An explanation of my recent lack of blogging activity and a sneak preview of the 2019 aspi.blog Cornish wall calendar (I will receive the printed versions by September 24th).
The principal purpose of this post is to give you all a sneak preview of next year’s aspi.blog wall calendar. I am also going to explain why it has been a while since I last put up a blog post.
The reason why it has been a while since my last blog post is that I have had a very busy schedule of late, between work and various volunteering activities, and the one day on which I might have done a significant amount of blogging (Saturday) I lost to illness. I was sufficiently recovered by Sunday morning to do my volunteering for Heritage Open Day at the Bank House and to enjoy some of the experience, though I curtailed things somewhat so as not to set my recovery from the horrors of the previous day back. My opportunities will be somewhat limited during the rest of this week as I will be at the Corn Exchange helping to run an NAS West Norfolk stall for much of tomorrow and will be working Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Here are sneak previews of the 13 key pages of the calendar (not actual size). I decided to make this calendar a celebration both of my pictures and of the fine county of Cornwall…
For January we have a picture of Fort Picklecombe:
February features Brunel’s famous bridge at Saltash:
For March the focus shifts to the far west of Cornwall, where with the exception of November and December it remains for the rest of the year. This is one of two pictures from a seal colony near St Ives to make an appearance.
The April picture is a trio – across the top a view from St Michaels Mount to Marazion, and sharing the bottom a heron at Lelant Saltings and a crab at St Ives.
May features a shot of Carbis Bay.
June features our second seal picture:
July features the seaside garden at St Michael’s Mount, which members of the public can view only from above:
August is double-up, featuring a cannon emplacement at St Michaels Mount on top and a panoramic view of the mount and causeway below:
September is a double up from St Ives showing an old phone box with a an antique Great Western Railway clock attached on one side and a close-up of the clock on the other:
October features a red admiral butterfly spotted on the descent from St Michael’s Mount:
November, sharing with July the distinction of a photo taken that month, features the lighthouse picture that is also my desktop background and the reverse side of my personal cards.
December, just to emphasise what this calendar is all about features a shot of the Cornish flag.
Each page of the calendar is 28cm wide and 21 cm high, meaning that when hanging up open and ready for use it is 28cm wide and 42cm high.
Some thoughts on the (in)action of the England selectors this week, some mathematical teasers and a few pictures.
A couple of days ago I wrote about England’s series win over Indiaand presented some problems and solutions. This post is on similar lines, dealing with the actual behaviour of the England selectors and my thoughts thereon.
AN OPPORTUNITY SQUANDERED
England, with the series already in the bag, had a diamond-encrusted golden opportunity to experiment with options to fill gaping holes in their top order. Cook’s announcement of his impending retirement from international cricket should have acted as an extra spur. Instead of which we see very little in the way of forward planning or of experimentation of any sort. Even with the certain knowledge that a new opener will have to come in to replace Cook the selectors persevere with the proven failure Jennings.
Three individuals who can feel more aggrieved than most by this behaviour are Rory Burns(another 90 against Essex yesterday after the latter won the toss and chose to bowl first), Dan Lawrenceand Liam Livingstone.
In view of Cook’s impending retirement I would have recognized openers at 1,2 and 3 (not a bad approach in test cricket anyway), with a view to the two other openers than forming a partnership in future matches. This is why in the previous post I mentioned Tammy Beaumont, a recognized opener who has been scoring stacks of runs recently. Batting is at least as much about timing and placement as it is about brute power, and that is why I believe (unlike in the case of fast bowling) a woman could mix it with the men even at the highest level, similarly with slow bowling and possibly wicket-keeping (for my money the best user of the gauntlets in world cricket across the board at the moment is Sarah Taylor). A number of the all-time greats of test match batting have been of diminutive stature (Bradman, Gavaskar, Tendulkar, Sehwag, Hanif Mohammad and several of the finest Sri Lankans spring to mind instantly). I am well aware that this super-radical option will not happen, but the alternatives that that leaves with are:
Two brand new openers, neither of whom have any experience of international cricket.
One new opener and one opener who has shown already that they are not actually good enough (Jennings)
Two openers who gave failed to prove themselves (presumably Jennings and a recalled Stoneman).
