<$BlogRSDUrl$>

7.31.2004

Boom 

Nomar Garciaparra out. Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz in.

So we get a couple offensively inconsistent Gold Glove infielders (Kevin Millar's days are surely numbered) in exchange for a guy who was very likely to walk after this season. Trading offense for defense certainly makes sense (and remember, the Sox took the Yankees to 7 games with Nomar batting sub-.200). Still, pretty shocking all in all.

I think I'm going to call my bookie in Vegas right now and ask about the odds on Nomar hitting a walk-off HR in Game 7 of the World Series against the Red Sox.

(UPDATE: Probably zero, since the AL has home-field advantage for the World Series.)

Not all the trade news was good for Boston. Yankees pitcher Jose Contreras, the Red Sox' favorite whipping boy, was traded to the White Sox in exchange for Esteban Loaiza.

No-arbitrage clearly disproven; markets are inefficient 

On June 22, 2004, the value of a futures contract that delivers $1 in the case of a Bush win was $0.54.

The price of the same futures contract contingent upon a Kerry win at that time was also about $0.54.

(This market inefficiency had worked itself out by the end of the next trading day.)

(Then again, maybe traders on that day were forecasting negative interest rates in the future?)

7.30.2004

Us vs. Them? 

I'll have to look a transcript to be sure, but Christopher Hitchens says that



On Thursday night, Sen. Kerry quite needlessly proposed a contradiction between "opening firehouses in Baghdad and shutting them in the United States of America." Talk about a false alternative. To borrow the current sappy language of "making us safer": Who would feel more secure if they knew that we weren't spending any tax dollars on Iraqi firehouses?



Now if you held a gun to my head and told me to choose between sending a few billion dollars to Iraq versus sending a few billion dollars to state governments in the US, I'd have to choose the former. Isn't one of the main points of liberalism that we must help the people who are truly helpless? Doesn't Iraq need a lot of help rebuilding its civic institutions (not to mention cleaning out the terrorists)? And to tie this all in to our national self interest, isn't making sure that Iraq turns out to be a reasonably liberal state instead of a Islamofascist state important to our national security?

This bit reminds me of Kerry saying that "I actually voted for the $87 billion [reconstruction bill for Iraq] before I voted against it," meaning of course that Kerry approved a bill that would have funded the Iraq reconstruction by rolling back tax cuts for the wealthy. That bill failed, and he voted against a revised bill that did not change the tax cuts.

Hey, I think it'd make planning our federal budget a lot easier if we rolled back the tax cuts, but Republican campaign support being what it is, that wasn't going to happen. So do we go ahead and try to fix up Iraq, even if it forces us to cut domestic spending and possibly incur debt, or do we leave Iraq hanging out to dry? Again, the latter is simply not a humane option.

Sweet 

Straight from the horse's mouth: U2 will be kicking off their 2005 tour in Boston. It appears that the tour will start in March.

Well, I know where I'm going to be for a week in March next year...

7.28.2004

Iraq soccer advances to quarters of Asian Cup 

Not bad for a group of athletes who used to be tortured by Uday Hussein after losses.

Vapid. Utterly, utterly vapid. 

Pulling a stunt like this at the DNC must be indicative of a real lack of creativity and ideas within the party these days.

As humor goes, it's not really that funny. As political theater goes, putting a twelve-year-old on the stage is really kind of sad.

7.27.2004

The pain of war cannot exceed the woe of aftermath 

Does anybody know of a substance that will make skin regrow on an open wound? I keep reopening this wound on my right knee by playing softball and ultimate every week.

7.26.2004

Ref calls foul. Players and coach storm the field. Ref shoots players and coach. 

This report from Reuters omits a lot of important details, so it's hard to know exactly what happened. (Did the players and coach actually attack the ref? Where was security?)

7.25.2004

This is what happens when you hold a political convention and don't pump money into the local economy 


Here's the story from the Globe. Apparently the DNC is feeding the delegates for free, though I'm not sure how many meals that is.


Boston's probably going to take a big economic hit, since lots of businesses in the city are closing. (I-93 and lots of other roads are going to be shut down.) I'll bet New York is going to have similar problems when the RNC hits town. Can someone remind me what goes on at these overblown hootenannies that's so important?



