I loved SQL Server MVP Deep Dives.  Collecting dozens of short essays from the best SQL Server people was a brilliant idea, and the result was so good that I keep the book on my nightstand.  Manning is now coming out with Volume 2 (apparently in murkier waters), with some new faces, including Jen McCown, from whose DBAs at Midnight I learned of the new volume.

In the meantime, the rest of us non-MVPs (LVPs?) wrote our own book, to which I contributed several chapter titles.  I know which of these two books I’d rather buy…


A Horrible/Horribly Funny Joke

The joke of the day.  It was the joke of the day last week, too.

One thing I miss about the academic world is that there are fewer people to whom I can tell these awful jokes and get the appropriate response.  Our resident Penguatroll threatened to kill me after I let loose a string of worse and worse puns.

McCarthy On Ponzi Schemes

Andy McCarthy makes some excellent points regarding Ponzi schemes.  Ponzi schemes are fraud, regardless of whether a particular governmental body agrees.  And if you believe that Social Security is, in fact, a Ponzi scheme, you should also believe that it should be demolished.  We are too late to prosecute its principal architects, but at least we can acknowledge its fraudulent background (as McCarthy does so well) and, eventually, tear it down.

Of course, given the way that welfare states are primed to collapse under their own weight, Social Security will eventually tear itself down, but that end will be more painful than a thoughtful unwinding.

The authorized Penguatroll guide to drafting in Madden 12

We’ve already seen the Bayesian theories of Kevin in a previous post. This more of a “here are some useful tips I found!” kind of thing. I’ve drafted 10 times (in season 11 currently), and I’ve had my share of successes and busts.

— Kevin mentioned the in-season scouting’s usefulness for offensive linemen. I would also add linebackers and safeties. For those positions, I personally prize Hit Power, which is revealed there. Remember, tackling is the likelihood of making a successful tackle; hit power is how much bejeezus you can smack out of them (usually causing fumbles or injuries). You can get the play action rating of QBs and carry for all offensive positions but HBs — of marginal utility, to be sure, but not totally useless.

— Draft slots don’t matter a lot. The AI will “overdraft” or pick second round players in the first round if they’re good enough. It is far better to draft an awesome player in the first round, regardless of designation, than to hope he’ll still be there later on.

— Physical scouting is useful for every position. Probably most useful for halfbacks, wide receivers, cornerbacks, tight ends, and defensive linemen. It’s nice for QBs, but not necessary. If you’ve narrowed down your O-line pool, it can help you separate the wheat from the chaff.

— The “skills scouting” isn’t as helpful. It will give you general, short, and medium throw accuracy for QBs, as well as the other stats like throwing on the run, so it’s useful for them. You’ll get carry (and catch, I believe) stats for HBs. You’ll get catch for DBs as well, but not for WRs. It’s next to useless for linemen of any flavor; you can get tackling for linebackers, which is always helpful.

— The individual workouts are the most important tool you have. Consider this; the default settings give you 7 draft picks. If you choose wisely, you can know five people you’re going to draft right off the bat! Unless you have a top five pick, I wouldn’t waste more than two of your workouts on first round players; you have an almost zero chance of getting the best QB, LT or HB outside the top 5. Don’t be afraid to “waste” one on a fourth round player if you have the other stats you need; he might surprise you.

— I’m quickly realizing that potential is a little overrated. An 80 B player is always more valuable than a 70 A. Players jumping 20 points are really rare, and would take a lot of luck. The 70 As are usually late round picks, so it’s not the end of the world if you draft one anyway, but Bs are still potential Pro Bowlers and usually everyday starters. A B receiver with the right physical gifts can still be worth a first round pick. Remember: Awareness is a big component of potential, and for some positions (like QB) awareness is useless if you’re playing the games.

— The chances of your finding an elite QB outside the top 5 is pretty much zero. Trade up, if you can. Beg, borrow, or steal. It is much tougher to pass than run in Madden 12, and the QB is so big a part of that that it will be the single biggest limitation to your offense. A 99 QB, with a bad supporting cast, is FAR better than an 80 QB with a great supporting cast.

— Pay VERY close attention to the most important rating in the entire game: INJ. Is he an 85 overall with A potential? Great. Don’t draft him if he has 50 injury unless you’ve got an awesome backup at the position. INJ rarely gets better (can you confirm or deny Kevin?).

Those are my notes. I hope you find them useful.

Interesting, But Probably Too Difficult

Bruce Schneier has a post citing a software liability proposal.

I can see two major problems, and these happen to be pointed out by commenters as well.  The first one is the definition of “normal” in the terminology.  If somebody gets all of a website’s data because of a SQL injection attack, is that considered “normal” use?  Certainly the website was not designed to be used that way, so would the website provider (or content management system, third-party plugin, or whatever) be liable in that case?

Secondly, it takes some really good development skills to have things so loosely coupled that you can simply “chop off any and all bits of your software they do not trust or do not want to run,” even if you limit that to the class or module level.  If you’re talking about being able to go into individual function calls and start commenting things out, you’ve increased the complexity of testing code so much that there’s no hope.

A proposal like this would probably increase code quality on net, but I’m not sure it would be practical.  Most of the problems we have aren’t as a result of “normal” use, so that would undermine the plan.  But at the same time, it would turn software into an extremely lawyer-bound field.  And the last thing we need is yet another place where lawyers run the roost.

Three Political Notes

1) Herman Cain won a Florida straw poll, his first win in this election cycle.  This is certainly an interesting cycle on the Republican side.  I have my beefs with every one of the primary candidates, and wish I could mold a super-candidate from the main contenders.

2) Paco rants regarding class warfare.  As a wise man once put it, “the State is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.”

3) There’s a reason we’re in trouble.  The reason is government spending.  People are free to complain that George W. Bush was a big spender, too, and I’ll agree.  So this makes Barack Obama at least as bad as George W. Bush on domestic issues.  This sounds right.  But more importantly, we are looking at more than $10,000 per household too much being spent.  The Republicans’ silly “we’ll cut $7 million from a $3 trillion budget” joke is entirely meaningless in this regard.  You have to look at trimming a third of federal governmental spending before you get to the break-even point.  And given the trend of welfare state programs, in reality, you’ll need to go much further.  The math simply does not work out unless you abandon the welfare state altogether.