Super Bowl, Commercials, Gutenberg Headings

Okay, I’m going to try the header format thing again, because it’s something new and different (for me) in WordPress’ Medium-style editor. But here are the things I’m thinking about:

The Super Bowl

I tried to think of a cute pun for the title, but “The Super Bah” was dumb. I came up with others, but that’s still the best of them, and it’s not any good.

The Super Bowl, Part II

You let us down, Jared. I kept thinking you were a University of Georgia graduate too (just like Todd Gurley, the stud running back who was underused during the game).

Why did I think you were a Georgia QB? Because you kinda sucked on the biggest stage football has. You killed your team, Jared. You killed your team.

The only saving grace for the Rams was that the refs rather clearly wanted the Patriots to win, with a runner being called “defenseless” after he caught the ball, to preserve a drive when the Rams’ impressive defense got a critical and impressive stop.

I enjoy defensive battles… but this was a battle of a good defense against a good offense (when New England had the ball) and a good defense against an overmatched toddler (when Los Angeles had the ball.)

I wish the refs hadn’t given the Rams the win against New Orleans.

(After rereading this section, I sound a lot angrier than I actually am – I was neutral about the game, and thought mostly that Jared Goff was outmatched, as he apparently was. I’m okay with the Patriots winning; they earned it. The Rams defense was stellar. The offense was… less than stellar.)

Best Commercial

The best commercial of the night was a local one, for Michael and Sons, an HVAC company local to the Virginia area.

It had two football players (kids, like pre-teens), with one “tackling” the other – pretty gently, it was like they told him to push the other one down – and, after the tackle, a thrown ball hits the tackler in the backside. The ref then waves “incomplete pass!” — just like the Saints/Rams refs, except with a parody.

We’re not normally Michael and Sons customers – not only was our home built with a different HVAC company, but we actually know the owner of yet another HVAC company – but dang, that commercial was so on point that we talked about switching.

Hopefully a video will show up online of that commercial (and hopefully I remember to look for it so I can link to it.)

The ASMR commercial was the other notable commercial. Apparently people were creeped out by it. I don’t know – I found it fascinating, mostly because I didn’t recognize the ASMR aspect of it until later. But it was for a … beer, I think, so maybe as a commercial it was intriguing but not all that effective, because I might switch HVAC companies but I am not drinking that beer.


Now that I’ve used the heading stuff in WordPress’ editor, my first impression is that I do not like it. I’ve been trying to give this editor a spin for a while, to give it a fair shake… and while it has some nice features (pasting a URL over selected text converts it to a link!) it’s mostly annoying

Open Source Blog Software

I keep wanting to move away from WordPress, because I’ve been using it forever and I keep thinking there’s a Platonic ideal that isn’t WordPress.

However, most of them are in PHP – violating the Platonic ideal – and the ones that remain are either static site generators (Jekyll, Hugo) or node.js implementations (ghost), or things that are documented really inconsistently (typo/publify). I thought about roller, but…

Afoot!, football refs, music books

Things I’m thinking:

  • If I was a detective, or if I was writing a detective story, I’d never have someone say “The game is afoot!” … Why? Glad I asked.
    • Because “afoot” is a terrible name for a game. I get that there are games based on “Dr. Pimple Popper” and stuff, but “Afoot, the Game” is just… too far.
    • If it’s NOT the name of a game, then … you’re risking stepping on whatever game it is you’re talking about. Detectives detect. They don’t step on what they’re hunting. That changes them from detectives to … step-upon-ers.
    • Again, if you’re a detective and you’re on a case – it’s not a game! Take your job seriously, detective! Sheesh!
  • As bad as I feel for the Saints, I’m glad the NFL is going to have to confront officiating in some fashion. Refs have really struggled these past two years on both the collegiate and pro levels, with fans being able to see things that really should have been called being missed, and refs focusing on ticky-tack things instead… I almost hope there’s a “voice of the watchers” kind of reviewer put in place, someone who says, “Look, a four-year-old can see that. Throw the flag,” or “If you’re going to call THAT, you’re going to have to call THIS, too,” or even “If you’re NOT going to call that, you shouldn’t be calling this.”
  • I’ve done no music of any kind for a while now. This is getting distressing, and I need to change it.
  • Speaking of: limited time offer from Humble Bundle: Computer Music Books from MIT Press.

