Archive for 2014

Defending the NFL Playoffs

There are those who disagree with the current setup of playoffs for the NFL. If you’re not familiar with the playoff format: the NFL is divided into 2 conferences, and each conference has 4 divisions of 4 teams each. The winner of each division gets into the playoffs, and there are 2 extra spots (wildcard) in each conference for teams with the next best win-loss records.

It sounds like a fairly straightforward arrangement. Division schedules are setup so that there is a clear winner within each division. And if a team is good but happens to be in a division with a slightly better team, it can still get into the playoffs via the wild card spot.

The problem that some people have with this arrangement is this: what if one whole division is good and another whole division is bad?

For example, let’s say the best team in the NFC West has a losing record, at 7-9. But they win the division, so they get into the playoffs. Meanwhile, teams with better records than 7-9, in other divisions, miss the playoffs.

Maybe the NFC West teams had tougher schedules. I think that, either way, those teams will be eliminated along the way.

The alternative promoted by those opposing divisional seeding is to scrap the meaning of divisions and base playoff entrance and seeding solely on overall record.

Going to seeding based only on record doesn’t account for tougher or easier schedules. Plus I don’t like change, so I’m going to say keep the playoff format like it is.

What is the purpose of the playoffs and championship game?

To determine the best team that year?

Ostensibly, yes. In reality, no. It determines who is playing the best at the end of the year. Otherwise, why not just play the season and crown as champion the team with the best record? If there’s a tie, have a playoff.

Why don’t they do that? Because people like having tournaments. And because they like having underdogs who could have a chance.

Those who do want to change it do so because they add to the purpose of the playoffs. They want to find the best team, and they want close, exciting playoff games.

But what if the 4 best teams are in the same division? Would people want to watch them play again after having watched them play each other twice in the regular season already? No. People want to see matchups of different divisions.

Bottom line: If a team didn’t win its division, then it is not the best team in the league. So the current format does fit the purpose of the playoffs.

And Mr. Commissioner, if you’re reading, the one thing you should absolutely not do is expand the playoffs. Right now, it’s about a third of the teams make the playoffs. That’s a good ratio. If you widen the playoffs to include more teams, you’ll approach the mark of half the teams making the playoffs. That’s ridiculous – playoffs should be significant. Handing them out to anyone who is average or better makes them less relevant.

Plus it would mess up all those “they haven’t made the playoffs since …” stats.

Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways.

Job 22:28

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas.

Pictures compliments of Gamma, via his kindergarten work.

child's drawing of a Christmas tree

child's drawing of a reindeer

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

Custom Jewelry

We got this mass-mailing the other week:

photo of a flyer advertising custom jewelry in stock

Anyone else bothered by the term “custom jewelry in stock”?

To me “custom” means it is made to my specifications.

And “in stock” means something that is already made and sitting on the counter or in the case, ready to be bought the moment I walk in the store.

So unless the store employs psychics, there cannot be, by definition, any custom jewelry in stock.

As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.

Proverbs 25:12

Security Questions

I’m not sure what to think about security questions. You know, the things they make you answer when you forget your password.

There are some times when I wonder “why not do away with the password?” If answering a couple security questions is good enough to get a new password, then mabe it’s good enough to replace a password.

And some times I get asked a security question I don’t remember setting up, and there are multiple possible answers. In that case, what’s the fallback if I can’t get the answer right?

After seeing a few too many security questions to which I answered (in my head) “How am I supposed to know that?”, I was inspired to come up with a list of bad security questions.

For those developing login sequences, here are questions that will annoy your users:

  • Who sat next to you in 3rd grade?
  • What was your favorite baby food?
  • How old were you when you got your first tooth?
  • What country were your great-grandparents born in?
  • What was your favorite color in 5th grade?
  • How many second cousins do you have?
  • How old were you when you lost your first tooth?
  • What is your favorite noble metal?
  • How long was your bus ride in middle school?

All of those are things which are ambiguous or I don’t know or they don’t have an answer.

Any other examples of bad security questions?

And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go.

Acts 17:9

All-Haiku Bowl Predictions, 2014

Based on the popularity existence of last year’s article predicting bowl games in haiku form, I present to you this year’s all-haiku bowl game predictions. Still America’s only all-haiku college football bowl game predictions.

These are listed in order of date (earliest first). Some picks are whom I think will win, and some picks are whom I want to win. I’ll leave it to you, the reader, to decide which is which.

Christmas CDs

My wife looks forward to Christmas music. I used to try to hold out until after Thanksgiving, but she would turn to that one radio station that switches to all Christmas music the first week of November.

This year, I stopped resisting. But it seems to me that the radio station song selection is awful. If you want to hear the same few songs that aren’t really about Christmas, then go ahead and listen to the radio. Sure, they might have the word “Christmas” in them, but that doesn’t make them Christmas songs.

Anyway, disillusioned with the radio, I turned to our CD collection. Then, unable to find our CD collection, I turned to Amazon. (Amazon’s process for buying music digitally is way better than iTunes’ process, in case you want my opinion on that.)

All that to say this: I got to assess a number of Christmas albums and am giving you my favorites.

Top 3 Albums

  • EvieCome on, Ring Those Bells
    A classic. If you don’t know these songs then I am sorry for your sad childhood.
  • Reliant KLet It Snow, Baby… Let It Reindeer
    I was unfamiliar with this album before this year. But now this is my kids’ favorite album. I burned them a CD that has the slower angsty songs removed.
  • Various ArtistsHandel’s Young Messiah
    The one from the early 1990s. This is a very good way to be introduced to Handel’s Messiah. I hope you already have this CD, because it is out of print and you can’t buy digital copies of it. Not legally, anyway.

    I realize the whole Messiah composition is more appropriate at Easter time than Christmas, but it is not out of place at Christmas, so we’ll stick with tradition and allow it here.

Honorable Mention

  • Mannheim SteamrollerMannheim Steamroller Christmas
  • MercyMeThe Christmas Sessions
  • Sixpence None the RicherThe Dawn of Grace

Also, slightly related – if you’re looking for a recording of the Lord’s Prayer, I recommend Susan Boyle‘s version.

I don’t go through a lot of music, so I’m sure I missed or forgot some good ones. Any other recommendations?

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.

Isaiah 40:1

Family Conversations, Part 22

Me : No, a bar of milk chocolate does not count as dairy in your dinner.

Delta : Tuna fish, tuna fish, it’s my favorite kind of fish.
Delta : Tuna fish are kind?

Me : Don’t put cereal between your toes.

Gamma : I was there! I want to go there again. Where is that?
Me : Las Vegas
Gamma : I want to go to Lost Vegas.

Delta : Who left the milk out? Who, who, who whowho!

I don’t know that they’ve ever heard the original song, but somehow they are familiar with Baha Men’s one-hit wonder.

Gamma, to Delta : Call 911 to order pizza!
Delta : Yeah!
Me : No, no, no!

Don’t worry, neither of them had a phone.

Gamma, after falling off the end of a bench : You need to make the bench longer

The funny part was that it was not crowded at all, he was one of two people on a bench that could seat four.

They are brought down and fallen: but we are risen, and stand upright.

Psalm 20:8