2016 NFL final standings

April 4, 2016

…although maybe not the NFL you were expecting

Dublin 7 0 1.000 113 85 +28 W7
Kerry 5 2 .714 2 124 92 +32 W5
Roscommon 4 3 .571 3 125 101 +24 L2
Donegal 3 4 .429 4 108 96 +12 L4
Mayo 3 4 .429 4 101 110 -9 W2
Monaghan 3 4 .429 4 101 112 -11 W1
Cork 3 4 .429 4 116 132 -16 L1
Down 0 7 .000 7 66 126 -60 L7

How to activate an old, 15-digit SIM card on T-Mobile

March 14, 2016

I have thought about blogging my ordeal trying to unlock a Sprint iPhone 5 on T-Mobile, and I may well do that. But right now, since I have yet to successfully get this out-of-contract, paid-for phone off its software-tethered carrier, I need to deactivate the teeny-tiny SIM card I got for the iPhone, and reactivate the same old SIM I was using in my Android phone, the same one I’ve had for 10 years, so I have some phone to use.

When I called customer support, however, I was told it couldn’t be done. I asked if they had a way to look up my SIM cards and just use whatever they showed the previous one to be; I was asked for the number so they could look it up. (It’s still unclear whether they have access to those records; I assume not.) I wasn’t sure which number they were asking for, since there is one printed horizontally and one vertically, but assumed the 6-digit code was too short to be any kind of unique identifier. So I read off the other number that was printed. “I’m sorry, sir, the system won’t let me activate a card with fewer than 19 digits.” The SIM card I had had three groups of four digits and one group of three at the end. Searching for images of T-Mobile SIMs, I saw three groups of five digits followed by one group of four. “Well, then put four 0s in front of it,” I suggested. “If that doesn’t work, put four trailing zeroes.” Still no luck. The computer wouldn’t accept it. “That’s ridiculous!” I screamed in protest. “This card was working just a week ago! If it worked then, there has to be some way to make it work now!” I even bugged the poor kid till he put his manager on. No dice, I was told. Finally, I hung up in defeat. I vowed to call again in the morning and harass their American customer support, who of course would be able to connect me to a tech who actually knew what they were doing.

However, after I mulled over “the code will start with 8901,” for a few moments, looking at those pictures online, a lightbulb went off. I called back and said I wanted to reactive my old SIM card. “No problem, sir,” I was told. “Could you please give me the number off the back of the card?” “89012…” I read off. The old 15-digit code starts with a 2, so I just read off the following digits in groups of five, followed by the last four digits. “OK, sir, that SIM card has been activated. Is there anything else we can help you with today?”

TL;DR: To use an old T-Mobile SIM, just give them the old number prefixed with 8901, giving you a total of a 19-digit code.

I can’t lie, I kind of feel like a bad-ass hacker right now.

Belated insights about the Indian rupee symbol

July 17, 2015

Can you imagine how petty it would look if the U.S. said, “We’re tired of sharing a currency sign with Canada and Mexico. Even though $ is a perfectly good symbol with historical pedigree, it’s too easy type in ASCII, and we’re special. We’re going to make up a new one, just for us, and then because we have a consumer market of 30 crore, manufacturers and standards-making bodies will be forced to implement it.”

While staggering numbers of fellow citizens drink from the same water they shit in, Indians on the Internet were circlejerking over their government’s decision to spend money and effort instead on a hollow show of their economic might and inferiority complex. (You saw this evidenced in utterly fallacious, ignorant statements like, “Other world powers, like Japan, the U.S., and Britain, have their own symbols not shared with any other countries.”)