Big Time!, Politics and Empathy, Football

Things I am observing myself thinking about:

  • I can’t listen to Peter Gabriel’s “Big Time” these days without thinking that it’s something like Donald Trump’s theme song.
  • I’ve hit a wall in exercising. Need more motivation. Need to push harder. (Oddly enough, my annoyance at having hit a wall was motivating.)
  • I think a lot of the United States’ political dysfunction is rooted in the ability of either side to say “I see your point.” What we need is both sides to be able to say that – and for them to attempt to say it, and for them to say it willingly.
  • It’s not just politics – in programming forums you see a lot of “I know more than you, therefore you’re an idiot” responses. Someone may know more than someone else, but that kind of response is unnecessary, regardless of truth – and the conclusion of idiocy is stupid.
  • I have seen a ton of interceptions made over the last few years where a fairly easily catchable ball bounces off of the receiver’s hands and into a defender’s arms. I think it’s time we blame this on the receiver instead of the QB; the QB threw the ball well!
  • Yes, I Could Care Less” is a fascinating read for one like me. There’s a balance between being correct and being readable, especially in context.
  • I’m still unimpressed by WordPress’ Gutenberg editor.

Football fans, daily writing, fasting

Things I have observed recently:

  • Football fans – even fans of my own favorite teams – can be absolute jerks and tools.
  • I am committed to writing this… series or whatever it is. Yet it’s only a thing, and not the thing. Consistency is difficult.
  • I would really love each observation to be relevant, heavy, big even if it’s not, like, a big deal, but that doesn’t happen. It requires focus and acceptance, which I find useful.
  • I don’t mind fasting, but being required to fast (blood test later today) sucks. Stop telling me what to do, Necessity!
  • Yeesh, these are slowing down. They’ve been every two days instead of every day. I’ve been preoccupied.
  • One of the problems caused by media bias – in ANY direction – is that nothing seems reliable unless you agree with it.

Jalen Hurts, Clemson, Politics, Teamwork

Things I am thinking about having thought about:

  • I feel bad for Jalen Hurts. Swapped out for Tua Tagovailoa, despite having been the guy for Alabama last year… and this year, gets put in on Alabama’s last drive for mop-up duty, when the game’s already lost and there’s no flexibility left to exploit. “Go in and lose us this game, Jalen!” — despite Hurts being a consummate team player. Never mind that I was thrilled that Alabama got crushed – I still feel bad for Hurts, who’s been the kind of teammate everyone wishes they had.
  • Speaking of, congrats to Clemson! I don’t like your team, because I’m a Seminole fan through and through, but you dominated. Good job. Now I hope you lose to FSU next year. And every year.
  • Glances looks neat.
  • Few things are as comfortable as seeing a co-author respond to a topic with “eek!” … oh wait, I meant uncomfortable.
  • I was highly displeased with the resolution of the Dr. Pepper National Championship trophy mystery. “Are you wearing a wire?” is burned into my ears now – hilariously phrased – but the resolution was dumb and manipulative. I get enough of that from politicians.
  • Speaking of manipulative politicians: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is playing games like a master. “Republicans are attacking me on social media!” with respect to her dancing… meanwhile, it’s one tweet from one anonymous account. Yes, it’s a stupid thing to complain about (the tweeter’s problem!), but her reaction is… overblown, too. It sure plays into her base, though!

NCAA Football, accents, free will

Things I’m thinking about Monday:

  • Tonight’s the last NCAA football game of the season. Thank goodness. I hope it’s a good one.
  • I want to pronounce “Monday” with a Scottish accent, but it turns out I have no idea how to make it sound like it’s a Scottish accent. It’s not my accent, whatever it is, but I have a feeling a Scot would be… unamused to hear it. In my head I’m thinking a Scot would say “Wot the bloody … is that” but on thinking about it, I think even that sounds more Irish in my head. And I’m sure the Irish would be offended by that. Maybe I should stick to my native Southern accent.
  • I’m still trying to keep up my exercise regimen. My core is stronger than it was, already – this is a very good thing – but I’m constantly sore, which isn’t bad, but it’s not good. Still keeping it up, though. Haven’t really lost significant weight yet.
  • Professionally, few things annoy me as much as when an AWS container reboots on me.
  • I tend to speak little and quietly, not because I think volume adds gravitas, but because I recognize the value most of my words have for others (not a lot) and I don’t want them to feel bad for interrupting.
  • Tool’s “Right in Two” is a fantastic song. The opening lyrics include “… Why did Father give these humans free will? Now they’re all confused” – which is a great line – but isn’t that a natural result of having free will? Free will doesn’t mean making the RIGHT choice every time, it means making your own choice. Still a great song.
  • I would far rather be “a good guy” than “the good guy.” It’s not a zero-sum game.