Of those three options, none of which massively appeal, my choice would number 1, which might end up working out well, and then the question is who to choose to open alongside Burns (whose case for selection is undisputable in the circumstances).
Having taken the “ostrich option” re their top order difficulties the only outcome from this game that could be acceptable is not merely a win to make it 4-1 for the series but a win by a massive margin. The timidity of the England selectors means that at least one and possibly two England openers will be starting their careers on overseas tours, with their first home test series being against those well known softies, the Aussies.
PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS
I will start as usual with answers and solutions to the previous problems (all from brilliant.org) before offering up some new problems.
WHAT IS THE AREA OF THE QUADRILATERAL
First the answer:
The hackers solution is that there are only two really serious possibilites since the shape is a square, namely 67 (giving an area of 289 = sides 17 units long) and 102 (giving an area of 324 = sides 18 units long), and since the question gave one three tries just enter those values for the first two tries (if your first entry does not come up right). Here, courtesy of Jeremy Galvagni is an elegant genuine solution:
THE .99 STORE
First the answer:
The figure in front of the .99 part of the price can vary, so all we need to know is how many .99s add up to answer ending in .89, and the answer is 11 (11 x 99 = 1,089, so 11 x 0.99 = 10.89), and the next number of items after 11 that would give us an answer ending in .89 is 111, the lowest price total for which would be $109.89. Thus Marie purchased 11 items.
First an astronomy themed problem:
Now a question that has got almost three-quarters of those who tackled in on brilliant, but is not actually difficult:
Congratulations to England on their series win, a farewell to Alastair Cook who has announced his impending retirement from international cricket, some maths problems and solutions and some photographs.
This is going to be a long post because there is a massive story to cover concerning the cricket in addition to the match itself. I will also be including some mathematical problems and solutions and of course some of my own photographs.
ENGLAND WIN A THRILLER TO TAKE THE SERIES 3-1 WITH A MATCH TO GO
On Thursday when England stumbled to 86-6 after winning the toss and batting I was not expecting to be writing a piece of this nature. England failed to polish off the Indian first innings when they had a chance of a lead. When Stokes stuffed skipper Root (run out 48) it was 122-5 and England led by only 97. Then came another lower order fightback, and with Curran adding 46 to his first innings 78 England set India 245 to win. The match was settled while I was at the Mencap Beach Hut, Old Hunstanton on an NAS West Norfolk day out. As usual the key wicket was that of Kohli, and once he had gone India never got back into contention, Moeen Ali adding four wickets to the five he took in the first dig (he is very much a bowler who likes being at home – 91 wickets at 31 in England, 51 at 52 abroad) to help settle things. In neither innings did England’s top order deliver sufficiently (a recurring problem). Aside from Root’s 48 from his preferred no 4 slot in the second innings, the highest score from an England player in the top four was Jennings’ second innings 36. I am now going to through England player by player.
A N Cook – see next section
K K Jennings – a failure in the first innings, and in many ways a worse story in the second – an opener who gets as far as 36 should be settled in for the long haul. I believe that with the series safely won and the situation ripe for experimentation he should be dropped.
J E Root – the skipper dropped himself to no 4 in the second innings and it took a run out to get rid of him then.
J M Bairstow – he was sufficiently injured to prevent him from keeping but not apparently from batting, but if he is to play as a specialist batsman it should be at no 3.
B A Stokes – the new, responsible Stokes played well up to a point in this match but in the second innings he overdid the blocking to the point of handing the initiative to India. Also running out the skipper never looks great (save perhaps at Christchurch in 1978 when Botham, allegedly acting on instructions from vice captain Willis to do whatever was needed to up the run rate, stitched up skipper Boycott).
J C Buttler – one of only two England batsmen to have topped the 250 run mark thus far in the series (the other being the wunderkind Curran) and competent behind the stumps.
M M Ali – a useful batting effort after England’s disastrous start on day 1 and two good bowling performances. His mid-match promotion to number three (where he did recently hid a double century for Worcestershire v Yorkshire) shows how desperate England are to find a way for Root to bat at four.
S M Curran – about the only thing the youngster hasn’t done in this series is walk on water! He is establishing himself as a star player.
A U Rashid – a poor match with both bat and ball, but he is too good not be firing again soon.
