Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Thursday, 10 September 2015

My Heart Is Otherwise

We're a bit too busy at Leaflocker HQ for bloggy nonsense right at the moment. Hopefully, some semblance of normality will descend once we've left Parliament House and this home of ours and set up at the new place in Oxford, which as of this moment I'm calling the Low Commission.

I am feeling very nostalgic this week. I've been crying over YouTube videos again:

That's all for now...Wait, let's do last week's quiz results!

1) The winner of the Ashes last Monday was Australia. The Mens Ashes finished earlier, but let us not dwell on those.
2) Afghanistan are currently the 12th ranked ODI nation.
3) The Phoenix appears to be Greek.
4) Conchita Wurst is from Austria.
5) No-one wins the French Open.
6) Potash is Potassium Carbonate.
7) Tai is the protagonist of Digimon.
8) Iceland has some good volcanic ash.
9) Hinduism has some good ashes too.
10) Ash is a goddamn robot
11) AE is George William Russel. No-one ever gets the poetry ones.

Thus, it's a draw between Alethea and John for first position, with 5 points apiece.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

The Wednesday Quiz: The Ashes

Edit: This post failed because I stuffed up the scheduling, so I'll throw it up now! Lucky I'm not still on a deadline, huh?

I know that Blaugust is finished, but I'm still trying to work out what the Leaflocker will look like in the aftermath. Once again, I've greatly enjoyed the challenge of pushing myself to post every day whether I feel like it or not, and the sense of community arising from being part of something bigger with a bunch of diverse and interesting people. I also earnt this snazzy badge, so that's always good!

Taking a single day off felt really weird yesterday, so it's clear that we have to do something moving forward after all or suffer the withdrawal symptoms. It seems logical that it is Wednesday, so the people must need quizzes! I'm running the quiz that I was going to run last week before I got distracted. The theme is The Ashes, for some reason.

The rules are the same as always, so let's get on with it with your first starter for ten.

1) This Monday the final game of the 2015 Ashes was played between England and Australia. Which team won the series?
2) Out of the Ashes is a cricketing documentary that has nothing to do with The Ashes, but instead documents the meteoric rise of an associate nation (they're now an affiliate) from playing in Division Five of the World Cricket League in 2008 to participating in the 2010 T20 World Cup. Which nation?
3) The phoenix, a mythical bird that arises from the ashes of its predecessor, comes from the mythology of which civilisation?

4) Rise Like a Phoenix was Conchita Wurst's Eurovision entry in 2014, winning with a massive margin of 52 points. Which country, site of the 2015 Eurovision contest, was she representing?
5) Usonian Arthur Ashe was once the world number one Tennis player, and over the course of his career he won the first open era US Open in 1968 as well as two other Open tournaments in 1970 and 1975. Which Open couldn't he win, his best results being reaching the quarter finals in 1970 and 1971?
6) In modern times, 'potash' refers to a number of potassium compounds widely used as fertilisers, but the potash that gave its name to the element potassium and has been used since the 12th century AD (primarily in the production of soap and glass), was produced by the leaching and evaporation of wood ash. By what name do we more know this deliquescent salt today?

7) Almost everyone who grew up in the 90s would know that the protagonist of the Pokemon television series is Ash Ketchum, but what's the name of the protagonist of that other lovable Japanese monster show of the same period, Digimon Adventure?
8) Volcanic ash is pretty good stuff from the perspective of growing things, but during volcanic eruptions ash is thrown into the air where it generally makes a nuisance of itself, particularly by interfering with air travel. A recent event was caused by eruptions at Eyjafjallajökull, which disrupted European air traffic for a month in 2010, the largest disruption since World War II. Where the heck is Eyjafjallajökull?
9) Vibhuti, that which is left behind, is the sacred ash used for marking the face and body in which major world religion?

10) Spoiler alert: In a Ridley Scott science-fiction film of 1979, one of the crewmembers of the Nostromo, Ash, appears to be human, but is really a goddamn what?
11) Æ, (pronounced ash), is a ligature in Latin, but a letter in its own right in many Scandinavian countries. It's is also the psuedonym of which Irish writer and poet, potentially familiar to you for verses such as the following:
Here's to you, men I never met,
Yet hope to meet behind the veil,
Thronged on some starry parapet,
That looks down upon Innisfail,
And sees the confluence of dreams
That clashed together in our night,
One river, born from many streams,
Roll in one blaze of blinding light?

Please leave your answers in the comments and don't go looking up answers until AFTER you've posted. Also, let me know what Leaflocker features you're interested in seeing more of in the future. We theoretically exist for you the reader rather than exclusively for stroking the ego of the editorial team, after all...

Last Week's Answers:

I was really impressed by how well people did on this quiz that I thought was pretty durn tough.

1) Warcraft and Peace.
2) Alice in Super Mario Wonderland
3) Little Women, Big Planet
4) Brave New World of Tanks
5) 1001 Neverwinter Knights
6) 1984 Swords Adventures
7) Animal Farmville
8) Titanfall of the House of Usher. This was the tricky one. Usher was the first Poe I ever attempted, as I first read it while attempting to teach my Windows XP machine voice recognition.
9) The Secret Assassin's Creed
10) Half Life of Pi
11) Godfather of War
12) The Man in Majora's Mask
13) Super Size Metroid
14) Dr. Mario Strangelove
15) Sim Citizen Kane. I liked the Star Citizen answer, but that's not what I was after and it wasn't on Commodore 64.
16) The Third Pac Man
17) Moulin Rouge Squadron
18) Amadeus Ex
19) The Goldeneye Rush. People are not up on their Chaplin and I am disappoint.
20) Howl's Moving Castle Crashers. And I thought this one would be tricky.