(HT: Viking Pundit.)


7.24.2004

Periodic rant about managers not knowing how to use pitchers 

Bottom of the 6th at Fenway, Red Sox mounting a huge rally, bases loaded, Manny Ramirez batting, two out, Yankees leading by two, and Joe Torre leaves LHP Felix Heredia to pitch? Why not have Mariano Rivera, or at least Tom Gordon, warming up and coming in to get the out and pitch the 7th? (Or Scott Proctor, who looks pretty good so far.)

UPDATE: Oh.

Hey A-Rod, think you're worth one run in a close game like this?

What was A-Rod thinking? 

Getting himself thrown out along with Jason Varitek? If I'm the Red Sox, I'll take that trade any day of the week.

I can see the headlines tomorrow: Yankees acquire Tie Domi from the Toronto Maple Leafs for two minor league prospects.

Lies, damn lies, and... 

How is it that the Red Sox top the Yankees in so many statistical categories and sit 9.5 games behind them in the AL East?

Any hardcore Red Sox fan will surely tell you that the Sox pile up hits, runs and wins by whaling on the chumpy teams, but their lack of smallball skills and clutch hitting against top-notch pitchers and lousy defense have led to numerous defeats against strong teams like the Yankees.

7.21.2004

How to stop Ken Jennings 

I bet what the Jeopardy! crew did was bring in Turd Ferguson and Sean Connery to verbally pummel him and possibly ass-rape him.

Since the June 2 show, he's won 35 straight games. Only five times has the outcome of the game been in doubt heading into Final Jeopardy. The rest of the time, Ken's post-double Jeopardy total has been more than twice the nearest challenger's total.

Actually, the way Ken lost is probably that some guy was within striking distance of Ken after Double Jeopardy and simply didn't wager very much on Final Jeopardy. Ken then got the answer wrong. (Ken is, as of this writing, only 24/35 on Final Jeopardy questions). According to this Jeopardy archive, Ken always assumes that the nearest challenger will answer correctly. This can be inferred by observing that always bets (2y - x + 1) if the outcome is in doubt. I think this might not be optimal strategy if Ken is only a 69% Final Jeopardy shooter and Ken's opponents are presumably worse; if y > (2x - 1)/3, then the challenger's best strategy, given this knowledge of Ken's strategy, is to just wager nothing and hope that Ken loses. Of course, this information might now have been available to Ken's opponents when the shows were being filmed.

Hmm. I'm really tempted to work out the optimal game-theoretic strategies for Final Jeopardy now.

UPDATE: Working out the game theory is proving to be quite painful. Not surprisingly, there are no Nash equilibria. Mixed strategies (strategies where each player chooses a certain wager with a certain probability) are necessary; it looks like it's been worked out here.

As an example of the results contained in the paper, suppose the challenger (hereafter known as "Chump") has 2/3 x dollars and Ken has x dollars. Chump needs to adopt a strategy where he threatens to wager either 0 or 2/3 x, and Ken needs to adopt a strategy where he threatens to wager either 0 or (1/3 x + epsilon).

The kicker here is that the probability that Chump and Ken assign to their strategies depends on their chances of answering correctly; Chump should assign the weight (p(both right) / p(Ken wrong), 1) to the wager (0, 2/3 x) and Ken should assign the weight (p(both wrong) / p(Ken right), 1) to the wager (0, 1/3 x + epsilon). So if the Final Jeopardy question sounds like it'll be hard, Ken should give more thought to wagering 0. If it sounds like it'll be an easy question, Chump doesn't have much of a chance, but he should consider wagering 0 and hope that Ken loses.

As Chump's score y varies in the range (2/3 x, x), the optimal strategies become more complex; Chump has to threaten a range of wagers in evenly spaced increments from 0 to y, and Ken has to threaten a range of wagers from 0 to (2y-x + epsilon).

The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away 

Three short years after the Arizona Diamondbacks won the World Series, Randy Johnson has given hints that he wants to leave Arizona and be traded to the New York Yankees. Of course, his agent has officially denied such allegations.

