Thought, experience and memory from a brain in a jar, one that sometimes has control over a thirty-two-year-old Londonite.

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Location: Herne Hill, London, United Kingdom

28 April, 2006

Si vs Dan 280406 B - W Res

Si vs Dan 280406 B - W Res
Si vs Dan 280406 B - W Res,
originally uploaded by Simon Scott.
I played Dan on Thursday. I'd been reading quite a bit following my defeat last time. I found that playing speed games against Many Faces (which I always lose) was giving me a better grounding for my reading, and seemed to help with my intuition.

I also reread certain chapters of Toshiro Kageyama's Lesson's In The Fundamentals Of Go and felt I got much more out of it than before, I guess because I have more games behind me. The killer chapter, and I think the one that helped me out in this game in particular, was Kage's discussion of correct endgame strategy. When Dan began invading my framework, instead of simply defending I used it as an opportunity to stage a bigger invasion of his territory. This allowed me to encircle the group of white stones centre left as depicted.

Daniel resigned, which was a first for either of us, and I ran a couple of play throughs beyond it which largely favoured black, so perhaps it was the right decision. He had lost the top right corner in quite a silly mistake, tenukiing when he should have connected, and had he not made the mistake the game would probably have evened out. But if you see a pig, steal it...

There's also a lot of adji on the board, which MFOG tended to exploit rather effectively.

He's keen to play again, perhaps with less wine being drunk on both sides.

26 April, 2006

What A Difference A Day Makes...

Clarke to explain prison releases

This coming after he spent the last few days attacking the press for their unbiased view of the curtailment of civil liberties at the hands of his party; an attack that has made him look more ridiculous in himself than any amount of negative press coverage. I'm sure they'll be gentle with him. I laughed out loud yesterday hearing that following this act of incompetence he wasn't going to resign, saying it was his job to stay on and sort out the problem. Bit of a contradiction that.

And I can't help but note that this news went public, along with the inability to sort out the tax credit system, yesterday, the morning after three bombs going off in Egypt. Bad news day?

And it seems part of the problem with the tax credit system is that it relies on people keeping the system informed when their circumstances change - i.e. when they end up paying less for their child-minder, or getting paid more for their own jobs. Heaven help us when we have to keep the Home Office up to date with our NIR details...

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24 April, 2006

London Marathon 2006

originally uploaded by Simon Scott.
I agreed, rather on the spur of the moment, to cheer on the Macmillan runners at the London Marathon this year. I’ve been determined, Danny Wallace style, to say yes to more things this year, and cheerage was one of them (although I’d forgotten that I’d already said yes to “do you want to be taken round the National Gallery by Paul Foot for a fiver while he lies about painting”). Based on geography alone, I chose the point on the Victoria Embankment, underneath Cleopatra’s Needle, which I later found out was the twenty-five mile point, the last cheer point before the finish line. Roping in Lyndsay to accompany me, I agreed to meet her at Waterloo, allowing me the morning to descend on Greenwich to watch the start.

Whilst waiting for the off, and photographing runners, I fancied I spied an old school friend, Tom Sumpster in amongst the other runners. Tom, through no fault of his own, remains one of those people I’m probably not going to forget. When playing basketball at school, I reached out to gain control of a stray ball, only to have Tom’s mouth inadvertently collide with my arm. I sustained a small puncture wound to the forearm, and he lost a crown. I’m scarred to this day, and never played the violin again. Or previously. I made a mental note, given my long history of recognising people that aren’t who I think they are, to Google him when I was next able and see if it was indeed him.

The start of the race loomed ever closer, and a volley of thrown ponchos, jumpers and drinks bottles came over the metal fencing. The runners occasionally were called on to wave at the BBC camera crane, parked in the field beyond the starting line. Then, almost without ceremony the running was underway. I made my way slowly back out of the park, hoping to meet up with the race later on at London Bridge. The tannoy announcer began his shout-outs to various runners and charities, occasionally saying things like “Let’s Have A Big Cheer For Altzheimers!”

My way back to the station was troubled slightly, as I managed somehow to get misguided back towards the opening stretch of the race. I got to see the pro runners go past, though, and took in the way in which Greenwich was transformed, with people allowing their front gardens to be invaded by the crowded spectators. Finally reaching Greenwich station, I decided to head straight for Waterloo, meeting Lyndsay there before crossing the river and making our way to the cheering point. Donning the charity greens we slowly warmed to our purpose, which was made a little more difficult by the prevalence of other greens. From afar the NSPCC singlets and the Macmillan ones were virtually indistringuishable. Still, it was better to cheer for the odd NSPCC runner as well as our own from time to time.

The trick, if trick there was, was to spot the name of the runner as soon as possible, and begin shouting once you believed the runner was in ear-shot. It’s quite an odd thing to do, though. That far on in the race you suspect many of the runners have entered a little mental sanctuary. Most people training won’t have run the full length of the marathon ever before, and will be in uncharted territory. More often than note, those still running would not notice the cheering point until they were all but past it. That said, the majority was pleased to see us. Some seemed a little baffled, which made me wonder how they had responded to the previous cheering points.
The most rewarding moments tended to be those who, on being cheered, would pick up the pace a little, finding in them a bit or reserved determination to keep going. There was also a strange circle of encouragement. As the runners responded to the cheerers, the cheerers responded in kind. If the runners weren’t... well... running, one or other of us would probably have burst.
And then there was the rain. A light drizzle that had begun a little while before the start of the race got gradually heavier and heavier, so that by the time the last of the runners were coming through, everything not safely ponchoed was soaked. Some flood damage occurred to a few volumes from the Go library that I had brought with me, but nothing that besmirched the type.

