36 Chambers – The Legendary Journeys: Execution to the max!

March 31, 2010

Murray On Education

Filed under: Curmudgeonliness, Schooled! — Kevin Feasel @ 8:49 pm

Charles Murray has a critique of the “everybody must get a bachelor’s degree” mindset which is prominent in American life.

I do agree with the idea that government should get out of the student loan business (and, unfortunately, they’re doing the exact opposite.  Because student loans are totally related to health care and all), and this would dry up some of the demand from people who go to party for four years.

March 30, 2010

Hayek’s Reading List

Filed under: Catallactics — Kevin Feasel @ 8:00 pm

Check it out. Several of the books are excellent, and many have free versions that you can get online.  It’s interesting how Ransom includes a couple of the books Hayek argued so strongly against—Lange and Keynes’s works in particular.

March 29, 2010

Wrestlemania results

Filed under: Wrestling — Tony Demchak @ 4:58 pm

I’m still not sure what to make of Wrestlemania. The main event was amazing, and there were good parts of the other matches, but most of the matches just didn’t get enough time to be truly awesome (Punk vs. Mysterio was criminally short).

Anywho, the results and who won the pick contest.

Triple Threat: Randy Orton pinned Ted DiBiase (RKO).

Both the Lady Penguatroll and I chose Orton — Orton’s face turn has been generally well done. Not nearly enough conflict between DiBiase and Rhodes; perhaps they will stick as a tag team? P 1, LP 1.

WWE Championship: John Cena forces Batista to submit (STF).

An easy call both of us picked. Not the main event, but surprisingly good from two guys who aren’t brilliant technical wrestlers. Very surprising but in a good way.P 2, LP 2

Career vs. Streak: Undertaker pinned Shawn Michaels (tombstone piledriver)

Absolutely breathtaking. Was it as good as last year’s? No. But the emotion was so much higher, culminating in the final moments. Taker tells HBK to just “Stay down”. HBK makes the cut throat gesture and slaps Taker, who enraged, tombstones him one last time. We’d better get a send off for Shawn. The streak continues. P 2, LP 3.

World Heavyweight Championship: Chris Jericho pinned Edge (codebreaker).

Edge’s redemption will have to wait. Another match that was very good, but unlike Cena/Batista, I actually expected more. The spot at the end — spear through the barricade — was awesome, but technically, I’d expect more from these two. The good news is, I don’t think we’re done yet. P 2, LP 3.

No Holds Barred: Bret Hart forced Vince McMahon to submit (sharpshooter).

Ridiculously easy to call. The match was much too long, though. The Hart family coming out to screw Vince was sort of anti-climactic. Not bad for two old men, but it was still two old men. P 3, LP 4

Undisputed Tag Team Titles: Big Show pinned R-Truth (KO punch)

A rare win for me over the Lady Penguatroll. I was in the bathroom for most of the match. P 4, LP 4.

Singles Match: HHH pinned Sheamus (Pedigree)

HHH got his win, but Sheamus looked like a beast. First time in a long time that somebody legitimately outmuscled HHH. Nothing brilliant here either, but a great power match. P 5, LP 4.

Grudge Match: Rey Mysterio pinned CM Punk (619).

Waaaaaaay too short. Come on, WWE. This should have been epic, but it felt just average. Punk is a great heel, but he’s just not wrestling like he used to. I hope we get more. P 5, LP 5.

Money in the Bank: Jack Swagger wins.

Very pleased Swagger won, they got me again. I thought Christian’s win was etched in stone — shows what I know. We were both wrong. P 5, LP 5.

The divas match was meaningless, suffice it to say neither one of us got that one right.

We tie again!

March 28, 2010

The Cost Of Purity Is Irrelevance

Filed under: Curmudgeonliness, Keeping Cool With Coolidge — Kevin Feasel @ 8:06 am

This comment by MikeDC, posted over on EconLog, is rather pertinent.  Here is the important part:

I tend to think the unwillingness of anyone meaningful (I guess perhaps aside from Mankiw) to really get involved with and go to bat for the Republicans is at least partially due to the sad state of academics in general. Even if economics is relatively balanced politically, universities are decidedly not, so it’s a much easier proposition for a professor who’s not a Democrat or socialist to gain cover by saying he or she is not a Republican and throwing out a tired line about their bigotry or social heathenism. Or poor economic policies, which is a laugher given the alternative.

