Links o’ Interest

The Muttrox clan and one our main commenters will are on vacation through July 5th or so. Enjoy the links!


The death of Michael Jackson, 1, 2, and 3.

When good bananas go bad: A banana scaring people.

More fun with Facebook: They pimp your wife

Twitter Creator On Iran: ‘I Never Intended For Twitter To Be Useful’

Darwin award nominee(s)

Funny I-phone

WWII propaganda posters for the modern era

Before they were heavy: high school photos of heavy metalars

Beginner shredding to Eric Clapton. Explore the related videos for more.

Well this is awkward: journalism restraining order

Online journalism, then and now

Hazard sign

The first car made in Detroit after the government takeover.

Hiding pregnancies
on TV

Your eyes cheat your brain: incredible optical illusion

Real 60-foot Gundam statue erected in Japan. And it moves.

Statistical evidence that the Iranian election was stolen. This analysis reminds me of Benford’s Law, which can be used in similar ways. (I can’t find the link, but some smartass did the same thing to New Hampshire result in 2008 and saw similar oddities.)

Fox News does seem to have a problem identifying party affiliation

Rapist goes back decades later to ask forgiveness. Interesting view on rape in South Africa.

The 897 greatest musical artists. I really liked this list, and not just because The Who are at #9. It feels right.

A Tale of Two Houses: An Inconvenient Truth

Getting Old Means Not Knowing What’s Going On

I never really learned what a hernia was until my last medical checkup. I never needed to know. It’s never explained anywhere. There’s a whole list of bodily ailments I never gave much thought to, they were things that only old people had to worry about. Now that there are more things to worry about it is harder to figure out what’s going on. Pains from the body are so easily misinterpreted.

I wake up with an odd twinge in my back. Is it simple muscle pain or is there something wrong with my spine? I feel a pain in my chest. Is it a simple muscle cramp or am I having a heart attack? My shoulder hasn’t worked quite right for a couple days. Should I continue to let my body heal itself or should I go see someone about it?

I don’t know how to tell the difference. With all these new things to worry about it’s hard to tell what I actually have.

Poker Update

On the second hand I had pocket kings, converted for a nice pot. Twenty minutes later I had pocket queens and a queen came on the flop for another super tidy profit. I bluffed everyone out with J-5 and found myself with a nice healthy stack as we moved to the medium rounds.

I was dealt 8-9 in the big blind and limped in. The flop was 10-7-3. I semi-bluffed, pushing 600 into a pot of about 600. Small blind called me. The turn was 9. Now I had second top pair with my open-ended straight draw. I put in another 600. He came over the top with 1500. It was an easy decision, putting 900 more into a pot with 2400 in it with decent cards like that was a no-brainer. He had pocket 3s, and his set held up. Darn it! Now I was down to a smallish stack.

A little while later I was in big blind again. I have 200 in the blind and another 1200 to my name. Everyone folds except the small blind calls me. I have K-7. That’s good enough to push, I go for 600 total. He wavers and then calls. The flop is A-J-7. He checks, and I instantly go all in with my remaining 800. He mutters for a good few minutes about “catching the A”. He has his money counted out. Finally, finally, he decides to call me. He has Q-10. I have him beat but he has plenty of outs. A 10, Q, or King for the straight will beat me. The turn is a 9. Now he has one less card, but an 8 will give him a straight also. The river is a King, I am knocked out.

I was frustrated because I think I played both of those hand correctly, but failed to get lucky on either of them. I don’t think the other guy played them badly or anything, I just didn’t get the breaks I needed.

The Source of the National Debt

Where does the US National Debt come from? The New York Times had a good article a couple weeks back that analyzed the sources of the debt. It only starts after Clinton left office (presumably to make Bush look worse), but it’s still an interesting take. Here are the categories. Before looking, take a minute and guess at the proportions. (It should add up to 100%).

  • The business cycle
  • Bush-era legislation “like his tax cuts and the Medicare prescription drug benefit”.
  • Obama’s extension of several Bush policies, like the Iraq war and tax cuts for households making less than $250,000.
  • Obama’s stimulus bill.
  • Obama’s agenda on health care, education, energy and other areas.

The correct answers are after the jump.

Continue reading

States Educational Systems as Countries

Matt had a post about this interesting paper. It takes each state and treats it as it’s own country. Then it can compare them to other countries. Some US States fare mighty well, some don’t.

