04-29-06 [poker]Today is an *awesome* day to sign up on Party Poker. There are TWO reload bonuses - TOPBUCKS40 and TOPBUCKS50. Start a new account on my affiliate, get the $100 initial bonus, then get two more $100 bonuses for $300 total free bonus! Also the fishies come out in droves when the bonuses are rolling. (there's also the "Magic Card" promotion for more free money)
04-29-06 [poker]I think I identified my problem at $200NL, which is the first step to fixing it (knowing is half the battle). People play back a lot more, and that got me feeling like I was getting bluffed a lot and had to defend my hands more, so I would go down with hands like KK. That's very bad, that's exactly what they want you to do. They jab a lot, make little raises, attack, just trying to get you to over-commit to a hand like that. Then you decide to stand up for yourself, and they just back away unless they have the goods. That of course is the type of game that I try to play, and I've been falling right into their trap. The correct response is to still use pot control, only go down with big hands, try to make big hands and trap them into bluffing into you, and to rebluff. Use pressure bets to test them and see if they're just attacking or if they have the goods, and fold if they have the goods.
04-28-06 [poker]It's good to be really aggressive on flops with flush draws. For one thing, when you have the flush draw, you want to jam, and by always being aggressive, it hides what you're doing. For another, your opponents will call huge bets with draws, so you may as well bet your made hands. Also, your opponents will push their draws, so go ahead and bet big and try to get them to push. Pushing your big made hands is good too because people will think it's a flush draw. Then don't be so aggressive if there isn't a flush draw on the flop.
04-28-06Bill Kristol made a good point, and I actually like Nancy Pelosi, but she could really fuck up the Democrats' chances in 2008. She is one of those liberals that can come across as sort of a crazy hippy, and can say things that don't sound good at all in sound bites, she's a bit off the handle and doesn't have good "message control" and all that political shite the Republicans are so good at.
04-28-06Exxon's quarterly profit was $10 billion. So for the year that's $40 billion. Estimate for all the oil companies, somewhere in the $100-$200 billion range. Let's divide by the number of heavy drivers in the world, maybe 1 billion? Maybe a bit less. That's about $200 profit per person. (I also haven't really counted all the other profit-takers along the way). How many gallons of gas does each person use per year? I guess around 1000. So that's about $0.20 (20 cents) per gallon of profit.
04-27-06 [poker]Some different ways to think about hands : your goal in each hand is just to put pressure on the pot and take it down. Basically you're going to raise and cbet. You don't really look at your hole & the board until your opponent decides he's not folding to your cbet (that's not actually true, of course you look, but let's pretend). So, your opponent calls your cbet, or maybe he raised preflop. Now you look at your cards. 90% of the time you're just going to give up because he's decided he's not giving up the pot, but sometimes you look down and find you've actually got something - a set, a straight, aces. Then you say "okay, I'll play with you". Other times you think he's just playing back and play like you have a set even though you don't.
Most of your EV on every hand you play just comes from taking down the pot with little pressure. Why not just play every hand? Well, for one you need to play tight just so people will see you as tight and give you credit and fold. Also, if you just fold every time someone plays back, you'll be folding too much, you need to be able to defend your hand part of the time. To do that, you need to have hit something part of the time. Better hole cards help there, though they aren't crucial, since junk cards can hit two pairs and trips and such too.
Think about it this way - you get 88. Don't think, oo I have a pair of 8's. Think, okay, I have two cards, I'll make a raise and put pressure on the pot. Now, if you get put to the test, you have some nice insurance where you don't just have to fold, depending on the board maybe you can try to get to a cheap showdown with just your 8's, or if you have a set you can try to play for a whole stack.
04-26-06 [poker]There's nothing like the WSOP freerolls to make you frustrated. If you play half decent you're going to get all in as a huge favorite, like AA vs. K9 , AK vs A5, etc.. but the chance of surviving every race you have to run is tiny with the 3500 entrants.
04-26-06 [poker]I had a really bad day at the poker tables yesterday. I played in the morning, as I like to, after Dan went to work. I pretty quickly went up three stacks ($600), and then proceeded to run into horrible luck and a lot of bad decisions and lost it all. I wound up break-even for the day, but it made me feel sick and angry at myself that I blew it. I never got over it and it ruined my whole day. Those are the times that I really think poker might be a bad idea - if a downswing can make me so upset and make me waste a day, that sort of spoils the whole advantage of only having to work a few hours of the day.
I'm trying to move back up to 200 NL. I went down to 100 and crushed it, so I'm trying to move up again. I'm finding it a lot harder to beat. When I hit a set, I don't stack a guy, and people are much more aggressive about bluffing and testing you. Generally you have to play back at bluffs a lot more, and you have to be more tricky with made hands in order to stack people. Down at 100 people generally let you know when they have a hand, and you can either stack them or fold depending on whether you have a big hand or not.
04-25-06 [poker]I took my first shot at a WSOP seat. It was a $50 satellite ($55), and over 1000 people were in it, so that meant the top 5 players got seats. So, 5/1000 = 1/200 , I figure my chance at a seat is maybe 1/100 ? I hate playing events like that where 99% of the time you get nothing, the variance is just huge. Anyway I got knocked out when I ran my AA into K9. People play super-nutty in these things, so they're clearly +EV, but it's still annoying that I could easily play 100 times (for $5500) and not get a seat. For some reason the fact that it's a big satellite just makes everyone go insane. They think they need to gamble it up to get a high finish, which is partly true, but of course you shouldn't be taking -EV gambles, just +EV gambles just like you always do. If anything I wind up playing tighter than normal in these things because everyone is such a nut you can just wait for big pairs and get in against two undercards.
04-25-06 [poker]The "next level" for me is to get away from pre-plans for hands and get into the ability to really evaluate my position in the hand from instant to instant. Newbies will look at their hole and decide how to play it before anything happens in the hand. eg. they see AA and plan to get all in with it. Decent players can look at the board on each street and change their plan, but will still make plans overall like "try to play a big pot" or "try to get to showdown cheap". Slightly better players can change their opinion if their opponent does something obvious to let them know they're beat. My goal is to get away from any kind of longer-term thinking and get into more "instantaneous" thinking. eg. for each time it's my turn I make a fresh decision about where I stand and what I should do.
If you have a pre-plan, one of the bad things you do is sort of bet weakly or fail to value bet with a marginal hand. In some cases you should just fold that hand, but in some cases you should bet hard with it. I want to be able to stop on a dime, like going bet-bet-bet, and then just fold when I know my hand is no good any more.
Sort of a classic example of this is when a draw makes. Say you have something like AA and the flop is K72 with two spades. You bet the flop and turn. The river is a spade. A lot of people want to check here so they can call and see a showdown. What you should do is go ahead and bet as much as you think Kx will call. Now if you're raised, even min-raised, you just fold. You bet like your hand is the nuts until you know it's no good, and then you just fold.
04-24-06 [poker]I have my own internal "slider" that goes between "weak/tight" and "maniac". One of the hardest things in playing a poker session is trying to tweak that slider. When I first sit down to play it's almost always at one end or the other, either a total maniac or a total weak nit. I have to play a hundred hands or so, and as I do it I'm tweaking my internal brain mechanics trying to get it to the right spot.
04-24-06 [poker]One of the characteristics of better players and higher games is getting away from playing medium strength hands for value. In poker there's a spectrum of hands from "junk" to "monsters". In low level games with bad players, a hands like ATo is somewhere in between, and you can sort of play it for value. In the higher games, the hands become more separated, it's more black and white, and a hand like ATo goes squarely in the junk category. That doesn't mean you fold ATo , but it means you play it more as a bluff. You might open raise with it, but your goal there is representing AA. You might even reraise with it, but that's just to snap off someone else opening something like AT.
04-23-06 [poker]"Protecting" your hand is generally over-rated. The key question is whether they will put more money in the pot later if they don't improve. If they will only put money in the pot if they improve, then you should bet to "protect" sooner than later. If not, then you are better off waiting until you see whether they improve or not and you can put your money in with more equity.
