Patriots late game problems

September 20, 2010 2:00 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Yesterday, the Patriots went into halftime with a 14-10 lead. They didn’t score once in the second half, and went home on the wrong side of a 14-28 game. I said at the time that it reminded me a lot of last year. I pulled up some numbers to be sure. (The following stats are for all of 2009 and 2010, including both regular and post-season games. That’s a total of 19 games.)

  • In regulation over that period, we were 11-7-1. The one “tie” went into overtime and the Broncos won on a field goal. (Don’t get me started on sudden death overtime.)
  • If the games had ended after one half, we would have been 14-3-2 over that period. If they’d ended after three quarters, we’d have been 14-5-0.
  • Our total point differential has been 154 points in the first half, and -28 in the second half.
  • The point differentials have been 38 in the first quarter, 116 (!!) in the second, 3 points in the third, and -31 in the fourth quarter.

Maybe we can lobby the league to switch to a 45-minute clock when they go to a 20-week/18-game schedule?

The Red Sox haven’t been bad

August 31, 2010 10:03 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Since April 19, the Yankees are 71-47, Rays are 72-47, and the Red Sox are 70-48. It’s not that the Sox have been bad. In fact, in 2009 between games 13 and 131 they were 70-48, and in 2008 they were 69-49. They have been just as good as in previous years. The problem is that the team fell to a quick deficit and has been trying to catch two other extremely good teams. There’s a good chance the AL East will finish the year with two teams with 100+ wins, and Boston with 90+ wins. I’m almost certain this hasn’t happened as long as there have been divisions (1969). The closest I can find is 1977, when the top three teams in the AL East finished with 100, 97, and 97 wins respectively. But remember, that was a six-team division, not four.

To look at this season and draw the conclusion that we’ve had a bad year is to ignore the actual facts. We just haven’t had as good of a year as we needed to have in order to make up our losses in the first couple of weeks.

StarCraft 2 review

July 31, 2010 4:41 pm Published by 1 Comment

I’ve now played StarCraft 2 for two days. I’ve finished five missions on the single-player campaign, and played a handful of co-op multiplayer games. If you had asked me to describe the game based on the Beta, I would have said it was just StarCraft HD. Higher resolution, more beautiful, some new tech, but the gameplay is identical. The single player campaign, though, is where this game really shines. The original StarCraft’s single player was essentially a series of levels that got steadily harder and had some story connecting them. The sequel turns makes the stages non-linear, introduces credits as reward for some stages that you can then use to hire mercenary units when you’re in a bind for near-instant help or spend on research to improve units, and secondary objectives in some missions allow you to earn alien research points you can use to improve buildings. The original game only had ten Terran missions, and I’m willing to bet there are triple that in this game. Plus there are probably seven hundred achievements.

The multiplayer is fun, but you kinda need to be a semi-professional to do well at it. As Splatta said the other day, that seems too much like work.

Diamond Age review

April 28, 2010 8:51 am Published by Leave your thoughts

I wrote about the failings of The Diamond Age in a message to my brother a week ago. Now that I have actually finished the book, I can say that my problems with it are still valid. First, the good: I don’t think there’s anyone better than Neal Stephenson when it comes to creating a believable universe around a technologically advanced future. In both this and Snow Crash, his world is fully realized and–more importantly–socially complex.

But The Diamond Age clearly is affected by Stephenson’s ongoing scatterbraineditis in a way that Snow Crash was able to avoid. It’s actually a pretty clear progression from the great plot of Zodiac through to the spaghetti nonsense of Cryponomicon. He creates this nanotech-infused world, introduces us to a few characters and gets us to love them and root for them. Hackworth vanishes from the storyline, then Miranda, then Nell seems to be the central character. Then she disappears when Hackworth reappears and now we’re supposed to care about Fiona for a chapter or two. Then Carl Hollywood becomes a central character. And what ever happened to Dr. X? What’s up with the Fists? Oh, here comes the Mouse Army seemingly from nowhere (or more accurately 200 pages ago). The conflict that supposedly gets resolved doesn’t even begin to appear until three-quarters of the way through the book. And now that I think about it, I’m not sure what the conflict was or even if it was resolved.

I really wanted to love this one, especially since I liked the world so much more than the virtual reality world of Snow Crash. But at least in that book, there was more or less a single conflict, clear protagonists (one was even helpfully named Protagonist). When Stephenson writes sprawling epics, he forgets to put in a direction for the story to go.

Idea: OEIS blog

April 15, 2010 2:54 pm Published by 1 Comment

Someone should make a blog based on the Online Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences. Each week (or twice a week, or daily, or something), there’d be a post which would discuss a single sequence. It’d give some glance at the theory and some history behind the concepts, be they Turing machines, prime numbers, set theory, or bi-directional graphs.

I’m adding this to my “to do when I retire” list.