For instance, we moved from Massachusetts to Georgia ten years ago. Massachusetts was ranked #1 in the United States by a good margin. It is equivalent to Japan. On the other hand Georgia is ranked at #39 and is in the same group as Hungary and Slovenia.

Massachusetts should add this factoid to it’s curriculum. Then it’s graduates won’t be dumb enough to move to Eastern European states.

Links o’ Interest

(A couple new ones added at the bottom)

Bad news on Facebook.

So dumb I can’t stop laughing

Those lovable Japanese, ready to serve you.

Brilliantly confusing choose your own adventure comic.

London Calling cassette tape

Nuanced and subtle bumper stickers

Do it yourself lawn

The Happiest People Ever photoblog. It goes well with the Goths in Hot Weather photoblog

The Avenging Narwhal. That is one strange toy.

Escher Web Sketch: Have fun tessellating.

Advertising of (now) illegal substances.

Test your typing speed. (I’m around 85-95 WPM.)

Do you really expect any sympathy? Trust-fund babies fall on hard(er) times. May be forced to get jobs.

This should be a good movie

Curious George

(This one is for the parents)

I love the Curious George books, I never mind reading them to the boys. The originals still stand up, and even the TV show is good. But let’s face it, Curious George is one stupid stupid monkey. He’s a disobedient stubborn idiot with obvious psychological disorders.

This is the generic plot of every book and TV show (although less so for the original books). The Man in the Yellow Hat tells George not be curious. But yet he is curious. He disobeys the man. He does something dumb. He compounds his problems with more idiocy. This continues until near the end, when things magicaly work out.

For example, here is the distilled plot of Curious George Gets a Medal:

  • A letter comes for The Man With the Yellow hat. Curious George decides to write a note.
  • He can’t figure out the ink pen and spills ink all over.
  • He decides to clean up by filling the room with soap powder and water from a hose, presumablycausing tens of thousands of dollars of damages.
  • Trying to clean it up, he decides to steals a pump.
  • Along the way he lets a pen full of pigs escape.
  • He steals a cow to haul the pump away.
  • When he is chased, he abandons the pumps, stows away in a passing truck and rides off to parts unknown. He lands at the Museum of Science.
  • Despite having correctly identified a life-size whale and dinosaur as fakes, he still can’t tell the plastic prehistoric nuts in the dinosaur exhibit from the real thing. Even when he touches them, he still can’t tell the difference.
  • Trying to pull them down, he wrecks the entire dinosaur exhibit.
  • Security takes him to the Museum Director, who is rightly cheesed off. He orders Curious George to be sent to the zoo.
  • But wait! In comes The Man with the Yellow Hat! By the most startling of coincidences, the letter he had received that morning was from the same Museum Director, asking that Curious George be hired as an astronaut. An lo and behold, here he is, o everything is working out just great.
  • Seriously, that happened.
  • Curious George gets a medal.

One episode of the TV show was particularly egregious. In this one, George trespassed onto a construction site to get a ribbon. Good thinking, chimp. One things leads to another, until the girdered skeleton of a massive skyscraper crashes to the ground. Easily hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage. Engineers rush onto the scene. And what do they say? “George, we just found out the plans for this building were wrong! You’ve saved us from building wrong! Hurrah!” Good god.

They should shoot him up with Ritalin. Or just shoot him.

Poker Update: The Aces Giveth and The Aces Taketh Away

Nothing worked. No hands, no bluffs that worked. Getting whittled. Raised with A-J. The flop was K-Q-J. Decided to raise again and was called. Skip to the end, he had A-10 and had flopped the straight. I was down to 200. On the next hand I went all-in with K-3. I figured there was 8 minutes left until rebuys ended, might as well beat the clock. But I tripled up instead. Sitting in the big blind with 3 callers, I looked down at A-A. Yes! Went all in with 750, and doubled up to 1700 or so.

I stayed there for another 30 minutes doing nothing. The blinds are now at 100-200. In the big blind I have 9-9. Caller, caller, small blind raises to 600. I’m not sure what to do. I don’t have that much capital, the odds are good I’m going to end up all-in. 9s are good, but there are certainly a lot of hands that beat it. I should probably go all-in right now with my last 1200. Ah, I just call. The flop is 7-8-10. That’s a good flop for me. Open ended straight, a made pair, and no high cards on the board. Small blind checks. I go all-in. I get one caller. He had pocket 4s which do not hold up. Suddenly I find myself with ~4500 chips. I’m feeling good.

