Cricket corruption

Sadly, test cricket appears to be fundamentally rigged. No-balls to order are one thing, entire results another:

Majeed was also videoed telling the undercover reporter: ”Let me tell you the last Test we did. It was the second Test against Australia in Sydney. Australia had two more wickets left. They had a lead of 10 runs, yeah. And Pakistan had all their wickets remaining. ”The odds for Pakistan to lose that match, for Australia to win that match, were I think 40-1. We let them get up to 150 then everyone lost their wickets. ”That one we made £1.3 [million]. But that’s what I mean, you can get up to a million. Tests is where the biggest money is because those situations arise.”

Rugby League too. The Bears would never do that - let them back in!

Destroy All Monsters

Terrific article on Dungeon & Dragons, including playing through a module with one E. Gary Gygax. The misogynist stuff doesn’t ring true to me, but the rest is spot on:

Here I am tempted to advance a wild argument. It goes like this: in a society that conditions people to compete, and rewards those who compete successfully, Dungeons & Dragons is countercultural; its project, when you think about it in these terms, is almost utopian. Show people how to have a good time, a mind-blowing, life-changing, all-night-long good time, by cooperating with each other! And perhaps D&D is socially unacceptable because it encourages its players to drop out of the world of competition, in which the popular people win, and to tune in to another world, where things work differently, and everyone wins (or dies) together.

World Pinball Championships - Final and Deciding Game

Pinball wizards at work, including a video of the action and wonderfully jargon-fuelled commentary:

You will notice right away that Keith (player 1) often lets the ball bounce over, which is an expert technique that helps slow the ball down so it can be trapped more easily. On this particular machine, you could reliably let the feed from the pop bumpers bounce down to both flippers, for an easy trap on the right flipper. He uses this technique with less success on the feed from the left orbit, but most expert players will tend to use a live catch instead.

Don’t miss The Save.

The making of Madden

While we’re on the NFL tip, a nice look back at the making of the Madden juggernaut:

Hawkins listened. Ybarra took notes. The duo promised they would create as sophisticated a simulation as home computers would allow. Real football, with seven players to a side …

Right there, Madden balked — even though he was technically under contract with EA to endorse a football game. “If it’s not 11-on-11,” he said, “it’s not real football.”

“That was a deal breaker,” Madden recalled. “If it was going to be me and going to be pro football, it had to have 22 guys on the screen. If we couldn’t have that, we couldn’t have a game.”

The politics of spin

Whilst we wait for the Australian election to be resolved, here’s a depressing 1993 article about the invention of spin in politics. 17 years later and it’s only gotten worse:

In this new faith, it has come to be held that what sort of person a politician actually is and what he actually does are not really important. What is important is the perceived image of what he is and what he does. Politics is not about objective reality, but virtual reality. What happens in the political world is divorced from the real world. It exists for only the fleeting historical moment, in a magical movie of sorts, a never-ending and infinitely revisable docudrama. Strangely, the faithful understand that the movie is not true — yet also maintain that it is the only truth that really matters.

The Bechdel Test

I stumbled upon this concept when reading a post about sexism in Warcraft, and now it’s stuck in my head. Basically it’s a test proposed in a 1985 comic to see how women are represented in movies (or TV, games, etc):

  1. It has to have at least two women in it,
  2. Who talk to each other,
  3. About something besides a man.

Sounds simple enough? But it’s kind of worrying when you realise how often popular culture fails the test.