraising for the match between him and Peter Leko. Unfortunately, probably because he isn't Kasparov even though he may be Kasparov's conqueror, he hasn't been able to raise particular funds. We are moving towards the point where he needs to accept responsibility for being a relatively weak fundraiser and play for what little he's been able to raise.

In response, FIDE have gone into a panic and, in fandom parlance, wibbled. It's very sad.
[User Picture]
From:heidi8
Date:November 21st, 2003 02:58 am (UTC)
(Link)
Would you be willing to write up your lj assumptions for fictionalley? Let me know...
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 21st, 2003 04:20 pm (UTC)

GIP: pressed back into service as a "meta" icon

(Link)
I'd be happy for FA and the rest of the world to use them once they're written, but I honestly suspect it will take me a couple of years to work out what they all are! :-)

Actually, I suspect it'll be a living document, "never complete" sort of thing. It's just trying to work out when any version of the document might ever be complete enough to be of use.
[User Picture]
From:ericklendl
Date:November 21st, 2003 03:12 am (UTC)

Hello, is this the room for an argument?

(Link)
A: Not quite. Book 6 will be a smaller-scale phenomenon than books 4 and 5, but book 7 will outstrip the lot. At this stage, we can surmise that book 6 will be not much fun, won't resolve anything, HP himself will survive but be damaged, and JK will struggle to pull off the "Which character gets it?" stunt for a third time. Book 7 has more selling points, not least the near-certainty of a positive ending and the whole "OK, so does HP actually survive the series?" thing.

B: I don't know whether you're talking about food, humour, or music, but either way you're just plain wrong. So there.

C: Unnh. Don't even know what the NCAA *is*. Is it possible in practice to draw up every matchlist in the latter part of the season at relatively short notice in that way?

D: I'm unconvinced. Explain yourself further.

E: I suspect you're right, but all it'll take is for one influential person to be playing Bridge in the right place and the whole thing could turn on its head.

F: Naming no names, there are some people who really deserve it though. Random schadenfreude, of the "It's funny because it's not me" type can be well done without, however.

G: Should they be funny, though? There are small laughs in all of them, but apart from A Grand Day Out what we actually have is claymation animals giving a light touch to plotlines that are actually quite heavy. Gromit's false imprisonment comes to mind here.

H: You're Just Plain Wrong. If nothing's taboo to talk about, then why should anything be taboo to look at? If nothing's taboo to look at, nothing's taboo to display. And if nothing's taboo to display, then it's artist's privilege to decide how it should be displayed. And that's not good.

I: Yes, and they have been for years. If you have to qualify the phrase "I'm the world champion" then you're not really the world champion. I don't even know what FIDE are up to at the moment, but I bet it's stupid.

J: Hmmm. Too amorphous. I think I broadly agree, but we may turn out to be wildly at odds in our assessment of under some circumstances. I think I'd accept "unbearable and unalleviable physical suffering for health reasons", but anything beyond that and I have serious misgivings. Even there, I have doubts.


And I haven't even explained why I Can't Live Without Music yet...
[User Picture]
From:hedwig_snowy
Date:November 21st, 2003 09:25 am (UTC)

Re: Hello, is this the room for an argument?

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Yikes! Nice philosophical argument. A => B => C However, it doesn't work quite that way in the case you presented.

Example: I think something that is taboo. Then I talk about it. This will get the idea out there. Now, someone comes along and draws a picture of my idea. Next thing you know, they're doing a mural of it at the local elementary school? Talking about something (or thinking about it) is not doing it. There is a huge difference between an idea and an action. What you're proposing is to dictate thought. Who decides what is 'good thinking' and what is 'bad thinking'?

