Saturday, May 25, 2002

Come out, come out, wherever you are
In the baseball world this week we learned that somebody on the New York Mets might be gay but that it isn't Mike Piazza. He says if he were gay, he'd come out and say so already. I can empathize with that; it's almost a shame he isn't, as I think he's somebody who could come out and not only "get away with it" but be a successful pioneer.

Here I wouldn't mind being gay myself so as to make a dramatic come-out post. Alas, I can't, because it would be false.

But I bet I know somebody who's closeted. No, nobody in particular. If you think I mean you, you're probably wrong, especially if you're straight. Seriously, though, I think -- not thought so much as gut feeling -- that somebody really close to me has some coming out to do. The problem is I have no idea who. Just have to wait and see...
Speaking of 9-8
We scoreboard-watched Friday night's Red Sox-Yankees game and tried to decide who the hero was when we saw the final. I thought maybe Hillenbrand.
Maybe Beane Does Know What He's Doing
Saturday, May 25
TAM 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 - 0 3 0
OAK 0 2 0 1 0 0 0 3 0 - 6 8 0

WP- Harang (1-0)
LP- Harper (0-1)
S- Bradford (1)

Box Score | Recap | Game Log

Friday, May 24
TAM 0 0 0 4 1 1 0 0 2 - 8 10 0
OAK 1 0 0 2 3 0 0 3 X - 9 12 0

WP- Mecir (2-1)
LP- Zambrano (1-4)
S- Koch (9)

Box Score | Recap | Game Log

I've had an alarming set of mood swings in the last 24 hours such that every time I want to sit down and write about how great life is, I've become so cranky that I can focus only on the nasty stuff. What's surprising is just how much of this is baseball, or degenerate fantasy gaming forms thereof.

Paul and I saw the 9-8 game, in which newly recalled Adam Piatt broke the 8th inning tie with a home run. Tight drama, excellent seats, surprising amount of eye candy for Oakland Coliseum. Scott Hatteberg came a double short of the cycle, mainly because he was pinch-run for in the 7th inning.

Yes, you read that right, Scott Hatteberg hit a triple.

Tim Hudson looked shaky but was good enough to get the job done. Paul and I allegedly appeared on TV for three or four seconds while cameras showed Victor Zambrano warming up in front of us.

Today I went by myself on Eric Chavez Bobblehead Day, though I showed up way way too late actually to acquire a Bobblehead. Making his major league debut today was a guy I really really like, a pitcher I've been really enthusiastic about dating back to the 1999 Appalachian League.

(I was in charge of Final Official statistics for that league that year. If I remember right Harang won the ERA title for the Rangers' affiliate. Kevin Mench may have also been on that team.)

Note the high strikeout total for Harang. That also means he threw a lot of pitches but what can you do?

If I weren't sitting in an empty office trying to make heads or tails of a stupid bug that I could have sworn I'd eliminated Friday, I'd spend some time making a baseball players I really really like web page. There's maybe a dozen or two of them, about half and half between the ones who caught my eye in the minors and the ones who played for a major league team I like a lot (or both).

There almost always has to be some sort of personal connection, where it was a minor league I did stats for or a player who keyed one of my fantasy teams or somesuch.

Friday, May 24, 2002

My Iowa State University Alumni Friends Were Amused
-----Original Message-----
From: Scott Coon
Sent: Thursday, May 23, 2002 3:39 PM
Subject: National Geographic finally runs out of places to go....


If you're from Ames, hang your head in shame. If you're only lucky enough
to know one of us expats, feel free to laugh at (not with) us:

http://magma.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0206/feature6/index.html

I raise my hand at this point to admit that, yes, I was a resident of the
Friley/Helser dorms for one semester. I guess I am officially "exotic" now.
Write me if you want to clear up any misconceptions about our strange and
wondrous "Middle Western" culture....

Scott
<fantasy baseball>
(skip this)

Fell back out of first place in the Rotisserie Masters' Open after a two-day run at the top.

The problem with talking about fantasy baseball on-line, apart from the fact that really nobody cares, is that the links never work. Usually it's some security/cookie issues, especially with leagues hosted on Yahoo! In the case of the RMO, some of the content is hosted on Baseball HQ as subscriber content; meanwhile, the stat service content is also password-protected but with passwords assigned by team. This makes it (IMHO) hard for the league to serve its intended purpose -- to "educate" observers on how experienced fantasy league players run their teams, with all league communication (including and especially trade talk!) over the bulletin board.

In any case I feel as though I should care more about my RMO team than other teams, because it's designed to be observed by the general public--er, the subscription fee paying public, I suppose. And by the spirit of the league constitution, since communication should take place on the bulletin board, maybe pointless soliliquy about one's own team also belongs there. Then again, I don't know if people would get all that much from it. Blah.

Anyhow, I don't want to work, I just want to write about fantasy baseball. So I will. This team's third in the league in hitting, third in the league in pitching. Pretty consistently above average? Maybe, though this doesn't feel like a "consistent" bunch to me.

