Friday, July 31, 2009

Soccer Notes

A couple of wee tidbits:

  • England lost a one of the good ones today. A genuinly classy individual, as well as a very fine manager. He also was known to employ an interesting turn of phrase, every once in awhile...

  • The Canadian men's national team just returned from the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and I actually think it went pretty well. Canada faced as tough a group as they did during the WC qualifiers, but the boys defeated Jamaica and El Salvador, and managed to tie Costa Rica, thus in fact winning the group. The Canadians then bowed out at the quarter-final stage, losing to Honduras on a very debatable penalty call (aren't they all!). Most impressive of all, in the games that I saw, there was actually evidence of forward-thinking tactics, something that was too often lacking during the Dale Mitchell era. Oh, and Ali Gerba's goal against Jamaica was truly a thing of beauty:

  • The new manager of the Canadian men's team, Stephen Hart, has enjoyed a fairly bright beginning (well, it's not really a beginning, since he was interim manager before Mitchell got the permanent job). Under Hart this time around, the team's record is: Played 6, Won 4, Drawn 1, Lost 1, 8 Goals Scored, 3 Conceded. Pretty good, I'd say.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Latin Choices

Page from a 15th-century manuscript of Augustine's City of God

As this summer's Latin class surges towards its completion, we're once again reaching the point in the curriculum where I need to start coming up with some things for them to read. I do not believe that students should escape Latin 102 without reading at least some unedited ancient works, warts and all. Interestingly, and encouragingly, I've actually had some requests for things to read this year, in addition to my usual choices. So, what are they going to get? Well...

  • Catullus 3. A yearly tradition! I send them away for a couple of weeks to come up with a really nice translation of this poem, in consultation, if they wish, with other scholarship on it.

  • An excerpt from Tacitus' Agricola. Of the "big guns," there's probably not a tougher Latin prose author than Tacitus, so if they can handle him, they can handle anything. I generally roll out some part of the speech of Calgacus before the Battle of Mons Graupius (in addition to being fairly translatable, for Tacitus, it's really good).

  • Something, still undetermined, from St. Augustine. This was actually one of the requests that I had this year, from the philosophy student who's working on Augustine. I still haven't decided what I'm going to give them; something from City of God is tempting, since it's full of fun bits of Roman history and mythology. However, Augustine does not take a postitive view of Roman history and mythology (Paraphrase from Book 2: "So Sallust thought that 'the good and right' in Rome derived from the character of the inhabitants rather than from legal coercion? Excellent! Let's discuss how the rape of the Sabine women fits into that notion."), and the above-mentioned speech of Calgacus probably fills this course's Rome-bashing quota. So perhaps I will go back to The Confessions, and find something there.

  • I've also had a student ask to learn how to scan Latin poetry! I have never before taught that, so I'm working now at getting myself back up to speed on the topic. I'll at least get them introduced to the notion, and walk them through a couple of the more common forms of Latin poetry. I'm leaning towards elegaic couplets, which will also serve to show them how to scan a line of dactylic hexameter, and the from generally known as Phalaecean Hendecasyllabic (hello, Catullus 3!), which sounds horrible but is actually really easy to work with.

Given time constraints, I doubt we'll be able to do any more than that and still cover the required grammar. However, it should enough to get them thinking about how to do translations (and scan poetry), and that's more or less the point!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Hat Fail

I had to look at this one for a moment before it dawned on me, and then I snorted coffee through my nose.

fail owned pwned pictures
see more Fail Blog

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Ok, you want to know who just made The List? It's the guy who changed all the keyboard macros on this lab computer, so that, for example, when I try to embolden highlighted text by hitting ctrl-b, the text is deleted and replaced with a single, solitary, "ß". That's who just made The List.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Nostalgic Musical Interlude!

Have you ever had one of those moments when, for no particular reason, you suddenly though: "Hey, you know what artist/musician/band/&c I haven't listened to in a long time?"

