New – the CM 89/90 project

I’ve been working on a new project – to create a version of Championship Manager 01/02, dated back to the 89/90 season. You can see more details on the project site.

Liverpool squad

Advertisements
Posted in Championship Manager, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The FIFA Club World Cup

A week ago, Bayern Munich won the Club World Cup, beating Raja Casablanca in the final. I really like this competition, although it struggles to earn the respect it deserves, perhaps because it’s new, but also, admittedly, because the quality of the final tournament isn’t always the highest. But while Bayern’s win last week won’t change anyone’s idea of whether they’re the best team in the world, it does give them a strong claim to be World Champions, because the competition is truly global in a way that its predecessor, the Intercontinental Cup, wasn’t.

To me, that’s what’s so appealing about the competition – that almost any team in any league pyramid in the world can plot their way to the final, that it’s a culmination of all the national and continental football played in the past couple of years. To show, this, I decided to make this graph. It’s pretty complex, so I hope it makes sense – basically any team’s route to the final moves upwards or to the left, until they are eliminated. Click to enlarge.

Image

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Five things Ed Miliband must learn from Falkirk

  1. It is the 20th most populous settlment in Scotland
  2. It has two railway stations, Falkirk High and Falkirk Grahamston
  3. The Falkirk Wheel boat lift was opened in 2002, connecting the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal
  4. Falkirk FC are nicknamed “The Bairns” and, as of 2013, play in the Scottish First Division
  5. It is twinned with Créteil and Quimper in France
Posted in Ed Miliband, Falkirk, Labour Party, Politics | Leave a comment

The Wright Way

Inspiration comes in the oddest places, and watching this week’s episode of The Wright Way made me feel like I could have a go. Here it is…

=============================================================

EPISODE 4. “POND LIFE”

SCENE 1. INT. DAY. THE WRIGHTS’ KITCHEN

Gerald comes downstairs, to where his daughter and her girlfriend are having breakfast. He looks slightly dishevelled.

GERALD: I don’t believe it! Once again, once of you has left the shower curtain outside of the shower, in direct contravention of this house’s bathroom code. It’s very simple: shower curtains stay inside the shower, so that any water will bounce off it back into the shower, and down the plughole. If you can’t obey simple rules-

DAUGHTER’s GIRLFRIEND: Rules? I aint playing by no rules bruv. Is it because I is black? Aiiiiiiiii. Wasuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuup?

DAUGHTER: Yeah, dad, you shouldn’t get so stressy about these things, no wonder Mum left you for a sitcom cliché.

GERALD: She left me because she couldn’t follow simple rules to achieve the smooth running of a household bathroom. How many times do I have to tell you? Now the floor is wet, the bathmat is more water than mat, the clothes I left on the floor are ruined… (continues in this vein for another 5 minutes)… and now, I’m late. I’ll have to cook my breakfast at work.

Gerald grabs a packet of sausages and leaves.

SCENE 2. INT. DAY. THE COUNCIL OFFICE GENTS’ TOILETS

GERALD (entering): Right, just time to cook these sausages under the hand dryer before our planning meeting.

Gerald attempts to do this.

GERALD: Unbelievable! When will they build hand dryers that actually blow hot air. I know in the next scene I’m going to be a caricatured health and safety zealot, but it’s just before 9am, so I want a dryer that will burn my hands off. Don’t get me started! Well, I’ll have to speed up the process.

For no clear reason, Gerald holds a sausage near his groin, moves under the hand dryer and starts rubbing it. After about 10 minutes of this, the camp man walks in.

CAMP MAN: Ooh, can I have some of that?

GERALD: You do know I’m cooking sausages, right?

CAMP MAN: Yes… of course I do. I’m fat as well, which is also inherently funny.

GERALD: OK, If you must. Come on, you’ll probably do a better job than this hand dryer. Come and breathe hot air on this sausage.

Gerald turns to face the camp man, who kneels and starts breathing on top of this sausage. We watch this scene play out for about 15 minutes, before the constantly shocked cleaning lady comes in.

CLEANING LADY: What are you doing?!

GERALD: It’s quite simple, I’m just rubbing my meat to give him something to get his mouth around

CLEANING LADY: What you get up to is your own business!

