Saturday, October 07, 2006

Whoops, Mrs Miggins, You're Sitting On My Artichokes

I'm wearing an old pair of jogging bottoms with big holes in the knees and somewhat loose elastic (what, you expect me to be a model of sartorial elegance when I'm on my own at home? Sorry to disappoint you) and just now as I was walking towards my kitchen sink, the arm of my sofa caught in the hole in one of the knees and pulled my trousers right down around my ankles. It was a perfect slapstick moment that just needed the vicar coming round unexpectedly for tea to make it complete.

Anyway, the World Othello Championships. It has ended up with three Japanese players in the semi-finals - Makoto Suekuni v Tetsuya Nakajima and Hideshi Tamenori v Ben Seeley. Tamenori, in fact, is the making-up-the-numbers extra player from the home nation this year (qualifying for the Japanese team is notoriously difficult, there are dozens of really, really, REALLY good players there), and is almost as impressive in that role as I was in London in 2004.

But slightly more controversially, the organisers have unilaterally decided that the Japanese should be allowed to have a team of three women as well, rather than the one that other countries are allowed (you can have a woman as part of your normal team of three as well, of course - I went into all this in detail last year some time, I think). There is a bit of a history in the world of international othello of Japan, since they always win everything, doing things their own way and not caring what the rest of the world thinks. Personally I think the whole thing's funny, but there are those who take it seriously. Which, of course, only makes it all the more entertaining. Controversy is a fun game for all the family.

Friday, October 06, 2006


The saddle on my bike came loose on the way to work, and kept tilting back while I was riding along. So I had to sort of park my whole (considerable) weight on the front bit to keep it level, and then it tilted downwards the other way. You could pay to see circus clowns riding bikes like that, probably.

Anyway, it's the weekend, and I've got things that need doing. I'm going to go for that master plan of memorising all those six-digit square numbers, to aid my square-root calculations at the MCWC. I'm still no good at square roots, but at least this way I can get a few quick points for the first three digits of each question (you have to give the answer to eight significant figures). I'm also still going to do the one minute binary record attempt with a full 270 digits, even if, just for example, someone who previously held the record tries his best to claim that the new record set earlier this year shouldn't count, and argue that I should only try for 170 or so so that other memorisers can then beat that and get the great publicity that our sport deserves. The way I see it, there's no point trying to beat a much less impressive record when someone has done 240, and I won't be at all offended if I do manage 270 (or even 300!) and Gunther argues that that doesn't count as a real record either.

Ben Seeley's on top at the world othello championship after the first day - he's won seven out of seven, beating Makoto Suekuni (who beat Tamenori earlier in the day) in the last game. Seeley v Tamenori first thing tomorrow, quite literally, I think it's half past midnight British time. Nicky van den Biggelaar is doing well too - he looks like having the best chance of stopping there being three Japanese (plus Ben Seeley) in the semi-finals. I really wish I could play that well. Ah well, that's another thing to work on over the next year...

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Curses, Moriarty

My arch-nemesis, Akira Haraguchi, has been up to his old tricks again. It seems that he's recited pi to 100,000 places, over a sixteen-hour period last night. That's just much too many numbers. I'd still like to beat the record some day, but I can see I'd have to go up to something like 150,000, just to make sure he doesn't pre-empt me again.

Of course, he doesn't really count as an arch-nemesis - or at least I don't count as even a lesser nemesis of his, seeing as I've never publicly recited any digits of pi, barring a couple of dozen in a pub every once in a while if I want to show off. Still, it's nice to imagine that I'm an adversary of his in the pi-memorising stakes, however inaccurate the idea might be. Besides, I should refrain from talking about people as if they were my enemy - certain misunderstandings arose from a comment I made after the WMC, although how anyone could think that when I described Clemens as 'evil' it might mean that I don't like him, I can't imagine.

What is a shame is that I didn't qualify for the world othello championships - if I had, I would be in Mito, Japan, right now, and would be able to hunt Akira down and... well, say hello, I suppose. But it would also be cool to be playing in the championship. It kicks off tomorrow, they've already done the draw for the first round in the traditional way the evening before - you can see it here, if you really want to. Team Britain are missing a few of our brightest stars this time round, but I'm sure they'll put up a good fight. You wouldn't want to bet against Hideshi Tamenori on his home turf, though.

