Saturday, October 12, 2002

Playtesting
Ran really long. People got into a groove.

Somebody--not me--brought a date to playtesting.

Friday, October 11, 2002

The place looks nice
(correction: my room looks pretty good; I didn't do much if anything to the apartment at large)

Then again I'm surprised sometimes at how much less utility I derive from a clean room than I would have thought I would.
Thoughts on the Oakland A's, set to music
I've been trying for ages to apply this song to a real-world situation. To me it has strong connotations of a situation where somebody busted tail for something but still came up just short. Even beyond that, though, the lyrics from start to finish almost make a disturbing allegory about the recent A's.

(It starts with)
One thing / I don’t know why
It doesn’t even matter how hard you try


You'll still lose to the Yankees in five games. Twice.

Keep that in mind / I designed this rhyme
To explain in due time
All I know


Statheads love Billy Beane because the way he constructs a team seems to show that he understands some bedrock principles about how baseball teams win. The importance of walks, salary management and so on. These are things that many lifetime "baseball men" don't seem to grok, hence Beane's reputation as a "genius" when rather he's just a bit ahead of his time.

time is a valuable thing
Watch it fly by as the pendulum swings
Watch it count down to the end of the day
The clock ticks life away
It’s so unreal


How soon will Chavez and Tejada hit free agency?

Didn’t look out below
Watch the time go right out the window
Trying to hold on / but didn’t even know
Wasted it all just to
Watch you go


Such a disappointing ALDS this year, and most people didn't even see it. Never hit prime time.

Eh. This is getting tiresome. It doesn't fit perfectly after all. But if you remember nothing else from this post, hold onto this:
"In The End" is, at heart, about the ninth inning (both frames) of this game.

Maybe Mark Ellis gets a moral victory.
Thoughts on the Oakland A's
The other day (really, earlier today -- "the other minute"?) I was trying to place when something had happened.

Usually this is an easy question to answer, if you can get your hands on the factual record. But then there are "things" that are hard enough to define that placing a starting date on them is tricky.

All this brought back very happy memories of Labor Day weekend, of Miguel Tejada being the hero two days in a row and then two nights later Scott Hatteberg bailing the team out of a potentially historic in-game collapse. (You don't teams blow an 11-run lead very often.)

(By the way I think Hatteberg is my favorite A's position player. It's funny I'd say this as someone who's still a huge Carlos Pena fan but sometimes life works out that way. Hatteberg's left-field drummer cheer is also the most underrated.)

The day of the Tejada walkoff homer -- earlier in the game, when his first home run accounted for the game's only score -- I bought three t-shirts at the A's souvenir store. Two of them may actually be in my car, though I'll probably wear the other one tonight.

Thursday, October 10, 2002

This sounds about right
Three Mexican men with shovels 1,
U.S. Congress 0
Buzzcocks: Final Update
Now it all makes sense. The story didn't involve the Buzzcocks at all but rather a band of whose profound suckage I was already aware.
hahahahahaha
Mmm... fact-checking...
Quoting from part of an e-mail spam
(you'll notice all three blogs today have similarly titled but completely different posts)

I believe this is my first-ever 419 scam spam. Technically it's not Nigerian spam since this variation uses the Congo instead. All these years I'd never gotten one of these and actually felt left out.

Now don' t you think the widow of a president could have gotten not only a better handle than justina49 but also a better ISP than Netscape?

STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL

FROM: MRS. JUSTINA KABILA
TEL: +31-613-865-048
E-MAIL: justina49@netscape.net

ATTN:

AN APPEAL FOR YOUR PERSONAL ASSISTANCE TO INVEST IN YOUR COUNTRY

I AM FORTY-NINE YEARS OLD WIDOW (THE THIRD WIFE) OF THE LATE PRESIDENT
LAURENT KABILA OF THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO. MY HUSBAND
WAS ASSASINATED BY ONE OF HIS BODYGUARD ON THE 16th OF JANUARY 2001.