If Johnson really does want out, this would be a bit sad. Ray Bourque asked out of Boston, but that was after 20 seasons of championship-free hockey with the Boston Bruins. Joe Dumars stood by the Detroit Pistons after the Bad Boys started going south. Dan Marino lost one Super Bowl with Miami, and never got within sniffing distance of another for the rest of his career.

And really, who's to say that the Diamondbacks can't be a contender next year? Last-to-first seasons are always possible in baseball, unless you're the Montreal Expos.

7.20.2004

Hush my darling, be still my darling, the lion's on the phone 

with his lawyer.

I don't particularly like Disney, but...if I remember correctly, the only place where "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" appears in The Lion King movie is in one scene where Timon and Pumbaa sing the first line of the song. Disney has to pay royalties for that? Maybe it's used more extensively in the theater production, I don't know.

7.19.2004

Eddie George refuses pay cut 

Tennessee Titang RB Eddie George has refused the team's demand that he take a pay cut and will likely be released. (NFL contracts are not guaranteed.) He was due to make $4.25 million this year; the team wanted to rework his contract to pay him $1.5 million.

There's no reason for any team to sign him for anything close to $4.25 million. This guy is possibly the most overrated player in recent history. He's averaged 3.7 yards per carry over his career on a team that has Steve McNair and consistently makes the playoffs, and he's averaged 3.3 over the last three years. You could go down to the pawn shop and buy a RB to gain 3.3 yards per carry.

Oh, but he's durable, people say -- he hasn't missed a game in his career and has started all but two. Well, you could get a RB from the pawn shop, and buy another one when the first one breaks. The point is that George is at best a slightly above-average running back and is quite replaceable at a much lower cost.

Speaking of labels 

In Beaumont, Texas there's a road called Jap Road. A number of Japanese-Americans and others are fighting to get the name of the road changed.


"I hear 'Jap' cars and 'Jap' bikes all the time," Buddy Derouen, 69, a retired petrochemical worker who lives on the road, in the community of Fannett, said in a recent letter published in The Beaumont Enterprise. "Why not Jap Road?"


If the name of the road is not such a big deal to anyone, then why such resistance to changing it? Seems like an issue of personal pride to me -- the residents of the road just don't want to be told that they have to change the name of the road.

Look, nobody is asking you to flagellate and prostrate yourselves before the Japanese-American community. (Well, actually some people might be, but the critics mentioned in the article seem to be rather gracious.) Just change the name of the road and that'll be the end of it.



Mr. Wright's wife, Polly, said she believed the name was originally intended to honor the memory of Yasuo Mayumi, a Japanese farmer who, according to local lore, settled in the area in 1905 before returning to Japan in the 1920's.

"If we change the name, we're conceding to the idea that it was meant the wrong way - and it wasn't," said Ms. Wright, pointing to wood on her floor that she said had come from Mr. Mayumi's house nearby. "We're proud of the name of our road."


See, here's the thing: language evolves over time. Maybe in the early 1900s the term "Jap" was just a slang term. But during the World War II years, when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, when the US destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, when Japanese-Americans were being rounded up and put into prison camps, the term "Jap" became a highly charged epithet. The connotations still linger today. I'm really amazed that the reporter never brought up this point.

In relation to the post below: why do I condemn the use of the term "Jap" but merely snicker at the term "girlie man"? Well...the latter term just hasn't been loaded with hateful connotations by its users (as opposed to being loaded with hateful connotations by people who want to feel offended by it). Perhaps Schwarzenegger was foolish to use the term in his speech, but I doubt that every single female and gay male in the audience immediately felt offended.

(HT: David Chao.)

Schwarzenegger calls California Democrats "girlie men" 

And of course, some people are reacting in a rather hostile manner.

The term "girlie man", of course, was not invented by Schwarzenegger; it was invented by Saturday Night Live in the Hans and Franz skit lampooning Schwarzenegger. It seems like the Governator was engaging in a bit of self-parody-parody. (If Arnold had called these politicians "queer" or "gay", I'd understand the outrage.)

