How to Improve Professional / World Cup Soccer

Even the most popular sport in the world could stand some tweaks. Overall, I want fewer games decided by chance and referee decisions.

  1. Two referees: Twenty two people is a lot to keep track of. Too many. Get two referees out there, maybe three. They could split the field similar to NBA referees. They can concentrate more, see more, make better calls. It also reduces the chances that any given game will rely on one single call.
  2. More substitutions: Fans tell me it is great to have few substitutions, you end the game with the players you start with. That’s fine, but why not take that to its conclusion and have no substitutions then? Three is such an odd number (ha ha). I would bump this to at least six, or ten, or unlimited.
  3. Penalties for flopping: I mean, c’mon. It’s cheating. You can give it fancy names, you can say it’s part of the game, but it’s cheating, plain and simple. Players who flop should be penalized. If not during the game (it is hard to tell), then after the game on review. Again, the NBA does a good job here. Cheating is cheating.
  4. 4. Decrease size of box: The less area a goalie can use his hands, the less pass-backs there will be, the more chance of something going wrong. Not only does it result in more goals, it results in more exciting playing, since the frontline can apply more pressure when the other team has the ball.
  5. Increase penalty shot distance: The shot is too easy. When the goalie is literally guessing which way the ball will go, it has stopped becoming sports. Push the shot back a bit to give the goalie a chance. I do have a concern with this – that the harder this shot gets, the more incentive for the defense to deliberately foul. Not sure what to do about that…

Ten Good Things about Trump

Muttrox is not a fan of Trump. He’s a singularly awful President and person, in a multitude of ways. And yet, that doesn’t mean that everything he does is wrong. In the spirit of even-handedness and checking my own thinking, here is a list of some good things from the Trump administration.

Please add on. Please tell me there is more than this pathetic enumerations of “Well, at least he didn’t…”

  1. Mueller investigation: He hasn’t made any serious moves to fire Mueller. For all the hysteria and constant articles about “laying the groundwork”, he hasn’t taken any real actions to stop or slow the investigation. Trump genuinely believes he is innocent, he will be cleared, and the whole thing is ridiculous. It’s a low bar to keep from openly obstructing justice in the same way that led to Nixon’s resignation, but it’s something.
  2. The Space Force: It’s a silly sounding name, but it’s a good idea.
  3. China: Calling them out for their rampant intellectual theft. It’s easy to forget this was one of the stated reasons for the tariffs. And he’s right, China has gotten away with it for too long. I’m not in favor of the tariffs, but I don’t think it’s as bad as some say, and there are benefits to bring the topic into the open. The problem with rational cost/benefit calculus (a la Obama administration) is that it incents the other party to be bad – just not bad enough to blow up the whole relationship. Trump changes that calculus for China.
  4. Lowering the corporate tax rate: I don’t know a lot about this. Then I heard a podcast of Freakonmics where four Chairmen of the Council of Economic Advisors to the President (under Bush I, Obama, and Trump) all agreed it should be lowered. I defer to their expertise. Now it was done in an awful way (not paying for it, blowing up the deficit), but on its own it’s a good thing.
  5. Increasing the standard deduction is a winner also.
  6. Conslidating / re-arranging the cabinets: This is a hard one, because you can’t assume a good faith effort to make the government more effective. You have to assume the re-org is being done as a step to keep government crippled, at least the parts that help the poor. Nonetheless, on its own, it’s a good thing to move some of the cabinet functions around. A Department of Welfare (with a better name) could be more effective than having the various pieces scattered all around.
  7. Calling out Congress on immigration: I only wish Trump was even more vocal about this. You want to know why immigration is a mess? Because of Congress. At any point, they could straighten this out with a deal that all parties can live with. The votes are there and have been for over a decade. Political dysfunction keeps it from happening. More recently, Congress mandated Obama do something aggressive about the illegal immigrations, but didn’t really fund it. So Obama did the best he could with the dollars he was given, and prioritized dangerous immigrants over harmless ones. Then the GOP freaked out about Obama subverting the Constitution and such. Trump has the same dilemma. You can’t haver zero tolerance without paying for it, and he doesn’t have the money. Same with the DREAMers, Congress could pass a bill tomorrow that would be okay with most of the country, but political dysfunction keeps it from happening. (Political dysfunction mostly refers to the Hasert rule, a proundly counter-productive un-democratic partisan strategy. I have a whole other rant about that.)
  8. North Korea: Yeah, he got snookered a little at the summit and gave away a decent amount for literally nothing. But just like every president before him, Trump was faced with a lot of losing hands and ended up doing the same thing the other presidents did – stall for time. Could have been worse.
  9. Not wrecking the economy: It’s a low bar, but he cleared it. He was handed a fantastic economy. Sure, he signed on to the tax bill that blows up the deficit, sure he’s launching us into a trade war (that he’ll have to back down from) for no good reason, and welched on a bunch on international agreements, but um… what was my point? Oh yeah, it could be worse.
  10. Privatizing the Post Office: It is no longer a vital function. Every citizen has plenty of ways to communicate with and send/receive physical packages from the rest of the world without relying on government. Of course, he can’t do it because of this little thing called The US Constitution (Article I, Section 8, Clause 7), but it’s a nice thought.

