Only comes but twice a year

I thought the faggot pride parade was in June!

Come to think of it, I thought it was more energetic and colourful too. C'mon, you folks are marching to support your pride in the results of your lifestyle, aren't you?

(for past iterations of this joke, click here or here)


Probabilistic Baseball Analysis

If you put a classical particle in a box with energy E1, and the height of the box is such that the sides have dimension E1+E2, the particle will not be able to escape the box.

If you put a sub-microscopic particle in a box with energy E1, and the height of the box is such that the sides have dimension E1+E2, the particle does have a nonzero chance of "tunneling" through the box and emerging on the other side.

Baseball teams are not sub-microscopic.

So you'd think that a team which has a 0% chance of making the postseason will not possibly make the postseason under any circumstances. This is what hockey fans know well as the dreaded "mathematically eliminated". Major League Baseball likes to use magic numbers, though in the wild card era they've lost a little of their...[obvious pun here deleted. -ed]. (Even without wild cards, however, magic numbers aren't wholly accurate since they don't take the schedule into account).

Possibly excepting the the Houston Astros.

However, if you've heard that your favourite team has a 100% chance to make the postseason, you'd be happy, right? In theory, you could stop watching the games altogether (which probably adds a sinister conspiracy theory to what comes next). So why does the official MLB.com postseason probability calculator have teams falling out of 100.0%?

Above is the screenshot for the NL East playoff probabilities for the morning of September 21st. The Washington Nationals aren't out of the hunt just yet! They have a whopping 1.2% chance of making the postseason. Specifically, they have a 78-71 record with 13 games left to play. If they win all 13, they'll have a 91-71 record. Their opponent, the 84-65 NY Mets, also have 13 games left to play and could go 6-7 to finish with a 90-72 record. Most critically, the Mets and the Nationals play each other for the last three games of the season. Over the next 10 games, Washington needs to "catch" only four wins against NY to enter the series within striking range of the Mets. If the Mets go 3-7 and the Nationals go 7-3 over the next 10 games, they will enter the series with Washington only 2 games back. Sweep the Mets, enter the postseason. It's not impossible, though would be very difficult, and I guess that's what a 1.2% probability gets you.

Mathematics doesn't care much if you're on a hot streak, but in the real world we probably should, if for no other reason than to predict future performance in a world where the trade deadline and injuries exist. What the Mets did in early June is interesting but for our purposes not entirely valid. Juan Uribe is going to probably miss a couple upcoming games with his bruised chest injury, Dario Alvarez is out for two weeks with a groin injury just days after being dubbed the "lefty-specialist the Mets have desperately needed", Jacob deGrom is having his start pushed back (and held to an informal innings limit), and Matt Harvey's innings limit is the talk of the league. On the other side, Washington has picked up Jonathan Papelbon at the trade deadline (replacing Drew Storen looks pretty smart now, doesn't it? Storen is out for the season). Losing Carpenter and Storen and Zimmerman hurts, but still this isn't the same team that played games in July. The Mets may not be as good as their record. Washington may be better than theirs. We don't know the specifics of the analysis Baseball Prospectus used other than it featured the Monte Carlo Method (more on that in a minute), but I assume it doesn't blindly assume the probability of winning each game is 50/50.

Still, take away this important fact from the 1.2% number: the Washington Nationals are not eliminated from the postseason. They can (in a not entirely unrealistic scenario) win two games against the stumbling Orioles (73-76), sweep the embarrassing Phillies (56-94) at home, win the rain-delay forced game against the Reds (63-85), and then depending how the Atlanta series goes, they could be facing a struggling Mets team only a game or two back for the final showdown of the season. The pennant could be decided on Sunday October 4th! (They could end up tied too, forcing a single game playoff on October 5th, but that would be even more exciting.)

If you're a fan of, say, the aforementioned Atlanta Braves, you wish your team had a slim chance to make the postseason. Let's assume that the Mets win their remaining games. That will give them a 97-65 record. If you're an Atlanta Braves fan on the morning of Wednesday August 19th, your team has just lost its 66th game and wouldn't be able to beat it. Our theoretical Nationals Pennant winner will have an 88-74 record, Atlanta lost its 75th game on August 29th (over three weeks ago). Not surprisingly, Atlanta has a 0% chance of making the postseason. Win their remaining 12 games and enjoy that 72-90 record that wouldn't even put them in second place in the NL East today. If your team has a 0% chance of making the postseason, you're done. Got it?

Good. Because it's wrong, apparently.

