Monday, November 30, 2009

TiVo and the Pony Express

The Pony Express was an iconic business service that cut mail delivery time from the East (Missouri) to the West (California) down to days. Even today most people recognize the name Pony Express even if they don't know the history.

The truth is the Pony Express was a fairly short lived service - from April 1860 to October 1861. That's it. Just a year and a half in business but forever in the collective memory of the country.

I think TiVo is destined to a similar fate.

Everybody recognizes the name TiVo today. You hear TiVo and even if you've never owned a TiVo box you think of being able to watch your shows when you want to. A tremendous improvement over the existing services (or lack of services) prior to TiVo just like how the Pony Express was a great improvement of the delivery services of its day.

The Pony Express was doomed by a triple-threat of expanding railway lines, telegraph lines that could deliver messages in minutes not days and the Civil War which disrupted everything. TiVo today also faces a triple-threat. The service is really just a hard drive with scheduling software. Most cable and IPTV providers are now deploying set top boxes that have built in DVR capabilities. Most cable and IPTV providers have some sort of VoD service that includes access to many of the same shows people were using their TiVo's to record. Services like YouTube, Hulu and web sites of content providers like NBC allow for on-line viewing of some of the shows TiVo was being used to record as well. The new technology is making TiVo redundant. Just as the telegraph pretty much eliminated the need for the Pony Express.

However, having said that - I can see the name "TiVo" remaining in the consciousness of the American public just as people remember the Pony Express.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Halladay Not Such a Good Value?

Very interesting look at the history of similar pitchers to Roy Halladay.

The upshot is that Halladay probably won't be worth the king's ransom in prospects that Toronto will be demanding. This isn't trading for Pedro Martinez at age 26. This is a pitcher with a lot of innings pitched in his career at age 32. Since there are published reports that the Red Sox are making a big play for Halladay - I'm guessing that the opposite is true. The Red Sox never make their intentions known to the press.
Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

One thought on the Tiger Woods accident - it should be noted that Tiger had just spent the past two weeks in Asia. So his internal clock has to be screwed up. That's why I'm not placing too much emphasis on the fact that this accident happened at 2:30 am. As far as his body was concerned it could have been 3:30 in the afternoon (Hong Kong is 11 hours different from EST)... Lego Matrix (I love Lego stuff)... Good news for online poker players.
The U.S. Department of Treasury and Federal Reserve Board anounced (sic) today that the compliance date for the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act has been extended by six months to June 1, 2010.
That basically means that there is a good chance that an agreement will be reached to both regulate and legalize online poker in the US... TMZ is offering a scenario of what happened with Tiger Woods. Very plausible. I have to admit that I'm kinda bothered by the fact that she never took his last name when they got married. That bugs me - sorry but it does... Tiger Woods related quote of the day, "Bigamy is having one wife too many. Monogamy is the same." - Oscar Wilde... Patton Oswald and the Christmas shoes. Very funny stuff (NSFW language)... 88 days till pitchers and catchers report...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Heh Heh

Thanksgiving, football and Obama.

Saddling our children's children with debt and outlawing contact sports because it might make them sad or liable to insurance lawsuits. He is the smartest man alive!
How Private Property Saved the Pilgrims

We need to be reminded of this every year

This year more than ever.

HT Instapundit

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

State of Fear

It occurred to me that with the facts behind Climategate now coming to light - if Michael Crichton's book State of Fear was made into a movie - it could now pass the Hollywood smell test of "based upon a true story." It is too bad that Crichton died before seeing that in many ways he was right about the sloppiness of the global warming "science".

Hide the Decline

HT Instapundit
The Top 50 Movies of the Decade

Big Stupid Tommy posted his top 50 films from the past 10 years. Interesting list.

Tommy laments that he's behind on his movie watching. I was amazed that of the movies that he picked as his top 50 - I have seen only 22 of them (and some of them I haven't even seen the whole thing). And of the 19 movies he listed as almost making the cut - I have only seen 4 (and again some like The Station Agent or The Simpsons Movie - I haven't watched the whole thing).

