February 29, 2008

Look Here, You Dim-witted Pinheads…

Category: Entertainment — Cranky @

You know, when I’m watching television at 5:45 p.m., I’m generally eating dinner and watching CNN. Seems like the right time for dinner, doesn’t it?

So what moron at CNN decided that I would be inclined – at dinner time – to appreciate the benefits of Colace?

Don’t tell me about how some people have medical conditions that mean they should avoid straining. I don’t want to hear about stool softening capsules. I’m EATING.

What the hell is wrong with you people? Book ads about feces during Nancy Grace.


February 25, 2008

What Will We Do Without Teachers?

Category: Social — Cranky @

Recently there have been quite a few incidents of United States students being suspended, expelled, or sued because of things they have posted on the Internet.

Part of me thinks that these consequences are extreme, considering the fact that schools, as arms of the government, have no business regulating speech that happens off school grounds (see the first amendment). Once I read the postings, though, my sympathy vanishes.

Students are accusing teachers of alcoholism, incompetence, pedophilia, and worse, in very public forums. Once you cross that line, I do believe you open yourself up to lawsuits. Libel and slander laws should be applied. If you can’t prove your teacher is a pedophile, you should probably keep your mouth shut – and you definitely shouldn’t be posting it online.

In the past if you wanted to print accusations such as these, you either had to print the pages yourself (and distribute them) or buy space in an existing publication. Either way, the claims had a short lifespan. Now the accusations can be online in moments, available to the entire world, and they can last forever. A false claim could follow that teacher for life.

Every class has its idiots. Some kids just can’t, or won’t, learn, no matter how hard you try to get the information into their thick skulls. So of course that means the teachers clearly have it out for them. As a teacher, what do you do when some pinheaded, moronic child of first cousins decides to “out” you as a homosexual online? What is your recourse? Every teacher has at least one student who hates them.

When I read of situations like these, I just think to myself that there’s no way in hell I would be a teacher. If I was one, I’d be looking for a new career.

Test scores are in the toilet, literacy levels are falling, and now teachers are subjected to this kind of crap. If you don’t suspend, expel, or sue these little bastards there won’t be any teachers left, and schools will be graduating record numbers of manual labourers who can barely read, let alone contribute to the last great asset of the United States – technical innovation.

I’m in favour of a no-tolerance policy. If some kid states online that their teacher is a pedophile, and has no evidence to back it up, expel that student permanently from the school. That might seem harsh, but if that student is expelled, one student suffers. If the teachers quit, all students suffer.


February 14, 2008

Cranky Does Enjoy His Poker

Category: Entertainment — Cranky @

About four or five years ago, I began to play poker. That’s hardly remarkable. After all, I was simply part of the surge that came out of nowhere. Poker took off like never before, and the average guy learned the rules of Hold’Em, Omaha, Pineapple, and other games that carry their poker origins into this century.

I’ve played my share, to be sure. I’ve played in low end tournaments and placed second twice, once in a field of 110, and once in 88. I’ve played many hours in the casino, and over time I’m running up perhaps 3 percent. I have a regular home game, 8 invitees at a time, with a revolving cast of characters. Indeed, tomorrow night is the next event.

I’m a methodical person. When I decide to do something, be it deeply irresponsible or subtly enlightening, I study the crap out of it. I read over 2000 pages of poker strategy before I had played more than five real games. I learned about the odds of making hands, what constitutes a danger to my made hand, when to overbet, when to call, and when to fold. I learned about continuation bets, smoke bets, and position.

Armed with this knowledge I hit the tables, and then the flip side of the laws of probability began to teach me what happens in reality. Over tens of thousands of hands, the cards behave just like you would expect. On any given night, your expectations are worthless.

I’ve had powerhouse hands turn to ash in the turn of a single card. I’ve been in a position where only a single card left in the deck can help me, and it came up. Like all poker players, I’ve had the laws of probability gently whisper sweet nothings in my ear, and then ten hands later angrily rape me. That’s the way it goes.

For those who always wondered what a Cranky Weasel looks like, here are my graven images cast in ceramic: $0.25 $0.50  $1 $5 Full Set

I realized something a few weeks ago. I now know what I like best about poker.

It’s not when I have the stone cold nuts (the best possible hand). That’s nice, and it can be a boatload of cash, but that’s not much fun. It’s also not when I can bluff somebody off of a big pot. That’s nice too, but really the satisfaction is fleeting. I even enjoy when I get beat by a statistically improbable hand. Yes, I really do enjoy that. I have a good story, if a bit less cash, and I can celebrate my opponent’s good fortune. I am a reasonably good loser.

For me, the moment of greatest enjoyment is when I have made my decision to call or raise when the outcome is uncertain. I have put my stake in the sand, and we are about to find out if I was right or wrong. When I have a marginal hand, and face a big bet, I have to weigh what I know of my opponent. Is he aggressive? Is he playing well, or badly? Does he bluff? Has he lost several hands, and as a result is he on tilt? A tilting player is playing out of frustration, and is putting his cash in danger.

Poker is easy when the cards treat you right. I don’t want it to be easy. When I act with strategic thinking, that’s the moment I like best, win, lose, or draw.