(12-team league, weekly transactions (not daily), ML universe, 5x5 categories, 14 hitters, nine pitchers, three reserve slots, plus a three-player "farm reserve" that I'll fail to mention in this entry)

Catcher
I drafted both Charles Johnson (.192) and Toby Hall (.198) so highly. Catcher scarcity was bad enough but when even the good catchers have bad years, it's a crunch. I-Rod is hurt, both Piazza and Kendall are below their usual standard. Jorge Posada, the exception that proves the rule, is having a great year for the Yankees. Figures.

But to me it's a good sign that my team is doing so well in spite of the lack of catcher contribution. I figure the upside here is massive.

First Base
Sean Casey is doing exactly what he's supposed to: Hitting for average (actually he's slumped since last time I checked), producing respectable R/RBI, but giving me nothing in the HR or SB category. There's downside here as Cincinnati tries to find room for all its superstar outfielders, that maybe they'll put Adam Dunn at 1B. I should probably trade Casey. I missed my chance to get Dennis Tankersley for him because I thought I'd be paying too much. (I hate overpaying for any starting pitcher who isn't Unit or Pedro or maybe Greg Maddux -- just too risky.)

John Olerud (technically my "CI" (corner infield)) is also doing exactly what he's supposed to, which is also exactly what Sean Casey does. Olerud is such a known quantity that even on the premium news service I sprung for, the last Olerud update is from June 2001.

Erubiel!!! (technically my DH) I planned when the year began to save my Free Agent Acquisition Budget, never acquire a player for more than $0, and then have the whole thing available to bid on Durazo when he went off the Disabled List. I honestly believed that if I did acquire him then I'd be guaranteed to win the league. Got him shockingly cheaply and so far he's been as good as I could have hoped.

Third Base
I can't believe I'm riding Shea Hillenbrand to greatness. I refuse to believe this will last long. If and when he comes back down to Earth, Morgan Ensberg waits patiently on reserve.

Shortstop
Miguel Tejada suddenly got hot while I wasn't looking. It's still not clear whether he was worth a third-round pick (Nomar and Jimmy Rollins are both outplaying him, though at least Rich Aurilia isn't) but he's becoming useful. Hard to believe at the start of the year I thought he'd supply the power I desperately needed. (Indeed he'll supply power; more about the "desperate need" under outfielders.)

Second Base
Robert Alomar might be an example of the curse of the second round pick. In general, in a draft situation, your late picks or free agent bids will either be worthless or will be worth more than you paid for them. Your very first pick, maybe a round-and-a-half or so of this, will be a total stud whose production towers over the rest of the league (Barry Bonds, A-Rod, you know the type). Anyone just below that level can very easily fail to live up to expectation, just because of regression to the mean.

Then again, .254/.305/.354 from a leadoff man isn't just regression; it's suck. Coming from a legitimate 2001 MVP candidate, it's shocking. But again, think of the upside for my team if/as he improves. At least he's already decent for runs (25) and steals (5). Of all the players on this team, I always forget I even have Alomar. For a player that good, that shouldn't happen.

Marcus Giles (my "MI" (middle infielder)) is in Bobby Cox's doghouse, for reasons unclear. If all you cared about were batting average, .241 would worry you. Also, he might be a lousy defender. He's still Atlanta's best option. Cox handed his job to DeRosa, just in time for DeRosa to hurt himself and be out two months. So did Giles get his job back? We'll see; Keith Lockhart got the start in the Braves' last game.

I have confidence in Marcus Giles, so much so that I dropped Mike Young in this week's moves. (Deadline Fridays, noon EDT; effective for games Friday thru Thursday) Well, actually I needed the roster spot. Plus Frank Catalanotto's coming back to the Texas lineup soon. Young was free talent (literally: a $0 bid a week ago). More where that came from.

Outfield
Lance Berkman and Jim Edmonds are both total studs, arguably the two best white outfielders in baseball (I can't even think of another candidate; maybe Ryan Klesko?). Aliens are currently possessing Torii Hunter. This is why my offense is so good. The big question is whether my catchers and middle infielders will heat up before these guys (especially Hunter) fall back to Earth.

Corey Patterson hasn't drawn a walk in about a month; that's starting to look like a waste of free agent bid money. He's still young. He's still a prospect. One day (er, one season) he'll steal 50 bases. If only...

Speaking of as-yet theoretical steals, Shannon Stewart is off the DL. (In real life he got off eight days ago Thursday but I had a week's grace period to make roster space for him again.) His hamstring still isn't 100%. Odd to think I drafted him two rounds ahead of Edmonds.

Both Mark Kotsay and Steve Finley were late draft picks, in the "crap shoot" phase. Kotsay is 27. He is (was?) going to have his breakthrough year any season now and become a 20/20 man (homers & steals). The runs and steals are there. The power... Finley lost his power, supposedly, a year ago. He got it back this year but is barely cracking .250. For now, Finley stays on reserve but Kotsay plays (Patterson on reserve). The big questions for these two:
1. How much better are they than the worst outfielders other teams are starting?
2. For a 12-team, Major League universe league (as opposed to NL or AL only), how much better are they than replacement level?