S C J Broad – a solid match for the veteran new ball bowler. He has now drawn level with Sir Richard Hadlee in the all-time test wicket takers list.
J M Anderson – a quiet match for one of the all-time great swing bowlers, but even though he did not take many wickets he continued to command respect.
I will end the cricket part of this post by naming my team for The Oval.
FAREWELL ALASTAIR COOK
Alastair Cook, after 160 test matches, the last 158 in sequence (the longest unbroken run of appearances in test history, and not likely to be challenged any time soon) has announced that the last match of this series, at The Oval, will be his international swansong. This marks the end of an epoch not just for England but for test cricket – in many ways Cook is the last true test match batsman, having made his debut before T20 was a really major thing and unlike many who get seduced by the bright lights and big money at tournaments such as the IPL he abandoned short form cricket to concentrate on his test match career. His achievements in test cricket placve him firmly among the greats of the game, and I think he has timed his announcement exactly right, bowing out on his own terms (which he had more than earned the right to do) and before too many people began to ask just why he continued to be picked.
On the 2010-11 Ashes tour Alastair Cook had to most successful visit to that part of the world by anyone named Cook since Captain James called by in 1770, and the most successful by an England batsman since Hammond in 1928-9. He played three monumental innings in that series, a match saving 235 not out at the Gabba (also sometimes referred to as the ‘Gabbatoir’ on account of what often happens to visiting sides there), his 148 at Adelaide that set the stage for the Pietersen innings that put Australia right out of that game and the 189 at Sydney in the final game that ensured that the final scoreline for the series would reflect England’s dominance (a 2-2 draw would have been an utter travesty, and even 2-1 to England after a drawn final match would have looked better than Australia deserved).
I have no doubt that there will be occasions in the near future when England find themselves wishing for Cook’s cool head and fighting qualities. It will be hard to get used to an England order without the name Cook at the top of it.
From this huge cricket fan and devotee of test cricket the message is “Well done Alastair, and thanks for some fabulous memories, especially of the Aussies being humbled in their own backyards”.
Solutions to my last two maths problems, some sciencey pieces, a petition and some photographs.
This post includes solutions to the problems I posed on Saturday, and a few other things from various sources.
SPACE STATION DODECAHEDRON
Here is the question as a reminder:
Here is the answer:
Here is a splendidly concise solution from David Vreken:
A VARIARION ON THE MALFATTI THEME
Here is the question:
Here is the answer:
In the 19th century Malfatti conjectured that the way to maximise the area of a triangle you could fill with three circles was to fill in the three largest circles that touch specifically two of the three sides. Although he was not alive to be humiliated it turned out that he was not merely wrong, his proposed solution has been proved not to work for a single triangle. The solution that always works is first put in the largest single circle that touches all three sides that you can, then fill in the largest circle you can in the remaining space and then do so again. In an equilateral triangle the difference is small, but in a long thin isosceles triangle it is quite substantial.
Here is Jeremy Galvagni’s published solution:
SCHOOL REFUSAL SYNDROME PETITION
This on the official site for petitions to the UK government, which means that you have be a UK citizen to sign it. Please click the screenshot below to sign and share it if so minded:
David Quammen, a good writer and a useful scientist to know about if you are planning an A to Z post, has a new book out on the subject of evolution, and Jerry Coyne of whyevolutionistrue has provided a very detailed review of it.
Finally, a letter to the Guardian signed by 60 well known environmental campaigners declaring their unwillingness to debate with climate change deniers, and why they are unwilling to do so. Below is the opening to the letter (please click to visit the original) and a list of signatories:
Presenting an idea for the next aspi.blog wall calendar and inviting suggestions in response.
Those of you familiar with this blog will know that a photographic wall calendar has become something of a tradition – the 2019 effort when I finally do it will be number four. I have started thinking about and this post is intended to show one possibility.
A CORNISH THEMED CALENDAR
Those of you who saw my “A Grockle’s Eye View of Cornwall” series (you can access them all from here) will be aware of the amazing scenery I saw while I was down there. Since it was obvious that a number of those pictures would have to feature I then started thinking about how a Cornish gallery calendar might work, and this is where I have reached so far.
