Thursday, March 31, 2011

Underthinking Politics and Sport

So last night I stayed up and watched the 2nd Semi-final in the Cricket world cup, between arch-rivals India and Pakistan. Having stayed up to watch the 1st semi the night before and going to work both days, I have had about 8 hours sleep in the last 3 days.

This will be me, in a couple of hours
Now this term rivals and enemies is bandied about a lot during sports. I.e the Australian NZ rivalry in everything. But for Pakistan and India it runs deeper than just a standard sibling rivalry that we have with Big Brother Australia.

Stupid Australia, always making us wear stupid hats, and poking us in the eyes.

For those of you unaware, they used to be one country, until roughly 1933, when the Muslims living in India decided they wanted a piece of land to call their own. Specifically the Mulsims living in the Punjab, North-West Frontier Province (Afghan Province), Kashmir, Sind, and BaluchisTAN regions, hence their snazzy name, the I was added to make pronunciation easier. But the problem is that the India's weren't quite ready to give up the Kashmir.

And I can understand why, it is a beautiful fabric

Kidding, it is Beautiful, no wonder they both want it.
 So it is more like a sibling rivalry between separated conjoined twins when they couldn't decide who would get the Kidney.

"Seriously, I get the Kidney!"
 And its not like they have rudimentary sticks and arrows to fight each other with over this region, both countries are Nuclear powers, so it is one of the worlds powder kegs. So tread carefully.

Although their Uniforms, make you wonder if they are bluffing regarding the nuclear weapons
 So they say you shouldn't mix sport and politics but it seems to be wonderful thing, Nelson Mandela united a country by poisoning a rival sporting nation,
"No one suspects a thing"
 the German and Allied soldiers skivvied off to play football when they were meant to be shooting each other
"Oi you are meant to be shooting each other, what are you doing?"
The Soviets juiced up all their citizens to win Olympics and prove their superiority, because that was cheaper than trying to get to the moon.
Turning Women into men, was easier and cheaper than getting to the moon.
So jovially the other day someone suggested the Indians and Pakistanis put the Kashmir on the line in last nights game, and that would end the dispute. That was a joke but then I got thinking, countries have these emotionally charge series over these meaningless trophies.

Seriously I could buy one of those for like $500

Why not have a series every four years between Pakistan and India, where the winner gets the Kashmir region for those 4 years, I mean its not like they have stability at the moment with all the fighting. And most countries have elections ever 4 years so change of administration wouldn't be that big a deal.
That would amp up the pressure on the Series, and make it the biggest deal in world cricket.
"I won these burnt stumps"

"We just won 186,000 sq km of beautiful mountain region"

 Note the land area I gave excludes the section of the Kashmir that the Chinese lay claim to, so maybe once we get China up to sped on Cricket, then a tri-series could be in order.
Don't worry they are working on it

But until then we just work with the Pakistani- Indian parts, they seem to be the bitterest rivals, the only other one I could think of that comes close is Serbia vs Croatia, especially in Basketball were they used to be World Champions competing together as Yugoslavia. If you are looking for a good watch, get hold of Once Brothers a documentary presented by Vlade Divacs about the tearing apart of friendships within the Yugoslavian Basketball team. Can you think of any other rivalry that run this deep?


Monday, March 28, 2011

Underthinking Drivers Licence's

So today I had to renew my driver's licence, this is a process all New Zealanders who hold a driver's licence must go through every 1-10 years depending on your age, and/or endorsements you hold.

They make Stacey Jones renew his every 2 weeks, because he endorsed Instant Finance.
But anyway this whole process seems to be underthought from beginning to end.

1/. My Address

So to get a new Driver's Licence you need to provide your current address and proof that you live there. No this is potentially not underthought since probably technically I should update my address every time I move. But since when I first obtained my licence I was living with my parents I just left it as this address. Since in the ten years I have held my Licence I have lived in 4-5 different houses.
Including this typical first student flat (disgusting)
By giving them my current address now in 1-2 years time the mail won't get to me, unless I get off my arse and change my address. However with my parents address no matter where I moved I would get the mail associated with Driver's Licence. Why are they still working in Mailing addresses anyway? I hardly receive any mail at all, it took me 4 hours to find a letter addressed to me, most of my correspondence is via emails these days anyway.

