# Under- and over-estimation

A John Inverdale quote from tonight’s England vs. France post-match analysis put into question the premise behind its more common opposite:

Now Jonny Wilkinson: you can’t overestimate his importance in tonight’s game.

At first, I thought Inverdale was wrong. Surely he’d meant underestimate, right? But on analysing, it seems he’s right: if I estimate his importance, then the fact that this estimate cannot ever be too high suggests that he performed pretty well.

The counter is that we can’t underestimate his performance. And surprisingly, this is equally valid. But the can’t brings with it a different meaning.

• Can’t underestimate: the estimator should not underestimate the importance, or do so at his/her peril
• Can’t overestimate: there is no way that the estimator could ever overestimate, no matter how hard he tried

It’s a confusing language.

# I would luv it…

…if we beat them tonight. I would luv it!

# DayClock

Steve recently vented about the idiocy of the DayClock. I have to disagree.

First a description: it’s a clock divided into seven 51.4° segments, Sunday appearing in the middle at the top, with the other six days following in a clockwise direction. Its solitary hand moves 14 times slower than the hour hand on a regular clock, completing a full revolution every week.

Admittedly, it’s of limited practical value: on the few occasions that you don’t know which day of the week it is, it’s unlikely that you’ll be in the room graced with the DayClock (unless you buy them en masse, of course), and by the time you’ve wandered into the appropriate room, you’re likely to have remembered that it’s Thursday because you were watching That Mitchell and Webb Look before being interrupted by that nagging uncertainty as to the day of the week.

And admittedly, their logo is heinously shit to the point that anyone who had any inkling of buying one (me included) would be immediately put off from adding one to their shopping cart.

But aside from the shitty logo, I’d like one.

On the subject of clocks, I had a strange idea recently. Three digital clocks, each a silver die-like cube that you put on a shelf next to one another. The first displays the hour, the second the minute and the third the second. (I know, that sentence was a bit confusing owing to the meeting of our ordinal number system with our unit of time measurement. I wonder how that happened, btw.) The three clocks are kept in sync. with one another wirelessly, the hour cube passing a message to the minute cube every time it increments, telling it to reset, and likewise the
minute cube to the second cube. Maybe each has an full concept of the time, and the correct time can be established by taking a regular average from the three.

The importance of the three clocks being in sync. is increased significantly by their design, because if the minute clock is a bit slow and the HH:MM units read 15:59, then it will flip to 16:59 for a few moments before flicking to 16:00.

Like the DayClock, its design serves no real purpose. But its logo would rock.

# Underway, under way

For as long as I can remember, BBC News has adopted the single-word approach for the word underway. But it seems that it made a conscious decision about four months ago to increase its articles’ word counts and update its styleguide by introducing a space between the previously inseparable r and w. Every article in BBC News now seems to adopt the two-word style, although the odd anomaly slips through. BBC Sport, in its less formal style (particularly in live Premier League updates), is more likely to adopt the single-word style, most likely at the disgust of the house-style police on the news desk.

Some quick searches across the News site show 362 pages of results for the one-word variety, yet only 86 pages for the newly introduced two-worder. In Sport, the two worder has racked up a mere three pages of search results, the more common one-worder clocking up 100 pages.

I expect the News site’s results will close up over time, while Sport will retain its defiant imbalance.

My strong preference, for what it’s worth, is for the conflated variety. Thanks for listening. I say! Hello? Is anyone there?

I’ve recently enrolled on a correspondence course in proofreading and copy-editing, spurred on by Steve’s recent enrolment and the private interest (and bemusement) I’ve always had in the hieroglyphic markings of a proofread, error-strewn document.

I’m midway through the proofreading section, and was busy doing some example exercises, getting frustrated at my own idiocy and, at times, at my sheer lack of detail-focus. (Not spotting, for example that the word caret was missing both an r and an e, instead assuming the author was referring to some feline beast.)

I was annoyed, however, when confronted with the following one-liner to edit.

That was it. I ummed and arred for quite some time about whether this was a basket belonging to some modern fella called Moses, perhaps one he’d picked up on entering Tesco; or whether it was a reference to the traditional basket in which babies are laid, named after, er, Moses, he of biblical fame and no doubt proportions.

After the arduous consternation, I plumped for the latter, convinced that I’d be right. (After all, if it was intended as a test in whether to add apostrophes to names ending in s, why wouldn’t they use a different name Jesus, for example, as opposed to one after which baskets are named.) On checking the model answers, I was wrong, and somewhat livid. Ho hum. Let’s hope Moses finds what he wants in Tesco.

# Run 3

I went for a run this evening, my first since the initial burst of enthusiasm back in November having registered for the Bupa 10km this May.

Here’s the run.

It felt quite good, and it’s always nice to get some London bridges in there. I completed the 7.24km in 36m 35s, which extrapolates to 50m 32s for the 10km. Not lightning fast, but a good base from which to improve.

I was quite impressed, particularly given it’s the first exercise to speak of that I’ve done since the last run on 18 November. And also given that today I read that your collapse point (the distance you can run before collapsing) is three times the distance you run on a daily basis. Three times fuck all is a similarly small number.

The race organisers have asked me to submit my expected time for the race, to best place me at the start I expect. I’ve gone for 45 minutes. Should be do-able. 106 days and counting.

# Deluded Geordie

We are a massive club and what Sam did was a disgrace – the mess our team in is due to Big Sam, I hope he never gets a job in football again. Keegan is no better. We deserve the best because we are in the top three biggest clubs in this country if we get it right.

This was a comment from Newcastle_best112 on 606 during Sunday afternoon’s web coverage of Newcastle’s draw against Middlesbrough.

Idiocy or delusion: you decide.

# Rodent researchers

Headline in Monday’s Metro: Mouse with cold could cure asthma

Impressive. Very impressive indeed.

Wouldn’t it be nice if menus were put together in the form of Venn diagrams?

In a Thai restaurant, there would be a few sets of circles, one for each of the main ingredients. The chicken circle would be surrounded by circles for noodles, rice, soup etc. Inside the intersection of circles would be written entries for each of the meals therein, Chilli Chicken Ramen appearing in the chicken/soup intersect, for example.

There would be a similar Venn diagram for vegetables a little further down, with the colour-coordinated noodles, rice and soup circles hovering around it. And so on.

I could then easily choose what I was after (chicken noodles, for example) and find the relevant dishes all nestled within the appropriate intersection.

What a lovely idea.

# The top two requirements of the mobile phone

"It’s just a phone. As long as I can play silly sounds and make calls, I’m happy."

Overheard in Clapham.

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