In re: The pain of losing

I grew up with plenty of losing sports teams in Cleveland, Ohio.  For decades it was the norm and I was fortunate to happen in time when the Indians got hot for more then half a decade.  Additionally I was alive for some good cavs team (although I was young), but then Jordan got in the way and ruined all of that.  So its fair to say I haven’t had it as bad as other Cleveland sports fans in terms of the amount of suffering.  Despite that I know enough, especially from having seen the Indians so good and then so bad to know that we must relish our brief moments.  This year may be one such year for the Cavaliers as they steam rolled most of the NBA on their way to the best record in the league, and a mere 2 losses at home (1 of those was w/ bench players only to end the season and it did go to OT).  Anyway, the point is I think I enjoyed this season a whole lot, its not often that you can expect your team to win every night and they basically do just that.  I enjoyed blowouts and occasional close games and I kept reminding myself that this wouldn’t last forever and to enjoy it.

The playoffs started out as best as anyone could expect them to go, with two 4-0 sweeps of admittedly less then elite teams.  However, these may have set us up for disappointment as we now stare down a 2-1 defeat, and only that because of an amazing last second (literally last second), we in bounded with 1.0 and LeBron hit what will be unless we lose the series is going to be remembered in Cleveland forever (yes ‘we’, when you watch enough games of fat Shawn Kemp and the human turnover Bobby Sura in a Gund Arena that allows your shouts from the upper deck to be heard on the bench, you get the right to say we .)  Which gets me to the point of all this, what if we (there we go again) don’t win?  Of course this 7 game series is still far from over.  Most of the Cavaliers have player very poorly.  Z doesn’t have his shot, Mo and Delonte are off the mark and all 3 games have still been close (thanks of course to James), but we have come to expect blowouts so this pain is rough.  Of course in the end struggling for the championship would only make it that much sweeter, but what if we don’t make it and this turns out to be the Magic and the Lakers years to compete (or Denver).  Then what will I make of this season?  I hate to even think about it, this year was championship or bust, but does it have to be?  Should I not enjoy the thrill of having the most dominate team in the league only because we ended like this (this is hypothetically, I haven’t lost hope yet).  Yet somehow it does ruin everything, the pain of losing would overwhelm most of the joy the season was, the players of course will declare failure, but should I as a fan declare failure as well?  Probably, the reason success tastes so good is the risk of failure, the failure we have known for so long feels so bad, for those of us who invest too much in this religion of sport, it is hard to trick ourselves into saying that we did well this season and we should enjoy it.  Now I need to go wash my Witness shirt and get ready for game 4.  Let’s go Cavs!

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In re: Wolfram|Alpha – Google killer?

Wolfram|Alpha

“Wolfram|Alphas long-term goal is to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone. We aim to collect and curate all objective data; implement every known model, method, and algorithm; and make it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything. Our goal is to build on the achievements of science and other systematizations of knowledge to provide a single source that can be relied on by everyone for definitive answers to factual queries.” (from Wolfram|Apha’s about page)

Is Wolfram|Alpha a Google killer? Well no, actually Wolfram|Alpha is seeking to do things differently as its not a search engine of the internet, but I would still think Google is worried because it is organizing information and making it more useful.  Google does a bit of this already, you can type in ” 2 + 2″ in the query box and get an answer from Google, rather than from another website.  This is the gist of Wolfram|Alpha, but taken to a much higher level.

While the site is brand new and still has a long road of improvement ahead of it, I see it as the future.  I know that is kinda a bold, stupid statement, but what it is capable of is a lot.  To back up, the difference between a Google search and what Wolfram|Alpha is attempting to do is that Wolfram|Alpha is presenting you the results, not leading you elsewhere and it is understanding the results based on understanding your answer, the more important part is it can manipulate the information.  This is the power.  Quick examples of this would be looking up the weather on the day Mark Twain died.  If you wanted to do this on a normal search engine you do two searches, first to find the date and then a historical weather search.  Not the case on W|A where you can treat the death of Mark Twain as the date input for the weather search (it actually doesn’t have the data on the weather in 1910 so it shows historical weather for the day of the year).  Normally though W|A will combine the two and get you the result.  Similarly it is useful to compare things, say how many golden gate bridges lengths = the height of mt everest (here) note you do need to use a syntax it understand even though you can use plain english.  Other interesting examples included comparing the GDPs of countries (it will create comparison graphs, show by year etc all on its own).

