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Archive for the Category "Best Of"

Slings and arrows Jan 06

There is no way Charles Kennedy can continue as Liberal Democrat party leader.

I was one of the many grassroots activists backing Charles over the last few weeks despite the anonymous briefings against him. His announcement last night was a shock, despite the rumours about his drinking in the past. I could probably accept having an ex-alcoholic as leader (assuming he stayed that way), although his repeated earlier denials of a drinking problem do not sit well with a slogan of “Freedom, Fairness, Trust“.

A parliamentary leader without MPs behind him, though, is not a leader at all. Charles has lost the support of so many MPs, including previously supportive members of the 2005 intake, that his position is untenable. If he can’t keep the best Commons performers on the front bench then he can’t possibly run an “effective opposition”. Even though the membership elects the leader, if he doesn’t have the support of his MPs, he can’t continue. Many of the MPs who signed the letter asking him to consider his position are people I like and respect. Charles as leader may have been worth one or two of his colleagues, but not 25 MPs.

Over the last few weeks, Charles has been able to say that he counted on grassroots support, but that is evaporating too. Most of my friends in the party backed him in December. I’ve spoken to many today and every one of them agrees that he cannot continue as leader.

Charles was one of the reason I joined the LibDems and has done great things for us so I’ll be sad to see him go, but go he must. There will be a leadership election, but Charles should not be a candidate.

Will’s kakuro masterclass Oct 03

Kakuro is the most recent puzzle to be described by the cliché "the latest craze in Japan is now sweeping the UK." It has similarities with sudoku as far as numbers have to be slotted into rows and columns based on which numbers occupy other squares, but there is one significant difference: kakuro does involve some maths.

Take a look at‘s daily puzzle to see what a whole puzzle looks like.

How it works

Given a grid, the aim is to ensure that every block adds up to the number at its beginning, using the digits 1-9 a maximum of once each. The numbers in the grid below indicate that the top row must add up to 4, the second row to 7, the first column must add up to 5, the second column to 3 and the third to 4.

Kakuro grid

The key with kakuro is to know some of the most common patterns of numbers that add up to certain targets. For example, 3, as in the second column of the grid, can only ever be the total of two digits: 1 and 2. Just knowing this tells us that the second column has a 1 and a 2, but we don’t yet know in which order.


SoDooku Jul 14

Things have been getting a bit serious on the blog lately, so here’s something ridiculously geeky – in the “You wasted your lunch hour on that?” sense – to lighten the mood.

Just to show that sudokus don’t have to use numbers – any set of discrete symbols will suffice – Christopher Lee stars in a puzzle far, far away… it’s SoDooku!

7 8
7 5
3 9
5 1
8 1
4 7
6 3 7

Pix via Google Image Search; puzzle from Sudoku Generator – rather than the traditional method preferred by The Guardian, where, beginning at sunset, an elderly Japanese man calls out numbers at random while being beaten with a broom of bamboo, this continuing until a puzzle with only one solution has been formed which is then etched into a marble tablet, sanctified in holy water and flown to Farringdon. That sounded like too much effort.

Calling of General Election delayed Apr 04

Given that their country is in mourning, Tony Blair has decided that it would be inappropriate today to go to the Poles.