2/. The eyesight test

Okay this one is pretty standard they want to know if you can actually see, before giving you a licence that's okay. But the test they do seems less than robust, for starts the size of letters on each line are the same size, so by going down the list they are not really making it anymore testing.

Typical Chart (Not what NZTA uses)
And also the guy just got lazy behind the desk after asking me to read random lines out to him 3 times, he just said I could pick the 4th line I wanted to read. That is hardly a test I mean I changed it up, but if I was worried I could have just picked a line he had previously asked me and I would be fine. Also what has reading letters got to do with the eyesight required to drive.

Maybe they are concerned people might miss the "funny" billboards from Tui?
It would be more appropriate to show photos of various driving situations in increasingly hard visual conditions and see if they can name hazards. Also what is with the periphery test? I mean I understand the immediate periphery test, but the one where the light it almost behind your head? Why do I need to be able to see this without moving my head?

Typical driving technique when changing lanes
How NZTA sees us
"There is nothing my periphery I am going across"

3/. Drivers licence is not an ID

So last thing which really got me, was after I had filled out my application for my new driver's licence (a month early) the guy took my current licence and cut it in two.

 I was like yo chief how am I meant to get into bars now? And he said this is a driver's licence not an ID. Which I responded "Well Technically its ID" (which was underthought) and he responded "No, Technically its a Driver licence".

He was very smug about this too.

But too be fair I had left him a opening and he took it, what I should have said "It was technically a licence but practically its an ID." I mean in the ten years I have had my drivers licence, the number of times I have used it to prove I can drive  3, the number of time I have used it to get into bars, probably bordering on 5000.

"Oh yes it appears you can drive, come on in for a drink"
And that isn't all. List of things I have used my drivers licence for in the last ten years that don't relate to driving, becoming a signatory on a Bank account, enrolling in university, becoming a member of a video store, claimed reservations at a hotel, had a laugh at how different I looked when I was 16, rudimentary magic tricks, cashing cheques,
cutting cheese for a sandwich that time i forgot a knife, clearing ice off my windscreen......

Although I find that an eftpos card is more efficient
So mister smug guy at AA, technically it is a driver's licence but with practical day to day usage it is an ID first, handy pocket tool second, and driver licence distant 3rd. But now I have no photo Drivers licence for up to 3 weeks, I don't know why I could have my licence until the new one arrives, it has an expiration date on it, so for the drivers licence purpose it would be useless after that date anyway.
"Mam, I am going to use my gloves, because that is an expired licence"

But as an ID it would still prove I am over 18, regardless of if it's expired. So now I have to carry my Passport round for two weeks if I want to prove my age, oh wait.......I don't, a while back I got a D endorsement on my licence so I got a second licence, so I guess I will just use that....

"Oh yeah, I have a second licence, I just use that stupid smug AA guy"

Friday, March 25, 2011

Underthinking Friday

Okay, so I am a little late off the boat, by now every man and his dog has watched this song.

"I don't get it, what day comes after Sunday"
And universally this song has been parodied and discussed to death, so what can I possible have to say about it that hasn't been said already? Well not a lot, but let me give it ago. 

1/ Which seat should I take?

Very early in this song, Rebecca is standing at the bus stop waiting for the dreaded bus stop, and I am guessing if the people on the bus had heard her sing she would be confronted with a similar situation to a young Forrest Gump.

"You kant seet here"

Luckily for Rebecca though, no one has heard here sing yet, or at least not her 12 year old friends that have car-jacked a Mercedes Benz. They pull up and offer Rebecca a ride, presumably to rob a bank. This leads Rebecca to a quandary,and not whether its a crime to get into a car you think is stolen, no something far more pressing..

Just for completeness this is the situation confronting Rebecca
Rebecca wonders which seat shall she take, you see they are Kickin in the front seat, but they are chillin in the back seat. In theory this is a tough decision, do I want to chill or do I want to kick?
But if you look back at that photo, there appears to be no option, they only place Rebecca can sit is in the middle in the back, the front isn't an option.
Well that is not entirely true, not a legal option, and I guess I am underestimating these particular children's blatant disregard for the law. Grand Theft Auto, Driving without a license, not wearing seat belts etc etc.
"You are going away for a long time Plaid Shirt"

2/ How slow are they driving on the highway?