My movie viewing habits have changed over the years. I used to see lots of movies as a kid - either with friends or on dates. College cut down on my movie viewing (no drinking in the movie theaters) and after college real life cut down on free time. Once I had kids I saw movies all the time but they were all by Disney. Today it really has to be a movie I'm looking forward to for me to see it at the theater. I do have make a better effort on my Netflix viewing but I know that's a promise bound to be broken.

I guess the point of this post is that I found Tommy's list interesting and I also found myself more than a little jealous that he's seen all those movies.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Economics of Pinball

Interesting look at the economics of pinball machines.

What really killed pinball machines is portability. Video games can have home versions via game consoles or handheld versions. The physical size of a pinball machine was the real killer. Many bars don't even have them anymore because their footprint is twice the size of a Golden Tee or like video game. People won't go places just to play a game any more. When's the last time you went to an arcade?
NFL Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous NFL thoughts and observations.

Kudos to Adam Schefter of ESPN who said that Oakland was a team to watch for an upset this weekend during an appearance on WEEI radio last week... If the Patriots finish with the second best record in the AFC - then I think they and not Indianapolis will be the team to beat in the AFC and the team to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl... If Arizona found a way to score just one more point (actually all I needed was just 1/2 a point) - I would have had a much better weekend... Pittsburgh out-gained the Chiefs 515 yards to 282 but lost. This game was the poster child for the point coaches always make about the importance of turnovers (the 2 INT's by Pitt negated the huge lead in yardage they were accumulating) and special teams (completely different game without KC's game opening kickoff return for a TD)... Indianapolis' last 4 games have been won by a combined total of just 10 points. To accomplish that a lot of luck has to be in place. Sure luck favors the prepared mind and nobody seems more prepared than Peyton Manning but you have to wonder how long Indy's luck will hold up... File this under it's not over till it's over - Green Bay looked in complete control yesterday. They had a 23-3 halftime lead and everyone who bet on them was breathing pretty easy. The final score, however, was 30-24 but the line was Green Bay -6.5. Bonus for 49er fans... Do you think anyone playing fantasy football started either Brady Quinn or Matthew Stafford yesterday? Who knew?... The Cowboys have the weakest 7-3 record in football. This team won't make the playoffs. They still have to play San Diego and Philly plus games at New York and New Orleans. Not gonna make the playoffs... Justin Forsett led the Seahawks in rushing yesterday with 9 yards on 9 carries. You read that right - 9 measly yards... Carson Palmer has a career QB rating of just 88.7 to go along with 121 TD's and 75 INT's. He's not a great QB. He just isn't. In general I'm not sure what's more over-rated - USC QB's or Big 10 running backs?... Speaking of "not a great QB" - Jay Cutler is now aspiring to be as good as Jeff George...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Cool Meteor Video

Cool video of a meteorite that lit up the Utah night.

I agree that the coolest thing was the meteorite tricking the photovoltaic streetlights into thinking it was daylight. It had to be very bright to do that.
Dallas McPherson

The A's have signed Dallas McPherson to a minor league deal. This could be a real steal for the A's. I know McPherson has serious back issues but if he's able to stay healthy then he'd be an upgrade over the players the A's trotted out at 3rd base last year.

Consider that in 399 MLB AB's McPherson has 18 HR. If he's able to stay healthy and get 500 AB in a season - then 25 HR should not be out of the question. Last season only A-Rod and Brandon Inge had more than 25 HR playing primarily 3rd base (Kevin Youkilis had 27 and he could be back at 3rd base next season).

Low risk - possible high reward move by the A's.

