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December 21st, 2003

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05:48 am - Bullet Time
I originally meant to post these remaining bullet points this time last week. Hey ho. As a consequence, it's no longer marysiak's birthday and it is now sbisson's. Simon also lives one of the most fascinating lives on my Friends list, but in a completely different way.
  • Some people get tunes running through their head which they try to release through singing; I get a pattern which I must trace with my pointer on the screen and with my finger on my leg. Let me see if I can release this pattern through a GIP. I call it "the wobbly beaker"; time to give the cuboctahedron a rest.
  • Coolest thing to happen for a while, which I regret not plugging sooner, is wwwwwwwwwwwwwww, with fantastic obscure-game-related articles excerpted from The Economist. The most recent one mentions mahabis, alternatively transliterated as Mhebiss, the local Iraqi version of Up Jenkins. Hugely nifty; many thanks to the anonymous but easily-guessable perpetrator.
  • dr4b points to Five Geek Social Fallacies. I'm not sure whether I either agree or disagree with them yet, but I find the piece very well-argued, not least by the way it defends the fallacious behaviours and seeks very modest changes to improve geek behaviour.
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is set to come out in an Imax edition, hurrah! There has been much talk of a Yorkshire HP fanmeet which has never come to fruition; I formally call one now for the first showing of the movie on the Imax screen at the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television in Bradford. Date: hopefully not too many weeks after the small big-screen launch on June 4th.
  • I wonder if there's a useful similarity to be drawn between the fact that one of the NCAA championship game participants, Oklahoma, didn't win their conference and the fact that the top European club football trophy winners, AC Milan, didn't win their national league? I throw my hands up in the air; NCAA football is caught up in its own hypertraditionalist pants as it is.
  • Aren't weblogs rubbish? People start them with the highest of intentions but all but abandon them quickly. Well, if top British science/computers/internet producer/presenter Gareth Jones can only manage 9 entries in 12 months, it must be true. (Unfair, I admit; we still like busy Gaz Top.)
  • Talking of things from the Top era, BBC Sport in Your Sinclair wannabe shock (see bottom). This web screenplay toy is pretty funny, too - it's cute to see lines you've written in the script of a rom-com.
  • You are likely to get between 22 and 33 minutes of enjoyment out of Fleep (via groovymother, I think), a 44-episode mono strip cartoon. Each strip has six panels and stands alone with a joke or a cliffhanger. The story does just enough to make the ending work really well.
  • If the next Comic Relief sees a one-night revival of The Goodies with their classic three-seat tandem, teaming up with the Two Ronnies and Cannon and Ball, then they would all ride one of these (via deepfun) to get to their comic misadventures.
  • daweaver points to the proposed restructuring of non-league football with his analysis. Map fans may enjoy the maps; organisation fans, complicated HTML table fans and jaw-hitting-the-table-due-to-the-sheer-quantity-of-football fans may enjoy the pyramid.
  • His blog 2 (whoo-hoo!) has a cute countdown to Christmas, though not quite like the one Roland Rat did 17 years ago. Will he really go all Xmas 2003 without hearing "I Believe In Father Christmas"? Nevertheless, there are a couple of important Christmas rituals he omitted.

    Last Saturday's "Sports Review of the Year", as it is traditionally formally titled, is a fixture in the calendar as one of the highest-profile, best-organised review shows of the year. This edition jammed in a fiftieth-edition meta-retrospective, interesting as much for who didn't turn up (no Daley Thompson! No Steve Ovett!) as who did and consequently only had time for quite a small number of sports, with only the most tangential of mentions for the traditional minority interests. Admittedly Neil Hodgson the motorcyclist and Pippa Furnell the horse-rider bought their sports some time by making the top five phone-poll, but that was really about it. As happens every year, the whole show overran; this time, the overrun lottery pays out for 14 minutes. They didn't use one of their traditional tunes, either - the one that was used for that TV show from 1995-ish about people joining the SAS. I may have to dum-diddle-um it in a PhonePost.

    The next annual ritual is The Christmas Radio Times - the big double-issue with two weeks' TV listings. Now forthcoming TV and radio listings used to be very jealously guarded proprietary information, leading to the BBC and the ITV network each having their own magazines, national monopolies with seven-digit circulations (almost seven million in 1960 - almost nine million in '55). The Christmas specials sell about twice the regular circulation these days, so the Christmas Radio Times used to be quite a major national event. This year it's now more a BBC puff promotion piece than ever and TV listings are everywhere. (All things considered, an improvement.) The TV schedules this year look broadly rubbish, except that (a) Red Dwarf IV is being repeated every night on BBC 2 (episode 5 0050, episode 6 0110 on Tuesday 23rd!) and I'm finally going to get to see Galaxy Quest on Boxing Day. Hurrah!