Say you have a pair and you know your opponent is on a flush draw. It's the turn and he checks to you. You can bet here to charge his draw, and he'll call. Your return on that bet is around 80%. On the other hand, if you check behind him and the river blanks, he might bluff at the river, or check-call with a weaker hand. In that case the money you're putting in on the river has a return of 100%.
Now, if you could get both returns that would be even better, but usually they are exclusive, you can either get the 80% or the 100%, and you should take the 100%.
04-21-06 [poker]The only interesting hand for me last night :
Pete or someone like that limps in for $0.50. I raise to $4 in the Hijack spot with [ Tc 8c ]. Most of the table is on scared money and I can take the pot, plus nice implied odds. Dustin calls out of the big blind. Dustin has been playing a lot trying to get in the action. I think Pete called too. Flop :
[ Kc Td 8h ] , pot $12.50
All check to me, I bet $9.
Dustin calls, Pete folds. Hmm.. now, I rule out a set because I have the bottom two locked up, and KK he would have reraised preflop. I was thinking QJ or 9J are his most likely hands, or even something like KQ or AK. KT is also possible. The turn is :
[ 6s ] , pot $30.50
That looks pretty safe. Dustin bets $12. Odd. That's kind of a small bet, but Dustin likes to bet his draws, and he could also be probing with one king. I call. The river is :
[ Jd ] , pot $54.50
Dustin bets $20. Again kind of a small bet, looks like he wants to get called. AQ and Q9 just made straights, and I can't rule out Q9 because Dustin will draw to gutshots. On the other hand, some of the hands I put him on like QJ just made a pair and he might be betting just a J. Anyway, I call $20 and he shows :
[ 7h 9h ]
For the turned nut straight.
I could've bet a little more on the flop, but I don't think I can really get away from the hand. I think Dustin's preflop call is pretty sick for a few reasons (1. it's 8 BB, the implied odds can't even make up for such a big call, 2. he's out of position, 3. I'm likely just on a steal so won't pay off even if he hits), but other than that he played it well. I probably would have called a bigger bet on the turn, but I'm sure he didn't think I was so strong. As it turned out he hit just about the only board where he can win a pot from me, the miracle 68T board. I of course wanted the miracle 679 board.
The live game's pretty frustrating, with people not paying attention and taking forever. I think I maybe got 50-100 hands in over about 5 hours. Online I would've had about 1500 hands in that time span. I don't play the live game for the money, I like to just mess around and hang out (though I still like to play a +EV game overall, I'll make some silly -EV moves once in a while just for fun), but it's not so much fun when it's just so slow.
If you're a serious poker playing friend of mine, email me for special bonus details.
04-20-06 [poker]I've written about this a bit before, but there's a key point about drawing in NL : you can draw to good draws (like the nut flush) for big bets, eg. pot size bets, but ONLY if you know your opponent has a hand and so will pay you off when you hit. If you already have information telling you he has a hand, then go ahead and call down. If not, you must either raise or fold. You can NOT draw when he might be on a bluff. By raising, you might fold higher draws that would stack you if you hit (eg. higher flush draws), and you also make sure he folds junk so you're up against a hand.
Consider for example : he bets $4 on the flop, you call, he bets $8 on the turn, you call. If you hit, that's nice, but he might actually just be bluffing here or also have a draw.
For the same amount of money : he bets $4 on the flop, you raise to $12, he calls. He checks turn, you check.
You put in the same amount of money for your draw, but in the second case he'll fold the pure junk, so if you hit your draw, he has some kind of hand and is much more likely to pay you off, so your implied odds are way better. Of course this only works in position.
04-19-06Emergency Room admission consent forms should be illegal. You have some sort of trauma or other major problem, you're trying to get care, and they hand you this giant form with all kinds of legal mumbo jumbo, including things like "any tissues extracted from you or procedures practiced on you are property of the hospital", "we may conduct risky experimental and educational procedures", "interns who have been awake for 24 hours and just barely passed medschool may do major unsupervised work on you", "you won't sue us, even when we accidentally stitch you up with scalpels still inside, or give you estrogen pills instead of antibiotics", etc. etc. Of course you sign, you can't read it, you have a fever of 105 and can barely even focus on anything. It's a form of blackmail - sign our crazy form or we'll just let you die.
04-18-06 [poker]It's an interesting idea to just jam the pot with great hands. Like just push all in preflop with AA and KK. Push later with the nuts or near the nuts. The first time you do this you're surely giving up value because people will just fold, but if you get lucky enough to get a rush and get a few good hands in a row, people will be suspicious the second time and may call with very bad hands. Probably a rush is too rare to make this +EV overall.
04-18-06 [poker]There's a big difference between assuming that an unknown player plays like an average opponent, vs. assigning some chance that he's playing in a wide variety of styles. That is, say there are 10 possible styles. Each one is equally common among random opponents. In a hand vs. an unknown what you should do is give a 10% chance that he's playing each of those styles, not a 100% chance that he's playing in a way that's the "average" of them.
04-18-06My god, who recommended "Be Good, Smile Pretty" to me? You owe me an hour of my life. What a god-awful piece of schlock. If I had a Network of Trust I'd down-grade the link which provided that information (actually I'd just rate the movie badly and the network would automatically decrease my trust in that information provider in that category).
04-17-06 [poker]When you're losing money at poker it's usually because you have some bad luck, you have some good luck, and you make some mistakes. Maybe you hit a lucky hand and make +$100. You make a few mistakes that total -$50. You hit some bad luck and take a beat for -$100. When you look at your session, you think "if not for that bad luck, I'd be up" , or "I should've been up +$50 but that stupid bad beat took me down". Of course the reality is the luck swings up & down and cancelled out here, but you blew off -$50 in mistakes. Psychologically we count the good luck as part of what our skill "earned us", when you draw out you think "I was due because I'm way better than this guy".
04-16-06 [poker]Wow, apparently Mahatma (Prahlad) and Phil Ivey played a series of $50/$100 NLHE heads up matches online. I'm trying to find some kind of record of them, will post more when I find it...
Mahatma has an awesome ability to get paid off when he hits a hand. Presumably this is because he bluffs so much.
04-16-06 [poker]I'm in a bit of a dry spell in the cash game and it's making me question very basic strategy.
1. Playing big pairs : the standard line is that you must reraise solid preflop to get heads up, and to charge them to outflop you. The problem is this makes you hand very obvious and means they'll only play with you if you're beat. For example :
Blind $1. UTG raises to $4. You're in UTG+1 with KK. You make it $12. All fold to UTG who calls the $8.
Flop is [ 3 7 8 ] with two spades.
UTG checks to you.
You continuation bet $18
This is all well and good, but you only get action from a set here, or possible from like 9T of spades. You really want action from hands like 99 or TT but you've told them they're beat and you won't get action.
2. Playing sets on dry boards. Common wisdom is to continuation bet just like you always would. The problem is on dry boards they likely have nothing and just fold.
04-15-06 [poker]I'll keep you up to date on the juicest new online gossip : UltimateBet recently started spreading a $50/$100 (blinds) PLO (Pot Limit Omaha) game. That's very high, it's the highest PLO game online, and PLO runs a lot hotter than hold'em, so it swings more than 50/100 no limit hold'em. (all the big games are on Prima or UltimateBet). A lot of top pros have been playing it, and Mike Matusow has been losing money as usual. Gus Hansen plays it as well as a lot of scary Scandanavians, and Marcel Luske, all of whom are experienced at Omaha. Anyway, yesterday this guy "idahopotato" sat in the game. Apparently he's a pretty good online pro who plays $300/$600 limit hold'em and does well. He proceeded to play the Omaha game like a maniac, playing every hand. The top pros all gathered like sharks and the waiting list at his table filled up. He kept losing and losing and managed to blow $500k in a few hours. That's 50 buy-ins - the guy went bust and rebought 50 times.