THE FRONT COVER
To provide a clue of what is within this is my envisaged front cover pic if I go the “pure Cornish” route:
OTHER POSSIBLE PICTURES
January would be this one:
The other pictures that I have identified as possibles, in no particular order are these:
WHAT DO YOU SAY?
Do you think the “pure Cornish Calendar” idea works? If so do you have any other of my Cornish pictures that you would like to see featured? If not feel free to suggest others of my pictures that should be there.
An account of the first three matches of the test series between England and India plus some photographs
I have not written about the goings on in the current England versus India Test series as yet, because I have been busy writing about other stuff. This post repairs the omission.
MATCH 1 AT EDGBASTON
This was a nail-biter of a game, with fortunes swinging constantly as it progressed. When India were 115-6 in response to England’s 287 it looked like the home side were firmly in the driving seat, but Virat Kohli marshalled the lower order to such purpose that India trailed by only 13 on first innings. When England then slumped to 87-7 in their second innings it looked settled in India’s favour, but Sam Curran played a fine innings to give England a target of 194 to defend. England took wickets consistently, but not until Kohli was finally dislodged by a Ben Stokes yorker that trapped him plumb in front to make it 141-7, leaving nos 8, 9, 10 and 11 needing to cobble together a further 53 did the home side actually look favourites. They managed only 20 of those runs, and England were one up in the series. Curran was deservedly named player of the match (Kohli’s contribution of 149 and 51 was not enough to save his side from defeat, so it would have been wrong for him have got the award).
SECOND TEST MATCH AT LORD’S
India batted first in very difficult conditions. Nevertheless, and magnificently as England’s seamers bowled in conditions made to measure for them, a tally of 107 all out looked pretty definitively inadequate. When England were 131-5 themselves it looked less so, but a monster partnership between Bairstow and Woakes (in in place of the unavailable Stokes) effectively settled the outcome of the match. Woakes completed his maiden test century, being 137 not out when England declared, while Bairstow missed adding to his own tally of such scores by a mere four. India collapsed again (130 all out this time) and England were 2-0 up in the series. Anderson became the first bowler to take 100 test wickets at Lord’s in the course of this game, and only the second ever to 100 at a single venue anywhere (the first, Muttiah Muralitharan, did so at no fewer than three different venues). Woakes’ century meant that joined the select list of cricketers to feature on batting and bowling honours boards at Lord’s (Ian Botham is there, and among overseas cricketers Keith Miller is the sole person on both boards).
THE THIRD TEST AT TRENT BRIDGE
Before this match got underway England perpetrated a blunder, setting the scene for four and little bit days in which such things would become routine, by dropping Sam Curran after two matches in which he performed excellently to make way for Ben Stokes, now cleared of all criminal charges, to return to the squad. I personally would not have selected Stokes at all, but even had a gun at the head proposition forced me to do so nothing would have induced to me to drop Curran (yeah, pull that trigger if dropping Curran is the price to pay for you not doing so!).
Perhaps feeling after the first two matches that they could bowl India out on anything England put them in after winning the toss. India tallied 329, helped by some butter-fingered English fielding. The match was won and lost in the space of an hour and a half on day two when England being 54-0 in reply to 329 became England 128-9 in reply to 329. Buttler and Anderson got the final England first innings total up to 161. In their second innings India reached 352-7 before declaring leaving England two days and a mini-session to negotiate or 521 to score. Kohli had his second century of the series, having misssed out by three in the first innings. Cook and Jennings did the first part of their mammoth task, getting England to the close without losing a wicket. Both then fell early on day four, and two more quick wickets followed, at which point Buttler and Stokes joined forces. Their partnership at least showed some belated fight, and Buttler completed his maiden test hundred, while Stokes batted for a long time in largely defensive manner. Another clatter of wickets followed the breaking of the partnership and it was only some bloody-mindedness on the part of Rashid and Anderson (who had earlier in the game become only the second bowler to record 100 wickets in test matches against India, behind Muralitharan) took the game into a fifth day.
