Saturday, November 16, 2002

Post-Modern Baseball
We interrupt the asinine nostalgia trip (taking place elsewhere, or rather just threatening to take place) to point out something cool from the recent Fantasy Baseball Symposium:
Ron Shandler wants to get rid of the term "fantasy baseball."

His reasons come later in this post but my big thing here is that, when people use "fantasy baseball" the way they currently do, it becomes that much harder for me to tell people what simbase is all about, since that's really the kind of game that the word "fantasy" better describes.

So if I can't call simbase "fantasy" baseball then I decided the other day I should call it "post-modern" because it does strange things to the truth. To see what I mean, consider Simon Bolivar. Is he...
A. A South American revolutionary hero?
B. An ace pitcher?
C. A probability distribution mapped to outcomes like "strikeout" and "hit"?

You get the idea.

Anyway back to Shandler, the short version is that he thinks it gives people the wrong idea of what the game is all about, marginalizes them (us) unnecessarily, given that we're dealing with the actual performance of real-live players, and so on. Actually, here's a reasonable block-quote from this essay (you need a subscription to follow the link; depending on who you are, the subscription is probably actually worthwhile).

In Wise Guy Baseball 2002, Gene McCaffrey writes, "Can we please turf this 'fantasy' word? People ask me what I do, then look at me like I'm peddling webcam shots of Andruw Jones at the club. Who decided to call it this? How could they get it more wrong? The games we play are won by predicting reality... What we play is personal baseball, admittedly not as catchy a moniker. The true appeal of the games is that they provide an arena in which we can be provably correct."

Gene is so right. What we do is far afield from fantasy. There is a legitimacy that most people don't acknowledge because they cannot see past that darn word.

Fantasy sports have spawned a new type of fandom that is, in fact, more grounded in reality. Today's new, intelligent fan has a better understanding of the intricacies of the game and what to expect at any given moment. Once upon a time, we'd sit in Dodger Stadium worried that Larry Walker might nail a game-winning home run for the visitors. Today, we'd know the odds are slim because he hasn't poked one out of Chavez Ravine in four years.

And with the quest for knowledge has come the developing library of sabermetric thought. Baseball GMs are now hailed for this new objective way of thinking, and even us stat geeks are starting to land positions in high places within MLB organizations.

Some fantasy, hrmph.

I worry that we're stuck with this name, however. I fear we will forever be looked at as stat geeks, relegated to the back room, playing with our G.I. Joes and baseball cards. Frankly, I can't sit back any longer and pretend it doesn't gnaw at me. I didn't get an MBA degree just so I could become an expert on all things fantasy.
On Indian food
(We've reached the inane banter portion of this weblog -- I'd be writing furiously first-personly no matter what, so this is actually just a lesser evil than what you would have seen elsewhere.)

Last night for playtesting we ordered takeout, mainly because I was starving and feeling mild ennui. R. loves Indian food. Only I grabbed the wrong takeout menu and, while I thought I was ordering from the place two blocks from us, I was actually ordering from a place at 26th and Geary. No big deal, if I'd asked for delivery rather than pickup. Then again this place was cheaper and (in my opinion) better than the one closer to me.

Anyhow, I got the Karachi chicken. (Somebody was in disbelief that an Indian place would have Karachi chicken, but, well, they probably spelled it differently. I'll confess to not even looking at the menu when I decided what I wanted. Every good South Asian place has a dish like this: chicken, bell peppers, tomatoes, and dark curry.) And just now I reheated someone's leftover Madras chicken. Thing is, I'm the one who bothered to put everything in the fridge, hours after we were done eating. Meanwhile, leftovers end up going to waste if nobody thinks to eat them. If Scott had meant to save it for himself then we can just get takeout again. (It would be Scott rather than Chris, since Chris doesn't like Indian.)

Blah. More information than you needed but not in a juicy way.
Do you like to attend rodeos?
Saw the most entertaining piece of junk mail on the kitchen table just now, then realized it was addressed to me. Survey questions, right column:
When you come to Reno, where do you normally stay?
Do you visit Indian casinos? [Yes/No]
Have you stayed overnight at Boomtown during the past 12 months? [Yes/No]
Do you own an RV? [Yes/No]
Do you play golf? [Yes/No]
Do you like to attend rodeos? [Yes/No]
What is your nationality (optional? [Caucasian/Hispanic/
--and here the page crease hits, though on the left column at the crease there's a blank for Wedding Anniversary

Ooh! Very bottom question, left column:
How do you travel to Reno? [Car/Bus/Train/Plane/Semi-Truck]

Me, I'm a semi-truck kind of guy. No, actually not.
New England, the Patriots are we...
(mega bonus points to anyone who gets the reference -- I may have the wording wrong -- and both mega bonus points and a surprising amount of money to anyone who has an actual tape of the monstrosity that contains this reference)

So anyway, the Super Bowl Champion Patriots make their first visit to Oakland since 1981. There should be a lot of sports coverage retrospecting the Snow Game. Maybe there is; I haven't paid enough attention to it.