04-15-06 [poker]Party Poker offers deals for tournaments, and they have an automatic algorithm which is nice, but it's wrong. I've written about it before, they use just a chip % split, and the correct way is an ICM. The Party way of doing it gives too much money to the chip leader and badly penalizes the short stacks. If you ever find yourself in a tournament deal on Party, if you are the chip leader a deal is very favorable for you, and if you're a low stack you have to reject the deal because it's very unfair.
04-14-06 [poker]One thing I have to remind myself of all the time is this meta-principle : any time you have a truly tough decision where you can't figure out what the best move was - it doesn't matter. That's assuming it's actually a tough situation, not that there was a clearly right move and you can't see it. That is, if two or more moves have almost identical EV, then just pick one and don't agonize about it. Oddly enough, these are the very hands that I tend to agonize over the most.
Say for example someone pushes preflop you know they push with only AA or 22. Eg. they have the nuts or are bluffing. You have JJ, do you call? The answer is it basically doesn't matter. You might fold and they show 22 and you feel awful, or you call and they show AA and you feel awful, but it really didn't matter. More realistically this happens a lot when you put your opponent on a range and the optimal play against various parts of his range are slightly different. Like if you have a set on the river and you read that he either has a busted flush (you should check to induce a bluff) or a weak pair (you should bet small to get a crying call). If he has one or the other, just pick one and it's not a big deal which one you picked.
All of these "hard" decisions have a very tiny affect on your long term results (though they tend to be the hands that have a huge affect on your short term results). So, don't agonize over them, and worry about your actual important big mistakes. Eliminate the hands where you look back and go "omg, what was I thinking? that's just awful!?"
04-14-06 [poker]When chasing flushes, if you're just thinking about your immediate odds, you don't need to worry about dominating too much. If you're thinking about implied odds, you should worry about domination. Say you have a flush draw on the flop and someone puts you all in. You can call with any flush draw and not worry much about higher flushes because higher flushes are a very small part of opponent's range. On the other hand, if you're considering what happens when you *make* your flush and your opponent pays off a big bet, what is his calling range after the scary flush card hits? Now his range is very small, maybe 20 hands, and higher flushes are a significant portion of it, even if there are only like 10 hands that make higher flushes.
04-14-06 [poker]I thought I'd go over my tournament win yesterday since I want to gloat ;)
The first hundred hands - nothing much happened for me. I did a lot of folding. I made little steals and folded to reraises or when I missed the flop. I got KK once and raised it and got no action. I stole a few blinds and took down some flops. I folded good hands like 55 and QJs to heat. All the while I was watching and developing reads.
I got KQs, raised it, flopped a Q and doubled up vs. a nutter calling me down.
Another nutter pushed all-in preflop with A5o and I called with AQo and doubled up. (he had just pushed the last hand with T7o)
I got 77 and raised, all folded. I got KK and reraised an opener, he folded. I was playing real tight, so getting lots of folds. I opened with A8 and got two calls. I flopped middle pair and bet continuation and all folded. I opened with A9s and a guy pushed and I folded. I raised TT in the CO and the blinds folded. So with all this I managed to be about an average stack for the tournament and the field was whittling down. I was developing careful reads on everyone so I knew when to go with a big hand or not. Then this wierd hand came up :
Party Poker No-Limit Hold'em Tourney, Big Blind is t1200 (10 handed) Hand History Converter Tool from FlopTurnRiver.com (Format: HTML)
Preflop: Hero is UTG with Ks, Ad.
UTGA raises to t3000, UTG+1 raises to t4800, 8 folds, Hero calls t1800.
(yikes, he min raises me, and he has me covered, I'm worried he has JJ+ in which case I'm in dead trouble)
Flop: (t9600) 5c, Tc, 7s (2 players)
Hero checks, UTG+1 bets t1200, Hero calls t1200.
(I'd basically given up on the hand here, I figured he had a pair and I need to hit an A or K to win)
Turn: (t12000) 7d (2 players)
Hero checks, UTG+1 checks.
River: (t12000) 6c (2 players)
(interesting, clubs made it, I can represent the flush :)
Hero bets t4000, UTG+1 folds.
Final Pot: t16000
He must've been doing something really weird in this hand, but it wound up being a pretty big pot.
I now have a solid stack. I open on the button and fold to a push. I open in MP with 98o and all fold. A super-short-stack pushes and I call with T9o in the big blind, he wins with AQ. I open AQ on the button, all fold. Now it's the bubble and I want to attack the shorties who are trying to creep into the money. Then this awful hand happens :
Party Poker No-Limit Hold'em Tourney, Big Blind is t1600 (10 handed) Hand History Converter Tool from FlopTurnRiver.com (Format: HTML)
Preflop: Hero is CO with 6s, 6d.
MP3 raises to t3200,
Hero raises to t8002, (I wanted to get all in with MP3, but wanted to see what happened behind me)
Button raises all in (t16337), (button was a bit of a nut)
Hero calls t8285. (I'm getting like 4:1 , I have to call even if he has an overpair)
Flop: (t19487) Jc, Qd, 8c (2 players)
Turn: (t19487) 9s (2 players)
River: (t19487) Th (2 players)
Final Pot: t19487
Button had KJo !!! Ugh. He can't bluff me there, his stack is too short for me to fold, there's a raise and reraise in from of him, and I have him well covered so he can't threaten me with the bubble. Such an unbelievable bad play, I was sick at the time, I thought I played the hand perfectly and was being punished by the poker gods.
Now I'm a little below average. I get KK and open and all fold. Next hand I get AQ and open, and the big stack pushes. I'm a bit short now and the bubble is passed, I call. He has KK, but I spike an ace to double up. Now I'm back to average. I get KK again; a guy just open-pushes in front of me and I call. He has QJs and had way too many chips to be open-pushing that hand.
A few more hands with little nothing happeneing, then a super-aggressive guy who's been raising a ton raises in the CO. I'm on the button with KQo and I push over the top. He calls with 44, but I win the race and knock him out. The very next hand I fold AJo preflop when a very tight guy opens (he had AK). Then I get 64s and try a resteal, but he pushes over the top and I fold. Then this hand:
Party Poker No-Limit Hold'em Tourney, Big Blind is t3000 (7 handed) Hand History Converter Tool from FlopTurnRiver.com (Format: HTML)
Preflop: Hero is MP2 with 5c, 5d.
2 folds, Hero raises to t8000,
1 fold, Button calls t8000, 1 fold, BB calls t5000.
Flop: (t21000) Tc, 6s, 6d (3 players)
BB pushes all in
- here I was thinking of calling BB because he was an aggro nut-job. The problem is Button was still live behind me and he was very tight, so -
BB had 44, Button had QQ, and my read is spot on. Okay, lost a few chips, but nice to know I'm reading and making the right moves. Soon after this hand came up :
Party Poker No-Limit Hold'em Tourney, Big Blind is t3000 (7 handed) Hand History Converter Tool from FlopTurnRiver.com (Format: HTML)
Preflop: Hero is BB with Jd, Td.
4 folds, Button raises to t10000, SB calls t8000,
Okay - Button was a very aggressive player, he's likely stealing, SB probably has something weak, this is a perfect spot for a steal, and I have a hand that does well in case someone calls with like 77 or Ax
Hero pushes all in (t38430)
Button calls t28330, SB folds.
Button called with J9s and MHIG (my hand is good). Wow. Now I'm chip leader for the table and can tangle with anyone and not go out. I get 88, call a raise and turn a set, but don't get paid off. I open 94s on the button and fold to a push. A lot of people at my table are nutty and over-aggressive, so I have to sit back a bit, I can't go crazy like I want. Also the guys to my immediate left and right are both rather loose and crazy so I can't steal from them.
I raise A3o on the button, but fold the flop when a blind leads into me. My stack is dwindling as none of my steals are working out. Then I get AQs , a loose guy pushes in front of me and I call. He has 77 and I win the race.
