Olympic Boxing and Arrow’s Theorem

Workout notes: walked to the gym; ran 2 miles on the treadmill (21 minutes), then ran 2 more on the track: 16:18 (8:24, 7:53) Ok, the second mile was 1 second slower than last week, though the overall time was 10 seconds faster. (this equates to about a 26:08 5K, but I did this run solo). I then walked .5 miles and ran 2.5 more (10:30 pace)

Then I went outside to walk 3 more miles to get to 10 total.

Olympic Boxing and scoring

I am enjoying the Olympic boxing matches.

However, these are scored differently from the professional matches that I currently watch and used to watch.

In a recent light heavyweight boxing match, US boxer Marcus Browne had a lead going into the final round, but was overcome in the last round to lose 13-11 to Australian Damien Hooper.

The Olympic matches are NOT scored on a round by round basis. Basically, when the five judges think that a scoring blow has been landed, they click a button for the boxer. Then at the end of the round, the “3 similar” scores are tabulated and averaged and that is the score at the end of the round. If no 3 scores are “similar”, then the high and low scores are discarded and the middle 3 are averaged and rounded.

In other words, individual punches are what are scored.

On the other hand, the professional matches are currently scored on a “10 point must” system; that is, the winner of a round gets 10 points and the loser gets 9 or fewer (ties are allowed). Typically, 3 judges score the fight round by round in this manner and typically, if there is a knockdown (or standing 8 count), the judges will score the round 10-8. Or, if one boxer is unusually dominant in a round (say, has the other boxer in serious trouble), then the round might be scored 10-8.

So which system is “more fair”?

We’ll lets see. Suppose we have a professional system and the blue boxer barely wins the first two rounds, only to see the red boxer dominate in round 3..but fail to score a knock down. Then under professional rules, the blue boxer wins 29-28; the extra dominance of the red boxer in the third round could not overcome the first two rounds.

On the other hand, in the Olympic system, the blue boxer won the first 2 rounds by, say, 3-2 each and therefore had a 6-4 lead going into round 3. But then the red boxer dominates and wins the last round 4-1; that gives the red boxer a well deserved 8-7 win.

On the other hand: Suppose red and blue are tied going into the final round. Then during the round, the blue boxer lands 4 decent but unspectacular jabs. The red boxer lands, say, 2 jabs but then lands a crushing hook which drops the blue boxer but doesn’t knock him out.
Under Olympic rules, the blue boxer wins the last round 4-3 and wins the fight. But under professional rules, the red boxer wins the round 10-8, which means a 29-27 victory (assuming it was 19-19 going into the 3’rd round). The professional outcome is clearly more fair in this case.

So which system is better, or is there a perfect system?

The answer is….neither is better than there is no perfect system!
The statement about there being no “perfect system” is not a “common sense” observation but a consequence of what is known as Arrow’s Theorem in mathematics. Arrow’s Theorem says, informally, that in situations are aren’t a simple “head to head” one time contest (say, runner A runs against runner B and we see who wins) there is no perfect way to obtain a “fairest” ranking from a ballot that allows for 3 or more choices.

How does this apply to boxing? Well, in boxing you are really trying to add up results on a ballot that includes rounds of varying degree of dominance or punches of a varying degree of effect; hence here, the ballots really consist of ordered pairs (c, d) where c is the color and “d” is the degree of dominance of either the round, or the punch.

July 31, 2012 Posted by | boxing, Olympics, running | Leave a comment

The Emperor Has No Clothes….or The Bible sucks as literature…

Well, at least I don’t appear to be alone in thinking this.

Oh sure, I was raised in the usual way, and the Very Serious People (apologies to Paul Krugman) in my life (mostly English teachers) assured me that “The Holy Bible is the Greatest Book Every Written”.

Sure, I think that it is influential and that many of our current sayings and aphorisms come from it (“turn the other cheek”, “writing on the wall”, “enough faith to move mountains”, “throw the first stone”, etc.). Yes, I know that many mainstream religions view the Bible as a sort of scrap book of “what people used to believe and think”.

But here, I am talking about the claim that the Bible is “great literature”.

