Thursday, February 17, 2011

Laker's loss to Cleveland

In the words of Umberto Eco, everything is connected to everything.  So how do we explain the Laker's loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers?

It ties in to their 60 point beat down of the Cavs earlier this season.  The Lakers will have let their guard down.
The Cavaliers will be nervous about it happening again and probably prepare extra hard for them.  It is the 7th game of a road trip by the Lakers, and the Cavs are at home.

This is a unique situation and poses an interesting research question:  how do teams that suffer huge road blowouts fare against that team the next time they play them at home?

I.e. the NBA embarrassment factor?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

NBA All-star game

I'm picking the EAST to win the NBA All-Star game.  This has a lot of similarities to the year the Pistons had four backups on the All-Star team on a team that had lost the Championship the previous year (in a game 7) and were motivated to take on the West.  

Also, it is in LA so Kobe/Gasol have a lot of stuff on their minds.  Kobe will want to win the game so he can be the obvious MVP of the game but honestly, the Celtics starting line-up plus Dwight Howard or whoever will be better than five random West Stars all gunning together.

Also, Fedor looked a LOT smaller than his opponent in weigh-ins and I didn't think he would do well.  Now I'm trying to put my thoughts on my blog BEFORE the game/fight/event.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cherry-picking Data

One of the biggest challenges for this blog is avoiding the cherry-picking of data.  Am I cherry-picking data?  Yes.  Most of my examples thus far have been anecdotal.  The Steelers lost their Pro-Bowl Center for the super bowl and lost.  The Raiders lost their Pro-Bowl center for the Super Bowl back in the early 2000s and lost.  Its tough to strike a balance between my need to track certain "black swan" events but still avoid cherry-picking, although that is what I'm doing with such low-occurrence events.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Cavalier's epic losing streak

The Cavaliers have now lost 24 games in a row, the longest losing streak in NBA history and are only two or three losses shy of the all-time professional sports losing streak (of the NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL).  They averaged losing games by 13 ppg during the streak, but over the last four games they were only losing by 5 ppg. And that got me thinking about how they were likely trying desperately hard to avoid losing and setting the streak, ratcheting up their practice intensity, pre-game preparation and in-game effort.  All in all though, it didn't help them win games.  But relative to the spread, I bet they were doing better.

Friday, February 4, 2011

An astronaut goes to space

Representative Giffords has a husband, who is an astronaut.  She is in a coma after being attacked by a madman.  He is scheduled to go on a flight mission in April.  Will he go, or remain with her as she tries to recover from a senseless attack?

I remember reading that and thinking about two things.  First, what I know about people in the Navy.  Second, what I think a marriage between an Astronaut and a Congresswoman would be like.  How often do they get to even see each other?  On her end, she much campaign across her district, has professional obligations in Washington D.C., on top of travel, political events, etc., etc.  He is an astronaut stationed in Cape Canaveral, Florida, with his own demanding professional obligations.  He must train, remain under the watchful eye of Nasa, and spend a lot of time flying to prepare.

Basically, they are probably never together.  It is kind of like a paper marriage.  Probably not even a real sense of togetherness.  Here are a few quotes from the article:

"If he does choose, and NASA management chooses, for him to fly this mission ... I am absolutely 100 percent confident that he will have no problem fulfilling his responsibilities the same way as if this incident would have never occurred."

Wow.  And he is being praised for that.  If my wife were in a coma and trying to recover from a terrorist attack, I wouldn't be going on a two-week trip to outer space when someone else would jump at the chance to do the job.  

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

District 9

I watched District 9 last night at home.  It is a really really cool movie, produced by Peter Jackson and shot in South Africa.  It is a science fiction with a lot of undertones about xenophobia, fear, war crimes, etc.

The last third of the movie became kind of ridiculous, with bullets flying everywhere and never seeming to hit anyone, which detracts from it.  The movie did a great job with a documentary-style realism that made a pretty fantastical scenario seem plausible, but threw it all away to make a "good" action scene with thousands of bullets shot everywhere and the main characters escaping unharmed.  It felt more like a James Bond movie at the end than a good sci-fi film.  There are a number of narrative holes that I would hope to have filled in with a sequel, such as why the aliens appeared so disorganized and dumb despite having such great technology.  Why did the "smart" alien with the red vest seem so much smarter than the other aliens.  Why was he able to work to make a ship while the rest did nothing but goof off all day?

Also, I'm currently reading Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond, so I'm surprised there were no interspecies diseases being passed about that would have either wiped out the aliens or wiped out the humans.  All in all there is a lot to be answered.

I was a big fan though of the whole "discovery" process where the two species are learning about each other and the various stages of human excitement and wonder at the aliens, to eventual frustration and hatred.

Also the acting was for the most part very good and believable.  I love watching good actors, they really nail the facial expressions and body language of the person they are portraying.