I only know its the highway thanks to the literal lyrics
Okay, so thankfully Rebecca managed to figure out the only place to sit was the back seat, and her gang of females have managed to ditch the two dudes that were previously in the car. Now they decide to cruise down the highway and the fast lane none-the-less as stated in the Song.
Note that they are sitting on the back, and dancing and their hair is staying perfectly still. So presumably they are travelling at 5kph and there are about 600 cars piled up behind them? Why can I not hear the abuse and tooting in the video


Although I expect her friend did speed up at some point, otherwise how do you explain her hair getting so frizzy in the mornings?

"I gotta stop cruising around the motorway, its hell on my Hair"


"Did she actually sing that?"
We we are so excited, maybe?. Seriously you used "we" 3 times just drop one of them and put an are in, then at least that sentence makes English sense. That is all I have to say about that.

4/. Some one else wrote the song

Ok, so this is the worst part of this whole situation, young Rebecca was a typical tweenage girl, who wanted to be a singer.

This is normally as far as this ambition gets.
But Rebecca's parents, had $2000 to throw away, (or so they though, actually it turned into a good investment) to a company known as Ark Music Factory. Who writes a song and then produces a music video for these young girls, so they can live their fantasy.
So that means some got paid to write "Friday" actually got paid to write those lyrics, I mean if Rebecca had written them that would make sense, but a paid writer did it? Who is this man?

The Ark Music Factory writing pool

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Underthinking UDRS

Okay I already know this post will not meet everyone's tastes, since its about cricket. But I make no apologies cricket is one of my favourite things in the world, and also the cricket world cup is currently on, so its about time I talked about cricket. The cricket world cup has actually been on for about a month now, but there is still another two weeks to go so I have plenty of time. Possibly a little too much time.

Hashim Amla had a five o'clock shadow at the start of the World Cup
What I have been thinking about a lot lately, is the UDRS or the Umpire Decision Review system, which is basically a challenge system for the players to challenge an Umpires decision using technology available. It is a good idea in theory, and does show that the ICC is a little more forward thinking than FIFA when it comes to using technology.

FIFA committee on use of Technology
Basically each team gets two unsuccessful challenges per innings per match, the system was designed to stop howling decisions affecting the outcome of the game, i.e someone being given out when they are not, or being given not out when they are.
I like this system but there are a couple of things that I don't quite get.

1/. LBW decisions

When it comes to LBW decisions there are a lot of factors coming into play, and it is testament to the Umpires that they get so many of these decisions right. The ball can't be pitching on leg, the impact must be inline, and you should think the ball would have hit the stumps if not for the batsmens leg.
Sometimes they get it wrong, and this is where UDRS comes into play, it tracks the ball for the actual flight and then simulates the remaining journey to see if the ball would hit the stumps.

UDRS in action

The reason it has a large box saying NOT OUT is because how much faith that is put in the technology depends on the umpires orginal decision. If the umpire said the batsmen was not out, and the fielding team appeals this, then more than half the ball needs to be hitting the stumps to overturn the decision, if on the other hand the umpire said the batsmen was out, and the batting team appeals, only a edge of the ball needs to be hitting the stumps for original out to be upheld.

"I told you, you were out, you Son of a B***h"
Now I understand the reason for this is to give the umpire the benefit of the doubt, but too me you either say the technology is unfallible enough that if the ball just touches the stumps the batsmen is out regardless of who asks, or you say that the technology is not accurate, in which case the more then half of the ball rule should stand for both sides asking.

 Mark Boucher,I hate that guy use the half the ball rule.

And to me, sometimes too much faith is put in the technology, if the ball hits the batsmens pad close to immediately after the ball pitches surely there is not enough information to accurately predict the path. How does the technology take into account hardness of pitch, foot marks, softness of ball?

In some situations it would be more accurate to use this lady to make the decision.
2/. Excessive appealing 

The second thing that gets me, is one of the reasons to implement UDRS was to avoid excessive appealing, where by a player will appeal at anything even if he has no faith at all the batsmen is actually out.

I think the closer you get your arse to the ground the more you think the batsmen is out
The thing is we still see the situation were the fielding team will vehemently appeal a decision, and it will be given not out, but then they don't challenge. Basically what they are saying is I didn't actually think the batsmen was out, I was just trying it on.