Somewhat bizarrely the Trent Bridge authorities decided to charge £10 for admission on a day that could have lasted for one ball (actually it managed to last for 17, meaning that anyone who paid to get in did so a rate of just under 59p per delivery). At the MCG in 1982, when again the final day could have lasted one ball, but there was also an outside chance of a home victory (37 needed with one wicket left BUT at the crease with no 11 Jeff Thomson was a certain Allan Robert Border) the authorities there did not charge admission. On that earlier occasion those who took advantage of the freebie got 85 minutes of gut-wrenching tension and one of the closest finishes of all time (England won by three runs after Thomson nicked one from Botham that would have had the umpire spreading his arms had the no11 simply ignored it, Tavare palmed the ball upwards and Geoff Miller took the rebound. Here, with in excess of 200 required and nos9 and 11 together at the crease there could only be one result (the largest number of runs that a last wicket pair have ever knocked off to win a first-class match is 76 way back in the fifties). Thus England were well beaten and lead the series 2-1.
England’s top four is their major current problem area. At Trent Bridge those positions were filled by:
England’s all-time leading test run scorer but also someone who has not had a decent score since the Melbourne featherbed in December.
Someone who is clearly out of his depth at this level (Jennings)
One of the three best batsmen currently eligible for test cricket (Root – Kohli and kiwi Kane Williamson are the other two) to be found anywhere in the world.
A fine young batsman who at this stage of his career is not a test match number four.
The above situation, India managing a decent first innings total and the fact that Root for once had a poor game put a lot of pressure on the middle order, and Buttler and Stokes kin the second inninsg apart, they folded under it.
My suggested squad for the fourth test is: A N Cook, R J Burns (someone with a magnificent record as an opening batsman who is probably ready for elevation to the test match ranks), B A Stokes, J E Root*, O Pope (I did not say that he is not a test match batsman, and I believe that he can be, and should be persevered with, just not as high as number four, a position he never occupies even for his county), J C Buttler+, C Woakes, S Curran, A Rashid, S C J Broad, J M Anderson. If two spinners are warranted then Bess comes in for Broad, with Curran sharing the new ball with Anderson (the latter being a change I might make anyway, having Broad as third seamer). When recovered from his injury Bairstow comes in to the squad, probably replacing Stokes at no 3, just possibly coming as opener, bringing down the curtain on Cook’s illustrious career. Some of these suggestions, especially even considering dropping Cook might be seen in certain quarters as heretical.
I still just about make England favourites for the series (after all, they are still ahead), but they need to respond better to opponents making decent totals – this not the first time in recent years that they have folded in response to a respectable but not massive total – it happened twice against South Africa last year.
For you hardy souls who have made it to the end of this post, here are some of my photos:
Concluding my account of the day at St Michael’s Mount as we near the end of my series about my visit to Cornwall.
Welcome to the latest installment in my series of posts about my recent visit to Cornwall. This post completes the day at St Michael’s Mount, leaving me with a post to do about the journey home and finally a page from which all the posts about this trip can be accessed. The fact that this will mean (including the page) 13 pieces relating to the trip bothers me not a jot – I have no more time for triskaidekaphobia than I do for any other ridiculous superstition.
WRAPPING UP ST MICHAEL’S MOUNT
Having finished our exploration of the mount itself it was time for lunch, which was excellent. The establishment at which we ate our lunch has a rule that alcoholic drinks can only be served if food is ordered at the same time, and according to their interpretation cream teas do not count as food, so on two occasions in the course of that meal we ordered portions of chips to go with drinks. Mention of cream teas (a speciality of the far west of England) brings me to a debate that rages unchecked: which goes on the scone first, the cream or the jam? The cream advocates argue that cream in this context is the equivalent of butter (and if it is Cornish clotted cream it is so thick that one can pretty much slice it like butter!), and that if you put the cream on first you do not get jam in it. I am not sure what the jam advocates base their case on.
Lunch consumed it was time to head back to our parking place on the edge of Penzance. The tide was just starting to turn but was still a long way out, and unlike the Mont St Michel, on which the current setup of St Michael’s Mount is modelled the tide here comes in slowly (no danger of galloping horses being swallowed by an inrushing tide, as allegedly happened at Mont St Michel on one famous occasion), so we were still able to walk back across a vast expanse of beach to rejoin the official footpath just west of Marazion. I omitted to remove my socks and shoes for this part of the journey, and they ended up thoroughly soaked, although by the end of the walk they had dried out again (without the sea breeze the heat would have been fiendish).