Muttroxia: Best of 2008

The presidential race:
Edwards quits, so I change from Edwards to Hillary. An analogy on choosing my candidate. I switch to Obama. Hilary gets screwed again by the media. Is McCain Bush’s lapdog? What do you think of Sarah Palin (lots of good comments)? We learned more later about howshe was picked. McCains fundamentals. I called the election on Oct 20th, and gave some perspective on American elections.

Other politics:
Torture Update
(By the way, recent document dumps confirm that the torture policies were agreed on and implemented by the very very top people.)
Senate Holds (though Coburn has steadily been gaining points with me)

Social Security Update, with a couple of key graphs (1 and 2).

Random Funny:
Fountain drink and buffet lines.
Restaurant floor managers
Nice Brains
Gender prediction
Crazy marketing
Arguing with Papa Johns.
Disney World, and the worst ride ever.
Building Security
Analyzing basketball names at the Olympics, and my favorite Olympics moment.
Dumb T-Shirts
Too much Excel

Childrens Wisdom: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. And a bit from the wife.

Semi-serious:
Applied Math
Muttrox’s Day in Court
Benfords Law
New Years Resolution and update.
Led Zeppelin are cheaters
Ignorant letter
Sign of the Times

More…
I started giving updates on every poker game starting in March. Search for “Poker Updates.”
Search for “Links o’ Interest” to get my many links to the wonders of the internet.
Here are the previous best of editions, 2005/6 and 2007.

New Years Day: Our Stupidist Holiday

New Years Day is a pathetic excuse for a holiday. What is it celebrating? The arbitrary reset of our consensus calendar system. Who cares? This is a remnant of our superstitious past, where we thought the way we measured time affected the way time passed. This is cut from the same cloth as stupid Russians revolting when the change to Gregorian calendar moved them from Jan 1st to Feb 14th overnight. Hey Nikolai, it’s just bookkeepping, you didn’t really lose six weeks of your life!

We might as well have a holiday every time there is daylight savings time, or they add a leap second.

You want to drink and party? Do it any ol’ day. You want to mark the turning of the seasons? Use the Winter Solstice – you’ve just passed the shortest day of the year and you’re now turning towards spring. You want to make a resolution? Make it on your birthday – it makes more sense.

Bah Humbug. Just a stupid idea for a holiday.

Patriots Wrap-up

In 2009, the Patriots were both the best team ever to lose the Super Bowl, and the best team since 1985 not to make the playoffs.

A couple posts ago I asked if it was good that an 11-5 might not make it, while (for example) the 8-8 Chargers got in. Even though my own team got screwed, I’m going to say it’s a good thing.

  • As soon as Brady went down, the season was written off by most people. Even with as good as we did, the Pats were never going to win the Super Bowl. They weren’t even going to make it there. Not being in the playoffs doesn’t matter so much.
  • We had an easy schedule. Not as easy as it should have been (four games against the Jets and Dolphins were expected to be all wins), but still. Our 11-5 isn’t as meaningful as it would have been the last few years.
  • It’s not as fair, but it makes sports more interesting. It’s kind of neat that a good team doesn’t make it every once in a while.

For whatever it’s worth, Yglesias agrees with me while Easterbrook calls it Armageddon.

I suppose I’ll have to root for Atlanta the next couple of weeks. Or maybe New York – if they win, then their victory over the Patriots has more legitimacy.

Celtics Lakers

The preview of the finals was a great game. Too bad the refs were horrible. In the last few minute they called a charge on Rondo when Fisher wasn’t even close to set, and called a block on Pierce when he clearly was. The last one iced the game for the Lakers.

That puts the Celtics at 27-3, or a 90% win rate. That projects out to a 74-8 season, two games better than the Bulls’ record. I don’t think it’s going to happen. But it’s nice to think about.

Speaking of Rondo: Yes, he’s much better this year. But let’s be honest, it’s not hard to look good when you’ve got Garnett/Allen/Pierce around. All you have to do is be competent. Which he is. The weirdest part is that every part of his game has improved except that little floater move of his. His rookie year it was a great tool, this year it never goes in. Never. I think he is zero for sixty on it this year. Stop it!!

Patriots Update

After Week 1, I predicted the Patriots would finish 10-6 or 11-5. With one game to go that counts as a bullseye prediction for ol’ Muttrox.

The Pats need to beat the Bills. Assuming they do, then we need the Jets to beat the Dolphins. If that happens, we’re automatically in as division winners. The Jets have been eliminated (I think). Mangini and Bellicek hate each other. Would Mangini actually throw a game just to keep the Pats out? I don’t think so. I don’t think anyone throws games in the NFL.