Our winner is John (again), with an extremely dominant 18.5 points. A big win for the home team, but everyone did very well indeed. You know the rules, John: three wins then random :)

Monday, 31 August 2015

Blaugust 31/31: 2015 Senate Elections

I was in two minds as to how to finish-up Blaugust, with a round-up style post or the long-awaited results on the tie election, but in the end the ties won the day. Let me just say how much fun it has been to be a part of the big blaugust thing again, and throw out a big thanks to everyone who dropped by becase of it. Now on with the show...

If you're not familiar with the back-story here, we've just run an election using the Australian single transferable vote system to appoint six ties from my somewhat eclectic collection to be the Leaflocker's reprsentatives in my suitcase as I go overseas, there being a limited amount of space given that I also need to take other less exciting things like underpants and shirts. Readers were asked to designate there preferences on which ties could represent them from a field of sixty-six, and today is the fateful day when we find out the results. If you're from a region that uses a less nuanced electoral system, sit back and enjoy the wonders of an STV system, the wonders of which I could natter on about until the cows come home if you gave me half a chance.

There were twenty-six ballots cast in the neck-and-neck election, and all were valid, so a big thumbs up to everyone for ticking all the boxes (or not, as appropriate). These ballots were spread relatively evenly between the original google form (11 ballots) and the later fancy voting application donated by the ever-brilliant Alecat (14 ballots) ,with one postal vote, and a majority of voters elected to cast their preferences for individual ties below-the-line (18) in preference to my quickly-assembles parties of ties above-the-line (8). Most notably, eight people filled in each and every position on the below-the-line ballot and three met only the minimum requirement of designating at least six preferences, whereas in the above-the-line ballot everyone designated full preferences, which interests me greatly and makes me keenly anticipate the more democratic results that should occur when we allow above-the-line preference voting in the near future (the Greens are tabling a bill here in South Australia next week, and undoubtedly the federal system will get there eventually once they get around to responding to the latest review of potential electoral reform).

Of the sixty-eight eligible ties, fourteen attracted at least one first-preference vote. Only the Christmas party failed to attract a vote, which I am going to take as a vote of confidence in the tie collection in general instead of taking it as criticism of the party system in general. Interestingly, not a single one of the second candidates on a party ticket got a look-in, but shout-outs go the Crimson Peacock, which despite not making the cut made the top five ties of almost every below-the-line voter, and undoubtedly would have been selected if we were using some kind of weighted voted system. The ties that got first-preferences are:

[CON 1] Polytetraflouroethtielene (5)
[DAD 1] Electric Boogaloo (3)
[DEM 1] The Travelator (3)
[LIB 1] Carribean Silk (2)
[LIB 3] Green Sakura (2)
[UNC 1] Australian Orienteer (2)
[CAR 1] Oh Tin Tin! My Tin Tin! (2)
[LIB 5] Crimson Tide (1)
[DAD 3] All Aboard (1)
[DOT 1] The Amicable Vicar (1)
[DOT 4] Fade to Blue (1)
[DOT 6] Prince of Persia (1)
[CAR 4] Mouses (1)
[PAI 1] Popular Penguins (1)

Since there were 26 valid ballots, the number of votes required to elect a tie to the suitcase (the quota) is 4.7 votes (Number of ballots divided by one more than the number of available spaces in the bag, plus one) [Note: Yes, I'm aware that we'd normally round the quota down to an integer, but we're dealing with a small number of ballots here, so I'm leaving it at one decimal point]. Since the leader of the conservative party, Polytetraflouroethtielene, attracted 5 first-preference votes, we already have a Senatie-elect. 

[CON 1] Polytetraflouroethtielene elected in position 1 with 5 ballots.

And of course, we have the joys of surplus-redistribution! Because every vote has to have the same value in an STV system, since more votes were collected than were required for the winning candidate, all of the votes are redistributed to their second preferences at a small percentage of their original value. This is where the maths gets fun.

0.18 votes (3 ballots at 0.06 transfer value) originally from [CON 1] Polytetraflouroethtielene distributed to [CON 2] The Gopher
0.06 votes (1 ballot at 0.06 transfer value) originally from [CON 1] Polytetraflouroethtielene distributed to [LIB 1] Carribean Silk
0.06 votes (1 ballot at 0.06 transfer value) originally from [CON 1] Polytetraflouroethtielene distributed to [LIB 4] Bad At Tetris

From here all the candidates that have attracted no preferences have been removed from the ballot. For ease of administration, I made up a ballot sheet with the sixteen top ties (the fourteen that attracted first-preferences and the two extra that attracted second-preference votes). If I was a clever programmer type I'd have written a program to do this, but there's something reassuring about having a big pile of ballot papers, isn't there? Now we begin that process of excluding those ties that have the fewest votes from the ballot and the redistributing the preferences. From this point on, preference numbers will describe preferences as distributed amongst this short-list of votes, not the total pool of candidates.

[DAD 1] Electric Boogaloo (3)
[DEM 1] The Travelator (3)
[LIB 1] Carribean Silk (2.06)
[LIB 3] Green Sakura (2)
[UNC 1] Australian Orienteer (2)
[CAR 1] Oh Tin Tin! My Tin Tin! (2)
[LIB 5] Crimson Tide (1)
[DAD 3] All Aboard (1)
[DOT 1] The Amicable Vicar (1)
[DOT 4] Fade to Blue (1)
[DOT 6] Prince of Persia (1)
[CAR 4] Mouses (1)
[PAI 1] Popular Penguins (1)
[CON 2] The Gopher (0.18)
[LIB 4] Bad At Tetris (0.06)

[LIB 4] Bad at Tetris excluded.
0.06 votes originally from [CON 1] Polytetraflouroethtielene distributed via 3rd preference to [LIB 5] Crimson Tide.

