There will be a delay to the Rugby World Cup Network Visualisation

Because I am going on holiday the day after the squads are announced, and will not be back for at least a week. Sorry about that!

Terracotta Warriors

In October, I took advantage of going home anyway to visit the Terracotta Warriors exhibition at Liverpool Museum (which is now called the World Museum for reasons I do not understand. I mean the one next to the Walker Art Gallery).

It was really good. They did a really good job of setting the Qin Emperor in context, admittedly, tidied up for international consumption, but still context, and why he was so important. And why he was the sort of person who was buried with 8000 odd terracotta soldiers.

(I feel I need to add that we were encouraged to take photos, provided we had flashes turned off. If they’d told me earlier I would have brought my camera, but instead I had to use my phone.)

Horse and terracotta warrior Chariot and rider

These horses are up to something Close up of 4 chariot horses Close up of two horses

Photo 2018-10-11 16.06.11

The warriors themselves come in a variety of different poses, to represent different parts of the Emperor’s army.

There are figures of infantry generals – Infantry general

Lower ranking infantry officers – Lower ranking infantry officer And plain infantry men – Infantry solider As you can see in the background, the warriors were originally painted, and had glorious uniforms.

Outside the exhibition, there was an example of what they think the General’s looked like in full colour.

Replica infantry general in colour This one is a chariot warrior, minus his spear – Chariot warrior

Chariot driver – Chariot driver A kneeling archer – Kneeling archer

and a standing archer – Standing archer

Probably my favourite not-actually-an-artefact was the “how the warriors were made” diorama that ran along the wall opposite where the individual warriors were placed. It was very stylised but I did like the foreman figure going “argh! You’ve dropped one of the heads!!!” Which was remarkably clear given they were stylised blank-featured figures.

There were also really interesting artefacts from the grave of a later emperor. I promise that once I’ve found the exhibition guide book, I will update this with the name of the Emperor in question.

Smaller warriors

Smaller horse statues Some of these warriors had movable arms, but they were made of wood and therefore lost to history –Warriors without arms

Also, a menagerie – Terracotta animals More terracotta animals

There was a very interesting bit that dealt with how little we know about the history of the time. For instance; it wasn’t clear whether this Emperor had smaller grave goods because he wasn’t as powerful as the First Emperor, or because by then fashion and faith had changed so you didn’t need life-sized grave figures.

I was lucky enough to visit after the Golden Horse of Maoling was put on show. Golden Horse of Maoling

The Horse was the last major exhibit of the exhibition, and led into the last room. I shall leave that as a mystery, in case a similar exhibition is put on near anyone else and they get the chance to go.

The three big Comic Con trailers have not sparked joy!

The two of the three big trailers from Comic Con have left me underwhelmed. I was worried that I was being impossible or nostalgia was blinding me, because the one I quite enjoyed is the one where I don’t know anything about the source material but I don’t think that’s the case.

Let’s start with that one I enjoyed. The Witcher looks like perfectly serviceable nonsense. And let’s be honest, they had me at “people with swords”. I am a simple creature.

Cats does not look like perfectly serviceable nonsense. I did wonder whether I felt that way because it didn’t live up to my expectations but no, I think even a completely disinterested observer would go, “nah, that looks terrible.”

It looks like someone has spent a lot of money on SFX that are not up to the job.* I know that the only way we will ever get SFX that are up to the job is through failures like this, but I’d much rather they’d fail on something I am not fond of.

Because I am fond of Cats. I went to see it for a birthday party when I was little, and will still happily belt out random bits of songs for no good reason. As someone who does like it, this looks godawful. None of the characters look right and I do not even want to know WTF they have done to my beloved magical Mr. Mistoffelees. He is supposed to look magical and mysterious, not like Charlie Chaplin Cat! I am sure Ian McKellen and Dame Judi Dench will be having all the fun in their roles so it does at least have that going for it.

I am somehow even less impressed by the new Watchmen trailer than I am by the Cats trailer.

It’s not like Watchmen is my favourite Alan Moore comic. Promethea is (yes, I know). But I have long since given up on ever getting any film or TV version of Promethea (mostly because of the yes, I know).