In baseball or basketball, no individual game means that much for job security. In the NFL, every game is huge. For a coach, the difference between 10-6 and 9-7 could mean his job. Throwing a game would be very very risky. I also believe the most players are incapable of throwing games. I have tried to throw poker games and for the most part I just can’t. And I’m certainly not a professional who got there partially because of my killer competitive instinct.

This season once again shows how the division structure is unfair. The Pats, Jets, and Dolphins are all good teams. Certainly better than the crappy Cardinals we humiliated last week. Nevertheless, the Patriots could easily go 11-5 and not make the playoffs. Is that bad, or part of what makes football interesting?

AirTran has no Advertising Credibility

AirTran charged me $15 to check one bag for two people. It was expected but that didn’t make any less annoying.

Inside the terminal they had a coffee area. Above it was a big sign that said, “Free Coffee. One more way AirTran is saving you money.”

Screwing me for $15 and giving me a $2 cup of coffee does not even out. Also, I don’t drink coffee.

Links o’ Interest

The best viral videos of 2008

Tom the Dancing Bug at it’s best

European Scams ‘05

The Shoe attack on Bush. Try it yourself! And the Bushtrix version.

Most likely to succeed:
Malcolm Gladwell on predicting success

Oh, that’s sneaky

Mad Scientists

A different take on It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s terrible.

As Megan said, these guys managed to shorten “Don’t be evil” by one key word.

Evander Holyfield is trying to regain the title at age 46. I don’t see Mike Tyson following that.

Women’s car gets stuck on train tracks. She dials 911 and asks for help instead of getting out of the car.

Real life Dilbert Manager quotes

2008 in pictures.
Parts 1, 2, 3.

Barack Obama’s campaign manager gives a rare interview.

America the melting pot: A neat visualization of immigration to the USA since 1820.

Poker Update

I never had my mojo tonight. My semi-bluffs got called, my bluffs got called, my one good hand did not. Blech.

Already whittled away, I have Ah-6h in the small blind. I call a min raise, the flop is 9-6-4. The raiser raises again. I looked him over and made a read that he was full of it. He often is. I called. The next card is 9h. He raises again putting me all in. I have the sixes and four cards to the flush and what the heck, I call. He did not have much. J-9, so the turn had given him trip 9s. I didn’t get my flush on the river. I rebought.

The next round treated me much better. I wasn’t playing any better, just the cards were falling clearly. I usually either had something or I didn’t, which is much better than marginal hands.

I call a raise with Ac-10c. The flop is Kc-xc-xc. I have the nut flush! It’s me and the same guy who knocked me out. He raises, I call. The turn is nothing. He raises, I call. I glance at my cards — uh oh! I misread my cards! My Ace is the Ace of spades, not clubs — I don’t have a flush at all! But now I have to call, the pot odds are with me. The river is the Qc. I have the flush (again!). It’s not the nut flush anymore, but only Ac and Jc beat me. He raises once more. I again figure, what the heck and call. My 10c beats his 9c. I get my revenge and double up.

I have about 4K, blinds are 3-6. I am having a conversation with another player whether short stack should be thought of as how much you have relative to other people (that’s the way I see it) or relative to the blind amounts. He thinks it’s blinds, and since he has only 10 blinds he is short-stacked. The next hand he goes all-in. Everyone folds to me, I have 6-6. Hm. This guy can play anything. And he thinks he’s short-stacked. I figure him for two high cards. But mainly it’s 10:45 and I have to get home and print and stuff and fold and organize our holiday cards. What the heck, I call. He has A-K. He gets his Ace and knocks me out.

Way too much “what the heck” playing from me tonight. I was definitely making some bad plays just to get some action.

Tonight: -$40
Running Total: $515

Good Customer Service Uses Sympathy

A few weeks ago my beloved TiVo broke. It did not break all the way but it was not recording all shows properly. I called their support line. The person diagnosed the problem quickly – it was a “known issue”. The fix was to reset my entire system, which would unfortunately delete all my season pass and preferences. They would all need to be redone. I was annoyed. I have 55 season passes. You heard right, 55 of them. Can’t I back this up somewhere? No. Can I export the list somehow? No. Can you save off my info at TiVo central and send it back to me in some format? No. I would just have to suck it up. Man, that’s annoying. I was angry.

Suck it up I did. I took a pad of paper and carefully wrote down all the season passes. I reset the system (this takes about three hours). I started entering all the season passes back. I hadn’t thought to record my thumbs up and thumbs down, so it has taken a few weeks more for TiVo to learn my likes and dislikes.

Thinking about it later I realized how the support person could have done a better job. At not point did she show any sympathy that this was a giant pain. If she had simply said, “I’m sorry but we don’t have any easy way to back up and re-enter your season pass information. You’re going to have to that manually yourself. I know it’s a lot of trouble for you.” I would have been much more calm about it. A simple admission that she was asking me to do labor to fix their problem in their product would have helped a lot.