[CON 2] The Gopher excluded.
0.06 votes originally from [CON 1] Polytetraflouroethtielene distributed via 3rd preference to [LIB 5] The Travelator.
0.06 votes originally from [CON 1] Polytetraflouroethtielene distributed via 3rd preference to [LIB 1] Carribean Silk.
0.06 votes originally from [CON 1] Polytetraflouroethtielene distributed via 3rd preference to [DOT 1] The Amicable Vicar.

[DEM 1] The Travelator (3.06)
[DAD 1] Electric Boogaloo (3)
[LIB 1] Carribean Silk (2.12)
[LIB 3] Green Sakura (2)
[UNC 1] Australian Orienteer (2)
[CAR 1] Oh Tin Tin! My Tin Tin! (2)
[LIB 5] Crimson Tide (1.06)
[DOT 1] The Amicable Vicar (1.06)
[DAD 3] All Aboard (1)
[DOT 4] Fade to Blue (1)
[DOT 6] Prince of Persia (1)
[CAR 4] Mouses (1)
[PAI 1] Popular Penguins (1)

Now, someone unfamiliar with the system might wonder why we bothered distributing preferences to candidates that we then immediately excluded, but tracking the preference flow has had a couple of important effects. First of all it's given The Travelator the boost that it needed to become the outright leader, but more importantly it has shielded two of the bottom candidates, Crimson Tide and The Amicable Vicar, from potential exclusion until at least all the candidates that weren't so fortunate as to attract those surplus preferences.

In a normal Australian election, when the bottom candidates have the same number of votes who is ultimately eliminated relies on one being randomly selected from the worst-performing remaining candidates. However, since we're dealing with 26 votes instead of thousands, this is potentially a much more common event, and since it would be sad for random chance to influence the whole election at this early point (if at all), we require a system for selecting the least popular of the potential candidates for elimination. Thus I've implemented a count-back system for these tie situations (hurr hurr), relying on two additional numbers. First is the number of voters who included the candidate on their ballot, which should disadvantage ties which a larger percentage of the electorate chose not to nominate at all ,effectively voting no confidence in these candidates (it turns out that by some chance ordering exclusions by this number actually had no effect on the outcome of the election, but we did it anyway just in case). A second level of tiebreaker is the sum of the remaining preferences, but I don't feel like explaining that right now, so let's not even go there and hope that we don't need to.

Including the preference numbers so that we can progress further, the election looks like this:

[DEM 1] The Travelator (3.06) [21]
[DAD 1] Electric Boogaloo (3) [19]
[LIB 1] Carribean Silk (2.12) [20]
[LIB 3] Green Sakura (2) [18]
[UNC 1] Australian Orienteer (2) [20]
[CAR 1] Oh Tin Tin! My Tin Tin! (2) [21]
[LIB 5] Crimson Tide (1.06) [19]
[DOT 1] The Amicable Vicar (1.06) [18]
[DOT 6] Prince of Persia (1) [21]
[CAR 4] Mouses (1) [20]
[PAI 1] Popular Penguins (1) [19]
[DOT 4] Fade to Blue (1) [18]
[DAD 3] All Aboard (1) [17]

[DAD 3] All Aboard excluded.
1 vote originally from [DAD 3] All Aboard distributed via 2nd preference to [CAR 1] Oh Tin Tin! My Tin Tin!

[DOT 4] Fade to Blue excluded.
1 vote originally from [DOT 4] Fade to Blue distributed via 2nd preference to [DEM 1] The Travelator

[PAI 1] Popular Penguins excluded.
1 vote originally from [PAI 1] Popular Penguins distributed via 2nd preference to [DOT 1] The Amicable Vicar

[CAR 4] Mouses excluded.
1 vote originally from [CAR 4] Mouses distributed via 2nd preference to [UNC 1] Australian Orienteer

[DOT 6] Prince of Persia excluded.
1 vote originally from [DOT 6] Prince of Persia distributed via 4th preference to [CAR 1] Oh Tin Tin! My Tin Tin!

[LIB 5] Crimson Tide excluded.
1 vote originally from [LIB 5] Crimson Tide distributed via 4th preference to [CAR 1] Oh Tin Tin! My Tin Tin!
0.06 votes originally from [CON 1] Polytetraflouroethtielene distributed via 5th preference to [LIB 3] Green Sakura

[CAR 1] Oh Tin Tin! My Tin Tin! (5) [21]
[DEM 1] The Travelator (4.06) [21]
[DAD 1] Electric Boogaloo (3) [19]
[UNC 1] Australian Orienteer (3) [20]
[LIB 1] Carribean Silk (2.12) [20]
[DOT 1] The Amicable Vicar (2.06) [18]
[LIB 3] Green Sakura (2.06) [18]

[CAR 1] Oh Tin Tin! My Tin Tin! elected in position 2 with 5 ballots.

