Monday, March 31, 2008

Things I Can't Stand #3: Misspellings on public signs

(If you don't know what's wrong with this picture, go here.)

Maybe I am becoming an intellectual snob, but this kills me. I understand if your spelling isn't that good, it's fine. But if you know something will be viewed frequently by the public, run it by someone!!!

What prompted this post was a trip to the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office (which by the way, only takes cash). While in there, I saw a sign instructing people how to fill out a certain form. It read: "Please fill out only the highlighted area's." I just rolled my eyes at the common error, until I started browsing around the place. I saw a bulletin board with "Sheriff's Auctions" It had five or six flyers with repossessed cars on them. Each one carried the heading "Auction of Personel Property"

Anyone else seen some of these offensive signs?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Barack or No Barack, Pt. 1

OK, so I'm voting for Barack come November. I couldn't vote in the primaries in Maryland because I am unaffiliated, but if I could, I would have voted for Barack, also, like so many other people. Even a few of my friends who are republican are loathe to vote for McCain and are going to vote for Obama.

So, why?

Why should you vote for Obama? I recently wrote another piece where I talked about how Obama was special for his ability to see both sides of an issue. Only the presidents who had this quality could bring about tangible change.

But there's another quality about Obama that I think is tops them all, and I just put my finger on it today. It's that he doesn't say anything wrong. Some politicians really just say whatever comes to their minds. Some stumble. But I have yet to find a sound bite of Obama just totally bombing on a question.

Not only is he really eloquent in his responses; we already know this obviously. But he attacks everything with a straightforward and rational argument which is doubly better because Bush couldn't argue with the broad side of a barn.

Everytime Obama speaks, it's like he's a magnet for new voters. Faced with a new issue, his response is usually the right one:
On Clinton staying in the campaign even though a number of Democratic heavyweights have asked her to stop...
"She is a fierce and formidable competitor, and she obviously believes that she would make the best nominee and the best president. I think that she should be able to compete, and her supporters should be able to support her for as long as they are willing or able."

Honestly, what better response could he have given? In just one short quote he was able to compliment Hillary, make her look like a saint, yet toss aside any doubt that she is going to win this race. That is eloquence.

Another quote I like is when he addressed his middle and last names: Hussein and Obama, and how they "sounded" like a terrorist. He said:
"When I ran for the U.S. Senate the assumption was that anyone's name that was close to "Osama" doesn't stand a chance. So if somebody thought that tacking on "Hussein" in there would be a killer, then I think they underestimate the American people and the seriousness of the problems we face."

He could have attacked Fox News or Republicans for spreading lies about his name or anything else. But somehow he got past the trivial and managed to twist it back on the people who said these allegations.


Unfortunately to be continued...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Current Events

-Nude pictures of Nicolas Sarkozy's wife (president of France) are being auctioned off by Christie's. I know it's France, but imagine if this were happening in the US, and an auction house was auctioning Hillary Clinton nude photos. UGH. Then I read more of the article and realized she was supermodel, which begs the questions why this is an issue in the first place.

-No news is good news for the Democratic candidates. CNN is publishing their family ties and have found some strange relations. Personally, I think after ninth cousins, it gets a bit ridiculous. Even I'm ninth cousins with Obama and Clinton.

-Hillary Clinton, in what seems like a chip off of George Bush, said she misspoke about her coming into Bosnia "under sniper fire." Her direct quote was: "I say a lot of things -- millions of words a day -- so if I misspoke, that was just a misstatement." O RLY? She probably just misremembered, or better yet people just misunderstand her.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Back to the Tourney

Look, there's only a few things I can't stand, and one of them is giving me stupid reasons why you picked the teams in the first round that you did. I'm not saying that you shouldn't pick the upset if you want to because they are bound to happen. In fact, in 2001, 41% (13 teams) pulled the upset over the higher seed in the first round. This included a win by Hampton over 2 seed Iowa St., two 13 seeds winning (Kent St. and Indiana St.), and 10 more upsets. This was the most upsets in the first round in the last 8 years. Picking the upsets are more fun, but I also find that winning 100 dollars in my pool is even more fun. Here are some steps that could help you do just this:

1. "Well, three of the four 11 seeds won last year, so I'm gonna have to go with this 11 seed Central-Eastern Michigan-Lansing State University" or some variant of this has been used for years by average bracketpickers. I even heard this used by Mike Golic about ten times in a four minute period on the Mike and Mike show, today. My ears cringed.
Look, there is no correlation between certain lower seeds winning from year to year. Don't believe me? I looked it up and graphed it:

The graph looks confusing, but basically the gist is this: The previous years' upsets have no bearing on the next years' upsets. If anything, there is an opposite correlation. Basically, if there were lot of upsets last year, you better not pick any this year.