A few more steals and no action hands. I open with 77 on the button, A shorty in the BB pushes and I call. He has AT and spikes an Ace.
I open JT and flop trips and the one caller folds. I open J3 and flop air and the one caller pushes, (I fold). I open 88 and all fold. I defend my blind with 64s and flop two pair, but the super-aggressive guy for some reason doesn't attack this hand. Ugh.
I get AK and just call a raise from the blinds (trapping and wanting to see the flop). I flop an ace and check-raise all in over a continuation bet, he folds. I'm back to #2 stack at the table. We're now at the final table !!
I get AA in the SB but all fold to me. I open for a min raise and he folds the BB to a min raise! Arg!
I get A8s and steal the blinds. I get K8 in the blinds. All fold to the SB who limps. I flop an 8 and win one bet. I get K3 in the SB. All fold to me and I open push to win the big blind. I now have the big stack, but just barely. I'm the chip leader! I open TJo and all fold. I get A5o in the BB. The SB limps and I raise, he folds. Some nuts knock each other out and I just sit back, it's now 4 handed !! Another nut knocks himself out, and it's now 3 handed, and we make a deal.
It's funny going back over it, there aren't many hands where anything much happened to me. I kept chopping away with lots of little steals, but never got the nice double ups with my big hands. I won a few races I needed to win, but never won as a big dog (like running a pair into an over pair). I was all-in very few times, maybe just twice !? I just kind of stayed around average chips the whole way, and avoided going bust with decent hands against tight players. It all sounds so easy when it works out.
Another thing that I think really worked out was just a simple basic principle - stay out of pots with good players, get in pots with bad players. You can play worse hands in the pots with bad players and fold lots of hands vs. good players, and things just work out. The bad players will throw away their chips in crazy situations that just make no sense.
04-14-06 [poker]Live game kind of sucked last night. I had two tough decisions, both vs. Jim, I'm curious if he remembers them.
First one I was in the small blind with AJs. Blinds were 800/1600 and I had about 15k chips. Jim opened for 5k in middle position (UTG+1 with 6 players). I thought about moving all in, but for some reason I had a pretty strong read on Jim that he was strong. He thought a long time about the raise and then sat way back. On the other hand it's totally possible he has a pair below J or AT. I folded, maybe I should've pushed, especially considering the Gigabet Principle where I want to take a slightly -EV gamble at that point to try to get a big stack.
Second one was also against Jim. I raised in the CO (cutoff) with KQs. Jim in the small blind pushed all in. Blinds were about the same, I raised to about 5k and had about 15k behind, so getting slightly worse than 2:1. Again I folded. Again, he could've easily had something like Ax or a pair below Q's and I should've called for the odds, but there's a lot of hands that have me in trouble there.
04-14-06One of the brilliant recent Republican moves is to just constantly counter the facts with the opposite (eg. some specific lie). The media never comes out and just says "the Republicans are clearly spouting garbage so we'll laugh at their statement", instead they present them as two legitimate opposing views. Then the next time it comes up the Republicans say there's "debate" about that issue, that it's not resolved. And in fact if you look at newspapers you'll think there is debate since both sides are presented, even though one side is saying "2+2=4" and the other side claims "2+2=frog".
04-14-06My girlfriend Dan wants to use my computer all the time, just to browse the web or whatever. I don't want to be an ass and lock her out, but on the other hand I kind of don't want her on my computer. Really I've never liked having anyone touch any of my computers ever. I didn't even like the tech guys touching my computer at any of the various places I've worked. People can just screw things up way too easily. Even when the tech guys were good they'd often do little funny things like change my monitor res, which would mess up my icon placement, etc. My little brother James is pretty computer-savvy, but always had this bad habit of being heavy-fingered with the mouse and accidentally dragging icons into folders and other icons. Whenever he's use my computer I'd discover that some file had disappeared and was now inside a folder next to it. I kind of want to have a no computer rule, but I know Dan won't understand and will think I'm an ass for not trusting her (even though I've provided her with her own computer). I'd like to trust people to not mess up my machine, but in the end, I just don't trust anyone, hell, I don't trust the most computer savvy of friends on my machine because they seem to be always installing CVS and Mozilla and shite like that which I don't want either. I let them browse the web for a minute and when I come back, they're like "hey, I set you up to boot to Linux, isn't that cool?" Hell no that's not cool.
04-14-06I realized the other day that working on Stranger, being part of the "producing" team that oversaw the design at the end of the game, I felt more connected to the production of the game than I did in all my lead programming before that. Yeah, I met with designers, yeah I did lots of coding and engine design, yeah I talked to Lorne about ideas, but I wasn't really involved in the levels, and, for example, in games like Drakan and Munch, I hardly knew what was in the game until I played them after they came out. Yeah, I tested my code in levels, but they were usually little test levels, or unfinished levels that you couldn't really play. A few take-aways that I learned and tried to apply to Stranger were : 1) Make the game playable and fun as early as possible; do NOT use the technique of having lots of pieces in development that come together in the end; it's important for everyone to be able to actually play the real game as early as possible (unfortunately, some of the other teams didn't really get on this bandwagon with Stranger), and 2) Make sure you can load & play full levels in your debug builds. In Munch & Drakan the engine couldn't load & play full levels in debug. In Stranger we sort of managed to fix that but it still wasn't great and we stell wound up using a lot of test levels, which is bad for the code-design relationship.
Anyhoo, I really saw the appeal of being something like a Producer. You don't personally do anything, but since you aren't doing anything you have the time to see what everyone else is doing.
04-14-06The weirdest fighting style in "Pride" are the Japanese guys who just go for leg locks. They step towards you, then just flop down on their side or back and kick their legs out at you, trying to grab your legs with theirs and sort of trip you. The goal is to get your legs in a lock and get a hold of your foot. They would love you to try to kick them or stomp on them.
Pride is IMHO the best fighting program (better than UFC, and boxing is just boring and gay), but a lot of the fights still get boring with people in the guard doing nothing. I think allowing groin work would fix that. Being in the guard is a pretty bad disadvantage if groin work is allowed, because the guy on top can just work the balls and the fight is over. I don't really see why not, it's not really dangerous more so than other things they do. The way the stupid rules are now in fights, you should always go for a head-butt or an elbow or a rabbit punch if you're boxing, and in MMA fights you should knee to the groin. At worst you might get a warning or a point off, and your opponent gets brutalized and you have a huge advantage in the fight. It's quite frequent in boxing to see some villain headbutting and punching the back of the neck, the hero gets all fucked up from it, the villain just gets a warning, but the hero is cut and bloody and dazed and the villain winds up knocking him out.
04-14-06My NAD amp is the only piece of electronics I own that is really well designed. All the buttons are right on the face, you don't have to page through menus on some ass digital screen. The important analog dial, the volume, is a nice big heavy knob that's easy to adjust either very precisely or grossly. When you click a button it responds instantly. In contrast my PC speakers are ass, my Sony DVD player is garbage, my TiVo is some of the worst GUI software ever, etc. etc. All you dumbasses need to go back and read "the design of everyday things", or just get an education in common fucking sense.
Some examples of basic software principles : any time your software is going to do a time-consuming operation, it should give the user any necessary prompts right away up front. Don't run for 15 minutes, then toss up a prompt, then run another 15. Also, you must check for possible failures up front and let the user know about them before you go into your big work. For example, if you're going to do some file IO after a lot of computation, you should open those file handles in advance to make sure you get them and they remain legit. It's intolerable to run a computation for 30 minutes and then fail because the path is no good to save the results or something like that.
04-14-06The Book Annex on High Street has an awesome selection of old globes. I'm a big fan of cool old globes, I especially like the ones with wooden frames with two axes of rotation, where there's like one hoop of wood around another hoop so you can spin the whole thing, with like degree markers on the hoops. They make me feel like some 19th centure Brittish gadfly planning my trip to all the provinces of the Empire.
