Just say no to more street circuits

I am always bemused when an article about F1 that complains about the lack of action in modern races goes on to suggest more city street circuits as the solution.

Now there are some advantages city street circuits.

1 – They’re easier to get to for spectators. By their very nature, racing circuits need lots of space, and it’s easier to get that in the middle of nowhere. Middle of nowhere never has good transport links. (It’s not much fun for the locals either. I have two friends from near Silverstone and they both loathe having the Grand Prix on their doorstep.) Street circuits are in the middle of cities or near them. Cities have much better transport links.

2 – Things do happen in street races. If the drivers make a mistake, there’s a good chance their race ends in a barrier. If that happens, there will be a safety car, and with a lot of the present drivers, you can’t trust them not to mess that up, or the start after it, be the car virtual or Mercedes-AMG GT3. But that’s a demolition derby, not racing.

And that’s the problem. Street circuits don’t offer much opportunity for racing. There’s not enough space for overtaking; at best, you can line up behind someone and press the DRS zoom button along the start-finish straight to get past them. With the strength of the top cars, if that happens, there’s no way, even with brilliant defensive driving, that anyone can stop that overtake (legally).

The drivers know that, and they also know that overtaking at other points is risky. So I’m not going to blame them for waiting for the DRS zones and then pressing the go-faster button.

So you get a race that’s basically processional, with positioning reflecting qualifying, unless someone in one of the top 3 teams had a nightmare, in which case we have to wait up to 20 laps for them to resume their normal position by pressing the button in the DRS zones. The only time it’s not like that is if there is some shunt, but even then there’s little overtaking, just cars being unable to continue.

There’s only two ways to get more overtaking:

1 – make the cars smaller, which can’t be done without major rule changes. The size of the cars is dictated by the size of the engines, the ERS system and the safety features associated with them. That leaves option 2.

2 – use circuits wide enough to allow more overtaking. And that’s something that street circuits just don’t offer. They can’t get any wider.

Using more street circuits doesn’t solve the problem of a lack of racing due to a lack of overtaking opportunities. It also doesn’t really solve the problem of boring races. In most races on street circuits, for most of the laps, nothing happens. When there’s an incident, there’s a flurry of panic but it settles down again very quickly. It’s a solution that doesn’t solve the problem.

Just say no to more street circuits.

My top 10 films of 2019 explained

The reasoning behind my top 10 films of the year.

There was only one real stinker in the films I saw in 2019; Ad Astra, which was appalling.

I continue to use these 4 criteria for this round up:

1 – did the film do what it set out to do?
2 – did it use its resources to its best ability? A £250,000 film is not going to have as good explosions as a £25,000,000 film, or it shouldn’t, and if it does, there’s something wrong with the £25,000,000 film. Basically, it’s a technical merit score.
3 – Intellectual satisfaction – does the film’s plot pull some really stupid move at the last moment? Does the plot rely on characters being more stupid than they are?
4 – Does this work as a whole? Did it work for me? I am aware that this is the most subjective of subjective criteria!

Ad Astra failed all 4 of these.

I’d say 8 and above of my top 10 pass one or more of these criteria.

My top 10 films of 2019 are:

1 – Blinded by the Light – It’s not perfect, it’s bit obvious, and heavy-handed in parts. But it’s made with love and it perfectly captures *that* feeling of being alone in the world and suddenly, there’s that band (or that singer) who is the only person who understands you.

2 – How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World – I liked the art work, and the way they told the story they aimed to. I love Toothless in all his ridiculousness, and it also gets points for F. Murray Abraham’s villain, who was excellent.

3 – John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum – L thought I’d love it, all well-choreographed violence surrounded by baroque nonsense and a delightfully morally ambiguous turn from Ian McShane. And I did. I am a woman of simple tastes.

4 – The Missing Link – I like Laika films. This just didn’t quite work for me. Not quite sure why. I did love the Elder of the Yetis.

5 – Captain Marvel – Another one that didn’t quite work for me. Probably for the same reason that Captain America didn’t work for me. Excellent soundtrack mind you.

6 – Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw – In what’s getting to be a theme, this didn’t quite work for me. And while the stunt crew and the actors brought it, the continuity department and fact-checking teams really didn’t.

7 – Gemini Man – While this did work for me, I am more than aware that it wasn’t as good as the three films above it. I could have done without most of the technical tricks it used (except *that* one. *That* one was very good.) but there is a solid and interesting film somewhere under the top layer of too much SFX.

8 – Avengers: Endgame – This is the one where I am willing to accept that I am being mean when I rank it this low. Because the technical parts of this were excellent, and I cried when they wanted me to. I also respect that they had a story they wanted to tell and told that story. I like what they did with two of the main 6 Avengers, and I can live with what they did with another 2. But with one of Avenger, I have the same problem with the way they handle him as always, although this time they at least gave him a few scenes where he wasn’t impossible (the problem is, as always, the disconnect between what they want me to feel about the character and what I do feel). But for the remaining Avenger, I hated what they did with him. I think it could have been done, and done well, even if it went against his character arc in his own 3 films, but they also chose to make him a joke, and I don’t like that when he’s my favourite Avenger.