2. Want to really pick an upset? Pick Gonzaga. In the past 7 years, they have managed a total of 3 upsets in the first round. But even after that they've never gotten past the Sweet Sixteen. Looks like they lost in the first round this year also.

3. Want to really win your pool? Don't pick any upsets. Don't pick the school that you went to, your friend went to, are in now, is in your state, or most of the people in the pool picked. Pick 148 for your final tiebreaker score (the average composite score of the last 7 years). Pick 151 for the final score if you're a stat expert and don't like outliers when compiling your average (yeah, Maryland-Indiana was the worst championship game in the past 10 years). Know that correlation doesn't mean causation. That means, if you're seeing a pattern and you're playing off it, it will fail you in the end. You can make a correlation between anything...just like this:

Seems like the more profanity in music nowadays is strongly correlated to the number of US Military Deaths in Iraq! That must be what's causing it! No, not even close...

4. The only teams that can be counted on for points every year in the tournament are the teams that have consistent tournament experience, good coaching, and a complete and solid team.
Recently, this list has been dwindled down to: UNC, Duke, Florida (for some reason they came up short this year...), UConn, and UCLA. A couple more are second-tier teams that hang out in the top 25 every year, those being: Kentucky, Arizona, Memphis, Michigan State, Stanford, Texas, Georgetown, Kansas, and the Oklahoma public university system. These can be counted on to round out your sweet sixteen. Good luck picking between them.

5. Think of upsets in cost effective terms. Purely, if you were to pick that 14 over 3 upset, more than likely that 14 seed will lose in the next round. That means you're giving up about 6 points that the 3 seed would likely win for you(2 for the second round, and 4 for the third round) just to get that one point for the upset. That 3 seed has a higher probability of going further and getting more points for you and giving up those points to pick an upset are just not worth it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Things I Can't Stand #2: Unnecessary Bottle Openers

Unless your bottle openers are confined to your kitchen drawer, you are walking the fine line between being a social drinker and being a drunk.

Ever seen those belts (or belt buckles) or sandals with bottle openers? It's kind of cool, but do you really need a bottle opener that urgently? Like, was some alcoholic walking to class one day with a beer in his backpack and thought "ah damn, I can't believe I left the bottle opener at home."?

If you're thinking, "What about keychains? Everyone has those." Bottle opener keychains are only acceptable if you're in college. This is only due to the fact that college drinking does not usually occur within sight of a kitchen drawer. If you think they're acceptable at all ages, think about this: Remember the scene in Office Space where Peter offers his neighbor Lawrence a bottle opener and he pulls out his own? If not, skip to 0:50:

He does this for a reason. It's to emphasize his role in this movie as a huge redneck. It matches perfectly with his fu manchu and mullet. Do you really want to be like that guy?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Murphy's Law

Car trouble the day before you have to get back to school for spring break? Yes, please. Not only is it 1 am, the day of the first week back from spring break, but I'm also stuck in a shopping center parking lot waiting for a AAA guy to come rescue my car. Great!

Murphy's Law always seems to creep up in everyone's life at the wrong time. However, Murphy's Law can't explain everything. We need to add a corollary. It's called the embarrassing story corollary to Muphy's Law. Not only will something go wrong when you allow it too, but you'll also get some embarrassing story out of it. Case in point: Your new (read: used) car will break down on the way back down to college at 1am leaving you no option but to call AAA to go the extra 30 miles left. Unfortunately, you don't know where you are either. You have to tell the AAA lady where you are of course so the tow truck can get you. Your only landmarks? Sexy Nails, 96 Buffet, and Kim's Wig Shop. Nice. Let's see her Mapquest that.

Anybody have any great stories? Leave comments.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Is Maryland going to the Big Dance?

With a record of 18-14 overall, 8-8 in the ACC, Maryland looks to be headed to the NIT for the 3rd time in 4 years. The Terps have dropped the ball big time with 3 straight losses and 6 losses in their past 8 games. Key wins against UNC and FSU recently have been mired by losses to Ohio (Sagarin ranking 89), American (156), and BC (116) twice. They have consistently proven that they can't win against the teams above them in the ACC, with no wins coming against Duke, Clemson, VTech, or Miami.
However, this article puts Maryland's odds of making the tournament at 80%. That seems a tad high for a team with an RPI around the low 70s, but according to this article the ACC is deserving of getting more than four bids. I think the commissioner of the ACC is just a little out of touch when he's saying that the ACC is the highest team in the nation in terms of RPI. The ACC, except for Duke and Carolina, has been one big rollercoaster (Remember when Maryland was last in the conference?). Fact is, the ACC is no stranger to getting four bids, and I think the selection committee will most likely follow this path. Unfortunately, unless the committee highly regards defense, Vtech will likely be left out of the tourney.

