EppsNet Archive: Sports

So Long, Clippers!

30 Apr 2016 /

Clippers lose again

The only enjoyment I’ve had as a Lakers fan the past few years is watching the Clippers’ annual playoff debacles . . .


Chillin’ With the Chancellor

16 Apr 2016 /
Me and Chancellor Dirks

I was walking west on Durant crossing Telegraph a block south of the UC Berkeley campus (see map below) when I saw a couple of good-looking yellow labs, probably less than a year old, crossing in the other direction.

I was so focused on the dogs that I didn’t notice until I had passed them that they were being walked by none other than the chancellor of the university, Nicholas B. Dirks, and his wife.

Gee, I wish I had gotten a photo with him but rather than run back across the street after him like a nut, I walked north to Bancroft and turned right to parallel the way he was walking on Durant. At the next street, Bowditch, I turned right again toward Durant to see if I could intercept him, which I did.

I’m staying at the Berkeley Lab Guest House, a university facility . . . when I got back to the place, I showed my Dirks photo to the guy at the front desk.

“Recognize this guy?” I asked. “Not me, the other guy.”

“No.”

“It’s Chancellor Dirks.”

“I’ll have to Google him.”

He reminded me of the guys asking Jack Nicklaus for his security badge at the Masters.


Let’s See Some ID, Jack Nicklaus

6 Apr 2016 /

Six-time Masters champion Jack Nicklaus posted a Facebook video that shows several Augusta National guards not immediately recognizing him and asking for a security badge.

Tomorrow we’ll have a video of Michael Jordan being asked for ID at a Bulls game . . .

Watch from behind the scenes what happened when I arrived to Magnolia Lane and the Masters this afternoon! ?

Posted by Jack Nicklaus on Tuesday, April 5, 2016


More People I’m Sick Unto Death Of: Joe Lunardi

15 Mar 2016 /
Joe Lunardi

Does anyone have a more useless job than “bracketologist” Joe Lunardi? He spends the entire college basketball season forecasting tournament seedings: this team’s in, this team’s out, this team’s on the bubble, this team is going to be seeded number whatever . . .

Then the season ends and the actual tournament seedings are announced, making all of Joe Lunardi’s work meaningless. Either the actual seedings line up closely with Joe Lunardi’s predictions or they don’t, but other than Joe Lunardi, who cares?

On that note, here’s an article by Joe Lunardi explaining “how the selection committee got so much wrong” with this year’s brackets:

The committee’s performance is slipping, year over year, and it’s my job to point that out when necessary. . . . what you have is a selection and bracketing process that appears to have gone off the rails.

Actually Joe, your job, if I understand it correctly, is to accurately forecast the results of the selection committee. It’s not the job of the selection committee to match your predictions. And if your predictions don’t match the actual selections, that doesn’t indicate that the selection committee sucks, it indicates that you suck.


R.I.P. Tiger

11 Mar 2016 /

Tiger shot, chopped up, eaten

A tragic end to a once-promising golf career . . .


Super Bowl 50: The Cam Newton Karma Game

7 Feb 2016 /
Super Bowl 50

You probably know people like Cam Newton, co-workers maybe, who like to call attention to themselves — Look at me! Look what I did! — and like to rub your nose in it when things aren’t going well for you.

I don’t like people like that.

I don’t think a choreographed activity has to take place every time you make a first down. I saw a game this year where Newton threw a screen pass to a receiver, who ran 50 yards with it for a touchdown. Newton ran all the way to the end zone to perform a choreographed celebration, not with his teammates, but standing all by himself. Look at me! And he really hadn’t done anything. He threw a screen pass.

He came out for Super Bowl warm-ups wearing gold cleats. Look at me! I’m wearing gold cleats! After the game, he ungraciously answered a handful of questions, then walked out of the room. That’s inappropriate. If you want to call attention to yourself when things are going good for you, be willing to take the negative attention when you suck.

I recommend that he develop some choreographed activities for losing, for interceptions and for fumbles that lead to touchdowns for the other team . . . like an Oopsie Face, or rotating his fists in front of his eyes like he’s wiping away imaginary tears . . .

Final Score: Broncos 24, Panthers 10.


Eliminate the Handshake Line?

3 Feb 2016 /

After an Iona basketball player slapped a Monmouth player in the face in the post-game handshake line, a Sporting News writer says we should eliminate the handshake line.

As further evidence, he cites “the Detroit Pistons who walked off the court with time remaining in the 1991 NBA playoff loss to Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls, Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins refusing to shake Xavier coach Pete Gillen’s hand at the end of the 1994 Crosstown Shootout, LeBron James walking off without a handshake in the 2009 conference finals against Orlando and Indiana coach Tom Crean’s harangue of Michigan assistant Jeff Meyer following a 2013 regular season game.”