AT THE MID OF THE REBELLION WHICH IS STILL ON IN MY COUNTRY,MY SON
AND I WENT OUT OF CONGO ACCORDING TO MY HUSBAND INSTRUCTION BEFORE
HIS DEATH BECAUSE THE FAITH OF OUR COUNTRY WAS YET TO BE DECIDED.
WE CAME TO AMSTERDAM WITH THREE SEALED BAGGAGE CONTAINING THE SUM
OF TWENTY-TWO MILLION UNITED STATES DOLLARS (US$22,000,000.00).

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

Buzzcocks Update
Just in the interest of accuracy...
The anecdote below (many posts below) didn't actually happen (Opinion Journal, ninth item).
Two physics problems
(The second one really isn't.)

1. No cheer can stop a 98 mile-an-hour fastball. --Overheard on the A's broadcast Sunday. Paul was in the car with me and suggested the obvious physics tie-in: How many people would you need to build a sound wave strong enough to accomplish this?

2. The nuclear warhead frozen in time problem. I imagine the thing woudl be small enough that you could pick it up (perhaps with a crane) and gently guide it to the desert. But what would its energy and momentum be when time restarted again?
The true test of Coulter's overrated looks
On this one I fully expect most of the universe to disagree with me, but I have to say she's more photogenic than Coulter. Quite a feat when you're old enough to have a college age daughter.
Some almost but not quite political thoughts
An omnibus of stuff inspired by Virginia Postrel and the people she links to.

1. She's right about the quality of this site.

2. Postrel on Bush's oration: In laying out his case, the president once again demonstrated that he's found his voice. He's great at calmly walking people through the facts and arguments that shape his decisions. Bush may not be any good at soaring rhetoric and he may get tongue-tangled when spontaneously answering questions, but his ability to educate and explain—always treating the audience as his intellectual equal—is, right now, a more important talent.

3. Fun riff on New Jersey politics here.

4. Last but not least, and really the whole reason for this post, Postrel links to the best quote ever:
So, yesterday I had that rare chance to experience what every girl dreams of: I got to hear what conservative America thinks of my rack.

Google gave me some pictures but no tangible evidence either way on the rack issue.

Seriously, (for those of you too lazy to follow links) this woman wrote a piece about Ann Coulter that got Coulter fans all riled up. I'm decidedly not a Coulter fan but what intrigues me most about her is a point that I've only ever seen one person ever make: For somebody who tries to have it both ways, trading on good looks for TV time but also dismissing critics as jealous of those good looks, she's actually not at all good-looking.

Purely on looks, I think Coulter compares unfavorably to either her or her. I guess Coulter beats her but that's mainly age difference.

And then there's someone who beats them all, hands-down. Come for the October 6 anecdote, stay for this photo (warning: R-rated).
Chorus of Disgruntled Fans
Read the first three posts here.
Split Screen?
Argh! Both of these are at "8:20 p.m. EDT"!

Granting that the whole ABC Family thing was suboptimal (what's worse, flipping through channels in a wild guess on where the game will be, or keeping your friends in suspense about when a game that you want to go to will be?), I still despise the idea of playing two games at once instead of spacing them out.
This is what I love about student journalism
This story is awesome. Following/critiquing a student newspaper, depending on the school, can be a lot like watching one of those rookie league baseball games. Every now and then a ball will go through someone's legs or someone else will make the Worst Baserunning Mistake Ever.
An a-hole in the TV business? Who knew?
If the other guy here is who I think it is, I read about him once in a story about the history of 60 Minutes. Apparently he's a major jerk even by TV standards.
I'd wear one of these on purpose
Then again I'm an iconoclastic freak who used to get in trouble on purpose to get out of boring classes.

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Simmons-Bashing of the Day
(Quote courtesy of Kubi: I have yet to read the article.)

Bill Simmons:
Good God! Julio Franco is still playing??? Did he beat out Lenny Randle and Terry Puhl to make the Braves's 25-man roster? Is anyone else flabbergasted by this?

My immediate reaction: Somebody in his circle of friends knew that Franco was on their roster last year too, but decided not to point it out to him because obviously he's not a real sports fan if he didn't already know this. (And apparently wasn't hot enough to make up for this sports fandom shortcoming.)

Monday, October 07, 2002

Available for Contracting and Such
Just in case you didn't get the gist of that last post.

