Ashes Composite XI

My composite Ashes XI with reasoning and justification. Also some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

A common feature of final days of series is the selection of a composite XI based on performances in said series. This is my effort for the current Ashes series. I am going to name my team in batting order first and then explain/amplify/justify these selections.

THE TEAM

My team in batting order (England player names in dark blue, Aus in green):

  1. Alastair Cook
  2. David Warner
  3. Dawid Malan
  4. Steven Smith (Captain)
  5. Shaun Marsh
  6. Jonny Bairstow (Wicketkeeper)
  7. Mitchell Marsh
  8. Mitchell Starc
  9. Pat Cummins
  10. Nathan Lyon
  11. Jimmy Anderson

MY REASONING

The openers need no justification – the only major contribution from an opener not named Warner in the series was Cook’s monumental innings at the MCG. Number three is a thorny one. James Vince has demonstrated clearly that he does not belong there, and his huge score here at the SCG notwithstanding I remain skeptical about Usman Khawaja, hence my decision to promote England’s leading run scorer in the series to a position he occupies for his county. Number four, and with it the captaincy was the easiest selection of the whole lot. Shaun Marsh has not put a foot wrong since being called up to replace the inadequate Handscomb at number 5, and I regarded him as a must pick. Jonny Bairstow and Tim Paine have both had good series with the gloves, but I have opted for Bairstow as definitely the superior batsman. Mitchell Marsh has had a magnificent series, and was an absolute shoe-in at number 7, especially as Moeen Ali has had a terrible series – he has batted poorly in every match and his bowling average reads like a Bradman batting average. Of the specialist bowlers I have picked those at number 8,9 and 10 in the batting order are absolute stand outs. Number 11 was tricky, since Anderson with virtually no support has had a good series, and the better supported Hazlewood as also had a fine series. Accepting that even were it possible vivisection is not permissible (though ‘Anderwood’ is only one letter removed from a former test great!) I have opted for Anderson as I rate his the greater achievement. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Looking at the makeup of the team (and accepting that Hazlewood for Anderson and Khawaja for Malan would both be valid changes), Australian picks predominate in both batting and bowling, though it is especially the bowling, which in my team comes out at 4-1 (including all-rounder Mitchell Marsh) to Australia and is reality more like 4.3-0.7 (rating my selection of Anderson over Hazlewood as a 70:30 pick) which has split the sides. England have collected barely more than half of the 100 wickets that were available to them at the start of the series, whereas Australia assuming that they take the six England wickets that remain in this match will have managed 90, failing to take 20 opposition wickets only on the MCG pitch. 

PHOTOGRAPHS

I always like to include a few photographs in my blog posts, so I end with these recently taken pictures:

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The first five pictures were taken while walking to the Scout Hut on Beulah Street for Musical Keys yesterday.

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These last four pictures were taken in Fakenham on Thursday.

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Autism and Music

An account of the first Musical Keys session of the new year and some autism related links.

INTRODUCTION

This post comprises two elements – one an account of the first Musical Keys session of 2018 and the other sharing some excellent recent stuff about autism. Because it is an autism themed post I am using #RedInstead text (scarlet for headings and links, maroon for body text). 

MUSICAL KEYS

Musical Keys is an activity run for autistic people who enjoy music. Generally speaking it is run fortnightly, with a session for youngsters between 3PM and 3:45PM and a session for older participants from 4PM to 5PM. I had initially been expecting to renew my acquaintance with Reaper (a computer program for composing music – see here for more details) but circumstances dictated otherwise, and I actually ended up on a…

KEYBOARD

This machine can function as a wide range of instruments/voices and in a wide range of styles, and I explored a lot of the instruments in the course of the time I spent on it.

Keyboard

John, one of the two people who run these sessions, showed me how to play chords as opposed to single notes, and I experimented with playing varying numbers of notes simultaneously, and using the whole range of the keyboard. 

I created a few chords where the notes played could also form words, such as face/cafe, cabbage etc. I enjoyed making the acquaintance of this keyboard and learning something of its capacities.