I got my tires rotated & oil changed. I wonder how often they take your car into the shop, just don't do anything to it at all, and give it back and charge you $50. Next time I'll put chalk marks on my tires before I go in so I can catch those bastards.
04-14-06I was thinking I could get a little farm somewhere, play some poker to pay the bills, maybe sell eggs or something. Unfortunately there's no way I can buy a farm anywhere but the shittiest of shit-holes in California, all the land is too expensive. Somewhere out in the mid-west I'm sure it's plenty cheap, but then you have to live in the mid west ;(
04-14-06Michael Brown (FEMA), and Chertoff (Homeland Security) are absolutely incompetent lying scoundrels and should be in jail. Those who appointed incompetent politicians should also be held accountable (Bush, etc.).
Frontline seems to dwell on the fact that so much critical infrastructure was put in places that could flood. Well, look you morons, most of New Orleans can flood. If you put crucial things in flood-free areas you're basically establishing a heirarchy where valuables go on high ground and poor go on low ground. The big problem goes back to putting a huge city in an incredible flood-prone delta with little protection.
Funny tidbit I didn't know - Andrew Card actually headed the disaster response to Hurricane Andrew under "Bush 41". He was at the time Secretary of Transportation and was appointed because the FEMA director was an incompetent buffoon. Andrew was the biggest hurricane preceding Katrina (eg. there was no bigger hurricane between Andrew and Katrina). It's a shame he wasn't appointed again, or didn't step up and ask to take it over or something.
04-14-06For some reason "The Holy Girl" didn't engage me at all. It sounds like the kind of movie I should love - slow, realistic, foreign (I'm kind of joking) - but it was just too slow and subtle.
Movies about movie-making are pretty uniformly horrifically bad. Movies about indie-movie making in America are one step worse.
04-13-06 [poker]OMFG. I just finished 2nd in a big online tourney. It was a $55 buy-in with 350 people. I feel like I just played great; I never really got lucky in any hands, but I also didn't get super unlucky (my aces held up, etc.). I won a few races, and lost a few key races that would've given me an easy first place at the end. I folded a lot of big hands in good spots where I would've been knocked out. OMFG. This is my new biggest one day cash. (technically, we did a deal when it was down to 3 handed, and I was 2nd in chips; I feel like I had an edge over both of the players remaining, so I really should've played it out, but the blinds were huge and I didn't feel like just random gambling for a few thousand).
04-13-06 [poker]Raising preflop is generally more profitable than limping, even with cards that play well multiway and may be a dog to win heads up (like 67s or 22).
Obviously there are a lot of factors involved in this - taking the lead in the hand, building the pot for when you hit, etc. etc. One factor that I don't see mentioned much in general is just the statistical factor of getting in pots with bad players.
Say you have 67s in MP. The table has half good players at about 20% vpip (and tighter to a raise) and half terrible players at 50% vpip (who call raises with junk). If you limp in, it's likely you will play a pot with good players, possible with good players in position on you. If you come in for a raise, it's very likely all the good players will fold behind you, if there are any callers it's far more likely to be the bad players. In a limped pot the chance of an opponent being bad is around 5:2 because of their higher vpip, in a raised pot it's perhaps 4:1 because the good players adjust much tighter to a raise.
Now, regardless of the cards, being in pots with bad players is much more +EV than with good players. This is different than isolating on a bad player, where a bad player enters the pot and then you raise to get heads up with him, I'm talking about when you're opening, or perhaps putting in a button raise after a bunch of limpers - by raising you make it much more likely that you're facing bad opponents.
I'm not talking about the normal reasons to raise or not, cbetting etc. I'm talking about one specific factor which I suspect may be important in why raising certain hands is profitable at SSNL.
For example, if everyone at the table plays the same this factor does not exist; eg. if they're all bad or all good, you may still want to raise certain hands for various reasons, but not for this reason. If the good and bad players at the table don't vary their hands selection based on whether you raise or not this factor doesn't exist.
To be concrete, if a bad player plays 50% of limped pots, and 40% of raised pot, but a good player plays 20% of limped pots and 10% of raised pot, by raising you increase your chance of being against a bad opponent from 5:2 to 4:1.
Also, say there are 4 players behind you. Half are good, half are bad. If you limp, the chance that both good players fold is .8*.8 = 64%, so there's a 36% a good player comes in behind. If you raise, the chance that both good players fold is .9*.9 = 81%, so there's a 19% a good player is in the pot.
04-12-06 [poker]Lately I've been playing just awesome in small pots (folding when I'm beat, picking up pots, setting up a nit or aggro image), but playing awful in big pots, bluffing huge when they won't fold, calling when I'm way beat, etc.
I realize it's sort of analogous to lots of things in my life.
04-12-06 [finance]I've got like 5% of my investments in bonds for "diversification". But bonds suck (unless you juice them like Barry Bonds). This idea of having a little money in bonds is okay if you're planning to never touch your investments at all, but it seems better to just have 100% in stock, then if the market starts to go south, move a big chunk over to bonds. I don't micro-manage my investments at all, but even I could do simple moves like that.
04-12-06I picked up some "green garlic" at farmer's market the other day. I'd never used it before. It's just young garlic before the heads develop, it looks sort of like fat green onions. It's a bit too potent for me raw, but lightly cooked (like you would green onions - just barely wilted), it has a nice mild garlicy flavor sort of mixed with an onion flavor. I made like a Mongolian Beef dish to highlight it, with tons of green garlic substitued for the onion, green onion, and regular garlic that would usually be used. It was fantastic, I think green garlic is actually the ideal thing for that dish. It was fun sort of working like "Iron Chef", trying to make one dish to highlight the theme ingredient.
04-12-06Apple switching to Intel CPU's is a first step in a good direction for them. Perhaps some day they'll finally give in and just make software and hardware accessories for PC's running Windows. They seem to be pretty good at making nice hardware and GUI software. People would pay a premium for sexy Apple-style PC clones and peripherals. ("Bootcamp" is the right first step, next they just need to drop OSX and make all their software run on Windows and turn "Finder" or whatever into just a Windows enhancement).
04-11-06I finally did my taxes, and I think I discovered a weird anomaly. Of course, the tax code is fully of loop-holes and there's a huge industry devoted to exploiting them, but this one is just silly and simple. You can deduct your state income tax from your federal income. Okay, that seems simple enough right? Well, the amount you deduct is the amount that was deducted from your income as reported on your W2, *NOT* the actual amount you end up paying in state income tax. What that means is that if you overpay state taxes during the year, you will get a refund from the state at the end, and get a larger deduction on your federal tax. Kim rightly points out that this is not a good dodge, because your state refund counts as income and gets taxed on your next year's federal return.
04-11-06"High Octane" has got to be one of the great mis-used phrases. It's used to mean "high powered" which is the exact opposite of what it is. I'm just watching the Frontline on meth, and the moron describes it as "the High Octane version of speed (amphetamine)". Umm, so you mean it's a lot slower and smoother? It's less explosive and requires more force to pop? Because that's what high octane means. Read at How stuff works .
The show kinda made we want to try meth. I've always been turned off by it because it makes the users so gross, but I didn't know meth just stimulates the release of Dopamine in your brain. Dopamine is just your body's own natural pleasure chemical, the same thing that makes it feel nice to eat chocolate or have sex. Meth is like an explosion of happiness far greater than anything you could ever feel naturally. How cool is that? (yeah, yeah, I still don't actually want to do meth, there are better things)
The interviews with the pharmaceutical guys are just unreal too. Those guys surely deserve to be brutally tortured and killed. They're pure evil and they cloak it in the political holier-than-thou stance which makes it even worse. 75% of Pseudoephedrine and Ephedrine are sold to methamphetamine producers, and they know it, and they don't want to stop it because it accounts for billion of dollars of profit for them. They'd much rather have a massive drug problem than give up a tiny bit of profit.
