Top 10 properties in baseball, as determined by Baseball Prospectus. Interesting.
The past three days I've been neck-deep in baseball statistics, prognostications, and commentary, preparing for two rotisserie baseball drafts. Tuesday was round two of three of bidding in my sabermetric league, and soon as all the fast and furious bidding ended at 6pm I had to completely change my thought process for my rotisserie 5x5 league which was operating using a snaking straight draft. The players are valued differently in each instance, and the draft strategy is radically different because of the formats. Both are fun in their own ways--they're all just games which appeal to gamblers, stat-heads, numbers guys, and not least of all baseball fans. It's similar in appeal to playing the stock market, but more enjoyable because your financial future isn't in play. For those who think they know more about baseball than the next guy, it's a way to put a minor wad of money where your mouth is.
Preparing for all these drafts is mentally straining. The amount of information available is overwhelming, and absorbing it all can be maddening and also strangely enjoyable. Every next tidbit of information catches your eye, and you hoard it all away in the hopes of having that one insight which none of your fellow owners have caught onto. Today was the last round of the sabermetric league, and I'm glad it's over. I'm too competitive to take things like this lightly and it's mentally taxing.
Of course, it helps when you think you'll win.
Decision markets

It's interesting to follow the decision markets in general, but especially in turbulent times like these. The financial page of the Mar. 24 issue of The New Yorker highlights sites like Newsfutures, Iowa Electronic Markets, Hollywood Stock Exchange, and Tradesports, sites which allow you to buy and sell derivatives on just about any outcome imaginable, from how much a movie will make in theaters (traders give Head of State the edge over Basic this weekend, despite the fact that Head of State is opening in hundreds fewer theaters) to whether or not the U.S. will catch Osama Bin Laden in 2003 (currently trades at 35% probability).
Interesting, and accurate. The Iowa Electronic Markets routinely beats national polls in predicting presidential elections. The principles is the same as that governing the efficient markets theory: decision markets channel the collective energy and resources of a group of people with intense knowledge of and interest in a particular area of interest. That's why it's so difficult to beat the stock market.
Of course, when everyone is so wrong about something, that's also worth examining. Look at IMDb's poll or Entertainment Weekly's issue on who would win Oscars and you realize how big an upset Adrien Brody and Roman Polanski pulled off.
How we came to war

Someday soon, a whole series of politicians and journalists will rush books to the market analyzing the leadup to this war with Iraq. Until then, here's one interesting account in this week's New Yorker. Among the intriguing points noted is the now self-evident realization that the United Nations is really only empowered when the great powers of the world are in agreement (by the way, how did France get a spot on the Security Council? is it the same reason old golfers still get to play in The Masters?).
And the somewhat sobering thought that the current administration could care less what protestors are saying in the streets. They've filtered it out like so much low-decibel noise.

I can access every website from my Macintosh except for anything related to my own website, eugenewei.com. I can't grab my e-mail, can't ftp anything to my directories, can't even find the website through a browser. I have no such problems on my Windows desktop, and my Mac can surf to every other website. Anyone have any idea why that might be and, better yet, how to fix it? Winner definitely gets a nice dinner on me.
South America

Have just about put the finishing touches on a trip to South America to depart late next week. Planning multi-week travels can be hard work, especially given the wealth of information available on the Internet and the overwhelming number of permutations of airplane flights and itineraries one can assemble in a country as vast as South America. Having a budget to enforce helped to narrow things down, and I left one just completely open week in Cuzco in the middle of the schedule to give myself the freedom to just follow my whims while there in person. Should be fun. Will hike through frigid Patagonia, tour the Galapagos Islands, and trace the steps of the Incas to Machu Picchu, among other things.
Still, before I've even left a black cloud has appeared in the distance. Two days after I return from South America my leave of absence will come to an end. Three months hardly feels like enough time for a leave.
Still an assassin

Thanks to Sang, I got to see Jordan in his last game in Seattle the other night. Jordan's 40 years old but still a dangerous, effective player. He played tough, physical defense on Rashard Lewis, and despite not having the stamina to sustain an effort for the full 44 minutes he was on the floor, he paced himself as best as he could, and when the game was on the line he came through with an alley-oop layup and two fade-away jumpers that hit nothing but net to ice the game for the Wizards. Here's hoping he gets one last chance to work some magic in the playoffs.
Not the prettiest of games--the Sonics, who basically conceded they were going into rebuilding mode when they traded Payton and Mason, shot something like 37%. The basketball was bruised and battered from encountering so much rim, so little net.