Scaring and shaming smart Republicans into non-participation in Republican politics ends up making the Republicans that much more anti-intellectual and dependent on the shallow, shrill and socially oriented ones. As with many things, it’s a potentially vicious circle that will require leadership and foresight to overcome.

I think that is correct (even though I’m a fan of some of those “shallow, shrill and socially oriented” politicians, and would disagree with that characterization in some cases), but it also includes libertarian-leaning politicians, as I noted in 2008.

[Ron Paul] could be there giving good arguments and forcing the rest of the Republican candidates to edge right-ward on domestic issues. He’s generally good on such issues—illegal immigration, federal spending, federal taxes, pernicious governmental regulations—and although his pre-9/11 foreign policy style makes him unelectable, he could at least fulfill a Phil Gramm role and make the other candidates pledge to reduce government spending, reduce taxes, and implement market-friendly reforms. Instead, he caters to the truther nuts.

Before I go any further, I have to remind my three readers that I Am Not A Libertarian.  This is kibbutzing proffered by a sympathetic non-libertarian who agrees on many points and is fine with a federalist system hedging some of the disagreement that exists.

Unless you’re certain that some kind of anarchistic eschaton is imminent (hint:  it’s not) or that it’s all hopeless and all you can do is try to join the Nockian Remnant and wait out the horrors of barbarity until civilization re-emerges, there really aren’t that many options available.  The Libertarian Party is never going to be a serious national option, and any dreams of an FDP-like party in the US are dashed by the fact that we have a first-past-the-post, presidential system.  American politics is geared toward two parties, so even if the parties look like Tweedledum and Tweedle-almost-as-dum to libertarians, the relevant options are to reform or disengage.

For the most part, libertarian economists tend to disengage.  Some—especially Austrians—don’t like the stench of politics and would rather remain clean and pure of that realm, instead discussing things as though we could flick the switch and move to some utopia.  The problem is that once you disengage, you leave the field to the competitors who are still engaged, and lose the ability to influence others.  The end result is worse than staying in.

Instead, these are exactly the people who should be a part of the Republican fold.  Off the cuff, I would say that somewhere between a quarter and two-fifths of Republican politicians on the federal level are seriously committed to fiscal sanity, and probably a fair number more are wishy-washy but adequate.  Yeah, that isn’t a good number, and there are a lot of pork-shovelers with Rs next to their name, but the number is still much higher than for Democrats.  One problem, I think, is that the people who are intelligent enough to come up with good ideas and can thread political needles—Cato scholars, FEE members, etc.—aren’t willing to join Republican staffs and try to make free-market initiatives possible.  If they were, I think you would see more of a shift toward free-market ideas.

Libertarians and conservatives agree that there is an entitlement crisis, and that Obamacare has just pushed us that much closer to it (not that we would have been in good shape without it).  At the moment, intellectuals on the Right have an opportunity to translate anger at politicians and the political structure into meaningful reform, but they need good, thorough plans that will resonate with both politicians and the general public.  The only set of politicians who are going to listen to these plans in great detail are Republicans, but they can only listen if libertarians are willing to talk seriously to them and remain engaged even if the end result is losing on many of the issues. Pete Spiliakos discusses one of the consequences of this disengagement:  it took longer for serious market-friendly initiatives to come out, and there was little public discussion of the topic, so few people really know about the ideas.  Paul Ryan and Mitch Daniels may have flawed plans (especially from the standpoint of libertarians), but they’re a start, and libertarian intellectuals could help make those plans better.