I had forgotten what a voice Karen Matheson has!

Monday, July 20, 2009

We Need More Headlines... this:

Just When You Thought It Was Safe… Giant Squid Terrorise Californian Coast!!!
Divers spooked by tales of assaults as swarms of aggressive jumbo flying squid invade the shallows off San Diego
Associated Press in San Diego, Friday 17 July 2009 15.25 BST

Yes folks, "aggressive jumbo FLYING squid" (my emphasis) have apparently risen from the depths, and are tormenting anyone who ventures into the waters off San Diego. And that, of course, means that it's only a matter of time until this fellow shows up:

For you see, at the same time that tenticular doom was descending upon California, here in the Warrens, hundreds of miles from the sea, strange phenomena were at work. On Saturday night the sky turned a sort of nasty greenish-grey, thunder rolled, high winds threw things around and tore strong limbs from trees, and all the lights went out for awhile. Oh, and there was hail. Coincidence? I think not.

Anyway, as we await the arrival of the horrid denizens of R'Lyeh, here's a bit of a look at their advance guard:

Friday, July 17, 2009

You Know What Seems Silly?

So, I actually got out and attended a professional sporting event last night, as I went down to watch our Eskimos host the boys from B.C. (Canadian-rules football, in case you're wondering). Now, as has become commonplace at sporting events, scores by the home team are greated with pyrotechnics, and, in the case of our particular team, the sight of a vintage fire engine, painted in the team's colours, driving around the running track with its lights flashing (just to add to last night's spectacle, it was '60s night, so the players were wearing smart-looking retro uniforms, the cheerleaders were wearing go-go boots, etc. It was quite something).

Anyway, during the second half, the Eskimos found themselves on offence, but pinned way back on their own 2-yard line, with their backup quarterback in. In other words, they were in deep trouble. But, lo-and-behold, they drove the ball 108 yards down the field, scored a touchdown, and then followed that up with a two-point convert! And the fireworks duly went off, the fire engine drove upon its appointed course, and the cheerleaders and mascots leapt around gleefully.

Now, here's the bit where the silliness arrives. You may remember how I mentioned that this occurred during the second half? Well, to be specific, there were exactly 12 seconds left in the game, after the touchdown. And the touchdown made the score 40-22. For B.C. And I thought that it would be a bit of an idea for the folks running "the show" to say: "At this point we are 100% likely to lose this game badly, and maniacly celebrating the fact that the margin of defeat will be 18 rather than 26 points is not only silly, it's kinda pathetic."

Just a thought, anyway...

Monday, July 13, 2009

So, How Did We Do?: Part 2

Back again, and looking at how we picked Serie A over the last season! Here's the chart:

Ye Olde Scrying CauldronReality
2AC Milan2Juventus
3Fiorentina3AC Milan
16Chievo Verona16Chievo Verona

Well, then, kudos to the Seers for a) correctly picking the champion, and b) correctly picking one of the relegated teams (poor, poor, Reggina). And hey, we succesfully nailed the final positions of three teams (Inter, Lazio, and Chievo Verona), one better than we did in England! Beyond that, there were some real shocks, as a number of teams were well away from where we'd picked them.

Genoa versus Juventus back in April. Genoa (in red and blue) won 3-2.

First of all, the good. The big story of the season was Genoa, who amazingly came within a lick of overhauling Fiorentina for the last Champions' League spot. Tiny Siena, whom we'd picked to finish dead last, not only survived but for once did so comfortably. And, even though they finished only three spots above where we'd picked them, Juventus had a far better year than I foresaw.

And now, that bad. I would think that the season's biggest disappointment had to be Napoli, who started very brightly, and then basically stopped getting results around Christmas-time. Of their final 21 games, Napoli won 3, although one of them was a fine victory over Inter, and so a club that maybe had an outside shot at the Champions' League won't be playing in Europe next season at all. Bologna, as well, didn't live up to expections. We mentioned them in the prediction article, saying something like "keep an eye on Bologna," and keep an eye on them we did. We watched as they strolled into Milan on opening day and beat AC, and we felt very smart. And then we watched as they nearly got relegated, and we didn't feel so smart anymore! Torino somehow managed not to avoid relegation. And finally, Genoa fans had two reasons to celebrate, as their cross-city rivals Sampdoria had a dreadful season, and finished well in the bottom half.