Places, football, Facebook

Things I have learned recently, I think:

  • Every so often, you figure out that you are exactly where you are supposed to be at this particular time. That can be reassuring or frightening, I suppose, depending on your outlook.
  • College football this year has been boring. Sure, I’m affected by not having a pony in the race (FSU missed out on bowl eligibility for the first time in close to four decades) but the quality of the bowls themselves hasn’t been that great: questionable officiating, a number of blowouts and games where the winners were easily predictable, and so forth. I don’t remember watching a single game that I’ve really enjoyed, apart from watching it with my wife and my son – that part’s been great. But I’m glad the bowls are over except for the championship. One more to go… and this one (Alabama vs. Clemson) gives me hope that it’s a competition.
  • I used one of the spray can dusters this morning on the MacBook Pro; it’s running more quietly, woohoo! — but I can’t get the taste of the residue off of my lips. No, I didn’t spray it at myself; it’s just in the air. Bleugh.
  • Yes, I deactivated my Facebook account and no, nothing’s wrong. It just takes too much time and attention away from other things.
  • I still don’t care for the Gutenberg editor in WordPress. What I’d really like is AsciiDoctor for WordPress… but I don’t know PHP, don’t want to learn PHP, and the available plugins for it are kinda eh, as far as I can tell. The last updates for the AsciiDoc plugins for WordPress are three years old… not a good sign.


Things I have learned recently:

  • People still don’t really get JNDI, and the Java frameworks around today make it easy to ignore, even though it’s still a core technology. It’s not difficult to see how it can be confusing: context in JNDI is everything, and context makes it a challenge to create examples that make sense in the general case.
  • At some point I’d like to learn Go.
  • Not something I’ve learned, but something I’ve been reflecting on this morning because … uh… I have no idea why: I wonder if Adidas shoes are any good, or what they’re good for. I tend to wear Vans Ultrarange shoes these days because they’re light, comfortable, and last forever – I have two working pairs, one for working in the yard and one for wearing – but… Adidas.
  • I really wish officials and announcers wouldn’t show bias during football games. As an FSU guy, I’m really, really, really tired of this – but I’ve been watching other teams’ bowl games (because FSU didn’t go bowling this year, first time in 40+ years) and it happens for them, too, often egregiously. The announcers I don’t care as much about, but the referees… those guys need to be fair, for real. The fact that there’s no urgency in making sure they’re fair is incredibly frustrating and erodes the game. n one game, a team had two defenders ejected for targeting… and the other team had an obvious false start missed, and a few targeting possibilities ignored by the guys in stripes. Let’s just say nope to all that. There needs to be a way for the league to tell these refs what they’re missing, and to either call it fairly or get out. It’s gotten really bad over the last few years, with FSU losing multiple games due to bad or missed calls.

Malazan Book of the Fallen

Things I’ve learned recently:

  • Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen is better than A Song of Ice and Fire. Yes, I said it, and yes, I meant it. It’s very simple to explain why: Malazan was completed. I have very little faith we’ll ever see A Song of Ice and Fire to completion. What’s more, Malazan is more broad, more complex, more consistent in its own context. Take that, George. I love A Song of Ice and Fire, and I think it hits a sweet spot of complexity to mass appeal – which Malazan does not – but Malazan being “finishable” makes it better, hands down.
  • I have learned that I do not understand offensive coordinators in football who insist on running inside the tackles when the opposing team’s been shutting those down all game and you’re running out of time to make things happen. I got tired of seeing FSU do it all last year, and by golly, I’m tired of seeing it this bowl season over and over again, too. What gives, guys? I get the idea of making sure the other team has to respect the inside run – it draws the defense to cover the middle of the field, presumably opening up longer passes – but to use it over and over and over and over again, when the other team expects it? If I can call your plays without being familiar with your offense, something’s wrong with the way you’re calling your plays. And you can bet that the opposing team – which is going to have taken pains to learn your offense – is going to be able to predict what you’re doing fairly well, too.

My Favorite NBA Players, 2018 Edition

I’ve been watching the NBA Finals this year – Part Four of the Cavaliers/Warriors battle – and it got me thinking about who my favorite current players are.

Thus, I had to establish criteria. My favorite players don’t have to be the best players – just the ones I like to watch most… but it doesn’t hurt to know who the best players are, as well.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: LeBron James is the best player on the court right now. I think there are legitimate debates about whether he’s the greatest of all time or not (he’s not – I would still pick Jordan in his prime over LeBron James in his prime) but I don’t think there are any real arguments that would suggest that LeBron James is inferior to any other player in the NBA today, unless you resort to a tautology.

To wit: I think it’s fair to say that if your measure of basketball greatness is “how similar are you to Kevin Durant,” well, James falters some there. But I also think that if you put Kevin Durant on the Cavaliers instead of LeBron, the team would do nowhere near as well.

Durant’s… fantastic. Let’s make no mistake about that – he’s really, really, really good. Nobody would be surprised if he was the league MVP, because he’s that skilled and that obvious.

But the truth is – all respect to Paul Pierce – that James is a… gosh, I don’t even know how to describe how dominant he is on the court right now. The joke is that he’s carrying a used tissue, an old tire, a coffee cup, and a broken cassette tape through the Finals – and the thing is, while that’s a little disrespectful to his teammates, who aren’t actually all THAT bad, the analogy’s… probably correct.