It's plausible that I could go watch this game -- you'd think it would be sold out but with the Raiders, any opponent other than the Broncos you assume non-sellout until you hear otherwise. Also, it turns out I have a bunch of conflicting other plans tomorrow, involving D&D and Postmodern Baseball (more on that later).

But the whole point of this post: It's ironic that the Pats would be here, of all places (where "here" is "same metro area as me" rather than simply "Bay Area"), playing six years to the day after the "call in the National Guard!" game.

(That link doesn't give you the date but this one does. For a quick 10 points, which quarterback had just an ungodly good passing game in the late game that day, and in which stadium?)
Yeah, so I just deleted a post
It was a quiz-bowl post that
1) opened a can of worms on a subject that's impossible to really settle
2) contained too much bragging about my own time as a player

Let me know if you missed it and wanted to see it.
More than a decade later a meme was transferred
Specifically, you can sing "Amazing Grace" to the Coca Cola "I'd like to teach the world to sing" or to "Gilligan's Island." I first learned this at the Astrodome, of all places.

To paraphrase the old anti-drug PSA, "I learned it by watching you, Brick."

Friday, November 15, 2002

Stat of the Day
Half the population of [our society] earns below the median household income of about $37,000
--anonymous university faculty member quoted here (via here and here)

I wish Dilbert comics were searchable by topic. Presumably you've seen the one where PHB complains that 40% of all sick days are taken on Fridays and Mondays, leading poor Asok to bust out laughing.
Calendar Geekery
When I was five years old I could allegedly tell you, shockingly quickly, what day of the week any given date fell on. It's all this mod 7 computation that I still know how to do, just not nearly as quickly.

These days when I need a calendar I click on an ESPN scoreboard page.
For those about to pine...
What other verbs would be amusing there?

Pine is an e-mail program with one of the best acronyms ever: Pine Is Not Elm. Whenever someone asks me what some other techy acronym stands for, I always deadpan, [phonetic pronunciation of full acronym] Is Not Elm.

I guess one could also pine in the sense of yearning for something to happen. I wonder if it's possible to look at that as a skill, where some people are better than others at pining. Not sure if "better" means that they're more likely to get what they want or just more compelling in the act of yearning.
Who here really doesn't care for those last few posts?
Enough eggheadedness for one day; before long all the song lyric posts and random narrative will sweep it all away.
Silly aside about developer styles and political assumptions
I bet if you had to guess my politics or my roommate Chris's politics, solely from how we go about software developing, if you went by political stereotypes then you'd probably get us exactly backwards. Chris is extremely methodical/meticulous, where I go by the seat of my pants too much. There's your conservative and your liberal right there. Or if we were football offensive coordinators, he'd emphasize the power running game (with maybe some play-action) and getting the drills just right in practice where I'd be all about the West Coast offense, short pass after short pass after short pass.

(Hey, and I actually do strongly prefer that style. I don't think Chris is enough of a football fan to have any opinion at all about offenses.)

Then again, if you went beyond Left/Right then maybe you'd get the political labels right after all. In software, he's sort of a control freak where often his dogma about getting the design right will lead him to make sweeping changes. It's like a technocrat versus a dynamist, if you want to borrow lingo from Virginia Postrel.
Tools for the Gods
Sorry, one final computer geek post: This occurred to me in the car a few hours ago.

Imagine if Excel supported some kind of concurrent modification and version control. (On the Concurrent Version System model, not the Visual SourceSafe model! I actually had a brief phone conversation with a quasi-headhunter this morning. He was going off a checklist of skills and mentioned Visual SourceSafe and I shuddered. The whole "only one person can open a file at a time" model doesn't scale.)

That product would singlehandedly crush a whole bunch of niche applications in the business world. Maybe not Crystal Reports since people want things to look pretty on printed paper.

Still, it would be so dominant that everyone would wail and gnash their teeth about Microsoft's incredible market power, never mind that in this one particular case it would actually be because of such a deeply kickass product. (And yes, it would leave a huge footprint. So be it. Memory's dirt-cheap these days, so much so that my extreme aversion to state patterns -- object oriented geekery here -- is actually kind of silly. Or not: Every time you construct a new object, the memory leaks little by little, somewhat like Chinese water torture.)

Anyhow, I imagine the best way to do version control would involve a lot of converting to and from Comma Separated Value format (just marked-up text). Or XML I guess, but XML is overcomplicated if what you're really recording is "these characters represent the contents of this cell." And it just so happens that I've done some devious (evil?) things with CSV.

(CSV the format is not to be confused with CVS the system, nor CVS the drug store.)
A corny way to explain strategy patterns to a newbie
Feel free to tell me how accurate this sounds (if you're an old-hand computer geek) or how much sense it makes (if you're not).

Suppose I took BART to my friend's house. Not only does the BART train really not give a damn who I am, how I got to the station, how fast I walk, what my destination is (whatever, as long as I pay my fare); in most cases, my friend wouldn't care what mode of transportation I used.