There's alot of checks and balances in society between what is thought and what is actually done. Some societies allow more freedom of action than others, while others stifle any type of discourse that certain members of a society disagree with. The latest, most blatant example is the Taliban. Perhaps the discussion, and it's inevitable rebuttal, is better than the alternative.
From:oddree
Date:November 21st, 2003 04:43 am (UTC)

Houses

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In our area there are lots of houses on the market because:
a) fewer are being sold because fewer people can legitimately afford to buy (and are not willing to do it illegitimately after that documentary on self-certification mortgages)--so now, instead of houses being offered on within hours and signs not having time to go up, houses are taking longer to be sold.
b) people that borrowed to the hilt can no longer afford their mortgages and are having to downgrade (interest rate rises matter when you have a self-certification mortgage 7 or 8 times your true salary)
c) people are selling quickly because they are expecting prices to drop significantly soon in reaction to perceived turnaround in Bank of England interest rate policy.

This may also be true of your local area. But then again, it might just be my town.
Odd
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 22nd, 2003 10:06 am (UTC)

Re: Houses

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Well, we're in Northern England here, which has been doing the house-price boom about 2-4 years later than the south-east, but a friendly Newcastle flatowner has seen his flat's price double in the last three years. We may have price deflation to come, too, especially as there have been suggestions that we actually have oversupply of houses in the area at the moment for the relatively small demand. Lack of high-skilled jobs, regional development policy, vicious circle. I strongly support devolved regional government in theory, but only in practice if it means that the region I happen to be in the time will be effectively able to (a) raise and/or (b) argue nationally for more money - and more than the cost of the administration of the assembly.

Are you suggesting that people are now longer buying, thinking buy-to-rent, and are now selling, thinking "let's rent some of those buy-to-rent properties until the prices go back down again"? The whole house-moving process (e.g., if I inherit this house from my parents) bores and scares me, which may be why I haven't been paying very much attention to it; not being a DIY fan - not being an aesthetics fan - it's a game I don't want to have to play, but I fear I can't afford not to.
From:2ndavemusic
Date:November 21st, 2003 07:01 am (UTC)
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F. Schadenfreude is such a disutility to the human condition that governments should tax mass media entertainment producers who incorporate it into their work. I'd pay for some from time to time, but not much.

I don't really want to argue about this; it's a moral-high-roadedly good idea. On the other hand, here you will find, and may listen to, :30 worth of the most entertainment I've ever gotten from the concept.
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 22nd, 2003 10:14 am (UTC)
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Mmm, yes. I can remember looking at the play's site when you mentioned it at the time, what with the context of the people behind the scenes being some of your friends. Based on what you've said and what I've seen from the site, I approve of the whole work. Certainly I like the gimmick. Must admit I'm now quite tempted to find out how the songs continue after the first half-minute, but neither $20 for an album tempted nor $500 for a trip to New York to see it tempted.
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From:liuxia
Date:November 21st, 2003 07:53 am (UTC)
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F. Schadenfreude is such a disutility to the human condition that governments should tax mass media entertainment producers who incorporate it into their work. It's impossible to police small media schadenfreude, but any activity which will make people stop and recognise the unkind nature of their amusement would be a net public good. I'd pay for some from time to time, but not much.

Schadenfreude is part of human nature; as much as keeping track of our own social status relative to those around us is. It's simply less visceral than the satisfaction of beating another monkey down in a dominance fight, that's all. Good luck getting rid of it. Besides - although I know you don't have the concept of legally protected, maximally free speech in Britain - I think that sort of censorship would be abhorrent to a free society.

J. Suicide is a terrible thing and not to be encouraged or glorified. It is also, under some circumstances, a rational act of ultimate self-interest.

It's only a terrible thing if you think that human beings shouldn't be allowed to self-determine because of the feelings of those around them or their utility to society or God*. I think the freedom to chose not to live, especially when no one really is given a choice in whether they're born, is fundamental; if you break down the ethical basis for all this, in a sense there is no clear, axiomatic difference (in terms of violation of a person's self-determination and freewill) between preventing suicide and committing (or at least abetting) murder, despite the dunderheaded localities that have made suicidal people arrestable under suspicion of their own murder, and suicide legally equivalent to murder. I know there are a whole host of other qualitative differences, but we (Western society as a whole) don't have laws against murder because of the pain it causes the victim's family or the injury it does to the economy, we have laws against it largely because it's the supreme violation of another's self-determination**.