The simplest solutions—dismantling most of the institutions of the federal government, reneging on entitlement programs, passing constitutional amendments preventing the re-establishment of federal entitlement programs, etc.—are nice but unworkable in the political atmosphere in which we currently live.  The New Deal and Great Society got the public addicted to federal heroin, and because of the institutional framework of American government and society—which helped prevent things from being worse, by the way—quitting cold turkey does not appear to be an option.  Instead, it is up to libertarian and conservative thinkers to come up with the equivalent to methadone.  But they can’t do that from the sidelines, and there’s really only one team that will let them play.

March 27, 2010

Wrestlemania 26 predictions

Filed under: Wrestling — Tony Demchak @ 10:10 pm

Last year’s column and the results of our picks.

Last year was a tie… who will triumph this year? Again, my pick in bold, the Lady Penguatroll’s in italics.

Triple Threat: Randy Orton vs. Ted DiBiase vs. Cody Rhodes

I’m hoping for big things from this match, just because Orton will put over people if necessary and I think he’s interested in both DiBiase and Rhodes. There’s a possibility for a swerve, of course, but I really don’t see either Ted or Cody getting the win.

WWE Championship: Batista (c) vs. John Cena

What a heel turn for Batista. For the first time in a long time, I actually care about Batista. I think this match will go on last, and there’s always a face victory to send the fans home happy, so this is one of the easiest calls on the whole card.

Career vs. Streak: Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels

The first match the Lady Penguatroll and I think differently about. Shawn still has plenty left in the tank, and even though wrestling retirements never stick, HBK winning means we keep both Taker and Michaels around for a while longer.

World Heavyweight Championship: Chris Jericho (c) vs. Edge

A lot depends on who wins money in the bank — there’s a good chance it could be cashed in after (or before) the match. My gut says Edge, since he’s been on a nuclear roll since winning the Rumble. Something tells me there could be shenanigans… but in the end I can’t pick against the Rated R Superstar.

No Holds Barred: Bret Hart vs. Vince McMahon

This will be a clusterfuck, but a worthwhile one. Lots of interference, but in the end we get Vince tapping out to the Sharpshooter for one last time.

Undisputed Tag Team Titles: ShowMiz (c) vs. R-Truth and John Morrison

At the end of the day, I just don’t see every heel losing. Truth and Morrison will win eventually, but not at Mania.

Singles Match: HHH vs. Sheamus

Sheamus and HHH are friends in real life, so I expect a hard hitting match. Maybe the worst wrestling match on the card (we all know Hart v. McMahon won’t be a wrestling match). I think HHH wins, but in somewhat controversial fashion (say, Sheamus DQed) to continue this feud, which after all just started.

If Rey loses, he’s part of the Straight Edge Society: CM Punk vs. Rey Mysterio

A funny little thing happened to CM Punk — he formed the Straight Edge Society and is now the #1 heel on Smackdown, leapfrogging Jericho. This feud could be money until Summerslam — If Mysterio wins, I think the feud gets cut short.

Money in the Bank: I’ve already done an article on this. I pick Christian, Jacki picks Kofi Kingston.

Divas Match: Team Beth Phoenix vs. Team Vickie Guerrero.

Ten diva tag match. Somebody has to win.

Should be a great card! I’ll be back on Monday with results of our picks.

PS 3 Controller Problem – Solved!!

Filed under: Video Games — Tony Demchak @ 10:06 am

I noticed a lot of people were having some issues with the Bluetooth controllers recently (i.e. controllers won’t work wirelessly but will work when connected to PS 3 via USB). I too was having problems, to the point where I purchased two new PS 3 controllers (I needed a new one anyway, but still).

Here’s what I tried.

1) Resetting the controllers.

2) Leaving them charged overnight.

3) Trying different controllers.

4) Turning PS 3 on and off.

5) Disabling network connection.

6) Buying brand new controllers.

None of these worked, so I tried some more digging. I initially did not know the controllers used BT to connect — I assumed it was infrared. I decided to see if my Droid could find the PS 3 — it couldn’t. After testing to make sure the Droid could find my wife’s phone with BT – it could – I realized something was up with the PS 3’s bluetooth. It wasn’t the controllers after all!

After kicking myself for a moment for shelling out a hundred + bucks for two new controllers, I calmed down and took action. Specifically, two steps.

