Mr. Sensitive

December 31, 2013

Brinky Cup – Week 17

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 15:17
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First things first: Mario wins the 2013 Brinky Cup.  Here are the final standings.

Games Back Week 17
Dark Mario 14-2
Marcus 8 12-4
Jodi Ann 10 12-4
Ultra Katie 13 14-2
Dark Lee 14 13-3
Nicole E. 17 13-3
Mario T.Y. 20 6-10
Reagan 19 9-7
Jenny 22 10-6
Tara 22 10-6
Lee 24 10-6
Lisa 26 13-3
Katie 28 12-4
Mario T.E. 29 9-7
Justin 29 10-6
Charlotte 36 9-7
Ruby 38 9-7
Brinkley 47 6-10

Mario wins, and Brinkley Bizarro-wins (bizins?).  Not only that, but they both finish off the season in top/bottom form, posting the best (Mario at 14-2) and worst (Brinkley at 6-10) Week 17 records.  Mario is joined in the Brinky Bowl playoffs by Marcus, Jodi Ann, Katie, me, and Nicole.  For each game I need each Bowler to send me or Katie the winner and the total number of points scored.  There are four games in this weekend’s wild card round:

  • Kansas City Chiefs @ Indianapolis Colts (Sat 4:35)
  • New Orleans Saints @ Philadelphia Eagles (Sat 8:10)
  • San Diego Chargers @ Cincinnati Bengals (Sun 1:05)
  • San Francisco 49ers @ Green Bay Packers (Sun 4:40)

There’s a lot of intrigue surrounding the Brinky Bowl this year.  Will I make my picks or will I turn it over to Jenny?  Will Nicole even make her picks (she’ll be gallivanting around Europe with Justin for it seems like the next month)?  And…well, that’s it, really.  Maybe ‘a lot of intrigue’ was overselling it.

December 29, 2013

Brinky Cup – Week 16

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 06:37
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There are just a few hours to go before the final slate of regular season games kicks off, and by this evening a new champion will hoist the Brinky Cup (from afar, of course).  Here are the standings after Week 16:

Games Back Week 16
Dark Mario 9-7
Marcus 6 11-5
Jodi Ann 8 10-6
Mario T.Y. 12 10-6
Dark Lee 13 8-8
Ultra Katie 13 11-5
Reagan 14 10-6
Nicole E. 16 11-5
Tara 16 8-8
Jenny 18 9-7
Lee 20 9-7
Mario T.E. 24 7-9
Justin 25 10-6
Lisa 25 7-9
Katie 26 11-5
Charlotte 31 11-5
Ruby 33 10-6
Brinkley 39 6-10

Mario and Brinkley have matching six-game leads and look like locks to secure the Brinky Cup and Bizarro Brinky Cup, respectively.  Marcus and Jodi Ann have yet to make their Week 17 picks, though, and–with their playoff positions secure–one or both of them could decide to pick a buttload of upsets in a last-ditch attempt to catch Mario.  That’s certainly what I would do, except that I’m thirteen games out and fighting for my playoff life.  Going into today’s games, Mario, Marcus, and Jodi Ann are virtually assured of making the six-person Brinky Bowl playoff field.  Katie, Lee, and Reagan hold the final three playoff spots, but the matter is far from decided, as Nicole E., Tara, and Jenny are four games or fewer behind.  It promises to be an exciting day of games, and when the dust settles late this evening…well, I’ll be in bed asleep.  The dust will settle even more by tomorrow morning, though, and I’ll reveal the two Cup winners and six Bowlers then.

For those who don’t know, the Steelers can still make the playoffs if they win today (vs. Cleveland) and the Ravens, Chargers and Dolphins all lose.  Cuppers aren’t required to pick against those three teams, but those who don’t should definitely feel a little guilty about it (besides Mario, who should feel a lot guilty).

 

December 17, 2013

Brinky Cup – Week 15

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 13:53
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Week 15 of the NFL season is over, and the choking sounds you hear (outside of Dallas, at least) are coming from Ruby, Charlotte and—tragically—my lovely daughter, Jenny.

At the top of the standings, Mario gave up ground to Jodi Ann, Marcus, and, um, himself, but he retains a commanding seven-game lead with just two weeks remaining.  Mario is a virtual lock to reclaim the Brinky Cup and has a decent chance of taking the runner-up spot as well.  As disheartening as that would be for the rest of the field, it would at least preempt the complaints about spreadsheet integrity that waft in from the Philadelphia region every now and again.