Here's a screenshot of how things looked a week ago on September 15th. At 8am on September 15th, the Mets were 83-61 following a win over the Miami (Editor: Insert name of Miami team here) [your guess is as good as mine... -ed]. Washington was 73-70 and had just netted its second win in a row after a brutal 5-game losing skid where they narrowly avoided being swept by the lowly Miami (Editor: Insert name of Miami team here), and did get swept by (who else but) the Mets. So the Mets were 10 games up on Washington with 19 games left to play. It didn't look good for Washington, I'll grant you. Hell, it doesn't look good for them now, but they still have a chance to come in first.

The problem is that they had a chance to come in first on September 15th as well. We know this because they have a chance right now, and we had to get here from September 15th somehow: so the "road" these two teams took to get here has to be part of the mathematical analysis done on September 15th. In fact, it isn't the only road that could have led them here. Between September 15th and today, the Nationals have lost only one game (again to Miami, who are seemingly enjoying play spoilers this September), which means that the math has to assume both zero and one loss over the 6-game span. Going on a 5-1 or 6-0 streak isn't that mathematically impossible, especially in a stretch that includes two more games against the Phillies and a 4-game series against Miami (and Washington was playing in their home park). Likewise, the Mets beat the Yankees on Friday, so the Bronx Bombers didn't get the sweep. On the morning of September 15th, the number crunchers surely factored in that the Mets could go 1-4 or even 0-5 over that stretch. Surely.

So why did the Nationals have a 0% probability on that Tuesday morning? If we assume our 88-74 final record for Washington, that means they had to win 15 out of 19 games (0.789 win percentage) while the NY Mets have to win only 4 out of their remaining 18 games (0.222 win percentage). Again, not likely I admit (the Mets remaining schedule was/is pretty easy except for the 3-game subway series against the Yankees), but obviously higher than 0%.

You might argue that this is all just a lazy rounding issue, where 99.9999% turns into 100.0% when formatted for the website. As proof, you'd say to look what happens a day later.

It's now the morning of September 16th. The Mets have moved on to play the anemic Miami (Editor: Insert name of Miami team here) in Shea Stadium First National City Bank of New York Park, and...lost. The Washington Nationals just won their third game in a row, blanking the Phillies 4-0. New York has a 83-62 record while Washington's is 74-70. For our "Washington finishes with a 88-74 record and NY has a 87-75 record" season, the Mets have to have a win percentage of 0.235 and the Nats have to have a win percentage of 0.778. Well, 0.235941174 and 0.777777777, I probably shouldn't round in a discussion of how rounding isn't the issue. According to the POST data on the site, the Mets went from 99.8% to 99.1% over that single day. Doesn't that seem like far too much? Regardless, 99.8% is not 100%. Unfortunately, it all comes clear when you look at one more stats page.

According to the website, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Chicago Cubs are all guaranteed to make the postseason. Guaranteed. 100.0%. Now the St. Louis Cardinals have indeed clinched a postseason appearance, being the first team of the 2015 postseason to guarantee a playoff spot despite losing to the Cubs. But what of the other two teams? Have they also clinched the postseason? The quick answer is no. (This is frequently the quick answer when the issue of the Cubs and the postseason is concerned).

The San Fransisco Giants are playing another 13 games, 10 of which are against opponents not named the LA Dodgers. The Washington Nationals are playing another 13 games, 10 of which are against opponents not named the NY Mets. Can both of these teams win 9 or more games to pull ahead of the lovable losers from northside Chicago? Yes. Remember that the Cubs are playing a 3-game series against Pittsburgh. If the Pirates sweep them, they have at minimum 92 wins on the season. That leaves the Mets, Nats, Giants, and Dodgers all in a position where their wins can exceed the current Chicago total. Even the Blue Jays, +9 games up on the LA Angels of Anaheim can't plan the parade yet, their magic number -- well, technically the Yankee's Magic Number -- is 12.

This is a common problem for Toronto sports teams.

Next week you could wake up to check the MLB website and discover that the Chicago Cubs probability of making the postseason has fallen below 50%. Hell, you might wake up next week to find that the Mets are in the same boat. (Though that would be really unlikely). The point is, that it's not 0%. Nobody's at 100% except for St. Louis. The rest of it is just a glitch of rounding or more fundamentally the problem inherent when using Monte Carlo simulations based on Baseball Prospectus' assumptions.

Baseball teams, despite what a dumb reading of the numbers would tell you, don't follow quantum mechanics.


Violent minorities in Philadelphia mandate annoying Calgary hockey fans

Back in July 2013, the Chicago Tribune raved that Hockey interest among minorities gaining speed, partly due to the success of the Blackhawks.