Blinds at 150-300. 10 players at the table. 3 limpers. Small blind limps. I am big blind, I look down at A-Q. That’s a raising hand! I raise it to 600. The 3 limpers call. The small blind thinks about it for a while and goes all in with ~3200. Hm. There was 2400 in the pot already, so he could have most anything and be stealing. I don’t think so. I think he has something. I’m thinking pocket Jacks, Queens, maybe even Kings. I think about it a long time since I have ~3200 myself. I call. 2 of the limpers fold. The last limper calls. I turn over my A-Q. Small blind turns over A-A. Argh, he totally snookered me!! And the limper turns over… J-8. J-8? Really? You called with J-8?

Do I even need to tell who won the hand? Me and the Aces were disgusted at being knocked out by J-8. We were royally cheesed. I felt like I didn’t mind being knocked by misread Aces, but J-8!? Cmon!

However, I now think it’s not quite so cut and dry. The J-8 player was looking at a pot of around 8,000 dollars that cost 3200 to call. That’s bad odds with J-8, but not quite so crazy. He was the big stack by a large margin, he had at least 12,000 already. In fact, I would argue that his bad play was the initial limp. After that pot odds were working for him to make the play merely shaky, not horrible.

Tonight: -$20

Parenting at it’s Best: Bringing up Daughter

“While you were gone I pissed on your daughter.”

Thus began the email to my wife while she was out of town. It made me laugh even while I was typing it.

I was watching the kids by myself. Our one-year old daughter takes a lot of attention of course. Well I had to go. Really bad. And you know how little kids love toilets! I raced as fast as I could, but by the time I got my pants down she had already crawled over. The stream hadn’t been going but two seconds when she poked up over the bowl and stretched her hands in to feel what was going on.

I was in mid-stream, you can’t stop at that point! I aimed it as far away as I could (real precision work!) – but sure enough, she got her hands in it. So I’d switch to another part of the bowl and she’d move her arms over there. Every time I changed angles to avoid her she moved back. She was laughing as she splashed my urine all over herself. I was mortified out of my mind and chortling at the same time. You can’t pay for father-daughter bonding moments like that.

(Yes, I cleaned her up.)

How to Improve the NBA

Yes congratulations to new NBA World Champions, The Los Ang.. [choke, gasp] The Los Angele [gu-huk!].. to Kobe Bry[bleearargggh!] I can’t do it. Stupid Lakers!

How is the NBA as a whole doing? Well, the NHL is catching up. Here are two things the NBA could do to that would improve the experience.

  • Enforce the time rules. Free throw shots are supposed to take 10 seconds. They take slightly less than one TiVo fast-forward of 30 seconds. With the amount of free throws thrown every game this adds up. Simply enforcing the rules to chop a few seconds off each free throw would go a long way. 20 second timeouts aren’t 20 seconds. They are well over a minute. Enforce the rule! And reduce the number of timeouts. Games should not end with a timeout after every possession. Even more than the free throws the timeouts kill the flow of the game. Especially in the first half.
  • Never start weekend games past 7:00. Especially for the playoffs!An NBA games take over 3 hours to play. You should never have to stay up late to watch the ending. If two teams in the same time zone play each other, the game should not start past 7:00 local time. This can be relaxed a little in the post-season, since more games are of national interest. 8:00 is allowable in that case. Maybe even 8:30 since West Coast viewers have to get to a set. But no later than that. And never on weekends! Why on earth would you schedule a weekend game at an hour that ensures most people won’t watch the end of it? It’s insane! I love the NBA, but I wasn’t going to stay up to nearly midnight to watch the free-throw and timeout contest that is the last 5 minutes of an NBA game. I went to bed. In the morning I’d watch the last few minutes and see who won.

When you’re losing my interest, you as a league have done something wrong. What are your ideas?

Poker Update: Social Night

It was “>Teela Brown night or something. There were three experienced players at a table of nine, there was a low buy-in with unlimited rebuys, and alcohol was involved. People would go all-in at the drop of a hat.

I couldn’t have been luckier. I had Q-A, the flop was Q-Q-x. Doubled up. I had A-A and got the other guy all-in on the turn, knocked him out. With Q-10 I caught the nut straight on the river to knock out two players. Just ridiculous.