Guide to American football basics, Super Bowl primer

January 30, 2015

> From: ఎరిక్ వినైల్
> To: రమేష్ రెడ్డి
> Subject: నమస్తే రమేష్! HOLY SHIT GET READY FOR A WALL OF TEXT - సూపర్ బౌల్, అమెరికన్ ఫుట్‌బాల్, etc.
> Date: Fri, 30 Jan 2015 02:15:49 -0800
> http://www.sakshi.com/news/sports/super-bowl-sunday-brings-america-to-standstill-102655
> http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/other_sports/american_football/3192002.stm
> American football is incredibly brutal, but it's also a game of skill and complex strategy. Its rulebook is almost as thick as a telephone directory. But that doesn't matter. All you need to know, and all most Americans know, is the following:
> The object of the game is to carry the ball into the other team's goal area. Each side has 4 chances, called 'downs', to advance the ball 10 yards. If they do so, they are given another 4 attempts; if they run out of chances they must surrender the ball, at the point on the field where the play ended, to the other team.
> You will often see or hear the down and remaining number of yards, e.g. '1st & 10', meaning first down and 10 yards to advance to gain another first down, or '3rd & 6', third down, with another 6 yards remaining (meaning they advanced 4 yards in their first two downs), etc.
> The ball is dead and the play is over when the ball carrier is tackled and the referee blows the whistle. The next play begins from the yardline where the last one ended.
> Catching the ball in the 'end zone' or putting it across the goal line is called a 'touchdown', and scores 6 points. After the touchdown the team will kick the ball through the goal posts, for the 'extra point'.
> (They also have the option of trying to bring the ball into the endzone again from the 2-yard line in one play to score two points.)
> If the attacking side ('offense' in Am.E.) do not think they can gain another '1st down' on their 4th, they will often 'punt', or kick the ball to the other side of the field, so the opposing team must start further back from the goal line. If the offence are close enough, they might also try to kick a 'field goal' through the posts at the end of the field - this is worth only 3 points.
> That's it, that's all you need to know to follow a game! All the rest the referees and television commentators will explain.
> Some additional background:
> A match is one hour of regulation time, divided into four 'quarters'. The game clock counts down from 15 minutes, and stops for time-outs and when a pass is not caught or the ball goes into touch ('out of bounds'). If the scores are level at the end of four quarters, an additional 15-minute period will be played.
> Each side has 11 players, just like soccer. However, unlike other sports, unlimited substitutions are allowed between plays - this means that usually there is an entirely different set of players on the field when a team is a attacking than when they are defending. Additionally, there are specialised players for kicking plays.
> The pitch is 100 yards long and marked every 10. A yard is basically the same as a metre (technically the formal definition is 0.9144 m). 3 'feet' are in a yard, one 'foot' is 12 inches long. That actually doesn't even matter for our purposes... I tell you all this not to help you understand the game, but because if you're living in the States it's good to know. (I know, it seems ridiculously arcane and arbitrary, but dozenal measurement systems were common throughout the world before the adoption of metric.)
> American football and soccer, believe it or not, started out as different versions of the same sport. Just as baseball shares a common ancestor with cricket, so too is American football an outgrowth of English football games. It was strongly influenced by the Rugby School's rules, and, like rugby, over time prioritised ball carrying and running, with kicking becoming marginalised. After this game, formed at universities, became immensely popular, a professional league was founded.
> Hyderabad actually has its own pro football team now, స్కై కింగ్స్.
> The National Football League is divided into two 'conferences', further divided into four four-team divisions each (North, South, East, West), for a total of 32 teams. 12 of those teams make it to the postseason (American sport loves playoff$$$), with the winners advancing to the Conference finals, and finally to the Super Bowl, the league championship game.
> This year's game, Super Bowl XLIX (Roman numeral 49) is the final of the 2014 season.
> The Super Bowl is often called an 'unofficial holiday', because of what an event it is - not merely a football match, but an excuse to gather with friends and feast; many people host viewing parties. Typical foods are chips and dip (tortilla chips and Mexican-inspired salsa), chicken, and, of course, pizza - 'finger foods' that can be eaten on the sofa. It maybe be analogous to an Indian Test match, in that it's not only the usual sports fans, but everyone watching TV. While the men watch the match, many of the women are paying more attention to the commercials.
> Another curious characteristic of the Super Bowl is that, for some people, the commercials are the main event. A 30-second spot sells for millions of dollars (or crores of rupees) and so every company that buys time is vying to air their most memorable, outrageous, inspiring and funniest ads. Oftentimes, especially if the match is lacklustre, this is what will be discussed on Monday morning.
> At half-time there is a musical performance. This year's artist is కాటి పెర్రీ.
> The NFL is huge, bringing in billions of dollars (thousands of crores of rupees) annually.
> You can apparently stream the match on their website. http://www.nfl.com/superbowl/49/live/watch-free-live-stream-online In the past the league has trumpeted how widely watched this game is and included Hindi in the list of dozens of languages it's broadcast in, but I've yet to figure out who carries హిందుస్తానీ commentary.
> Probably every single public venue you can find with a television - especially ones that serve food or drink - will be showing the match. I bet even Indian restaurants will have it on. :)
> Grab a bag of Doritos and enjoy a uniquely American spectacle!

Historic rugby Test match at Soldier Field

November 1, 2014

NZL 74 USA 6 F


September 13, 2014

I wasn’t even drunk and I gave a random guy at a bus stop a dollar for correctly answering/reminding me the national currency of El Salvador. But, even though it sounded right, of course it’s not the quetzal—El Salvador dollarized over a decade ago! I had even been thinking about their domestically struck U.S. dollar coinage earlier, but blanked when I tried to remember their currency.

I want to find that dude and get my dollar back! Justice must be served!!!