This is also a clear breakdown of the myth that corporations left to themselves with competition will wind up doing what's best for the populace (eg. they'll provide what the populace wants, maximize utility, whatever). In this case, pharma doesn't have to pay for the prisons, rehab, DEA, and all the other costs their product incurrs, but they get to keep the profit.
04-10-06Basketball would be a better spectator sport if there were no fouls. I think eventually what it would evolve into is basically a game with 2-3 "bruisers" (ala Shaq) and 2-3 "shooters". On offense, your bruisers would block their bruisers and your shooters would try to stay behind them and get a shot off, sort of like a fullback blocking for the runner in football. You might have to get rid of dribbling, dribbling might not be possible with people chopping at you all the time, you'd just run the ball down the court and try to get a shot off.
04-10-06What's up with "Salvia" ? Are kids really smoking sage now? Does it actually do anything besides oxygen deprivation?
Well, it's easy to find the Salvia Divinorum FAQ . It is just a type of Sage. Apparently it's a hallucinogen similar to LSD, but doesn't last long and has no known permanent effects on the brain, which makes it very safe. It's also legal to own, grow and use. It's easy to grow yourself (just like any sage). The great Las Pilitas nursery (near Santa Margarita) has a big page on native California Sage .
04-10-06Anyone have any idea about the legality of this idea? Any solicitor who comes on my property, can I shoot them with a paintball gun? How about my BB gun? I know in Texas I could shoot them with a real gun thanks to Texas' ridiculous laws, but I dunno about California.
04-09-06We watched "Battle of Algiers" last night, which is an old movie about the anti-colonial guerilla revolution against the French in Algeria. Of course it's a very different situation than Iraq, but it does strike a few similar notes. For one thing, the French were even more brutal about capturing suspected terrorists and torturing them to try to extract information, and striking back at the populace. These methods have never worked.
It also made me think of an ideal terrorist cell structure. The binary tree described in "Battle of Algiers" is ridiculous. Basically they claim the FLM had a tree structure where each node (a person) knows only his parent and two children. This gives you a minimum knowledge of other people in the structure, so if you are taken out or caught, you spoil a minimum of direct neighbors. That's true, but it also means huge branches of the tree can be easily cut off, if you capture anyone near the top, it severs a big fraction of the tree. It's sort of tricky to improve this and seems like a fun CS problem. The idea is that if someone gets caught, you want to cut him and everyone he can identify out of the tree. Then you want to be able to re-link the tree and keep as much of it intact as possible. The direct neighbors of the caught node can communicate their knowledge to help relink the tree before they themselves are cut.
One idea is just the circularly linked list. Instead of a tree everyone is just in a circular list. There's still a leader, but he just passes his message to each side, and they keep passing it along anonymously. Even if the leader is cut out of the tree it only removes his direct neighbors. When a cut is made, you now just have a linear list. This can be easily fixed by broadcasting a message like "if you only know one neighbor, go to meeting spot X", then two people will go there and establish a link. This seems ideal. If you want the structure to be robust to possibly having 2 simultaneous cuts, you need more links. Probably best is to give each node 3 links - two to direct neighbors in the circular list, and 1 to the opposite on the circle, or perhaps just to a random other node. Now when someone is caught you have to remove 4 nodes, but you easily have enough links to recreate the circle. Obviously in the modern era with computers you don't actually need any direct links at all. Each of your operatives can just be a PGP key. Operatives who are available for missions just broadcast their public key. Commanders issuing orders can broadcast the instructions encrypted. The two can communicate thus without any direct knowledge of each other and won't be able to give the other up if captured.
It also reminded me how strange the image of the French is in this country. Our politicians for some reason paint this picture of the pacifist wussy French who don't stand up to aggressors and are generally weak and limp. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The French have been probably the second most aggressive nation in the world after WW2 (outside their own borders), after only the U.S. (the USSR maybe falls in there too depending on how you define its borders). They've personally fought major wars in WW1, WW2, Algeria, Indochina (long before we got involved). Since then they've been one of the most active western powers (again, after only the US) at sending Special Forces and arms to foment war all over the world, including such places as Rwanda, Uganda, Iraq & Iran. I'm sure there's a lot more I don't know about. It got me wondering about the French mind set after WW2. Perhaps their pride was injured by their humiliating poor performance defending their country, and they wanted to prove their toughness, and so tried to hold onto Indochina and Algeria, so that they could hold something over the Brittish and Americans by being the last colonial power.
04-09-06Cutting off support to the Hamas government in Palestine is sort of reasonable, in that they are a terrorist organization, and they refuse to acknowledge Israel's right to exist. On the other hand, what about cutting off our massive support to all the Israeli governments that refuse to acknowledge the right of a Palestinean state to exist? We like democracy - as long you vote for leaders with pro-US policies that we like. If we don't like your democratically elected government, we might fund a coup to establish a military dictatorship that's more aligned with our interests. We'd rather have Pinochet or Musharraf than Hugo Chavez, right? As long as your free trade rules open your country to Exxon and Coca-Cola, what are a few thousand disappearances or arms sales to terrorists?
04-09-06"Scrubs" is one of the better shows on TV now, with some nice wacky surrealism, though even the humor can get weird. The thing that's really disturbing about it is the way they always tack on an after-school-special "very special moment" at the end, where the sappy music kicks in, the camera cuts around to poignant face close-ups, and the voice over goes like "that's when I realized ... even the toughest doctor has a sensitive human inside" , aw, gosh, how touching. I miss Arrested Development. Sholz says Scrubs has jumped the shark; I think he's right, and it would be hillarious if they actually did a shark-jumping episode, which would kind of fit the wacky humor, J.D. could be jump a shark in his scooter or something like that.
04-09-06Condoleeza Rice and Andrew Card (before last week) are examples of people in the administration that I don't particularly think are "evil" or insane, not crazed zealots like some of the others (some, like Cheney, Rumself, Wolfowitz, Rove, etc.. I think are somewhat mad - indeed great patriots, believing they are helping America, but with a complete loss of connection between their actions and reality, much like most fascist dictators). The sane ones are guilty of the great crime of expedience. That is, doing what they're told and doing it well, helping their superiors accomplish questionable goals in whatever way they can. I'm sure they say to themselves - I know this may not be right, but it's my job, I need to do it, I don't want to quit, and as long as I have the job I'll do it well. If they quit someone else will just replace them, so the best you can do is to stay on and do a good job, which will be good for their career in the future too.
Looking at this behavior from the outside, I find it inexcusable. And yet, I was guilty of the same thing at Oddworld. In my youth I refused to work in the system, and in the last few years I started to go with it more. Okay, I'll make little lies to my team if that's the best way to break the news. I'll agree to things that I don't agree with if that's less work than disagreeing, etc. Results-oriented optimization, choosing actions based on EV not morality. I thought perhaps to not be expedient was childish. Not so. I think the attack on stubbornness is part of the attack on "head in the clouds moral liberals". It's a way that conservatives/expedients make it seem wrong to go against them.
04-08-06 [finance]God damn. After Katrina I picked Schlumberger and Valero (see rant 9-8-05) as good investments (also Fluor and Stolt Offshore), and they've done fantastically well, roughly +60% each. Unfortunately I didn't actually jump on any of them because I'm a pussy. Someone who actually took my investment advice would be rolling in it right now. In seriousness, I thought perhaps they were too big to see a major affect, and that the stock bump may have already happened. This is a mistake I seem to make consistently - I give the market too much credit for already having adjusted for very obvious things. For example if there's news out that company X is getting a huge government contract, I figure the market must've already accounted for that, right? Usually not, it takes a really long time for the stock prices to actually adjust to events, or perhaps they actually keep adjusting and over-adjust long after the fact, because tardy investors keep jumping in. In any case, what I find is that long after I identify a juicy sector and think it's probably too late, it keeps going up.