We counted through the final runners, a couple of Little Britain style “ladies” and a handful of more conventionally dressed runners not long after the roads were reopened, before making our ways home again. The following morning, aware that some of the people at work had been running, I managed not to bemoan my sore throat, or my aching calves. I dread to think of the level of discomfort the people actually running must have suffered.

Oh, and it probably was Tom Sumpster. There was a Tom Sumpster running but I can’t say for certain it was the same one.

The Macmillan team raised over a million pounds.

21 April, 2006

That's The Keeper!

You know, there are a lot of people who have quite a, if I can put it this way, high-octane view of the behaviour of the UK Government. They see behind the slow but sure erosion of civil liberties by way of ID Cards, removal of trial by jury, removal of Parliamentary debate, the sale of peerages, the desire to tag all motor vehicles, the desire to identify troublemakers at the age of three, a single sinister agenda, rather than, say, the ridiculous fluorishes of a Government misled by a premier desperate to leave his mark in the history books at the cost of everything, including his own reputation.

The way I look at it, the system of Government that we have ultimately decides for itself the path it takes. It has little to do with who we vote for, and little to do with the intentions of those who are elected. It really comes down to the way in which the organisation itself feeds and thinks. Now I'm beginning to sound like one of the tin-foil hat brigade, and for that I am sorry - it's just the epiphenomenalist in me. Better not to think of this kind of consciousness, if consciousness it be, as some bureaucratic metabrain. Think of it instead as the old historical debate of individual versus movement - i.e. the holocaust being cause by Hitler vs the Holocaust being caused by the Nazis, or more correctly the exact timing of a particularly nasty belief in a sinister Jewish plot matched against economic desperation and a harsh shaming on the diplomatic stage. True, history does on occasion "rattle over the points" but the train generally moves in one particular direction, whether it derails or not. But I digress.

Take a look at the picture above, and, just for fun, find out what it is. I shan't say here, because that may ruin the surprise. Let's just say I'd have given my eye-teeth to be at the meeting.

18 April, 2006


Well it had to happen sooner or later. Daniel beat me yesterday. I decided to play out of form - opening with diagonal non-4,4 stones, and between the difficulties that ensued, and my inability, as ever, to turn quite a sizeable amount of influence into territory, I lost the game by over 130 points. But that's cool.

I logged onto Kiseido this morning only to find that following my routine losses to doobious et al my rank has actually gone up to 22kyu. I don't think so!

13 April, 2006

Easter Cancelled

11 April, 2006

What The People Of Britain Are Up Against

A link to this article was posted to the No2ID forum.

Charles Clarke, there. Interesting story, apparently his parents had a good reason for calling him Charles. It's because they couldn't spell c___.

Goban and Breakfast Bowls

I've decided, as I generally start waking up at 6:30 in the morning at this time of year, to open my day with a Go game. The flat is quiet, and I am awake enough to concentrate. However, since the weekend I have been roundly defeated by over a hundred stones a game. I suspect I am going to have to get used to losing.

However, something weird is happening at Kiseido. Because ranks are effectively worked out on a day by day basis by looking at the whole of the playing community, it is possible for your rank to rise without actually playing. Having put the game down between January and April, my rank (still with the ever present question mark of uncertainty) has risen from 29 kyu to 23 kyu. I had decided to play only free games this week as a sort of warm up period, but have decided instead to play rank, just to try and get mine into some kind of order.

And having spent part of my lunchtime looking at the people I have been playing, I can feel a little less doleful about my resounding defeats. They all seem to be players of greater acumen than I, which stands to reason given that they beat me, but knowing what the margin is makes me feel more philosophical in my failures. I think, too, that this has already been in part to blame for my winless rise in the ranks.

What is more, I feel I have taken lessons from my recent games. I'm going to start making better use of the Kiseido server, to. They offer training games and the like, so I may try and get some proper learnin' in.

And I continue to ensnare people into the ways of the game. I've had a couple of 9x9 games with a colleague, and have promised to teach a dear friend of mine. At the moment it may be the only way I can be sure of beating anyone!

Anyhoo, back to work...

03 April, 2006

Go on now Go

Had a lovely game with Dan on Sunday. Very well balanced, with us both playing badly in complementary ways. Dan played too close to the edges and corners, I succeeded in boxing him in but left myself too wide open for invasion. In the end the game hinged on a delicious endgame play where I managed to pull off a snapback against him, letting me win by about three points. The snapback was avoidable but Dan didn't see it, and the stress I experienced while waiting for him to not notice it was extreme. Oh to record these games!

01 April, 2006

A real appetite for passport renewal

I finally managed to find my old passport on Thursday night, and then promptly spoiled the form I had to apply for a renewal. Ironically I did this by signing the form and having my signature go ovwer the border, which seemed deeply metaphoric somehow.

I tried to get a current passport form from the post office yesterday but they'd run out. I hope this is because people everywhere are slipping their current passports into their washing machines and stumping up fifty-odd quid to save themselves from the NIR for as long as possible. And should the passport service suddenly run out of forms, well, that would be newsworthy, wouldn't it?

Talk is beginning to warm up on the No2ID forum about a march, hopefully one running as a coalition of protest against the various dodgy measures Tony Baloney is bullying through. There's also the typical and rather depressing talk that marching doesn't change anything, but neither, seemingly, does voting or writing to your MP, so on with the boots.

And Swindon No2ID have recruited a Charles Clarke lookylikey to help them in their leafleting which has cheered me up, no end.