Suggestions welcome on what to do. Details to come in a day or two; I don't want inadvertently to violate any confidentiality.

Update: I'll be working through the end of this week, essentially for free. This is partly a gesture of goodwill, also (to some extent) gratitude for having the schedule flexibility to catch those A's games.
Correlation Does Not Imply Causation
In 1987 the Minnesota Twins won the World Series in seven games. Two days after Game 7, my first girlfriend and I broke up. (This was eighth grade for what it's worth.)

In 1991 the Minnesota Twins won the World Series in seven games. Two days after Game 7, my high school sweetheart and I broke up.

Last year the Oakland Athletics lost Game 5 of the American League Division Series. The next day Silicon Age employees found out about our imminent severence. (Technically we didn't vote ourselves out of a job until the day after that.)

This year the Oakland Athletics lost Game 5 of the American League Division Series. The next day -- well, all I can say is that during the meeting I just got out of, all I could think of was to hope and pray that the Twins don't win the World Series this year.
Punk Fans 1, Buzzcocks 0
Warning: this link is politically motivated. It's also funny though. Follow it or don't. The good part is towards the end; the first few paragraphs you should probably skip.
Because you can never get enough Larry King parodies
(also because the man is deeply overrated as media figures go)

ESPN's latest, still not quite as funny as this classic Onion bit.
I used to take criticism well
In other news at some point in the last month or so I developed a really thin skin. (To be honest it's always been around. For awhile, though, I thought I took constructive criticism really well -- on the job, in the trivia sector, wherever.)

The downside to a highly efficient question production process is that the question rejection process is also highly efficient. Seeing a question rejected (if one feels that the rejection was misguided) is a vague disappointment under normal circumstances but feels almost crushing when needs lists are urgent enough.
Fear of being too easy
I wonder sometimes whether there exist quiz-bowl aficionados (I'll stop short of calling them snobs) who are deathly afraid of a question's answer ever turning out to be exactly what you thought it would be. It seems so obvious, the reasoning goes, that the question must be a priori bad. A speedcheck, they say. (Usually the people who say that are the ones who don't get the question right, not even because they were "beaten" to it so much as that they lacked the cajones to follow their instinct.)

One thing about experienced veteran players critiquing -- or controlling --the question content that novices get is that the grizzled types by now have more-or-less perfect anticipation and so sometimes assume that everyone else will have perfect anticipation.

This rant would go much better with a concrete example but the one I would have provided, for various reasons I can't. Probably just letting off steam.

(Irony alert: The person whose editing decision inspired this rant is actually one of the best "anticipating" players I ever played against. He "outbuzzed" me countless times, where by "outbuzzed" I mean he realized before I did where a question would be going and/or that it would go for the well-known answer. I suspect that this is a case where somebody who anticipates well will assume that everyone naturally anticipates that well.)
What a remarkable day
Unsure where to begin, I'll throw out random tidbits.

I highly recommend Barbershop. This is a movie that I'd been wanting to see for awhile, so the fact that it was the only movie that fit the timeslot in question is amazing serendipity. The point behind spontaneously hitting a movie theater was actually to shoot for My Big Fat Greek Wedding (which I sort of wanted to see but not nearly as much as Barbershop), though the one by Jack London Square happened not to even have it.

After the movie got out we shared a parking garage elevator with a black mother and her young son. Feeling conversationally chirpy I asked them, "were you at the movie?" Indeed they were; great movie, we agreed. The mom, however, strongly recommeded (ironically) My Big Fat Greek Wedding as "even funnier." It's possible that this conversation had racial overtones but I'd rather assume it didn't.

It's possible to be healthy enough to feel comfortable seeing a movie yet not healthy enough to be up for a baseball game. This actually makes perfect sense given relative crowd sizes, though it's possible that relative entertainment tastes contribute to this. I wonder whether there was ever a point in my life where I went to a baseball game despite feeling sick enough that I wouldn't have felt up to catching a movie.