SCENE 3. INT. DAY. THE HEALTH & SAFETY OFFICE

GERALD: Right team, we’ve got a big project on our hands. The council wants to install a new pond in the park, and as usual, it’s for us to consider all the imaginary health & safety implications. This will require us to be officious-

CONSTABLE HABIB: Officious?! I love being officious!

GERALD: …unreasonable…

CONSTABLE HABIB: Unreasonable?! I love being unreasonable!

GERALD: ..and petty.

CONSTABLE HABIB: Petty?! I love being Petty!

GERALD: It is our responsibility to ensure that no-one gets wet from this pond, even the ducks that reside in it. As with many of the scenarios we face, it is (starts writing on blackboard)

Serious
Hazardous
Important
Incendiary
Improbable
Impactful
Tense.

In other words, it is-

The Mayor walks in

MAYOR: This character unamusing particularly. People thought Yoda adverts who not Vodafone enough were for unfunny. To Jeeves think was Wooster in I.

The Mayor leaves

GERALD: Tch, a politician who can’t get his words in the right order. Who’d have thought it, eh? A bit like when Tony B. Liar got his words wrong and sent us to war in Iraq.

MIDDLE-AGED MAN: They never did find them weapons, did they?

CONSTABLE HABIB: Typical men! They can never find anything!

SCENE 4. INT. DAY. THE WRIGHTS’ LIVING ROOM

Gerald’s daughter and her girlfriend are doing the kind of thing that young people do. Texting on the Facebooks I shouldn’t wonder!

DAUGHTER: I’m really worried about the plumbing company that I run. One of the customers of the plumbing company doesn’t want to pay for the plumbing because they don’t think it’s good plumbing.

GIRLFRIEND: Oh My God? Like Totes Amazeballs?

SCENE 5. INT. DAY. THE HEALTH & SAFETY OFFICE

The Health & Safety Team are wearing hard hats and high-vis jackets

GERALD: Right, now we have to simulate pond-based activity in order to conduct a health & safety assessment. Today we’ll be focusing on boating – we don’t have a boat, but we’ll have to make do. Camp Man, you be the boat, while Middle-aged Man, you be the rower.

CAMP MAN: Ooh, do I have to?

GERALD: Yes you do, now get on with it.

The camp man gets on the floor, and the middle-aged man sits astride him

MIDDLE-AGED MAN: Cor, this reminds me of singing Oops upside Your Head in the pub last night. Or that scene in Men Behaving Badly.

GERALD: It’s no good, it’s no good. You need someone shouting instructions at you.

Gerald gets onto the camp man as well

GERALD: Row! Row! No… we need some water. Habib?

CONSTABLE HABIB: Gladly!

Habib throws a bucket of water onto her colleagues. The permanently shocked cleaning lady walks in

CLEANING LADY: What are you doing?!

GERALD: It’s quite simple, we’re just simulating what it’s like to get our Cox wet in the park.

CLEANING LADY: What you get up to is your own business!

The cleaning lady leaves

GERALD: We’re just not going to find a solution to keeping pond users dry. We’ll have to come back to this tomorrow.

SCENE 6. EXT. DAY. A STREET.

Gerald is walking home. He looks morose, before a look of inspiration appears across his face

SCENE 7. EXT. DAY. THE PARK

An opening ceremony. Gerald looks pleased, while various members of the public, watching on, look confused

GERALD: It is my pleasure to reveal to you the latest innovation in pond-protection technology.

Pan out to reveal a pond with a shower curtain around it

END

Posted in Ben Elton, Comedy, Sitcom, The Thin Blue Line, The Wright Way | 7 Comments

Finally, a title for the blog

I’ve noticed that, quite by accident, both of my first two posts contain the phrase “an interminable chore”. I fear that this says more about me than any potted biography ever could.