I've just been watching a repeat of Pie in the Sky on ITV3, but now it's finished and they've moved on to "Another Audience with Freddie Starr". This is exactly the kind of situation for which the phrase "from the sublime to the ridiculous" was invented.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

@ BCC 34 750

I've got a pair of corduroy trousers that I don't wear very often, but I've had them for years - I bought them for a seventies night quite some time ago, a very memorable evening to which the only people who turned up were me, my brother and his friend Takanori. Anyway, I've just noticed today that written in black marker on the inside of the seat is "@ BCC 34 750". You'd think I would have noticed that before, but then I'm not terribly observant. I could speculate as to what it means, but I can't think of any interesting things that BCC might stand for except Big Cool Cords.

Rather than doing anything useful tonight, I'm watching a charity football match between old fogies who played for Liverpool and Celtic twenty years ago. I was a Liverpool fan back in 1986, for the simple reason that they always won. This made it possible to pour scorn on fans of other teams for being so stupid as to support one of the teams who didn't win all the time. Which really makes you feel superior. Of course, my social group of nine-year-olds were also all Liverpool fans for exactly the same reason - this was Lincolnshire, and there weren't any good local teams to support - so we generally had to restrict our scorn to people we assumed looked like they might be Man Utd supporters.

Nowadays, of course, I feel superior to all those fans who are so stupid as to support a team that wins games occasionally. Poor Boston are still languishing second from bottom of league 2, despite a great win against Lincoln and a draw away at Swindon. If we can beat Bristol Rovers on Saturday it will catapult us up the table a bit, and then it'll just leave the speculation about our manager decamping to Darlington to worry about.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

One minute binary

I've discovered that I have no trouble at all with reading through and memorising 270 binary digits in exactly one minute and six seconds. Getting it down to under a minute seems to be more of a challenge. The current record is 240, so technically I could do 250, or for that matter 241, but I prefer to do binaries in multiples of 30, because it's somehow less confusing that way. And doing eight thirties and a ten would take as long as doing nine thirties. Still, with a bit of practice I can probably do it. Or make a sufficiently impressive attempt that I don't get laughed out of the Mathematikum.

I've been attempting to do my homework from college, but it involves reading sixteen pages of horrifically tedious nonsense about financial strategy and the theories advanced by Modigliani and Miller in 1961 regarding dividend policy and the hypothesis of dividend irrelevance. Why couldn't it have been Victor Vroom and his theories? I can always remember those, because he had such a silly name and I automatically imagine him as having had a motorised unicycle instead of legs (and, for less obvious reasons, a hairy chest, big beard and tendency to wear fewer clothes than is generally considered decent). He fights crime with his assistants Porter and Lawler in a way that illustrates a lesson every week about motivation and cognitive theory.

Monday, October 02, 2006

He grew fat and then grew thin again

I think I'm putting on weight. Not that I care about such things, of course, but perhaps it would be a good idea to join that gym I've been talking about joining and getting a bit more exercise on a regular basis. I suppose you might say that I should stop eating so many sweets and things, but then I might reply that you should mind your own beeswax, and I like sweets and things, so leave me alone.

I'm watching Grease on Sky at the moment. I've seen it about seventy buhundred times before, and I've got it on DVD so I could watch it any time I like without adverts or anything, but I don't think it's possible to see that Grease is on TV and not watch it. Besides, I want to see what the Sky people edit out of it. The BBC chop out the naughty words from 'Greased Lightning', whereas ITV leave that intact but cut the slumber party scene out entirely.

I should really be memorising things, or calculating things, but never mind. A wella wella wella!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

I'll talk when I want to.

It's probably a good thing I haven't written anything here for the last couple of days, because I had an email that I was tempted to write about. And when I say write about, I mainly mean poke fun at the person who sent it to me and publicly mock the contents of the private letter they sent me. Which probably wouldn't have been very nice, but it was very tempting because I could have said all kinds of funny things about it. It's difficult sometimes, being so ethical.

Still, it's October. Birthday month! The party's going to be a meal and drinking session in Nottingham on the 14th, and anybody reading this who would like to come, drop me a line. You'll be very welcome!