At the moment I don't see any really obvious industries to jump on. As I've written before I think the U.S. is headed for the shitter sometime soon, but that's hard to profit from, it's more of a thing where you can avoid a loss by getting out. (finance is like poker - you have to take your profit when possible, but sometimes the best you can do is minimize your losses; acheiving minimum loss is part of overall +EV play, even though it's still a losing play).
Alternative energy might still be a good sector to get into. If we get some democrats in power any time soon they might drop a ton of money on alternative energy projects which would send those small businesses through the roof.
Real Estate development in New Orleans is clearly a good opportunity. My dad suggested that construction companies in the gulf region might be a good way to capitalize on that. (it's hard to tap into the real estate directly because it's all private equity, though there might be a REIT focused down there that would be +EV).
The other continuing good investment is China. As China moves away from cheap manufacturing into better industries it provides lots of opportunities. High tech services in China should boom, telecom, power & other utilities, gas/oil providers, higher end retail & consumer businesses, real estate, etc. Basically we're going to see the boom of the Chinese middle class which will create a huge number of consumers for all the things Americans already own. Sholz sent me the cool China Stock Blog but I don't really know where to start. I hate jumping into stocks I know nothing about.
04-08-06Today I trimmed the Marjoram (it's like Oregano) and Rosemary plants in my garden. You need to trim them to keep them bushy, otherwise they get all "leggy", and to encourage more fresh growth (the fresh growth is what's tasty, not the big old leaves). I hear you should also "divide" Marjoram when it gets big (like mine is), but I don't know how to do that (well, I sort of do, I read about it, but I've never actually done it, and am afraid I'd kill my nice plant). Anyhoo, I figured since I was trimming them I should keep the cuttings and dry them to store as herbs for cooking. So, I made some racks and hung them up in the house, after sun-drying them this afternoon. Aside from being great in cooking (much more flavorful than the dried herbs you get in the store), they look lovely in the house and impart a powerful fragrance.
I also planted my first set of tomatos. It's been getting down to 41 degrees at night recently, but I think we're past our last threat of frost. I'll be planting two plants each week for the next few weeks so that I get some spread out production.
I'd love to have some Tarragon in my garden, and I think it would do very well here, but I've never seen it in a nursery around here. I know I can get seeds, but starting things from seed is a pain in the buttocks.
04-08-06It's hard for me to figure out what the political parties really stand for these days. Supposedly the Republicans have this great "message machine" and have mobilized voters and all that, and obviously they have great success, but what really is their message? A huge amount of the message is negative, about the supposedly out of touch fat cat latte-sipping liberals of myth. Ok, they've done a good job creating that story. The other big chunk of the message is religious-right stuff, anti-abortion, stem cell nonsense, anti-right-to-die, anti-marijuana, anti-condom, anti-morning-after, funding for religious schools, religious charities, etc. etc. Okay, that's nice for the bible bangers. The other big chunk of the message is anti-tax. Recent Republican presidents have indeed been big tax slashers, mainly for the rich, and they've run up big defecits. This is a clever piece of messaging where the majority who are actually hurt by the tax cuts still think they're great (they might save $500 in taxes and lose far more than that in service cuts and future costs paying back the defecit).
The reality of both parties is that they're pro-big-government, pro-pork, pander to special interests, don't actually simplify regulation, pander to specific industries and regions to win votes (like Florida hurrican relief for those with no damage and the tarrifs to protect the steel belt recently). They funnel money to their croneys in private businesses that they're related to. The dems and reps each have their own industries that they tend to coddle more (and it seems to me the recent administration has been particularly awful, but it's nothing new). Neither party really has any kind of coherent foreign policy; they both either mess around in world affairs or not depending on their perception of US interests and how the wind is blowing at home.
Still, I strongly reject the idea that because they're both bad you shouldn't vote for either. There's nothing wrong with picking the lesser of two evils - it's the better choice. Not voting because they're all bad is equivalent to the morons who boycott elections in protest or who resign their posts because they disagree with their superiors - you're just making it easier for them to win and accomplishing nothing with your high and mighty stance.
04-07-06Yo, a little freestyle rap I just did about my day, Prahlad-style :
Outside my house, the deers are eating grass
Inside my house, I'm wiping my ass
Little humming birds, are drinking from the flowers
I'm sitting 'round, tryin' to pass the hours (ow-ers)
Playing guitar hurts my little fingers
watching Barry Bonds tryin' to hit some dingers
04-07-06Let's not start letting the Bush administration off too easily. Liberals now glibly speak of the administration's failure in Iraq, but how many democrats voted against the war? How many cried "bullshit" when they were spouting the lies about WMD's ? Still, sticking too much on failure to execute in Iraq ignores so many other disgraceful acts that are already forgotten. Here's an attempt to gather a quick list of crimes off the top of my head, in no particular order.
Failure to act in Darfur.
Increased animosity with Iran. Partly due to invasion of Iraq, failure to act on Palestine, failure to aid the moderate Khatami.
Failure to make action on peace in Palestine. As with North Korea, Iran, etc. the Bush administration took the non-productive hard line stance of refusing to work with Arafat, which prevented any progress. Continued unconditional support of Israel undermines our credibility in the entire region.
Massive subsidies & support for oil companies, no action for real energy independence or alternative fuels.
Condoning torture & failure to punish anyone for prisoner abuse. Continued use of rendition & holding people without accusation. Deportation and imprisonment of how many unknown civilians.
Massive & continued mis-spending in Iraq reconstruction, Katrina, post-9/11 domenstic security, etc.
Massive tax cuts for the very rich that do little for most of the population. Huge budget deficits. Failure to fund education, etc.
Intentional and repeated lies to make the case for war in Iraq, such as connecting Saddam and Osama, stories of WMD's, promises the war would make us safer, we'd be greeted as a liberator, etc. Distortion of the intelligence apparatus. Failure to listen to the generals, and black-listing or firing of any who dissented.
Misuse of the office for political attacks and misinformation. Smearing of Valerie Plame (Ambassador Joseph Wilson), Paul O'Neil, Richard Clarke, and anyone else who tried to break the veil of silence. Government created fake news stories and video segments on various topics (there were many more than Armstrong Williams and Jeff Gannon, such as fake news bits created by the dept. of Interior about environmental laws, etc.).
Failure to put troops in Afghanistan to secure that country vs. warlord and Taliban control. Failure to secure the tribelands of Pakistan where Al Qaeda really thrives.
Failure to negotiate with North Korea or engage Pakistan about it's nuclear proliferation and near military dictatorship. Continued support of Israel and Saudi Arabia show we don't really care about addressing terrorism, just controling regional interests.
Cutting funds for international health agencies because they distribute condoms, pandering to the religious right. No significant action on international disease & poverty.
Cutting animal slaughter precautions in the age of mad cow and avian flu, at the request of the industrial food industry.
"Clear Skies" & "Healthy Forests" ; great reduction of environmental protection for the benefit of industry. Opening up huge tracts of national land to development and mining and logging. Rescinded the roadless rule, allowed sale of public lands.
Multiple assaults on the Constitution - separation of church & state, right to privacy (search & seizure), separation of powers (generally seizing power from Congress and refusing Congress' constitutional requests for information and oversight).
04-06-06I read some stuff a while ago about the NSA wiretapping program, I forget where. Some details about the technical way that the NSA does the wiretapping stand out in my memory as sort of funny.
First of all, they have their own set of fiber optic lines that run directly from the major phone and network data switches to the NSA headquarters in Maryland. There are two major phone switches - one on the Pacific side and one on the Atlantic side which tap into the underwater cables. NSA routes copies of all the packets onto their lines and ships them back to Maryland. There are also apparently just two top level network switches that they tap for inside-the-US internet traffic. It seems to me this has got to miss a ton of network data, since network data gets locally routed on subnets when possible and copies of the packets don't go up the chain. That would mean that the NSA only gets internet packets that go through the top level routers, which means only packets that travel far across the net, eg. cross-country or way across the US in terms of network topology.