For the most part this is just basic object oriented design. I can be modeled by an object; a BART train can be modeled by an object (indeed, the BART system could be a hierarchy of objects). But the concept of my getting from point A to point B is more of an action rather than a concrete object. I imagine most beginning OO programmers have a hard time coding to reflect this concept, especially since it's not obvious at first how that part of it would differ from some procedural model.

In any case, it's unclear whether this actually provides new info to people who actually wanted new info, but to the extent that I can call myself a computer geek, that's my story.
On marriage
Compare the last paragraph of this deeply moving homage (mainly: "you never cease to amaze, amuse, delight and challenge me...") to the problem that Mike D. thinks exists with marriage (mainly: "when you marry someone, it's the ultimate endorsement of their personality, which to a large extent then gets 'locked in' for the rest of their life. this is why married people change less, are more boring, and so forth").

I suspect that here the married girl, speaking from experience, is much closer to the (usual) truth than the single guy. Then again it's plausible that theirs is just a well-above-average marriage. Still, the contrast struck me.

In fairness Mike has a point about life in general, even if I don't think he picks the best example. I wrote to him to say that his description of "the auto-pilot me" reminded me of what a normal person would call "being yourself."

The flip side is that when I'm "being myself" I'm either clicking through web pages or whiling away the hours on some insignificant game. I, for one, definitely need to grow. Wouldn't it be ironic (relative to Mike's writing) if, in the long run, I ended up growing because of who I ultimately spent my life with?

(Being smitten alone isn't enough. I do know someone who's just objectively one of the most attractive women you'll ever meet. You'll just have to trust me on this, unless you also know her -- in which case just humor me and pretend you don't know who I'm talking about. Her presence has motivated me to do astonishly useful things but, alas, NOT to actually make myself more physically attractive -- or whatever I imagine it would have taken to attract her attention/interest.)
Worst Ferris Bueller Fanfic Ever
Okay, now you have to write about how the principal got from riding the crowded, smelly bus, next to the girl with gummi bears in her pocket, to abusing the teenaged boy. (requires registration, bselig/bselig works)

Thursday, November 14, 2002

By the way, a quick Twilight Zone tip...
If you can get a Spiral Madness right before Multiball... big smile, deep sigh, eyes glaze over
You unlock this door...
...with the key of imagination.

God I love Emeryville. After grabbing a burrito at the food court (not bad; not worth the price but not bad) I wandered past this game room that I'd never noticed before. NFL Blitz 2000 was within view of the doorway. I ambled in, then realized there were pinball machines in one corner. I'm all about the pinball.

They had Medieval Madness. This game, when it was in the George Sherman Union basement game room, accounted for way too much of my time at BU. I assembled my quarters, plunked down $2.00 for five games, began the first game -- then saw in the corner of my eye that they had Twilight Zone!

Other pins of note: Theater of Magic (my sense of history smiles here; but no, no sign of 8-Ball Deluxe anywhere) and Monopoly. But after a long hiatus I wanted to reunite with my tried and true. Five games of MM resulted in nothing special. Scores in the 9 to 11 million range, on a machine where the free game kicked in at 22 million. (That seems shockingly low for a non-sucky machine. I could become addicted again, if I actually had reasons to go back to East Bay much, which I really don't.)

Now TZ, on the other hand, mmm boy. This game, when it was in the Eliot House basement in a hallway between the laundry room, game room (one pool table, one Tornado foosball table), and lounge area, accounted for way too much of my time at Harvard. High score on this machine was at 338 million. I can't remember how that compares to my college days but it does feel as though TZ is a real feast-or-famine game. Every dozen times or so you should crack a billion and come really close to the super-duper-mega multi-ball (also known as Lost in the Zone: I still remember the first time I got there), while about half the rest of your games will completely blow.

(Speed of surface is also an issue: A game like TZ is to a game like Medieval Madness is as a clay court is to a hardcourt, or the tallgrass at Wrigley Field to the turf at Le Stade Olympique.)

On MM my "Damsel in Distress" shot (left flipper to right ramp) was pretty consistent but my "Peasant's Revolt" shot (right flipper to left ramp) sprayed a lot, more often hitting "Catapault" (far-left feature) or "Joust" (the express lane). I was too shy about destroying castles, even after it became clear that this wasn't one of those arse-reaming machines rigged so that any up-the-middle shot came back straight down the drain.

Sort of the opposite problem on TZ: My right-flipper-to-left-ramp shot (the big ramp that you need to light the slot machine and so on, the ramp that TZ is really all about) was consistent but I couldn't hit the stupid slot machine to save my life. I'd forgotten all about the upper flippers. On this machine either they weren't springy enough or my muscle memory hadn't come back enough. Couldn't consistently hit the Player Piano (left upper flipper); in the old days I'd pound that. I actually did get in a good groove on the Camera (right upper flipper), which is odd since I was never good at that shot to begin with.