    The last - and best - annual ritual from my childhood is the Annual Special Milk Order. Our neck of the woods still has a milkman making six-days-per-week deliveries; despite the profession's adulterous reputation, our milkman is a fine, upstanding chap who does an honest job under all weather conditions and works for a dairy who supplies excellent backup. However, he takes December 25th, December 26th and January 1st off, or time in lieu, and every year delivers a note inviting us to order extra deliveries on December 24th and 31st respectively. This is the third great other Christmas ritual, because the notes advertise all the other wonderful things that the milkman can deliver but never habitually does. Cream! Soft drinks! Butter! Yoghurt! Bread! In some years, potatoes, even!

    What is interesting about this is the way that the document used to describe this has changed over the years. Originally it was a simple sheet of black ink on white - stock in trade for a printer. Later years saw the evolution of this into a beautifully colourful matrix; we were invited to order these extras every day of the Christmas fortnight, with the thirty or forty possibilities sorted and grouped by colour. Technically these were probably always available all along, but the very concept of ordering something non-milk from the milkman always had the "Christmas treat" feel about it.

    These days, though. the milkman is on the wane; it's cheaper to buy milk from a supermarket, the milk lasts longer, has been stored in a freezer cabinet (rather than out in the occasional sun) and, whisper it, plain tastes better in the first place. Every couple of months we inadvertently get a bottle which has clearly been sitting in the dairy for a day already and is delivered pre-soured for our convenience, too. Now I am happy to pay a premium for the convenience of delivery to the doorstep and am happy to see the milkman tradition continue, but delivering bad milk from time to time isn't good for business. Returning to the Christmas milk ritual, this year's order sheet is just a roughly-torn half sheet of A4, a mere two columns (one for the 24th, one for the 31st) and possibly 15 items listed compared to a peak of more than twice that. John the milkman probably produced it by himself.

    So goes the wonder, joy and prestige of the Annual Special Milk Order. So goes the single greatest magazine of the year every year, the Christmas Radio Times. What's next? Can it be conceivable that the days of the Sports Review of the Year are numbered?
  • Unusual house numbers are inherently cool. In the UK, triple-digit numbers are uncommon and four-digit ones rare; in the US, the one-digit and two-digit ones outlie. However, a Friends seriously quoted an address of 112 1/2 (Street Name) - yes, as in 112.5, as in 112½. If it really works then that's the coolest factual street address I've yet seen.
  • One of these years, I will learn that writing my Christmas cards is a reasonably big job which takes many hours. Sadly, this was not the year I learned that lesson. I have been reminded that much as I dislike working under time pressure, it's really the only way I ever get anything done.

    Not a million miles behind Google in the "best thing ever in the history of things" competition, as far as regular LiveJournalists are concerned, is Joule, the "who's beFriended you?" grapher. It's not perfect (I would be very impressed if it could spot when defriending/friending pairs are caused by people renaming their journal and so providing continuity) but it does its job tremendously well. I'd like to see a similar list kept track of my outgoing Friendships over time, too, at least as much as a measure of my own attitude to my LiveJournal as anything else. Ideally I would hope that LiveJournal would eventually track such data itself rather than relying upon Marnanel's resources.

    I keep a record of who I send cards to each year - don't we all? - more as a reflection of who I know and care about at any particular time than anything else. Now friendships can neither be defined by Friendships nor cardswapships, but it would seem a shame to waste good data. It would be a fascinating but laborious exercise to produce a similar sort of far-longer-term cardships (by analogy to Friendships) over time graph - as good a way of mapping the "who knows whom" / "who cares about whom" relationship space in the real world as any. Very interesting post within the static_zombie syndie feed about the extent to which a sent card is an effective reaffirmation of friendship or not; I guess there is as much difference in the way that people treat the significance of card-sending as there is in the way that people treat the significance of their journal and journal-inspired Friendships.

    Being a great big dork and loving it, this year I sent a card to LiveJournal. I addressed it to all the staff by name (plus David the intern as mentioned in lj_dev) and also all the clusters as well. This latter decision was mostly so that it was addressed to both Jesus and Santa and I could comment on how wrong that was. Very dorky joke indeed, but someone had to do it...