1) Reset PS3 to default settings. NOT reformatting. Just reset to defaults.

2) Power off PS 3 from the Playstation itself, then flip switch in the back. Restore power.

You’ll have to manually re-pair all controllers, i.e. directly connect them to the PS 3 with the USB cable, turn them on, then remove the cable and power controller on again. However, it worked great. All controllers now work both Bluetooth-ily and without. Granted, the one still has a circle button that doesn’t work, but instead of one perfect controller and one not-so-perfect, I now have three perfect controllers, one not-so-perfect, and am out over a hundred bucks.

Lesson learned. Lesson painfully learned. I post so that others may not make the mistake.

March 26, 2010

Learning Some OLAP

Filed under: Programming & Work — Kevin Feasel @ 4:38 pm

For work, I am looking into creating a data warehouse, as well as reporting versions of several applications.  This is going to take away much of my free time over the next couple of weeks…not that I have much free time to begin with…

Here are a few tutorials that I have found and am going through:

- SQL Server Analysis Services webcasts. Some of these look interesting, and I know some of the authors.

- Microsoft’s tutorial. This will probably be my first stop.  That and playing with AdventureWorks, because hey, who doesn’t love AdventureWorks?

- More tutorials. I browsed through a couple of these to see what kind of information I will get, and it made the cut.

March 25, 2010

Quick notes on MLB 10: The Show

Filed under: Video Games — Tony Demchak @ 11:40 am

I can’t help it. I got Baseball Prospectus 2010 over the weekend and I needed a baseball fix with actual hitting and pitching. In one game of franchise mode and several games of Road to the Show, here are some thoughts:

– The game is surprisingly immersive. In my franchise game, I was practically biting my nails up to Grady’s two run homer in the top of the ninth, with Kerry Wood getting the 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth. I even hate the video game White Sox.

– I’m going to experiment with game sliders, but fouls are very common-place; you’ll almost never strike out anybody on three (or even four pitches) and the computer is generally too smart to chase splitters in the dirt. This means pitch counts get out of hand very fast, even when you’re pitching extremely well.

– I love the idea of calling the game as the catcher — I’d try it if I had the time.

It’s overall a very realistic product, so far. I’m not too far into it, and as I play more a review will be forthcoming, but so far I’m quite pleased.

March 24, 2010

SQL Server Network Interfaces: Error getting enabled protocols list from registry [xFFFFFFFF]

Filed under: Computinating, Programming & Work — Kevin Feasel @ 6:46 pm

I set up a new SQL Server 2008 server a while back, configured it to my liking, set up the correct permissions, etc. etc.  I also set up a number of linked servers.  Testing it from my account and from SQL authenticated accounts worked just fine, so I brought it live.  Unfortunately, one of our users started getting a very weird message.  Whenever this user tried to run a query that involved using a linked server, the following message popped up:

OLE DB provider “SQLNCLI10″ for linked server “SERVER” returned message “Login timeout expired”.

OLE DB provider “SQLNCLI10″ for linked server “SERVER” returned message “A network-related or instance-specific error has occurred while establishing a connection to SQL Server. Server is not found or not accessible. Check if instance name is correct and if SQL Server is configured to allow remote connections. For more information see SQL Server Books Online.”.

Msg 65535, Level 16, State 1, Line 0

SQL Server Network Interfaces: Error getting enabled protocols list from registry [xFFFFFFFF].

I changed the bolded name to protect the innocent.  This error appeared for all of the linked servers, be they SQL 2005 or 2008.  The weird thing is that with the exact same permissions, it worked just fine on another SQL 2008 server.  And it worked just fine for me and another person in the Database Administrator group in Active Directory.  But it failed for our Architect, who is also a sysadmin on the server.

I checked out various pages and ideas from lots of different sources regarding similar symptoms.  The advice proffered from these sources was as follows:

  • Make sure that your protocols are set up correctly in SQL Server. Check.  I had Shared Memory, TCP/IP, and Named Pipes enabled as services, though only TCP/IP was enabled as an access point for the server.
  • Make sure that the SQL Server Browser is on. Check.  I actually had it disabled because I had just one instance on the server, but even after turning it on, that didn’t solve the problem.
  • Make sure that the registry is OK. Check.  There weren’t any registry errors, and the keys in the registry that people had me look at were just fine.

