October 26, 2016
October 25, 2016
About six months ago my family embarked on an experiment in which we agreed, once a week, to watch a movie together. Since these are family events, we have a somewhat limited range in the kinds of movies we watch. At a certain level I'd enjoy the opportunity to share Beast Cops with the family, but I think there are laws against that kind of thing. If there aren't, there should be.
Anyway, it's gone better than I expected. Key findings so far:
- Artistic achievement: Kubo and the Two Strings.
- I am alone here award: I enjoyed The Prisoner of Zenda, but my family hated everything about it and blame me.
- Best superhero fight: Civil War, brilliant, ridiculous, Spiderman steals the show...just like a real comic book.
- Best superhero movie: The Winter Soldier.
- Best Star Trek movie: Star Trek Beyond.
- Not as bad as I feared: Secret Life of Pets. I was braced for two hours of pain, but that bunny is awesome! I love that bunny!
- Biggest meh: Zootopia is gorgeous, well-crafted, well-acted. But I feel like I should have liked it more than I did. Too preachy? Too goody goody? I loved the Bob and Ray tribute, however.
- Others: As noted previously, Robin Hood and Shaolin Soccer are awesome.
No wonder everyone's so angry
Robert Morse, a trouper every inch of the way
October 23, 2016
It was a different time
By one account 250,000 people tried to get into the Polo Grounds to see the game. It was baseball's "Woodstock" moment. By 12:45 the gates were locked for a scheduled 3:00 first pitch. Legitimate ticket holders were refused admission. Fights broke out everywhere as fans tried to get their money back from scalpers. Two men fell to their deaths.
A mob burned down an outfield wall to gain entry but were beaten back by charging mounted police. According to Cait Murphy in her book Crazy ’08, Presidential candidate William Howard Taft’s brother Henry got in by crawling through the sewers, accompanied by a future Attorney General.
October 21, 2016
So long, thanks for the laughs
It begins for the Golden State Warriors:
“We played our hearts out that whole playoffs, the whole season, and then you’re going to call us cowards and not put your name on it,” Thompson said. “Get out of here.”Yeah, it's over.
So long boys, have fun stormin' da castle!
Phexit means Phexit, assholes
"America has lost now. I've realigned myself in your ideological flow," Duterte told business leaders Thursday in Beijing.
"And maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world: China, Philippines and Russia. It's the only way."
Trade Minister Ramon Lopez told CNN that the Philippines "would not stop trade and investment with the US."
Fortunately nothing important runs on Linux
Disclosure of the nine-year-old vulnerability came the same week that Google researcher Kees Cook published research showing that the average lifetime of a Linux bug is five years.
"The systems using a Linux kernel are right now running with security flaws," Cook wrote. "Those flaws are just not known to the developers yet, but they’re likely known to attackers."
October 20, 2016
The first time I heard that song
Thursday, July 6th, 1984. I was in Fenway Park, up in the cheap bleacher seats by the wall, a row or two behind a couple of insanely devoted fans. These guys - one thin and quiet, the other fat and loud - were there for every game, scoring it on professional pads and punctuating the play with various remarks. The fat guy was LOUD, and he got his money's worth:
- One night the Blue Jays were in town with their not-very-menacing 3rd baseman Rance Mulliniks and he screamed "IN YOUR PANTS RANCE!"
|We all feared him|
- There was a big sign for a shoe store with the tag line "Where did you get those shoes?" One night Tony Armas was playing deep in center and the guy screams "TONY WHERE DID YOU GET THOSE SHOES". Armas pointed at Rice in left. High fives all around.
- Whenever Dwight Evans came to bat, he'd scream "DEWEY! DEWEY! DEWEYYYYY!" One night he almost hyperventilated and fell over while doing this, which made it even more special.
- When Wade Boggs would come up he'd scream "WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAADE!"
- He hated Bob Stanley, a fairly ordinary reliever who often came into games and doused the flames with kerosene. When Ralph Houk brought Stanley in a big game late in the year I was over in the grandstand, and could hear this guy's "NOOOOOOOOOOO!" with perfect clarity. His concerns were well-founded - Stanley got crushed and the Sox lost.