Frankly, the ratio of “the tedious, the nonsensical and the immoral” to “good stuff” ratio approaches infinity.

If you don’t think the Bible is mind numbingly boring, try reading the Book of Numbers in its entirety.

If you don’t think that the Bible is mind numbingly stupid: (Genesis 30)

Jacob’s Flocks Increase

25 After Rachel gave birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me on my way so I can go back to my own homeland. 26 Give me my wives and children, for whom I have served you, and I will be on my way. You know how much work I’ve done for you.”

27 But Laban said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, please stay. I have learned by divination that the Lord has blessed me because of you.” 28 He added, “Name your wages, and I will pay them.”

29 Jacob said to him, “You know how I have worked for you and how your livestock has fared under my care. 30 The little you had before I came has increased greatly, and the Lord has blessed you wherever I have been. But now, when may I do something for my own household? ”

31 “What shall I give you?” he asked.

“Don’t give me anything,” Jacob replied. “But if you will do this one thing for me, I will go on tending your flocks and watching over them: 32 Let me go through all your flocks today and remove from them every speckled or spotted sheep, every dark-colored lamb and every spotted or speckled goat. They will be my wages. 33 And my honesty will testify for me in the future, whenever you check on the wages you have paid me. Any goat in my possession that is not speckled or spotted, or any lamb that is not dark-colored, will be considered stolen. ”

34 “Agreed,” said Laban. “Let it be as you have said.” 35 That same day he removed all the male goats that were streaked or spotted, and all the speckled or spotted female goats (all that had white on them) and all the dark-colored lambs, and he placed them in the care of his sons. 36 Then he put a three-day journey between himself and Jacob, while Jacob continued to tend the rest of Laban’s flocks.

37 Jacob, however, took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond and plane trees and made white stripes on them by peeling the bark and exposing the white inner wood of the branches. 38 Then he placed the peeled branches in all the watering troughs, so that they would be directly in front of the flocks when they came to drink. When the flocks were in heat and came to drink, 39 they mated in front of the branches. And they bore young that were streaked or speckled or spotted. 40 Jacob set apart the young of the flock by themselves, but made the rest face the streaked and dark-colored animals that belonged to Laban. Thus he made separate flocks for himself and did not put them with Laban’s animals. 41 Whenever the stronger females were in heat, Jacob would place the branches in the troughs in front of the animals so they would mate near the branches, 42 but if the animals were weak, he would not place them there. So the weak animals went to Laban and the strong ones to Jacob. 43 In this way the man grew exceedingly prosperous and came to own large flocks, and female and male servants, and camels and donkeys.

(emphasis mine)

If you don’t think the Bible is grossly immoral, read the entire book of Joshua, or even just the story of Samson.

If you don’t think that the Bible is inconsistent, read Judges 1:

19 The Lord was with the men of Judah. They took possession of the hill country, but they were unable to drive the people from the plains, because they had chariots fitted with iron.

Wow. If this deity couldn’t handle IRON CHARIOTS what would have it done had the opposition had B-52s?

How grown people take such nonsense seriously is beyond me…..

July 30, 2012 Posted by | religion | Leave a comment

Writing a good essay is hard. So let’s drop the writing component from the curriculum

Ok, no one I know is advocating for this. But when it comes to basic algebra (the “solve for x” x^2 + 8x + 12 = 0 kind of algebra), well:

A TYPICAL American school day finds some six million high school students and two million college freshmen struggling with algebra. In both high school and college, all too many students are expected to fail. Why do we subject American students to this ordeal? I’ve found myself moving toward the strong view that we shouldn’t.

Go ahead and read the rest of the article; it is full of the usual “well people aren’t going to use the quadratic formula in real life”, blah, blah, blah.

Fortunately, the reader recommended comments are good.

So, why should algebra remain part of the curriculum? Here is my opinion:

while algebra is a huge human intellectual achievement, it is also a gateway to things like calculus, economics, statistics, chemistry, physical science and other subjects. NOT requiring algebra will intellectually cripple thousands of students right off the bat.