0.06 votes (1 ballot at 0.06 transfer value) originally from [CAR 1] Oh Tin Tin! My Tin Tin! distributed via 4th preference to [UNC 1] Australian Orienteer
0.06 votes (1 ballot at 0.06 transfer value) originally from [CAR 1] Oh Tin Tin! My Tin Tin! distributed via 4th preference to [LIB 1] Carribean Silk
0.06 votes (1 ballot at 0.06 transfer value) originally from [DAD 3] All Aboard distributed via 6th preference [LIB 3] Green Sakura
0.06 votes (1 ballot at 0.06 transfer value) originally from [DOT 6] Prince of Persia distributed via 5th preference to [DAD 1] Electric Boogaloo
0.06 votes (1 ballot at 0.06 transfer value) originally from [LIB 5] Crimson Tide distributed via 5th preference to [DOT 1] The Amicable Vicar

[DEM 1] The Travelator (4.06) [21] {127}
[UNC 1] Australian Orienteer (3.06) [20] {163}
[DAD 1] Electric Boogaloo (3.06) [19] {163}
[LIB 1] Carribean Silk (2.18) [20] {117}
[LIB 3] Green Sakura (2.12) [18] {116}
[DOT 1] The Amicable Vicar (2.12) [18] {156}

Unfortunately for democracy and my insufficient skill in explanation, we've now reached a situation where two ties are tied on 2.12 ballots each, and both measure equally on our first tie-breaker, as they were both preferenced by 18 voters. Thus we turn to our second-tiebreaker measure, the sum of the preferences (as distributed amongst the top 16 candidates), and find that on the whole Green Sakura was a significantly more popular tie amongst the majority of voters than The Amicable Vicar was, garnering a golf-score on 116 compared to a considerably inferior result of 156. (For any of you who object to this reasoning, let it be known that I tossed a coin and it ALSO came up this way, so if prefer your elections vanilla you should also be satisfied that justice was done in this case, and that I also ran a simulation excluding Green Sakura and it ended with the same ultimate result).

[DOT 1] The Amicable Vicar excluded.
1 vote originally from [DOT 1] The Amicable Vicar distributed via 3rd preference to [DEM 1] The Travelator
1 vote originally from [PAI 1] Popular Penguins distributed via 5th preference to [DEM 1] The Travelator
0.06 votes originally from [CON 1] Polytetraflouroethtielene distributed via 6th preference to [DEM 1] The Travelator
0.06 votes originally from [CAR 4] Mouses distributed via 7th preference to [DEM 1] The Travelator

In an impressive dsiplay of solidarity, every vote allocated to the Amiable Vicar went to The Travelator, so at least the voters got more-or-less what they wanted out of this sad exclusion.

[DEM 1] The Travelator (6.18)
[UNC 1] Australian Orienteer (3.06)
[DAD 1] Electric Boogaloo (3.06)
[LIB 1] Carribean Silk (2.18)
[LIB 3] Green Sakura (2.12)

[DEM 1] The Travelator elected in position 3 with 6.18 ballots.

0.23 votes (1 ballot at 0.23 transfer value) originally from [PAI 1] Popular Penguins distributed via 8th preference to [LIB 1] Carribean Silk
0.23 votes (1 ballot at 0.23 transfer value) originally from [DOT 4] Fade to Blue distributed via 4th preference to [LIB 1] Carribean Silk
0.23 votes (1 ballot at 0.23 transfer value) originally from [DEM 1] The Travelator distributed via 5th preference to [LIB 1] Carribean Silk
0.23 votes (1 ballot at 0.23 transfer value) originally from [CAR 1] Oh Tin Tin! My Tin Tin! distributed via 3rd preference to [UNC 1] Australian Orienteer
0.23 votes (1 ballot at 0.23 transfer value) originally from [DEM 1] The Travelator exhausted.
0.23 votes (1 ballot at 0.23 transfer value) originally from [DOT 1] The Amicable Vicar exhausted.
0.014 votes (1 ballot at 0.014 transfer value) originally from [CON 1] Polytetraflouroethtielene via 8th preference [LIB 1] Carribean Silk
0.014 votes (1 ballot at 0.014 transfer value) originally from [CON 1] Polytetraflouroethtielene distributed via 9th preference to [LIB 1] Carribean Silk
0.014 votes (1 ballot at 0.014 transfer value) originally from [LIB 5] Crimson Tide distributed via 8th preference to [UNC 1] Australian Orienteer

[UNC 1] Australian Orienteer (3.304)
[DAD 1] Electric Boogaloo (3.06)
[LIB 1] Carribean Silk (2.894)
[LIB 3] Green Sakura (2.12)

[LIB 3] Green Sakura excluded.
1 vote originally from [LIB 3] Green Sakura distributed via 2nd preference to [UNC 1] Australian Orienteer
1 vote originally from [LIB 3] Green Sakura distributed via 2nd preference to [LIB 1] Carribean Silk
0.06 votes originally from [DAD 3] All Aboard distributed via 14th preference to [LIB 1] Carribean Silk
0.06 votes originally from [CON 1] Polytetraflouroethtielene distributed via 6th preference to [DAD 1] Electric Boogaloo

[UNC 1] Australian Orienteer (4.304)
[LIB 1] Carribean Silk (3.854)
[DAD 1] Electric Boogaloo (3.12)

[UNC 1] Australian Orienteer elected in position 4 with 4.30 ballots.

[LIB 1] Carribean Silk elected in position 5 with 3.85 ballots.

[DAD 1] Electric Boogaloo elected in position 6 with 3.12 ballots.

Since we're dealing with a very small number of ballots here, that plus one in the quota formula, as well as the couple of exhausted ballots, make up a pretty significant proportion of the votes. Thus, the last candidates were elected with significantly fewer votes than the quota, definitely not a mandate, but at least we the people have our representatives. My suitcase will be happily packed this weekend, and I couldn't have done it without you.

