Forty seconds? But I want it now! 

Fark headline: Brazil's army drafts water buffalo. They are disease-resistant, can forage for food, carry 1,000 pounds and in a pinch they are a M.A.R.E. [meal almost ready to eat]

Nuestro Himno 

I don't object to the national anthem being sung in Spanish, but I do object to its rendition as an awful piece of schmaltzy soft-rock.

And while we're talking about the national anthem -- if it really was cribbed from a British drinking song, then I guess commoners back in those days had much more limber voices than people today. Also, is there some reason we can't sing it in G instead of B-flat? Hitting the high F at the end of "rocket's red glare" is really hard for a lot of men.

I wouldn't object to "God Bless America" being the national anthem, if Irish Tenor Ronan Tynan (TM) and the Yankees hadn't completely ruined it for me. A lot of people would probably object to its theistic view as well (stronger than the Deist beliefs that form the foundation of the Declaration of Independence).


What I don't miss about College Ultimate 

Well, it's playoff time for college Ultimate again, so I took a look at what's going on in the New England region and saw the roster counts and bids in the region:

Metro Boston section: 16 teams, 6 bids to Regionals
West New England section: 13 teams, 5 bids to Regionals
South New England section: 17 teams, 4 bids to Regionals
East New England section: 12 teams, 1 bid to Regionals

Bids to Regionals are apportioned out to each section roughly in proportion to the number of teams who register on time. The reasoning the UPA gives for allowing teams to register late is that (1) they want more teams to play in Sectionals in order to grow the sport, and (2) they need the entry fees from the late teams to sustain their operations ($30 in dues from each player, plus an extra $200 or so per team or so for the Sectionals tournament fee, plus a $50 late registration fee).

Okay, so maybe somebody bombed a post office in Hanover, NH, causing most of the East New England rosters to be lost. But in the absence of other information, I'd guess that most of the teams in ENE didn't get their rosters in on time.

By now, there can be doubt that non-Regionals caliber teams have almost zero incentive to get their rosters in on time. If they turn in their roster late, they pay the $50 late fee (at most $7.15 for each participating player), but they have a few extra weeks to scrounge up enough players to play in Sectionals (this is often a big benefit for such teams). Since they don't see themselves playing in Regionals, it's not worth the hassle for them to get their rosters in on time. (Well, maybe it would, because if a lot of teams got their rosters in on time, they'd have a lot more bids. But you know how this sort of cooperative game always ends up.) Since the number of bids to Regionals is a function of the number of on-time rosters, the teams who turned in their rosters on time suffer because the tournament becomes harder with the addition of the late teams.

Granted, since there is usually a strong correlation between the strength of a team and its ability to get its roster on time, one could argue that the number of on-time rosters is a better measure of the relative strength of each section. Still, the fact remains that allowing teams to register late hurts the teams who register on time.

It's way past time for the UPA to put its foot down and say "Sectionals and Regionals need to be run as a professional production -- get your paperwork in on time or you don't play." If they really need extra cash, they should raise player dues and Regionals fees accordingly.

James Woods and poker 

Over on ESPN, there's a nice little article about MIT dropout James Woods's poker career. Especially interesting are some of his plays against Johnny Chan and Men Nguyen, and an slightly unclear description of a biased random-walk game between players of differing wealth.

Also, if you can figure out how Woods scored 779/800 on his SAT, you win a cookie. Provided you go out and buy it yourself.


Baby you can drive my cow and maybe I'll love you 



John Hancock ads 

I'm sure everyone by now has seen those John Hancock ads that try to pitch investment and insurance products to families. "The Smith family gained 2 percent during midday trading", "the Peterson family ended the day on a positive note", etc. (I don't remember what the exact quotes in the ad are, and I can't find a transcript.)

Naturally, I can't resist twisting them around. "Analysts downgraded the Clark family from 'hold' to 'sell' after Tim Clark got rejected by Harvard and Stanford." "Today saw a frenzy of trading activity after the Thomas family announced it would be dissolving." And so forth.


Greatest 8:30 in Internet history 

Here we have a video of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.


Dress code 

Isn't there some rule against men wearing ponytails and mullets at Augusta National?


Well, that sucked 

But on the plus side, the Red Sox are 1-0 for the first time in 6 years.



This time, MIT picks its Putnam team suboptimally and gets crushed by Harvard.

In fact, Duke even managed to sneak in ahead of MIT. God, I hate Duke. (Not really, in case anybody from the Duke math department who might want to hire me in the future is reading -- just the basketball and Putnam teams.)


An old classic 


Danica McKellar 

With the Bruins in the Final Four, a reporter from SI on Campus caught up with UCLA mathematics graduate Danica McKellar, who used to be an actor in some old TV show called "The Wonder Years". The highlight of the interview is Danica making an epsilon joke which the interviewer completely misinterprets.

Also located in the article is a link to this photo spread. I guess she's kind of hot. For an analyst, that is.

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