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Friday, Aug 09, 2019 - 22:42 SGT
Posted By: Gilbert

Mundane Enjoyments


Ordered some budae-jjigae takeout for dinner one of these evenings - always had an affinity for budget mashups containing generous helpings of spam and the like, though I'd probably have preferred it with less spice and more unami/bakkutteh-ish, were I to whip it up for myself.

I've got to say that foodpanda's been good to me so far, given that the delivery fee has got to be considered against transportation costs were I to head out by myself, and this is without going into the random vouchers for not requesting cutlery, cancellations, and the like - they've been sighted quite a bit on campus too, what with the business canteen coming under renovation, amidst other scheduled construction.

Food delivery remains a cut-throat industry here despite the clear demand, with Honestbee recently hitting the news for going US$200 million in the red, an impressive feat given their relatively limited purview; the big boys are putting the squeeze on, with Deliveroo and GrabFood apparently making to shut competing kitchen operators out of the space already. It'll be fun to watch what creativity ensues, with my favourite tale of the month in this regard being the manufacture of aluminium pallets to dodge tariffs, which recalls the old sand-smuggling joke.

On leisure, Pokémon Go has just released exact IV values upon appraisal, which allowed me to fill in the egg-hatching data that has been put off for the past year or so, since when the last external site failed. Also switched over to scripting Hardcore Community Service (HCCS) ascensions on Kingdom of Loathing for a change from meat farming, and put in a few rounds against the bots in Counter-Strike 1.6, for old times' sake.

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

So, they went and ripped off the formula of Pokémon Detective Pikachu for this: big, derpy guy with unresolved family drama and unseemly childhood peccadilloes reluctantly teams up with small, dapper guy with a penchant for criminal trespass and blowing the joint sky-high, only for them to become best buds after much canned repartee and the moderating influence of the Best Supporting Action Girl. The antivax plot sees them hook up with a bunch of retrenched Victoria's Secret angels in Moscow, do the haka with WWE wrestler Roman Reigns in Samoa, and finally beat up on cut-price Black Panther, after derisively referring to him as "Black Superman" throughout. One can almost taste the salt from Universal Pictures at Disney and Warner Bros here. On the marketing side, there was an unmissable gratuitous close up of the Chevrolet logo - seems like they did have some budget left over, after getting totally hosed on the Manchester United jersey deal, after all!

Information Credibility In Football Transfer Muppetry

"Dybala has repented for his sins and now he would like to go to Manchester United."

- Tony Damascelli (spoiler: it didn't happen)

FAKE NEWS detection is currently one of the hottest topics in A.I., what with the formerly-dignified New York Times reduced nowadays to baselessly altering published headlines likely under severe financial pressure, and NBC posting clickbait that purposely misrepresents the source of threats. Fact-checkers are themselves becoming increasingly unreliable, with Snopes - never quite as unbiased as they would like to present themselves - going after satire websites such as the Babylon Bee. Locally, SPH has predictably continued its slide into irrelevance, and Pioneer magazine - that auto opt-in drain on impoverished National Servicemen's wallets best remembered for spawning countless pleas for instructions on unsubscribing - has also finally bitten the dust. I mean, it's seriously too much to expect people to pay for propaganda nowadays - despotic as the Imperium of Man is in Warhammer 40K, they at least have the decency to give out their pamphlets for free!

Even as the unending War of Information rages on between The Establishment and alternative media, though, tiny enclaves of relative calm and good sense do exist, with dedicated community members diligently curating sources and rumours; the best example bar none would be by football supporters obsessing over what new players might sign for, or existing players leave, their club.

Indeed, evidence from Reddit activity suggests that this "transfer muppeting" may be of more interest to fans, than the actual matches - for example, the transfer discussion thread at the opening of the transfer window attracted over 5000 comments on the main Manchester United subreddit, compared to only about 3700 comments for the incredible comeback Champions League victory over Paris Saint-Germain. Not only that, a spin-off Muppetiers subreddit dedicated solely to transfer rumours has regularly outdone r/reddevils in traffic.

For all their differences, both forums have been organized in their curation; r/reddevils maintains a comprehensive Tier List of media sources, which ranks just about every pertinent news outlet or reporter from Tier 1 (highest quality) to Tier 5 (aggregators, known shitposters, banned sources) or worse... and unlike Snopes et al., there is no pulling the wool over their eyes. Under the unblinking gaze of thousands of sleepless fanatical muppets who go as far as to research flight schedules and track individual airplanes, every last pronouncement by these media worthies is impassively scrutinized, and their reputation is adjusted depending on whether they turn out true.

In contrast, the focus of r/muppetiers is not public sources, but the insiders, better known as ITKs. These international beings of mystery are, for their own protection, known only by colourful codenames such as "The Count", "Kermit", "Big Bird" and "GAITAN 5"; are they players' agents, bored club secretaries, Bernabéu baristas, or even Jürgen Klopp out for some fun? That's the magic of it - nobody knows for sure, except maybe the mods, but they're not telling. All regular muppets have to go on is their predictive record, which to be frank, hasn't been very good at all this preseason.

Red Devils Going Forward

It didn't start out that badly - Aaron Wan-Bissaka from Crystal Palace was an obvious target, and his signing was completed by the end of June, for probably about fifty million quid. Earlier that month, Swansea winger Daniel James had transferred on an £18 million deal. However, while exciting young lads, they didn't seem the sort of talent to close a 32 point gap on the noisy neighbours (with the only real consolation being Liverpool not winning the league, especially if you're Paul Scholes), and United had money to burn, so Woodward sez.

Talk turned to Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt, but he duly snubbed United for Juve. Given the obvious lack of depth in midfield with the departures of Herrera and Fellaini and decline of Matic, names such as Bruno Fernandes, Thomas Partey, Saúl Ñíguez, Christian Eriksen and Sergej Milinković-Savić were constantly bandied about, though rumours had Solskjaer fixated on Sean Longstaff. Gareth Bale on loan wasn't too popular amongst the muppets, and probably unlikely given James' arrival anyway. As for right wing, once a key strength in the days of Beckham yore, but lately a void since Valencia lost some yards of pace, Douglas Costa was a possibility; the club's supposedly willing to wait for Jadon Sancho, for a long-term fix.

The days passed, and... nothing.

Well, yeah, there was that quite improbable Dybala saga, where Juventus looked to offload him in exchange for Lukaku, who already had one foot out of the door with his tweeting of teammates' sprint results. Muppet spirits rose with Juve seemingly willing to throw Super Mario Mandzukic - a Fellaini upgrade - in as a sweetener, but the deal hit a standstill with Dybala unwilling, and who can really blame him? United wound up paying a record fee for Slabhead Maguire, not managing to get Leicester to budge on their valuation. The excuses came in for Dybala on image rights and whatnot, Lukaku fannied off to Inter just in time, and United are left with a lightweight midfield.

Sure sounds familiar.

But perhaps it's not time for doom and gloom yet - for all Ashley Young getting quite unfairly booed at the National Stadium during their visit - which some have connected to local bullying rates - the team has actually been fairly impressive in the ICC friendlies, having managed wins over Inter and Spurs, and a penalty win over A.C. Milan. And lest we forget, Solskjaer had a fairytale introduction, garnering a record 26 points in his first ten league matches, before it all went to pieces. He's made no secret about it being about fitness, which makes a lot of sense if they're going for heavy off-the-ball pressing. Allow me to pass further judgment after the Chelsea opener, then.

It was not meant to be...

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