Thanks for playing along with our silliness this Blaugust, everybody. I hope you'll stay tuned for Raptember and for whatever this blog turns into when we relocate to England next month.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Blaugust 30/31: Children of "A damn"

This post is our penultimate contribution for Blaugust. I think it speaks for itself.


 1 This is the book of the line of children of "A damn". In the day that God made man, in the form of God made he him;
 2 Man and woman made he them; and wished them well, and called their name "A damn", in the day when they were made.

 3 And "A damn" lived an hundred and three ten years, and had a son in his own form, and after his looks; and called his name "Set":
 4 And the days of "A damn" after he had "Set" were two lots of four-hundred years: and he had sons and daughters:
 5 And all the days that "A damn" lived were three lots of three hundred and ten years: and he died.
 6 And "Set" lived an hundred and five years, and had "He nos":
 7 And "Set" lived after he had "He nos" three lots of two hundred six tens and one years, and had sons and daughters:
 8 And all the days of "Set" were one less than twenty lots of three lots of two lots of two lots of two lots of two years: and he died.
 9 And "He nos" lived ten less than a hundred years, and had "Can an":
 10 And "He nos" lived after he had "Can an" a number of years that is also the number of the flying car from "Lost", and had sons and daughters:
 11 And all the days of "He nos" were a number of years which is the name of a song on The Who's "Who Are You": and he died.
 12 And "Can an" lived seven tens of years and had "Mad hall all hell":
 13 And "Can an" lived after he had "Mad hall all hell" a number of years two times that of a number used to mean burning and breathing not allowed leaves that make people feel relaxed, and had sons and daughters:
 14 And all the days of "Can an" were twenty and six lots of three tens and five years: and he died.
 15 And "Mad hall all hell" lived a number of years that is the lowest number that is also how big the long sides are on more than two right cornered three-sided forms with all sides whole numbers, and had "Go red":
 16 And "Mad hall all hell" lived after he had "Go red" ten years less than "Can an" lived after he had "Mad hall all hell", and had sons and daughters:
 17 And all the days of "Mad hall all hell" were one hundred and four twenties less one lots of five years: and he died.
 18 And "Go red" lived two times three to the power of four years, and he had "He knock":
 19 And "Go red" lived after he had "He knock" two less than ten hundred years, and had sons and daughters:
 20 And all the days of "Go red" were six times all smaller whole numbers and two lots of five times all smaller numbers and two years: and he died.
 21 And "He knock" lived the number of years "Mad hall all hell" lived before he had "Go red", and had "Me truth hell ah":
 22 And "He knock" walked with God after he had "Me truth hell ah" three hundred years, and had sons and daughters:
 23 And all the days of "He knock" were the number of days in a year years:
 24 And "He knock" walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.
 25 And "Me truth hell ah" lived a number of years that is also a number used to mean killing a person, and had "Lie met".
 26 And "Me truth hell ah" lived after he had "Lie met" two years less than the first seven numbers each to the power of three, and had sons and daughters:
 27 And all the days of "Me truth hell ah" were three tens and one less than ten hundred years: and he died.
 28 And "Lie met" lived as long as his father lived after "Lie met" was made, and had a son:
 29 And he called his name "No ah", saying, This same will relax us concerning our work and struggle of our hands, because of the ground which the god hath damned.
 30 And "Lie met" lived after he had "No ah" three ten and five lots of ten and seven years, and had sons and daughters:
 31 And all the days of "Lie met" were seven hundred seven ten and seven years: and he died.
 32 And "No ah" was five hundred years old: and "No ah" had "She him", "Him", and "Jump hairs".

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Blaugust 29/8: NombreHombre Plays Nidhogg

This is post 29 of 31 for Blagust.

Normally, Saturdays are the day when we sit down and play some Wesnoth, but I've been having all sorts of technical issues getting the recordings to work properly lately, and today no combination of good things did the business. In desperation, I turned to my good friend Nidhogg to provide some bloggy content, and she gracefully obliged.

Nighogg is a cute little game that's been causing great mirth in our household on a semi-regular basis in the last few months, so much mirth that the only thing that has even close to compared is Octodad: Dadliest Catch. None of us are really getting any better, but we all feel better for the occasional throwndown. There's just something very satisfying about stabbing your friends in the face repeatedly that makes this particular video game such a joy.

These little simple games that are becoming so common thanks to things like Steam Greenlight are wonderful, as they're often the only types of games that can realistically be played together with friends in the same room. It's probably a product of a long time without a decent internet connection, but I'm a sucker for any game that lets me pull out my pc after a long day and play with a friend, and that experience is getting harder and harder to find. Thank heavens for the Nidhogg's on the world, that's what I say.

Since Nidhogg more or less worked for recording purposes, well, some of it is off the screen, but you get the idea, at least, here's an attempt at completing the single-player mode that I tried out today. Like most games, this one is better with friends, but I seem to manage to enjoy myself at least a little bit in single player mode, so I'm glad that it's an option, even if the AI is...not that smart.

Just a couple more days to go, fellow Blaugustines. We can do it!

Friday, 28 August 2015

Blaugust 28/31: Owl Would Like A Job

It's still Blaugust for a few more days. Three to go, people.

I was going to share the results of the tie election today, but due to popular demand I'm leaving it open for a while longer. Get your votes in people.

This leaves me with nothing for the blog, and not much time, so I'm just going to post one of the applications that I've written today. I'm terrible at writing job applications, so maybe I can get some pointers from you, the clever and eloquent readers, and maybe I can cheat one more blog post out along the way.