In 2015, the Tribune got even more specific, noting that blacks have the highest growth rate amongst the NHL's fan demographics.
Historically, hockey has been a non-diverse sport, said William Douglas, who operates the blog Color of Hockey, which highlights minority hockey players. He played on youth hockey teams in the 1970s in Philadelphia, where he was subject to racial taunts.

"There's a perception in the African-American community that we shouldn't like hockey or sports like NASCAR" Douglas said. "There aren't that many rinks in urban areas and the cost of equipment is outrageous."

"Not seeing players of color on the ice on a regular basis or not knowing there are players of color that reinforces the stereotype. Then it became a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts."

But statistics and black hockey fans in Chicago say that's changing. African-American fans have the highest growth rate among NHL fans at 1.4 times the overall rate, according to Scarborough, a national media research company. In Chicago, the number of African-Americans who identify themselves as very or somewhat interested in the Hawks increased from 12.6 percent in 2011 to 21.9 percent in 2014. The number of black fans who watched a Hawks game on TV or listened on the radio grew from 28.1 percent in 2011 to 37.9 percent last year.They made up 9.7 percent of Hawks fans in 2014, up from 7.1 percent in 2011, which is the only increase among racial groups charted by Scarborough.

The numbers are far less than the 49.9 percent of African-Americans who identify as NBA fans or even the 40.9 percent of white fans who identify as hockey fans, but it doesn't diminish the significance of the growth.
To be fair, the highest rate of growth is easy when your numbers are low to begin with. English or Mandarin weren't the world's fastest growing languages in 2015, "Emoji" was. Likewise, the "fastest growing ethnic group in North Dakota" is asian.

Still, you can't ignore that the number of black NHL fans are increasing. The proof is in the new ruling that all NHL arenas will require metal detectors for the upcoming season. Yes, even areans far from violence-prone new black fans like Vancouver or Ottawa.

So the news that Rexall Place has installed the detectors that will only be required at NHL games just seems crazy. We've already established that all black people in Edmonton know each other, and no more than 3 or 4 of them ever go to games anyways. We don't have to worry about violent thugs from a backwards culture causing trouble at Oilers games, do we?

Oh shit.


Muslims have destroyed Budapest

Part of the challenge of international travel is to land somewhere at the right time.

I never made it to New York City before the World Trade Center fell. The downside of this is that I never got to visit the World Trade Center (presumably I would have had a better time than Homer Simpson), but the upside has been that (as many have said) New Yorkers are far friendlier post-9/11 (they have also been more religious), and therefore my first NYC experience was better overall than it otherwise would have been.

As I've written before, I've been to Istanbul before Erdogan's steady Islamization of Turkey (which has been slowed, but not stopped, by his party's drubbing in the 2015 Turkish election). Unfortunately, I never made it to Cairo before the troubles caused by the so-called "Arab Spring", which has made the city a very very unpleasant place to be a tourist in. The problem, as you might guess, is knowing which place to visit before it falls to shit.

Turkey is slowly turning to shit, Egypt quickly turned to shit (as did NYC in September of 2001), but which countries are turning to shit now and how fast? It's not always easy. Unfortunately, the "quickly turned" category seems to describe Budapest as the Mediterranean migrant crisis worsens.

LONDON — About 2,000 migrants remained stranded near the Keleti train station in central Budapest on Wednesday, and hundreds of passengers were delayed overnight on five Eurostar trains after migrants blocked tracks near the French port of Calais, as Europe continued to grapple with a surge of desperate migrants.

In southern Europe, at least 11 migrants drowned when two boats sank after leaving southwest Turkey for the Greek island of Kos, Reuters reported, citing the Turkish news agency Dogan.

The developments served as a reminder that while much of the focus of Europe’s humanitarian crisis in recent days has been on the influx to Hungary, Austria and Germany, countries across the Continent are still struggling to deal with the increasing numbers.

Tens of thousands of migrants, buffeted by conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, have been seeking refuge in Europe, only to find themselves confronted with a patchwork of incoherent asylum policies across the 28-member bloc.
The NY Times being the Times, of course, they have to blame "right-wing parties" for daring to suggest that maybe these people should stay in the country they were in.

Instead, let's be realistic: these people don't belong in Europe. They are not in Europe's best interests to let in. They are the beginning of a crisis of citizenship and identity which frankly Europe (especially Eastern Europe) cannot afford.

But the bigger concern, frankly, is that Budapest is at least for now and possibly forever not a good place to be a tourist. (Oddly, Budapest's Wikitravel page is currently free of any specific warnings related to the crisis)

Related: How fast Muslim terrorists can destroy a city.