But there is already an Alan Moore comic about a violent police state with people running around in masks. It’s called V for Vendetta. But I can imagine it is hard to raise funds for a TV show where a fascist is brought to power with help from the religious right, and then puts people in cages. Obvs. too far-fetched (and yes, I know it’s set in the UK).

Either which way, I have no interest in watching Damon Lindelhof’s dark future AU fic of the Watchmen! Mostly OCs with a few canon characters appearing.

Not least of all because he suffers from JJ Abrams problem of “dude, I have seen the same films as you, that is not anything new!” For instance, I suspect we’re supposed to be shocked, shocked I tell you that FBI lady is Laurie when we find out somewhere in episode 13-17.

If they do decide to give him any depth, Jeremy Irons will knock (possibly spoilery character) out of the park. Plus, he gets to practise his German again. I am intrigued, just a little, by how they will handle (spoilery character) because, yeah, I had problems with how the film did him. I have no idea if that’s because I read the character differently to everyone else, or because the film decided to simplify his character, which ruined a lot of the glorious ambiguity of (spoiler) but either which way, (spoiler) is the only thing that interests me about it.

I would prefer to be thrilled by Comic Con trailers!

* There is a reason why everyone is posting that image from What We Do In The Shadows.

Women’s World Cup Final 2019

Normally, here’s where I’d talk about which club team(s) are guaranteed to have a player on the winning team, but in this Women’s World Cup final, there isn’t one. No club teams link both national teams. I don’t know if this is because women’s football strongest leagues haven’t calcified as much as the men’s have, or if it’s because the teams are from different continents.

North Carolina Courage, Chicago Red Stars, Portland Thorns, Arsenal and Ajax all have 4 players in the final, the most of any club teams. I’ve chosen to post the version of the diagram coloured to show number of connections to highlight those 5 teams. They’re the bright blue ones.
network diagram

No community view this time because it provides no extra information in this situation.

Women’s World Cup Semifinals

The semifinal diagram is here.

The diagram definitely shows the advantage of using the blue and red spectrum colouring, it is much easier to see which are the biggest teams, and to see gradations of shade.

The national team closest to the centre is England, while the Huston Dash are the club team closes to the centre. The US is linked to others by Jodie Taylor who plays for Reign FC. The three other national teams form a pretty solid triangle.

Through this link to Jodie Taylor, Reign FC are one of the teams who will have someone in the final, no matter what the semifinal results are. The other two are Bayern Munich and Montpellier.

The club with the most players left is Manchester City with 8, followed by Chelsea with 7 and Arsenal with 6. I don’t know if this reflects the spending power of the Women’s Super League now that most clubs are attached to Premier League clubs, or if it’s pure chance.

Going to the community view, there are 4 teams left but 6 communities.

Lyon and Wolfsburg, the two “extra” communities, link two national teams teams, with one player from each team, other clubs that are joining two teams have been put into the community of the nation who supplies the most players.

Of course none of this answers the most important question – who do I support when England play the US? The Lionesses or Megan Rapinoe’s team?!

Women’s World Cup Quarterfinals

We are now down to the last 8 teams, and I swear the schedule for the Women’s World Cup is shorter than the men’s because we’ve barely had time to breathe.

I’ve realised there was a question I meant to ask in the last post and didn’t. Does anyone know why so many of the Nigerian team played in the Norwegian league? Are they all following in a player’s footsteps (a la the Fijian rugby league players of Rochdale)? Or is it something else?

While the results of the second round have mostly gone to form (except Japan vs the Netherlands), I am starting to think Brazil enjoy making the Argentine men’s team look good at this knock out football thing. How can you be so good and still not win stuff?!

On to the diagrams:

Network diagram showing the links between the quarter final teams

The national team closest to the centre is England, and Manchester City are probably the club team closest but it’s hard to tell because of the way the teams are spread. The losses of Canada, Australia and Japan mean that the US is pretty much on it’s own with a heavy counterweight of European teams.

The club teams with the most players left in are Lyon (11), Bayern (10) and Chelsea (9). Barcelona lost most of its players when Spain lost.