The other funny thing was how they tap into satellite communications. Rather than tap into the phone switch after it's received, they have their own set of dishes. Apparently again there's a major satellite array on each coast, and the NSA has their own satellite array a few miles away from the commercial array. They point their dishes at the same satellites and just take their own copy of the received stream and put it on their own line back to Maryland.
Seems to me they could just hook themselves into the internet and send themselves normal internet packets (encrypted of course). They can just tap a "copier" into any spot on any network. The copier just grabs all the packets, encrypts them, and drops them back on the net with the To: changed to NSA Maryland.
04-05-06 [poker]Phil Helmuth has this style of playing a lot of pots and making a lot of small bets. If someone raises or playing back big, he just folds junk and plays his goods. This sort of maximizes "leverage" because he's putting out very few chips to take down a pot, but gets the opponent to commit a lot of chips to play back at him, and then he can decide whether to continue or not. Against good players, this style is horrible because it's easily exploitable, but against bad players it's very good. The reason is 1) bad players don't recognize the pot odds and call enough; Phil's small bets offer great pot odds and in some cases you should call with any two cards for your chance of pairing up (6 outs), 2) bad players don't raise him as much as they should to re-bluff his little bluffs. This allows him to win all the pots where both people have nothing by only making a small bet.
04-05-06OH MY GOD BROKEN SOFTWARE MAKES ME SO MAD. It almost makes me want to work in software so I can fix all your stupid ass shit, you fucks!
Amazon constantly recommends CDs to me that I already own, that I've marked in Amazon's DB that I own. You dumb fuck. Oh, and where's the thing to mark my rating and that I own it? Hmm... somewhere on the listing of that CD, let me scroll all around the page and search for it, .. oh there it is at the bottom hidden in a pile of crap. I'd like to preview some songs, but unfortunately they're encoded at like 1 bit per hour, so they all just sound like ASS and I can't possibly ever buy anything based on that listen.
04-05-06Just got back from a trip to New York for my sister's wedding. On the way back, our flight from NY to Vegas was delayed, so we missed our connection home to San Luis, and got stuck in Vegas. The airline gave a free hotel room, and we asked to be put on the same flight 24 hours later, so we had a full day to hang in Vegas, which was pretty cool.
The Wynn is really beautiful. It doesn't really have a theme and feels a bit random, but all the elements of decor are really nice and you sort of forget that it has no style just because each bit of what you see is so nice. You must go sit at the little patio bar on the "Lake of Dreams". It's best after sunset when they shine lights on the water-wall which change color slowly over time.
We had dinner at Daniel Bouloud's place in the Wynn. I was a bit disappointed. The food was proficiently executed, but not very imaginative. The service was superb, but there's also something annoying about having hundreds of waiters dashing around all the time; they did their best to be unobtrusive (good waiters are sort of like Ninjas - you set down your wine glass, have a bite of bread, then pick up your wine glass and notice it's been filled without you ever seeing the waiter do it) - but when you have as many waiters as patrons they can't really hide. The decor and ambience were pretty rotten, very hotel-restaurant stuffy, the way the nouveau-riche decorate their dining room - shiny wood and overstuffed chairs - what people with no taste thing is really high class.
It made me realize I'm sort of bored of French food (which is shocking for me to say). French cuisine in the last 20 years has been working on that last 1% of the optimization curve. You know in software optimization, the first 90% is pretty easy, and usually you stop there. The next 5% towards perfect is really tough, and it gets tougher and tougher (it's like some sort of exponential thing, where each 1% is twice as hard as the last). The stuff I make at home is maybe around 90% now, and yeah the stuff I get out is better, but it's really not that much better, and the difference is so small that other non-food factors can make a much bigger effect on the overall experience (like the quality of the wine and the correctness of its pairing, for example). BTW I think I've said this before, but if you do not drink wine, you cannot eat French food. It's like listening to rock & roll but muting the drums, it's a crucial note in the food "chord" and to remove it completely imbalances the meal.
04-05-06I've harvested my third set of heads from my broccoli plants. I really like growing plants like broccoli where you can cut off the heads and then they grow some more. Also, broccoli leaves are delicious sauteed, and you can break them off and the plant will grow more (I've never seen broccoli leaves in a market, not even hoity-toity ones). The beet greens are just about ready to start picking. The beets will take another month or so to mature, but you can start picking off greens early. Beet greens are almost as much of a treat as beets. Young beet greens are great in salads, and older ones are great sauteed with some garlic.
I also just found out my nasturtiums are edible! Apparently everyone knows that, but I just planted them for looks and now it turns out I can eat them too. The leaves and stems taste a lot like Arugula, though slightly different, less of that pure pepper heat, and more of a sharp weedy bite (kind of like "sour grass", actually a lot like wasabe, it goes up stings up your nose). Seems like they'll be nice mixed in salads.
04-05-06Fixing health care is really damn easy. First of all "Health Savings Accounts" are a red herring. The whole tax-deductibility nonsense is a mole hill which is being made into a mountain. The really big issues are 1) profiteering by various parts of the the health-industrial complex, particularly insurers and pharma, 2) the growth of a small segment of super-high-cost patients, 3) massive growth of new disorders and treatments which are expensive and didn't even exist 10 years ago (eg. Viagra, Prozac, etc. etc.)
My solution is pretty simple. First of all health care is divided into three parts :
Urgent care. Urgent care is provided by the government 100% free of charge. This covers emergency room visits due to trauma, heart attack, things like that. Also short-term continuing care related to these problems. This also covers preventive surgeries for things like tumor removal, etc. when an approved doctor has ruled that such a procedure is warranted. Doctors and hospitals that provide urgent care would not be paid based on the amount of services provided, rather they would be paid a flat annual rate, which would have to be competetive and generous to attract good doctors. There are a lot of tricky aspects here, like figuring out how to pay enough to get good doctors but not pay too much, also how to decide what therapies are necessary and which are optional, etc. but the current Medicare system actually does a decent job of all that.
Necessary care. Necessary care is also provided by the government, but with a small deductible. The deductible is simply to discourage people from using visits frivolously. This covers 1 checkup per year, problems like flu or bacterial infections, etc. This would include care for severe mental problems like schizophrenia, as well as chronic "lifestyle" problems that could cause severe health problems, like diabetes, etc.
Optional care. Optional care includes most lifestyle problems, as well as long-term care for things like pain, scoliosis, repetetive stress, etc. etc. As many things as possible will be classified under "Optional". Basically anything that won't kill you or make you a danger to society (or lead to future disease or problems which would be Urgent and very expensive) go into Optional. Optional care would be paid out of your pocket, but of course you could buy Optional Care Insurance, which is what most people would do. There could be a wide range of insurance plans that cover more or less services, it would be entirely private business. (presumably states would also provide some small amount of optional coverage for the poor, perhaps something like $500/year if you're below the poverty line)
Another key component is cost limitation in the government part of the plan. I think the simplest and fairest way to do this is simply to limit health care spending per person to something like $1 million per person. Once you reach that cap, you no longer are covered for Urgent or Necessary care by the government plan. You can either pay for those services yourself, or you can die.
Another element that I think could be very reasonable would be change the patent duration to something far shorter, something like 5 or 10 years. This would drastically reduce profiteering in pharma and the invention of problems that people need the new cure for.
Obviously there a lot of other issues and some of them I've written about before. The big piece for me is this idea of separating coverage into basic care which is free and covered for everyone, and optional care which is completely privately insured. The idea is to keep the average cost per person in the government plan quite low, perhaps $500/year per person or less. (current total spending per capita is around $4000/person). Another crucial aspect is that as new problems and treatments are found, they are not generally covered in the government plan, but you could still get them as optional care. Thus costs do not continue to balloon as technology advances.
BTW part of the goal here is also to *improve* care!! By cutting the very expensive care for the very few, we can provide a lot of cheap necessary care for many more people.
this report is full of good figures.
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