Nenshi to fly the Corsican flag from Calgary City Hall

Now that Calgary has decided to put up the newly minted flag for trannies, the poor deluded mental patients who think that God got it wrong and that that penis doesn't mean they aren't really a woman, it's time to go to the next logical step.

Other crazy people think they're Napoleon. So clearly it's time to fly the Corsican flag from Calgary City Hall. Because once you put up the emblem of one "proud" group of pathetic queers, why stop there?


Bruce Jenner's daughter

How can you tell that rapper Tyga is black?

Easy, just read the story about his "about to go public" romance with Bruce Jenner's daughter.

What's your clue? Well, if you're stumped I'll show you the relevent passage: emphasis mine.

The pair is said to have started dating last year, following Tyga's split from his baby's mother, Blac Chyna, but they have continued to play coy over the status of their relationship, despite frequently being photographed together.


Math is Hard when the Premier isn't a man

Lunch Lady Premier has stepped in it now. Alberta is set to post a $5.9B deficit this year.

Rachel Notley's NDP government is forecasting to end the year with a $5.9-billion deficit, $814 million more than forecast in the March 2015 budget, which was introduced but never passed by the previous Progressive Conservative government.

However, this forecast was finalized on July 30 before the price of WTI crude started dropping well below the $57.94 US a barrel average in April, May and June.

"It is clear that the revenues have dipped even further in these past weeks," said Finance Minister Joe Ceci, who presented the financial update in the Alberta Legislature. "If current conditions continue, the final deficit will be in the range of $6.5 billion."
As always, since NDP losers aren't good at math, if they say $5.9-6.5 billion, expect it to top $7B at the lowest.

Ceci may be the least stupid of the NDP cabinet, but he's still stupid. Let's look at all the stupid things he uses as an excuse.
"The previous conservative governments weren't able to balance Alberta's budget in five of the last six years when oil was averaging about $90 a barrel," he said.

"They failed to diversify the economy, failed to ensure that those that could were paying their fair share and failed to save for a rainy day."
First off, of course, "diversifying the economy" isn't the job of any level of government. Even if it was, of course, such diversification has already largely happened by private sector activity. Secondly, as we've hammered home many a time, a flat tax is the only tax system that has people pay their fair share. Third and finally, while Alberta could be said to be "not saving for a rainy day" that's just as much on the spend-happy opposition NDP who, when times were good, suddenly forgot who this "Keynes" guy was and simply demanded more spending. Let's remember that Alberta had a socialist Premier (Ed Stelmach, Red Redford, now Rachel Arab) for most of the past decade, and no wonder the government kept spending money as fast as they could save it.

So will Ceci start saving? Will he promise to slash public sector expenditures (including wages) whenever Alberta isn't in a recession? Or will he just keep racking up the province's debt, wasting it on lazy unionized nurses and teachers?


Revisiting Anthony Daniels being an asshole

The Empire Strikes Back is about to get an upgrade: Star Wars Revisited is working on their enhanced version of the film for release sometime in 2015.

1.New 20th Century Fox opening (based on the post-Avatar logo)
2.New recreated opening crawl
3.Fixed juddering starfield as camera pans as probes fly away from the belly of stardestroyer
4.Added flames as probe enters atmosphere
5.Replaced pinks streak with flames for when probe crashes
6.Removed footprints in snow when probe crashes
7.Added crater debris when probe emerges to match previous close-up shot
8.Smoothed Taun-taun stop motion animation.
17.Changed Falcons turret gun in all studio set shots to match the studio model
18.Swapped hair colour or rebels when Leia is watching Han as he enters command centre to help fix issue with flipped shot
19.Covering Anthony Daniel’s neck which is visible while Han calls over the Deck Officer.
20.Re-edited the Wampa cave scene to closer match the original theatrical version, eliminating all SE additions (apart from one shot)
21.Altered position of lightsaber in the snow so it is more covered to match the way it is buried in other shots
22.Luke’s legs position changed from open to closed when hanging form ceiling of cave to match their position as he tries to break free
23.Luke’s sabre now retracts as he runs out of cave
24.Expanding the size of the hangar interior when seen from outside the hangar doors in the shot where R2 is using his scanner and added more troops/pilots
25.Altered scenery slightly when Han walks away from Taun Taun
62.Altered distant view of Hoth battlefield to fix continuity issue as original was heavily mist covered , yet not when we see the At-At’s
63.Original shield generator mattes replaced with miniature model in all shots
64.New hangar entrance shot where trooper is viewing battlefield
65.Enhanced displays in command centre as they prepare to fire Ion Canon
66.Enhanced Ion Canon with new background and added troops
67.Moved “First Catch” Imperial officers to the front window of their Star Destroyer to fix continuity error as they would not see the planet from the side window.
68.Added more stardestroyers orbiting Hoth
Purists who hate the Special Editions are oddly quiet about the Star Wars Revisited project. Regardless, reading this reminded me of something not every Star Wars fan fully appreciates: unlike Darth Vader [or R2-D2! -ed], C-3PO is played in costume by the same actor who dubbed in his voice.

