Links o’ Interest

Must.. buy.. groceries…

Baby platypuses. Platypi?

The final frontier

Learn about blue whales

Boy calls police to surrender his pacifiers.

Press this in dire situations.

Alzheimers

The origin of evil

What to do if I’m murdered

Why did Sauron attack Middle-Earth? Self-defense against Gondorian aggression!

They’re going to expect more of you

1. Go to google.com. 2. Type “where is Chuck Norris”. 3. Press “I’m feeling lucky”. 4. You are welcome.

How a stray mouseclick cost a bank $150K and chocked the NYSE. Adventures in poor user interface.

The MacGyver multi-tool

Lunch notes from my wife

Cooper Manning, the other Manning brother

Before they were too big to fail.

Using the zero-rupee note to fight corruption in India. When psychology meets corruption.

Links o’ Interest

Dear sailors

The gathering

Priorities

5 Insane Fan Theories that make the movie better

The fake freeway sign that made the roads better

Reddit’s comment of the year

Jesus makes things so hard

Whoa…

Dirty Harry has a problem

Maybe it’s just a phase

Fun with Mormons

The dungeonmaster of the rings

This poor guy – and so funny

Printers are from hell

That’s how it happened, street life

Drumming up business

Fantastic law firm ad

What? You were the Joker, right?

The 4 myths of profile pictures

The band OKGo explains why they can’t allow their YouTube videos to be embedded on any other sites

Google’s new approach to China

He calmly announced his own murder, and almost brought down the president of Guatemala. Then it got weird.

Saint Elizabeth and the Ego Monster: The downfall of John Edwards

I Love my Daughter

My little girl is 20 months old. I just got a call from the wife. She is singing along to Who Are You. I love my kid!

And as usual, for no reason, here’s a bonus track. The very cool demo version of “Athena”. I love the funky guitars.

Poker Update: Even More Whining

Wow. That was a fun night, fun people, but boy o boy, the poker is just ridiculous. Plenty of good starting hands, plenty of good flops, and yet I was eliminated in 35 minutes flat. It went so fast I didn’t have time to pay for my Coke, I had to track down a waitress on the way out.

The first hand, A-10. I raise it. The flop is K-Q-x. I raise again on a semi-bluff and I’m called. I raise again on the turn and I’m called. I check the river, he turns over pocket queens.

The third hand I have A-10 suited. Again I raise. The flop is 6-8-J and there are two hearts. I raise again. Still two callers. The turn is a 4. The river is a 5. No hearts. There is a raise. She’s got the 7 for the straight, I can tell. I fold. Yes, she had Q-7. So did the other person. Both fo them stayed in for 3 raises and hit inside straights.

The fifth hand I have to fold my pocket sixes to big raises after a flop with two overcards with 3 players in the hand.

I am now short stacked. I have A-9. I raise preflop and get one caller. The flop is A-8-5. I got all in with my last 300. I am so excited that I knock over my Coke when I’m pushing my chips in. Soda all over the place, but mostly on me. Son of a gun. He calls with pocket 9s, and I double up, though I’m still short-stacked.

(They are supposed to give me bonus chips for ordering something, even if it’s only a Coke. Where’s that lady with the bonus chips, I need them!)

The next hand there are three limpers, and I look down at pocket Aces from the big blind. Yes!! I raise it up to 150, they all stay in. The flop is K-x-x. I slowplay it with a check. I figure one of these three will have a King and raise it. Yep, she puts another 150 in. I go all in, another 520. The first raiser thinks about it. She has a big stack and what the heck, she calls. The second player has no idea what’s going on and randomly throws her chips in. The first player turns over K-Q (yes!), the second player K-6 (yes!). All I have to do is avoid queens and 6s. I am roughly a 75% favorite. The river is a 6. The clueless dumbo wins. Talk about being Hellmuth’d! I have no beef with the first player. Top pair and a queen kicker, of course you call. But the second player had top pair with a weak kicker and two all-in players in front of her. She should have folded, she didn’t, and she tripled up.

At least the second player didn’t have quite enough to cover me, so I have 220 left. Blinds are now at 20-40. I’m in the small blind on the next hand. With two limpers I look down at A-Q. I go all-in. I get knocked out.

I mean, c’mon! This just ain’t right. That’s six hands with good cards. Only two of them connected (you would expect about 50% to), and of those two, one was a monsterous bad beat with pocket aces to a know-nothing. Geez, I just can’t win this year.