Anyway, I feel like this application sums my work life up pretty well, so maybe it will serve as a half-decent biography page. I've been meaning to make a biography page for a few years now, so...yay? If you're an employee from the Bodleian checking my application for plagiarism, please give me a job, m'kay?

Anyways...the best thing about applying for this job, apart from the little thrill I get in my stomach at the thought of working in one of the coolest libraries on the planet, is that in their diversity survey I got to fill in that I was a White, Anglo-Saxon, Heterosexual, Male Christian. It feels good to get all that privilege out on the table where everyone can see it, but I'm a little say that nobody asked me how much my dad pulls in a year.

The following thing is written in lurid purple because it's important to get your application NOTICED, people!

Dear Sir/Madam,

I wish to apply to fill the Part-Time Library Assistant position being advertised for the Humanities Libraries. My abiding interest in books and literature, as well as my strong work ethic and experience with IT support, administration roles and event management enable me to meet the job criteria in a professional and personable manner.

•             Educated to at least GCSE standard or equivalent, with a good level of literacy, numeracy and IT capability including the use of email, internet and general applications such as Microsoft Office
In 2006 I completed my South Australian Certificate of Education (equivalent of A-levels), taking courses in English Studies, Geography, Mathematics Studies, Mathematics Specialist, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Media Studies. I have worked since 2008 in various administrative and IT support roles for a health services provider in Adelaide, South Australia, utilising the Microsoft Office suite with a particular focus on Microsoft Excel, and also employing a wide range of other programs and utilities including but not limited to web browsers, databases, and audio-visual editing software.

•             Strong customer service philosophy and an informed sympathy with the aims of library support for teaching, learning and research in a major academic institution
Since 2011, providing both in-person and remote IT support via telephone has been a major facet of my employment, a role which requires efficient identification of client needs and a drive to deliver creative, effective and timely solutions. I believe that acting in this role as a resource for users from a wide-range of backgrounds and differing levels of technical proficiency demonstrates an understanding of the value of providing customer support. This translates directly to supporting students and other library users and shows an understanding of some of the challenges involved in working in a library environment in an academic institution.

•             Able to communicate effectively and courteously with a wide range of library staff and users, both orally and in writing
In the course of my employment and volunteer roles, I have demonstrated a high level of written and verbal communication. In my role as Games Coordinator for a convention with in excess of 10,000 attendees, I frequently resolved client queries and complaints in a crowded, high-pressure, time-dependent environment or via electronic communication, as well as providing training, regular reports, and operating procedure documents for my fellow volunteers. My employed role in IT support involves on-the-job face-to-face training, as well as the regular development of written guides for use by other employees, to communicate technical or specialist knowledge to clerical and clinical staff of diverse backgrounds.

•             A flexible and constructive approach to work and to working in a team; ability to work without close supervision when required. Able to undertake routine tasks with care and accuracy and complete them in a timely manner
In my employment as a reporting analyst in 2008-2010 and since 2012 as IT support, I have worked closely in two-person teams and as part of larger groups to share workloads and distribute tasks with efficiency and flexibility. Some of these tasks include contributions to major Australian health databases, which require a high standard of data quality for submissions. I also routinely work alone and largely undirected and unsupervised on regular and one-off reporting tasks and to develop new tools and processes for staff, delivering high-quality and timely results for a range of internal and external stakeholders.
•             Able to work under pressure in a physically demanding environment, such as lifting and carrying books and pushing a trolley as the post requires daily shelving of material
My volunteer roles as Games Coordinator and Convention Staff have demonstrated my ability to work in a physically demanding role where required, as these roles can require some extended 8-10 hour, physically-active shifts including moving large television sets either by carrying or using trolleys as appropriate, navigating through large crowds and constant use of voice projection. I have previously represented South Australia in orienteering and won the Blue for sports during my secondary school education, so I believe any physical requirements of the role are likely to be within my capabilities.

•             Excellent time management skills
As my employment at Home Support Services is a dual role, split between IT support and analytics, it necessitates the ability to balance and manage a variety of tasks of differing priority to ensure that all tasks are delivered in a timely manner. I am proficient in the use of various common support programs, issue trackers and project management systems to ensure that tasks are completed to a high standard by all involved, accurately tracked and delivered to stakeholders within expected time-frames.

•             Experience of working in a higher education library
Unless volunteering in my primary school library at the age of twelve counts, I have no previous experience working in a higher-education library, but I have long desired to work in a library environment and would relish the challenge of learning any new skills required. I have frequented both the physical and digital collections of Adelaide University and my local library as a user, and I believe this equips me to have some understanding of the client expectations of a library assistant role.

•             Familiarity with a range of key online resources e.g. e-journals and databases
While my experience and familiarity with online journals and databases is limited, part of my role as reporting analyst has been as administrator for a clinical records database and site contact for our organisational contribution to a range of large health fund and government datasets. I have a working understanding of the structure and format of such databases, which should enable me to quickly develop my skills in this area.

•             An informed interest in any of the subjects covered in the Radcliffe Camera (currently History and English)
Though largely self-taught by academic standards, I take great joy in learning about many aspects of life, including those covered by the History and English departments at Oxford. I am an avid reader in a range of fields, and I am slowly building my own home library and working through a long-term project to complete reading of a Western canon. I am always eager to expand my fields of interest, and I am currently enrolled to participate in a short online course beginning in September on ancient Near-Eastern civilisations provided by the University of Liverpool.