By the way here's a picture of Elle MacPherson - no relation.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Heh Heh

This is awesome!
Seeking two tickets to the Dec. 2 UW mens' basektball game vs. Duke. Would prefer tickets somewhere in the lower level and near the team benches. I figure if I can get a seat close enough, I can at some point sneak down to the Duke bench, drop trou, and stick my hairy crack in Coach K's face. I've been wanting to do this for quite some time, so anyone who can help facilitate the dream on a budget would be most generous. I figure if there's one guy in the world who deserves to have a hairy, sweaty ass stuck in his face, it's Coach K. After all, he's been turning out team after team of cocky, whitebread under-achievers for the last two decades, and it's time someone showed him how the rest of the country feels about his brand of basketball.
HT Sportsfrog
Heh Heh

I love science humor.

I know I'll be telling the "host" joke sometime this weekend.

I'm a dweeb.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Malice in the Palace

It has been five years to the day that Ron Artest went nuts in that Palace in Auburn Hills.

Here was my reaction from the time. I think the sentiments hold up pretty well after 5 years. Even with the Celtics riding high - my enthusiasm for the NBA has waned because of the sense of such self-entitlement by the players.
Tom Brady's First Completion

Interesting story about Tom Brady's first pass completion.

I never knew that Brady was drafted by the Montreal Expos as a catcher.

This interactive map charts unemployment from January 2007 to September 2009. It's scary. Like seeing some sort of mutant virus take over the country.

HT Instapundit

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pats / Colts

It's been a few days since Sunday night's controversial decision by Bill Belichick and I'm just now weighing in on it.

I've avoided the subject because it is associated with a loss in my mind and I try to stay away from things that have negative connotations in my mind. During the baseball season I don't read about the Red Sox after a loss. Likewise the same is true for the Celtics and Patriots. The anger and self-righteousness from the nattering nabobs of negativity in Boston is strong and to be avoided if at all possible.I'm only weighing in because this is an opportunity for me to share one of my pet peeves with you.

I am always amazed when a team has a first and goal at the one or two yard line and the offense just doesn't run quarterback sneaks until the ball gets into the end zone. Instead - how often do you see a run outside for no gain or a loss, followed by an incomplete pass, followed by a power run off-tackle, followed by a field goal? It drives me nuts! Even Drew Bledsoe should be able to get the ball into the end zone with three straight QB sneaks!

This brings us to Sunday's situation. On 3rd down with a yard and a half to go for a first down - why not run a QB sneak? The defense probably wouldn't have been expecting it and if it failed the clock still continues to run and you still have fourth down to run another play if in your mind you had decided that this was a 4-down situation (I'd prefer another QB sneak please).

The strategic decision to go for it on fourth down I agree with. The tactical decision of how those downs were spent is what I disagree with.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Who Will Be the New Ted Koppel?

The decision to bring KSM to New York City for civilian trial is a huge mistake from any way you look at it. It is outrageous - in the dictionary sense of going beyond all standards of what is right or decent.

This is also going to be a circus.

It brings to mind November of 1979 when Iran took American hostages and ABC started the tv news show Nightline to update the American public on the latest developments. That crisis and that show made Ted Koppel a star. He went from being a State Department correspondent to being a household name. He rode that Nightline gravy train for 25 years before retiring.

This trial of KSM in New York has the potential to bring about a new Ted Koppel. People will be outraged but yet still unable to turn away. A nightly show dedicated to the trial has the potential to be big and the host of that show could be the new Ted Koppel. You would have to think one of the talking heads on one of the news shows will separate himself or herself from the pack.

I also have to say that just when you think the Obama Administration has sunk to a new low - they set the bar even lower. I would say that this trial of KSM could be the final nail in the coffin of liberalism but I'm guessing that President Obama still has some more giant mis-steps yet to come. I'm guessing a giant tax increase may be the next shoe to drop.