[Addendum: I did not know this until I looked it up, but the Fat Guy surely did, because he seemed to know everything. From Wikipedia: "In 1977, Chicago White Sox organist Nancy Faust began playing the song when White Sox sluggers knocked out the opposing pitcher. The fans would sing and a sports ritual was born."]
October 19, 2016
October 17, 2016
October 16, 2016
The ordeal of Carmelo Anthony
"I just looked at it, and it was disrespectful."
- Carmelo Anthony, on being named the 15th-best player in the NBA
Carmelo Anthony is unquestionably one of the most gifted basketball players of his generation, a nine-time all-star, and also the possessor of a scoring title (2013) and three Olympic gold medals. But, unfortunately for his reputation, no NBA titles or MVP awards.
Anthony has long had a reputation for selfishness. When coach Mike D'Antoni left New York in 2012, Willing Davidson of The New Yorker wrote:
The consensus—denied by both—is that Anthony and D’Antoni could not agree on an effective court strategy. D’Antoni is the architect of a famously programmatic offense in which every possession runs through a quick-witted point guard. Anthony prefers the Melo system, in which everything runs through himself.
Basketball statisticians have not been kind. Back in 2014 Michael Erler criticized ESPN's new Real Plus-Minus stat on the grounds that it thought Carmelo Anthony was good:
I know it's fashionable to rake Anthony over the coals for his lackadaisical defense and ball-stopping on offense, but I'm sorry, at some point common sense has to intervene. If Anthony is your ninth-ranked small forward, your stat is faulty.
But the recent Olympics prompted some re-thinking, perhaps even some rehabilitation. In August Kyle Wagner at FiveThirtyEight wrote:
Anthony is a different player on the international court than when playing in the NBA. Internationally, he’s a spot-up shooting, ball-moving zone-buster; in the NBA, he’s an isolation-heavy volume scorer. It’s not as though Anthony is a fundamentally different player abroad — he’s a perfectly good spot-up shooter in the NBA when he finds time and space to spot up — but the nature of the international game and that of the Team USA roster change the way he influences a game.
Wagner makes a good point about his being a high volume scorer. Particularly on mediocre teams there's often a guy who gets stuck having to shoot more than he should just because the team just doesn't have enough good players. But there are players who take a lot of tough shots and make a lot, and players who take a lot of tough shots and miss a lot. This chart of the top twenty players by total attempts (2015-16) helps us see which is which:
So, yes, Carmelo is a high-volume shooter, but he is an inefficient high volume shooter. The man who led the Association in attempts last year, James Hardin, is viewed by some as a selfish player (not by me: he ranked 6th in assists). But while Hardin takes a lot of shots he actually has fewer misses per attempt than most. Anthony takes fewer shots than Harden and makes a lower percentage of them (.463 on two pointers vs. .494).
Hopefully the chart also makes it obvious that Curry's MVP award was well-deserved. Curry took about as many shots as Harden, and they were harder shots to make (402 three point attempts vs. 236). And yet Curry had 114 fewer misses than Harden. When you factor in that Curry plays defense and Harden doesn't, it's not a close call.
A couple of other thoughts on the chart:
- I regret to say that it forces me to re-assess my condescending view of LeBron James. Damn, he really is good.
- I'm happy to say that the chart strongly suggests Kevin Durant is also really good.
- Carmelo does not look compelling here.
That's a problem because he doesn't do a lot of other things to enhance his standing. Here are our top 20 'volume' guys, with their per-game rank in other helpful activities (assists, rebounds, steals). I've taken the harmonic mean to reward players who do well in several categories:
Again, there are lots of guys who look better than Anthony here. Westbrook and James, in addition to being effective high volume scorers are the only ones who also rank in the NBA top 50 in all three categories. Curry, playing fewer minutes per game than most of these guys, ranks 11th in assists, 3rd in steals, and is outrebounding most of the other guards here. Let's acknowledge that he's good, ok?
Taking it all together, I see only two players - James and Curry - who excel vs. peers at high volume scoring, then do a lot of other things well, too. Anthony, by contrast, is a below-average high volume scorer, and also below average vs. peers in his peripheral contributions.