Three of the six Brinky Bowl playoff spots are locked up (Mario, Jodi Ann and Marcus), but the final three are still very much up for grabs.  If the season ended now, Katie, Lee, and Reagan would take those last three spots, with Tara and Jenny on the outside looking in.  Poor Jenny tries so hard every week when she makes her picks, and her sister just picks her favorite mascot in each matchup.  Yet somehow Jenny’s lost ground to Reagan each of the last two weeks, and I’m strongly considering giving her my spot in the playoffs if I make it and she doesn’t.  I’m not concerned about her feelings—it is just a silly contest, and she knows that—but it seems increasingly clear that her future football fandom hangs in the balance.  Now that’s something that really matters.

At the bottom of the standings, Ruby (10-6) and Charlotte (11-5) turned in disgracefully above-par efforts while Brinkley dazzled with a league-worst 6-10.  In the slump for the Bizarro Cup, it’s all over but the crying—and no one cries like Brinkley.

Games Back Week 15
Dark Mario 9-7
Jodi Ann 7 10-6
Marcus 7 11-5
Mario T.Y. 7 10-6
Dark Lee 11 8-8
Ultra Katie 11 11-5
Reagan 12 10-6
Tara 13 8-8
Jenny 14 9-7
Lee 16 9-7
Nicole E. 16 11-5
Mario T.E. 19 7-9
Justin 22 10-6
Lisa 22 7-9
Katie 24 11-5
Charlotte 30 11-5
Ruby 31 10-6
Brinkley 37 6-10

December 12, 2013

Brinky Cup – Week 14

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 07:40
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I don’t want to say that Mario slammed the door on the field in Week 14…so I won’t.  If it makes you happy to say that—if, for example, you’re Mario—feel free to do so in comfort of your own home.  Anyone hoping for a little Brinky Cup drama down the stretch looks to be out of luck.

The real excitement is at the bottom of the standings, where Brinkley’s commitment to blech-cellence appears to be wavering.  His 10-6 Week 14 face-plant cut his disadvantage to two games over Charlotte and Ruby, and it could easily have been more costly if either of his pursuers had been even slightly worse than mediocre.

As it happens, the only Cupper who failed to finish the week at .500 or above is Jenny.  She’s now fallen one game out of the sixth and final playoff spot and, worse still, a game behind Reagan.  This could be a real issue if I had any intention of telling either of them.

Games Back Week 14
Dark Mario 12-4
Jodi Ann 8 9-7
Mario T.Y. 8 10-6
Marcus 9 10-6
Dark Lee 10 10-6
Tara 12 8-8
Reagan 13 8-8
Ultra Katie 13 9-7
Jenny 14 6-10
Lee 16 10-6
Mario T.E. 17 10-6
Nicole E. 18 8-8
Lisa 20 8-8
Justin 23 8-8
Katie 26 8-8
Charlotte 32 8-8
Ruby 32 8-8
Brinkley 34 10-6

 

November 26, 2013

Brinky Cup – Week 12

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 08:06
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Another week, another collective dud–the race for the Brinky Cup is devolving into a zombie-like slow shuffle.  The Week 12 numbers speak for themselves: the best record was 10-4 (by preseason Lee), only 4 of the 18 Cuppers finished above .500, and the average number of wins was 6.5–in a week with a Steelers victory, no less.  Mario maintains his stranglehold on the top spot (take a moment to think about how weird that ubiquitous expression is) and new parents Jodi Ann and Marcus occupy the second and third positions, respectively.  Does that mean baby LJ is destined to win in her first foray into the Brinky Cup next year?  Does it mean she’s wasting her newborn Cup magic on her parents this year?  Does it mean nothing?  Is that too many rhetorical questions for one paragraph?

Brinkley is in control in the fall to the Bizarro Brinky Cup, extending his lead this week after Charlotte’s ill-timed 11-4 Week 11 debacle and Ruby’s 11-3 Week 10.  Both Ruby and Charlotte are still in contention, but neither can afford another week of double-digit wins.  There are five weeks left in the regular season with full sixteen-game slates the rest of the way, and this is the time when champions are unmade.

Games Back Week 12
Dark Mario 7-7
Jodi Ann 6 8-6
Marcus 7 6-8
Jenny 8 8-6
Mario T.Y. 8 6-8
Ultra Katie 9 5-9
Dark Lee 10 6-8
Lee 13 10-4
Reagan 13 6-8
Tara 13 6-8
Nicole E. 14 9-5
Justin 17 7-7
Lisa 17 7-7
Mario T.E. 17 5-9
Katie 21 4-10
Ruby 25 6-8
Charlotte 28 6-8
Brinkley 30 5-9

June 22, 2010

There’s No Way I’m Gonna Lose

Filed under: Imperial Army,Operation Mortal Coil — lbej @ 09:29
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Operation Mortal Coil, the second phase of which is back on an acceptable schedule, has caused me to reconsider what is most important to me in the battles I have fought and will fight.  I ought to fight always and only in order to win, but for my part, I can place victory no higher than third amongst my great aims.