Pitching
(nine spots, no distinction between SP and RP, no maximum Innings Pitched; an easy-to-achieve minimum, but if you skirt the minimum you'll get killed in strikeouts and probably also wins)
My team lives and dies with Randy Johnson. Duh. He's the only starting pitcher who cost my anything nontrivial (namely the #3 overall draft pick). Jarrod Washburn (yes, he's white) was a mid-to-late pick, when I suddenly saw a massive run of pitchers come and go and realized that the Unit seemed a little lonely. Washburn's stats so far this year seem quintessentially "solid." A good Anaheim offense helps.

Courtesy the free agent acquisition budget come Josh Fogg and Paul Byrd, one or both of whom might fall back to Earth in a month. I'll enjoy the ride for now. I might even pick up Ryan Rupe to corner the market on pitchers with four-letter first and last names.

Seriously, I did put in a bid on Rupe this week. We'll see when the commish gets back from out of town who won their bids on whom. Rupe is a human roller coaster ride. I'm almost ashamed to admit I'm staking a fantasy team's fortunes on him. But I need someone who doesn't allow baserunners (lead the league in ERA, only fifth in WHIP (Walks plus Hits divided by Innings Pitched)); Rupe leads the league in fewest walks allowed per nine innings. I'll take his sinker, gopherball tendencies and all.

If Rupe is coming then Felix Rodriguez is going. F-Rod has allowed a ton of baserunners this year. His velocity is down; his location is off. He was part of my grand scheme to load up on middle relief, lead the league in ERA and WHIP by a wide margin, be at or near the top for saves, and let Unit almost singlehandedly give me whatever wins, strikeouts, and IP I needed to get by. For the most part that scheme has failed (other cogs were El Guapo and Paul Quantrill until I needed their roster spots); only Arthur Rhodes carries on, and even there he's mainly insurance.

Last but not least, the closers. I overspent on middle infielders (2nd and 3rd round draft picks) and probably won't get enough out of them. I overspent on catchers (10th and 11th round), who have failed so far but might get me value by the end of the year. I paid a lot on closers (5th and 6th rounds), yet both Trevor Hoffman and Kazuhiro Sasaki have justified the expense. Also, the free agent bid money spent on Hideki Irabu turned out to be very well placed.

My fantasy baseball performance depends on both Hideki Irabu and Shea Hillenbrand.

Actually that one line sums up this entire entry.
</fantasy baseball>
That wasted a good 15 seconds.
Suddenly realized I hadn't checked my Yahoo! e-mail all day. Of 11 unread messages in my inbox (not counting the 14 unread messages in Bulk Mail, all of which were indeed spam), one was redundant and ten were spam.
Cross Smoove B with The Ladies Man
Gregory Abbott wants to Shake You Down.

Are you going to let him(, girl)?

That's just so seventh grade (for me; your age may vary).
Today's HTML hack lesson
Be very careful with hand-rolled HTML, especially the content of font tags. I just now munged the previous post so badly that Blogger wouldn't even let me edit it. I had to right-click to get the URL of some other post's "edit" hyperlink, then view the source to get the postID of the post I did want to edit.

Thankfully it worked.
Today's Economics 101 Lesson
(from Slashdot, specifically this post)

I know that in the last 10 years or so in my area, concert tickets have gone from ~$25 per ticket to $50 (Last time Niel [sic] Young came to town... same price for Roger Waters).

Seems steep to me... maybe they just know that fans will pay it.


Let one axis represent Price. Let the other axis represent Quantity...

Come to think of it, my response is crass. I guess they don't get to price (in)elasticity until midway through a typical micro course.
Televised Sports Musical Scores
Two things have made me think of this lately:

1. "Roundball Rock" will soon disappear from the airwaves. It's not an earth-shattering great tune but it's catchy and memorable and everyone knows it.

2. Someone else out there claims to be a televised sports musical score junkie.

Thing is, you could devote an entire weblog (more likely an entire mailing list) to this topic alone. At least I could. Random thoughts on the topic:

The Fox Sports Sonata. I know nothing about the origin of these pieces of music but strongly suspect the same person wrote Fox's football, hockey, and baseball theme music. They go great together to make one great sonata. Exposition: The football theme, a rumbling, foreboding sort of C minor. Bridge: the hockey theme, basically G minor (but a lot of the D major - E-flat major - F major chord progression). Pretend that the hockey theme somehow ends on a G major chord to get back to the Recapitulation: Baseball, C minor again, horns blaring.

TBS. I wonder how many Braves theme music iterations I've missed from several years away from cable TV. The fact that I can to this day remember four distinct pieces of Atlanta Braves theme music from the late 1980s to mid 1990s is just sick.

"The Baseball Network (1994-95). It was short-lived, and also a terrible idea, but I liked the trumpet fanfare a lot.

CBS baseball vs. CBS college football They're a half-step a part, not to mention a little rhythm and a lot tempo, but they're very much from the same cloth. I bet most people have forgotten the CBS baseball theme.