Talking Tina graced me with extra balls maybe three times (in what turned out to be nine games) but I hadn't gotten a freebie until my sixth and final (for some reason TZ was 6/$2.00 instead of 5/$2.00) try. Then I not only topped the 338 million mark but also scored the one-in-ten digit-match at the end.

Aside from quiz-bowl and newspaper work and band trips and house committee stuff and, yes, sometimes I'd actually try to get caught up on problem sets, this was my life at Harvard. We had a great group of foosball players, some of whom may even have gone on to found dot-coms. (I think most of the future dot-commers were the guys at Quincy House. There was a definite house-vs.-house rivalry, and they had more computer geeks but also more jackasses, with some intersection in those groups.) The Eliot House Grill was very well-run; you could get a chickwich or mozzarella sticks or curly fries or a good old fashioned greasy cheeseburger. (Does my fine figure suddenly make more sense?) All that and free cheesy movies on a big-screen TV.

Anyhow, I think I actually gained 15 pounds and three inches of mullet-hair just in my time in the Emeryville game room. Only figuratively though.

Afterwards I was going to see what times 8 Mile played (the Emeryville theater being by far the ghettoest one I know of) but there was a huge line of people for some promotion that involved a van with a KMEL logo (hip-hop station, I believe).
My foiled good deeds for the day
0. There's a woman who I'd wanted to date ("met" her online) but the timing wasn't right: She'd been interested in another guy, and then I thought I was dating someone and so gradually lost touch with other women I'd been writing to. I finally got back in touch with her today, only to find out she's had kidney stones. She's bored and lonely and would love for her friends to visit her but said she doesn't know me well enough to accept my (serious) offer to stop by. Anyway, hope and pray for her if you're the hoping and praying type.

1. Came to Vectiv's office today solely to sign a pair of contracts (I'm going to be on retainer now, and shockingly well-compensated for it) and avail myself of the T1 connection. (So far, much blogging, much surfing, effectively zero job-search producitivity. I blame lack of incentive.) On my way in, as I took an obscure exit off of 80/580 -- the University Avenue exit but instead of taking the left fork to go to University, take the right fork and then left at the next fork to get to the access road that becomes Hearst -- I saw two women holding an unusually verbose cardboard sign. Something like:

Out of Gas, Stranded, Hungry, Anything Helps

I pulled over to ask where their car was ("by the railroad tracks"), mention where the nearest gas station was, and offer to go bring back a gas can. (You know, with the nozzle on top. Growing up we always had spare gas in the garage, for the riding mower or the fishing boat with the outboard motor or whatever.) They seemed appreciative. I didn't think to offer to push their car (there being but one of me) or give them a ride somewhere (trust barriers in both directions might have precluded that).

Stop #1: The Arco with the cheaper gas, corner of 6th and University. Cashier had no idea what I was talking about when I tried to describe, then pantomime, a gas can. (Language barrier here.) He offered a huge jug to me but with no nozzle that would be useless.

Stop #2: "Hmm, I'll just go to the Smart & Final, surely they'll have a gas can." The Smart & Final at University and San Pablo is closed, boarded up. When did this happen?

Stop #3: The 76 station with relatively more expensive gas. Another English-impaired cashier who had no idea what a gas can was or at least knew that they didn't have one.

Back to where the women had been sign-holding, maybe 15 minutes after I'd last seen them. No sign of them anymore; some other good Samaritan got them the help they needed, or maybe they were just really elaborate panhandlers.
Bankers in the Mist
This deeply amused me, especially since it led me to remember classmates who went straight into I-banking. My gut impression is that many lawfirms are like this and even a couple computer consulting groups (Cap'n Fancy's employer comes to mind).

Then again, the thing about Captain Fancy LLC is that I'd actually be willing (eager?) to work for this company, in spite of myself, even though I was ultimately unwilling to check my soul at the door long enough to do law.
One more useless music trivia that's currently bugging me
In a white room, with black curtains, at the station...

1. Is the title really just "White Room"? (Sometimes I suck at titles?)
2. Who does this?
3. In the historic-highlight-to-music montage that prefaces Red Sox radio broadcasts (or used to, when I was in Boston), which highlight matches with the guitar intro to this song?

I want to say 1967 AL pennant but that leaves too big a gap between that and the very next highlight, a Carlton Fisk (Game 6 of course) "Stairway to Heaven" combo. And if you care, the rest of the pairs of that highlight montage, from memory:

Yaz home run #400, "My Sharona"
Clemens 20-strikeout game (the first one), "Walk of Life"
1990 AL East clincher (Brunansky's alleged diving catch, the one that probably bounced but ESPN's cameras couldn't see), "Nasty Boys"
1995 AL East clincher, "Gangsta's Paradise"

There. Don't you feel edified?
Music Geekery
For a quick 10 points, which Elton John song contains these lyrics:
it's 4:00 in the morning, dammit, listen to me good. I'm sleeping by myself tonight
butterflies are free to fly, fly away
someone saved my life tonight, sugar-bell

Sometimes in my car I'll flip through radio stations trying to identify title and artist as fast as possible. This one stumped me because I know the song but couldn't think of what it was. It's not just an ignorance of Elton John song titles either; a couple minutes later, different station, I got "Tiny Dancer" immediately.

