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Football Lingo

As a naturalized citizen who's lived here for most of his life, Football used to be foreign to me. I grew up knowing soccer and baseball but for the first years Football was a mystery.

Now I have a pretty good grasp of football and enjoy watching games on TV. But then I come across something like this, and I am stumped and can't decode it. If only there was a good football tutorial (don't worry I already have "Football for Dummies".)

This is from "Oh, did this unit of the Patriots struggle against the Jets", in the Boston Globe.

"On the first 12 plays of the game, the Jets ran four plays each out of their base 3-4, their nickel package (four linemen, two linebackers), and their dime package (six defensive backs)." (from The Boston Globe

Now I have some questions. Nickel to me means five. So how does that turn into four linemen and two linebackers? And Dime to me means ten. How does that translate into six defensive backs?


Cautionary Tale? Too much screen time can be hazardous to your health!

From Science Daily: Couch Potatoes Beware: Too Much Time Spent Watching TV Is Harmful to Heart Health.

"Data show that compared to people who spend less than two hours each day on screen-based entertainment like watching TV, using the computer or playing video games, those who devote more than four hours to these activities are more than twice as likely to have a major cardiac event that involves hospitalization, death or both." (from Couch Potatoes Beware: Too Much Time Spent Watching TV Is Harmful to Heart Health

Insightful article about education

An insightful article about higher education in the USA: The Disadvantages of an Elite Education. Here are some interesting quotes. It's a long article and all of it was quite interesting.

"Students at places like Cleveland State also don’t get A-’s just for doing the work. There’s been a lot of handwringing lately over grade inflation, and it is a scandal, but the most scandalous thing about it is how uneven it’s been.

Forty years ago, the average GPA at both public and private universities was about 2.6, still close to the traditional B-/C+ curve. Since then, it’s gone up everywhere, but not by anything like the same amount.

The average gpa at public universities is now about 3.0, a B; at private universities it’s about 3.3, just short of a B+. And at most Ivy League schools, it’s closer to 3.4. But there are always students who don’t do the work, or who are taking a class far outside their field (for fun or to fulfill a requirement), or who aren’t up to standard to begin with (athletes, legacies).

At a school like Yale, students who come to class and work hard expect nothing less than an A-. And most of the time, they get it." (from The Disadvantages of an Elite Education)


"The political implications don’t stop there. An elite education not only ushers you into the upper classes; it trains you for the life you will lead once you get there. I didn’t understand this until I began comparing my experience, and even more, my students’ experience, with the experience of a friend of mine who went to Cleveland State.

There are due dates and attendance requirements at places like Yale, but no one takes them very seriously. Extensions are available for the asking; threats to deduct credit for missed classes are rarely, if ever, carried out. In other words, students at places like Yale get an endless string of second chances.

Not so at places like Cleveland State. My friend once got a D in a class in which she’d been running an A because she was coming off a waitressing shift and had to hand in her term paper an hour late." (from The Disadvantages of an Elite Education)

Worth reading the whole thing: The Disadvantages of an Elite Education

[GEEKY] Nicer way to run Ruby tests

Just came across this handy-dandy tool to run tests for Ruby and Rails, and produce much nicer and readable traces so you have a prayer to sort out what is going on when stuff fails.

Test::Unit Reporter -- A new look and feel for Test::Unit output

TURN is a new way to view Test::Unit results. With longer running tests, it can be very frustrating to see a failure (….F…) and then have to wait till all the tests finish before you can see what the exact failure was. TURN displays each test on a separate line with failures being displayed immediately instead of at the end of the tests.

commonplace, ordinary, usual, common

I just came across an excellent speech given by William Deresiewics (I didn't know who he was either) to the plebe class at the United States Military Academy at West Point. The title of the speech is Solitude and Leadership.

I had a hard time finding a representative quote from the article that would suck you in to reading it. This is a quote from the speech, where he is quoting the famous novel "Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad:

He was commonplace in complexion, in features, in manners, and in voice. He was of middle size and of ordinary build. His eyes, of the usual blue, were perhaps remarkably cold. . . . Otherwise there was only an indefinable, faint expression of his lips, something stealthy—a smile—not a smile—I remember it, but I can’t explain. . . . He was a common trader, from his youth up employed in these parts—nothing more. He was obeyed, yet he inspired neither love nor fear, nor even respect. He inspired uneasiness. That was it!

Uneasiness. Not a definite mistrust—just uneasiness—nothing more. You have no idea how effective such a . . . a . . . faculty can be. He had no genius for organizing, for initiative, or for order even. . . . He had no learning, and no intelligence. His position had come to him—why? . . . He originated nothing, he could keep the routine going—that’s all. But he was great. He was great by this little thing that it was impossible to tell what could control such a man. He never gave that secret away. Perhaps there was nothing within him. Such a suspicion made one pause.

Read the whole speech, I thought it was an excellent New Years message.

I also came across this other speech by the same author, also looks quite interesting: The Disadvantages of an Elite Education by William Deresiewicz.