* Same thing, I think, in this case; that is, that most of the religious prohibitions against suicide came about as social controls. See: the early Christian church, circa Paul of Tarsus.

** Well, you could still argue this one, and certainly in - say - mediaeval Europe the differeing penalties for killing a serf vs a knight vs a priest and so on are definitely in line with the "murder as ultimate violation of the economy", and in many many cultures today the matter of injury done to the family is in fact more important than that done to the victim, I think, at heart because the family is the base unit of economic control. But none of these are places I'd like to live.
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 22nd, 2003 10:36 am (UTC)
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F. I take a slightly different viewpoint on this. I recognise that I can't elmiinate it completely; I'm not even sure that I want to eliminate it completely. However, I do want people to become aware that it exists and think about the issues involved. I'm also more opposed to experiences involving (and hence promoting) it being part of national culture, a nationally shared experience, in a way that I am not for many parallel smaller experiences involving (and hence promoting) it where each one is on a local level. Some sort of taxation system - levied on the producer, not the consumer, though I expect (and imply) that the producer would find some way to pass these costs onto the consumer, would force economic decisions about whether specific instances really were worthwhile. Boxing matches, Formula One and major satirical news quizzes are likely safe; petty comedies might have to think again and slightly shift their emphasis. In time, it would not be missed and an increasingly sympathetic society would see the benefits.

I'm happy to be considerably more authoritarian and less libertarian than many (maybe even most?) of my Friends list, though I don't think anyone is tarring anyone else with all the most extreme opinions from either end of the spectrum.

J. I don't disagree with the points you make. However, the particular sadness that suicide often causes to the friends and loved ones of the one who commits it, relative to other means of death, is what makes it terrible to me. I fear the prospect that anyone who I know might commit it; while I'm trying to come to terms with the prospect that it might be rational on their part, mostly in an attempt to lessen the fear that it causes, this acceptance is only going so far. Accordingly, for me, the first sentence holds.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:November 21st, 2003 08:06 am (UTC)

Cheese

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>B. Cheese is overrated.

Not so much. On the contrary I believe cheese is underrated. Not that I'm a fan of cheese per se but due to underexposure to the masses I think cheese has never reached its full potential (except perhaps with mice).

Cheese has never had a marketing campaign to universalize it to all demographics unlike its dairy parent - milk. If cheese had a "got milk?" campaign behind it then it could potentially be as big as... umm... meat? No longer just a sandwich filler or pizza topping but cheese could be a standalone snack food (cheesey-finger anyone?) or even a staple entree for people of all ages.

"What's for supper mom?"
"Roast cheese with all the trimmings"


"What's for breakfast mom?"
"Bacon and cheese"


I'd better stop before this degenrates into a spam spam spam parody.

My solution is a proposed new ad campaign for cheese which should make it appealing as healthy and cool:

Cheese... its chewable milk!

Gareth.
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From:imc
Date:November 21st, 2003 08:44 am (UTC)

Re: Cheese

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Re: Cheese - (Anonymous) - Expand
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From:imc
Date:November 21st, 2003 08:59 am (UTC)
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2. Yes it does seem earlier than usual.
4. If any of your neighbours looks like Tim Robbins, watch out!
8. Apropos of nothing, have you ever encountered the game Wide World (by Parker Brothers)? I'm guessing my parents acquired our copy in the late 70s, but I'm happy to report that last year I obtained not one but two of them on eBay (on the other hand, the number of copies of `Mhing' I've procured on eBay is about four, I think).
G. W&G are decent entertainment and capable of being quite amusing. There was at least one outright laugh in `A Close Shave' (when they name the sheep - though it only works the first time) and almost certainly more that I'm not remembering.
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 22nd, 2003 11:05 am (UTC)
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4. I don't think I would actually recognise Tim Robbins, not being a great film viewer. That said... oh no, I was about to launch into a diatribe about Tim Curry as triggered by the pictures of Jeremy Beadle. Yes, the family did hire Arlington Road when it became available for hire. Our highly considered opinion was that it was "OK".