•             Familiarity and experience with Aleph, SOLO, OXLIP+ and Oxford University e-journals
Though I am not familiar with these particular systems, I am a proficient database user and a quick learner, and I would anticipate being able to pick up the use of these systems in short order. I have used and developed a wide-range of databases on a number of different platforms and I am willing to experiment and self-direct my learning about them when and if opportunities present themselves.

I arrive in the UK from Australia on September 23rd but I can make myself available before that date for an online or telephone interview if appropriate. I hope that this will not impede my eligibility to interview for this position. I look forward to the opportunity of expanding my own horizons and serving the Bodleian Libraries if considered a viable candidate.

Yours sincerely,
Thomas Diment

What do you reckon, guys and girls? Would you employ me? I feel like I represented myself pretty well without resorting to too much corporate-speak. I even left a joke in (if I don't get the job, I'm blaming the joke).

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Blaugust 27/31: Cricket is Terrible

Blaugust. Day 27. That's a big innings.

I wanted to do a post about the world of cricket, because the Ashes are finished and I've been very good about the whole thing. If you're not into that, maybe go put in a last minute vote in the tie election that will close at 6PM ACST, or do yesterday's quiz, or go read a good blaug or something. 


In case you're not aware by now, I'm a cricket enthusiast, about to move to England for a period of about three years. There are two terrible things about this. 

First, the Australian men just lost the Ashes to the English, the most important cricketing trophy there is (though I'm sure there are soem Indians that would disagree), and the cricketing rivalry between our two nations is such that I am going to suffer because of it. Thankfully, Dennis has me covered with a bunch of handy tips on that front. I'm personally hoping that the Australian women will win their Ashes back this weekend so that I can at least go with that arrow in my quiver (in other news, one of these games is actually going to be televised on Australian free-to-air TV, which is HUGE!).

The second terrible thing is that the Ashes just happened, I'm going to England, the home of cricket for three years, and the Ashes, the most important cricketing event on the calendar, happens in England about every four years. In other words, I'm going to spend three years in a rainy hellhole and not even see the Ashes, and just to rub salt in the wound I'll miss the Ashes once in Australia while I'm at it, and to watch it I'm going to have to invest in a Televsion License, because those are still a thing in the UK, for some reason. But don't worry, if the cost is a problem you can still get a black-and-white license for a third of the price.

If you're from the BBC, using your surveillance powers (that the BBC even has surveillance powers is ANOTHER WHOLE POST) to find my blog because I mentioned television licensing, let me just say that that is creepy. And that Test Match Special is the best. And that you guys should really get your act together and win Eurovision again some time soon.

That's all I have today. Thanks for dropping by.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Blaugust 26/31: Wednesday Quiz - Kill A Breadbox?

It's day 26 of 31. It's time for the final push for Blaugust 2015.

For anyone struggling with Blaugust fatigue, I heartily recommend throwing a quiz out there. A quiz is can be pretty easy to write, allows you to explore fun ideas, and be as clever (or not) as you feel like being. This week I had a quiz all written, but then I saw a fun idea over on Murf's page and decided just steal his idea wholesale instead. If you're not a keen gamer type, I have to apologise, as this got a little...specialised, but just sit back and revel in the strangeness of what's coming to you and I'm sure you'll still have fun.

One other things that I liked was that Murf used an embedded google form instead of having people respond in the comments. I guess that's the sort of thing that you need to do just for administrative reasons if you have readership like Murf's instead of having a lone reader called Gladys like I do, but it seemed like it would solve the problem of accidentally (or deliberately, I guess) seeing other people's answers. Would you be more interested if I moved to such a system for the quizzes, or would you prefer sticking with the current system, which has its own charms?

On to the main feature...

Video Game / Literature Mashup Quiz

Anyway, this week I require you to provide mash-ups of a the titles of works of literature and video games based of their descriptions they would bear if such bastard children were spawned in some kind of hideous cloning machine. For example: 'In this Australian arcade game considered the most important fighter of all time, two very different families move into the same house and must battle each other and the four mysterious "Grand Masters" for supremacy' might describe 'Cloudstreet Fighter II'. As always, points shall be awarded for creative or amusing but incorrect answers as well as the intended ones.

1) Leo "Blizzard" Tolstoy's biggest and most famous game pits five families of humans against French-speaking orcs during the 1812 invasion of Azeroth.

2) In a departure from the usual format of the series, this title for the Game Boy featured the protagonist falling through a rabbit hole into a strange world populated by flying stone heads, aliens, Cheshire cats and exploding Koopa shells.

3) This Louisa May Alcott platformer explores the romantic lives of four sackgirl sisters, with a focus on the production and sharing of user-created levels (mostly in a US civil war setting) through the Playstation Network.

4) In this free-to-play MMO game created by the benevolent rule of The World State, tanks are built specifically to fulfil certain combat roles, and the lower tier units are made deliberately inferior. All tanks are separated from their factories immediately after production, and immediately destroyed once they've given 60 years of service.

5) The first-ever graphical MPORG [citation needed], this Bioware RPG was set in the world of Middle-Eastern and Arabic folk tales inspired many other games, including Pokemon and Disney's Aladdin, and retained much of its popularity until AOL pulled the plug in 1997.

6) One of only three legitimate reasons to own a Gameboy Advance to Gamecube link cable, this Orwellian classic pits a team of players against the forces of Big Brother, dictator of Hyrule. Playing with the maximum number of players requires a LOT of broadband adapters.

7) Another Orwell classic, this dystopian farming simulator was the most popular social media game for a long time. Players plant crops and raise animals until those same animals rise up against them with the slogan "all animals are equal, but some animals pay more to play than others".