Chord
These notes could form the word ‘cabbage’ (there being 2 as, 2 bs, 1c, 1e and 1g. Kirsten Murray, who helps John to run the sessions, took this picture with my camera.
Face
Here you can see the notes – I played this with my left hand, while photographing with my right.
Screen
A close up the central screen.
Voice
The screen with more of its surrounds, including detail about the ‘voice’ settings.

AUTISM RELATED LINKS

This section starts with a post from Rhi that I regard as being the last word on “mild autism”, published under the title “Autscriptic: Mild Autism“. 

My next piece comes from the Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism, written by Shannon Des Roches Rosa of squidalicious.com under the self-explanatory title “Eleven Ways You Can Make Your Autistic Child’s Life Easier

The next two pieces in this section are both from the blog “Autism is my Superpower

TO SIRI REVISITED

I have linked to a number of reviews of Judith Newman’s book “To Siri With Love”, although since I have not read the book I can offer no direct comment about it, and here are a few more pieces about that book:

AN ANTI-AUTISTIC HATE GROUP
MASQUERADING AS AN AUTISM CHARITY

The organisation who are the subject of this little section go by the name of Autism Speaks, who you will also see referred to as Autism $peaks, Auti$m $peak$ and A$ in various places. 

  1. From care.com comes this story, whose title “Autism Mother Sues Autism Speaks For Disability Discrimination” gives you more than a hint of the truth about this vile organisation.
  2. The website ownshrink.com has a piece titled “Autism Speaks: Torturing autistics for profit” which is as damning an indictment of an organisation that claims to be an autism charity as you could find anywhere.

 

Computer Aided Composing

An account of my recent doings at Musical Keys with a photographic interlude.

INTRODUCTION

A few sessions back at Musical Keys, an event run for autistic people that I am a regular attender of, I switched from using Scratch to using a different package called Reaper. This Saturday just gone I reached a point at which I feel that my work on Reaper is now worth talking about. Also I have some good pictures that I can slip in as part of the back story.

SCRATCH AND REAPER

Scratch enables one to play notes on various musical instruments and also has some saved sound loops for variation. Effectively therefore Scratch enables one to play music and sounds but not really to create anything beyond the framework within which to do so. Reaper is both less and more – less in that it has no versions of musical instruments, more in that is really all about combining different recorded sounds into a larger whole, and therefore has much more of a creative element to it. 

BEFORE SATURDAY’S SESSION

I had spent one session assessing the available sound segments, working out which ones I liked and which of those combined well together, and a second session combining shorter segments into longer ones by putting together segments that would or could naturally flow together, but at the start of Saturday what I actually had was a set of useful components that I could start to think about assembling into proper length pieces…

INTERLUDE –  WALK TO THE SCOUT HUT

I had decided to lengthen my walk to the venue by taking in a stretch of the Great Ouse before rejoining the regular walking route to Gaywood by way of Seven Sisters and the Vancouver Garden, and a quick sampling of the air outside my flat convinced me of the need to don an extra jumper – it was cold, as some of the photos will make very plain. I had also allowed myself time for a visit to Gaywood library, since I would naturally pass very close to it. It may have been cold, but the birds were out in force, especially near the Great Ouse.

lapwings and a gulllapwings and gullsFlying lapwingswimming birdBlackbirdsBlackbird

Leaving the river by way of Hardings Pits I headed for the South Gate and thence Seven Sisters and the parkland areas…

framed magpieKL signSouthgatestarlingsthree birds

Among other things the walk through the parkland provided me with absolute proof of how cold it was – gulls walking on water. 

Gull walking on waterGull walking on water 2Gull walking on water 3rooksBlackbird II

DECEMBER 9TH AT MUSICAL KEYS

John, who usually supervises the sessions was not feeling well, so having driven the equipment over he spent the afternoon sat in his car, while his assistant Kirsten took charge of the sessions. 

Once I had opened up Reaper, checked and adjusted the speaker volume (at least 99% of the time it is set too loud for me and I have to reduce it, often considerably – on this occasion it had been set to 70% of full volume and I reduced that to 35%) it was time to put my plan of exploring options for combining various elements to make a larger whole into practice. Before moving on here is a photo I took at the end of the session.