That reminds me -- "homophobia" is a term that is clearly inadequate to describe people's opinions about homosexuality and homosexuals. There are people who are frightened by homosexuality, people who think homosexuality is an abomination, and people who make fun of homosexuality. These three categories are not the same.

And just for the heck of it, The Simpsons also ran an episode in which the following exchange took place:


Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, it's "Up Late with McBain". I'm your announcer, Corporal Obergruppenfuehrer Wolfcastle. And heeere's McBain!
McBain: Ja, thank you, ja, that's nice. Let's say hello to my music guy, Skoey. [Skoey bows] That is some outfit, Skoey. It makes you look like a homosexual.
[Audience boos]
Whoa, maybe you all are homosexuals too!
Bart: This is horrible.
Lisa: The FOX network has sunk to a new low.

Strategery 

The 9/11 commission is claiming that Iran has assisted al-Qaeda in the past. So if we invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, why are we not invading Iran?

Well, I can think of a couple of reasons:

(1) Afghanistan and Iraq were easier to invade than Iran.

(2) There are the seeds of a popular uprising in Iran, unlike in Afghanistan and Iraq. Maybe we can try to assist the student protestors and democracy advocates first.

"Attack everybody" and "attack nobody" are not the only two options in military foreign policy.

7.17.2004

Verbing weirds language 

The following is a list of nouns that have verb forms but shouldn't (at least in my opinion):

word (worded)
phrase (phrased)
impact (to impact, impacted)
author (authored)
Google (absolutely absurd)

Wusses 

The Houston Astros have instantly become my second least-favorite baseball team (behind the Yankees), now that they have instituted a policy of benching minor league players who dive headfirst into first or home.



I have a few comments:






See, Jesus would dive headfirst into home to score the winning run in the bottom of the 10th.


More administrative incompetence in Florida 

So Jeb Bush wanted to purge the Florida voter rolls of felons for real this time. It turns out that somehow it was missing all the Hispanic felons, apparently because the state's criminal databases don't include "Hispanic" as a category, while voter rolls do.

Liberals claim that Hispanics in Florida tend to vote Republican and that this is therefore a conspiracy. However, without data on how Hispanic felons tend to vote (good luck), this claim is of course unsubstantiated. Florida still should be taken to task for general incompetence though.

7.16.2004

Searching for Bobby Fischer 

Well, Japan apparently arrested the chessmaster-turned-anti-Semitic-nutjob and is planning to deport him to the US, where he presumably will be arrested for playing a professional chess match in Yugoslavia back in 1992.
 
If nothing else, his trial should prove to be quite entertaining.


Keep your eyes open 

if you see suspicious activity like this on your flight. 
 
If they really were planning a terrorist attack, then they failed their dry run.  But given that there's been a pattern of this sort of behavior over the past few months, they definitely should have been screened prior to boarding.  You can't know beforehand which group really has the bomb components.

7.13.2004

Claim to fame 

Rob Pelinka is Kobe Bryant's agent and used to be Carlos Boozer's agent as well.

And all this time, we thought he'd go down in history as the guy who was open for a game-winning 3 in the 1993 NCAA basketball championship game but never got the ball because Chris Webber dribbled straight to the corner and called timeout.

7.11.2004

BBC tries to cover its tracks again 

but gets busted by InstaPundit and its loyal readers.

The US, of course, does not have oil interests in Sudan precisely because of Sudan's gross human rights violations (that's a nice way of saying "genocide" and "slavery"). Meanwhile, French titan TotalFinaElf currently does a lot of business in Sudan.

Of course, it's entirely possible that the US is interested in stopping the genocide in Sudan only insofar as it will legitimize future trade with Sudan. While such a course of action is cynical and opportunistic, what's so terribly evil about that?

UN International Court of Justice declares Israel/Palestine barrier illegal 

I understand that it makes it really annoying for Palestinians to commute from their homes to their schools/jobs/other resources in East Jerusalem, and that half of the wall is already up. So why not just order Israel to redraw the boundaries? I would think that this barrier would make Israel's anti-terrorism efforts less intrusive on Palestinian territory, since they could just police the barrier instead of having to man all these checkpoints in the West Bank.