On the other hand, there was one guy luckier than me. He had never played Texas Hold’Em before, but it didn’t matter. He just got the cards. For example. I had Q-A, raised the blinds from 400 to 2,000. Mrs. Muttrox called (she had K-A). He called also. Nothing came on the board, but I pushed anyhow. They stayed with me. He won. He had called the huge preflop raise from two players with 7-9, and 7-9 came up on the board giving him two pair. What are you gonna do, right?

I was knocked out in a similar way. With a relatively small short-stack, I limped in with 10-8, and he called. The flop was 10-9-4. With top pair, I bet heavily, and was called. The turn was a blank. I went all-in. He called. He had J-Q. The river was a K for the straight, knocking me out. I can’t complain about that one. He was right to call with an open-ended straight on the flop, he just got lucky. And I was lucky as heck the first two hours, so, hey that’s poker! Fun night!

Tonight: -$10, or -$40 if you count my bankrolling of Mrs. Muttrox.

Poker Mini-Update (minor news)

Our group is doing a Tournament of Champions this year. Each week a little money is pulled out of the prize pool. The top players each week get a few points, and you get a point for showing up. After 15 weeks, the top 8 players will have a winner-take-all tournament for the winnings and monster bragging rights. The starting stacks will be partially determined by how many points you accumulate during the year. You can follow my progress over here.

Also, nine months ago I was calling out Klaus as a terrible player and using a ridiculous hand we played as a perfect example of being Hellmuth’d. I said, “He’s a nice guy and will probably be a good player when he gets through paying his dues. I intend to be his dues in the meantime”. I’m updating to say that Klaus has payed a lot of dues and has improved his game a lot. He’s still in the bottom half of our group, but he is a legitimate player now.

Poker Update

The omens were horrible. I had been battling Montezuma’s Revenge all day. I untwisted the front wheel of my bike to ride it to the poker game and the entire brake caliper snapped in half. Not good omens at all.

I was determined to play tight. I didn’t play many pots. I didn’t have to show my cards during the first 90 minutes or so. Everyone was folding before me. That was nice, since I never got premium cards. I found myself with a small lead.

With blinds at 100-200, the player to my left raises to 500. There is one caller. Then an all-in bet of 1850. I look down and see pocket kings. O my, I couldn’t ask for a better time! I call. His pocket queens don’t hold up, and I find myself almost 3,000 richer. I felt bad for him, he made absolutely the right play, just happened to run into kings at the wrong time.

Blinds at 200-400. It’s raised to 1,200. From the big blind I have K-J of clubs, that’s worth calling. The flop has two clubs and nothing else. I decide to push a little (I am the big stack after all) and throw in another 1,200. It’s called. The turn is a blank. I check. He goes all in with his remaining 2,300. Seeing as how any ace or board pair beats me, I am probably behind. I figure I have 15 outs on the river: 3 kings, 3 jacks, and 9 clubs. That’s 30-35%. Plus there’s the chance that the other guy is bluffing. It costs me 2,300 to get back over 7K. With the pot odds on my side I call. He has an ace. The river is another club, I get my flush and knock him out. Note to self: That’s a bad beat in my favor!

Blinds at 400-800, we’re down to 4 players. At this point any ace is a good hand. With A-7, I raise to 1,800. The next guy goes all-in. I reluctantly fold.
The very next hand I have A-4, I again raise to 1,800. This time he calls. The flop is A-10-7, he goes all-in. I don’t know what to do. It feels like he’s pushing me around, but there are a lot of hands that can beat me. I call. He has A-Q and it holds up. It’s lucky I was the big stack. That hands knocks me way down, but I’m still in it.

I don’t remember a lot of the rest. I got some good cards and some good reads and some good luck and made my way back to the lead. We eventually get back to heads up at 1,000-2,000 (there’s 35,000 chips in play). On the very hand I call his all-in with Q-J and get knocked down to about 12K. I fight back a little. But it’s 11:45. We’re exhausted. We have to close up the pool and we have work the next day. He offers a chop, with him getting an extra $10 on top. I agree.

Tonight: $70
Running Total: I haven’t put this up lately because it’s so depressing. I figure with this win I’m somewhere around -$50. I’m going to use that.

Laundry Math

I was folding laundry for the kids. Because it was slowing me down so much I noticed that most of the shirts were inside out. Why is that? Is there any reason they should all be inside out? What are the odds of this happening randomly. Time to run some numbers.

33 shirts
24 or them inside out.
Probability of that (or worse happening)?

Two-tenths of one percent.

Conclusion: My kids hate me.

