Saturday, January 09, 2010

As you'd expect, more bikini talk, and even some sports, plus how to make billions! (Analyzing the Playoffs, Day 4)(Nonsportsmanlike Conduct!)

You may wonder why it is that I "analyze" the playoffs this way -- viewing them through the (always 100% Correct!) lens of the NC! 100% System!.

I don't do it this way just because it's fun (for me, at least), and I don't do it this way just because it's 100% Correct!. No, I do it this way because this way is as good as any other way.

And that's because people don't know.

In any venture involving people doing things, and especially in any venture involving people doing things and other people doing things, the number one most important rule to remember if you're trying to guess what will happen is this:

You don't know.

You don't know, I don't know, nobody knows.

We don't know what's going to happen and trying to predict what's going to happen is an exercise in guesswork at best, and silliness at the worst -- silliness far worse than the silliness I engage in here.

There's silly predictions, like the Cardinals will beat Christian Faur in the World Series -- silly because Christian Faur is a seriously good ballplayer -- and then there's really silly predictions, like the kind you hear on the radio and TV every day as so-called "analysts" take time out from sucking up to Bill Belicheat and tell you what's "going to happen" in a game.

They're guessing, and they're guessing wildly. They're not even making educated guesses. They're taking a multitude of information, mixing it in with opinions and biases they may not even realize they have, and trying to apply that to an event -- in this case, a football game -- which has so many different factors influencing the outcome of the game that it's pointless to try to accurately predict who's going to win.

Think about the number of things that go into whether you do a good job at work on Monday. Not just big things like "the weather" or coworkers not doing their job or a supplier not showing up. But little things like did you get a good night's sleep the night before? Or things going on in your life. Maybe you have a sick kid, or broke up with your girlfriend, or are concerned because your football team is playing in a big game that week so you're distracted.

All of those things are going on in the lives of every single person on the field, from coaches to kick holders to refs -- and "analysts" have no way of knowing those things, let alone of predicting how they will impact the game.

In the National Championship game just played, everyone thought they knew what was going to happen. Then Texas Quarterback Colt McCoy went out with an injury, and in came Garrett Gilbert Grape, a true freshman who'd thrown about 4 passes before the season. Everyone was sure what was going to happen then, especially when Alabama was leading 24-6 at halftime.

Then Grape cut the lead to 24-21 in the second half, almost beating Alabama before a couple of big plays made the game into the blowout it was assumed to have been all the time.

Did any analysts predict that? I listened to sports talk all week and don't recall a single person analyzing whether Colt McCoy would get hurt -- even though McCoy had been hurt before. In fact, McCoy's had shoulder injuries going back to 2006. But nobody bothered to ask What if McCoy gets hurt in the National Championship.

You don't know. That's the rule.

We do a football pool weekly in our house: Sweetie, and The Boy, and I all pick who we think will win each week and bet a couple bucks, plus a jersey for the overall winner at the end of the season.

Sweetie, who has watched approximately 10 minutes of football in the time I've known her, and who routinely tells The Boy and I we're boring when we talk sports, has won for three years running. The Boy, who watches an estimated 100,000 hours of ESPN daily, has lost, for three years running.

You don't know. That's the rule. Sweetie picks teams based on this criteria: "I have a feeling." She also has a Vince Young jersey for winning this year.

Malcolm Gladwell wrote an excellent article that crystallized my thinking on this issue. He wrote about Nassim Taleb, a man who decided that we don't know would be an excellent investment strategy, and put that into effect, buying options. Taleb, Gladwell says, didn't just buy stock options: he bought stock options based on the inevitability that something really big was going to happen, and the stock market was going to go wild -- either blow up, or blow down, but do something big and something that was entirely unforeseen.