Not a very impressive list. Best I could do.

Why Show Customers How Much Better They Could Do?

As a connoisseur of junky pizza places, I feel positioned to make this claim: An inordinate amount of cheap eating places leave televisions on at loud volumes during all hours. The televisions are not big enough to see the picture clearly. And most oddly, they are tuned to cooking shows.

I don’t understand this. Perhaps it is because the short order cook has dreams of being a real chef and likes to watch the set. Perhaps the managers think it’s a good fit – people come there to eat, people watch shows about eating, QED. However, you are serving crappy food. Having a cooking show only contrasts your experience with high end aspirational dining experiences. It just accentuates how bad you are.

The Avengers Are Not Heroes. They Are Selfish Genocidal Morons.

I loved the movie. But.

These are heroes? Time after time in the movie characters are given a choice. Save the one you love and risk all life in the universe. Time after time the so-called-heroes choose to save the ones they love and let everyone else die. What a bunch of pussies. The more villainous the character, the more they are willing to value the lives of people they don’t know. The villains are the moral ones, the heroes are self-centered babies.

Roughly in chronological order:

  • The Asgardian dwarves forge the Infinity Gauntlet in a misguided attempt to save each other.
  • Loki gives the Space Gem of his own free will to save Thor. Loki is faking it, it was a trick to kill Thanos that fails. Note that Loki is a “villain.”
  • Vision wants to sacrifice himself to destroy the Mind Gem. The Scarlet Witch won’t go along with it, no one else will either. They go to Wakanda to try and get it out without killing him, but taking endless amounts of precious time to do it. They gamble the fate of the universe at long odds.
  • Starlord/Quill has the opportunity to kill Gamora rather than have her be Thanos’ victim. He has sworn this to her. But when it is time, he won’t do it. He won’t do it. He thinks about it. He finally pulls the trigger. Far far too late to matter, as Thanos turns the blast into bubbles.
  • Gamora then tells Thanos where the Soul Gem is kept in order to save her sister.
  • Thanos sacrifices the only being he loves in order to get the Soul Gem. Note that Thanos believes he is saving the universe from untold anguish by doing so.
  • Dr. Strange gives the Time Stone of his own free will to save Tony Stark. (In fairness, this may be because he believes that is the only path to ultimate victory.)
  • Scarlet Witch shows some guts finally, but far too late. Of course the good guys lose when that wasted time leads to Thanos’ victory.

None of them make the choice correctly. It is an obvious choice. There is nothing heroic about allowing trillions of others to die so your loved one can live. It is selfish and immoral, it is the opposite of heroic.

(On a side note – now that Thanos has control of reality, instead of killing half of life he could simply create twice as many resources. Problem solved!)

Links o’ Interest

Been a while since I did one of these. Random links from around the internet.

Lois Lane and Facebook

Battleship

Paul McCartney, Beck, and Taylor Hawkins denied entry at rappers post-grammy party. “How VIP do we got to get?”

2016 Underwater Photography Winners (yes, this has been sitting around for a while…)

Lost film from Walt Disney and Salvador Dali. Not that great, but interesting.

These always crack me up

Elevator Weatherman

The original performance of Purple Rain. This is a live show, the performance was edited down to be the version we know.

Book Recommendations: Thinking Books

This post isn’t ready, but a friend was asking me, so… Here is a list of books that are vaguely about how we think and act. I covered a few of these back in 2009.

  • Thinking Fast and Slow: Daniel Kahneman basically invented behavioral economics. A bit long, but will consistently blow your mind. Many other books steal all these ideas, you might as well get it from the source.
  • Nudge:A classic by Cass Sunstein, who served in the Obama administration and still runs an excellent blog. The topic is about how to use simple aspects of human psychology to “nudge” people into better actions. For example, changing the default status on 401(k) contributions from opt-out to opt-in.
  • Blink: It’s Malcolm Gladwell. What else do you need to know.
  • Predictably Irrational: By Dan Aierly. Continuing the theme from Kahneman, some of the many ways in which we are not perfectly rational. We are irrational, but irrational in very predictable ways.
  • Rational Optimist, How Prosperity Evolves: by Matt Ridley. This may not belong on this list. This is essentially a history of our species seen through the lens of trade and reciprocity, and how things keep getting better and will continue to do so.
  • The Angels of Our Better Nature: by Steven Pinker. It is big and thick, but it will change the way you look at our species. The core thesis is very simple, that we are becoming a better more moral species/society/culture. It’s the strength of the argument that will convince you.
  • How we Decide, Jonah Lehrer
  • Influence and Pre-suasion, by Robert Cialdini. A bit like Malcolm Gladwell, with less anecdotes and more hard data.

