Fairy Rugby @rugbyworldcup @rugbyworldcup #RWC2015

rugby-world-cup-England-2015

Chess is a great game, perhaps impossible to improve upon. Yet chess players will sometimes decide to mix things up, just for fun, by playing to different rules. They might introduce new pieces, or new powers for current pieces, or even change the point of the game. This is called “fairy chess”.

Likewise, Rugby Union is a wonderful game, perhaps impossible to improve upon. But, just for fun, here’s a few rules that you might want to muck around with. So without further ado, I present to you the somewhat unfortunately named “Fairy Rugby Union”.

  1. All rules are the same as in Rugby Union, except where stated below.
  2. Scrums are great, but they also slow the game down. Replace with free kick for the team which would’ve had the put in.
  3. Line outs are great, but like scrums take up time. Replace them with a throw in (under-arm or two-handed overhead) which can be in any direction. Which leads me on to…
  4. Forward passes are allowed. The lack of forward passing renders Rugby unintelligible to people from largely non-Rugby-playing nations (in my humble experience). Which also leads to…
  5. No knock-ons.
  6. The offside rule, just like the forward pass rule, is unintelligble to many from largely non-Rugby-playing nations. Do away with offside altogether.
  7. Now that tries will be relatively easy to score, change the ratio of points. For example, goals are still worth three, but a try is now two and a conversion five.

And there we are. Have fun!

*dons flame-resistant jacket*

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://i1.wp.com/royal-fans.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/rugby-world-cup-England-2015.jpg

 

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No Rugby World Cup 2015 Sticker Album? @rugbyworldcup @England2015 @RWC2015 #RWC2015

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I used to love collecting stickers as a kid. But despite being an avid sticker collector, we were pretty poor, so the only album I ever completed was the Rugby World Cup 1999 album. It was (kinda still is) my pride and joy.

I may now be 31 years of age, but in female years that is about eleven. So I’m pretty excited to buy the Rugby World Cup 2015 Official Sticker Collection.

One problem.

This seems to be the first RWC with no official album. What the hell!?!?!?!?

Someone tell me I’m wrong! I NEED MY STICKERS!!!

PULL YOUR FINGER OUT, MERLIN AND PANINI!

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://i.ytimg.com/vi/ASsPVanwCyY/maxresdefault.jpg

Rugby World Cup 2015 @rugbyworldcup @rugbyworldcup @England2015

rugby-world-cup-England-2015

The Rugby Union World Cup 2015 kicks off this Friday. I’m really excited about it, even more excited than usual — probably because it’s being held in England.

Bit of a confession-cum-sob story to tell you, though.

I was born in ’84. My first World Cup was South Africa 1995. I have eagerly followed every World Cup since then, even completing the 1999 official sticker collection! (The only sticker collection I ever completed without having to order missing stickers)

Yet I went through a difficult period in late adolescence (of about five years) when I almost totally went off all sport. Just happened to co-incide with the 2003 World Cup.

Yeah, the one that England won(!) The only World Cup I didn’t avidly follow and watch. (The only World Cup England won, for Rugby newbs out there).

I’m hoping for a dream home win for England, a win I might actually experience this time! And I’m hyped. Especially so given our tough pool (including, as it does, Wales and Australia): but I say, Bring it on!

Another confession (of sorts) to make.

The Spring Boks, The Wallabies, the mighty All Blacks, The Frogs, Semis and Final. Meh. My favourite time of the tournament is the pool stages. That’s when we get to see plucky teams with plenty of heart that we don’t normally: the Japans, USAs, and Fijis (what’s left of their team that hasn’t been pinched by other nations, that is *cough* Tuilagi *cough*). I just can’t get enough of those minnows!

Which leads me to a novel and, though I do say it myself, genius idea.

After the pool stage, when the top two teams from each pool progress to the Quarter Finals, there should be a parallel Losers World Cup, where all the eliminated teams duke it out for the title of “Best of the Rest”™. A kind of Bronze Final for the entire competition, if you will. Or a Europa League type competition (for the association football fans in the room). You like?

All of this is to say: I’m bouncing up and down and giddy with excitement. Friday can’t come soon enough!

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://i1.wp.com/royal-fans.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/rugby-world-cup-England-2015.jpg

Fun Trivia of the Day

andorraHere’s a fun little bit of trivia.

Question:
Which sovereign nation has an elected monarch  as head of state, even though he is elected to this position by people of a different country to that which he reigns over?

Answer:
Andorra. This tiny European country, located in the Pyrenees between France and Spain, has two joint heads of state, both with the title co-Prince. One of these co-Princes happens to be whoever the current President of France is. This peculiar situation has persisted since the year 1278. So it clearly works, even though it sounds like it was dreamt up as a prank.

This makes Andorra the only sovereign nation with a monarch who is elected… by people of a completely different nation, for a completely different role(!) To further put this into perspective: the President of France is the only person who, at the same time, is the head of state both of a Republic and of a Monarchy.