Another theme I have no more use for Speaking of trumpet fanfare, the Red Sox theme from back when they were on WABU-68. Starts with a trumpet fanfare in C major, segues to guitar-driven B-flat major generic blah.

I wonder how much quirky but useless regional baseball theme music has been displaced by Fox Sports [Insert Market Name Here] outlets.

On the subject of WABU, I always liked their Beanpot theme. For a few seconds I couldn't think of it, then it popped into my head. Melody something like:
C G C D-E

D-C-D-E F G G

Eb Bb Eb F-G

F-Eb-F-G Ab Bb Bb

then back to the C major somehow.

Thursday, May 23, 2002

This doesn't feel like TMI
But if it isn't, why bother with a TMI spinoff? Mu.

Anyway, I think I'm ten years too young, not to mention entirely the wrong sex.

(Aside: Gender versus sex. In general, the former is the construct, where the latter ("male versus female," not "fornication") is the biological substance that gave rise to the construct. It's a weird thing to be pedantic about, but I am. And it's all G. Gordon Liddy's fault but that's a long story.)

When I was in high school, the lamest song on the radio (it's not even a close contest) owed nearly all its airplay, so far as I can tell, to the gee-whiz factor. Hey, dude, the whole song's about this guy playing with himself! People got a big kick out of this. It was shocking or envelope-pushing or take your pick of all the things a song like this could pose as despite being nothing of the sort.

So I could have adopted a complete level of been there, done that contempt for Faith No More (as opposed to just the face-value why don't people realize this song sucks? contempt), if I'd only been paying attention to the lyrics of some of those 1980s classics.

It took a Modern Humorist parody to clue me in, but this song is actually really explicit. And beautiful. And, so help me (this isn't the right word but it's as close as I can think of), delicious.

There's about a 25% chance I'll stop by the record store tonight and pick up the entire Cyndi Lauper discography as an impulse buy. I guess that's exaggerating a little.
I, Maintenance Engineer
Back on Monday a group of us went out for sushi: Our best database administrator, back from vacation; our QA department (call him Seiken); our sys-admin; and me. Seiken suggested that maybe the company needs to hire a "Maintenance Engineer" to specialize in tying up loose ends as we go live to customers. Until then I'd never heard that title before but it actually perfectly describes my approach lately. That is, my approach to everything -- my full-time job, the quiz company, and so on.

Especially the trivia questions. My questions are good. Not earth-shatteringly awesome but reasonably good. Above average for just about any useful basis of comparison. More than good enough (and more to the point, well-formed enough to need little to no editing) to fill holes at the last minute for some very disturbing values of "last minute."

I notice it more and more at work these days, though. Chris and some of the product people talk about long-term design plans for how to achieve grandiose yet oh-so-simple things with the product. I sit in on the meetings and draw on my astonishing institutional-history knowledge to answer questions but for the most part my eyes glaze over. I know how, right now, to give them a very good approximation of what they really need; and lots of experience (lots of learning the hard way) later, I can also say that I know how to do what needs to be done in such a way that it's not going to kill them in the long run.

Sometimes a product or feature can be very badly overdesigned. Past a certain point I'm aggressively uninterested in the discussions that lead to this; I'll almost always arrive very quickly at an approach that directly solves the problem and maximizes "return on laziness" both in the short-run and long run. There will almost always be improvements on how I would have done things, and really smart people (as often as not, Chris) tend to be the ones who find the improvements. Bully for them, keeping my crudest coding impulses in check.

It's not that I've lost the urge to create fresh things -- well, for our product I'd just as soon not add new things until the existing things work -- but it turns out I do two things really well: Create protoypes quickly, and fix bugs quickly. There's a gap between the two. Even so, the two people in the company to whom I feel closest in temperament are the QA guy and the sys-admin. We're the ones who get in the latest, who leave the latest, and who (when nobody else is around in the evening) actually make things work (or, make sure they work). We're also arguably the geekiest but that's neither here nor there.

My old roommate Chad is now an "Application Administrator" for a large company in Kansas City that isn't Sprint but does work closely with Sprint. The title and assignment sound really close to "Maintenance Engineer" and also really close to his own personality.

I'll claim that I've become better than Chad at being lazy in the long run, if only because I've had enough experience maintaining his code to see first-hand how lazy he was in the short run. Extremely easy code to fix, mind you, but could have been more clever about taking advantage of reused code. Actually in hindsight this was partly my fault. I generalized from his code in a very bad (short-term lazy) way, when a much more intelligent way to generalize from his code existed. What I hate about this is realizing what the better way would have been after the inferior way has become too entrenched. Maybe this is the worst-case that people who overdesign things live in fear of when they sit around talking about the problem forever before finally writing/revising the code that addresses it.
Today's baseball turned out okay after all.
Nice ending to a long day's worth of listening.
"Ichi-riffic"
Blame either Rick Rizzs or Ron Fairly for this one; at least it's not a Niehaus-ism.
Rhymes With Orange
This one is excellent.