Reaper

The piece that I called Organ and Strings was one of three background sounds that I used in the bigger pieces, the others being the drum and brass backgrounds. “Ensemble” and “Composite” as those names suggest were medium sized components, while “Horizontal” and “All in” were the two large scale components that I combined to make the final full size pieces. The two big pieces (12 and 16 minutes long respectively) were comprised of “Horizontal”-“All-in”‘-“Horizontal” and “Horizontal”-“All-in”-“Horizontal”-“All-in” respectively. By the time I had listened to the 16 minute piece at the end it was pretty much the end of the session. The next session is on January 6th and I shall work out some way to build on what I have already created. 

 

The Musical Keys Session That Wasn’t

A walk, some dreadful weather and a double-booking. Also some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Musical Keys run regular sessions for NAS West Norfolk, and I attend these sessions both as a participant and in my role as branch secretary of NAS West Norfolk. Today should have been a Musical Keys day, and after lunch I set off on an afternoon walk with the Scout Hut in Gaywood as my envisaged final destination. 

A LITERAL DAMPENING

Although I was ultimately aiming for Gaywood I decided to lengthen the walk by going along the river bank as far as my regular cormorant observation point and then returning to the route to Gaywood by way of Seven Sisters and the Red Mount Chapel. Unfortunately I was near the end of the riverside stretch when the rain started coming down in stair rods, and it stayed raining all the way to Gaywood. Although Gaywood Library is small there are sometimes good books to be found there, and I did find some today.

A METAPHORICAL DAMPENING

While in Gaywood Library I logged into a computer, and it was there that I saw a facebook post telling me that Musical Keys had been cancelled due to a double booking. As I was still not fully dried out from the walk to Gaywood I was more than usually annoyed by this.

A POSSIBLE CHANGE OF LOCATION

This is not the first time we have had problems of this nature with this venue, so it is natural to be considering new venues. The British Red Cross have a suitable room in thier building at Austin Fields which is close to the centre of King’s Lynn. It is true that the principal approach from outside King’s Lynn, Edward Benefer Way/ John Kennedy Road, is prone to traffic jams, but I think the good outweighs the bad in terms of this venue. 

PHOTOGRAPHS

Even in the poor weather I experienced I was able to get a few decent photographs:

doves
This was taken in Fakenham yesterday – this window ledge is immediately outside my work area at James and Sons and these doves have been using it for a few days now.

moorhen family 1Moorhens and ducksMoorhens and ducks 2Tern 1Glaucous GullTern 2

2 flying cormorants
Two flying cormorants ine one shot – a first for me.
Flying cormorant
My second edit of that same picture, focussing on the nearer of the two cormorants.

Cormorant PlatformCormorantsKing of the Cormorant castleIII CormorantsFarewell to Cormorant PlatformMoorhen adult and child

Monday Madness 3: Mainly Autism

Some autism related links, and some photos from Musical Keys.

INTRODUCTION

As NAS West Norfolk branch secretary and an #actuallyautistic person I always like to share good stuff about autism. I am including within this a piece that is not directly about autism but relates to many of the issues that autistic people highlight.

AN ERIN HUMAN INFOGRAPHIC

This piece from erinhuman.com titled “Disability 101: Medical Model vs Social Model” features a really excellent infographic, reproduced below:

dis101

AN OLD FAVOURITE AND A NEW FIND

Laina over at thesilentwaveblog has, as she so often does, hit the nail smack on the head with a piece titled “Depathologizing Asperger’s / autism ~ The strength vs ‘lacking’ edition” The feature graphic is below:

Laina is the old favourite of the title of this section, while the new find, brought to my attention by Eve Hinson of americanbadassadvocates, is Michelle Sutton of michellesuttonwrites whose recent piece titled “THE LANGUAGE OF IDENTITY, OR “I AM NOT AN AUTISM PARENT”” I heartily recommend.

PHOTOGRAPHS

These photographs were taken at Muscial Keys on Saturday, which I am involved in due to my association with NAS West Norfolk.