Current Mood: finishing what I started
Current Music: Gary Glitter - "Another Rock and Roll Christmas"

(31 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:December 21st, 2003 03:32 am (UTC)

Yeah, I get the "patterning" thing too - comes with being compelled to count things, too, I think...
[User Picture]
Date:December 21st, 2003 08:42 am (UTC)

It could very well be. There's a lot of powers-of-two influence in the pattern and I am faintly obsessed with counting the number of times I do repetitive things, so I'm sure you're correct.

*lightning flashes* Ah ha ha ha ha!
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[User Picture]
Date:December 21st, 2003 08:54 am (UTC)

Eeeeeexcellent! The prospect of huge-screen PoA and fantastic curry is tremendously difficult to beat. I've heard good things about Bradford's curry in the past; I look forward to seeing whether it can beat Manchester's curry mile (disappointingly easy) or reigning World Champion, the Dilshad of Birmingham. In addition, I'm rather more hopeful than you are of attracting the masses to the t00bage, especially with sufficient promotion. It'll be interesting to see whether it's in term time or not - this may well affect the number of student00bs who can attend. I dearly hope the timing doesn't play merry havoc with your A2s, for instance.

The only (?) time I've been to the Bradford museum of PF+TV was on the way back from Halifax in (*checks e-mail records*) August 2000. I managed to get on a train going in the wrong direction at Halifax and ended up a stop down the line (Hebden Bridge, I think?) to the west. Wahey. Have I mentioned the fact that the Badger Guest House (prop: Joan Badger) in Halifax has wonderful hospitality? Badger, badger, badger, badger. Yes, they did serve fried mushrooms for breakfast. No snake, though.
[User Picture]
Date:December 21st, 2003 10:25 am (UTC)
Can also count me in, probably. As long as Cle can put me up.
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[User Picture]
Date:December 21st, 2003 06:50 am (UTC)
a Friends seriously quoted an address of 112 1/2 (Street Name)

I've heard of this too -- I think it's often an address for a secondary building on the same plot, or even just an infill development where the houses had already been numbered.

The weirdness of American street numbers has to do, I think, with the tendency to mark addresses as if they were map coordinates, especially in newer developed areas with a grid street pattern. Maybe this is typical of a country where the survey preceeded the settlement? For example, in my town, "13th Street" is just the thirteenth block West of some arbitrary baseline street, and is not even a continuous street for its whole length -- it's interruptd several times by parks, highways, etc. And the dozen or so houses on any of the cross streets between 13th and 14th would be in the "1300 block," contributing to the inflation of American street numbers.

In the western US, things are even more explicitly coordinate-like -- you might have an address like "635 East 400 North." The round numbers would be the streets themselves, 400 North being the fourth block north of a baseline road, and the house number 635 East locates the house about 1/3 of the way between the 600 East and 700 East streets, which would run perpendicular to 400 North. In some cities, not every possible street has actually been built, but the numbers of the actual streets skip over the reserved numbers for the unbuilt streets, as though some ideal Platonic grid were underlying the actual grubby development.

In the rural town my parents have retired to, they have no postal delivery (you have to go to the Post Office to pick up your mail), and within memory had no house numbers, only PO boxes. Street numbers only got assigned a few years ago, and of course everyone was envious of people with a lower number, which apparently became a status thing.

Yes, I am bored and have not had my coffee yet. Why do you ask? :D
[User Picture]
Date:December 21st, 2003 08:40 am (UTC)
I guess the reason why the US street numbering system is so unfamiliar to British eyes is that it actually makes so much sense, unlike ours. :-) The aspect of having streets numbered East and West, akin to the concepts of positivity and negativity, fills me with much mathematical joy but it still seems mighty strange somehow. I particularly enjoyed the fact that lambertman pointed out a street sign in the USA which declared itself to be the 0 road.

It's also sometimes surprising to British eyes how long residential roads can be - many, many miles. There are some very long residential roads in the UK (Edgware Road in London springs to mind, which is both residential and a frequent into-London thoroughfare) but not many. I am always on the lookout for streets with very high house numbers in the UK; I can think of (from memory) three or four in London, two of which I've used - one in the Harrow area, one going up to 2xxx and eventually linking on to the M23 - and one that was a particular exit from Birmingham. The other ones I know about in London are due to a particularly helpful streetmap I once saw which usefully indicated which was the "1" end of each street and a number of intermediate house numbers along the way. Rather important when street numbers go up to two thousand.