I love a good dry wit. Sent Hilary Price fanmail once and got a reasonable form response several weeks later.
What's Better?
You must see this. Now that I've singlehandedly ruined the productivity of this entire office, you can ruin the productivity of your own entire office.
Sticking to my "I hate everything" theme:
Still can't believe Google sold out with this whole Dilbert tie-in. Both franchises I adore on their own; together it feels too forced, like there some serious prostitution going on.
This is why I'm not a registered Republican.
Says here ("Putting the Fun Back in Fundraising") that the GOP is using the Maxim subscriber list to get potential donors.

From a marketing standpoint it makes sense: They're likely to be sympathetic, plus they have the money. From a smug, pretentious, there but for the grace of God go I perspective, it's pretty icky.

Now, you know me. I could be accused of having no shame. But one thing I do have is rudimentary taste. That is to say, I'm not a "maturity-challenged comic-reading gadget-obsessed materialistic white boy."
Mariner pregame
Somebody on the radio (webcast) is interviewing Norm Charlton, but that's not what I care about. In the background the PA is blaring Caught in the Sun, by an alterna-band from Alabama. It's weird to think of songs progressing straight from radio hipness to stadium play so quickly.
Today's games just took a turn for the dismal.
Stuck with this at least until the Seattle game begins.

In other radio games today, listened to Florida's non-descript win over Cincy, then heard both the Cardinal comeback and fourth Shawn Green homer before catching the 5th inning onward of a tense, dramatic tilt at the Vet. Now this.

Right now the local team is shit. Well, the Giants are actually doing well but the A's just aren't. This must be what it was like in Boston in September 2001, only as far as I know Billy Beane isn't a lame duck. All it took was one set of punitive demotions and one mind-boggling trade, and now... well, it's not like people hate him, but we wonder what aliens have possessed him and won't call him a genius again anytime soon.
Shared a business lunch with my roommate today.
Chris is a walking, talking story problem. He has twice as many sisters as brothers, yet his sister has as many brothers as sisters. So how many kids are there in the family? (Assume no tricks, like stepsiblings or what-have-you.) You'd be surprised how long it takes people to get this right. At least, at lunch yesterday I was surprised.

This is the first time since October that Chris & I were both working here. It's pretty neat, I suppose.
The posted speed limit on University Avenue is 25 mph.
This is the limit even at 2:30 a.m. on a deserted arterial street. Doesn't it make you feel better that uniformed officers are out there enforcing this?

In fairness I had a blistering anti-cop rant to vent until this Google search stopped me cold. Everything's relative: Any beef I have with the local police pales in comparison to how I feel about the IndyMedia fuckheads. There are "Free Palestine" bumper stickers all over this city. I need to find an Israeli flag logo, although you know exactly what will happen when I do: Somebody will vandalize the car, then all hell will break loose.

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Who picks the Red Sox bumper music?!?
That guitar riff just now was Kitty by the PoTUSA.

There actually is a story behind this song (rather, a story tangentially involving this song) but if you don't know it then you don't want to know. You may not have known about this song figuring into it.
An odd choice for Red Sox radio bumper music
If I'm not mistaken, wasn't that acoustic guitar lick the intro to On and On by Longpigs? Sappy ballad by a one-hit wonder (maybe a no-hit wonder?), popular in the early fall of 1997, one of those songs that you hear on 'FNX for a month or so and then it disappears unless you randomly remember it.

By the way I almost had a stroke just now trying to remember either song or artist. Knew it was "Pigs" something.

Ah yes. Give me your coldest shoulder to cry upon. I'd be willing to bet that anyone who was ever so messed up that he found meaning in this song would be way too ashamed ever to admit it.
The Arab dating scene
Doesn't look so promising. Courtesy of National Review Online.
Maybe it wasn't Brady Anderson after all?
Whatever the case, Brendan Lemon is a punk-ass bitch, even if his whole schtick ultimately results in a breakthrough here. I don't think the ends justify the means here. In any case, Lemon is also, as far as anyone can tell, basically a publicity whore.

(Hmm, Andrew Sullivan has never mentioned this one that I know of. I wonder what he thinks, but maybe it's good that he never has, since if I were Sullivan I'd be sick of being typecast as "that gay conservative guy," as if he were the only one.)

So as far as idle speculation goes, recall that Lemon claimed that his ex-boyfriend was a star, but not the biggest star, on his east-coast franchise. Well... this led me to dismiss Piazza as a candidate given that there's no bigger star on the Mets than him. Meanwhile, Brady was in Cal Ripken's shadow. But now... so it actually probably isn't Piazza, but if not then who on the Mets is merely a quasi-star? Somehow I don't think it's John Franco.

Or Mo. (We'd want to limit it to 2002 Mets who were also 2001 Mets anyway.)

Take your pick; even with all the names in front of me I've got nothing. Star but not a big star. Rey Ordonez?!? Nothing makes sense.

Then again, maybe it's Piazza on the theory that the biggest star on this team is actually Bobby Valentine.