Ah, the joyful peculiarity of Europe’s last few remaining microstates!

featured image from http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4e/Coat_of_arms_of_Andorra.svg/2000px-Coat_of_arms_of_Andorra.svg.png

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry

#Je Suis Charlie 2

Charlie-Hebdo

The two runaway men who carried out the massacre on the offices of Charlie Hebdo, Said and Cherif Kouachi, have been captured and shot. Police forces stormed the Kosher butchers where they were holding numerous individuals hostage. In total, twenty people or more have now died in this tragedy.

Of course, the death of these terrorists does not mean the end of terrorist attacks on our free way of life (Oh, God help me, I sound like George W. Bush or some other improbable American politician there; at least I didn’t say “evil-doer” or “mission accomplished”). We need to remain strong and confident in our values and not allow the spectre of terrorism to either stifle our free speech nor be used by our politicians to restrict our freedoms.

Unfortunately, I am rather disappointed and disturbed by the reaction to these shootings.

Yes, the popular support for Charlie Hebdo has been encouraging and inspiring. Far less encouraging, however, has been the reaction of the press. So far as I can tell, not a single British newspaper has republished the Charlie Hebdo cartoons. Someone please tell me I’m wrong and that I overlooked a front page somewhere. I just cannot believe that all of our newspapers have failed in their duty so miserably… again! (2005 Danish Cartoon Controversy, anyone…?)

The respected Guardian newspaper “justified” not reprinting the cartoons at the centre of this massacre by basically saying, ‘We’re not a satirical magazine, so we don’t have to’. Well, sorry The Guardian, but you are a newspaper and need to report the news. None of this massacre has any context or makes any sense at all unless the cartoons in question — not other cartoons from Charlie Hebdo, but the specific cartoons that the terrorist shooters were “avenging” — are republished.

Please do read The Guardian‘s entire pathetic justification. The following extract is particularly telling.

In social media, the call has been loud – and aimed at several British newspapers, including this one – to take a stand by publishing the very images that made Charlie Hebdo a target. For the most vociferous, republishing a sample of the magazine’s usual fare, which the Guardian has already done, is not enough: they insist that true defenders of free speech would reprint Charlie Hebdo’s depictions of the prophet Muhammad, especially the crudest, most scatological examples.

That case is straightforward. Since these are the images the gunmen wanted to stop, the surviving free press is obliged to deny the killers that victory. No other gesture can show that we refuse to be cowed by their crime. By repeating Charlie Hebdo’s action, we would demonstrate our resistance to the edict the terrorists sought to enforce on pain of death. We show that Charlie Hebdo was not alone.

There is an appealing simplicity to that stance, but it rests on faulty logic. The key point is this: support for a magazine’s inalienable right to make its own editorial judgments does not commit you to echo or amplify those judgments. Put another way, defending the right of someone to say whatever they like does not oblige you to repeat their words.

Each and every publication has a different purpose and ethos. Charlie Hebdo is not the Guardian or the New York Times, nor is it the Daily Mail or Private Eye. The animating intention behind its work was to satirise and provoke in a distinctive voice, one that would not sit easily in other publications. Other publications can defend – and defend absolutely – the necessary diversity of press voices along with an editor’s right to offend. But the best response is not to be forced to speak in a different voice. The Guardian felt that at the time of the 2005 Danish cartoons controversy, and we feel it now. As Simon Jenkins argued on these pages on Wednesday, terrorists’ chief goal is to make us change our behaviour. It’s best to deny them that victory.

[emphasis in bold is mine]

Yeeeah… I could perform a media student-style dissection of that crock, but I’d rather save my time. I only need to say the following two things.

One: newspapers are supposed to report the news, and by not reprinting the original cartoons the newspapers deprive readers of the essential context at the heart of the news — imagine 9/11 being reported with no pictures of the planes going into the Twin Towers. Can you even imagine that such a thing would have happened? Of course not.

Two: note the Orwellian inversion of logic that, in order to not “change our behaviour”, as the terrorists want us to, we need to thwart the terrorists by persisting in our established behaviour of being cowardly as ever and not fighting back by printing the original images. What on earth?? Peace is war, cowardice is defiance — apparently.

Will it take the merciless slaughter of a British cartoonist, such as the Guardian‘s own Martin Rowson, before our newspapers stop sliming their way out of their duty? What is the point of a free press if they will not report the news — the core of the news here being the original cartoons?

Well, bollocks to our cowardly newspapermen! I suggest we plaster the offices of all of our newspapers with print-outs of the original Charlie Hebdo cartoons. I would also commit to not buying any of their papers anymore — except I long ago grew sick of the sludge that passes for news with these cretins, and so no longer read the mainstream newspapers.

P.S. Here’s a wonderful response to the media’s cowardice by Don Asmussen. Thanks to Jerry A. Coyne for posting it on his blog.

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featured image from http://eyedrd.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Charlie-Hebdo.jpg
Don Asmussen cartoon from http://www.gocomics.com/badreporter/2015/01/09

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry