Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Seems Legit

This was emailed to me by a student earlier today. Thanks to years of training in the mystical arts of the statistik, I am able to pinpoint where exactly these values (the final marks of Polish high-schools students for the year) seem to come unstuck.  You might find it more difficult, of course. Just bear in mind that 30% is the pass mark here.

(This does rather make me wonder if I can get away with something similar in this week's exam board, but I suspect this kind of of shenanigans is harder to pull off when surrounded by mathematicians.)

Monday, 22 June 2015

"Enough Is As Good As A Feast"

The best shot in the whole finale. The dragon is so tired from its dance
it can't stop its circle becoming a feast for crows.

"Embrace the pain, spank your inner moppet, whatever. But get over it." - Cordelia Chase.

"They say you don't have a problem until you start bringing it home" - The Hold Steady, You Can Make Them Like You.

Hey, Game Of Thrones. Can we talk? Everyone's worried about you.

(Spoilers from jump, people. No book spoilers of course, though at this point some minor nods at Arya's future are all I could manage anyway. And once again, I must put up a trigger warning for sexual assault. One last shout-out is due to @la_jellybean and @GeekPlanetDave, whose bottomless well of seething disgust I have drawn from several times.)

Sunday, 21 June 2015

A Tale Of Cocktails #54

Henley Skullfucker


1 bottle of Smirnoff Ice
1/2 pint of cider
50ml Pimms
35ml gin
35ml grenadine
50ml lemonade
50ml soda water

Taste: 7
Look: 7
Cost: 6
Name: 9
Prep: 7
Alcohol: 2
Overall: 6.5

Preparation:  Mix all ingredients together into a jug, add orange and lemon slices, and serve. Serves four. Well, it makes four cocktails. How many that serves is none of my business.

General Comments: This absolutely shouldn't in any sense work. The ingredients list looks like it was compiled at random from a dipsomaniac's wheelie bin. But somehow it's actually really pleasant. Everything shows up in the taste, and nothing overwhelms. The basic refreshing hit of the Pimms is still there, but the grenadine adds a touch of sharp sweetness and the cider adds depth even though it really shouldn't. Plus it takes no skill to make, and with an alcohol content equal to strong beer, you can safely drink it in some volume whilst outside on a hot day. Not that we did drink whilst outside on a hot day; we drank it on a cool evening while yelling at the television. But I assume the experience is transferable.

Plus, I love that name. Nuts to your Slippery Nipples/Sex on the Beaches.  If you want to give a cocktail a sex-name with some chest hair, you go the full Ostrogoth.

(Apologies to any actual Ostrogoths in the audience if I am misrepresenting your people. For all I know the Ostros of Gothia were best known for their skills at flower-arranging and for inventing the barbershop quartet. Skull-fucking might have been at most a passing trend.)

Sunday, 14 June 2015

"But It is One Thing To Read About Dragons And Another To Meet Them"

"Are you sure we really have to watch this?"
"Is it one prayer? No, it is two — one uttered, and the other not." - Mark Twain, The War Prayer 
This Is What They Want - Warren Ellis, NEXTWAVE Vol 1 title.
Game of Thrones has just gone three for three in staking out its episode theme in inescapably clear terms. Perhaps it was worried it was being too subtle before, though this seems unlikely ("Hey, guess who else is 'Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken' in this story? Let's callously fuck that right up! YEEEEAAH!"). More likely the show is enjoying the ability to show focus in its episodes rather than having to rely on the soap-opera model of incremental progression overshadowed by occasional tent-pole events. Either way, the question we're looking at is clear: has "any great thing ever been accomplished without killing or cruelty?" Like the giving of gifts or the necessity of gambles, this question is very much in the foreground, to the point of appearing in dialogue.  Here, though, we can go a step further; Hizdahr's question is just one narrow part of a much larger quandary: how much are we to blame for the horrible consequences of what we insist we want to see?

(TV spoilers below, of course, and a trigger warning since I'll be making oblique references to sexual assault, including the sexual assault of a minor. Also, a doff of the kettle helm to @la_jellybean and @GeekPlanetDave, who hashed out some of what follows with me.)

A Pub Joke

A triceratops walks into a bar. The barman says "Why the thin face?"

"I haven't been eating lately," the triceratops replied. "Literally everyone I ever knew and loved is dead. Drowned in tar-pits, their bodies exhumed as a spectacle for your young. Two million years of life crushed into the oil you burn and shoved into cartoons your children cackle over. Even I am dead, a haunted corpse stumbling across the land we once ruled, seeing the ghosts of my friends adorn lunch-boxes and furry slippers. A multi-million dollar grave-robbing industry run by the miserable ungrateful former rodents who inherited the pristine world we left them."