Of course, I disagree with algebra being used as a “capstone” type course in its current form; its current form makes it into a gateway type of course.

One could devise some sort of capstone type algebra course if one wanted to, but it would be different than the preparatory course.

Interestingly enough, when this subject comes up, I usually hear comments of the following type: “well, *I* am very, very smart but I struggled with it, therefore it is unnecessary”….and usually the sole credential for the person’s intellectual ability is, well, their own opinion of said ability. 🙂

July 30, 2012 Posted by | education, mathematics | Leave a comment

More Olympics

I’ll get some work done…but want to see the boxing matches later.

Workout notes: weights plus 2200 swimming; I did 20 x 100 on the 2 (had to take 2:05 for the first 5, then walked it back on reps 10-15 and then finished the whole set under 40 minutes). This came after weights: same old, though I used the machines for the military and didn’t do the incline. Pull-ups: easier. Bench press: harder. 10 x 135, 4 x 180, 3 x 180, 1 x 180 (felt bad), 7 x 165. This wasn’t my best.

I did a few back bends and some Camel Pose.


Track and field hasn’t started but that has some promise:

To see more:

(watch the HD version)

July 30, 2012 Posted by | big butts, bikinis, Olympic Spandex, Olympics, spandex, swimming, weight training | Leave a comment

Suspect Performances and other topics

Unfortunately, every time there is an unusually good performance, we (with reason) suspect doping:

LONDON – She’s 16 years old, and for 50 meters on Saturday night, she swam faster than U.S. superstar Ryan Lochte. And now China’s Ye Shiwen is at the center of some controversial buzz at the Aquatics Center of these Olympic Games.

Shiwen smashed the world record in the women’s 400-meter IM and took gold Saturday night, torching the final 100 meters in the event and coming from behind to beat U.S. 400 IM champion Elizabeth Beisel. Shiwen shaved more than a second off Australian Stephanie Rice’s world record in her win, finishing at 4:28.43. But it was her final 100 meters – the freestyle leg of the event – that raised eyebrows. Not only did Shiwen go virtually stroke-for-stroke with Lochte – who had won gold in the men’s 400 IM earlier in the night – she beat Lochte in the final 50 meters.

Shiwen went 28.93 in her final 50 and 58.68 in her final 100 of her 400 IM. Lochte went 29.10 in his final 50. And the final 100 meters of the pair? Lochte went 58.65 to Shiwen’s 58.68. That was such intriguing fodder that when Lochte was in the mixed zone Sunday morning, he said Shiwen had been a topic of conversation the previous night. […]

2012 Election
What mistakes did Barack Obama make?

This election is close, even though the Republican candidate isn’t a gifted campaigner:

Americans are scared, angry and struggling. They used to talk about job satisfaction; now they talk about just holding on to their jobs. No incumbent since FDR has ever won reelection with unemployment numbers remotely resembling today’s. What voters feel about their lives and dreams in the months leading up to an election tends to stick to the president when they enter the voting booth. And right now what’s sticking to Obama isn’t good.

But it sure helps to face a candidate as uncomfortable in his own skin, as likely to say by accident what he really means and as wrong for the times as Mitt Romney. In an era when even conservatives are populists, enraged about the favors granted the rich and well-connected, Romney is running as a CEO who thinks his taxes are too high. Voters just aren’t warming up to a guy who enjoys firing people and attempts to woo the people of Michigan by referring to his wife’s “couple of Cadillacs.” If Obama offers what well-paid elites call a “jobless recovery,” Romney offers the only thing worse: a promise to restore the policies that led to the joblessness that made a recovery necessary.