Ha ha, that’s great stuff! That’s the argument against the handshake line?! We need more of that . . . it’s a good thing for all of us.


EppsNet Book Reviews: Mindset by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.

22 Dec 2015 /

Carol Dweck’s research is part of a tradition in psychology that shows the power of people’s beliefs. These may be beliefs that we’re aware of or unaware of but they strongly affect what we want and whether we succeed in getting it. This tradition also shows how changing people’s beliefs can have profound effects.

Dweck’s insight into fixed mindset (bad) vs. growth mindset (good) is powerful but there’s really not enough to it to sustain a book-length exposition without a lot of repetition and illustrational anecdotes, the problem with which is 1) they tend to be overly simple tales of triumph and failure with clearly identified causes; and 2) they ignore the inevitability of regression.

For example, two of the people Dweck identifies as exemplars of the growth mindset are Tiger Woods and Alex Rodriguez. Mindset was published in 2006, after which Woods’s career imploded in the wake of extramarital affairs with 100 or so women, and Rodriguez was suspended from baseball for cheating.

Among the companies singled out as possessing a growth mindset is Circuit City, which announced in January 2009 that it was going out of business.

Don’t get me wrong here, I think Dweck’s work is insightful and illuminating, I just don’t think it works well as a book. For a shorter introduction, try, for example, “The Secret to Raising Smart Kids,” recently published in Scientific American.

Rating: 3-stars


No One Seems to Understand Point Spreads

24 Oct 2015 /

I lost track of the number of headlines I saw this week regarding how USC (3-3) could possibly be a 3.5-point favorite over undefeated and third-ranked Utah (6-0).

USC logo

It’s weird that no one in sports journalism seems to understand what a point spread really is.

It’s not a prediction. It’s not a scientific analysis. It’s a gambling mechanism. The only purpose of a point spread is to distribute the betting equally on both teams so the bookmaker can pay the winners with the losers’ money.

USC is a 3.5-point favorite for one reason and one reason only and that is because there are more people willing to bet on USC than there are people willing to bet on Utah, so a carrot is offered in the form of 3.5 points to induce more bettors to put their money on the Utes.

Substitute any other team . . . Team X is a betting favorite because more people want to bet on Team X than on Team X’s opponent.

“Team X is a betting favorite” is not the same thing as “Vegas thinks X is the better team.” Vegas has no opinion on who has the better team. That’s why point spreads fluctuate, sometimes by a lot. If too much money comes in on Team X, the point spreads changes to be more favorable to X’s opponent.

FIGHT ON!


Slightly Deflated

17 Sep 2015 /

New Yorker cartoon


The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights. — Muhammad Ali


Women’s World Cup: USA 5, Japan 2

5 Jul 2015 /

I turned on the TV just as the announcer was shouting “2-0, USA!” so I thought they must be showing highlights of the game against Germany. It’s only 4:06 p.m., the match probably hasn’t even started yet.

Then I sent a text to my kid, “This will teach me to tune in to soccer games on time.” I sent a second text saying I thought when the announcer yelled “2-0, USA!” they must be showing Germany highlights.

Then I sent a third text, “My god in the time it took me to type that they scored two more goals.”


Women’s World Cup: Why the US Will Beat Germany

30 Jun 2015 /

A recurring theme in world history is the United States dick-slapping Germany: World War I, World War II, “Tear down this wall!” … maybe that’s not the most appropriate metaphor for a women’s soccer match but we’ve been winners all our lives.

U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!


My 2nd Favorite Hockey Team

31 May 2015 /
Lightning at the Dog Park

Hi, everybody! It’s me, Lightning!

I’m sad today because the Ducks lost. The Ducks are my favorite hockey team. I like to watch hockey games on TV with my owner because even though I’m old and I can’t see anymore I like the sounds of the skates and the pucks and the sticks.

My second favorite hockey team is the Lightning. I hope they win the Stanley Cup. I like to watch Lightning games because the TV says “… blah blah blah Lightning blah blah blah Lightning blah blah blah Lightning …”

— Lightning paw


Letting Go

3 May 2015 /

Let go of grief. Let go of joy. Let go of hope. Let go of fear. Let go of history. Let go of coming and going. Let go of culture. Let go of waiting. Let go of letting go.

— Rudolph Wurlitzer, Hard Travel to Sacred Places

Jerry Tarkanian, 1930 – 2015

11 Feb 2015 /

I enjoyed watching his teams because unlike 99 percent of college basketball coaches, he didn’t spend the entire game yelling and calling timeouts every minute. He let the kids play and it was fun to watch . . .

RIP Jerry Tarkanian


Yes, I’m Ready for the Big Game!

1 Feb 2015 /

People keep asking me, “Lightning, are you ready for the Big Game?” OF COURSE I’M READY FOR THE BIG GAME! Look at me … how could I be any more ready than I already am?!

P.S. Wake me up if there are any pug commercials this year.