8. Alas not to my knowledge. Mhing is definitely one I've heard of, though - haven't played it, but some of the theorists I respect were very keen on it at the time.
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From:hedwig_snowy
Date:November 21st, 2003 09:01 am (UTC)

What did he say?

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Will get to the HP thingee in a moment.....

"George Bush is coming to Sedgefield tomorrow...mile and a half...several hours....No chance...going to the demo..."easily put off"."
Good to know you thought about it...before taking a nap! :-)

"Harry Potter has passed its peak"
Not sure that Bloomsbury, Scholastic, Warner Brothers will not pump out the publicity for the books and the movies and that the 10-yr-olds (both physically and/or mentally - which I include myself) will not be pumped up for the next two books

"Cheese is overrated"
Huh? Just a regular burger? A plain ham sandwich? No Velveeta or Cheese Whiz? I think not.......

"The NCAA conference system is antiquated"
Uh, It's America....1) It's about money, 2) It's about Money, 3) It's about money, 4) It's......

The playoff system works well in Professional sports, why not college? Or.... Why have intercollege sports at all? Why not take all the pre-professional sports (football, baseball, basketball) and have them create minor league teams. Like trade schools. You can either go to a regular college or to a sports technical school. No classes. Just workouts. I mean...do they think they're fooling anyone pretending that they're educating the majority of college athletes in those sports???

I do, however, agree that the BCS system of deciding who will be the National Champion is beyond dictatorial and needs to be revamped. Think the regular season in College football runs fairly well...

"Some company (no clue who) will buy all the land in a country by 2025."
Doesn't Microsoft own America? Aren't they going to change the name from England to Lloyd's????

"None of the Wallace and Gromit films released so far have actually been funny."
Ok, bad-mouthing HP is one thing, but here Sir, you go to far!!! :-)The penguin AND Grommit on the train in 'The Wrong Trousers'?

"A truly enlightened society...."
Guess you won't be immigrating to the good ole U.S. of A. anytime soon... :)

"partly to press people's buttons in an overtly button-pressing exercise"
Ouch, my buttons are sore....... :-)
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 22nd, 2003 03:01 pm (UTC)

Re: What did he say?

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Good to know you thought about it...before taking a nap! :-)

Mmm, yes. The decision, in retrospect, to spend so much time on LiveJournal rather than on getting to Sedgefield sufficiently far in advance by any means necessary, might be called into question.

Not sure that Bloomsbury, Scholastic, Warner Brothers will not pump out the publicity for the books and the movies and that the 10-yr-olds (both physically and/or mentally - which I include myself) will not be pumped up for the next two books.

I agree with that, but I feel that the remaining media efforts will be better concentrated on preaching to the choir of established HP fans rather than those who have no opinion either way yet.

Huh? Just a regular burger?

Tandoori and aioli sauces with lettuce and onions, please.

I have almost certainly had more burger meals from Pepper's, the single burger bar in Oxford which can fulfil the above order, than I have had from Burger King this year - and probably very nearly as many as I have had Mickeys D.

NCAA: I think we broadly agree on this one. Certainly it's unusual from a British perspective that second-class pro sport is so university-focused. Minor league baseball and hockey, as Byzantine as it is, is some sort of analogue to sub-Premiership football, plus Arena Football could possibly be compared to domestic club rugby. The fact that organised basketball seems to come close to stopping after college for those who don't make the draft (and who don't come over to play in our leagues, ahem) is confusing, though.

Guess you won't be immigrating to the good ole U.S. of A. anytime soon... :)

Love Americans, hate Bush.

Actually, that's very flip. There are things to admire and to dislike about the USA, but also about the UK and about every country. I am not always sure that the UK has a monopoly on "what I would like in the country where I lived", but I haven't upped sticks and moved to {the Netherlands|Norway|New Zealand} yet. Admittedly, the USA isn't beating the UK by enough to make me want to move, and I'm not sure that the USA is beating the UK at all, but I still broadly think very highly of the (mostly carefully selected) crop of Americans who I know personally.
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From:jumbach
Date:November 21st, 2003 10:17 am (UTC)
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I'm up for poker. Cheers!!

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