Yeah, it was kind of like that for Napoli in 2009

It's going to be very interesting to watch Serie A in the next few seasons. At this point, for the first time in decades, the big talent is flowing out of Italian club soccer, not into it. This has also been happening in German soccer recently, and the result this year was that the Bundesliga had a first-time champion in VFB Wolfsburg. It's also been a feature of Dutch soccer for about the last ten years, and there too we are seeing lesser-known clubs (AZ Alkmaar, this year's champion, for example) mounting serious challenges to the big boys. So, it is just possible that we may see the big four in Italy coming back to the field a little bit, which would actually be rather fun!

Friday, July 10, 2009

So, How Did We Do?: Part 1

Quite some time ago, prior to the somewhat recently completed soccer season, the wizened Kobold seers speculated as to how the Premiership was going to turn out. And, given that the 2009-2010 campaign is just around the corner, it's probably time to see how they did. Here then are their picks, along

Wizened Kobold SeersReality
2Manchester United2Liverpool
5Tottenham Hotspur5Everton
6Aston Villa6Aston Villa
8Manchester City8Tottenham Hotspur
9Portsmouth9West Ham United
10Newcastle United10Manchester City
11West Ham United11Wigan Athletic
12Bolton Wanderers12Stoke City
13Blackburn Rovers13Bolton Wanderers
15Sunderland15Blackburn Rovers
17West Bromwich Albion17Hull City
18Wigan Athletic18Newcastle United
19Hull City19Middlesbrough
20Stoke City20West Bromwich Albion

Some observations. First of all, the seers didn't actually do too badly, especially in the top half of the table (on the other hand, picking the top four teams in the Premiership is hardly a chore these days). They even managed to pick exactly the correct spot for Arsenal and Aston Villa! Well done seers! However, they also learned a valuable lesson: Tottenham Hotspur will always disappoint you.

Newcastle contemplate life outside the Premiership

There was less success with the bottom half; none of the teams picked to be relegated actually were. Fulham, Stoke, and Wigan all greatly exceeded everybody's expectations, and nobody really foresaw Newcastle's annus horribilis. Of the three teams selected by the seers to go down, Hull City actually came closest. They had a wild season; Hull were in the top five early on, and then completely collapsed, only securing safety at Newcastle's expense on the last day of the season.

And what about Millwall? Well, Millwall had a brilliant year, up until the last 20 minutes of it. The Lions finished fifth and qualified for the promotion playoffs, wherein they defeated mighty Leeds United in the first round. With 20 minutes to go in the playoff final against Scunthorpe, Millwall were leading 2-1, but they couldn't hold on and ended up losing 3-2. And so face another season of League 1 football, but this time there will be some big names (Norwich, Southampton, Charlton, and - heh,heh - Leeds) to keep us company.

Harris puts Millwall in front against Leeds

Next time: How did we do with Serie A?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Blowing Off The Dust

Wow... nearly a full month's worth of absence!

So what's new, you ask? Well, I have a new crop of Latin students, possibly as many as 12(!) when everything gets settled and sorted out. So far, they seem to be quite promising, and willing to participate, and all those good things!

And, of course, the big news. I have decided to switch gears academically, and pursue more closely the technical side of archaeology. So, there's a lot of research being done right now on Museum Studies and related programs. Not much to report on that front so far, but there's a promising looking program at the University in His Majesty's Town (the one by the big river out East). We will see what transpires with that; it will require me to bone up on my organic chemistry and, interestingly, learn "darkroom techniques."

Anyway, expect more here! There's lots to get caught up on...