— Lightning paw

Lightning 2015-02-01


See You in Hell

31 Jan 2015 /
Satan

Satan

[See You in Hell is a feature by our guest blogger, Satan — PE]

Greetings from the underworld!

I just read about a father and son teaming up to punch out the son’s high school basketball coach because the teen wasn’t getting enough playing time.

Basketball duo

What a heartwarming story! A lot of young black men don’t have a male role model in their lives.

See you in Hell . . .


The NFL Doesn’t Condone Alcohol Abuse?

25 Jan 2015 /


Teaching Computer Science: Collected Thoughts

10 Jan 2015 /

If you recognize the person on this next slide, please raise your hand. Don’t yell out the name, just raise your hand.

Derek Jeter

About two-thirds of you recognize Derek Jeter. I thought everyone would recognize him, but still a clear majority.

I’m not a Yankees fan or a Derek Jeter fan particularly but the Captain and I are on the same page on this topic. I have to admit I was pretty competitive as a student. I didn’t want anyone to do better than me and I especially didn’t want anyone to do better than me because they worked harder than me.

This Jeter quote reminded me of a quote from another notable sports figure . . .

Bob Knight

This is Bob Knight, college basketball coach, most notably at the University of Indiana. He won 902 games, three NCAA championships, and he coached the 1984 Olympic basketball team to a gold medal.

Notice that he says “everyone” and “no one.” He doesn’t say some people don’t want to come to practice. There’s a universal aspiration to accomplish great results without a corresponding level of effort. I recognize that in myself, definitely. As far as I can tell, this approach rarely if ever works, even for people we think of as prodigies.

Mozart used to say that anyone who thought composing music came easily to him was very much mistaken. While all the other kids were playing kickball, Mozart was in the house practicing his music lessons. In case you’re thinking that kickball wasn’t even a game at that time, you may be right. The point is that if there was kickball, Mozart wouldn’t have been playing it because he was practicing his music lessons.

One more on this topic . . .

Michelangelo's David

This is a quote from Michelangelo. Nothing great seems to happen without a lot of practice.

Once again, please raise your hand if you recognize the person on this next slide.

Anton Chekhov

He looks Russian.

Yes, he is Russian.

Dostoevsky? Tolstoy? Mendeleev? Pushkin? Boris Pasternak?

No . . . he’s known as an author of plays and short stories.

[A student sitting next to a smart but quiet young man from Russia points to the Russian boy and says, “He knows.”]

Who is it? Chekhov.

Right . . . this is Anton Chekhov. He wasn’t a programmer but his advice is relevant to many different endeavors.

Don’t overcomplicate things. A good heuristic – which is a fancy way of saying “rule of thumb” – is to do the simplest thing that could possibly work. Method A could work, Method B could work — which one should we try first? Try the simplest one first.

Note that the heuristic doesn’t say to do the simplest thing. If the simplest thing couldn’t possibly work, don’t do it. Do the simplest thing that might actually work.

One final slide. I don’t think anyone will know these people so I’m not asking for a show of hands.

2 days in a closet

I saw an article last week about a man and a woman who were “trapped” in a janitor’s closet at the Daytona State College Marine and Environmental Science Center for two days. They got themselves in the closet last Sunday and finally on Tuesday, the gentleman on the right got the idea to call 911. Why that idea took two days to incubate is unclear. Police showed up to let them out and found out the closet was not locked. They could have opened the door themselves.

Maybe the lock was meth’d up, like the woman. “Meth’d” up, get it?

Are they students at Daytona State College? The article doesn’t say. Do any of you have Daytona State College on your college wish list? If so, you may want to take it off. Or just keep it as a safety school in case Harvard and the Sorbonne don’t come through for you.

What can we learn from this story? I don’t want to say “don’t make assumptions” but don’t make unwarranted assumptions. Don’t make assumptions about things that you can easily verify. If you’re in a closet, don’t assume the door is locked. Try it and see. A lot of uncertainty can be dispelled by trying things out.

Assumptions can hurt you as a programmer. You might be stuck because you’re assuming some condition is true that isn’t true. Or you’re assuming that some condition can never be true when it really can be true. Don’t make unwarranted assumptions.

I couldn’t help noticing that a lot more people recognized Derek Jeter than recognized Anton Chekhov. If you want to achieve great renown, if you want to be part of the public consciousness, entertain people in a simple-minded way, like hitting a ball with a stick and running around in a park. People can be entertained by Derek Jeter without expending any effort.

Where Chekhov went wrong is that he failed to anticipate a world where nobody reads anymore. Furthermore, he believed that the role of an artist was to ask questions, not to answer them. His plays and stories don’t have a traditional structure where everything is tied up neatly at the end, so you not only have to put in the time to read them, you have to go into overtime to ponder the moral ambiguities. Who has time for that in their busy lives?


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