How can winning be number three?  Because I am not sufficiently tricksy as a commander.  Mario sent me a book for my birthday called How Great Generals Win, and I was much impressed with the opening chapter, essentially an overview of principles with illustrations as appropriate.  I’m working my way through the rest of the book, which consists of individual case studies.  Some of these focus on less celebrated battles and campaigns, aspects of military history with which I am of course familiar but to which I have not given nearly so much thought as I have to others (the Western Front of the First World War and the Eastern Front of the Second, for example).  At any rate, beyond the obvious thank you to Mario, the point I have taken so far is that I am perhaps not suited to be a great commander.  At least not by the standard used by Mr. Alexander, the book’s author.  If I am reading this book right, the first and only thing that matters for a commander–in contrast to a soldier–is that he wins.  Not that he wins glory, or even that he wins a single battle (probably unavoidable, though), but that he wins history itself on behalf of his nation.  The only way you win is if you have what you set out to get by the end of the conflict and it hasn’t cost you more than it’s worth.  It’s purely a cost-benefit analysis that determines the winner.  Battles are costly, so if you can get what you want without fighting one, don’t fight.  This approach resonates with me from a financial management and investment standpoint, the area in which I have my actual professional training.  In this model for victory, it is akin to maximization of profit or even internal rate of return.  Revenues are firmly shackled to the cost of generating the same, and if your revenue declines but your expenses decline even more, you win.  This is anathema to many business leaders because it amounts to shrinking the company.  Of course, if you are operating in an industry that is in secular decline, you should want to systematically shrink the company while extracting all possible profit for investment into a growth industry.  IRR expands the concept to incorporate investment capital.  Not only should a business be run so that revenues are sought only when they are attractive relative to expense, but also when the resulting profit is attractive relative to the capital that must be invested to start or expand the business.  Entire businesses should be forgone or abandoned (systematically, always systematically), no matter how glamorous or glorious they are, if they aren’t eminently profitable.  Investors usually get this, CEOs usually don’t.  According to Mario’s birthday present, most generals don’t get it either.  I think back to the essential dot-com business model that was so ballyhooed between about 1996 and 2000 or so: grow revenues by any means necessary, including selling dollars for 99 cents.  Cheerleader stock analysts were forced to start valuing companies based on revenues and then on esoteric, meaningless things like page views, because the companies had permanently negative operating margins and were worthless in reality.  Worse than worthless, actually, because they were burning through investor money buying all those dollars to sell for 99 cents.  They had a term for it, burn rate, allowing one to calculate the amount of time a company could survive at the rate it was losing money based on the amount of cash investors had stupidly sunk into it already.  Based on Mr. Alexander’s description of U.S. Grant, I can conclude that he ran the American Civil War much like a dot-com company, and was just fortunate that he had a lot of cash to burn.  And he had General Sherman, who focused on more productive burning of the conventional sort.

A great general wins, and that’s all.  A great CEO makes money, and that’s all.  By that standard, which I completely understand, Nathan Bedford Forrest is great (Mr. Alexander says as much), and so is Lloyd Blankfein.  Of course, Gen. Forrest was a murdering terrorist and Mr. Blankfein presides over the most monstrous den of thieves in the history of the world, so I hesitate to embrace any standard which would label either as great.  That is where I fail, I think.

So what is more important to me than winning?

Number Two – Not Losing. I will retreat, but only temporarily.  No ground can be permanently lost no matter what else is gained.  When I have had to give up ground in the past it has done great damage in the deeper parts of my mind and no subsequent success ever seems to heal that damage.  I am not completely insane, so I will choose retreat over annihilation, but I will hate it, and I will give annihilation a lot of thought.

Number One – No Dishonor. I don’t always know how to win in a situation, but I know what is honorable and, with even more clarity, what is dishonorable.  Honor is personal, always, and immutable.  No material gains can erase dishonor or make it any less hideous.  Honor is utterly impractical and frequently dangerous, because there are many, many people who have no regard for it whatsoever.  Furthermore, because it is so personal, another man may legitimately view his actions as honorable when to me they are anything but.  A great commander should never be concerned with his personal honor.  Frankly, he cannot afford to have any personal compunctions when the lives of his soldiers and the fate of his nation are in his hands.  To let one’s personal honor prevent one from discharging one’s duty in such a moment would, ironically, be the height of dishonor.  As nations we must be certain that the wars we fight are just, because once the war is underway it no longer matters one way or the other.  I still try to deal fairly with the spiders.  Military greatness is simply not my destiny.

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