8) Supposed to be the killer app for the Xbox One, this Edgar Allen Poe short first-person shooter game features a family of gravity-defying hypochondriacs whose battle-tank exoskeletons are regularly destroyed due to a series of self-fulfilling prophecies. Depending you you talk to, it's either a masterpiece or "a bit too weird, really".

9) Named for a roman à clef inside a roman à clef (à clefception?), this Margaret Atwood open-world stealth title won the Booker Prize for Best Action Game in 2000. Through the course of the story, the protagonist interweaves memories of both her own past love affair and the lives of her ancestors, members of the ancient sect of Hashshashin.

10) Yann Martel shot to fame with this Man Booker winning first-person shooter. Most of the story involves a physicist fighting aliens while trapped in a small boat with a Bengal Tiger. It's better than it sounds.

Video Game / Movie Mashup Quiz

I didn't feeling like stopping, so here's some movies too:

11) Once the highest-grossing game ever made, this Francis Ford Coppola masterpiece chronicles the transformation of Kratos from Spartan warrior into a ruthless Mafia boss (though the word never occurs in the script) according to a fine family tradition.

12) There are many games based on the classic Alexandre Dumas tale, but I've always been fond of the version that features Douglas Fairbanks as Link. Nominally a sequel, the story features an older, wiser Link and his quest to rescue Epona, the true King of France, from the clutches of the evil Louis XIV the Skull King. The mechanics require the use of a number of disguises that provide transformations giving the protagonist wide-ranging powers.

13) Distributed on a huge 24-megabit cartridge, a first for the SNES, this classic side-scroller follows Samus Aran as she attempts to eat nothing but fast food for a period of 30 days. In a thrilling finale, having experienced mood swings, sexual dysfunction and fat accumulation on her liver, an 11-kg heavier Samus faces and defeats the 'Mother McBrain'

14) Subtitled How I learned to stop worrying and love the pill. After a mad Surgeon-General prescribes the wide-spread carpet bombing of pharmaceuticals for the treatment of all known viruses, this puzzle game portrays the attempts of the President of the Italy and his advisors to prevent the development of a potentially civilisation-ending drug-resistant superbug.

15) Widely considered the greatest videogame ever made, this Orson Welles simulation game was originally published in the heady days of the Commodore 64. The player attempts to build up the city of Xanadu and supporting infrastructure and defend it from natural disasters. And monsters. And Rosebuds.

16) Orson Welles again, this time as the compulsive self-medicating. pulp-fiction writing hero of the archetypical game noir. Notable for its soundtrack and atmospheric graphics, the most famous scene depicts the hero being chased by ghosts on the iconic Vienna ferris wheel.

17) Licensed games are never a sure thing, and musicals are more likely to flop than make any money, so the success of this flight simulator set in a Paris nightclub must have been a great relief to LucasArts and the developer, Factor 5. The voice acting talents of Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, as well as a host of secret and unlockable craft including the Naboo Starfighter, may have been a significant factor in the game's enormous popularity

18) In this FPS-RPG first released in 2000, a nanotechnologically augmented Antonio Salieri tells the story of his rivalry with, and plot to kill, fellow composer Mozart for his part in a plan to infect humanity with a deadly virus contracted through hearing his Requiem in D minor. In the end it turns out that Mozart was an AI all along, or something, I don't know, I haven't even played the game.

19) Features Charlie Chaplin in his famed "007" role on the Klodike minefields, this game remains an icon of the silent game era, with a number of scenes such as the "roll dance" and the "Trevelyan reveal" admired and paid homage to this day. Some people say that Pitch Perfect Dark is the definitive Nintendo 64 first-person shooter, but they are sadly misguided individuals.

20) In this 2D co-operative beat-em-up by Hayao Miyazaki first released for Xbox 360 in 2008, up to four players act as knights attempting to rescue four princesses who have been abducted and transformed into 90-year old women by an evil magic user. It's a Miyazaki game, so of course there's a happy ending.

Some clever person should totally make up some screenshots of these.

Last Week's Quiz Answers

And finally, we reach the bit where we award prizes for people's efforts last week.

1) Christopher Monck's butcher won the day. Bad luck, chaps.
2) Pope Benedict X, opposing Pope Nicholas II was not the real deal. There were three Avignon anti-popes ( Benedict XIII, XIV(i) and XIV(ii) after the Roman restoration, but there were legitimate Benedicts of those numbers too, so the answer we wanted was 15!
3) Monks was Oliver's evil half-brother.
4) There have been 13 Dalai Lamas prior to this one. As far as I know, there are no Anti Lamas.
5) Diablo III has a Barbarian. Because one character class always hails from the frigid Northlands.
6) Rafiki is supposed to be a mandrill, though I'll accept baboon, as the canon is in disagreement on that point. He may be a baboon that just looks like a mandrill.
7) Smashmouth played a strictly inferior version of I'm a Believer.
8) The Monk Islands are in the Southern Ocean, just off Antarctica, and are disputed by the UK and Argentina. A little misdirection on the behalf of the quizmaster there, I'm afraid. The South Orkneys are like New South Wales.
9) I was looking for JainismVaishnavism is a fancy name for the Hari Krishnas, though, so I'll award half points for that.
10) The fellow in question is Tony Shalhoub.
11) Monachus are, as John correctly surmised, Monk Seals.

So, this winner once again is John, with 4.5 points again! Can anyone unseat our returning champion this week? Can I finally learn to make the quizzes easier? Tune in next Wednesday to find out.