Anyway, I could google to find the song title but I'd rather not. Tell me if you know.

Meanwhile, the most interesting e-mail I've gotten lately has been from a hardcore Billy Joel fan who takes issue with my epic Bands I Like tome from earlier this year. (I'd forgotten the darn thing existed.)

I think Joel, as an artist, generates both deep overratedness and astonishing hostility, with the first causing the second. He's almost like Clinton or Bush that way.

He is in fact a very good performer but I'm baffled that people, including people I know, go so gaga over him. (I guess the same is true of Elton John.) Rather than make my own case against him, I'll let Guterman and O'Donnell do the talking, since they put Billy Joel at #1 on their "worst of" list.

There was a third part to this entry but I've forgotten it. Oh yeah, For Those About To Rock. (Cue loud B-major guitar chord, with a high D# as the top note. Keep strumming it, now... loud B-minor chord, high D as the top note... repeat...) I finally brought that tape out to my car, a week after I'd bought it. The title track alone was worth the $6 or so at Amoeba, which is good since the rest of the album is mediocre.

So sure enough, just today 107.7 played it on the radio, one of the few times I've heard it on the radio without flipping to it mid-song. This DJ then described it as "the title track from AC/DC's killer album of 1981." Killer album?! I think not. Maybe by 1981 standards, since the rock industry had been in the tank for three years or so.

Aside, about the Amazon link: They write, Customers who wear clothes also shop for:
Clean Underwear from Amazon's Eddie Bauer Store

(emphasis added)

Naked customers, of course, do not shop for "Clean Underwear."
This can't possibly be good
"Nobody teams can stop us right now."
--Chad Johnson, Cincinnati Bengals

So, um, Craig... about that cut-throat pick...

(Yes, I'm still taking them this weekend. Yes, I'm on crack. Yes, I'll either look like a genius or go down in flames. For what it's worth, I'd originally planned to take Denver this weekend -- along with the Chiefs at home vs. Buffalo -- but after Monday Night I just couldn't.)
Primary Source
What the Iraqi government has to say for itself.

The syntax is awful but I imagine U.S. government documents would look even worse if W. or even Colin Powell had to produce them in Arabic.
Interesting political reading
...on the final two weeks of Minnesota's Senate election. Newspaper folk in the audience, take note.

As Mickey Kaus puts it (scroll down a bit), No throat clearing, no billboard paragraphs. Just the key details.

Kaus also finds four factors that explain why campaigns these days move so much faster than they used to. They sound about right to me.

(No ideology here, it's basically just about how campaigns run.)

You can probably guess what I think about Walter Mondale (and if I wrote anything about him it'd be elsewhere; probably no need) but I give him massive props for this line:
After Mondale delivers a gracious concession statement, full of respect for the democratic process, gratitude for the troops, hope for the youngsters, love for Minnesota and encouraging words for the victor, a reporter asks him why he lost.

"As I analyze it," he replies, "it came about because at 5 o'clock this morning I had fewer votes than my opponent."
A gratuitous map of where I live
Now you know where I live. That's old news to most of you.

Check out the green and the light blue. The green north of me is Golden Gate Park; it really is usually that green. The green west of me is Ocean Beach; in real life it's dark brown (the sand, you see). The light blue on the western edge is what you think it is. Presumably if you had a sturdy enough craft you could keep going west and reach China several thousand miles later.

Zoom out a little to see it relative to the rest of San Francisco, or the Bay Area, or California.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Who Would You Kill?
Spend several hours here; I'm steering clear because it looks too addictive.

Found via this WKRP link contained in this essay found while trying to verify Nick Gillespie's suck.com pseudonym.

That's pop culture nirvana there.
Brushes with journalistic quasi-greatness
Jesse Walker becomes instantly a candidate for most famous -- better put, most widely read -- person to post a comment on this weblog.

(Sorry, Jon, I'm guessing Reason gets greater circulation than the Standard-Times, since pop-culturally informed libertarians outnumber South Coast residents. Also, to be honest, I'd rather read about the history of pirate radio than about Drew Bledsoe. Who wouldn't?)

So I had a classmate, actually a campus-newspaper colleague, who's probably analogous in magazine fame to Walker. She's had work for National Review (William F. Buckley and friends get mentioned twice here today! Woo!) and The Wall Street Journal and such, but I can't associate her with a specific publication the way Walker personifies Reason.

(Sure, Nick Gillespie -- better known as Mr. Mxyzptlk to suck.com readers -- has a better title, but Walker appears to do the real work.)

As for me? Yeah, being a computer geek pays well when the work is there, but writing usually seems a lot more fun than coding.
News from Mike
(No, not Mike, nor even Mike, but rather Mike.)

Based on this entry it looks as though he has a girlfriend and may have a Ph.D. soon. (He's, what, 21 or so? Maybe 22 but certainly no older.) And he still buries the lede and worries too much about what other people think of him.

