Book Review- Calico Joe

Calico Joe
by John Grisham, 2012

calico joe

In a departure from judicial dramas, John Grisham wrote a book about the personal effects of a beanball. Maria and I listened to this, on CD, last weekend, just in time for Spring Training. The story weaves a pair of fictional baseball players (one hero and one villain) into the real world of 1970’s baseball. The villain, motivated by a number of personal shortcomings and perceived slights, throws a beanball at the hero. The hero is hit in the face, and his promising but short career is ended. The story catches up with the characters 30 years after the incident to see if closure can be obtained.

While I appreciate baseball books and most of John Grisham’s stuff, this isn’t his best work by a long shot. A lot of the backstory on the narrator (the villain’s son) just makes you want to cringe, while the closure at the end seems like an odd combination of predictable and unrealistic.

Two Links Tuesday- February 10, 2015

NBA Home Court Advantage in Decline (gated): NBA home teams enjoying just a 2.2 point home court bump this season, by far the lowest in decades. Too many three point shots taking the effect of the referee out of the game? Not forcing them to call fouls?


Raising the Brow: Notes about Anthony Davis’ improved jump shot and awesome efficiency numbers this season. Interesting throughout.

Book Review- I Wear The Black Hat

I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined)
by Chuck Klosterman, 2014

i wear the black hat

The villain, in any situation, is the person who knows the most and cares the least.

Now that I’ve told you the main (only?) point of the book, you don’t need to read it. QED.

(I listened to this book on CD)

NFL Betting Summary- 2014 Season

Using a model developed with Wayne Winston, I posted the bets I would make against the spread from Week 9 onward for the 2014 NFL season and 2015 playoffs. The model did very well, going 79-63.

When betting, you must perform well enough to make money after the betting market takes their cut (the vigorish). Typically, you bet $110 to win $100 if you are correct. If you had bet $110 on each game I suggested, you would have made $970, a return of 6.2% on the total $15620 bet.

Here are the links to each week of suggested bets (for posterity sake):
Super Bowl: 1-0
Conference Championship: 1-1
Divisional Round: 3-1
Wild Card Round: 3-1
Week 17: 8-8
Week 16: 11-4
Week 15: 7-9
Week 14: 6-9
Week 13: 10-6
Week 12: 8-6
Week 11: 9-5
Week 10: 6-7
Week 9: 6-6

NFL Picks- Super Bowl 2015

Overall against the spread: 78-63
Conference: 1-1
Divisional: 3-1
Wildcard: 3-1
Week 17: 8-8
Week 16: 11-4
Week 15: 7-9
Week 14: 6-9
Week 13: 10-6
Week 12: 8-6
Week 11: 9-5
Week 10: 6-7
Week 9: 6-6

Here’s my Super Bowl prediction, with the current line in parentheses:
New England Patriots at Seattle Seahawks (-1.0): Predicting 23.6-22.0. Bet on the New England Patriots.

How did Seattle Win?

I watched it. Still don’t understand it. Advanced Football Analytics has a great breakdown of the win probability model and how it went so bad for Green Bay.

Ignore the failures of Green Bay in scoring TDs in the first half. Ignore the fake-field goal TD for Seattle. All GB had to do was
-Stop Seattle’s drive when the score was 19-7
-Get some first downs to kill the clock
-Stop Seattle’s drive when the score was 19-14
-Stop the hail mary two point conversion
-Score a TD instead of a FG when score was 19-22
-Win the coin toss
-Stop Seattle’s drive in overtime

Any of the above.

Insane hail mary two point conversion. How does this work?

Code Monkey Monday- Cropping Images in LaTeX

Suppose you have an image that you wish to insert into your LaTeX document or presentation. You can crop the image to your specifications prior to saving and importing it, using your favorite image editing software. Or you can crop it on import, with the following syntax:

\includegraphics[trim=1cm 2cm 1cm 2cm,clip,width=1in]{imageName}

The trim command takes the specified amount off of the left, bottom, right, and top of the image, respectively. The width command tells LaTeX how big to make the image in print, scaling it up or down as necessary.

Book Review- It Works

It Works
by Melvin Evans, 1946

it works
(I’m not sure if the cover really looks like this. My copy is really from 1946 and doesn’t have a dust jacket.)

This book will make you a better person. It’s written by an “industrial executive and management engineer” who has moved on to studying human engineering. His book is filled with suggestions for doing better at work, at home, and in the community. It’s refreshing to read a book founded on good morals and Christian virtues. You don’t read much written with this sort of vigor anymore. Reading it just made me feel good.

The last chapter quotes the Gettysburg address, a plan for peace from a Chinese peasant, and a prayer from the author’s daughter: “God, give us the strength and willpower today to do the things we know we should do for Thee, but so often lack the courage.” The book praises democracy and the American way profusely. The three parts of the book are “E Pluribus Unum- Teamwork”, “In God We Trust- Faith”, and “Liberty- How It Works”. Throughout, there are calls for people to do things the right way with the right intentions, in order to generate good results: It Works!

Spring 2015 Schedule

6 half semester seminars

First half of semester:
Monday, 3-6pm: Healthcare Operations Management (OM) from Jonathan Helm
Tuesday, 1-4pm: Emerging Areas in OM from Ruomeng Cui
Thursday, 1-4pm: Recommender Systems (an Information Systems course) from Jingjing Zhang

Second half of semester:
Monday, 1-4pm: Empirical OM from Qiuping Yu
Tuesday/Thursday, 4-5:30pm: Information Economics from Dmitry Lubensky
Thursday, 1-4pm: Operations Planning and Scheduling from Kyle Cattani

All courses are reading-heavy. I will probably be assigned about 10-15 papers to read each week.