So what were President Obama’s mistakes? I agree with this list:

Obama’s first mistake was inviting the Republicans to the table. The GOP had just decimated the economy and had been repudiated by voters to such an extent that few Americans wanted to admit that they were registered Republicans. Yet Obama, with his penchant for unilateral bipartisanship, refused to speak ill of what they had done. […]

The second mistake was squandering the goodwill that Americans felt toward the new president and their anxiety about an economy hemorrhaging three-quarters of a million jobs a month. That combination gave Obama, at the beginning of his term, a power to shape public policy that no one since Franklin Roosevelt had held. But instead of designing a stimulus that reflected the thinking of the country’s best economic minds, he cut their recommended numbers by a third and turned another third into inert tax cuts designed to appease Republican legislators whose primary aim was to defeat him. He stimulated the economy — but just enough to leave the results open to interpretation, rendering questionable what should have been an uncontested success. […]

The third way the administration created opportunities for Republican obstructionism will someday become a business-school case study: It let a popular idea — a family doctor for every family — be recast as a losing ideological battle between intrusive government and freedom. In the 2008 election, the American people were convinced that families should never have to choose between putting food on the table and taking the kids to the doctor. They were adamant that neither they nor their aging parents should have to choose between their medicine and their mortgage. […]

I have to agree.

Robert Reich adds that he is NOT running on bold ideas which will make it hard for him to govern, even if he wins reelection. I see him as a slight favorite; Intrade has it 57 to 41 percent (in PROBABILITY, not percentage of the vote) and that is about right.

Science, creationism and Intelligent Design
Yep, Larry Moran at Sandwalk calls them as he sees them. 🙂

July 30, 2012 Posted by | 2012 election, Barack Obama, creationism, Mitt Romney, Olympics, politics, politics/social, republicans | Leave a comment

Chicago Day III; back to Peoria

Workout notes 4 mile walk, prior to going to the Field Museum.

The walk: the piriformis hurt a bit (not very painful).


This is what we saw yesterday.

Today: the Field Museum was excellent, as usual. We saw the Genghis Khan exhibit.

Also, there was some interesting presentations in other areas; this was one of them: Green Porno (this segment was the duck “forced copulation” segment and the defenses that the female duck has):

July 30, 2012 Posted by | nature, travel, walking | Leave a comment

Chicago Day II

Workout notes

I did some side spurs (8 minutes worth) to get 5 miles. This was from the Schaumburg Marriott to the Busse Bike path (Martingale across Higgins then under I-290.

Then we drove to Chicago; a wrong turn had us going down North street for many miles. 😦 But the Chicago History Museum and the Second City performance of One Nation Under 1 percent was worth it.

Now I am watching the Olympics with my family in the hotel room. The standard NBC coverage is terrible. Fortunately I’ll have access to other channels where I can watch more sports instead of this BS coverage.

But there are some still photos from Women’s Beach Volleyball:

July 29, 2012 Posted by | big butts, bikinis, Olympic Spandex, Olympics, running, travel | Leave a comment

Quick Thoughts from Schaumburg

We’ll be going into Chicago to play a bit later; I am going for a run/walk in a few minutes on a nearby bike path.

I saw some of the Olympic opening ceremonies last night. They were fine, but for me, it is about sports and, well…I’ll probably post a few photos.

Yesterday we took in some of the Chicago Art Museum (after I had gotten some miles on the Lakeshore Path) and, well, spent hours ferrying someone to a suburb at the request of my soon to be ex-spouse. 🙂

The Art Museum was worth seeing though; this is Uma, one of the Hindu goddesses.

Whoever carved her liked women. 🙂

Seriously, check out the Art Museum, though you might eat elsewhere to save a few $$ IF you are short on cash. The food is pricey, though very good.

Political Comment
I took in the White House photo coverage of the First Lady in London. That was fine; the comments from the anti-Obama trolls were interesting. It is one thing to dislike someone for doing X, Y and Z (if they really did, or attempted to do X, Y, and Z) or to dislike the policies espoused by someone. It is another thing to seethe hatred for someone because, well, they just “aren’t American”.

I expect that from the rank-and-file loons (see comments here) but now we are seeing it from “mainstream candidates”.

Oh well…I have to admit that I found the following pushback against the irrational to be funny:

But, if you were to show up at the polls in November, and the poll worker were to ask you “Is President Obama a Muslim or a Christian?” and you answered “Muslim,” then — bzzzzzt — you’d be automatically disqualified from voting, on the grounds you’re just too dumb.