Should I be at all humbled that the person who I most aspire to be like is a good five years younger than me?
Script-writing final exam
Try turning this into a John Travolta movie. Or I guess, from the photo, a Wesley Snipes movie.
Two points on the Gold Glove voting
1. It's deeply flawed; what else is new?

2. This article is exhibit N (for some reasonably high N) on why, as pure horse's asses go, Omar Vizquel is one of the most underrated jerks in the sports-jerk world.

Did anyone ever read his "tell-all" book?
Ralph Wiley on O.J.
This is almost a deeply moving piece, but as long as far more black people than white people actually believe O.J. didn't do it, I don't think the problems are entirely where Wiley puts them.
TEJADA!
Read this.

All I long I said "A-Rod with my head but Tejada with my heart." That's still true on both counts but I became increasingly annoyed at the sheer smugness of the people who insist that the most valuable player is identical to the best player.

Imagine two elite snipers were vaguely within range of Saddam. The first one can fire with deadly accuracy over a 500-yard range; currently he's 600 yards away. The second one can fire with deadly accuracy over 300-yard range; currently he's 250 yards away. Obviously they first one is the better sniper, but which one is more valuable?

(That is to say, the difference between 95 wins and 101 wins is often far more crucial than the difference between 64 wins and 72 wins.)
People who whore out their own children...
This probably belongs on the political offshoot but my anger transcends politics.

In fairness my parents subscribed to National Review (and I'd read their copy because I used to read whatever I got my hands on) but I'm fairly certain they didn't indoctrinate me beyond sending me and my sister to Sunday School. (And the ELCA trends to the Left. Well, maybe not in Tulsa. I guess an ELCA congregation in Tulsa would be collectively right-of-center by national standards but left-of-center by local standards.)

Actually now that I think of it, I'll put up (yet again) a parallel post on the politics side. Your comments can go whichever place you think they belong.
Being in someone's dream
This one's amusing, coming from this guy. (Except the picture on that page doesn't look much like the one on this one.)
Fun with the NY Times
Any journalists out there recognize these? (Read the comments as well as the article.)
Att'n: Cooch
(I suspect he doesn't read the politics one.)

Check out what your favorite golf course agitator was writing about a few years back.

There's probably a metaphor in here somewhere.
Speaking of urinating in the Lambeau sinks...
(and by the same author as the piece linked to in between...)

Two priceless throwaway lines here.

Stories like this make me understand why so many people on my Left flank fear that this country could turn into a police state. The sad truth is that incompetent, megalomaniacal local police forces transcend ideological boundaries. (Sorry for the big words.)

Coming soon (but not here): More thoughts on how party lines (or Left vs. Right) affect these incidents; you'll know where to find them. (On the Deuce, as it were, or maybe the offshoot blogs are ESPN to this one's ABC? Blah.)

Still more of a teaser: "digital rights," and whether someone will finally have the backbone to stand up to Big Entertainment, also come into play.
"A pack, not a herd"
The events recounted in the first few paragraphs of this piece reveal a whole lot about what I think makes this country great. It's a shame more people don't even know about this angle.
The sinks in Green Bay are much more sanitary now
First sentence of this article belongs in the lede hall of fame.
What is wrong with this picture?
So apparently Alabama and Mississippi hooked up one night and got out of bed wearing each other's clothes.

(Note: By the time you see this they might have fixed it but I swear, as of the timestamp, the caption reads AL / MS from left to right.)
The Commerce Clause and the 21st Amendment
Betcha didn't know this legal geekery.

Thread convergence between this post and a previous one about Instapundit touting Randy Barnett for the Supreme Court:
In my "Forgotten Constitution" seminar, one gal wrote her paper on the 21st Amendment. She was fairly attractive and also very good at her research.
Some of the scariest words ever spoken in a classic rock promo:
BON JOVI YESTERDAY... BON JOVI TODAY...

Heard "Wanted Dead Or Alive" immediately followed by their new hit (yes, they have one). Mixed reviews, mixed emotions.

I imagine Stones fans feel similarly sometimes.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Property Law Final Exam Question
Why didn't this guy get to keep the money?

I'm embarrassed to admit I don't have the answer.
Does Yakov Smirnov use SBC Yahoo?
And what would the Russian comedian think of Internet that logs onto you?

(Note: based on googling, this guy thought of it first. But his archives aren't working. Maybe mine aren't either.)
Go Ye Mighty Sons of Crim!
ESPN College Gameday will finally taste Ivy, as reported on this weblog.

It seems to me that Penn grads dominate the level of weblogging (okay, fine, warblogging a couple runs below the true quasi-celebrities). Then again, I link to some Harvard folk, but that's just because you're my friends, same as the BU folk or the Michiganders.
More Dynamite Hack
I feel like there was some great trend in 2000 that nobody told me about. Meanwhile I was stuck listening to the Baha Men (and blanking out on their name on a tossup about them two years later). Some choice quotes here.