Also, how is Out "the nation's largest-circulation gay magazine"?!? Wouldn't it really be The Advocate? Don't look at me like that.
When Simpsons Writers Go Bad
Speaking of frothing at the mouth, last night I updated the Simpsons ranking page with the flip side of the coin. In hindsight a lot of the "bottom five" is misleading because after dissing the general pitfalls I didn't want to be redundant and bitch about specific episodes that were examples of the general problems. But still, you definitely get the idea of what (I think) sucks when they miss the mark.

One thing I'd definitely change if I were revising the list literally now: The more I think about it, the more the horror of Bart to the Future comes back to me. Maybe put that one and Lisa's Wedding into a tie, as sort of the antitheses of Separate Vocations and Lisa on Ice.
The squirrel is gone, but his legacy lives on.
This was unbelievably inconvenient. Lasted about two-and-a-half hours. My whole day is too chaotic to begin to describe.

Meanwhile on SFGate, I'm not sure if this is a grammar flame or a Barry Bonds media image flame but somehow I don't think he really had a 'contemptible' smile. Contemptuous, maybe. Or as they put it on the radio broadcast, a "sarcastic smile."

I'm not so sure a smile can be sarcastic but that's nowhere near as heinous an English language butchery as a contemptible smile.

Someone who's better at this than I am, why is it contemptible rather than contemptable? I first noticed this as a potential spelling error, then it turned out I was wrong myself.
Is Billy Beane Out of His Mind?!?
Ay carumba!

Ignore their surnames or siblings for a minute: this player is much much better than this one ever was or will be.

Every now and then a perfectly good baseball general manager goes bad, as if he'd contracted rabies or something. It's always a shame when you have to put down a family pet, or for that matter a GM. But just as the time to take Dan Duquette out back and shoot him was right around the Ed Sprague deal (for what it's worth, here's who they gave up for him), I think I noticed some frothing around Beane's mouth back yesterday when Carlos et al got their punitive demotion.

Criminy! This is what teams do when they get me to admit I root for them. So what now? The big reason I formally announced I couldn't root for the Red Sox was my distaste for their owners. But speaking of damn fool owners, this is one team I can't go back to after he opened his big mouth. Word to the wise if you want to demonstrate class (or avoid the lack thereof): You don't rail against your own team in public like that. This one of the reasons why people despised Steinbrenner and it'll be one of the reasons now that they despise Hicks.
Some D&D Humor

-----Original Message-----
From: Paul Lujan
Sent: Tuesday, May 21, 2002 10:34 PM
To: Igor Teper
Cc: David Scotton; Matt Bruce; Stephen Lee
Subject: Re: D&D


Incidentally, for those of you wondering where my "rocks fall, everyone
dies" comment came from (which I realize is nobody, but bear with me),
it's from here:

http://www.somethingpositive.net/sp05032002.html

--Paul
Andrew Sullivan takes a stand...
Every time I hear the word "community," my bullshit detector goes off. And when I hear about "obligations to the community" blah blah blah, I wanna retch. [...] This is the Wild Web, buddy, not a condo association. Don't tread on me.

He does have a point. As much as I enjoy all these weblogs out there, calling it a "community" seems unbelievably presumptuous. Not the first time that people who've interacted on-line have made that kind of presumption.

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Rough Night In Blue
"Rarely has there been a game where the umpiring was as incompetent as this one." --Jon Miller

Miller almost never criticizes umpires. When he makes an exception, you know something has gone wrong. This game has left quite a bad taste in the Giant broadcasters' mouths. Inconsistent ball-strike calls (Miller commented on this as early as the third) but most of all Erubiel Durazo's (Erubiel!) "home run" ball that went three feet foul.
I'm so conflicted about this one.
This is just a sad case. I'm not even sure which weblog to put it on. It's a touchy enough subject to be TMI, or maybe even politics, except that it's social rather than political.

The thing is, even though in theory I'm opposed to the death penalty I really hope this guy fries. There's just no call for strangling a 13-year-old, no reason it can be said to have been anything other than cold blood. That's a life he took away. (Yeah yeah, it's also a life we'd be taking away if the state killed him, but maybe he should have thought of that before going out and strangling someone. Asshole.)

There's a wrinkle, though: The story refers to "predators preying on children online" and opines that parents of children "shouldn't let them meet strangers on their computers." I see nothing wrong with people meeting strangers on-line: As long as you keep it on-line and keep your private info private enough to avoid meeting them in person, you stand basically no chance of harm, or at least far less risk than you face from a demented uncle or gym teacher or priest or whoever.

More to the point, whether or not parents let their kids "meet" strangers on-line, I don't think there are all that many 13-year-olds who have almost a dozen risque screen names. You don't have to watch over your kids every second of the day, but still, if they're chatting with that many screen names, and talking dirty with that many screen names, you'd think this would be pretty difficult not to notice. Big red warning sign that maybe you and your kid should have a nice long talk.

N.B. I suppose I have four or five "screen names." One for AOL IM (StrategyPattern), three for various Yahoo! tools (matt979 is the main one; plus a generic one based on my name and my date of birth, for personals purposes; plus one I set up back when Yahoo! had easily accessible porn -- the name isn't even risque but for various reasons I'm still not about to tell you).