Conclusion: Maryland is going to lose in the third round of the NIT.

On another note, Bob Knight made his debut today on ESPN. I'm not gonna lie, he actually was quite good. You know the guy knows what he's talking about and you don't want to rip your ears out when listening to his voice like you do when you hear Jay Bilas. ESPN must have put him through etiquette class or something (meds?) because he didn't come off as a raving lunatic.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Why is this Eliot Spitzer thing such a big deal?

So I awoke this morning to find the Thursday edition of the New York Times on the island in the kitchen with the page wide headline "Spitzer Resigns." I'm not gonna lie, but it isn't a tad unnecessary? Shouldn't politicians private lives not receive this much attention?
I'm pretty sure that even the Iraq war has never gotten that big a headline in the NYT.
Point being, is that President Bush is staying unusually quiet for the past few months and who could blame him? Meanwhile the country is in the middle of moral, ethical, political, economical, and military dilemmas, yet Bush is getting less press than Clinton's cackle. The news media doesn't make any sense to me, but I guess Bush should savor this while he can...

What do you think? Comments?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


How did they let this one through...
Bob Knight is becoming an analyst at ESPN after leaving his job at Texas Tech. Fortunately, this ESPN page gives you the opportunity to ask him questions personally. I don't reckon that questions like "What's wrong with you?" would ever get by the ESPN censors. Personally, I think Bob Knight is a fool.
On the other hand, if Knight can bring what Steve Lavin brings to the analyst chair we might be in for a special treat. I honestly think that the commentating of Steve Lavin is some of the best out there thanks in part to Lavin's intimate knowledge of the game. It's relieving to have color commentary that's not riddled with crap like that of Dickie V's.

On a related note, Dick Vitale is known to body surf in the Cameron Crazies section before big games at Cameron Indoor. The guy is a straight up goofball. Where does ESPN get these guys? Actually, I dare ESPN to pair Dick Vitale with Bob Knight and see what happens. Comments?

Random clip of the day:

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Oh man. To have a curveball like that is any pitcher's dream.
As for Sean Casey, he looks like he was more fooled by the pitch choice than by how good the curve was. He must have been thinking fastball or changeup, and then assumed it was coming for his face. One set of buckled knees later, and Kershaw looks like a Cy Young quality pitcher. There's plenty of pitchers out there with this quality curve; Buerhle being the only guy I can think of off the top of my head.

Friday, March 7, 2008


So I'm sitting on the floor in RDU about a mile from my regular gate, mooching on their wireless. This got me to thinking though. Don't you think it'd be a good idea to give people whose flights are delayed beepers so they can wander off, and then when their flight is boarding they can buzz them back. This would allow people to spend their 3 hours doing something productive. They could also build a lounge. That would help.

Some observations:
1.RDU has a total of 3 outlets in their whole airport. Literally. I would know, I've searched. Apparently the drought in the South extends to electricity also.
2. The same guy has passed by my spot about 5 times talking on his cell phone. Each time he passes by he seems in one of three different moods: extremely happy, extremely mad, or extremely determined. Oh and he has an ugly camo backpack too. Is that necessary....
3. Some guy just blew his nose in the terminal by blocking one nostril with a finger and blowing. Without a tissue. In public. Love it. He gave me one of those "Oh, you saw that?" looks. Heh.

Thought of the day: I can't wait til Segways become socially acceptable. Once they do I wouldn't seem like a weirdo when I start running from place to place.

Second afterthought of the day: I think people assume that an Obama/Clinton ticket or vice versa would be unstoppable. I think in this case, and I can't put my finger on it just yet, the sum would be less than the parts. It's like one of those American Idol finalist shows when they all try to sing together, but it winds up sounding like shit because they're all solo artists anyway.

What Your College Doesn't Tell You on that Tour Group

OK, since I go to a college that spends more money on re-sodding their main quad than on more pertinent things I thought I would share a few thoughts:
-That main quad that looks "really beautiful" come spring break time when most seniors are taking college tours will look like shit for 4/5ths of the school year. This is because colleges don't invest in what is called drainage in most parts of the world. This ruins the grass every year, and Duke loves to spend upwards of thousands of dollars just to reseed and resod the whole campus.