Minutes after the members of Dynamite Hack learned that N.W.A.’s MC Ren was outraged by their acoustic cover of “Boyz-N-the-Hood,” they ran into Third Eye Blind’s Stephen Jenkins in a Washington, D.C. hotel bar.

“I was depressed that Ren had dissed us,” says Hack frontman Mark Morris. “Then Stephen came over and said, ‘Why so glum, buddy? People on the internet say I’m gay. It doesn’t matter. You’re young and you have a hit song.’ It was nice of him, but I was disappointed: there he was, nursing a cranberry juice. I was like, ‘Dude, you’re not only gay on the internet.’ ”


Also, they share an enemy with Eminem. I've never heard an ICP song other than the "My Name Is" parody, and yet I can't take any group seriously after The Onion disposes of them.
Dynamite Hack
One song I forgot to mention from the Phoenix weekend: I heard it at least twice and wondered, "why is some folk band singing gangsta rap lyrics?"

This is why. On the subject of zany covers, the bar has been raised.

If you have yet to hear this song, do everything in your power to find it.

UPDATE: Based on the timestamp on the article, this song is two years old. Why is it just now getting airplay on stations I listen to? Movie soundtrack?
How far has on-line sports coverage come since 1997?
According to ESPN's Week 11 scoreboard page, Pittsburgh and Atlanta are both 5-3.

According to Ashley Ambrose's Game Log on Yahoo!, the result of his last game was "W 34-34".

Meanwhile over on James Farrior's Game Log the result is listed as "L 34-34".

I imagine that's about how both locker rooms felt about it too.

Fantasy football idiosyncrasy: In my league where we start individual defenders, my current starters are two Falcons and a Steeler. (Jay Bellamy seems to be having a better year than Ambrose but my starting Ambrose correlates with better team results.) In my league where we start team defenses, mine are Atlanta and Pittsburgh. Therefore everyone who gets me FFL points on the defensive side of the ball plays for Bill Cowher or Dan Reeves.

Meanwhile, David Akers kicks for both teams. Ah, consistency.
Randy Barnett for Supreme Court!
He's seriously touted here. One of the most interesting professors I had at BU; other J.D. holders in the audience may also have taken him. I had him for a seminar called "The Forgotten Constitution": We each wrote a paper on some obscure provision of the Constitution that perhaps shouldn't be as obscure as it is.

Mine was the ex post facto clause, with the obscure part being the question of whether it should apply to civil matters (tax law, for example) as well as criminal.
Bang!
I favor modest gun control measures but only for museums.

(Seriously, my position on the Second Amendment is probably about what you think it is.)

Monday, November 11, 2002

To: Aaron Sorkin
From: Me
Re: Boston Public

I actually saw a TV show take on a controversial issue tonight and give fair hearing (in the form of kangaroo court) to both sides of the issue. (If you saw the promos but not the show itself: An enterprising senior was caught renting out a room on campus -- couch with fold-out bed, condoms, spermicide, and linen service. Depending on who you ask he was either "running a brothel" or giving privacy to kids-who-would-have-done-it-anyway.)

Watch and learn. Not everyone who disagrees with you has to get a perfunctory straw-man argument put in their mouths.

To: Mike Shanahan
From: Me
Re: Boston Public

Yeah, you read that right. I watched Boston Public tonight. (Actually my roommate Scott did the channel-flipping.) That's how bad the game got. What gives?

Thank goodness I didn't go to an actual sports bar tonight (as I'd seriously contemplated). Yuck.
The Dao of Paul
As mentioned (by me) on the comments widget of Cooch's World, there's a lot of volatility in college quiz teams' sizes. Sometimes, for lack of good organization/planning/cameraderie, a team gets far fewer people showing up to practices and tournaments than it should. Other times, a team actually lives up to its potential.

The two best recruiting jobs by far (here I mean getting students at your school to come to your team, NOT getting students from at large to come to your school), in the limited sample size of programs in the same geographical area I've been in, were Harvard teams of the mid to late 1990s and UC-Berkeley of the past 2-3 years.

Maybe it's just a coincidence but those two teams have exactly one player in common. It does make sense: He's good-natured, reasonably on-the-ball, and more outgoing than he probably gives himself credit for. Come to think of it, most of the meaningful social activities that I've been in lately involved Paul in some way. Or at least a plurality; I guess I had a few dates around August-October.

The key, it seems, is to include other people by feeling or acting comfortable around them. Late-1990s Harvard teams would routinely invite BU or MIT folk to dinner with them. At the very least that meant Joon, Paul, Dom, Mike, and I spent a lot of post-tournament time at various Boston-area restaurant franchises. Fun times, even if Chili's was overrepresented or Joon fell asleep a lot.

Saturday night Berkeley had its dinner thing and ASU people joined them. Along those lines, when Paul, Juliana, Andy, Mike (different Mike, even though their weblogs are both ridiculously untouched lately), and I go bowling at 1 a.m., even though Mike is the most dedicated bowler I suspect Paul is the impetus.
Question for anyone who actually watched it
Was this game a reasonable contender for Best NFL Game Ever?