How old do you think he thought she was? Well I guess after they met he knew the truth.
Department of really weird ideas.
I can't decide whether this would work. A reasonable assumption is it wouldn't, given the obvious logistical problem.

You've probably known people who suggest things like this. What's funny to me is how often they're politically conservative, yet suggest very elaborate schemes that would have to be implemented by some sort of all-knowing government body.
Domain Name Integrity
Two words (words?) for this township: Dot Gov.

If you're a municipal township, you are a government, not merely an organization.

This is why White House dot gov doesn't run any risk of ever becoming White House dot com.
Funny things that happen at meetings
I looked around the room and recognized several distinct printouts, all of them containing information (e-mails, documentation pages, source code) originally written by me. I hope most of the information was accurate.

There was one crucial point about the data model that looked like it would make one facet of the current problem (the one facet that I do care about) significantly easier. There was a table of whose existence I hadn't known, given that there doesn't seem to be an application object to which it maps. Unfortunately, the relevant object code seems quite convoluted.

Probably because the requirements we so convoluted.
Aggressively Apathetic
Things about which I've not only failed to give a damn but actually painfully failed to give a damn are too numerous to mention over the past 24 hours. Some highlights:

Six hours worth of Swiss pairing simulation for this High School National Championship thing.

Last night's informal, three-way, late-night around-the-house discussion of design issues over the work my roommate will be contracted to do.

An extended anecdote about an Iowa State University honors club and one committee's attempt to revise the club's constitution.

This morning's formal, four-way, three-hour discussion of design issues over the work my roommate will be contracted to do.

Various people's inability to read and/or understand relevant requirement specs.

The number of these things I'll give a damn about after more sleep remains to be seen. Benignly failing to give a damn probably beats the pants off of feeling personally affronted by the implicit request that one care (or pretend to care).

Monday, May 20, 2002

Is this an actual song?!?
I call shenanigans. Somebody at RealOne is playing tricks on me, or reminding me to give up on that '80s stuff for the day and switch over to Jerry and Joe.
Sometimes pop culture leaves you speechless.
I'd either never heard this song or just blocked it out of my mind.

As much as I like to claim to be a child of the '80s, I'll take a pass on it. I was probably six years old when that song came out.
Power, Privilege, and Debasement
This piece is nominally about Doris Kearns Goodwin but it interests me because of the larger questions about how human beings actually treat each other.

One of the things in life that bothers me more than any other is the idea that people in certain positions think they can treat the rest of the world like dirt, just because they can get away with it. This isn't just limited to politics, hence its presence here. I'll readily admit that Lyndon B. Johnson is not only (IMHO) hands-down the worst president this country has had (don't ever call me a Clinton-hater, because that's technically false, especially relative to LBJ) but also the best example of this phenomenon. Still, it's much more of a Hollywood thing or an academia thing than a Washington thing.

The funny thing is where you see it most is the people who've been on the wrong end of this, and yet aspire (for whatever reason) to rise to the point where they can be on the dishing-out end, almost as if they're paying forward all the crap they took from the big stars when they were little people.

Maybe it's just where I went to school but I saw this with intellectual wannabes (specifically in the humanities) far moreso than any other field of aspirations to excellence.

Hmm, bad timing with this entry and the Gould RIP. As far as I know none of the big three themselves ever treated anyone like dirt, but given that they were ultra-famous professors it wouldn't surprise me either way.
The only downside to YACCS
It seems to be impossible to comment on archived weblog entries. Didn't occur to me last night to check this; tried it with that one recent post and had no problem.

This shows you what kind of QA manager I'd be. :-)
Stephen Jay Gould, RIP
Biologist Stephen Jay Gould has passed away. Philosopher Robert Nozick died in January. That's two thirds of the faculty who team-taught Harvard's famous (at least on campus) "Thinking About Thinking" class. Now, only Alan Dershowitz survives. That's so disturbing.

I took Thinking About Thinking in 1995-96, my senior year. Didn't interact much with the professors but I asked at least one stupid question in lecture. Seeing the three of them talk and interact was priceless.

My old friend Ashlie, Boston University '98, stealth-audited that class. That is to say, no university registrar would have any record associating her with this class but she did come every week, grab a seat for herself, and save a seat for me. It's not like they ever checked ID's or anything.

Hey, if you're in the Harvard general area during termtime and you look plausibly like a student, for heaven's sake take some classes. The single biggest regret of my undergraduate life is that I missed so much class. This is the opportunity of a lifetime! -- missing out on it was a waste. Literally, a waste of my tuition money. Damn. If I'm unemployed again any time soon then I'll start stealth-auditing courses at Berkeley or Stanford.

Ashlie deserved to get into Harvard, at least based on what I knew of her intelligence and study habits. Given the degree to which I underachieved all through school, it's a shame that I got these opportunities that someone like her didn't. Then again I don't know what her application was like.
Responding to Slashdot posts is almost always a waste of time...
Reading them is almost always a waste of time too but my stomach won't let me sleep. In any case, I'd bet large sums of money that whoever wrote this comment has either never had to complete a project on deadline or never succeeded at it.