The baseball game ticket allotment came out slightly different from what I expected but only slightly. When I mentioned the possible game conflict in an e-mail to Mike, David, and Paul (Mike being my planned A's companion; Paul and David being two of my three planned Giants companions), David suddenly expressed interest in going to an A's game if one were available. The misunderstanding was that this didn't mean he wanted to skip out on me & Paul after all. The resolution to this: Giants configuration went back to the original plan but Mike got both my A's tickets for the price of one. He promptly called a math classmate of his; she accepted his offer on ninety minutes notice.

So if anyone asks why I didn't go to the Coliseum today: Mike and I both had a date. His date happened to involve the Coliseum and mine happened not to.

Nor did mine involve Pac Bell but that just meant we had an extra seat's worth of room. I briefly considered scalping or giving away the ticket but finally disdained it. Nobody seemed to be in need; rather, just like with the A's game back on Tuesday, it was an extreme buyers' market. Not sure whether that's a bad sign for baseball, although I imagine the real problem is that the Giants, A's, and even 49ers ate into each other by competing for a similar demographic.

One thing I forgot to mention from yesterday: The couple who sat behind us were in a snit right befoe the game began. Rather, I think the guy was being kind of an ass, the sort of smug dude whose inability to be wrong ends up putting his girlfriend on the defensive all the time. (At one point they had a sociopolitical argument where he took AlGore style condescention to a new order of magnitude by exaggerating each syllable of the word glo-bal-i-za-tion.) She deserved better, or maybe she didn't. Anyhow, when Bonds hit his home run she broke down and cried. Her mascara ran; I hadn't noticed how much she overdid her makeup until the sunglasses came off during the tears.

Getting back to today: Livan is pretty good. For no apparent reason he's recently gotten the nickname Livo. Paul asked whether that meant he could pause live batters.

The View Level at Pac Bell park is a necessary evil, the evil part being actually getting up there, where your choices are crowded ramp or crowded stairs. I far prefer the bleachers, which are even cheaper, although I admit that missing out on the view of the bay would make the bleachers marginally less appealing as date seats.

I went from Diet Coke ("breakfast") to Diet Pepsi (movie theater) to Diet Coke again (ballpark), with -- so far -- no apparent ill effect.

Around 10:30 tonight I sent an e-mail promising to write 30 questions. Thirteen down, seventeen to go. Probably more than seventeen if I keep up this kind of nervous energy, unless typing out this blog entry (you'd be shocked how little time it took, unless the typos are telltale) sapped some of the energy.

Speaking of e-mails and question writing, the one person to whom I am now most in debt of e-mail responses is also an imminent writer of quiz questions. Brick, three of your e-mails are now in my inbox, all barely skimmed. I do promise I'll drop you a line very very soon. (Corwyn also has a fair number of responses coming to him but he's not a writer of quiz questions, rather just a suffering Jets fan and commonsense Republican.)

Oh last but not least, I'm not sure how I feel about derisive Tomahawk chopping -- that is, when fans of other teams mock the visiting Braves as Atlanta is in the process of being blown out.

Sunday, October 06, 2002

It all comes down to this
In three hours the A's play the deciding game: Win, they move on; lose, they watch the rest of the playoffs from their recliners.

In six-and-a-half hours the Giants play a must-win game: Win, they force the issue to Atlanta; lose, they watch the rest of the playoffs from Barry Bonds's fancy chair.

I have tickets to both of these games.

I will be at... one of them.

The relative ticket situations being what they are, I know that if the A's win then I'll see at least two more home playoff games there, likely more. For me to see any 2002 Giants games beyond today, they'd have to win today at home and tomorrow at Atlanta, and I'd have to get lucky again when NLCS tickets go on sale. (And if the A's lose today -- well, I'd rather my last 2002 in-person memory be of the Game 2 win than of a hypothetical Game 5 loss.)

The first pitch times are spaced out just enough to give one the illusion that catching both games is possible. More than just an illusion: I imagine you could watch the whole A's game, and then -- if BART is your featured transport medium -- get to the Giants game by the 4th inning or so. A couple of my friends assume I'm going to do this; sorry to let you down.

I actually hope that in my absence the A's do something phenomenal, something so historic that people still talk about it 25 years from now. Then I could break out my best Robin Williams impression from Good Will Hunting.