Oh, I almost forgot. I published this early because a friend asked me about game theory books. Many of these books touch on game theory, particularly Kahneman, but I haven’t read many that are specifically devoted to game theory. The ones I have read are mostly mathematical, sort of the opposite of a Malcolm Gladwell book. A good one is The Strategy of Conflict by Thomas Schelling, which helped inform mutually assured destruction. Any others out there folks like?

Music Quiz #3

  1. How much do you mean now?
  2. Where do I get my kisses from?
  3. What do I want to do when I wake up?
  4. Why are people trying to put us down?
  5. Who Started the Fire?
  6. How does “Make Love, not War” sound to me?
  7. What is all we have to do now?
  8. You walk over to her door, you start pounding on your door, you say ‘open up the door’ — who are you?

  1. How much do you mean now? At this moment, you mean everything (Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Come on Eileen)
  2. Where do I get my kisses from? I always have to steal my kisses from you (Ben Harper)
  3. What do I want to do when I wake up? All I wanna do when I wake up in the morning is see your eyes (Toto, Rosanna)
  4. Why are people trying to put us down? There’s only one reason. The reason is, just because we get around. (The Who, My Generation)
  5. Who Started the Fire? I don’t know. But it sure wasn’t us. We didn’t start the fire. (Billy Joel)
  6. How does “Make Love, not War” sound to me? Absurd. Make love not war sounds so absurd to me (Extreme, from the vastly underrated Rest in Peace)
  7. What is all we have to do now? Take these lies and make them true somehow. (George Michael, Freedom. Probably other answers out there.)
  8. You walk over to her door, you start pounding on your door, you say ‘open up the door’ — who are you? Wooba Gooba with the green teeth. AKA Peter Wolf (Musta Got Lost Intro, J Geils)

Show Answers

Doctors Offices Are Just Awful

I hate going to the doctor. But not because of the medical stuff. It’s the administrative part. The processes and systems are terrible. So much arrogance, so much stupidity. Let’s skip the endless forms, that’ll be a post for some other day. (Sample stupidity to whet your appetite: Enter both your birthdate and your age. Let that sink in.) We’ll just go through the visit itself.

forms

I sat in the waiting room for thirty minutes past my appointment time. At no time was there any indication that there was a problem, this was considered normal. Anytime they could announce, “our apologies we’re running a bit behind”. Since they already had my contact information, they could have texted me that before I left the house. Delta texts me when they are running late, Home Depot delivery texts me, my son’s tennis team texts me… this is easy proven technology.

As it so happens, I had to miss my daughter’s talent show performance to make this appointment. As it so happens, I could have made it since this office was running thirty minutes behind. As is so happens, since there was no communication, I missed it.

The weigh-in. I had been weighed in six days prior at my primary’s office, and I have agreed to share all my information with this office. I weigh myself every morning. Nope, they have to weigh you personally. Shoes on or off – they don’t care, so it is obviously so imprecise to be pointless.

On to the standard examination room. There is no second chair, so I have to perch on that padded examination table even to have a simple conversation. And even though everyone here will end up half-naked at some point, there is no place to put your clothes. It wouldn’t be hard to throw in a plastic bin, but nope. Throw your clothes in the corner. How hygenic.

Now more questions. The assistant goes through a checklist. The questions are literally the same questions on the forms I just filled out. They are also the same questions my primary care physician has asked many times over (which they have permission to access). When I ask the assistant why I just filled out the forms to have the same questions asked, she looks confused and starts flipping through her papers. We move on to a blood pressure check, even though this is also on my record.

It has now been almost an hour. There is no added value yet. Literally nothing has happened that has improved anyone’s understanding of my medical condition. This is a waste of my time, their time, and our taxpayer money.

Now another nurse assistant of some variety tags in and asks me the same questions that I had filled out all the forms. Why? “To verify what your primary care physician sent over.” The sheer stupidity of this statement likely doubled my blood pressure.

Now the doctor finally arrives. The next ten minutes are sensible. He is focused, professional, knowledgeable.

On my way out, it is fifteen minutes more to find and get handed some forms that could have been assembled before I ever came in.

bored doctor

Doctors have a captive audience – every visit may be a variant of this experience, but no one will switch doctors because of it. This is what happens in a system riddled with perverse hidden incentives. In total – just under two hours at the office. Useful time? Five minutes for another EKG, and ten minutes with the doctor. And a very disappointed daughter.