Rehabilitation can only go so far. I just can't see Anthony as a top 15 guy. Not an MVP candidate, not a pantheon guy, not an immortal. Top 50 today? Sure, no question. But the reality is that he is nowhere near the top fifteen. He's just a very good NBA player, one of the few hundred best basketball players who ever lived. It's a hard thing, but he'll survive.
Study it up, people
1992: Bill Clinton is elected president. The era of general prosperity that follows only serves to confirm the fact that Hillary Clinton is the Antichrist...
October 10, 2016
IAYPA YTD (min 100 attempts)
The guard changes - five weeks into the NFL season, only three of the top 10 IAYPA quarterbacks are over 30. The stalwarts of the past - Drew Bees, Ben Roethlisberger, even Aaron Rodgers, have drifted down the league table. Even Alex Smith - for years the NFL's most resolutely median IAYPA performer - is a bit off his game.
In their place there comes an assortment of men who've taken different paths to the top.
- I don't know what's gotten into Matt Ryan, but I doubt if it's anything permanent. The Falcons started 5-0 last year, and it all ended in tears - I suspect regression to the mean looms.
- Dak Prescott is another matter. Watched him last night, first whole game I've watched in years. He made every decision correctly, placed every throw exactly where it was supposed to be - went 18-for-24 with a TD and no interceptions. That's 155 attempts without an interception since he came into the League, a record. They say they don't make pocket passers anymore - well, in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. There is no quarterback controversy, Romo has to go.
- Trading for Sam Bradford: not a dumb thing to do, apparently.
- Russell Wilson - the 'man inside' the Seattle offense remains a top performer.
- Who is Trevor Siemian? I have to find out who Tervor Siemian is.
- #11, Derek Carr, has brought the Raiders out of the wilderness and back to respectability.
Drew Brees and Eli Manning both get the Methuselah Award, delivering slightly-above median performance in their mid/late 30s. Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, both all of 22 years old, get a pass.
Girls?! That's not the GOP *I* know
Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway lashed out at the Republican lawmakers who are jumping ship by saying that “some of them” sexually harass women in the Capitol. She did not name names but told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews last night that some of the members are known for “rubbing up against girls” and “sticking their tongues down women’s throats uninvited.”
October 08, 2016
A man trapped between two forms of cowardice
His own running mate, Mike Pence, criticized Trump and pulled out of a scheduled appearance in Wisconsin on behalf of the campaign later Saturday.
I don’t know anything about politics. I don’t know anything about trade agreements. I don’t know anything about China devaluing the yuan. But if you see somebody who’s not behaving like any other human you’ve known, that means something. They need an appointment with a psychiatrist. They need a diagnosis and they need a prescription.
Kids, if you turn off the light, the moths will stop coming.
October 06, 2016
Obama chuckled. "You mean the Chaos Emeralds?"— Fanfiction_txt (@fanfiction_txt) April 30, 2013
October 05, 2016
The Rasputin of Baseball
Scene from Luke Cage
The villain, Cottonmouth, considers a policy of benign neglect towards the hero, Luke Cage.
I like it here. It's nice. I THINK I'LL STAY.
The Chinese president, Xi Jinping, appears prepared to defy the Communist Party’s established script for transferring power and delay the designation of his successor until after a party congress next year, unsettling the party elite and stirring speculation that he wants to prolong his tenure.
October 04, 2016
Cameras, for security...
...or for massive botnets, whichever you prefer.
Too black! Too strong!
Luke Cage has too many black people, apparently.
"I find your car very boring"
I'm not a big follower of fan of the various vehicles owned by millionaire professional athletes, but Seahawks TE Jimmy Graham has the best. According to the broadcasters on Sunday's Jets game, he flies this to practice.
October 01, 2016
NO. You fuckers stick it out to the end with the rest of us.
Reflecting upon Trump’s actions, Matt Borges, the Republican Party chairman in battleground Ohio, said, “Can this thing just end — please?”
“My God,” he sighed, “what a nightmare.”
September 26, 2016
September 24, 2016
Go home Vegas, you're drunk
Well, Las Vegas has weighed in on the Warriors' upcoming season, and it looks like they are supposed to win...let's see here...whoa: 66.5 games this year.