"We almost had you that time"
I propose there should be an amendment to the UDRS rules if your orginal appeal last longer than 10 seconds, or louder than 110 db, or your arse touches the ground during the appeal, you automatically use one of your challenges. This way you only get players appealing this strongly when they actually think the batsmen is out.

3/. It is designed to stop howlers not benefit of doubt

The third thing that bugs me about the UDRS is it was introduced to reduce the number of howler decisions made on the field. So if a batsmen hits the covers of the ball into his pads he won't be given out LBW, or if there is a clear edge missed by the umpire the batsmen is correctly given out. For example the below video was orginally not given out on the field.

The problem is with having 2 challenges, players will tend to use at least one of the decisions, on a whim and potentially they will get it going in their favour, but only slightly. So the umpire was wrong, but within a reasonable human error, the ball was pitching half a mm outside leg, so the batsmen gets to stay in. I am sure some of the times the batsmen appeals not because he thinks he is not out, but more he is hoping he is not out. Perhaps the answer here is to reduce the number of unsuccessful challenges to 1, this way, the challenge will only be taken when the player is sure they are wronged and not on the off chance that they were.

Dar: "You actually want to challenge?"
Ponting: "Yeah why not mate, give it a nugde"
But they are my thoughts on UDRS, let me know what you think?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Underthinking Bullies (and the academic responses to them)

So I just read this article, it is in relation to the Casey Heyne vs Richard Gale incident that has been broadcast all around the world. If you haven't seen it here it is:

In the video the big kid (Casey) is being harassed by the smaller kid (Richard), who is clearly punching him in the face. The "expert" Dr Michael Carr-Gregg in the article above claims that Casey did the wrong thing by fighting back he should have just walked away.

Seeing the titles of his books I suspect Dr Carr-Gregg was/is a bully himself
 This is the advice all these so-called experts give, if you just walk away the bully will get bored and leave you alone. The only conclusion I can come to is that these experts were bullies themselves and are just trying to make it easier for bullies, because I have never seen if real-life the just walking away approach work, not in humans and not in nature.

"Just ignore him, Gary, he will go away, just ignore him"
Lets examine the Casey vs Richard incident, firstly Richard was obviously banking on Casey ignoring him, because Casey has about a foot and about 50 kilograms on him, there is no way he would win this fight if Casey decided to fight back.

"Oh s**t, I thought he was going to ignore me"
 By the way I am not having a go at Casey's weight just showing a photo, where a clearly bigger opponent is having a go at a smaller kid.

There was also a video going around, showing an interview with Casey, where he actually states that he has spent his entire school career ignoring bullies and they continue to pick on him because they see him as an easy target because he doesn't fight back. And that's the thing I think these academics sitting in their Ivory towers forget.

Ivory towers - Home to academics and Moonchild

What they are saying and I don't disagree with, is that violence leads to more violence, and by ignoring it, people can stop the cycle. But like Casey said people see him not retaliating therefore not a threat to them, so they can just abuse him and never suffer the consequences. In the ideal academic world, an adult would see this violence or abuse and tell the bully to stop and he would.

If they had Han Solo doing this, it might work
But the problem is twofold, most of the time this abuse is done out of the vision of adults, and the victim is too scared to report it, and secondly the bully has no respect for the adult. This is mainly because the PC world we live in, when people deserve second, third, fourth chances, so the punishment they will receive is minimal. In fact, they would probably not punish the child at all and blame it on environment or Hollywood or something that is not the child at fault.
This is your fault Muhammad Ali you and your glorifying violence!!

If on the other hand you attempt to bully a kid and you get vertical suplexed into the ground, you are going to think twice about bullying again aren't you?
The other issue that this academic has ignored, is the fact the bullies were filming this event. This leads to two issues, one there was a group of people harassing Casey, so the bear hug approach wouldn't help, because Richard's little mates would probably back him up. Secondly they were FILMING it, do you really think they would leave him alone if he walked away, they wanted this to be seen, so they would not be happy with footage of a kid walking away, this is never riveting footage.

Okay so that one time it was great footage (0.15 - 0.36), but I am pretty sure the bullies weren't aiming for that. They were looking to make him cry, or at least get some good punches in from Richard. So ignoring the issue would not make it go away. I would be interested in others thoughts on this, but for mine Dr Carr-Gregg Underthought this situation.

    Want to keep Underthinking? Try one these.