I checked this against SQL Server with Service Pack 1, and a re-installed SQL Server without any service packs, and it showed the same error.  The interesting thing was that the Database Administrators group and SQL authenticated accounts could access other linked servers, but not other AD users.  And those same AD users could access the troubled 2008 server from other servers, so the error was just one-way.

The resolution in this case was as follows: we have a Domain Users account in Active Directory which includes all users who would need access to our servers (including the user in question who had the problem).  This account needed to be added to the Users group on the server.

My speculation here is that because Database Administrators were already in the Administrators group, we could access the registry.  But all other users were locked out from the registry because they were not in any server access groups.  Because they could not get to the registry to access the available protocols for connection to linked servers, that error would pop up, and the linked server connection would eventually time out because the connection was not cleanly closed after receiving an error.  But if these users went in through SQL authentication, their queries would use the service account we set up to access the registry.  I made sure that this service account had access to the server, and so it worked just fine.

This is a solution that I did not see at all in my searches, so hopefully it helps someone.

March 23, 2010

A rare book Review You Can Use [tm!]: Traded – Inside the Most Lopsided Trades in Baseball History

Filed under: Sports — Tony Demchak @ 9:22 pm

I got Baseball Prospectus 2010 from Amazon, and was looking for another book on baseball to fill up my cart for the free “super saver” shipping. It recommended this book, by Doug Decatur.

What Decatur is trying to do is uncover which trades were the most lopsided in the 20th century, using Win Shares to determine how much a team gained or lost in any given trade. He comes up with 306 (why 306? I have no idea). It’s an interesting approach, but there are some serious flaws with it.

1) Win Shares are for a given players entire career, not their career with one team. This means you get anomalies like Norm Cash for the Indians. The Indians traded Minnie Minoso and some dreck to the White Sox for Norm Cash, Johnny Romano, and some dreck in 1960, for a net gain of 124 Win Shares, the best trade in Indians history. However, Norm Cash was traded to the Tigers shortly thereafter for Steve Demeter and some dreck for 104 Win Shares, the third worst trade in Indians history.

The Indians did not deserve to get that much credit or that much blame for acquiring and dealing Norm Cash — Cash had all of zero at-bats for the Indians. There were other players in both deals, but it’s clear that Cash is the biggest person in both trades. This problem keeps occurring, since he only uses total career Win Shares.

2) More irritating were his typographical errors — this may fall on the editor, but the Yankees GM that buys Babe Ruth is named Edward Burrow, not Barrow, and he even calls President Hoover by the first name of Hubert, not Herbert.

3) By far what I found most annoying were his snide comments about the steroid era and odd accusations. I’ll give you Luis Gonzalez, maybe, but Steve Finley? Really? Decatur offers absolutely no evidence, just makes speculations. Just because a player’s career looks fishy doesn’t automatically mean he used any kind of PED.

4) None of his team comments are particularly illuminating — he either makes meaningless observations (hey, I know that guy! or hey, I worked for that club!) and if he does have something interesting to say, he rarely cites it, so I can’t judge his evidence on this either (I know, I know, but I’m a history major, okay?)

He does do some things very well — when he does present statistical cases, they’re very insightful, pointing out things like secondary average as being more important than batting average. His chapter on “red flags” for potential bad trades was particularly good. One was absolutely stupid — win/loss record — but the other twelve of his thirteen are sound, including K-BB ratio, K/IP, minor league stats, age, injury history, park effects, and players with “old skills.”

Overall, I can’t recommend buying this book. I do recommend finding a copy if you’re curious about your favorite team (the Indians are the “best” trading team of all time during the 20th century, and since Kevin is no doubt curious, the Braves (including Boston and Milwaukee) are 19, at a total of -70 Win Shares.) When he sticks to numbers, he can be very good, but some of his snide comments are completely worthless and even offensive.

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