It is as if he's systematically taking away any reason to ever vote for a Democrat. Out of control spending? Check. Jobs? Are you kidding me? Weak foreign policy? Check (Iran and Russia are laughing at us while China is pissed that they have to explain to Obama how capitalism is supposed to work). Soft on terrorism? Absolutely.
The Coolest Thing You'll See All Day

Drop of Water

Unless of course you've already seen it.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

One Million

Sometime last night this site got it's one millionth page view. I think that's pretty cool. I know that number isn't that great when compared to some of the bigger blogs out there but still to be able to get one million of anything is an accomplishment in my eyes.

The site also has had over 700,000 visitors. That means since starting this blog back in March of 2004 - this site has averaged over 10,000 visitors and 14,000 page views per month. Many of you have been here since the start. Thank you very much for stopping by.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Christopher Walken's Poker Face

Dan Uggla for Jason Bay?

Interesting thought - why not replace Jason Bay with Dan Uggla?

I don't like the fact that Uggla is a strikeout machine who averages a K per game (1 SO per 4.4 plate appearance) but that's only slightly worse than Bay. His OPS+ of 114, however, is 17 points worse than Bay's career 131 mark. The interesting split is Uggla's career .847 OPS against righties. Maybe a platoon is in order?

I like this idea but I don't see it as a Plan A or Plan B for the Red Sox. I still think Plan A is to re-sign Jason Bay. This is something to keep in the back of the mind though.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month

In 1918 at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month the most bloody war in the history of mankind came to an end. The "official" paperwork would later be signed a few months later at Versailles but this "armistice" on November 11th is widely regarded as the end of the war.

Twenty years later Congress made Armistice Day an official national holiday. By 1954 the holiday's name was changed to Veteran's Day because the promise that World War I would be the "war to end all wars" proved to be false.

It should be noted that the armistice signed this day 91-years ago was signed in a railroad carriage at Compiagne, France. This place was chosen because it was where the Germans had previously dictated surrender terms to France to end the Franco-Prussian War in 1871. Many people fail to remember how that earlier war in 1871 sparked the war in 1914.

The onerous terms placed on Germany in the Treaty of Versailles are credited with helping the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany and with putting in motion the events that led to World War II. And the roots of the Korean War and the Vietnam War can be traced to the end of World War II.

It should further be noted that much of underlying structure and strife in the Middle East can be traced back to the end of World War I as most of the modern boundaries of the Middle East emerged from the end of the war including the boundaries of modern Iraq.

In many ways we are still feeling the ripples from the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. Too bad too few remember.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

H1N1 and the Bubblers

In my part of the country public drinking fountains / drinking fountains are called bubblers. In my part of the country H1N1 seems to be everywhere. My brother's 2 kids are home sick with it. I know lots of people who have had it, have it or know someone who has it. With the flu that pronounced - why would anyone use a bubbler?

Friday, November 06, 2009

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Yankees are World Series Champions

Congratulations to the New York Yankees - the 2009 World Series Champions. They won and they deserved it. They were the best team this year.

Here are my thoughts on them winning and what the future holds in store for not just the Yankees but other teams as well.

- Two of the biggest stars of the victory were Hideki Matsui (Series MVP) and Johnny Damon. Both are free agents and I'm guessing that prior to the World Series the front office was probably counting on cutting one or both of the players loose. Now what do they do? Matsui will be 36-years old next season and is now pretty much a DH. He could probably be a 1st baseman but not for the Yankees who have Mark Teixeira there for the foreseeable future. Do the Yankees keep Matsui as their DH? Matsui did hit 28 HR this season. But what about Jorge Posada who will eat up a bunch of the DH AB's next season and is signed for big money through 2011? It will be interesting to see what happens with Matsui this offseason. Will the Yankees re-sign him? Will he sign with another team? Will he retire to Japan as a conquering hero and legend who went out on the top of his game? It will be interesting?

- Wither Johnny Damon? Today is his 36th birthday (happy birthday Johnny Damon). Damon has proven that he can not only survive the heat of playing for the Yankees but thrive in that environment. The new Yankee Stadium seems custom built for Damon. The Yankees could very easily bring Damon back AND sign either a Jason Bay or Matt Holliday to play right with Nick Swisher being an expensive $9 million backup.