KirstenInstruments

Screen
The first three screens show the things I have built up involving each of my three sprites

Screen2Screen7

Screen4
This focusses on the backdrop itself…
Screen5
And not long later I had created functions for this screen that meant that every button I could assign an individual function now did something.
Screen6
Close up of backdrop and sprites.

 

Cricket, Music and Local Elections

Some cricket, some music including references to the Classic FM Hall of Fame, some stuff about upcoming local elections and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

An odd combination of topics to appear in a title, but all will be made clear in the course of this post. There will of course be some of my photographs as well. 

CRICKET

The English cricket season is well underway. Because of an alteration to the structure of the two divisions of first class counties last season to a first division of eight teams and a second division of ten teams, it is now possible for all 18 first class counties to be in action simultaneously, as was not the case when there were nine teams in each division. Over this Easter weekend, for the first time since 1999 (the last season of the single division championship) all 18 of said sides have been in action. Glamorgan lost heavily to Worcestershire before today was underway. Leicestershire had also suffered an innings defeat at the hands of Gloucestershire. Essex and Somerset also finished early, a century from Alastair Cook anchoring Essex in their fourth innings chase of 255. Warwickshire only kept their match against Yorkshire alive into the fourth day because of some assistance from the weather, and having started the season with back to back innings defeats, and three shocking batting performances out of four innings, they must be considered heavy favourites for one of the relegation spots from division 1. Of the five remaining matches, Nottinghamshire are nearly done and dusted against Durham (since I wrote this Nottinghamshire have completed the job as expected, with nine wickets in hand), and it would also seem to be only a matter of time before Kent finish the job against Sussex (this match has also subsequently reached its predicted conclusion). A draw looks the most likely result in the Surrey versus Lancashire, although Surrey are not out of the woods yet. Hampshire and Middlesex also looks like being a draw, although again the Londoners are not quite safe yet. That leaves only…

DERBYSHIRE VERSUS NORTHAMPTONSHIRE

Overnight this also looked like a draw was the most likely result, with Derbyshire 128 runs to the good with 10 second winnings standing. However, some behind the scenes discussions obviously took place, since Northamptonshire spent the morning session of today feeding Derbyshire easy runs, handing Reece (168) and Godleman (156 not out) a new record opening stand for Derbyshire. A declaration at 351-1 left Northamptonshire two sessions to score 326 for victory. Whatever happens in these two session neither team will emerge from this match with much credit in my book. While Northamptonshire’s motivation was obvious, Derbyshire could easily have declined the offer, backing their batsmen to score off proper bowling. 

MUSIC

The long Easter weekend is when the Classic FM Hall of Fame is unveiled. It is assembled from listener votes. Each participant votes for their first, second and third favourite pieces of classical music, and the votes are all tallied up. The Hall of Fame comprises the top 300 pieces that emerge at the end of the process, and they are played counting down from 300 to 1 between 10AM and 10PM on each day of the weekend (it used when it first started to be 9AM to 9PM). This is the first occasion on which there has been a clash between the Hall of Fame and live cricket. I have resolved that clash by listening to the cricket when it has been on five live sports extra, and to the music at other times. The only exception to this was on Saturday afternoon, when it was time for…

MUSICAL KEYS

A shortage of available NAS West Norfolk Committee members meant that I was there for both sessions. The attendances were unsurprisingly low in both sessions. However, those who were able to make it had a good time. In the second session I renewed my acquaintanceship with Scratch 2, and next time I shall be moving on to another aspect of this program. Here are some pictures…

Kirsten
Kirsten, one of the two people from Musical Keys who run these sessions, at a very impressive looking keyboard.

MK1MK2MK3MK4MK5MK6MK7

MK8
I shall be adding some mathematics to the mix in two weeks time.

LOCAL ELECTIONS

Various places in the UK will be going to the polls on May 4th. Last time I mentioned this subject I said that I was between Labour and Green, and leaning towards Green. Since then, although I have yet to receive anything from any candidates a search of the King’s Lynn & West Norfolk borough council website turned up the following information about who was standing:

candidates

In view of the fact that there are three candidates in this list of four for whom I am absolutely unwilling to vote and that I regard failing to vote as unacceptable my vote will therefore go to Mr Collis, and I urge others who are voting in this election to cast their votes for Mr Collis as well.