Which always reminds me of the other thing about Anthony Daniels: he and R2-D2's stuntman hated each other. It also doesn't help than Daniels' relationship with Star Wars fandom in particular, and sci-fi in general, is...well, less than stellar.

For one thing, Anthony Daniels incurred the wrath of sci-fi fans by walking about of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and you aren't supposed to say bad things about the Kubrick classis despite the fact that by any objective standard the movie is fucking horrible. You literally do spend the first ten minutes watching monkeys go crazy in front of a black obelisk, then suddenly cut to the year 1999 where a completely uninteresting and unanimated character slowly flies to the moon to interact with other uninteresting and unanimated characters. Then 18 months later we see yet totally different characters on a mission to Jupiter where, for a brief while, the movie gets interesting as we deal with our hero (who is sorta interesting but mostly unanimated as well) fighting a killer computer who goes all manner of homicidal crazy. Then, after a relatively exciting climax is resolved, we watch coloured lights for half an hour, see confusing vignettes in a hotel, and then a space baby. Seriously, try to stay awake when watching the last half hour of the film anytime after 11pm. So I don't begrudge Daniels much for that issue.

Another thing of note is that many including Kenny Baker have noted that Daniels is just an asshole in general who doesn't get along with anybody.
Baker said he once approached Daniels about touring as their characters to make money and "he looked down his nose at me like I was a piece of sh*t. He said: 'I don't do many of these conventions—go away little man.' He really degraded me and made me feel small."
I'm not sure how many of those midget puns are deliberate provocations by Daniels and how much is "expressing how Daniels is a jerk" by Baker. There's also these comments on the article:
I worked with Anthony Daniels once at one of those conventions or events he claims to have hated so much. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, he was the worst, most mean-spirited, incredibly demanding, generally unpleasant public person I've ever interacted with. He was a serious pain in the ass to deal with and the less than three hours he was there seemed like an eternity in hell. Just about ruined any fond childhood memories of Star Wars I once had. I've always wanted to say this in public and now I get to do it: C-3PO is a total dick.
Daniels is an adjunct professor at that program where I received my graduate degree. He comes by once or twice a year for a week and rips everybody's projects to shreds all while having a holier-than-thou attitude. He's an awful person and I completely agree, C3PO is a major dick.


Edmonton photo radar operators deserve to be hit in the face with rocks

A true Albertan hero has fought back against the photo radar assholes who deserve 1000 times worse.
It was reported to police that a male suspect was heading west on the Whitemud on Wednesday, August 1 at around 12:40 p.m. when he allegedly threw a large rock at a photo radar vehicle parked on the medium.

The EPS says the rock hit the driver’s side panel and dented the door, causing more than $2,000 in damages.

Police believe the suspect vehicle was either a black or dark blue Pontiac Torrent. The vehicle did not have a licence plate on it at the time of the incident.
I've long been advising that, especially with the news that Edmonton's useless pissheads on City Council are planning to expand their freedom-hating assault on the liberty of drivers, all drivers should obscure their license plates.

Fortunately, corrupt Edmonton cops are all so clueless that in practice you can have no plate (or, better yet, an invalid one) for weeks or months without any danger of being caught.

What's annoying is that as more and more people are caught doing something that isn't dangerous and in fact keeps the roads moving and minimizing congestion, corrupt Edmonton cops are demanding more powers and more enforcement. Edmonton's top corrupt cop wants the power to impound vehicles when drivers are driving at the speed the road is capable of supporting, not the random number posted on the side of the road.

When cops and politicians have attitudes like that, then anybody who takes a job sitting in that photo radar van is an enemy of a free society, an enemy of liberty, an agent of a corrupt and out-of-control state.

They deserve rocks thrown at them every single day. Good work, whoever made sure that at least one of them paid for their disgusting role in the City of Edmonton's assault on drivers.


Edmonton International Fringe Festival: SupercaliFRINGEilistic, 2015

(this post is sticky until August 25th. scroll below for new content)

It's that time of year again. Just like always, when the Fringe Festival comes to town you can trust Third Edge of the Sword to be here with reviews, analysis, and more. Be sure to bookmark this portal page over the next ten days to see all there is to offer.

And, as always, our Fringe coverage comes with one major rule:
No fags.

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