Poker Update: A Fine Whine

That was the most frustratingly unlucky night of poker I’ve ever had. I didn’t whine at all about my lack of cards in the neighborhood Tournament of Champions, but I am now.

Is it possible to go three hours without connecting on one flop? Oh yes it is. Every hand I played, every single bloody hand I played, not one time did I hit the flop. Not only that. I had pocket 8s twice and pocket 9s twice. Every single time I raised pre-flop. Every single time I was called, often by multiple players, and every single time an Ace came on the flop, and every time someone else put in a big bet and I had to fold. It was the kind of night were two players go all-in, so I fold my K-J, and the flop is K-J-x. It was that kind of night.

Here’s really the kind of night it was: Time was running out for rebuys. With a small stack I knew I was going in. I would either double-up to a moderate stack, or rebuy for a moderate stack. But I couldn’t even get playable cards. In two orbits around the table I never saw a card higher than an eight. But what’s this? With time for two hands left, I get a Q! I go all-in and I am knocked out. Hey, that’s okay. That’s fine. I get my new batch of chips and sit down for the last hand before rebuys are over. Two players limp in. I look down at pocket kings. Holy cow, real cards! I go all-in. The guy to my left says what the hell and calls me. He has J-2. I like this guy, I really do. He’s completely unpredictable, impossible to read, and generally a lot of fun. Why did he call? Either as a pure what-the-hell, or he didn’t realize I had just rebought and figured I was going in with anything. At any rate, I have pocket kings vs J-2, so I have an 5:1 edge. The board gets 3,4,5,6, his six high straight knocks me out.

It’s a miracle I lasted as long as I did. I’m pretty sure the only hands I won the whole night were from raising pre-flop and stealing the blinds.

Oh yeah, and I was paying a babysitter to watch the kids the whole time. Ugh!

Criticizing the Critics

Can you be a music critic and not know The Beatles’ “A Day in the Life”? I’m a bit of a classic music snob, but I think this is basic knowledge for anyone who makes their living reviewing music. It’s one of the top five songs by the most influential band in rock and roll history. We’re not talking “the name escaped me”, or “oh yeah, that song”, but someone who has never heard the song in their life, and reacts to the orchestral breaks with, “oh, that’s neat.” Can you be a professional music writer and not know this song?

As long as I’m talking about it, here it is. Plus a great live performance of Jeff Beck’s version afterward.

On the other hand Matt thinks I have to know I’ll Follow the Sun, which I think is too obscure.

Poker Update: Tournament of Champions

I started as big stack, with about 20% of the chips in an 8-person table. After an hour that was closer to 25 or 30%. Then it started going bad. I’m still not sure how. Hands like this I suppose.

I have Q-8 as dealer. What the heck, I’ll raise and see what happens. I get a caller, and the flop is J-10-8. He raises. I have an inside straight draw and bottom pair. I have outs, and he may be completely bluffing, ok I call. The turn is the same kind of logic and I lose a bunch by the time I am forced to fold on the river. I suppose I shouldn’t have played the Q-8 in the first place. Another time I go in with K-10. The flop is 4-5-6 and the same guy raise big again. Argh! A few hands like this and I am just one of the players, no longer big stack. (As it turns out he had big hands on both of these so my eventual folds were correct.)

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. I had A-9. The flop was 10-9-x. I bet, was re-raised and called. The turn was… I don’t know. I forget. Anyhow we got to the river (another 10), he raised big again. I there were a lot of things that could beat me, but the betting pattern didn’t add up. I called, he had a set of 10s. The betting pattern didn’t add up because he changed to slowplaying me in the middle and I fell for it. Dang.

The key hand of the night:
I am big blind. The first person, who is short-stacked. goes all in. Everyone folds to the small blind, who also goes all-in. I have K-Q suited. It’s about a third of my stack. After thinking it through I decide I can afford to go in and see what happens. A win on this hand puts me back in control. I also call.
The flop is Q-x-x. Small blind checks. I am sure I have the best hand. But.

Tournament strategy says that I should check. Tournament strategy says I want me and the small blind in the hand, so the odds are good than one of us knocks out the small stack. In other words, I give up some chips (or expectation of chips) in favor of gaining position. I decide to call. The turn is an Ace. When we show cards at the end, the small blind has jacks (losing), I have queens (losing), and the small blind has A-x. He wins it. I guess it worked as planned, I gave up chips and got tournament position. I guess.

