Thursday, November 24, 2016

Rock, paper, scissors....

I had some recollection of "bigger" versions of the game "Rock, Paper, Scissors". What I was really looking for was a way of making it more than two player. Unfortunately, a cursory search fails to uncover any means of doing this. I did find some other interesting stuff, though.

For example, it was used in the USA as a means of dispute resolution (I have never sounded more QI). A copy of the relevant court order, quoted in Wikipedia, can be found here ...
Upon consideration of the Motion – the latest in a series of Gordian knots that the parties have been unable to untangle without enlisting the assistance of the federal courts – it is ORDERED that said Motion is DENIED. Instead, the Court will fashion a new form of alternative dispute resolution, to wit: at 4:00 P.M. on Friday, June 30, 2006, counsel shall convene at a neutral site agreeable to both parties. If counsel cannot agree on a neutral site, they shall meet on the front steps of the Sam M. Gibbons U.S. Courthouse, 801 North Florida Ave., Tampa, Florida 33602. Each lawyer shall be entitled to be accompanied by one paralegal who shall act as an attendant and witness. At that time and location, counsel shall engage in one (1) game of "rock, paper, scissors." The winner of this engagement shall be entitled to select the location for the 30(b)(6) deposition to be held somewhere in Hillsborough County during the period July 11–12, 2006.
A five gesture variant is mentioned in The Big Bang Theory, apparently - "Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock". The existing relationships exist between the first three items, but then defines relationships between Lizard and Spock gestures and each of the other three. Details here. For the game to be balanced, each gesture has to win against half the other gestures and lose against the other half (which means that there should be an odd number of gestures).

But this has been taken even further by someone who went on to create 7, 9, 11, 15, 25 and eventually 101 (!!!!) gesture variants. Yes, you and your opponent can pick any one of 101 gestures, and the winner and loser is defined in each case. You can buy a poster - you'll probably need at least that.

Now, given no multiplayer version exists, is it possible to make one, I wonder?

Monday, November 21, 2016

Buckingham Palace refurbishment

Various people accepted the indignant line being presented in some quarters about the renovations to Buckingham Palace. The Metro slants the story here, for example. This article gives a perspective that they may not have been aware of.
My feeling, for what it's worth ... I prefer the monarchy to most of the rest of the political establishment, as I think they have a long view, even if their powers are limited (I wish the whole UK government had a long view and limited powers....!). I think that Buckingham Palace represents a national asset, which a "lucky" family gets to live in, in return for surrendering pretty much their whole life to the country. There aren't many 90 and 95 year olds who aren't really given the option of just retiring. Buckingham Palace is part of the heritage of the country which brings in a lot of foreign money. The lack of renovation for 60 years (! Do you have a 60 year old boiler in your house? 60 year old wiring?) is poor form, and I think that to see the palace go up in flames for lack of proper maintenance would ... well, be oddly fitting in a country which is burning most of the rest of its things of value, but would nonetheless be a disgrace.
Furthermore, I think that even were it the government funding this, there is no way that the money would be directed instead in directions that we think it ought to go - that's not the alternative.
A relevant comparison - the refurbishment of the Houses of Parliament is estimated to cost around ten times this amount (estimates of cost vary between £2 billion and £7 billion pounds), and this will be funded by the taxpayer. And government departments don't have a good track record of securing value for UK taxpayers' money.

The angle on "doubling the funding for the Royal Family" is an interesting one. The crown currently pays tax of 85% on its income, which leaves a balance of about £40 million from which the Royal Family and their estates are funded. So if the Royal Family weren't there, the UK would have £230 million less income. For the next ten years, the amount of money taken from the crown's income will be decreased to 75%, to fund this refurbishment. It is true that the UK will have £370 million pounds less money over 10 years. But the sotto voce implication is that without the crown, we could use that money ourselves. In fact, over the course of that ten years, even with this refurbishment being paid for, the UK will expect to receive an income of £2 billion pounds from the crown. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Millennials and whining

I'm tired of it. Not the whining of the Millennials - people in their late teens and early 20s. But the whining about them, by older people. "They are so entitled, they think the world owes them a living." I think those people who are saying this ought to take a good look at what they had in comparison to the people they are grumbling about.

Oh, sure, a small number of the "older generation" can remember the impact of the Second World War, the effects of rationing and so on. But the ones who are whining are the people who grew up in the 60s, 70s and 80s. Before you grumble about how entitled the younger generation are, please consider the following ...

6 Harsh Realities Of Millenial Life Non-Millenials Need To Understand

  1. The final salary pension you took for granted will probably not be theirs. All the private ones are pretty much closed down. The state ones are much less generous (read "more realistic in their funding expectations") than they were when you started your career. A money purchase pension is as far removed from a final salary pension as a STEM degree is from an arts degree.
  2. They can't afford a mortgage. As in, they can't afford one. They don't have the necessary £50000 in equity (a year's income) and a joint income of £150,000. The problem here is partly that the rising property prices which secured your future as you climbed the property ladder made it harder and harder to get on the ladder - because ...
  3. "As a rule of thumb, you should not pay more than 30% of your salary in rent" but "Tenants in England spend half their pay on rent." Yep, the rent you are charging on your buy-to-let investment to boost your pension is preventing the entitled Millennials from getting on the property ladder at all.
  4. Some of you took early retirement on full pension (see 1) in your 50s - so your employer could employ cheaper people. In return, Millennials can expect to work into our 70s. I am not a Millennial. I was asked by someone who had retired by 50 when I might expect to retire. He was shocked when I told him that my retirement age was 65. I'm luckier than my children.
  5. When your generation graduated, you had the milk round and graduate salaries. When Millennials graduate, employers have found all sorts of dodges to avoid paying them anything at all. Millennials are expected to live at home and have unpaid internships. Forget the minimum wage: some Millennial graduates are paying to get the "experience" they need to be employable. It goes without saying that the company would have to pay someone to do the work that their interns are doing for free.
  6. You got your degree for free. Millennials will have deductions from their salaries for up to 30 years to pay for theirs.
And yet, despite the fact that society is stacked against them, the fact that they are the first generation poorer than their parents were at the same age, it's not the Millennials who voted for Brexit. Which means that it is not the Millennials who are soaking up the whining headlines of the tabloid newspapers, expressing resentment at the supposed tide of immigrants, the imposition of laws from Brussels, and the loss of national sovereignty.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

What does it mean 'to be grogged'?

From the BBC. Nothing to do with me.

Still, a bit weird when a word you have associated with yourself for years suddenly appears in another context.