Essentially the power is that you are working with a vast array of information and you are able to manipulate it, this is crazy and exciting and I haven’t even scratched the surface of the science and math stuff that I am sure are useful to others, just over my head.  Check it out here, also check out their video that shows some of the things it can do, but just imagine this 10 years from now when it has grown and improved.  The reason I mention 10 years is because people just don’t get this thing right now (it is really really new of course) but it also doesn’t work well for a lot of people (see story here) and this author is quite right that right now its for science folks and geeks, but the idea is powerful and I predicate will gain traction and improve.

In re: what is a center-cut chicken breast?

What the hell is “center-cut chicken breast”?  Wendy’s from right here in Columbus, Ohio is advertising its spicy chicken sandwich, a longtime staple of the Wendy’s menu.  But what is a center cut chicken breast?  Are they referring to the location of the chickens breast? or are they referring to the fact your getting a subset of the chicken breast….

It is possible they are playing on peoples association of ‘center cut’ with things like beef because the center is where the muscle is used less and thus more tender.  I haven’t heard of this in chicken and with a very different muscle structure I wouldn’t be surprised if the breast meat doesn’t have any advantage from where it comes from (anyway, chickens live so short in our current system that I don’t think toughness from muscle use is a problem).

Wendy's only uses center cut chicken?

I couldn’t find many references to center-cut chicken breasts while doing a quick Google search that didn’t relate to Wendy’s (are they pulling a Howard Stern, call yourself the king of all media, and then suddenly you have people using the term about your chicken?).  I did find some recipes that mentioned it and what did it mean in the Center Cut Garlic Chicken with Citrus White Sauce?  “Take chicken breasts and cut the ends off forming a nice square piece of meat” — So maybe all Wendy’s is telling us is that your not getting a whole breast but they are trimming the sides off to make chicken nuggets, makes sense I guess.

In re: Kindle’s audio – blessing for the blind or copyright violation?

Users with disabilities are fighting back against a recent attempt by the Authors Guild to shut down the Kindle 2’s text-to-speech feature.

About 300 people drawn from the National Federation of the Blind and partner organizations protested outside the offices of the Authors Guild in New York Wednesday in hopes of reversing the Guild’s stance. The Guild claims that the text-to-speech feature of Amazon’s new e-book reader violates authors’ copyrights.

via Amazon’s Kindle 2 Pits Authors Versus the Blind | Gadget Lab | Wired.com.

Version 2.0 of Amazon’s Kindle added a controversial feature that turns text into speech.  Supposedly it doesn’t sound too artificial and is tolerable for a time for most users, but more then tolerable for those with diminished vision who consider it a huge advancement in getting content to them in a usable format (text to speech isn’t new, the article above notes some of the issues surrounding the current systems, but part of Kindle’s appeal is the library of titles you can load up in seconds and listen to – makes you think there is a market for Kindles without screens.)  As with all developments in technology we are getting confronted with new issues (Google Book Settlement and DVD Ripping issues are just two other ones among the many).  The question remains, when I buy your bestseller what bundle of rights am I getting and is one of them the ability to have a synthesized voice convert the words to audio?  Somehow I feel there is a losing battle for the Authors Guild on this one, but they shouldn’t fret in my opinion as I don’t think this will ever replace the mainstream audiobook market where authors, actors and professional voices read the books.

In re: Pasta w/ your bread

Its pretty standard to have a pasta dinner come w/ some kind of bread and I’ll admit despite this combination of starch based dish and then more starches, I am into it and I am just as happy as the next person for a salad, pasta and garlic bread.  That said Domino’s is off their rocker on their new line of bread bowls filled with pasta.  I mean these look like you took a loaf of bread, scooped out a bit of the bread and then put in a a bit of pasta.  The photos make it look like the pasta is a garnish really.  It seems strange, but I assume they did some product testing on this and people ordered it.

(Actually there is another possibility here that comes to mind and that is they are trying to ruin the pasta market that Pizza Hut is getting into.  Apparently Coke put out a clear cola Tab Clear (in a diet format) for the sole purpose of bringing down Crystal Pepsi that was starting to sell well at the time and it worked.  They are able to change the category and confuse people.  Here not sure if thats a possibility as people know what pasta is, but possibly the category is pasta from a pizza delivery chain)