This is great except for one thing - the Warriors are going to stink this year. Not by NBA standards, of course...they will win lots of games and go to playoffs, and there will be dunks and threes and highlight reels and t-shirts and a new arena.
But the greatest team that ever played is over, done, finished. Here is the exact moment when that team peaked:
Curry, it hardly needs to be said, was not making that shot in June, when it might have helped defeat a determined and resilient Cavaliers squad. A lot of things weren't happening in June.
Problem #1: Heart Trouble
Draymond Green is falling apart. The heart and soul of the lovable underdog champions of 2015, Green was always a walking morality play, an inferno of internal contention between a simple man with a winner's will and an adolescent loon. By the end of the '15-'16 season the id had won the battle, burned the huts, killed the women and children, and taken over the kingdom:
- February - 'Profanity-laced tirade' in Oklahoma City over being told to take fewer stupid shots
- March - Stylist
- March - 118 mph
- July - Misdemeanor assault
- July - Dick pic on Snapchat
Problem #2: Soft Serve
The '15-'16 Warriors probably were the best team in history at a particular kind of basketball: NBA regular season basketball. It is a game that is played like a marathon, at about 90-95% intensity, with relatively close officiating most of the time. The goal is to entertain, keep the players from hurting themselves, and put on a good show.
The problem is that you don't win the NBA Championship in the regular season. This ain't Premier League...there are these things called Playoffs. This is a different game. Intensity goes to 99.9%, and late in a close Game 7 to eleventy one percent or more. Referees who during the regular season scrupulously call foul line violations and hand checks now look on nonchalantly as defensive players throw caltrops on the court and beat opposing shooters with truncheons. Here is what Jerry West had to say about that in February:
Once you get into the playoffs, it’s a completely different game. I would be concerned with our team because, No. 1, we need to be healthy. And the strength of our team is our backcourt. No question about that from an offensive perspective. Those guys are going to get challenged every night in the playoffs. Teams are going to try to take Curry and Thompson out of the game in terms of doubling them all over the place. That’s when it’s important that the other players on the team respond in a positive manner.
It's now in the historical record that the Warriors did not excel at playoff basketball in 2016. Yes, Steph Curry was hurt, and played hurt, and sometimes played well hurt. But the Warriors had trouble even with Portland, were taken to near-death by the Thunder, and were ultimately bested by a less-skilled team with a greater desire to win, and a greater willingness to explore the limits of defensive mayhem.
#2 Son states that "the Warriors only lost because the referees wouldn't call a foul, and no one cared except California." Yes. Welcome to the Association, sir.
The Warriors have addressed this problem by trading Andrew Bogut, the only player on last year's team who is not a big fat sissy. This was an error, and they will surely pay, unless JaVale McGee is the second coming of Maurice Lucas. Mmmm...Maurice Lucas...
Problem #3: 3 + 1 makes 3.5
So yes, the Warriors have added an All-Star and former MVP to their roster. This gives them four of the former and two of the the latter, and makes them the favorite in every game they will play between now and the Fourth of July 2017.
It says here it will not go well. Who's gonna pass? Who's gonna rebound? Who's gonna guard someone? Who's gonna take the ball out of bounds? Here are last year's field goal attempts per game from this year's top four Warriors starters:
- Steph Curry: 20
- Kevin Durant: 19
- Klay Thompson: 17
- Draymond "I Have Sacrificed Enough" Green: 10
|Ok, they still have a bench|
Perhaps I'll be wrong. Maybe this new team will be even better than Dynasty 1.0. Maybe they'll get along fine. Maybe they'll find a way to perform better in the playoffs.
|Look at this, already distracted|
Router fun: their homebrew router came in 2nd
Mikrotik's $69 hEX wired router was an unexpected delight. I won't lie to you, I wasn't enthusiastic about it. I've heard lots of people sing Mikrotik's praises, but this was a tiny, cheap, MIPS-powered, white plastic palm-sized box. It's so physically light you might have trouble making a friend say "ow" if you throw it at them hard. I don't think I've ever seen a less physically impressive network device.
But it's also, far and away, the best bang-for-the-buck out of everything tested here.
September 20, 2016
Former President George H.W. Bush said Monday that he will vote for Hillary Clinton...