Thursday, September 07, 2006

SK lays down some smack

Over on CSS, SK does some analysis.

I'm not sure he is entirely correct, but I am very sure he is not entirely wrong....

Baseball Rules

Saw two MLB games this past weekend, while at (ahem) the APSA meetings.

1. Phillies v. Braves, at the Phillies new ballpark. Very nice. We had good seats, and excellent company, six of us. Nice day. And, got to see Ryan Howard, the Philly nonpareil, hit THREE homers. First one was a line drive, the second a moon shot that traveled at least 450 feet before coming down in a far concourse in the bullpen in dead center, and the last something in between, still a tremendous homer.

Since I am becoming something of conniseur of "fan on the field" incidents (see this description, my favorite of all time fan on the field story), I should relate what happened next.

Ryan Howard comes up for his fourth at bat. A drunk fan, thickly built from years of Pat's, jumps onto the field, runs up near Howard from the third base side, and falls to his knees. Begins doing the full prostration bow, over and over. Police and security men converge from three sides. Obeisance man actually puts one hand behind back to be cuffed, and continues bowing routine with other hand for another few seconds. The guy, as far as I can tell, was not beaten. But, in contrast to the ChiSox incident, this guy did not put moves on security guys in the outfield, WHLE CARRYING A BEER, and injure one of them.

Anyway, Howard is clearly undone by this incident, and can only manage a line smash single. His day: 4-4, 13 total bases, 5 RBI, three runs scored.

Philllies are comfortably ahead, 6-3. But, suddenly, the Braves score 2 in the eigth, and 4 in the top of the ninth inning! Phillies down 7-6, great start by Moyer down the toidie.

Then, equally suddenly, Phillies come back! Score two in the bottom of the ninth to come back and win! As fine a ballgame, with fine company (even Shughie was there! And, always nice to see Renan...) on a fine day in a fine ballpark, as one could want. And Jimmy Rollins is an incredible athlete.

(I had not realized this, until I read the game wrap: Ortiz at one point got nine outs on 15 pitches. That is pitching at its finest. The perfect inning is not nine strikes. The perfect inning is three grounders. I wish I could convince my Carolina Cardinals that this is true. Hats off to Ortiz. Best pitching performance I have seen in person since I watched another Phillie, Steve Carlton, 2-hit my Cards back in 1983 at old Busch).

2. Next day, I went to another day game down in DC (at RFK, Nats v. Cards) with an old friend I hadn't seen in forever. Nats starter takes no hitter into the ninth, but Cards break it up. Third batter in the ninth is the great Pujols, who absolutely creams a curve ball into the upper deck in left center. Nats win it, though. Beautiful. Marquis pitched very well, but Ortiz deserved to win. We had great seats, right behind third base. Scott Rolen is an enormous man.

Oh, and did I mention I was at the APSA meetings? Actually went to the business meeting, and saw Robert Axelrod "installed" as the new Jefe Maximo. I'm not sure why, but going to the business meeting, which was brief, was really pretty fun. In spite of the outrageous dues and meeting registration (which together total $400 for me this year!), I have to admit I like APSA. Next year: Chicago! Should be an orgy of baseball, assuming the (a) Pale Hose, (b) Cubs (ick!) or (c) Brewers are home that weekend.

UPDATE: I am apparently not becoming a connoiseur of spellings of connoiseur, however.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Email Security

So I get the following email from one of the journals for which I am on the editorial board:

Dear Prof. Munger,

We appreciate you reviewing for the Journal of Rectal-Cranial Inversion. The journal will now be published by BANGALORE CORP. As the new editors we would like to invite you to go to our submission website, http://mc.manuscriptlosing and update your account by using the following user id, munger@college.EDU. To retrieve your password, please enter your email address into the Password Help function on the log in page. For security purposes we have not included your password in this email.

We greatly value your time in the all important process of reviewing and look forward to working with you in the future.

Let us know if you have any further questions.

Prof. Thing One and Prof. Thing Two
Editors of JRCI

So, I go to the website, and enter my email address. I could see what was coming, but refused to believe it. And then it happened: the publisher website sent me an email....AN UNENCRYPTED EMAIL!...with my password.

Immediately, I send the editors an email, asking how an email from a publisher is more secure than an email from the editors, which would have saved me several minutes updating my account. Haven't heard back yet.....will advise.

UPDATE 1: Got this email from manuscript losing software program:

Dear Prof. Munger:

This e-mail has been automatically generated per your request.

