Monthly Archives: September 2016

Book Review- How to Win Games and Beat People

How to Win Games and Beat People: Demolish your family and friends at over 30 classic games with advice from an international array of experts!
by Tom Whipple, 2015

how-to-win-games-and-beat-people

Quick read. Relatively funny descriptions of 30 games. Unfortunately, each game wasn’t given enough room for non-trivial descriptions of strategy and technique. Perhaps worth a read as a quick diversion and for some brief tidbits, but not worthwhile for someone looking for something more in-depth.

Amazon Link: How to Win Games and Beat People: Demolish Your Family and Friends at over 30 Classic Games with Advice from an International Array of Experts

MLB Viewership

Some fun notes from the MLB Viewership numbers (local ratings) this year:

1. More people watched the Mets this year than the Yankees.
2. Fewest fans watching (in absolute numbers): Athletics (19k), Brewers (26k), Padres (28k), Reds (30k), Braves (30k), Marlins (31k)
3. Lowest percent of people in market watching: Athletics (.8%), White Sox (1%), Angels (1.1%), Braves (1.3%), Dodgers (1.3%), Marlins (1.9%)
4. Most fans watching (in absolute numbers): Mets (215k), Yankees (196k), Cubs (174k), Red Sox (167k), Tigers (138k), Giants (117k)
5. Highest percent of people in market watching: Royals (11.7%), Cardinals (8.5%), Tigers (7.6%), Orioles (7.3%), Pirates (7.2%), Indians (7%), Red Sox (6.9%)
6. The Indians viewership is up 71% this year.
7. The Reds (my team) draw 3.4% of viewer’s eyeballs this year, down 22% from last year. Their games tend to be the most watched thing on cable but fall short of 3 local networks this year. It’s a down year, and it was painful to watch them in the first half.

NFL Picks- Week 4 of 2016

Overall Against the Spread: 18-14
Week 2: 8-8
Week 3: 10-6

Here are my week 4 predictions, with the current line in parentheses:
Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals (-7.0): Predicting 21.9-22.6. Bet on the Miami Dolphins.
Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars (+2.5): Predicting 24.3-25.3. Bet on the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots (-4.5): Predicting 19.0-26.2. Bet on the New England Patriots.
Oakland Raiders at Baltimore Ravens (-3.5): Predicting 19.1-23.3. Bet on the Baltimore Ravens.
Cleveland Browns at Washington Redskins (-7.5): Predicting 23.9-25.8. Bet on the Cleveland Browns.
Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons (+3.0): Predicting 24.6-27.9. Bet on the Atlanta Falcons.
Seattle Seahawks at New York Jets (+1.5): Predicting 19.8-19.9. Bet on the New York Jets.
Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears (+3.0): Predicting 24.5-24.3. Bet on the Chicago Bears.
Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans (-5.5): Predicting 15.8-19.2. Bet on the Tennessee Titans.
Denver Broncos at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3.0): Predicting 26.3-23.0. Bet on the Denver Broncos.
Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals (-7.5): Predicting 17.3-24.3. Bet on the Los Angeles Rams.
New Orleans Saints at San Diego Chargers (-3.5): Predicting 22.4-29.6. Bet on the San Diego Chargers.
Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers (+3.0): Predicting 23.8-25.0. Bet on the San Francisco 49ers.
Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers (-5.5): Predicting 20.3-21.7. Bet on the Kansas City Chiefs.
New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings (-4.5): Predicting 15.7-23.1. Bet on the Minnesota Vikings.

Book Review- The New New Thing

The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story
by Michael Lewis, 1999

the-new-new-thing

I wasn’t on the internet much before the dot-com bust, so this book was an interesting view into the internet and Silicon Valley culture of the 90’s. The book was written by Michael Lewis (The Big Short, Moneyball) in 1999, around the time Google was getting started, and the book quips about how silly it is that Google was valued at $75M at the time in one of the final chapters. The central figure is Jim Clark, who helped found Silicon Graphics, Netscape, and Healtheon, which all (briefly) became billion dollar companies. Reading it, you’re struck by how flimsy the business notions of many internet companies are. The Netscape browser was popular, but never really had a way to make money and was eventually bought by AOL. I use the Firefox browser nowadays, which is the biggest remaining “branch” of the Netscape browser. Healtheon wanted to insert itself into the middle of the health care bureaucracy, somehow, in a way that never made sense in the book. It eventually merged with WebMD. Throughout the book, Microsoft was the big, bad wolf lurking in the background, with the clout to swamp any startup/industry it focused upon.

Nowadays, this book is valuable for the look into the internet culture of the 90’s and for understanding how Silicon Valley acquired so much power. Lewis was embedded with Clark for many months to write the book, so there is a lot of discussion of tech entrepreneur behavior, which often seems crazy from the outside. An interesting book to read, but only if the subject matter appeals to you.