Taleb bought those options for extremely low prices, in extremely high amounts, for years, and for years, Taleb slowly lost money, the money trickling away as he continued to tell himself we don't know and bet, gambled, on something big and unforeseen -- something no other investor could predict-- happening. If Taleb was wrong, he'd slowly bankrupt himself and all the other investors who thought they did know would laugh. But if Taleb was right and the one thing we know for sure is that we don't know, then something huge and unexpected would happen to the stock market and Taleb would make millions.

Last year, in an event that nobody really saw coming (or almost nobody), the markets blew down. Now, Nassim Taleb is a rich man who might get a Nobel Prize in economics, and who says this on his web page:

My major hobby is teasing people who take themselves & the quality of their knowledge too seriously & those who don’t have the courage to sometimes say: I don’t know...." (You may not be able to change the world but can at least get some entertainment & make a living out of the epistemic arrogance of the human race).

So remember, as you wonder why I do the 100% System: You don't know. That's the rule to live by whenever people are involved. And since you don't know, why not get some entertainment and make a living out of the epistemic arrogance of the human race?

And buy some football-related thong underwear, while you're at it?

Now, I'll do the analysis, while someone goes and looks up epistemic for me today.

Today's final two teams are the Colts and the Saints. Let's see how these two teams, one of which won't win the Super Bowl, stack up!

1. Team Nicknames: I once had an idea, over on The Best of Everything, to maybe write an article about The Best Saints You Wouldn't Want To Mess With. I never wrote the post, because it would have involved doing research and I'm opposed to doing research, or in any way backing up my opinions with facts. An opinion isn't supposed to be backed by facts. That ruins the fun.

My point in the article would have been the juxtaposition of Saints with people who are tough. See, saints aren't usually considered tough people, so the idea that you wouldn't want to mess with a saint would be a double-meaning: Nobody should want to hassle a saint, but a tough saint, now, would be doubly unhassleable.

What I'm trying to say, en route to inventing new words like unhassleable, is this: I like the Saints' nickname. They get a 5.

The Colts, on the other hand? Pleh, as Squidward would say. Colts aren't even tough horses. They're baby horses. It's the Indianapolis Cute Baby Horses. So, for cuteness, they'll get a 1, but that's it.

Saints: 5
Colts: 1.

2. Crazy Fans: I'd expect, from New Orleans, that there'd be supercrazy fans. Fans all hopped up on Bourbon and beads and Mardi Gras, or maybe fans who are vampires like in True Blood, or maybe drunk vampire fans. Something awesome, like this:

Only with more Saints gear and maybe wearing beads. Instead, I get this as the number one Youtube result for Crazy Saints Fan:

That guy's not even a Saints fan. And who tapes a video off a TV and uploads it that way? What is this, 2002? Zero points.

For the Indianapolis My Little Ponies, the number one video on Youtube is this:

That's advertised as "Random People Singing Random Things About The Colts," and honestly, I'm dumbfounded. I have no idea what to make of that. Was that a snippet of We're Not Gonna Take It in there? And what's with the sound quality? What is it that possesses people to make stuff like this, and how has America remained number one when we're inhabited by people like that?

We are still number one, right? I haven't checked the power rankings lately, so maybe we're not. Maybe the fact that our health care system is medieval and people are always publishing Lost spoilers, added to the existence of that video, has bumped us down. How low are we? Are we below Tobago? God, I hope not.

Minus one, Colts. Revoke that person's fandom, or we're through.

Updated Score:
Saints: 5
Colts: 0.

3. Best Name On Their Roster: I got to the third name on the Colts' roster before making my selection; I didn't even read any further. Hank Baskett is the best name on their roster.

If you're married to Sweetie, you know who Hank Baskett is, because Sweetie, way back when, watched The Girls Next Door, introducing her husband to Kendra Wilkinson:

Kendra Wilkinson then got dumped from the show in favor of younger, blonder, twinnier Girls Next Door, but that didn't stop her any more than Kate Gosselin can be stopped by the fact that every single person in existence loathes her, including her own kids. No, Kendra went on to get her own "reality" show, in which she got engaged to...