Remove James from the Cavaliers and they’re not going to seriously contend for anything – maybe a wild card berth in the playoffs because the East is so weak (who would they compete with? The Knicks?) but that’d be about it. The Cavaliers without James are fodder. With him, they’re favorites to make it to the Finals.

But James is not my favorite player in these Finals – he’s not even my favorite player on the Cavaliers.

If I was building a team of the guys I enjoy watching, as opposed to the players I’d choose if my only goal was world domination through basketball, I’d start by winnowing the players to this list:

  • Stephen Curry
  • Kevin Durant
  • Draymond Green
  • Andre Iguodala
  • Klay Thompson
  • LeBron James
  • J. R. Smith

Now, which one of these is not like the others?

Curry is … amazing. If I had to pick one player for these Finals who I enjoy watching the most, I think he’d be the one. I used to be pretty decent at defense in basketball – atrocious in offense, if you’re wondering – but I can’t even begin to imagine how I’d defend Curry efficiently. I’ve had to defend 6’8 forwards who can rain buckets from twenty-two feet out – they’re hard to defend when you’re 6’2, but I can slow monsters like that down. But Curry… every time I watch that guy, I’m left stunned at the prospect of having to slow him down at all.

Body him up, and he’s fast enough that he’ll drive… and that’s the best outcome. The worst is that you hammer him and he still ends up with this rainbow three out of nowhere. It’s difficult to work out the best angle to defend, because his court vision is so strong that he’ll see a pass that you, as a defender, couldn’t have imagined.

Durant’s a killer isolation guard in a seven-foot-tall body. Impeccable aim; he’s like that 6’8 forward, written large. I can imagine how to defend him, though, even though I’d have none of the capability to do so.

Draymond Green is fun for me to watch because of all the players on the Warriors, he’s the one most like me: defense-minded nearly to a fault, limited offensive game … except his offense is still a lot better than mine. (So is his defense, for that matter.)

Andre Iguodala: another version of Draymond Green. Slightly different, complementary skillset. Great fun to watch. He’s been injured so far for these Finals – I hope he gets back on the court soon.

Klay Thompson is probably the second best shooter in the league right now (behind his teammate, Stephen Curry, although I don’t have statistics to back that assertion up) – and has better defense. If Curry wasn’t on the court, Thompson might be in his role as the preeminent guard in the NBA. In fact, he makes Curry about four times better than Curry would be otherwise: if you commit to shutting down Curry, Thompson’s waiting to rain down thirty-five points on you. Ask the Rockets. Simply amazing.

LeBron James goes without saying. If you were building a team for a winner-takes-all competition between aliens and earthling NBA players, you’d pick James as the cornerstone of your team, if you wanted the aliens to lose. Anyone who tells you any different is lying, or they don’t know basketball. In a schoolyard pick, you’d start here unless you knew your opponents such that you could specifically build a team around certain skillsets – and you’d still end up with LeBron somewhere on your team because he can do everything and do it at an incredibly high level, no matter whether it’s defense or offense.

Then we have The Outlier.

We have J. R. Smith.

Yes, he’s one of my favorite players on the court right now.

I don’t even say that sarcastically.

Look, I’m definitely a Warrior fan, if I’m picking teams from the West (I’m actually a Knicks fan, so I get to pick another NBA team as an alternate). You might think I’m a Smith fan because he’s gifted the Warriors at times, whether it’s diving defense on Curry that leads to a dagger three from half court, or dribbling out the ball with a tie score when there’s time to take a shot.

But the truth is… I like Smith regardless. I know he’s streaky. I know he’s mercurial. I know he can give you the ecstasy of fantastic play… and then wreck it like a total bonehead. You never know whether you’ll get two points a game as a gift (which has happened for stretches of this year’s Championship series) or whether he’ll pour in twenty points with 80% shooting (which happened this year, in a loss at Golden State – except it was twenty-five points, not twenty).

I still like him. He’s an ex-Knick; he’s got that going for him. Plus, while you do have to wonder what he’s thinking sometimes (or “often”) you never have to wonder if he’s committed. I may not think he does the best thing, but I know he cares. I know his heart’s in the right place. I know he’s going to give me 100% of what he’s got, every night, even if it turns out to be awful. I know J.R. has his team’s back every time he’s on the court – and his opponent might be able to exploit him (see: Curry, S) but that opponent will always have to worry about Smith.

I know it makes little sense. If I was picking teams to win against the Alien All-Stars, there’s no way I’d pick J.R. for the humans. (As soon as you picked him, the aliens would start wondering if they wanted barbecue or if seasoning salt would be good enough.)

But as a fan, just watching the game… yes, I know, Smith is nowhere near the best player on the court, except maybe physically. But he’s still one of my favorite players in the game.

Rock on, J.R.