Posted in Meta | Leave a comment

Self-serving

Of all the nonsense that’s spoken in defence of our current economic policy, nothing stands out more for me than the notion that the private sector will step in and create the jobs to get the economy back on track. Leaving aside the fact that the private sector is in no position to provide most of the services that have been axed, and that any jobs they do create will restrict people even further in their choice of career, it simply isn’t true. I don’t know why people believe that they have any intention of doing this – it’s kind of touching if they do – but the private sector exists purely to make as much profit as possible, and the fewer people it needs to pay in order to do that, the better. Sure, companies want to expand, and open new stores and offices, which mean jobs are created, but to the companies themselves this is just a necessary evil. I used to work for a large retailer, a company with a good reputation, and I heard of several projects and schemes where the sole benefit was reducing headcount – usually in stores. Chief among these was the self-service checkout.

As is so often the case, The Wire illustrates this perfectly, particularly in its second season. The whole series is a study of what happens in when economy decides it has no use for us, and season 2, in particular, is described by the show’s creator, David Simon, as “a study of the death of work in America”. It focuses on blue-collar industry, particularly the dockyard, but the erosion of jobs won’t stop there. One of the most memorable scenes in the second season was when the dock workers are presented the new technology that will improve efficiency on the docks – and make most of them redundant. Even there there’s a dilemma – should we stand in the way of modern technology if it really does make things more efficient? Weren’t advances in technology supposed to free us from manual, menial work? Perhaps, but in that case, society needs to provide people with something to replace those jobs, when currently it does the opposite – our government is setting about making people redundant, and simultaneously demonising them as scroungers.

But with so many “advances” made by business, that dilemma doesn’t even exist – there is no improvement in service, indeed it gets worse, and they exist purely to replace people. Again, we return to the self-service checkout: they are fiddly, unreliable, much slower than a manned checkout, and turn shopping into an interminable chore. They almost always make the shopping experience worse for the customer. The one saving grace is that people find them so hard to use that stores have to hire several people to stand around and help customers, but this won’t last, as we get more used to them.

Posted in Politics, The Wire, Unexpected Item in the Tagging Area | Leave a comment

Victorian line

The tube, eh? God, it’s a nightmare, isn’t it? The delays, the cancellations, the suspensions, trains terminating early – commuting to and from work has become an interminable chore. But hey, what do you expect? It’s a Victorian railway, after all: with lines dating back to 1863, it’s a miracle that the trains run at all. The administration are clearly doing the best they can in a difficult situation. Right?

Well, not really. The age of the tube network is often used as excuse or mitigation for its failings, but does this really stand up to scrutiny? The trains haven’t been around since the Victorian era, and nor is the track, or the signalling system, just the tunnels, bridges, embankments and cuttings, and this is not where the problems lie. Sure there are problems that stem from the age of the system, from the somewhat haphazard way in which it came together – the slightly disjointed nature of some of the network, the lack of lines in South London, and particularly the flat junctions on the subsurface lines, at Edgware Road, Baker Street, Aldgate and Kensington, which cause so many delays and conflicting movements. But the daily problems we experience on the tube go far beyond that.

I travel on the Jubilee line, which, from my (admittedly unobjective) view, seems to be particularly bad at the moment. And yet, the Jubilee line is the newest line on the network – a large section of it is only 12 years old, and none of its underground sections date back further than 1939. In the 1996 stock it has some of the most modern trains on the system (that’s 1996 stock, not 1896), and its layout is perfect for operation – two depots, no branches, no conflicts with other lines, and even the turnback sidings are between the running lines, so that terminating services don’t need to cross in front of through trains. And yet we get a constant diet of train breakdowns, signalling failures, delays, and a seemingly endless upgrade that closes the line almost every weekend, and seems to do more harm than good. In contrast, the Metropolitan line, the oldest of all the lines, with 50 year-old rolling stock, seems vastly more reliable to me – although regular commuters on that line may feel differently.

The “Victorian railway” excuse is a distraction for the real causes of the state the tube is currently in – years of neglect, lack of investment, corner-cutting, incompetent management, and the catastrophe that is PFI. Also, there seems to be a sense, with some people, that the age of the tube is in itself something to criticise, as if we should be looking favourably to cities that took until the last decade to build a light rail system. The fact that London built the first underground railway is something to be immensely proud of, and it’s certainly no barrier to running a good service. After all, we got a headstart on everyone else.

Posted in Jubilee line, London, Transport, Tube | 1 Comment