Links o’ Interest

Skydyne tech support emails

Stupid crook of the month

The one thing duct tape won’t work on.

Book review

Beatles Rockband is here

Superhero economics. Really. How come as soon as someone in the comics gets rich, they buy some crazy suit and start trying to destroy or save the world? Clearly having five million dollars makes you insane. And how long would it take The Flash and few others to rebuild the World Trade Center? Why doesn’t anyone go into construction?

Body intake and output diagram

A brief animated history of weed

This should make George Bush’s head explode

Iowa marks the birthplace of it’s best-known citizen. 200 years before it happens.

If you like tennis…

I may never stop using this music tool

Pixar vs the Rest. What an incredible run.

Google’s economist

Photos that changed the world. I can tell I’m a parent, the pictures of children make my heart stop.

Geography and the economy: The Jared Diamond style perspective on the recession

Store owner gives robber $40 and bread, robber breaks down.

Busted by the Six-year Old

(We have a Power Wheels Jeep we bought at a yard sale a couple years ago. The battery died recently. It wouldn’t take a recharge. We bought a new battery. They’ve been driving it around all morning.)

Him: Dad, we stopped using the Jeep.
Me: Why?
Him: We didn’t want to waste the battery. We want to save it for later!
Me: Oh. That’s good thinking. But you know, the battery doesn’t need to be saved. You can use it all day. If the battery runs out we can recharge it overnight.
Him: ?
Me: Okay. You know how batteries run out, right? When this runs out, we plug it into the wall with a special tool called a “recharger”, and that gives it new energy.
Him: Why didn’t we do that for the old battery then?
Me: Good question. We did. But each time we recharge it, it comes back just a little bit less than it did before. So if you use it enough times recharging doesn’t do very much. We used it so many times that it was all used up. That’s why we needed to buy a new battery.
Him: Oh! But we don’t use it very much.
Me: Sure you do. We’ve had it for two years. And don’t forget that Mom bought it from another kid. So there’s all the times he used it also. That’s a lot, right?
Him: What? I thought we got it from Santa!
Me: Um… what?
Him: We got it for Christmas one year, don’t you remember?
Me: Really? Are you sure?
Him: Dad! Yes! It was in our driveway at Christmas! Santa brought it!
Me: Uh.. I’m not sure about that. Anyhow, why don’t you go play on it some more.
Him: Okay (going down stairs) but we really did get it at Christmas.
Me: [weakly] Well, maybe Santa got it from the other kid.
Him: Dad! Why would Santa need to steal a Jeep!!!??
Me: Okay. You win. Go outside and play.

Poker Update

In the early going I min-raise in with A-9. Only one other caller. The flop is K-J-7. I bet a couple hundred and he calls. I figure he has K-x. The turn is an A. I figure I have him beat. I have him read as K-x. Now my Aces beat his Kings. I put in a couple more hundred and he calls. The river is a blank. I put in 500. He comes over the top with 1000. Oh man, he can’t have K-A can he? Or any other two pair? I have to call. He turns over pocket 7s. His set takes me down. I never saw it coming. I really thought I had the correct read. Short-stacked, I get knocked out quickly and rebuy.

I played A-9 four times and lost every single time. The fifth time I decided to play conservative and fold it. The flop was 9-9-x. Sigh!!

I played well the next two hours. I have a below average, but not super small stack in the final eight players. I am playing tight. The blinds are at 200-400. The player under the gun pushes in to 1000. I look down at Ad-Qd. I go all in with 2,350. To my suprise a third player calls as well as the 1,000 bettor. The flop is A-J-10. I feel pretty good with top pair and a very high kicker. One of the other player goes all in, the third player folds. We flip up our cards. He has K-Q and has flopped the straight, I get knocked out.

I wonder why he called. K-Q is a pretty good hand, but to call a 1,000 better and an all-in with it? It is just me or is that a foolhardy bet that happened to hit?

Postscript: It’s the day after, I’m reviewing in my head. It’s true I’ve gone all in with marginal hands a few times. If it had been just him and me it could be considered a reasonable gamble on his part. However when one player had raised and when I had raised all-in, calling it with K-Q is a bad play. It’s very likely you don’t have the best hand, and you can’t bluff me out when I’m all-in already. It was a bad play by him.

Coincidentally, it was the same guy who had the pocket 7s earlier. Also coincidentally, two hands before K-Q had called an all-in against A-A. Two kings came up on the board. Maybe he just figured K-Q was lucky.