Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Nebula Update: Flowers for Algernon

I finished another Nebula winner, giving me 5 left to go. I am not having much luck making it through The Stone Sky, so I may be stuck at 5 for a while.

It looks like I didn't write a review. It was very thought-provoking. I think what kept it from 5 stars was that I was hoping to be more entertained than have my thoughts provoked.

Flowers for AlgernonFlowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Monday, July 22, 2019

Scotland's UEFA Coefficient: 2019/20 Second-Round Preview

The first round didn't actually go too badly. Kilmarnock going out to Welsh "minnows" was obviously disappointing, but it's the kind of thing you aren't surprised by when you send a minor Scottish team (who has just changed managers) into Europe. And they weren't going to be advancing past the second round anyway...

The "neighborhood" of two points around Scotland has shifted from 18-24 to 16-23, which looks promising, although with the Greek and Swiss sides entering the competition, it will become harder to gain ground. At least Croatia, Serbia and Norway all saw teams knocked out.

First Round Review

Celtic took both legs, 3-1 and 2-1 against Sarajevo. You might have expected more from the champions, but they got the job done, and it's early.

Rangers absolutely destroyed St. Joseph's, 4-0 and 6-0. That was the largest aggregate margin in the first round of the Europa League.

Aberdeen slid past RoPS, 2-1 and 2-1. They looked like they were going to drop coefficient points until added time in the last game, but again, they got the job done.

Kilmarnock picked up some points by winning 2-1 against Connah Quay's Nomads, but messed up the away leg 2-0 and dropped out.

So 1.75 points total, with the least-shocking shock exit. Not great, but they're in good shape going forward.

Second Round Preview

Celtic (Elo 1563) lucks out and faces Estonian champions Nomme Kalju (Elo 1092), which should be an easy win for them. (Clubelo says 96.7%.)

Rangers (Elo 1504) gets a rematch with Luxembourg side Progres Niedercorn  (Elo 1203), who knocked them out two years ago. I predict revenge will fuel a big Rangers win.

Aberdeen (Elo 1397) has a long trip to face Georgian side Chikhura (Elo 1238). On paper the most difficult matchup, but Aberdeen should advance to the third round for the fifth time in six years.

I'll say a good result is picking up at least 1.25 points and having all teams through, while a bad result is getting less than 1 point and suffering an aggregate loss (bonus points for an Old Firm loss).

Third Round Sneak Peak

If Celtic progresses, they will face either Maccabi Tel-Aviv (Elo 1554) or Cluj (Elo 1560). Celtic should be slight favorites there. In the unlikely event they lose, they drop down to the Europa League where they take on Shkendija (Elo 1247) or F91 Dudelange (Elo 1242).

If Rangers wins, they face Midtjylland (Elo 1536). A touch matchup, but winnable if they play like they did last year.

If Aberdeen progresses, they are up against Croatian side Rijeka (Elo 1526). Aberdeen would be underdogs, but it would not be a huge upset to see them win.

It would be tough, but not impossible for all three sides to progress to the playoff (fourth) round.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Nebula Update: Man Plus

I recently finished Man Plus, the 1976 Nebula Best Novel winner. Here is my entire Goodreads review.

Man Plus (Man Plus #1)Man Plus by Frederik Pohl

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Dated, but still enjoyable.

Anyway, it was a classic SF story that aged well, if not wonderfully. As an added bonus, you can see this classic Android's Dungeon post about getting a book signed by a somewhat confused Fred Pohl. Six Nebula winners left to go; I think that's as close as I've gotten.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

World Heritage Update: 2019 Inscriptions

UNESCO has inscribed 29 new properties onto the World Heritage list, bringing the total to 1121. Of those, the only one I have visited is "The Twentieth-Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright," specifically Fallingwater and the Guggenheim.

That makes it my 63rd World Heritage site. As I have not visited any of the 2018 inscriptions, my percentage falls to 5.62%. I don't see a prospect of visiting any more this year.