Readers poll!

1) Should I have played the K-Q in the first place, or just let them fight it out?
2) When the queen came up, should I have checked with the top pair, or made a big bet to push out the small blind?

After that, things just didn’t go well. I didn’t get any good hands, didn’t connect on any flops, didn’t have enough chips left to push people around. The end was anti-climactic.

I May be Four Years Old, But I Have Standards

My VP at work knows I’m a big Patriots fan and gave me this sweet mini-helmet, signed by Tom Brady.

bradyhelmet

Today, the four-year old saw it on the beaureau. Instantly he grabbed at it.
Me: Don’t touch that!
Him: What is it?
Me: It’s a helmet, leave it alone.
Him: I want it! What does it do?
Me: What do you mean, what does it do?
Him: What does it DO!!!?
Me: Do? It doesn’t do anything, it’s just a helmet.
Him: I don’t want it anymore.

My Fantasy Football Season

For the second year in a row I won our regular season and get eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. This is, to put it mildly, very annoying.

I started the season with high hopes. My core of four players was incredible. I had to trade away Wes Welker and Donald Driver, but I got second round picks for them. My draft was unremarkable, but solid.

Or so I thought. It soon came out that dumping Welker was about the dumbest possible move. Terrel Owens sucks. Roy Williams sucks. Greg Jennings is okay. Outisde of my big four, my only good players were Tony Gonzales and Vince Young. And I couldn’t even play Vince Young, we have a 1 quarterback 1 flex league, and both those spots were filled with Drew Brees and Philip Rivers each week.

It was an achievement to win the regular season. I actually finished 8th out of 12 in points scored.

Damnit. I want to at least get to the second round next year.

Links o’ Interest

Danny DeVito will do another season, if…

I’m getting some pussy one way or another

Steve Nash does Derek Zoolander

Yeah, so what?

Notice

The Golden Gate bridge, from a plane

The science of willpower. Very relevant to New Years resolutions.

Parents do not belong on Facebook. But Star Wars does!

A personal all-time sport achievement

Generations comparison

If you don’t want to use the real word, don’t call it the 4 Fs.

Strange sublet response

The Rock is horrified

Good advice

The dumbest product ever, bar none.

Coming up: The future

‘Sup dog.

Morality

This is very long, but worth it. The story of the best winless high school football team.

Homeopathy explained

That’s really nice.

What English sounds like to non-speakers

Anti-whaling group split off from Greenpeace in 1977 or so. They built one of the fastest boats in the world. Then they confronted a whaling boat. See what happened next.

14 Terrorists blow themselves up by accident. Nice.

Which states permit…

A brutally honest first-person account of ALS.

100 years
of consumer spending

After three years living in China, James Fallows shares his thoughts on whether America is in decline. Long, but worth it.

Poker Update

Next week is the neighborhood tournament of champions. I am starting with 25% of the chips (based on my “regular season” performance). To keep my skills up I went to the local bar to play tonight.

Not just to keep my skills up. Here’s where I sit right now. I am one of the best players in our neighborhood game. The best? Eh, who knows, but I’m up there. If I want to get better at poker I need to play other people. So I’m trying to get out more with different groups. But so far, I have not been successful.

Why? It could be any of these:

  • My usual gang isn’t very good. I’m good enough to beat them, but not other good players.
  • I’ve been unlucky in other settings. I’ve only played out four times or so.
  • I have my neighborhood game figured out, but it took me four months to get a read on people. I don’t have that luxury with strangers.

I showed up late to tonight’s game, so I started as short stack (1,000 in chips) already. I committed 30% of my stack on A-5, and then folded to an all-in (it was the right play!). A few minutes later I was down to 300. The blinds were already at 50-100. When I was dealt A-2 I went all in. I was called by A-9, but hit my 2 on the river. Yes!

A few hands later I went all-in with a pair of 9s. Someone called for fun with 8-5, I doubled up. Next hand I had K-A and took another 1,000 of someone. Hey, I got some money!

10 minutes later I was dealt A-Q. The blinds were at 100-200 and two people had limped. I’m all in for 1,700! Again, someone calls me for laughs – this time with J-10. Sadly, his 10 pairs up and I am knocked out.