July 28, 2012 Posted by | 2012 election, politics, politics/social, travel | Leave a comment

Chicago….and London…

Workout notes Yesterday PM: 2 mile hike in the FPNC with Olivia. We saw two dear and heard a fawn (saw it too); it sounded a bit like a cat.

This morning: routine weight workout prior to driving to Chicago. I skipped the incline press and did three sets of military press (machine) instead; bench came at the end: 10 x 135, 4 x 180, 3 x 180, 3 x 180. I had to be conservative due to no potential spotters.

Today: the Magnificent Mile and a 90 minute sight seeing boat tour for Chicago Architecture. It was fascinating.

Here are some Daily Show clips: campaign fibs (both sides)
And in these two segments, Jon Stewart notes that the Republicans lied about the “You didn’t build that” remark…and then put together side by side clips of Mr. Romney and President Obama saying…well…pretty much the same thing.

Because I was out and about, I missed Mr. Romney’s gaffe filled tour of London and the Olympic games.

I think that this might hurt him. Sure, millions of Americans don’t care if a potential president is ridiculed in other countries; some might see it as a type of honor. But those people were going to vote for Mr. Romney anyway.

July 27, 2012 Posted by | 2012 election, hiking, Mitt Romney, Olympics, political humor, politics, politics/social, republicans, travel, world events | Leave a comment

My Thoughts on Chick-Fil-A (for what it is worth)

A good summary of what is going on with Chick-Fil-A can be found here. Basically, their owner is a right wing fundie who has given money to anti-gay groups (groups opposing same sex marriage). He has also decried gay rights in public.

Chick-Fil-A has faced a backlash; evidently they, or their supporters or employees, have even taken to setting up fake facebook accounts to defend themselves.

Now some have called for action. I’ll discuss each of these; I’ll start with two types of actions:

Economic boycott: don’t eat at Chick-Fil-A!
Of course customers have the right to spend their money where they so choose and no one can say “hey, eat here.” But what about organized economic boycotts? Some people that I respect say that such actions, while legal, are immoral. Here is Marc Randazza (talking about Rush Limbaugh sponsor boycotts):

Another way to get Limbaugh off the air is to try and pressure his syndicator or his advertisers — gathering people of like mind to use their collective economic power to force Limbaugh off the air. This is constitutionally tolerable, but morally wrong. If you disagree with someone who is on stage, it is wrong to stand up and yell to drown out his voice. This improperly interferes with your fellow citizens’ right to receive information.

Letters from officials saying: don’t come here to set up business
The Mayor of Boston sent Chick-Fil-A a mocking “you are not welcome here” letter. You can read this here.

My take on these two tactics
I have to disagree with Randazza…to a point. Not patronizing a sponsor or a business is NOT the same as drowning out; I’d never approve of blocking customers from trying to enter Chick-Fil-A. But at the same time, telling my friends who they are supporting when they go there is perfectly fine.

And yes, I think that the Mayor’s letter is fine; this is saying “your bigotry isn’t welcome here” …so long as the letter doesn’t carry any legal force. It is speech.

Now as far as “to a point”: I’d never boycott a business because they are, say, run by Republicans. I think that mainstream political speech shouldn’t be held against a person. That, to me, falls in the realm of public discourse.

Now if the business was run by Neo-Nazis or KKK members, then yes, I wouldn’t patronize them. I know, I am walking a fine line that has a fuzzy boundary. But remember, we are talking about people’s choices and NOT government laws.

Here is where we get to the third point:
Should a city put barriers to construction of a Chick-Fil-A restaurant?

In my opinion: no…I recommend reading the Boston Globe article that I linked to. Of course, Chick-Fil-A would have to adhere to local employee and customer laws and, if they do that, IMHO, they have every right to see their business permit and license applications treated the same as any other company’s.

Now, of course, if potential customers decide to spend their money elsewhere, that is another matter.

What about a private university or organization deciding to not put a Chick-Fil-A in their food court?

That is perfectly ok, though I acknowledge the perils of the “slippery slope” between toleration of opinion and the enabling of bigotry.

Of course, all of the above is academic since I don’t eat there anyway.

July 25, 2012 Posted by | civil liberties, social/political | 5 Comments