April 24, 2006
Google in China
Very interesting article in the NYT yesterday on the Internet in China, and the interaction of American companies like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo there. The article is 10 pages long but I found it well worth reading. I felt before and this article strengthens my belief that Google's particular compromise (at least at present) in google.cn is a reasonable one and probably is a net good (not 'not evil' but more good than evil).
April 19, 2006
Maps of religous geographical concentration
From BoingBoing, very interesting link to a site showing maps of the US color-coded by religious concentration. Don't know how accurate their data is but interesting nevertheless.
What happens if an NBA basketball game ends tied 0-0?
It is a pretty common thing that a team at the end of a season has an interest in losing games, to get a better match-up or to move up in the college draft (as worse teams get better picks). The situation with the game last night between Memphis and the LA Clippers in the NBA, however, was the very most extreme case of this I have ever seen. Facts to consider:
1) Winner of the game would get the 5th seed and loser the 6th seed in the playoffs (very rare that the two teams involved in this kind of thing are competing head to head in the final game in this way).
2) 5th seed (game winner) plays the very good 4th seeded Dallas Mavericks (60 and 21 record which is 3rd best overall in the entire NBA but are only 4th seed in the West because Division Winners get higher seeds).
3) 6th seed (game loser) plays the very weak 3rd seeded Denver Nuggets (44 and 37 record) and amazingly even gets home court advantage in the 1st round because although Denver as a division winner gets boosted to 3rd seed, home court is based on the better record of the two teams playing and Denver's is worse than both Memphis and LA's.
4) If the 6th seed (game loser) team wins in the 1st round, they only have to play the 2seed-7seed game winner (prob Phoenix at 53 and 28) in the 2nd round and not the 1seed-8seed winner (probably San Antionio at 62 and 19).
It is my opinion that all of these things combine to MASSIVELY increase the team's chances of advancing by losing the game last night (probably at least like doubling their chances and an even bigger multiple as far as getting to the finals).
Apparently both teams actually played to win (and Memphis did) but I just find this incredible given the situation!!! What could the NBA do to them if they felt they weren't trying to win? In the most extreme case, if both teams refused to put a single shot through the basket, what would happen? Are you allowed to score for the other team? One would think this kind of thing would piss off the fans but the novelty factor of both teams doing absolutely EVERYTHING to lose would probably have been hillarious. Can you get all of your players ejected from the game and thus forfeit? Do you keep playing when left with only 4 players if doing this plan? Is there a rule to cover a 0-0 score after N overtimes?
April 14, 2006
Perry Bible Fellowship
April 12, 2006
A Tale of Aces
For Greg Nikolic's probable last night at David and Melissa's game night, we played Poker and had 16 players at two tables to start ($1 entry per person split 10-4-2 among top 3 players). I for the most part had terrible cards and was down to 130 (people started with 200) with only 5 players left and blinds at 15-30 in the big blind. Would seem a good time to make a stand until the betting went 100-call-call-smallblindfold-me. With this large a bet AND two calls, I would need a monster to call and joked about being a great time for Aces when I looked down to find AA and made the obvious all-in 30 raise which all 3 called. The Aces held up so I more than quadrupled up from 130 to 535 and moved from short stack to comfortable 3rd where I ended up.
On the night Jeremy was mister aces, getting AA I think 5 times! I actully got them twice and they were two of only 3 pairs I had the entire night (third pair was TT). Not only did Aces play a huge part in my one big hand, I think they were involved in at least 3 hands where players were knocked out (including me by one of Jeremy's string). Another interesting thing that happened was after we got down to 10 players and 1 table, the next 4 people went out in pairs - so straight from 10 to 8 and then 8 to 6.
We also presented Greg with a card letting him know we were buying him a nice Crokinole board so he can play in Florida. This was my idea but tons of people contributed (ended up with 20 people in on it) after just one email to the group. Coordinating it went amazingly easily and I think its a great (and incredibly deserved) gift for Greg.
April 10, 2006
Meta: Improved interface a bit.
For the Movable Type version of this blog, I just made a few minor changes that should make looking at and making new comments and searching a bit easier. Main thing is that comment links no longer open a new (and too small) window and instead use the main window, which I at least much prefer. Margins should be a bit better too, text not going way to the edge of the browser window. Should have messed with this long ago but so it goes.
Movies: Walk the Line, A History of Violence and Tsotsi
Walk the Line was nothing really special to me but very good performances and well done ***1/2.
A History of Violence was a much more interesting film, with excellent acting all around, particularly by the wonderful Viggo Mortensen. I won't say much because I strongly recommend getting this and watching it. I would be curious what people think of the final shot in the movie - is the future visible in this shot and if so, what is it (written cryptically intentionally to avoid spoilers)? ****1/2
Tsotsi won the academy award for Best Foreign Language film but I thought it was just too predictable and I didn't buy the level of transition in Tsotsi's character from the scene where he is beating up Boston to his behavior later. Tries to push a bunch of emotional buttons but in too obvious a way to affect me **1/2.
April 05, 2006
The Apprentice - bad call, Donald
I continue to watch and usually like "The Apprentice" despite it being a big ad every week and some other problems. This week's episode, though, Trump's decision seemed really horrible one to me. I think the #1 problem I have with Trump is that he every week makes it out like teams were badly beaten even when the result was outrageously close. Sometimes the difference has been like 1/10 of 1% which is just obviously massively within the margin of error introduced by straight out luck and yet he makes out like one team did a much better job than the other and the losing team has to massively apologize for tiny choices, which might or might not have been wrong and when the other team certainly made just as many questionable decisions. This week (Arby's jingle), the margin was bigger than that but both teams did reasonable jobs. The PM for the losing team chose, completely reasonably to me, to bring in the two people on the team who didn't contribute to the task (one cause of a Jewish holiday and one cause he was just useless, partially owing to his Russian cultural background [Russian was the one I would have fired]) and not the people who contributed a lot to a project that lost. Trump wanted to blame people for mistakes and obviously felt that doing absolutely nothing was better than stepping up and trying and doing a good, but not great job. This just seems a wrongheaded idea to me. Given this attitude, Trump was forced to fire Bryce as the only person of the three in the room who had done anything. To me, though, Bryce was definitely the highlight of his team (and possibly of the whole group this season) and really effectively got his group all working as a team, completely reversing their past disorganization and infighting.