Commenting on this story would be way too easy and way too cruel 

The manager for Italian football club Juventus recently jumped out a window in an apparent suicide attempt (which he survived).



I now understand why people riot after soccer matches. I bet Hank Scorpio regrets not nuking Italy as well.

Below, you can see the Australian defender try for a tackle with his right leg, miss, quickly sweep his left leg out of the way to avoid tripping the Italian player, then get run over and get called for a penalty.


Whistling in the dark 

Below is another World Cup video. How the heck did people procrastinate in the days before YouTube?



Sadly, the referee in the South Korea-Switzerland match did rule correctly. A South Korean defender played the ball back to Alex Frei, so the offside rule does not apply. In the video below, you can clearly see the Korean defender (#17) stick his foot out and deflect the ball through to Frei.

The decision to award a PK to Ghana, on the other hand, was ridiculous.


Technology sucks 

The USA-Ghana and Italy-Czech Republic matches kick off in 7 hours. The current standings are Italy 4, Czech Republic 3, Ghana 3, USA 1/ USA needs a win and either a Italy win, or a hell of a lot of goals (for goal differential), to advance to the playoffs.

The problem is that if the USA wins or ties, Italy needs only a tie to clinch first place in the group, whereas a loss would probably leave them second. Therefore, if the USA goes ahead or remains tied and it's late in the match, Italy will hear about it. They will then have zero incentive to win their match and a lot of incentive to not lose. They will therefore play for a tie, which will require the USA to score about 3-4 goals in the remainder of their match. (I know we'd all like to believe that the best way to preserve a tie is to attack instead of to play passive defense, but that's just not true late in a game.)

The alternative would be for the USA to go down early, provoke Italy into playing for a win, then come back with 2 or more goals against Ghana. Stop laughing.

If I were on the USA soccer contingent, I'd work on a way to jam the communications around the Italy-Czech Republic match. We've got thousands of soldiers stationed in bases aroung Germany, so there must be a few Army engineers we can get to rig something up.



Apparently Togo's players may forfeit their match against Switzerland because they haven't been paid.

Does anyone know what the official result of a World Cup forfeit is? In other contexts, I've seen scores of 1-0 and 3-0 used. South Korea has already played Togo, so if a Togo forfeit were scored as 1-0 this would be great for Korea, since the second tiebreaker in group play is total goals scored. (South Korea beat Togo 2-1 earlier.) A 3-0 score would be terrible for South Korea.

The fairest thing to do would be to disqualify Togo and cancel the result of the South Korea-Togo match. Unfortunately, I'm not sure FIFA officials are bright enough to realize this.

Has anyone ever seen Jorge Larrionda and Dick Bavetta in the same room at the same time? 

Just wondering. Near the bottom of this page is a picture of Larrionda, and here's a picture of Bavetta.

If anything sums up the Italy-USA match from today, it's one incident where an American player and an Italian player both slide for a loose ball and collide. The Italian player lays on the ground, clutching his leg and appealing for a foul. The American player gets up and gets the ball. I could be misremembering the incident, but I think the American player was DaMarcus Beasley, and that the incident happened en route to Beasley's goal (disallowed because Brian McBride was offside).

The USA returned to form for this game -- fast, relentless, aggressive but still having absolutely zero ability to finish around the net. Kasey Keller finally got to do something, making two great saves to preserve the tie at the end of the match. Eddie Pope seems to have gone GP on us, going from a defensive anchor in the last World Cup to a liability this time around. I was hoping to see Eddie Johnson come in around the 60th minute wearing body armor and wielding a grenade launcher, but Bruce Arena left him on the bench, opting to play for the tie instead.

EDIT: Dammit, I misremembered the incident from the second paragraph. Actually it was Carlos Bocanegra who made the sliding bid and caught the Italian guy's leg, and the Italian guy was legitimately injured on the play (he got carried off, tried to come back in, was ineffective, and left the game for good). Sigh. I still maintain that US players, by and large, get up off the pitch and keep playing a lot more often than players from a lot of other countries though.


Good old dependable rock. Nothing beats that! 

This is part of the actual text of a court order regarding a legal dispute between an insurance company and some other firm:

Instead, the Court will fashion a new form of alternative dispute resolution, to wit: at 4:00 P.M. on Friday, June 30, 2006, counsel shall convene at a neutral site agreeable to both parties. If counsel cannot agree on a neutral site, they shall meet on the front steps of the Sam M. Gibbons U.S. Courthouse, 801 North Florida Ave., Tampa, Florida 33602. Each lawyer shall be entitled to be accompanied by one paralegal who shall act as an attendant and witness. At that time and location, counsel shall engage in one (1) game of "rock, paper, scissors." The winner of this engagement shall be entitled to select the location for the 30(b)(6) deposition to be held somewhere in Hillsborough County during the period July 11-12, 2006.

Personally, I think cat-tinfoil-microwave is a more legitimate method of resolution, but whatever.

The porn 'stache 

Apparently Adam Morrison plays for the South Korean soccer team. Who knew?

I'm not entirely sure why Ahn Jung-Hwan came in off the bench instead of starting, but he hasn't lost his magic. It's also nice to see South Korea playing a slightly more disciplined defense than they did under Guus Hiddink, when they'd recklessly triple- and quadruple-team the ball at every opportunity.

In other news, the USA got beaten soundly by the Czech Republic. Now for whatever reason, everybody seems to think that advancing out of group play after losing the first game is impossible. It's not. A 2-1 record in group play is almost always good enough for second place in the pool -- the only way it's not is in the rare case that the pool ends up 2-1, 2-1, 2-1, 0-3. Granted, Italy is a doozy and Ghana is no slouch either, but USA fans, coaches and detractors alike seem to be overreacting to the situation.

Gambling websites taking bets on hurricanes 

Apparently offshore casinos are taking bets on hurricanes this season.

I wonder if they offer better odds than some of these more established institutions.


Coordinate vectors should ALWAYS be columns 

Always always always always always always.

The definition of matrix multiplication requires that you go across the rows of the matrix on the left and go down the columns of the matrix on the right.

For a matrix to represent a linear transformation, it should act on the left of a vector. Therefore, the vector has to be written as a column.

Linear algebra texts that use row vectors, and especially those that switch between using row and column vectors, should be destroyed.



In this morning's WSJ online:

Oil prices slipped on news of the death of Iraq's terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al Zarqawi.

Also, I'd quibble about calling al-Zarqawi "Iraq's terrorist mastermind", but whatever.


Happy Antichrist day 

I'm just as fascinated with the number 666 as anyone else, so here's a link to a bunch of elementary number-theoretic factoids about the number of the beast.

Also, today is the anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of Normandy.


Greetings from Banff, Alberta 

Right now I'm in Canada for a math conference.

Banff appears to be basically a swanky resort town nestled in an absolutely fabulous area of the Canadian Rockies. They have a bunch of hotels and other conference facilities here. Right now it's 9:43 PM local time and the sun is still up. I love northerly places that sit on the western edge of a time zone. The only setback so far is that the rooms here have Sun workstations instead of TVs.

Speaking of the Suns, I just watched them fall valiantly to the Dallas Mavericks tonight. I was watching in a bar with a few other random people. A bunch of Canadian basketball fans were made very sad.

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