The leader of Birmingham city council says entire services face the axe, yet Eric Pickles refuses to negotiate. You often get the impression the *only* thing Eric Pickles wants councils to do is collect the bins. Weekly, of course. It's everyman's right to have his bins collected weekly, and every council's duty to do so.
Down from infinity/Up to infinity - First proof that infinitely many prime numbers come in pairs
On Friday they filmed part of an episode of Doctors at our gymnastics club. (Doctors is a daytime soap which, I assume, is a bit like Casualty but with fewer explosions and car crashes. Do they still have explosions on Casualty?) The storyline centres, apparently, around a pushy parent who wants her teenage daughter to be a superstar gymnast. I have been considering recently whether I am, we are pushy parents. Both our kids are decent sportsmen, really quite decent. Daniel's a swimmer. Over the weekend he swam a regional qualifying time in the 200m breaststroke. He trains four times a week. He also plays hockey. At school, he's been running for the school team in the 800m, and in his first competitive race won by about 20 seconds. He's also very keen to try and make the cricket team. Harry does tumbling gymnastics. On Sunday, he qualified in first place for the National Championships. He also trains four times a week. He also plays hockey. He swims now and again too. Both have been taking part in organised sport since they were very small, and clearly they couldn't do that unless we weren't willing to pay for it, transport them around the place, sit on poolside/in a gym for hours at a time. Did we/do we push them? I don't know, but I don't think so. Many of the kids Daniel will race against in the regional championships will be training 15 or 20 hours a week in 6 or 7 sessions. He does about ten hours. Harry too, generally trains around ten hours a week, when twenty is more normal for what are called 'elite gymnasts'. Daniel could have switched to a different club to get more swimming, and was invited to, but he didn't want to. Tumbling clubs are rather thinner on the ground so that option wasn't available, but I don't think Harry would take it if it was. So, from a time-spent-doing-it perspective, I don't think we do fall into the 'pushy' category. Perhaps we're just not quite as pushy. Actually, I don't think most of the parents of the kids doing those hours are pushy. The ones I've met, in both swimming and gymnastics, aren't. Some of them, a minority, are ambitious certainly, but not what I would describe as pushy. But do we facilitate, encourage, enable? I guess we all do.
The largest known prime is 257885161-1. That is quite large - 17425170 digits long.
It's particularly in relation to Harry I think about this. That's not to do down Daniel - it's to do with the nature of their sports. Swimming is a pretty big sport - lots of kids swim, it isn't hard to find a club, there's plenty of opportunity to compete at whatever your level is, you can tune it to suit you, and you can participate right through your life. If your circumstances change, you can drop your training down or even stop, because you can always come back to it again, at any time, at any age, and be able to take part and compete. Gymnastics isn't like that. It's a minority sport, and tumbling is the minority sport within the minority sport. Gymnastics is hard, really hard - it takes years to build up the strength and to learn the skills. If you stop, then that's pretty much it, you can't go back and if you try you probably won't ever return to the level you were at before. Because tumbling is so small, there are only two ways to go - a bit of a laugh or aim for the top.
Incoming awesome shelves - Chris' Toilet Library
The hockey I mentioned - that's two hours on Sunday mornings. That's pretty standard for kids hockey. Some kids are naturally better than others, but they should all be able to play reasonably well. There are no elite hockey players somewhere doing 20 hours a week on the astroturf. Hockey, or rugby, or quite a lot of football, you can do one session a week, be pretty decent and have a good time. By some stroke of something or other, my kids preferred sports take significant time.
These are your legs. Theses are your legs on exercise.
Our gymnastics club only has a small tumbling section and it does shoot for the top. Consequently when Harry was invited to join the squad, we thought about it pretty hard - although a seven year old really isn't able to make an informed decision. Participating in competitive sport is a commitment - a whole family commitment. That's why it's "our" gymnastics club and "our" swimming club. Because we all have to be on board, or it just can't work. Is that pushing? If the kids were in the Scouts, would I be chewing this over in the same way. Or what if they did piano? Learning the piano has "tiger mother" written all over it, doesn't it? Help me here. Maybe the whole thing is amplified by the smallness of tumbling. I know a two kids, one in Birmingham, one in London, who fence. They were both on the fringes of the national squad, and one of them was selected for and took part in an international competion. I don't know any other active fencers. Right now, there are only a handful of 9 and 10 year old kids who can make the qualifying standard for the tumbling championships. Maybe they're just big fish in a small pond? But I still might be pushy. Arg.
Taking Law to the Lawless until death - Judge Minty.
Codename MAT. I wonder what happened to Derek Brewster. His was obviously a programmer of some skill. Could string a story together too - he wrote some really solid adventure games.