9 – Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – Again, it didn’t work for me (set design excepted, that worked) but it’s less well done than the other films that didn’t work for me. I’m not sure what story they were trying to tell. It’s probably a bad sign that the bits of the film I enjoyed all featured bad guys.

10 – X-Men: Dark Phoenix – I think this one might actually have been bad, but it was better than the remaining two films I saw in the cinema last year. It seemed like they threw in lots of characters and then gave them nothing to do. It was a lot of set pieces barely strung together. Worst of all, the character they handled the worst was Jean, which given that it was supposed to be *the* Phoenix film is a very bad thing indeed.

Fuller reviews of those 10 films and the others I saw in 2019 forthcoming, only I am terribly behind.

Top 10 Films of 2019

Yes, for the first time in ages I have actually seen enough films in a year to have a top 10. I saw 12 new films, but the top 10, in reasonably final order are:

1 – Blinded by the Light
2 – How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
3 – John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
4 – The Missing Link
5 – Captain Marvel
6 – Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
7 – Gemini Man
8 – Avengers: Endgame
9 – Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
10 – X-Men: Dark Phoenix

No explanations yet, mostly just to annoy L.

Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse

(I do not care how Marvel spell Spiderman, they are wrong.)

I loved it. I loved the colour, the style, the music, the sheer vivid inventiveness. This is a film which used its medium to the fullest. Too many cartoons are content to be live action plus. This was cartoon maximus. It saw the freedom possible and used it.

I loved it, because I am a film fan and a comics fan. It’s an excellent film and it’s an excellent Spiderman story.

I loved that they took SpiderHam and Spiderman Noir and made them work. (Oh my heart, did it make them work.)

I loved the rolling “and this is how I became Spiderman” pages, and that horrible two ticks before the film told us who Gwen’s dead person was.

I loved Miles Morales, and his Dad and his Mum and how much they loved each other despite not always seeing eye-to-eye. I was so worried when Miles’s Dad turned up at the end fight.

Someone involved in the film seemed to have hated One More Day even more than the rest of us, and that vigour made them clever. The film showed that you can tell a story about a +30-year-old Spiderman and still make it interesting, without removing all the history between him and Mary Jane. Peter B. was just a glorious vision of what superhero-ing costs and doing it any way. He’s such an interesting contrast, not just to Miles, but to a lot of other superheroes.

I was hopeful that I wouldn’t have to see Uncle Ben die, again. Dear film, replacing uncles with other uncles does not help that problem!

I liked the film’s take on the seductiveness of doing bad things, and I thought that what they did with Kingpin was interesting. They made it very clear that nothing he did was justifiable, even if it was understandable.

I saw the film shortly after Stan Lee’s death and I just was not prepared for that scene. I was fine until “It always fits. Eventually.” It’s that mix of salesman, and the truth about superheroes, and then I cried.

I liked the film’s take on Aunt May. Maybe in this ‘verse, she’s the physicist. I also loved Liv Octavius, bound only by what she can achieve. Science never asks if it should!

I loved every marvellous minute and I am not alone. From comments at work, this is the superhero film for people who do not like superhero films, because it’s so different, because it’s bright, colourful and stylish.

Utterly recommended for everyone.

Euro 2020 Draw

Normally I’d do a post about the draw for the Euros, but what it would look like if it was done according to the team’s FIFA rankings.  I can’t do that at the moment because the play-offs haven’t happened yet.

On the other hand, it does mean that fans who are travelling to the matches can book their flights and accommodation earlier. That should help the fans and I’ve said for a long time, an earlier draw is a good idea.

Also, the Germany/France/Portugal/Someone else group sounds like it will be excellent fun.

For the full draw please see here.

Updating the Rugby World Cup 2019 Network Diagrams … and future plans.

Now that all the changes to the squads have been added, admittedly after the tournament has finished, I can update the figures. In general, the changes made very little difference.

The quarterfinals:


(Sorry to any New Zealanders for cutting off the N of the country name.)

The only difference adding Rob Herring for Sean Cronin for Ireland makes is that Leinster and Munster now both have the most players left in with 12, followed by Crusaders, Scarlets and Saracens with 11.

All 8 teams are their own communities.

Japan are the team closest to the centre still, but Yamaha Jubilo are now the team closest to the centre.

In the total players used up to the quarterfinals diagram, Canada and France have still added the most (4), then Ireland, Italy, Samoa, Scotland, South Africa and Tonga with 2 then Argentina, Fiji, New Zealand, the United States and Wales who have all added one.


All 20 teams remain their own communities.

Jaguares have the most (27) players at the World Cup, followed by Welwitschias (20) and Glasgow warriors and Benetton (16).

Scotland and Pau are the teams closest to the centre.


