Monday, 28 February 2011


There is a census on the way in the UK, and there are arguments around the net focussing on the question about religion.

Last time, 72% of the population of the UK ticked the box that said "Christian".

However, there are not 45 million people in church every Sunday.

Obviously, people are ticking the box because they think they ought to, or out of habit.

We need a better set of options, to get a better picture of British religiosity.

I propose:
  • Actively Christian
  • Christian by upbringing only
  • Actively Jewish
  • Jewish by upbringing only
  • Actively Muslim
  • Muslim by upbringing only

Along with ...
  • Atheist
  • Humanist
  • Atheist/Humanist
  • Don't care about religion
  • Other ____________
This will give a much more realistic picture of British religiosity because it will force people to actually think about their answer. They won't sit and think, "Well, I'm not a Muslim, and I'm not Jewish, and I kind of think there's a god, so I'll tick Christian". Instead, they will have to be a bit more honest with themselves.

The answers would be fascinating ...

Sunday, 20 February 2011


Since my last post, I have investigated further, and the Official UK Indoor rules are twenty pages long.

That's a bit much to expect kids to take in quickly, so I have written a set of "Lite" rules. Please, feel free to circulate them as much as you like.

Indoor Ultimate Frisbee Lite (“Indoor Lite”)

  1. The play's the thing: all players and observers must keep to The Spirit Of The Game. Teams shoukd self-referee. If any dispute requires a decision by a bystander or observer, that decision is binding.

  2. The game may be played with and disc agreed upon by both team captains.
  3. Teams of up to 8, with a maximum of 5 players on the field.

  4. The game continues for either an agreed length of time, or to an agreed score (for example, “first to five”).

  5. Before play, team captains agree the end zones and playing field, and choose ends to defend. An indoor game has no “out of bounds”, and play continues as normal if the disc bounces off walls, ceiling or fixtures in the room.

  6. When the opposing team gains possession of the disc, it is called a turnover.

  7. Ultimate is non-contact sport – intentional obstruction of, or contact with another player will result in a turnover. If a turnover is the result of a rule-break, the disc is handed to the nearest opposing player.

  8. At the start of play, each team gathers in their end zone. One captain throws the disc towards the opposing team. Nobody may enter the playing field until the disc passes the half-way mark.

  9. A point is scored when the disc is caught in (or above) the opposing team's end zone.

  10. After a point is scored, all players return to their own end-zone, and the player who caught the disc to score the point throws the disc to re-start the game.

  11. A player in possession of the disc may not move, but may pivot on one foot. “Travelling” results in a turnover.

  12. The player in possession of the disc must throw the disc within five seconds – any near-by player may count to five out loud. Holding the disc past five seconds is a turnover.

  13. If the disc hits the ground, possession passes to whichever team did not touch it last – if team A throws it and nobody catches it, team B gain possession. If team A throw the disc, team B block its flight and it then hits the ground, then team A regains possession. If team A throw the disc, but team B catch the disc in the air, team B gains possession and play continues.

  14. If two players catch the disc, whoever caught it first gains possession. If two players catch the disc simultaneously, a single round of rock, paper, scissors determines possession.

  15. Unlimited substitutions may be made after any point is scored.

House Rules.

Because Indoor Lite can be played in a wide range of venues, typically school gyms or halls, some “house rules” may be developed, such as “if the disc goes through the basket ball hoop, that's a point as well” or “if the disc falls behind the vaulting horse, possession turns over and everybody goes back to their ends to start play again”. Before play begins, any new or visiting players must be made aware of the house rules.


Friday morning, I taught a class how to play a tweaked version of Ultimate. I heavily adapted the Quebec City Rules to work in the school gym, with teams of 13.

A few minutes' coaching, a demonstration of the backhand shot, and we were away.

The class' form teacher turned up to see what was going on, and joined a team, so I had to join the other.

Ultimate is supposed to be a non-contact sport, but I got barged, pushed, tackled, even carried across the pitch. So did everybody.

Right now, late on Sunday evening, I ache all over.

It was the most thoroughly enjoyable lesson I have taken since my day in the RM department of my wife's school.

In fact, I have decided to formalise and simplify the Ultimate rules, and start an inter-House tournament at school.

I shall, however, restrict knowledge of the forehand throw to my own House team, though. ;-)

Oh, and my team won, 10-5.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Sometimes, I don't understand spaceflight.

First off, let me point out that I consider spaceflight to be a Good Thing.

But, I really don't understand why it takes so many people.

ESA just launched Johannes Kepler to the ISS, and it took a huge crowd of people just to monitor the launch (see 40s into the video in the link).

NASA are no better, with tens of thousands of people employed to turn around each Shuttle, thousands more to watch each mission...


When McDonnell Douglas developed the DC-X & DC-XA, they only needed THREE people to run each flight, and a handful of people to turn the craft around in twenty four hours! Oh, and each of the prototypes cost around the same as the Shuttle's toilet.

Delta Clipper should have been the future of commercial LEO space flight, and then beyond.

They dropped the ball, badly, with Mars as well. NASA had sight of the Mars Direct plan twenty years ago, which would have landed long-term manned missions on Mars within a decade of the "go", using Saturn V or Shuttle launch hardwear with minimal re-tooling.

Instead, they threw away the dies for Saturn V, and used the Shuttle to ferry up parts for the ISS.

I don't know who was running NASA back then, but they were short-sighted idiots; if they had manned up to ignore the politics that killed off DC-XA and forced ISS on us all, LEO flights would be no more a luxury than a high-end cruise, and we'd have ten years worth of footprints in the sands of Mars.