The community view is less interesting because each country is its own community.

Same image as before, coloured by community

There seems to be far less overlap than there normally is in the men’s game and I don’t know if that’s because no “dominant” league has yet established itself. In the men’s you’d expect most of the finalists to play in one of the big 5 European leagues (Spain, England, Italy, Germany, France, and you can make the argument it’s really a big 2 of Spain and England), but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. Yet. Professional leagues still being a relatively recent thing in women’s football, and it will be interesting to see if this changes in the future.

Women’s World Cup 2019 Last 16 Network Diagram

Network diagram showing the links between teams in the last 16

Spain are the national team closest to the middle, with Barcelona the club team nearest. Barcelona also has the most players left in the competition with 15, followed by Lyon on 13 and Bayern Munich on 10.

Despite the large number of unattached players playing for teams in the group stages, only 1 unattached player is left in, Gaëlle Enganamouit of Cameroon. This may suggest that those teams who fielded unattached players may have had less player depth and had to use them.

After the knocked out teams have been removed, the out-lying teams are now Japan, China and Italy.

All of the teams I classified as “made of players from lots of clubs” are out, which might make it an interesting prognostic factor in future. Only one of the “players few from few clubs” teams is out, and that was Thailand, who were an oddity in that group because the national team manager set up a club for them so they could get paid.

If we look at the community view
Same image as before coloured by community

The US and Australia are still one community, every one else is their own community. This would obviously have happened in the case of England and Scotland as Scotland were knocked out but I am not sure why Sweden and Nigeria are no longer together as one community when they were before.

Women’s World Cup 2019 Network Diagram

I had hoped to make a diagram like this for the Women’s Rugby League World Cup in 2017, but I couldn’t get enough information about which club team the players played for to make one.

I also wanted to have this ready for the start of the World Cup, but real life happened.

Without further ado, here is the team network diagram for the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

Unlabelled version – Network diagram of the teams at the Women's World Cup

Labelled version – Labelled version of the same diagram

I wanted to use both versions because the sheer overlap of some of the teams makes it hard to pick out the individual teams (looking at you so much United States and Canada).

Canada is the national team closest to the centre, while the Texas Longhorns are the club team closest to the centre.

The club team with the highest number of players involved is Barcelona, with 15 players, followed by Lyon on 14 and Chelsea and Manchester City with 12.

There are a lot more players who are down as unattached than I would expect, there’s a full 11 player. They’re not quite a full team because that 11 includes 2 goalkeepers but only 1 defender.

Jamaica are the only team where no-one plays in their national league, the US are the only team where everyone does. Interestingly, all the players for Sweden and the US play for club teams that have at least one other player from a different country also playing for them.

England and Scotland are a lot closer than I think the men’s team equivalents would be, possibly because a lot more Scottish women play in the English league than Scottish men do.

The national teams seem to be divided into those teams where most players play for a couple of club teams and those where their players play for many different club teams. It’s hard to see in the teams in the middle, but clear for those around the outside. I think Italy and Jamaica are probably the clearest example.
Figure showing Italy has players from very few teams while Jamaica has players from many

National teams with players from few clubs include Italy, Germany, Thailand, China and South Korea. Teams with players from many clubs include Argentina, South Africa, Chile, Jamaica and New Zealand. I have no idea if it means anything.

In the men’s World Cup, teams further away from the centre are more likely to go out early. If this is also true in the women’s, then it doesn’t look good for Thailand, South Africa, China and Japan. Because I know Japan are a strong team, I suspect they will be fine.

Community view of the diagram

As far as football is concerned, Australia is the 51st state. This is because a lot of the Australian players who play for non-Australian teams play for US teams that also have players on the US national team.

Also grouped together are England and Scotland (because lots of Scottish players play in England) and Sweden and Nigeria (because lots of Nigerian players play in Sweden).

Because they have players who play for the same teams and because they’re away from other teams, I was expecting Chile and Argentina to be grouped together but they’re not. I was also expecting Norway to be in the Nigeria/Sweden group, but they are not. This might be because Norway also has links to the Netherlands.

Further updates to come as the tournament progresses.