The addition of Owen Lane for Josh Navidi changes nothing because it swapped a Cardiff Blues player for a Blues player. Therefore, the teams in the centre haven’t changed from the previous version (England and Harlequins) and the teams with the most players haven’t changed.


In the total players used up to the semifinals diagram, Canada and France have still added the most (4), then Ireland, Italy, Samoa, Scotland, South Africa, Tonga and Wales with 2 then Argentina, Fiji, New Zealand and the United States who have all added one.


All 20 teams remain their own communities.

Jaguares have the most players at the World Cup (27), followed by Welwitschias (20) and Glasgow warriors and Benetton (16).

Scotland and Pau are the teams closest to the centre.


No changes to the diagram showing just the finalists because I made the Ben Spencer for Willi Heinz change in the original diagram. I made it because it had an effect on how close the teams were to each other as Willi Heinz and one of the South Africans both play for Gloucester while Ben Spencer plays for Saracens.

In the total players used up to the final diagram, Canada and France have still added the most (4), then Ireland, Italy, Samoa, Scotland, South Africa, Tonga and Wales with 2 then Argentina, England, Fiji, New Zealand and the United States who have all added one.


All 20 teams remain their own communities.

Jaguares have the most players (27), followed by Welwitschias (20) and Glasgow warriors, Benetton and Saracens (16) (due to addition of Ben Spencer of Saracens for Willi Heinz).

Scotland and Pau are the teams closest to the centre.


I wanted to see if there was any correlation between final result and players named to the squad. Obviously, teams that went further in the tournament played more games which increases the risk of injuries. Therefore, I divided the numbers of total players (and total players/original players) by the number of games played to try to account for that.

If you look at total players named to squads divided by games played versus the team final positions it looks like this:


You can see an obvious pattern. There is a similar pattern if you plot starting number of players named divided by total players named then divided by games played against final positions.


I’m not sure what to do with the information. Dividing by the number of games played has a huge effect and I don’t know if the effect is out-sized. Also, it’s all well and good to be able to see patterns at the end but it would be interesting to see if you could predict final positions from this sort of information at the end of the group stage.

Another interesting question, raised by L, is whether you can predict anything from number of players actually played and which teams maintained the most continuity, in terms of players who were on the pitch with each other. It’s something you could probably work out from easily available data, but it will take time to do so it is being put into the future plans folder.

Watch this space, but don’t hold your breath 😉

Other forthcoming plans for this data include trying to make a video showing the changes throughout the competition – the first few dry runs look very pretty but that might also take some time to perfect, but the results of that should be out sooner than the other analysis.

Rugby World Cup Final 2019 Network Visualisation



Trying to get this out before kick-off and failing (just).

This is the figure where I have updated the team with the change (England) because it affects the diagram. Willie Heinz, who has been replaced due to injury, linked England to Gloucester, while they are linked to South Africa by Franco Mostert. Therefore, there are now fewer links between the two teams.

The addition of Ben Spencer to the England team to replace Willie Heinz means that the club team with the most players in the final are Saracens with 10 (9 for England, 1 for South Africa).

They are followed by Stormers with 9 (all for South Africa) and Bulls, Bath and Leicester Tigers (Bulls all South Africa, Leicester all England, the Bath players are from both).

Of the club teams, Sale Sharks are closest to the centre.

Rugby World Cup 2019 Semifinal Network Visualisation

(With some spoilers of the results of the semifinal matches themselves)

Network visualisation of the Rugby Union semifinal teams

England are now the team closest to the centre, with Harlequins the club team closest to the centre. New Zealand are the team floating out on their own, and given both theirs and Ireland’s relative under-performance, it does suggest that rugby union is becoming more like football, ever more inter-linked, and that inter-linking is vital for performance.

The club teams with the most representatives are Crusaders, Scarlets and Saracens (11), followed by the Stormers with 9 and the Ospreys with 8.

All four teams remain separate communities.

No update on the all players diagrams but that should be coming soon. There will be a slight delay for RL reasons, but hopefully the quarter, semi and final versions of that should be up before the end of November.

Rugby World Cup 2019 Quarterfinals Network Visualisation



Notably, all the teams with players unattached went out in the first round, which suggests my theory that the teams that have to rely on players with no club team are weaker is correct.

Leinster are now the club team with the most with 13 (all the players who player for Jaguares, Welwitschias, Benetton and Glasgow Warriors played for eliminated teams), followed by Munster with 12 and then Crusaders, Saracens and Scarlets with 11. Yes, I find the lumping of Crusaders and Saracens hilarious.

All 8 remaining teams are separate communities, and the teams are held less tightly together. Fiji, Samoa and Tonga were providing a lot of the connections that held the others in place.

Japan are the national team nearest to the centre, and NTT Communications Shining Arcs are the club team closest.

I’ve not updated the total players diagram yet, because I am aware that some replacements have not yet been updated on the Wikipedia page I am using as my information source (noticeably Rob Herring for Sean Cronin before I made the update) so there’s a good chance it’s slightly out of date. I will update the total players once the semifinals are sorted out, in the hope that all updates will have been made by then.