It sounds like I'm exaggerating but I'm really not. Maybe my sense of franchise history is lacking but it seems as though surely this one should make the top ten.
Life without an Internet connection...
Aside from a few minutes Sunday afternoon, we had no DSL here from (some time between Friday night and Saturday morning) to (some time between 2:45 and 3:15 this afternoon).

Friday night: Three past-or-present Caltech people, my teammates for West Coast TRASH Regionals, stayed at my place; they got in around 1 a.m. Earlier in the evening, waiting for their arrival, I watched... a lot of syndicated TV. Blame it on Lisa isn't as bad as I'd thought the first time around but Alone Again, Natura-Diddly is still really depressing. As Seinfeld episodes go, The Parking Garage is quintessential. Wandering around in a parking garage has extraordinary nothingness zen.

Maribeth and Richard and I chatted a little (not much) before turning in, all fairly tired. They got our empty bedroom; their teammate Andy (a freshman, if I remember right) is extremely quiet and slept downstairs

Saturday morning: Discovered lack of Internet just when I needed to look up where on the Berkeley campus the tournament actually was. Called Paul; luckily he was home and told me the building/room #.

More on the tournament later, perhaps. It was a lot of fun. Our team meant a few extra dollars for Berkeley in an eight-team field, where three of the eight teams were in-house. (Fourteen people were on those teams. Had our team not been there I suppose those 14 people could have formed four teams instead of three. Then again, a half-dozen people beyond those 14 had to read, scorekeep, or do stats; the 14 got a relatively good deal.)

There are questions I'd love to comment on but I don't know if there's an embargo still. In short:
The lack of underlining apparently caused problems. In particular, I think moderators asked for too much specificity on movie titles, especially movies with subtitles. One movie's actual title apparently really does begin with The Adventures of, a phrase I (after being prompted) couldn't come up with to save my life, and certainly not the way Aaron McGruder refers to it.

The best west coast trash players aren't as good at sports as the east coast counterparts, but more than make up for it on the music. There might also be sample size issues. I once thought playing with Allyson was a nice way to clean up on music; that was before I saw Berkeley's Pennington and Levine on a team together. By contrast, there is no Delaware team anywhere near the west coast, though maybe Arizona State does a reasonable, albeit hockey-challenged, impression.

(I suppose the three biggest trash phenomena on the "quiz circuit" aren't on either coast at all: the original Gerbils, the Mike Keenan Folk, and this guy. But half the Gerbils write for TRASH, and all three of those teams seem categorically well-balanced.)

That night, three competing social activities:
NAQT playtesting, to take advantage of the Masons' presence. Yet again this meant a playtesting session at my house that I couldn't even be bothered to attend. In fairness, R. had settled on Saturday night only after I'd mentioned that I was unfree Saturday.

The ASU team and some Berkeley folk went to see 8 Mile; reports indicate it was quite good.

My friend Stephen hosted a "gaming session" (board games, NOT D&D). It's unclear whether one has the stamina to play well after 14 grueling rounds of quiz-bowl; then again, it was TRASH. Obviously I couldn't have played games after 14 rounds of ACF, because those 14 rounds would have ended around 10:30 instead of around 6:30.

Obligatory complaint: I unwittingly misunderstood Paul twice, not only on what time gaming started but also whether people would eat dinner in between. This left me at Stephen's place half an hour early and cost me a chance to eat dinner with the ASU/Berkeley folk. Between this and Sunday's lunch SNAFU, my nutrition this weekend was double-plus ungood. The evil paradox is that it's exactly this kind of "starvation" that makes fat people fatter: For want of a true meal, we gorge on the snack products offered to us instead.

Nonetheless the games were enjoyable, aside from a Taboo interlude. (I really don't like Taboo. It's not a problem with word games in general -- some I like -- but many games, all of them word games, earn my irrational hatred, most infamously Taboo and Pictionary.) Best games by far: Carcassonne, with Once Upon A Time a distant second.

(With sufficiently creative/stubborn people, Once Upon A Time becomes impossible for anyone to win, until finally someone has the right card combination just when everyone else is fatigued enough to just be relieved that the damn story finally ended.)

Sunday: Dominated by a D&D session. I spent way too much time trying and failing to find food, predicated on the catastrophic assumption that Palo Alto's malls might actually have a food court or the like. Got there way late (we didn't order our usual pizza-for-lunch, since two people had lunch plans before the session; in fact those lunch plans made us start later than usual). The session ran long enough that we did do our usual pizza order after all, as more of a dinner than a lunch.

So of course, when I got back home -- by now stuffed with tortilla chips, Halloween candy, and pizza -- Scott was making chicken fajitas. I did partake but went light on the meat.

Little of interest to this blog happened between Sunday night and just now. I stayed home so that the DSL guy could come around. He verified that the problem was not from in the house but rather outside, perhaps at "the central office." Very shortly after he left, the DSL mysteriously came back.