Hearing this, the barman is shamed, and weeps slow, warm tears.

"I miss the old days too," he admits. "Back then I could mock any Irishman who dared to come in here. Political Correctness has wiped out comedy like a meteorite."

"I'm sure that must be very hard for you", the triceratops says, shaking its heavy head in resignation. "Now, I'd like forty-three bowls of salad, please. And might I borrow a digestive system?"

Sunday, 7 June 2015

"The Dice Are Dancing On The Table. Between Now And The Time They Stop, That's The Greatest High In The World."

"We fight for highest stakes. Victory goes to those who take the greatest risk." - Captain Sorin, The Curse of Fenric
This week, we're all about the slot machines. Well, we always are, aren't we? The game of thrones, at its base, is nothing but the largest roulette table ever conceived. It's players are legion, its rules are unclear at best, its penalties are severe, and practically everyone cheats. Some, like Littlefinger, would surely argue that makes it all the more fun to play. I wouldn't go that far - like most probabilists, I have little time for gambling even when there's no chance of a bad spin costing me my head or genitals - but I will certainly allow that it makes it all the more fun to watch.

(Watching from this point on will involve TV spoilers.)

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

La Game Of Thrones

(With apologies to George R.R. Martin, Matt Stone, Trey Parker, and if I have to, Benioff and Weiss too. Season five spoiler warning!)

Gods have smiled upon you this day
The fate of se’en nations in your hands
And vulnerable Stark children
You’ll fight with all your bravery
'Til only the direwolf stands

I’ve made sure your lives suck
Full of terrors is your night
You’ll fight for five huge books
With still no end in sight

And when wolves or legs are gone
And you can’t carry on
Though you die, the Game of Thrones goes on

You may get stabbed in the head
At a wedding or at court
You may be burned to death
Or skinned alive for sport

And once I’ve tortured you
I will discard you without a thought
For, though you die, the Game of Thrones goes on

White Walkers:
Claim Westeros! Claim Westeros!
Because the Night’s Watch’s grown too small
This time next year the Wall shall fall!

Tomorrow night my life will change
Tomorrow night rule I’ll reclaim
An execution, for “Septa Shite”, tomorrow night

Back home there is too much room
There zombies roam and Walkers loom
And so it’s clear back home is doomed
And so I must be no-one soon!

Margaery and Loras:
Shut your fucking face, Brother Fucka
You're a Gods-awful Queen Regent, Brother Fucka
Margaery: Looks like we may be out of luck
Loras: But I’m better off than in the books!

Daenerys and Tyrion:
Why did our fathers start these wars?
What can we find worth living for?
Readers: How can one yarn feel like a marathon?
(Arya: I want to be no-one)

White Walkers:
When Westeros is dead and gone
There'll be no more Jaime or Bronn!

They may cut your dick or scrote
And send it to your dad
And though it hurts, you'll dote
On the douche who made you sad

But that's the way it goes
On this show you're shat upon
Though you die, the Game of Thrones goes ooooooooon!
(Arya: I want to be no-one!)

White Walkers:
Claim Westeros! Claim Westeros! CLAIM WESTEROS!!

Monday, 1 June 2015

Last Night I Had The Perfect Nightmare

Last night, I had for the second time a vision of Westeros' future. Naturally the following post will be crammed full of spoilers for the TV show, since green dreams are never wrong...

The finale of this season of Game of Thrones will spill out thus: every single character in the show will enroll in that university all the geeks work at in Big Bang Theory. The episode will have most of its run-time split between the surprisingly dense lecture timetable, attempts to sneak out and play a new variant of LaserQuest modelled on Terminator: The Christian Bale One (Rise Of The Falling Helicopters), and Bronn calling Sheldon a "lanky c***".  Affairs of the heart will not be forgotten, however; Ramsay will leave Sansa for a bottle-blonde co-ed, only to realise too late that his heart remains with the Last Stark. By now Sansa is with another man, however (I think maybe Rob Lowe, but my memory there is hazy), which leads to a final scene involving a Sansa/Ramsay Hollyoaks car chase which ends with Ramsay driving his car - the General Lee with the Confederate Flag replaced with the flayed man of Bolton, which of course is vastly less disturbing - off a cliff and into the Pacific, where he is presumed drowned.

I mention this not to ruin your enjoyment of the season six finale, but by way of offering comfort. Because given how things were going, this is easily a better ending than we could possibly have hoped for otherwise.

"To the Boltonmobile!"