Hank Baskett, then a Philadelphia Eagle, but now an Indianapolis Smaller-Than-Usual-Horse. I saw a clip of the show on The Soup, and in the clip, Kendra was giving Hank's parents a copy of her Playboy magazine.

So I'm picking Hank because I'm hoping that at some point during the playoffs, one of the football announcers will be forced to mention Hank, and then forced to mention Kendra, and then each of the guys in the booth will do that thing where they pretend that they don't really know who she is, even though you know in preparing for the show each of them googled Kendra about thirty zillion times and know every inch of her better than they know the starting lineup. But they won't let on. They'll say something like "Hank's engaged to Kendra Wilkinson, or something. She's... I don't know who she really is. Some sort of reality show star?" And then they'll talk about Survivor and pray to God that somebody gets killed on the field before they have to go on.

Colts, you get a 5 for that.

The Saints ought to have really cool names on their roster, right? That New Orleans thing again, I'm assuming. Cool French quarter, Napoleonic code type of names. And maybe they do, but I stopped looking when I got to cornerback Randall Gay. I'm picking Gay because for a while there, nobody could get his jersey.

The NFL, as I mentioned the other day, has a list of words they won't let be put onto personalized jerseys. And for a long time, Gay was one of them, even though Randall Gay was a legitimate player in the NFL. The NFL, for a long time, thought a guy's actual name was an insult and derogatory term. So I'm picking Randall Gay to commemorate the NFL's amazingly progressive stance towards gay rights. I wonder if you could put homophobic on a jersey. (Apparently, you can -- according to that list. So you can, in the NFL, be homophobic, but you couldn't be gay. Another banned word? Interracial. But you know what's not banned? Racist.)

Saints, you get a 5 for forcing the NFL to confront its issues, a little, at least.

Updated Score:
Saints: 10
Colts: 5.

4. Craziest Thing For Sale In Their Shop: I'm going to just focus on underwear-related purchases to wrap this up. That's what we all want, anyway, right? I was going to search for Saints Underwear, but then I thought that might get me in trouble with the Pope, and also I got distracted by the headline "Mitt Romney's Underwear Cover Up." That little post said something about Romney not admitting or denying wearing "Magic Mormon Underwear," which, it turns out, has a whole site devoted to it, including a section on all the things you were afraid to ask about Mormon underwear. That sight claims it's not a secret at all. So Mormons go around showing their underwear to everyone, is what I've learned today.

Saints: 3. I don't know why, and it doesn't really matter, does it?

For the Colts, I googled Peyton Manning Underwear, 'cause, why not? Doing that kept me on the various lists of government agencies monitoring me based on my search history, and also led me to an article saying that Eli Manning was going to be an underwear model, which certainly puts a postmodern twist on the longtime dream little boys have of someday winning the Super Bowl. Imagine a little boy saying to his dad: "Someday, I'm going to win the Super Bowl and then use that as a springboard to model teeny-weeny bikini male underwear." It brings a tear to your eye, doesn't it?

But no Peyton Manning underwear, or underwear ads? He already advertises everything else in the world, so how'd he miss that? And why do we have Charlie Sheen advertising underwear, but not Peyton Manning?

Colts, zero on this. Get Peyton some boxers! (Underwear, not the dogs or the men-punching-other-men.)

Final Scores, today:

So the scores are:

Brett Favre's Minnesota Vikings: 3
Cardinals: 3
Cowboys: 8
Eagles: 12.5
Saints: 13
Packers: 16

Jets: -3
Patriots*: -1
Colts: 5.
Chargers: 6
Ravens: 8

Which, in turn, leaves the Super Bowl as Bengals over Packers. The 100% System has spoken!

In closing, since this would ordinarily be the Hunk of the Week Day, I'll leave you with Eli Manning, shirtless. You'll have to imagine the Bikini Underwear:

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