Saturday, June 08, 2013

World rankings

Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer are playing in the French Open final tomorrow. They're currently number 4 and 5 in the world ranking list, but irrespective of the result of tomorrow's game, Ferrer will move up above Nadal in the rankings. That's because tennis world rankings cover the last twelve months, and Nadal's win last year will drop out of the total points, so he can't increase his total score even if he wins, while Ferrer only got to the semi-final last year, so he's guaranteed to increase his total.

Is this a good system? Actually, I think it is pretty good, and any kind of silliness like that is just of academic interest - Nadal will zoom back up to first or second later this year anyway, when he plays in the tournaments he missed through injury in 2012. The really interesting part is that tennis rankings give you a certain number of points in each tournament, depending which round you reach. This I think is less of a good system - if you're a lower-ranking player and you get drawn against the likes of Nadal in the first round, you'll score less points than some other lower-ranking player who gets a lucky draw and gets through to the third or fourth round without playing anyone really good. I'm sure it evens out, but there does seem to be quite a lot of random chance involved.

Or maybe I'm just prejudiced because othello has a cooler system. Your ranking points (there isn't a universally-accepted world ranking, though the one on the French website has gained a lot of support these past few years; the one that British people care about is the British rankings) go up and down depending on the ranking points total of the individual players you win or lose against. Othello doesn't have knockout tournaments, so we couldn't use the tennis-style rankings even if we wanted to, but nothing's stopping tennis from adopting othello-style rankings. Maybe they should.

And othello doesn't claim to have invented that system, I just like to talk in terms of the things I like. Just in case anyone was wondering.

Memory sports, of course, has a different kind of thing altogether. You get a certain amount of points in a competition, and your world ranking score is the highest you've ever achieved in a competition. Even if your best score was donkey's years ago. That's an okay system too, but I'd like to see something based on people's best scores in individual disciplines - perhaps two different ranking lists, in fact - one based on just scores achieved at the world championship, another based on all the disciplines from all the different types of competition. Maybe I'll work these alternatives out and see if there's any way to make my "official world ranking" (another thing about memory competitions is that people freely use the word "official" to describe anything they want) higher than fifth-best in the world!

Social commentary

According to my stats page, Dai's number-themed comment on yesterday's blog post was the 3000th comment published on this blog!

I don't think that's enough, really. Throw me some more comments, people! Get a discussion going in that hidden secret little bit that you get to by clicking at the bottom of my ramblings!

Friday, June 07, 2013


You know that thing people say, that they only ever look at a clock when it's 11:11? All very psychological. Well, the headlines on the Yahoo news summary that you get when you log in to Yahoo mail, whether you want to or not, have:

Teachers: 11 Not Banned Despite 'Misconduct'

Isle Of Man TT Race Crash: 11 Spectators Hurt

Cyber disputes loom large as Obama meets China's Xi

Not that I paid particular attention to them, but the third one made me stop and think "Obama meets China's Eleven"? What, are they playing cricket or something? It took me ages to readjust my brain into reading "Xi" instead of "XI", all because of those rogue elevens just up above. It's all very psychological.


I like overhearing snatches of conversation from people on the street and then speculating on what they might be talking about. I just cycled past a gang of youths as one of them was saying, authoritatively if perhaps slightly drunkenly, "The only way you could be done for attempted murder is if he actually dies..."

I'm not a legal expert, but I'm pretty sure it's usually the other way round. But even so, have I overheard discussion of an actual murder attempt, or a joke? You can usually tell from the tone of voice, but this one really could have gone either way...

Thursday, June 06, 2013

The story so far

If you want to keep up with what's happening in the big wild world of memory competitions, you really need to be reading Johann Randall Abrina's blog! Just to look at that summary of all the competitions so far this year fills an old-timer like me with a warm glow of satisfaction - when I started out, there were three or four competitions a year, at the very most, in the whole world! Now even a backwater of modern memory like the British Isles has that many itself, and the cool countries are all running their own competitions all over the place too!

I think the 'big' competition before the world championships is still the German Memory Open, buried though it is in such a busy summer calendar, but don't forget the UK Memory Championship a month later (that link isn't a website of its own, just a note that it's going to happen, but it really is definitely going to happen, and worth going to!)