Amazon Link: The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story

NFL Picks- Week 3 of 2016

Overall Against the Spread: 8-8
Week 2: 8-8

Here are my week 3 predictions, with the current line in parentheses:
Houston Texans at New England Patriots (even): Predicting 19.4-23.2. Bet on the New England Patriots.
Denver Broncos at Cincinnati Bengals (-3.0): Predicting 20.0-22.0. Bet on the Denver Broncos.
Arizona Cardinals at Buffalo Bills (+4.5): Predicting 23.2-20.5. Bet on the Buffalo Bills.
Baltimore Ravens at Jacksonville Jaguars (even): Predicting 22.1-20.0. Bet on the Baltimore Ravens.
Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers (-7.0): Predicting 20.6-25.1. Bet on the Minnesota Vikings.
Oakland Raiders at Tennessee Titans (-1.5): Predicting 22.2-25.4. Bet on the Tennessee Titans.
Washington Redskins at New York Giants (-4.5): Predicting 17.4-25.4. Bet on the New York Giants.
Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers (-7.5): Predicting 20.5-24.4. Bet on the Detroit Lions.
Cleveland Browns at Miami Dolphins (-10.0): Predicting 18.7-24.4. Bet on the Cleveland Browns.
Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-4.5): Predicting 17.4-21.1. Bet on the Los Angeles Rams.
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks (-9.5): Predicting 19.4-19.7. Bet on the San Francisco 49ers.
New York Jets at Kansas City Chiefs (-3.0): Predicting 22.9-25.7. Bet on the New York Jets.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Philadelphia Eagles (+3.5): Predicting 20.2-23.5. Bet on the Philadelphia Eagles.
San Diego Chargers at Indianapolis Colts (-2.5): Predicting 27.8-25.7. Bet on the San Diego Chargers.
Chicago Bears at Dallas Cowboys (-7.0): Predicting 18.9-24.7. Bet on the Chicago Bears.
Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints (-3.0): Predicting 22.8-25.7. Bet on the Atlanta Falcons.

Book Review- The Behavior Gap

The Behavior Gap: Simple Ways to Stop Doing Dumb Things with Money
by Carl Richards, 2012

The Behavior Gap

Quick read. Gives some great insights into why people do stupid things with money (emotions, fear, greed, lack of knowledge) and how to stop doing them (make a plan, stop watching financial news, set goals based on what is important in life). I think the topics touched on in this book are major problems for a lot of people, so it is suggested from that perspective. Pairs well with The Index Card. I do wish the author had created a stronger main narrative of the book, however; there were a series of topics related to behavioral financial issues, but the topics didn’t always feel interconnected.

Amazon Link: The Behavior Gap: Simple Ways to Stop Doing Dumb Things with Money

NFL Picks- Week 2 of 2016

My NFL betting model uses scores from previous weeks to predict the results of the current week of games. Here are my 2015 and 2014 betting results, where I am a combined 205-174 (54.1%) against the spread.

Now, it is week 2, so I only have one week of results with which to build my model. And it’s based on scores alone. It doesn’t know that Carolina’s loss was to a good Denver team and that SF blew out a bad Rams team. So in reality, I don’t expect SF to beat Carolina outright (though they have a good chance against the spread). Nonetheless, the model has been profitable when run over the last 30+ years, even in week 2. Given that, here are the predictions for week 2:

New York Jets at Buffalo Bills (+1.0): Predicting 17.5-20.7. Bet on the Buffalo Bills.
Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins (-2.5): Predicting 22.9-21.4. Bet on the Dallas Cowboys.
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots (-6.5): Predicting 17.3-21.1. Bet on the Miami Dolphins.
Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers (-3.0): Predicting 19.0-26.5. Bet on the Pittsburgh Steelers.
San Francisco 49ers at Carolina Panthers (-13.5): Predicting 20.5-18.6. Bet on the San Francisco 49ers.
Tennessee Titans at Detroit Lions (-5.5): Predicting 20.9-28.0. Bet on the Detroit Lions.
Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns (+6.0): Predicting 19.0-17.9. Bet on the Cleveland Browns.
Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans (-2.5): Predicting 20.7-24.4. Bet on the Houston Texans.
New Orleans Saints at New York Giants (-4.5): Predicting 21.4-26.1. Bet on the New York Giants.
Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams (+3.5): Predicting 18.6-16.4. Bet on the Los Angeles Rams.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Arizona Cardinals (-6.5): Predicting 22.9-22.6. Bet on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos (-6.0): Predicting 22.4-26.5. Bet on the Indianapolis Colts.
Atlanta Falcons at Oakland Raiders (-4.5): Predicting 22.4-28.4. Bet on the Oakland Raiders.
Jacksonville Jaguars at San Diego Chargers (-3.0): Predicting 22.0-25.9. Bet on the San Diego Chargers.
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings (+2.0): Predicting 19.9-23.9. Bet on the Minnesota Vikings.
Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears (-3.0): Predicting 21.1-19.4. Bet on the Philadelphia Eagles.

Notes from “Holding Students Accountable for Coming to Class Prepared”

Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning brown bag session today. Here are my notes:

-All readings/preparations should have consequences. Students will not spend time on things that end up not mattering. I liked the phrase, “Set something on fire” to get the students attention to do the pre-class work.

-You need to create a culture of preparation early.

-One idea was to have “admission tickets”, whereby students hand in a small pre-class item for a nominal amount of points.

-Having effective pre-class work allows students to tell you the subjects that they want/need to spend more time on in class. This can either be done before class (ask questions ahead of time, see where the students’ answers are deficient) or during the start of class. This is an element of “just-in-time” teaching, whereby you figure out what needs extra discussion right before you have the discussion.

-One option to avoid calling on unprepared students is to have them take a quick quiz alone and then take the same quiz in their team. They can discuss the questions they did not know. Assign some combination of points across the individual and team aspects.

-One thought provoking-question was, “If everyone came prepared, how would class be different? Or, what else could we do in class?” Think about your answer to that. In my classes, we’d have time to evaluate more realistic examples/implementations. Another option would be to split the final project into bite-sized pieces that they work on over time with the extra time we create by coming to class prepared.