September 3, 2014

I made a mixtape for an online friend last night, who’s from South America. I included a Julieta Venegas song, yeah, ’cause it’s in Spanish, to show how fucking worldly I am, and she (the friend, not Julieta Venegas) asked me if I really liked Venegas or I just included her for the friend’s benefit. I didn’t answer and just rolled my eyes (how the fuck I’m gonna put shit I don’t like on my own mix??) but when she inquired further I told her I really enjoyed the first couple records but the later stuff seemed pretty by-numbers and didn’t do much for me (ain’t that always the way?). I mentioned the absolute front-to-back consistency of side 2 of “Aquí” and she said she wasn’t really familiar with the record (I think she’s one of those download-tracks-randomly iPod listeners *shudder*). So I included a link along with the following note.

I don't really listen to much rock en español. Most of it is Maná/Jaguares-like schlock. But an old girlfriend's boss was apparently REALLY into it – despite not speaking Spanish (I'll get into the exoticization and romanticization of Latin America by U.S. liberals some other time). And around the time Venegas' first record came out, her boss had tickets to see her play the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, but couldn't go. So she gave the tickets to my then-girlfriend, who asked me if I wanted to see this rock en español act. Sure, why not? I figured, but didn't really have high hopes. Some of it was so-so, but some of it, I thought, was actually really good! I remember in the late '90s, some guy had a fanpage up with three MP3s that I downloaded – "Antes", "Verdad", and "Esta vez". I kind of listened to the shit out of those before actually getting the album.

There are a few weaker tracks on side 1, but side 2 is pretty much solid the whole way through. (OK, one or two of those interludes is maybe unneeded, but they don't really hurt the momentum that bad.) Some parts remind me of Tori, who of course I also love – she's playing and singing her fuckin' ass off, which is what's missing from most smarmy pop music. (Even when Adele sings about cursi shit she REALLY MEANS IT.) But of course, that isn't really the whole of it – the songwriting is really good, too. You can find a live clip of her at some rich girls' college on YouTube, where she calls the chord progression of "Casa abandonada" a "trabalenguas." You can't really find many musical trabalenguas in commercial pop – it's all pretty familiar and predictable if you're familiar with the Western canon.

August 14, 2014

It used to be said that if England needed a new fast bowler, all they had to do was close the nearest coal mine and two would come up. In the Dominican Republic, the sugar plantations of Santo Domingo and San Pedro de Macoris have provided a similar service to baseball.

Recursos para aprendizaje de Python 3

July 29, 2014
  • A Byte of Python
  • www.diveintopython3.net
  • Non-programmer’s Tutorial for Python 3
  • Python Online Course: Python3 Tutorial
  • Python para impacientes
  • Iniciación a Python
  • Myths about American “football”

    June 15, 2014

    On the eve of the United States’ rematch against Ghana (who eliminated them in the last two World Cups), I was revisiting the US-British sports glossary, thinking about one of my main peeves, that soccer is not an American word. Then I wanted to also address the absolutely Eurocentric assumption, implicitly reinforced every World Cup, that the U.S. is alone in a sea of soccer-mad nations. And I realized there were a few other things I wanted to get off my chest.

    Soccer is the most popular sport around the world, and only Americans have yet to get with the program

    In India and China, the world’s most populous nations, soccer is not the sport of choice among the masses. In the first, cricket reigns supreme, and Indian football fans complain about the sport’s perennial second-fiddle status in the country, staying up late to watch live games from the top European leagues, thanks to the magic of the Internet and satellites. By some measures, field hockey may be even more popular than soccer. In China, soccer certainly picking up steam, but basketball has had a head start since the Cultural Revolution in this hoops-loving nation, with Yao Ming as the gold standard for athletes.

    Thanks to the U.S.’ imperial ambitions in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, baseball is what its children play in dirt lots, not improvised games of soccer. Despite a pro players’ strike 10 years after MLB’s that definitely hurt popularity, J-League football which has made inroads into the traditionally baseball-playing nation since, and the exodus of players to the higher-paying American Major Leagues, our national pastime is still number one in Japan’s heart. Thanks to its erstwhile imperial ambitions, baseball is the sport of Taiwan and Korea as well. And the U.S. and Japan’s ambitions worked in tandem to make baseball the most popular sport on several islands throughout the Pacific.

    Elsewhere in Polynesia, some form of rugby is the top game, as it is in New Zealand. Australia didn’t modify England’s summer sport, the way America developed baseball, but neither did they look to Mother England when deciding on rules by which their football matches should be played—alongside the Football Association’s and rugby rules, an indigenous code, now known as Aussie-rules football arose; now soccer is far in third place. Even where soccer is the undisputed king now, the sporting landscape tended to be a lot more diverse before television in the ’50s. And there are still countries, believe it or not, where homegrown games still get much of the press, despite the modern concept of sports coinciding with the U.S. and Britain’s top spot at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.

    Only America (and Canada) call it “soccer”

    While football is indeed the normal word among the vast majority of British society, soccer is by no means unknown on the shores of England. Popular TV shows include “Soccer AM” and “Soccer Saturday.” Nor is it an American import. By now I think many people are aware soccer is a shortening of association; the -er ending being popular in English universities at the time. In countries like Ireland and Australia, “soccer” is the normal term to avoid confusion with their native versions of football.

