Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Scottish Football: European Weirdness

In March, I speculated about which Scottish soccer clubs would qualify for European competition.  As expected, Celtic, Aberdeen and Hearts took the top three places, and as expected, Celtic took the sole Scottish Champions League berth. This is all good. With their new manager, Celtic has a chance to make a run, and the other two sides have enough resources to win a few rounds if luck falls their way.

It's the other place that is kind of weird. The top three clubs are guaranteed European places, along with the Scottish Cup winner. If, as often happens, the Scottish Cup winner is in the top three, the fourth place team goes too. Well, this year, the Scottish Cup final was contested between the two biggest clubs not already in the top three...Rangers and Hibernian, both of whom played this year in the second-tier Scottish Championship.

Now that would not have necessarily messed up the European places. With both teams contending for promotion, a big-time newly-promoted club would have the resources to compete in Europe. Rangers won the Championship comfortably, and I'm sure they would have loved to give their supporters European football to go with their first first-tier competition in four years.

But...things didn't work out that way. After losing the Premiership playoff, Hibs managed to lift the Scottish Cup for the first time in 114 years. A great story, certainly, but not the best thing for the UEFA coefficient. Hibs will be spending their third year in the Championship. They absolutely have to get out, and so they will be focusing on that rather than a European competition that doesn't give them much hope. Despite their large fan base, their resources will be constrained by being a second-tier club, so I can't imagine they'll be able to compete seriously.

Still, with three out of four high-resource teams, there's hope that Scotland will have enough success to halt the slide in their UEFA coefficient.

Housekeeping Note

The Android's Dungeon is back on-line. It was not appearing everywhere. Basically, 15+ years ago, I contracted with a small ISP for hosting. They were bought out by a company that merged with another company, was bought out again, then was bought out by one of the top five network providers. So they don't have a lot of interest in giving support to someone paying them $5/month. I finally figured out that the domain name servers from the original tiny ISP needed to be updated to the name servers for the giant ISP, and that did the trick.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Nebula Update: Uprooted

While I haven't made any progress on my project of reading all the Nebula-winning novels, at least I haven't fallen further behind. That's because Uprooted, which won this year's award, is a book I've already read. My Goodreads review from last summer is below.

UprootedUprooted by Naomi Novik

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The fantasy is based on Polish folklore. I found the perspective refreshing, and I was impressed at Novik's ability to shift from the Temeraire series to a very different type of story. The plot was good, and the characters were well-formed.

I had two quibbles, one more serious than the other. I found sections of the book creepy, and I'm not big on creepy. More seriously, the parts of the book that described how magic was done did not click with me -- there was a lot of trying to convey how it felt to do magic, and I would have like to have skipped those parts. Unfortunately, those parts ended up figuring prominently in the climax of the novel, which took the shine off what was otherwise a really enjoyable read.