- What about the Phillies? The worm has certainly turned for Cole Hammels. He's gone from hero of the city to almost unwelcome. Could he be packaged as part of a three team trade in exchange for a young starter who doesn't have foot-in-mouth disease?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Arnold Rothstein

I was reminded that on this day in 1928, Arnold Rothstein was shot. The gunshot was fatal.

Most people only know Rothstein as the man accused as being the brains behind the 1919 Black Sox scandal. That part of his life is in question. What is not in question is that he was to organized crime what JP Morgan was to our banking system. His was a fascinating life. That life was documented in the book The Big Bankroll: The Life And Times Of Arnold Rothsteinby Leo Katcher. If you like history and gambling then this is a book for you. I picked it up today for a second read.

Man Caves

The 15 Best Man Caves on the Internet.

I am so jealous of the garage man caves. I'd love a poker-room / sports bar man cave.
Morning Links

Some interesting links to go with your morning coffee break.

- Investing in Superstars - very interesting concept about investing in people and getting a return off their lifetime earnings. Personal Investment Contracts could be the new new thing.

- Sports betting destroys poker bankrolls. I've been guilty of this.

- Tampa Bay sends Iwamura to the Pirates for Chavez. Salary dump by the Rays but still a good pickup for Pittsburgh. No truth to the rumor that Iwamura means "Freddy Sanchez" in Japanese.

- Alan Sepinwall on 30 for 30's Without Bias.
Hawaii Chair - Really?

This is a real product. I think if I saw someone using one that I would just crack up. Can you imagine getting interviewed by someone sitting in one of these chairs?

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Interesting Bar Story

I really enjoyed Gene Bromberg's One-Outer story

And I think like everyone who reads the story - I'll be tempted to play some Russian roulette the next time I'm with a bunch of friends at a bar.
Collapse of Nasca Civilization Human Induced or Oncler Induced?

Very interesting post over at Sexy Archaeology.
As the paper explains, however, the huarango was more than just a tree – it was a crucial part of the desert’s fragile ecosystem, which enhanced soil fertility and moisture and helped to hold the Nasca’s narrow, vulnerable irrigation channels in place.

Eventually, they cut down so many trees that they reached a tipping point at which the arid ecosystem was irreversibly damaged. The authors do not dispute that a major, El NiƱo-style event then occurred – finding hard evidence for this for the first time. But they also find that the impact of this flood would have been far less devastating had the forests which protected the delicate desert ecology still been there.
If only the Nasca had a Lorax around to speak for the trees.
Martha's Vineyard and the Garden of Eden

Yesterday the Boston Globe had an article about the death of 500 acres of oak forest on Martha's Vineyard and how it is related to climate change. I couldn't stop thinking about the article all day.

To me the key quote from the story was the following:
“It’s what makes the story interesting,’’ Oswald said. “The same two types of trees are dying at the same time’’ today, just as they did 5,000 years ago.
That's right - 5,000 years ago almost the exact same thing happened in almost the exact same place. I immediately thought that this fact makes blaming man-made carbon emissions for what is happening a bit of a stretch. I mean it's not like what happened 5,000 years ago was because of slash and burn farming practices or driving SUV's. It occurred to me that the author of the article was careful to use the term "climate change" instead of "global warming" all through the article.

I also started thinking about what was happening 5,000 years ago and then it clicked. About 5,000 years ago civilization was taking root in the fertile crescent around the meeting of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. This is the area that many have identified as the most likely setting for the Biblical Garden of Eden. Today this area is part of modern day Iraq.

That area today is home to the so-called Marsh Arabs. This is worthy of note because Saddam Hussein tried to punish the Marsh Arabs in 1991 by draining the marshland and destroying both the ecology of the area and the way of life of the Shia Marsh Arabs. We are talking about one of the most ecologically diverse areas on the planet which encompasses roughly 8,000 square miles. That area is just about exactly equal to the size of the entire state of Massachusetts. We are talking about the setting of the Biblical Garden of Eden.