Moving on from my own area, there also elections taking place much more extensively in Wales and Scotland. 

WALES

In Llanbadarn Fawr ward, Powys, the Labour Party candidate is none other than Mike Sivier of Vox Political, a fact which he announced in a post titled “Vote for Mike in the local elections!

– Vox Political’s Mike Sivier is standing as a Labour Party candidate for Powys County Council’s Llanbadarn Fawr ward – and there’s more to him than a nice smile [Image: Mike Sivier].

Today, Mike has put up another post about his candidacy under the title “Shadow cabinet minister is right – local elections are about CANDIDATES, not Corbyn“.

SCOTLAND

The big debate in Scotland at the moment is over whether or not there should be a second independence referendum (#IndyRef2) following the UK’s decision to withdraw from the EU, when Scotland was strongly pro-remain. It is not for me as a Sassenach to comment on whether or not Scottish independence is desirable since the only people who should be making decisions about the future of Scotland are the Scots, but I do believe that brexit is a sufficiently major change in circumstances as justify #IndyRef2, especially since one of the main claims of the no camp in 2014 was that an independent Scotland would not be able to join the EU. It would appear, if the article to which I link at the end of this section is anything to go on that the Tories seek to make the local elections in Scotland a sort of ‘pre-referendum’. Anyway, here courtesy of the website indyref2.scot, is a post that goes into detail on the issue, titled “Sending a message

Towards Indyref2…

PHOTOGRAPHS

I posted some photographs in the music section of this post, and I finish the post with some pictures mainly from outside…

15thCGHBb1BlackbirdcloseupBlackbird and flowerDSCN6005Mh1MinsterHB

ENDNOTE – CRICKET REVISITED

During the time it took to put the above photos up both Middlesex & Hampshire and Surrey & Lancashire have shaken hands on the predicted draws. These means that only the ‘declaration bowling’ game between Derbyshire and Northamptonshire is still to be settled. 

Musical Keys

A personal account of yesterday’s Musical Keys at the scout hut on Beulah Street and a walk on either side of the session.

INTRODUCTION

Musical Keys sessions happened at the scout hut on Beulah Street yesterday. I was there both as NAS West Norfolk branch secretary and someone who enjoys the session. With it staying light later in the evening and yesterday being pretty benign for an early March day in England I got two good walks in on either side of my session.

GETTING THERE

I made a quick visit to King’s Lynn library before heading for the scout hut by way of the Broad Walk and the Sandringham Railway Path. I had sufficient spare time to take some photographs en route…

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This town centre cafe is the venue for an NAS West Norfolk coffee morning on Wednesday
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Here are some of the trees from which it takes its name, on the bank of the highly sculpted stretch of the Gaywood river that passes through The Walks.
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The library, fresh from recent repair works.
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The first of four flower pictures – all featuring crocuses.

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AT THE SCOUT HUT

I arrived with the youngsters session still in progress – here are some pictures I took before my session started.

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Before getting into details of what I did, I have a short subsection about…

A SPEAKER SYSTEM FROM Q BRANCH

This is best shown in a series of photographs…

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The speaker system in use
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Partially closed up – machine and bag of cables in the centre, the two speakers forming the sides of the case.
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And fully closed – a stout black plastic suitcase.

MY SESSION

I was on the computer, using Scratch 2. Once again I consider a series of photographs to do a better job than words…

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A modest but sufficient set up – I have eight notes on my chosen instrument (Cello) set to be played by pressing a, s, d, f, h, j, k, and l respectively, and various extras, including getting the cat avatar to move and draw, with the pen size increasing each time I pressed one particular key.

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THE JOURNEY HOME

Once the session finished, and the clearing up and locking up was done it was time for the walk back. I journeyed back by a different route, heading for Bawsey Drain, the Tuesday Market Place and King Street. Here are some photographs from this walk.

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