Given the inability of the Palestinian government to stop the terrorists, it seems like a barrier like this would make it easier for Israel and Palestine to establish two (relatively) peacefully coexisting states.

7.10.2004

Not that this'll actually ease the financial burden on men 

But I guess women might get better diamonds for their men's bucks, if this occurrence leads to lower diamond prices in the US.

7.09.2004

Education policy busybodies 

The wolves are out for California Secretary of Education Richard Riordan's blood after he told a 6-year-old girl that her name (Isis) "means stupid, dirty girl." Do note that the SacBee butchered Riordan's apology, though.

Especially amusing is the fact that the NAACP wanted to make a huge deal about the thing until they learned that the girl was white, not black.

Sweet, merciful Jeebus. Yeah, Riordan did something really dumb (was he trying to make a joke?). But consider this: kids get called names all the time in school. They get over it. So should the adults.

7.08.2004

Local politics 

I don't pay that much attention to Massachusetts politics, but I can now say that I'm really glad Robert Reich isn't governor of Massachusetts.

The Constitution prohibits government establishment of religion in various ways, and people of all religions understand that to get their beliefs codified into law, they have to be submitted to the will of the people just like all other proposed laws. But if Reich wants to continue to drive a wedge between religious and non-religious people...

7.05.2004

Kerry picks Gephardt? 

Just a rumor. Nothing else to see here. Move along, now.

UPDATE: Never mind.

7.03.2004

Periodic rant about managers not knowing how to use relief pitchers 

Yankees playing at the Mets, bottom of the ninth, tie game. Joe Torre sends Tanyon Sturtze to pitch. Ok, fine...it's perfectly normal to put some chump on the mound in this situation, because you don't expect the other team to score. But then he walks a batter, gets a pop-out, walks a batter and hits a batter, and suddenly the bases are loaded with only one out.

If you desperately need a double play or a strikeout to avoid losing the game, why on earth would you not put Mariano Rivera in the game?

Don't do it, Coach K 

As much as I'd like to see Mike Krzyzewski leave Duke and see the Blue Devils go down the tubes...there's no reason Krzyzewski should leave college in order to to take a job coaching some of the most uncoachable players in sports.

7.01.2004

Surreal 

No other word can describe tonight's Sox-Yankees game.

Well, perhaps another: justanothernightinredsoxbaseball.

Both teams loading the bases with none out and not scoring...

Derek Jeter saving the game for the Yankees by catching a fly ball and tumbling into the stands..

Curtis Leskanic, one strike away from winning the game, giving up two doubles to lose...

Damn.

One thing to think about: as heroic as Leskanic was for 1.2 innings, should the Sox have put in, say, Curt Schilling to close the game in the bottom of the 13th? Conventional wisdom says not to screw around with your starting rotation for the sake of having another relief pitcher in an extra-innings game during the regular season, because every game is of equal value in the standings.

But when you're playing a team with whom you are engaged in a pennant race (Yankees fans, stop snickering), the difference between a win and a loss is a two-game swing. It's worth thinking about, perhaps more so later in the season if the race is still tight. A win tonight would undoubtedly have carried extra psychological points as well.

It hurts to say it, but... 

...it looks like Nomar Garciaparra is quickly going GP on us. He isn't hitting, and twice in the last week he's committed an error that led to an opponent's winning run. I don't know if the Sox will be able to trade a guy whose best years (offensively and defensively) seem to be behind him, who commands a huge salary, and who is signed only for the remainder of this year.

Anyway, I think Nomar needs to leave Boston. Maybe next year the Sox let Nomar and Derek Lowe walk, re-sign Jason Varitek and Pedro Martinez, trade Bill Mueller, trade Kevin Millar, and sign a solid first baseman and another pitcher.

The trade market this summer doesn't look too good. Perhaps the only trade that might make sense is getting John Olerud for Kevin Youkilis or Scott Williamson. Olerud isn't hitting so well anymore, but the Sox could definitely use his glove at first base.

Maybe the Sox could get Carlos Delgado from Toronto, but I don't know if either team particularly wants to make a trade with a division rival. And the Sox certainly don't need his $19 million contract.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?