Your USER ID is munger@college.EDU
Your single use password is bitemedo45
Please note that this password will expire on Sat, 9 Sep 2006 18:52:05 GMT / Sat, 9 Sep 2006 14:52:05 EST.
If this password has expired, you can generate a new one by entering your email address into the 'Password Help' function on your site log in page:
When you log in with it you will be prompted to set a permanent password.

Yep, that's MUCH more secure than an email....

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

They Noticed His Discomfort

Don't poke the stolen money bag into your pants. Unless....well, just don't.

Orlando--A man was arrested and charged with bank robbery after a dye pack in the bills he is accused of taking exploded in the crotch of his pants. Officers responding to the bank's alarm stopped to question Kenneth Ray Brooks when they noticed his discomfort and the bright red dye on both his hands, police said.


Saturday, September 02, 2006

All About the Mass Transit

I'm up at the APSA meetings. In Philadelphia.

On Thursday, I thought I would come up here on the Amtrak. Given everything I had heard about bad service and lateness, seemed like a natural blog subject.

What a disappointment! Consider:

1. The train was supposed to leave Raleigh terminal at 5:40 am, didn't leave until 6:30am. A great start. But we ended up getting into the Philadelphia terminal at 2:20, about ten minutes late. Not bad.

2. And this was at the downtown terminal, mind you. About 6 blocks from my hotel. Made it to my panel at 4:15 very easily.

3. I had a roomette. Nice little bed up top, comfortable seats, my own little potty and sink. Plugs for laptop, free water and orange juice. All for $255 one way. A little pricey, but worth it. Arrived rested and happy. A regular ticket was only $55, which is fine. I was so sure we'd be ten hours late that I bought the roomette, and then didn't need it.

Well, there was one thing, lest you think I am losing my knack for bizarre retail experiences. Part of the first class ticket was "free meals." So, about 12:15, I go back to the dining car (right behind the first class car, so the tubbos in first class don't have to strain themselves).

I sit down, look up, and see why railroads are disappearing the U.S.: three middle-aged white guys are working the dining car, as waiters. Now, where have you seen three middle-aged guys working in a restaurant? Only in the very most expensive restaurants. Most places pay low wages, and so hire more women and minorities. But union work rules allow the railroads to pay top dollar for rude gorillas.

Union man #1 saunters up, and hands me a ticket. "Need your name, room number, and car number, chief." Monotone, no eye contact, a smirk. This is union work, so he doesn't actually to provide any real service. And being nice is beneath a railroad union man.

I fill out the little sheet. Hand it to him.

"So, what'll it be, sport?" Staring at the back of the car, where his two boys are cutting up and giggling. At least five other tables are awaiting service.

I try to order the chicken ceasar salad. He interrupts; "Nope."

Staring at him, I ask: "Why not?"

"Don't have it." Pleased with himself. He made me ask; points for him.

"All right," I said, and handed him the menu.

Now I have his attention, unintentionally. He goggles at me. "Look, sport: we don't have any salads. Look at your menu, and pick something else."

Me: "Sir, I'm not entirely stupid. I understood what you said. You have six menu items. Five are some sort of fried something on a bun, served with potato chips. One is a salad. Even with only six items, you can't be bothered to have them all available, at the BEGINNING of the lunch shift. So, no, I am not going to pick something else. I am going to finish my diet coke, and go back to my little room."

On the plus side, this was said in a level voice and not too loud. On the down side, and for reasons I still can't explain, I said this in an increasingly strong, and entirely fake, British accent. Changing from a southerner to a Brit in the course of diatribe does not help when you want to be taken seriously.

I think he thought I must be crazy. He took the menu gently, and said, "Sorry, sir" in the most polite voice he had used yet. I later realized that passing up fried food and potato chips (crisps, I should say, in my Angloglossiac dementia) was so foreign to him that he might actually have BELIEVED I was a Brit.

Sat and finished my soda. Hoped no one else would talk to me, since speaking in bad foreign accents accidentally is not something I am proud of. Each of the three guys would occasionally get up, the other two would sit, and the one "working" would go and pester a couple of passengers for about five minutes. "Everything okay here?" " haven't brought our food yet." "Okay, good, I was just checking." Union guys must have their irony bone removed at a young age.

So...overall, the trip was a real solid B+. And if you bring your own food, probably would have been an A-. I am going to take the train again, for trips in the Eastern corridor.