About the IAAF’s idiotic new testosterone rule

I begin with a warning that there is bad language in this post, because the decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Caster Semenya’s appeal against the IAAF’s new testosterone rule is egregious bullshit.

Let’s begin with the obvious. If they felt that there needed to be a rule change, the IAAF, the governing body for athletics, could have changed the rules without naming the athlete involved. Choosing to name her has led to the intimate medical details of a young woman being published across the world’s media. That’s a pretty shitty thing to do and Caster Semenya is dealing with it with a level of grace under fire that most of us would fail to achieve.

And the rule is obviously targeted at her. The IAAF have made a new testosterone limit that only applies to athletics events of distances from 400 m to 1609 m (1 mile). These are the events in which Semenya races. It does not include shorter distances, where athletes regularly fail drugs test for anabolic steroids, because they’re useful for sprints. But apparently the IAAF doesn’t care about that. It also doesn’t care about introducing these limits to the throwing events in the field, where so many champions have tested positive for anabolic steroids. No, the only events they choose to put this limit on are ones that Semenya might run in. Including the 400 m makes that obvious. Because she doesn’t normally run it, but she has run it. They’ve literally only chosen events she might run in. Because it’s not about fucking fairness, it’s about punishing Semenya for a quirk of her birth.

The IAAF claim they’ve chosen these events because there aren’t enough athletes with DSD in the other events (1). Which pretty much proves they’re lying about why they’re doing it. If it was about protecting female sports, they’d introduce this stupid rule across the board to safeguard those events in the future. But they’ve only introduced it in the one set of events where an athlete with a DSD has been successful. It does suggest that DSDs are not the advantage the IAAF are saying they are. They are not protecting sport, they are punishing Semenya for her successes.

It’s interesting to see what the IAAF choose to regard as an unfair physiological advantage. We’re all mutants. How do you decide what is an unfair advantage, and what is not?

People with advantageous mutations and physical properties are found throughout sport. Murali’s elbow in the cricket, Andy Roddick’s shoulder in tennis, Mia Hamm’s ability to sweat less than anyone else and Michael Phelps’s reduced lactic acid production (2,3).

(section removed by the legal department)

If Caster Semenya was American, there wouldn’t be a rule change, she’d be on Ellen being praised for her bravery.

I want to focus on the different way in which Semenya and Phelps have been treated. Semenya is being hounded for her ability to train harder and to run faster than her competitors. Phelps was lauded for the results he got, because he could train harder and swim faster than his competitors. He was never expected to take lactic acid injections to make him perform like “a normal man”.

Why are some performance advantages alright, and others not?

I don’t have an answer for that, but I would love to know what the IAAF’s answer to the question would be, because as it stands, they have created a very poor rule for reasons that make no sense.


1 –
2 – Game On: How the Pressure to Win at All Costs Endangers Youth Sports, and What Parents Can Do About It by Tom Farrey
3 –

Some thoughts about the Keeper, having only seen the trailer.

I should be happy.

There is a German main character, played by a German actor.
This German is the hero of the film, yet he’s not played by a Dane or a Swede.

The actor they have chosen actually looks, more than slightly, like the real life person he is portraying.

I *should* be happy.

Unfortunately, this time it’s the English half that’s causing the problem. Bert Trautmann was associated my English home town. And I’ve made my peace with them not using the two-up two-downs that are still there to film in. What I can’t make peace with is the accents. We don’t sound like that!

St. Helens’s accent is somewhat peculiar (an example – our beloved rugby league club captain who is born and bred) and varied, but it is very much ours and is significantly less Mancunian/East Lancashire than John Henshaw’s. I wouldn’t make such a fuss, but my Grandmother, who was around at the time, said that you could narrow down where someone lived to within 3 streets, just from the way they talked – and she could, which was terrifying.

Mostly I worry that my home town is going to be portrayed as the place with the bad people who are mean to our lead character, which it really isn’t and wasn’t. Read any interview with Bert Trautmann for evidence of that. He would always say how open and welcoming St Helens was, especially given the circumstances.

It’s a truth that matters to me, because I think biopics should reflect reality, and because it’ll be my home town that gets it in the neck!