Or take your pick from any other event on the calendar - that's, which keeps a good and accurate list of what's happening. There will be a World Memory Championship too, most likely, but they're adopting the successful technique from last year of not revealing any details and then having to retract it when they change. So I don't need to warn anyone not to book their plane tickets, unless they're the kind of person who just guesses the date and location of a memory championship, buys a first class ticket and hopes for the best. And if they are, they probably wouldn't listen to me.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

We haven't moonwalked with horses for a while

The following statements were collected by the police:

GUSTAF BOGGINS, HORSE POLISHER: "So there I were, out on the street, washing me 'orse wi' soap an' water before I gives 'im the polish, when round the corner comes this bloke what weren't wearin' no busters [trousers] and I faints clean away in the gutter."

LORD VALIANT, OWNER OF HORSE: "I went into the street to remind the horse polisher to pay particular attention to the tail area, when I suddenly saw him gasp, point and collapse. I looked in the indicated direction and saw a man looking for all the world like Vocator [legendary figure who wore trousers] before he first donned the garment that made him famous. On closer inspection, I saw that he was whirling his Vocator's Article [trousers] about his head in a mad manner. I hastened back inside, fearing the social ruination that would come from being seen in the proximity of such a man, and so didn't see where he went."

VIC BANDYSHAW, HORSE POLISHER'S SUPERVISOR: "I was just checkin' up on Gustaf on account of that toffee-nosed twerp what owns the horse being so particular about its bum being polished good, when here comes this bloke waving 'is Blandford Forums [trousers] in the air instead of putting 'em on his legs like normal folks do. So I shouts 'Hoy, Parcruxis [foe of Vocator and thus by extension a derisory term for anyone opposed to trousers, although the legendary Parcruxis did in fact wear trousers himself], put yer Blandfords [trousers] back on and stop botherin' my 'orse polisher!' But he didn't pay no attention to me, so I just goes and picks Gustaf up out of the gutter, on account of he's sensitive about these things and he'd gone and fainted, so I didn't see what 'appened to old Parcruxis."

DAME DORIS GURDY, GENTLEWOMAN: "I happened to glance out of my window, and what should I see but a pair of overlegs [trousers] being brandished in a most alarming manner. I would have watched further, but I noticed Lord Valiant in the vicinity and hurried away to telephone all our social acquaintances. Now he won't be able to enter a room in decent society without being greeted with 'Good morning, Doctor Overlegs [trousers]!' That's the end of him, socially speaking! So no, I didn't pay any more attention to Mister Lacking-In-Noncontrivances [trousers, but only when the word is used, as in this case, in a negative construction; otherwise it means baked beans] and can't tell you any more."

"BROWN HAROLD", HORSE: "Neigh, whinney, neigh-neigh, hrrumph [trousers], whinney, neiiiiiiiigh."

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Spare change?

Okay, here's the thing. For people who haven't been following my life in full detail (which I suppose I can forgive, since I haven't been blogging about it very much, so you would have had to be using some kind of spy satellites and phone-tapping), I've been only sporadically working for the last two years, rather beyond the limits of the time I intended to take off full-time good-money-earning accountancy-cum-financial-analysis, and for want of being able to land a permanent job in that field, I'm currently working in a lower-level admin job. Which, to my surprise, I'm really completely loving and want to do forever, if not for the teensy problem that it doesn't quite pay enough money to cover the costs of the various debts I've racked up.

So, basically, I find myself needing an influx of cash, to pay life's unavoidable bills and not end up out on the streets. So if anyone could throw a little into my begging bowl, which is a Paypal account using my email address, which is zoom_zoom_ben and it's at, I'd really really appreciate it. Any money received will be considered a loan, to be paid back with interest and gratitude as and when my ship comes in. Regular readers will know that my ship does come in, fairly regularly, every now and then, whenever people see fit to give me money for being good at remembering things. And that there really are people out there who still pay big salaries for people who are good with Excel spreadsheets (though I think their numbers are diminishing - big bosses know how to turn on a computer nowadays, which is bad news for the financial analysts of the world).

I do have one memory gig coming up next week, at an art exhibition. Maybe that's a good way to shmooze with modern art people, who always like to pay me to do things. I really need to make more of an effort to make money in these last dying seconds of my fifteen minutes of fame.

Anyway, in summary - money, please? Paypal? zoom_zoom_ben? Cheques also accepted? Undying gratitude will be forthcoming?

Monday, June 03, 2013

What's the point of toes, anyway?

They don't really do anything, even if they're freakishly long like mine, and they really hurt if you somehow open the bathroom door over your big toe in the morning. And since I was in a hurry to get ready for work, I just put my sock on over it, and my shoe basically filled with blood over the course of the day. Really, it's a terrible wound, and it hurts a lot, so I'm quite entitled to whine about it.