You don't hear much about the restoration of the ecology of this area - do you? You would think that restoring the area that is the metaphorical Garden of Eden in an area roughly equal to the entire state of Massachusetts would rate as high as the problems of 500 acres of forest in Massachusetts. You would be wrong. The reason, I'm convinced, is that George W. Bush was the main cause for this ecological recovery in Iraq and no main stream media wants to give Bush credit for anything. I'm amused by that.

I'm also amused by the fact that 3,000 years ago in this same fertile crescent - man started fermenting beer. Glorious beer! Yet in this modern day there are towns on Martha's Vineyard that are dry. They don't allow alcohol. You can't blame George Bush for that. You can only hope that these towns will eventually become civilized.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Odds to Win 2009 WSOP Main Event

Here are the odds on the November 9. I threw $100 on Phil Ivey because he's Phil Ivey.

Darvin Moon +300
Eric Buchman +400
S Begleiter +500
J Shulman +500
Phil Ivey +450
Joe Cada +1200
Kevin Schaffel +1400
James Akenhead +1500
Anoine Saout +1500
Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

On this day in 1765 - the British Crown enacted the Stamp Act. This was taxes placed on the colonies to help pay for British military expenses in North America. These taxes, it can be argued, were the main cause for the eventual American Revolution. What I find ironic is when viewed from the prism of what taxes our government burdens us with on a regular basis - the taxes from the Stamp Act were actually reasonable... The Cincinnati Bearcats are the only team in Division 1 football not to lose a fumble so far this season... Today would have been Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler's 69th birthday. From the outside it looks like Sadler led a pretty fascinating life... Today also is former CNN anchor Lynne Russell's 63rd birthday. Russell is a sentimental favorite among many gamblers because she was the anchor of CNN Headline News at night and CNN Headline News was the first to run a sports ticker with the score of all the games at the bottom of the screen. Thus many gamblers were tuned into Headline News and looming right above the ticker was Lynne Russell's ample breasts. I have fond memories of Lynne Russell and her breasts... Today is World Vegan Day - so I'm going out to have a bacon cheeseburger. I suggest you do the same...
Seinfeld as Just a Remake of Welcome Back Kotter

The TV show Seinfeld was supposedly a groundbreaking concept of a TV show but it occurred to me yesterday that there was nothing new about Seinfeld at all. It is in fact a rip off of the the 1970's show Welcome Back Kotter.

Let's start with the obvious. Both shows were sitcoms set in New York City where the title character is Jewish. Also both shows opened with the star telling a joke. The main difference here was that the opening joke in Welcome Back Kotter was occasionally funny. The openings of Seinfeld with Jerry doing standup was never ever funny. Another parallel between the two shows is the fact that as the show became popular - the opening joke was dropped on both shows. You can't tell me that Jerry Seinfeld wasn't aware of one of the most popular TV shows of his youth that was based in New York and starred a Jewish standup comedian. Yeah - can you say plagiarism?

In the comparisons - Seinfeld is obviously the Gabe Kaplan character. George Kostanza is the Vice Principal Woodman character - both bitter men who knew the star from childhood. Mr. Woodman was old and short while George is short and bald. Elaine is the Vinnie Barbarino slutty character. Newman is Arnold Horshack but instead of skinny and ethnic you get fat and postal. You can equally picture either character exclaiming, "Ooh-ooh-ooooh!" Kramer was the Juan Epstein character - they even had similar hair. Epstein's mother's maiden name was Bibbermann. According to the state of New York - Kramer was the Bibbermann. There was no Boom-Boom Washington character in Seinfeld because Welcome Back Kotter was the more progressive of the shows - not that there's anything wrong with that.

As an aside - a movie version of Welcome Back Kotter is planned with Ice Cube playing the title role but with the school set in South Central LA instead of New York.