-That wireless that's all over campus? It doesn't work half the time when you're on the third floor of your dorm. Oh, and forget the ethernet. But it gets even better. I had somebody explain the campus wireless to me in this way: "You know those Christmas lights that when one light goes out they all go out? Yea, that's how the wireless network works in a storm." Awesome, Duke!

-If somebody is paying $42000 a year to go to Duke, you would think they would give us something for free. Alas, I can count on a hand all the free things that Duke has given exclusively to me:
-several T-shirts
-a Devil rubber duckie

-I don't know whether it's a Southern thing or not, but I have yet to find a viable and healthy option that I can eat at on a daily basis. My coronary arteries are filled with sweet and sour pork and pan-fried dumplings at the moment. Life expectancy before going to Duke: 77. After: 32.

Go to Hell, Carolina, Go to Hell

Thursday, March 6, 2008

random academic musing

Well, because I go to a university where academics is the topic of the minute 1440 minutes a day, I think about this stuff in a real life context a lot. I'm an accounting major, but I think about economics a lot.

First, I find the connection (or lack thereof) between the skill and intensity in your job interesting.
I look back on my summer job, working at the snack bar at a golf course. Our favorite days to work were banquet days, not only because we got paid more, but, paradoxically, because we also did less work. We got an 18% tip of everything they ate, which usually worked out to $1 for each worker per guest that attended. On those days, I could work eight hours and make upward of $120. But on some regular Saturdays, I would work my butt off and I would be lucky to get $100 in wages and tips. Why do I get more pay for less work? The only answer I can come up with is that when people come to the golf course for a tournament, they're willing to pay a certain price for a certain dining experience, and they don't really care how much effort it takes on my part. But in terms of difficulty of work, it makes no sense at all. In fact, from a supply/demand perspective, it doesn't make sense either, because people need me just as badly (maybe moreso) on a regular day of golf.
And also think about the world's best ER surgeon vs. the world's best baseball player. I don't really know, but I'm guessing that ER surgeon makes around a million or two a year, if that, while ARod makes 27 million to hit a leather ball with a wooden stick. Which does the world need more of? That's an easy question. If you said ARod, there's something fundamentally wrong with the way you look at the world. So why does he get paid 20 times more? It's an extremely complicated question. One reason could be that people across the country will turn on their television to see him play, while thousands will pay $40 or more to see him in person. While it may not seem justified, it's how the market economy works.

It's always interesting to look at the push and pull of supply and demand, from both a consumer and labor perspective. While it sucks that Nike workers in Asia only make a couple dollars a day, there's a reason they work there. Because their only other alternatives are to work somewhere else for less money or not work at all. In fact, the average pay at a Nike factory close to Ho Chi Minh is $54 a month, almost three times the minimum wage for a state-owned enterprise. In the U.S., that's like making $20 an hour. If you had no education and no specialized skills, and someone offered you $20 an hour (about $40,000 a year if you work full time) to produce shoes, would you? Of course, because that's slightly more than what the average person with an associates degree makes. When it comes to stuff like that, it's all relative. It is confusing and makes sense at the same time.
Whenever you buy something and you need something to think about on the walk/drive home, think about why the thing you just bought costs what it did. For example, why can I go to the mall and buy a Polo shirt for $65, take it straight to Goodwill, and someone else can buy it for $5? It's an interesting thought experiment...

Movies that are Even Better a Second Time

The Hunt for Red October
Absolutely NOT Commando
Forrest Gump - just for the quotes
Apollo 13

Bertrand Russell once said: The good life is inspired by love and guided by knowledge.
Russell was never Kanye West.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Who Wins?

So for the past year, the Democratic nominees have been debating, caucusing, primarying, and just generally taking over the headlines. I can't go to CNN without hearing another Obama speech or Hillary cackle. But what's happening to the country in the mean time?
George Bush is probably reveling in the respite he's getting from these primaries. You could truly say that no news is good news for Bush. While his approval rating is hovering in the 20s, you've heard next to nothing from his administration...
Sounds good to him....

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Sunday Night Musings

Crewmutts...There are no words. The fact that it actually looks appealing and I'd actually consider spending 100 dollars on that stuff is amazing in its own right.

JuicyCampus...Aren't there patrols or like garbagemen on the Internet that filter through the crap out there? They really let this one go then. Overheard on campus:
Guy: OMG, you're on Juicy Campus!
Girl: Oh, God. No way, I don't even wanna look at it.
Guy: Yeahuh
Girl: Ugh, well, the only people who post on that website have poor self-esteem.