I'd be very curious to know which was the highest naturally-occuring house number in the UK (heck, in the US! In the world!) but fear it might lead to people renumbering their house to number 1,000,000 for fun and so forth. I refer you to the "great big dork" comment in the last bullet point.
[User Picture]
Date:December 21st, 2003 10:33 am (UTC)
London roads are a little surprising to me. One explanation I heard was: the layout of London streets was designed by taking a box of Spaghetti, holding the pasta vertical, and dropping it, however the lines of the pasta lined up, that's where they drew a road. :)

Another problem I found was the placement of street signs. (Ok, so it was CRAZY for me to drive in London, but the public transportation system is not exactly W/C friendly for the most part. Found out soon enough that cabs are worth the money, better than risking one's life in a road circle....what with cars, buses, pedestrians, motorcycles, mopeds, and, especially, CABS!)

In America, we are used to street signs in one or two locations (on each corner - on smaller streets and overhead in the center of the traffic signal - in larger intersections). In London, I had the impossible task of finding out what street I was on. They have street signs on fences - at waist level and on buildings - 15 feet in the air. They're all over the place.

The other thing I found odd is similar to what you are describing. Going from point A to point B on the same road in London, I found myself on 3-4 differently named roads (Kensington High Street comes to mind). I took this picture while in London. It was so amusing to me that this guy's house was on two different roads. Wonder how the postman ever finds him??? :)

Date:December 21st, 2003 11:55 am (UTC)
I know the Guinness Book of Records used to have this information in, and the UK winner was certainly somewhere in Birmingham - I think either the Hagley Road (headed west from the city centre) or the Pershore Road (headed south towards Redditch) is the winner, at number 2835 or thereabouts. Both roads are about 8 miles long.

The A38 Bristol Road would be the winner, if it didn't become the Bristol Road South about four miles of the way out of the city, and renumber from 1534 to 2. The Bristol Road South continues five miles to the city limits, with numbering finishing at about 1820.
[User Picture]
Date:December 21st, 2003 12:16 pm (UTC)
The US numbering system is logical, but it really isn't. There are four acceptable addresses for my parents' house:

647 RR#4   (Rural Route #4 was decomissioned about ten years ago)
647 Hwy 32
220 Hwy 32N
220 N Main St

There are three or four houses with 220 N Main St.

House numbers such as lambertman mentioned (W640N32587) are very common in the countryside in Wisconsin.

US roads are actually really confusing. All states have their own state trunkline highway system, but signs are different in each state. In Wisconsin, our symbol is a rounded rectangle on top of a triangle, Michigan has a diamond, and Alaska has a large sign with their state flag and a number on it. Most states have their own county road system, but it is also different in each state. Wisconsin has a county trunkline system, and is the only state in the nation with letters instead of numbers. Hardly anybody knows why WI-32 has those red arrows on their signs. Plus, we have a set of roads designated as "Rustic Road."

And then we have the mess of the US Highways and Interstates... odd numbered Interstates run North/South and are numbered increasing from West to East. Even numbered Interstates run West/East and are numbered increasing from South to North. US Highways are numbered in a similar fashion, except the lowest numbers are on the East and North, the opposite of Interstates. In theory, Interstates 90 and 94 should never meet up, because I-94 is supposed to be always north of I-90. Similarly, US-12 should not be a part of the "Beltway" in Madison, a high-speed highway on the South side of Madison consisting of US-12, US-14, US-18, and US-151. US-12 should never meet up with US-14 or US-18... that sort of thing.

But this is more information than you wanted... so... yeah.
[User Picture]
Date:December 21st, 2003 01:13 pm (UTC)
There are even places in the UK (like Bath) where one side of a notional street has a different name from another...
[User Picture]
Date:December 21st, 2003 02:45 pm (UTC)
Roads called 'London Road' are always good for this: the one heading to Norbury SW16 from Croydon goes up to 1597 according to my streetmap, and the A13 from Southend reaches a similar number as it passes along the seaside conurbations.
[User Picture]
Date:December 21st, 2003 08:43 pm (UTC)
i like the geek social fallacies link. many rings of truth in that.
[User Picture]
Date:December 23rd, 2003 08:00 pm (UTC)
Like the author, I suspect I struggle most strongly with the first two ("Ostracizers Are Evil" and "Friends Accept Me As I Am"). Suppose it's the case that most - all? - of a social circle accepts those two to be true, or even most of a society. Do these then become widely accepted standards to be relied upon, or do they remain fallacious?

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