The world is full of anal-retentive cretins who confuse process with results.

Oh, if you care:
I mostly believe that good code is its own comment. Write code in a way that it's crystal clear what things do, then comment it anyway (short and sweet).

If you're coding in a language/platform whose primary vendor publishes style guidelines (e.g. Sun for Java), following those guides should be enough, with the exception of anything mind-numbingly idiotic (e.g., mandating a certain # of spaces instead of a tab).

Any project with 50 developers probably doesn't need 15-20 of them. If the rest achieve any reasonable standard of competence then whip-cracking on the pedantics shouldn't be necessary.
You could make a really bad liberal arts seminar out of this...
Or at least a two-week unit. Maybe a term paper. Anyhow, assigned material would include:

Hemingway, Ernest, The Old Man and the Sea

The Simpsons, War of the Simpsons

Paisley, Brad, I'm Gonna Miss Her
"I don't know, sort of, what your music tastes are, but I mean, in general"
--snippet overheard from a conversation that's now at least 90 minutes old and previously centered on procedural questions about how the world's royal families function

Either the walls of this place suddenly got a lot thinner or I never noticed it before. My stomach hurts and as a result I'm feeling bitchy. Better my stomach than... but that's a topic for a different weblog.
Rate Your Music
Given that it has such a kickass blogger comment widget, I'm quite underwhelmed by the main Rate Your Music site. This seems like a venture that needs lots of participants to work out well, sort of like the Internet Movie Database. IMDB has long since passed the tipping point but RYM definitely hasn't.

I started out with my two most recent album purchases and was stunned to find that neither "Who Needs Pictures" nor "Diary of a Madman" was actually in the system. I suppose country music fans don't use Rate Your Music, while metalheads who use it don't remember as far back as 1982 (weren't alive yet?).

Sunday, May 19, 2002

Commentary Enabled!
Kudos to YACCS, assuming this works...
Congratulations, 2002 Graduates
It's unclear how many of those I know. One, at least. Go Jon!

Hey, if you're in Boston over the next couple weeks with a reasonable amount of time on your hands, consider bumming around Harvard Square and environs for a bit. Right now people should be somewhat stressed out over final exams. But by about a week from now, the exams will be over and the entire senior class will be on campus for a full week of doing basically nothing. Well, graduation-related activities. Pub crawls and the like. Harvard drags this out to an extraordinary level, to the point that you can manage to be all sentimental and yet feel ennui at the same time.

A whole ton of special events packed into... well, the whole point is that they're not packed. All these amazing things happen but on the most leisurely schedule you can possibly imagine. Then one day -- a Thursday morning, if you can believe that, people gather in Harvard Yard. Because of the university's longstanding deal with Satan, the weather that day will be perfect even if the last few days were rainy. The second-most relevant stuff happens in the morning; this is the ceremony that's a really hard ticket. Then the official diploma distributions, at the undergraduate houses (or I don't know what grad students do) over lunch. Then the afternoon blather, which technically is an "Alumni Meeting," where the new graduates happen to be the featured audience. This is where the "commencement speech" comes in, thankfully not by John Silber.

Anyway, sneak over there a little. Harvard seniors are fun, in an odd way, when they have nothing left to do but hanging around forever before the big day(s) finally come. On a warm evening, someone somewhere will be drinking in the courtyard of Eliot or Lowell or one of those buildings with the colorful bell towers. (Eliot has the turquiose one, the house I lived in, the best house. Now that house affiliation assignments are randomized this may no longer be true but I'd like to think it still is.)

So Cooch isn't a fan of Clarissima? I think I've heard it three or four times in my life. Once at Westling's inauguration, once at the 1998 graduation (yes, I went to that one; yes, if you think you know why, you're right; yes, I sat in the stands all by myself), and of course at my own. Each time, just like Dark Side of the Moon drowning out the Wizard of Oz soundrack, I ignored the words and lyrics in my hand, ignored the people singing around me, and very quietly hummed/mouthed my alma mater.

Everybody knows that one, because it's even a Simpson's reference. ("You, sir, have the boorish manners of a Yalie.")
I can't believe they played this game after all.
I left home this morning in a downpour, en route not to Pacific Bell Park but rather Palo Alto for a fun-filled double-shot of D&D session, this time in the style of Philip K. Dick. That is to say, our characters ended up spending a lot of time in fake fake worlds, trying desperately to get back to their real fake world.

(Well, that's not entirely true. My character liked the penultimate fake fake world just fine, the one in which he actually fall in love. His "real" fake world continues to have very little to offer him except vague amusements and the ability to do dumbfoundingly stupid things that shock my fellow characters and either work extraordinarily well or fail catastrophically.)

Towards the very end, Igor's roommates were all home and all flipping channels between tonight's various season finales. I absorbed a lot of seemingly can't-miss TV on various networks but not enough to really tell you what went on.

Back to the subject line, since I'd never actually given away my ticket, a rainout today would have been quite the windfall. No such luck.