    The rest of the world calls it “football”

    In fact, even in countries that didn’t formalize their own local versions of football before the Football Association wrote up their first rules in 1886, the normal word is still “soccer”—in Zimbabwe rugby is not very popular at all, but soccer is still the normal word used to refer to the sport; also recall that the flagship venue at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa was called Soccer City, and, no, Americans did not name it. New Zealand plays its national game under the same rules as in Britain, and so their football frequently refers instead to rugby. Other countries call it bóng đá, bola sepak or 蹴球 (“kick-ball”), or simply calcio (“kick”). I’m still waiting for a soccer snob to show up to Italy and try to insist they call it football like their neighbors.

    It’s ridiculous for Americans to call their sport “football”

    This is common from Brits, implying we somehow “stole” the word and applied it to our own sport, nonsensically, as the feet are rarely used, almost solely in specialized plays, and invented soccer to describe the authentic version. I can’t imagine this doesn’t stem largely from anti-American sentiment—I’ve never heard Australian football disparagingly called “handegg,” even though an Australian football is more egg-shaped than the obtuse spheroid of the American game. Of all the English-derived games of football, only soccer has retained the rule prohibiting handling the ball—both forms of rugby, Australian, Gaelic, American, and Canadian football all decided the game was more fun if the ball carrier could run with it.

    Soccer (or American football) is “real” football

    Soccer rose to prominence largely due to England’s commercial interests throughout the world in the 1800s and early 1900s. It became widely played by the working classes and then spread to other countries, mainly by expats. But it was by no means the only game of football then played in England, nor the first. The rules for the form of football played at Eton, a private school, were written down in the early 1800s, although the rules for Florence, Italy’s native calcio game may even have been documented earlier than that. The first rules of what we now call “rugby,” short for Rugby football because it was the game of another boarding school in Rugby, England, date back to 1845—almost 20 years before the birth of what we know as soccer today. So if the measure of “real” is age, a couple other flavors got soccer beat.

    And if suffering such severe brain damage that you lose control of your bladder in your ’40s is the measure of what makes the gridiron game for “real” men, then I guess that’s real football. I’m not making a value judgment here; I think a case can be made that is the true measure of masculinity, but I’m just being honest about its implications.

    Of course, the United States was not the only country to let its own code develop without checking with Mother England first to see what she thought. Australia, Ireland, and Canada all have their own football games. (Although closely related, Canadian football developed in tandem with, and indeed, was the father of the American sport, but is an independent evolutionary branch.)

    Words like “pitch,” “boots,” “nil” are just the correct terms

    (Actually they usually say “proper,” another Briticism that rankles me.) Once again, this is a reasonable assumption to have if soccer is the only non-American sport you’ve had any serious exposure to and think the Brits, having invented the sport, should have a monopoly on speech habits for the entire Anglophone world. However if you watch cricket, rugby, (field) hockey, etc. you’ll notice that these terms aren’t unique to English football. British fans who watch the NFL call the jersey and shoulder pads and helmet, etc. a “kit.” This year Penn State and University of Central Florida will open the season at Croke Park, in Dublin, Ireland; reading Irish media you’ll see reports of preparing the “pitch” for the American football “match.” This isn’t a case of foreigners not understanding our games; these are just the normal Irish words used in sports. In Australia it’s not at all odd to have a baseball match that’s two runs to nil in the third inning, nor to have an equaliser in the eighth. And so on.

    The derision of some UK fans at the North America’s distinct sporting vocabulary when applied to their own sports, coupled with ignorance (e.g. telling them they’re wrong to say “soccer”), and an American inferiority complex vis-à-vis English culture with the cosmopolitan niche of European and Latin American football has led many on this side of the Atlantic to insist on using British terms for the sport. But the idea that it’s somehow “disrespectful” to use American terms for the world’s game, just because it was invented in England, is like insisting an 18-wheeler must be called a “lorry” if it was manufactured in Britain. Pretending it was completely unknown in the States until the Premier League plopped down on the shores of Fox Soccer Channel ten years ago, ignoring our own history with the sport, is a disservice to everyone who’s played in and for this country and worked to make American soccer as popular as it is today.

    As you can see, every culture and people is going to put its own spin on existing games and invent its own. (Even within soccer, look at the variants that have arisen around the world—futsal, indoor soccer, beach soccer, five-a-side, etc.) And the proliferation of versions of football is testament one local group refusing to play by another’s rules. But I think it’s great that soccer can exist, played the world over, as sort of a sporting Esperanto, and we can get together once every four years to see how other countries put their own spin on “the beautiful game.” How boring would it be if football culture were the same the world over or that were the only game?

    GO USA!!!