I left in a good mood. I played well, got lucky, then got unlucky, hey, that’s poker. I was next to Acuman (one of my neighborhood buddies) the whole time, a Patriots rerun was on the telly, what more could you ask for?

Tonight: $0 (it’s free!)

P.S. Acuman pointed out that I’ve held my own in Vegas against much tougher competition. True! Good point!

Muttroxia Awards Five Points to Fergie

I hate the Black Eyed Peas. Have hated them ever since the first note they played. Wasn’t really a note, was some kind of sampled noise. They are horrible. Fergie, on the other hand, is fantastic. And not just to look at.

Look at her taking Merry Clayton’s part in Gimme Shelter. Despite the lackluster white-boy music of U2, she nails it.

For no reason, the Stones performing Gimme Shelter at the height of their powers. Mick Taylor rocks the house.

Why You Should Leave Statistics to the Statisticians

This post is over a month late. It’s been bugging me all that time. I still can’t figure out how to write it. Over the last year I have come to agree more and more with this guy; The Sports Guy sucks. This whole column was about the dumbest thing I’ve ever read in my life. From top to bottom it’s an exercise in deliberate ignorance.

This part was a whole new level of stupid though. My jaw dropped that any one would ever expose their idiocy in a public forum like this.

Put it this way: The Colts weren’t exactly on fire. Admittedly, I am terrified of Manning and have written as much. But Indy had already started and completed two long touchdown drives in the fourth quarter against a good defense. Had the Patriots punted, Indy would have had to pull off a third long touchdown drive to win the game. I asked Peter Newmann to research the number of times a team started and completed three touchdown drives in the fourth quarter to erase a double-digit deficit and win an NFL game since 2005. Here’s how the list looked before that fourth-and-2 call.

2005: 1
2006: 2
2007: 0
2008: 1
2009: 0

In 78 weeks of football dating back to 2005, it happened a whopping four times. Four! If you’re playing the statistics card, why not play that one? By punting, the Patriots would have been asking Peyton Manning to pull off something THAT DOESN’T HAPPEN EVEN ONCE EVERY EFFING SEASON. You’re damned right I just went all caps. Hold on, I have to repeatedly bang my head against my desk again.

(Ow.)

(Damn!)

This is so fundamentally stupid it’s hard to even know what to say. I’ll start with an analogy.

The Sports Gal is playing roulette and red has come up the last nine times in a row. She’s deciding what to do for the 10th roll. She decides to bet on red. In busts The Sports Guy. Are you crazy!? I had my stats people look this up – do you know how often there are 10 reds in a row? It’s less than one-tenth of one percent – what are you doing? Bet on black!!

Needless to say, this is stupid logic. It’s strongly related to The Gamblers Fallacy, but it’s basically confusing probability of an event with probability of an event given that most of that event has already happened. In the above example, the probability of red coming up is the same as always. It doesn’t matter what has come before. And that stupid forced statistic is completely different when you look at it after most of it has already happened then if you had asked the odds of The Colts doing it before the game started.

Maybe you don’t follow what I’m saying. I’m too annoyed to explain it well. But that’s okay. You don’t have to get it. All you have to do is not be the most popular sport columnist in America using your column to trumpet the exact opposite of the actual truth.

I can’t even write this. It’s one thing to be ignorant of statistics. It’s another to be willfully ignorant. To ignore statistical arguments from people who know what they are talking about and try to make up your own. To misuse numbers so badly that all you do is demonstrate your own stupidity.

User Interface: Electronic Road Signs

highway sign

One nice feature of the Atlanta roadways is the electronic signs. Every few miles on the major freeways there is a large sign. It tells you when there is a traffic jam, an Amber alert, construction, etc. They are incredibly useful for avoiding big problems and re-routing traffic properly.

They have one small problem. They should only show something when there is relevant or new information. Often they have messages that tell me an exit 8 miles away takes me 8 minute to get to. In other words, they are telling me that traffic is flowing as it should. This is not helpful. It wastes my attention. It trains me to ignore the signs. The sign should only display information when that information is at odds with the normal situation.

asdf

Muttroxia: Best of 2009

Here are the best posts of 2009. The criteria? Whether I like ‘em.

And as always, massive amounts of interesting links. Just search for “Links o’ Interest” and start clicking away.