Friday, April 12, 2013

Weakness Of Character, Or Things I Like About Hockey Fights

Last night I made meatloaf.

Meatloaf, as a concept, always triggers my first world guilt. It's a loaf...of pretty much just meat. The good stuff too, not the stuff they make sausage out of. Think of all the vegetation that went to feed that cow! Think of all the methane it farted into the atmosphere! We should all be vegetarians.

But I have this recipe where you put red onion and garlic and bacon and cheese into the meatloaf along with ketchup and breadcrumbs and the usual things and it is HEAVEN. Last night I put an extra piece of bacon in. SO GOOD. My intellectual convictions cannot hope to compete.

I fear this reveals a major weakness of character. Example B: fighting in hockey. I can't come up with a good intellectual argument to justify it. I guess you could argue that these men are already highly paid to risk injury every night, that they have conciously chosen to take that risk, and that fighting, which is mostly the domain of a small subset of them, and which tends not to result in gruesome and horrific injuries, is inconsequential in the level of risk it adds over and above the dangers of playing actual hockey (Eric Karlsson's sliced Achilles tendon? Sidney Crosby's broken jaw? Chris Pronger's eye? Marian Hossa's KO? All sustained during game play, the first two on non-penalizable plays). But that argument doesn't really justify fighting. You could equally make the argument that it is a non-essential part of the game and asking men to take on that additonal risk is wrong, especially when you've sort of waived the prohibition against intent to injure by allowing them to punch each other in the face repeatedly. So I always feel vaguely guilty about not taking a firm position against it.

But here's the thing. I really really like it. I don't so much care for Brandon Bollig dropping the gloves with some counterpart because he feels like it's his job. That's kind of a sideshow. But when it comes out of frustration in game play? So great. I love it when Jamal Mayers goes after someone who's just smeared Kruger along the end boards for the 17th time (seriously, everytime I see someone get wiped out along the boards it's him). I love it when someone sprays the goalie and after the whistle there are eight guys in the crease punching each other. I love it when Toews gets all mad and red in the face and goes after the opposing captain. And goalie fights. OMG YOU GUYS GOALIE FIGHTS ARE THE BESSSSST. Most of the time during fights, even line brawls, the goalies just hang out, lean on their net, drink out of their Gatorade bottle, and look blase. But every once in a while (oh glorious day) the goalies decide to get into it. Now first of all, goalies are only allowed to fight other goalies. It's the code. So they both have to make their way to center ice. Goalies skating in full gear can best be described as "lumbering" so it takes them a while to get 100 feet. During this ponderous journey I imagine they have plenty of time for thought, and, if they have never fought before, panic. "What if I get seriously injured?" "What if I look like an idiot?" "Is my mom watching?" Here's what else you have to know about goalie fights: (a) all goalies are crazy (b) goalies are not very good at fighting. So you get awesome spectacles like this where Ray Emery fights Marty Biron with a huge grin on his face the WHOLE time, which is kind of creepy, and everyone falls down a lot. A lot of times goalie fights end with the goalies flailing around on the ground, looking like two goalie fetishists having sex (I assume that's a thing but no way am I going to google it). I support the continuation of hockey fights if only because once a year or so we get something like that.

I like other things about hockey fights too. I like it when guys get so mad that they keep on flailing even after the linesman has them wrapped up. I like it when, during a line brawl, guys get tired but haven't fallen down and so they just stand there on the ice holding each other and watching other people fight, as if they were partners at a ballroom dancing practice gone horribly awry. I like it when they mic players up and you get this ("You want to? Ok, good luck man") or this ("He was like 'do you want to go buckets off?' and I was like 'yes please I do not want to punch your helmet'"). I like how the linesman stand around like it's no big deal. I like all the ways the announcers describe roughing ("Looks like there's some extracurriculars happening after the whistle." "Yeah Pat there's an exchange of pleasantries going on down at the Blackhawks end."). I like the blase way in which they clean blood off the ice. I like it when players keep chirping each other from the penalty boxes. I like it when the coaches climb up on the bench to yell at other coaches. Guys, hockey is violent and awesome and completely insane, and I don't want it to ever change.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thursday Notes

It's not a goalie controversy. Stop calling it that. We have two goalies with .92 SV%. Trust me, that's not a problem. You're just jealous.

It's always bothered me that the SV% stat is always presented as a frequency, but called a percentage. 

Raffi Torres, noted scumbag, was recently traded to the San Jose Sharks, where no doubt we will encounter him in the playoffs and he will gruesomely concuss some valuable Blackhawk. This has happened in each of the last two seasons (on Brent Seabrook when Torres was with the Nucks and of course on Marian Hossa when he was a Yote). In true Chicago Way fashion (He pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue!), I thought, what if we did it to him first? Just sent Brandon Bollig out there with the express intention of hitting Torres like a freight train. Bollig would get suspended for a million games, but who cares? He's not a difference maker. There's one major flaw in this plan. It turns out, and follow me carefully here, because we're on some ethically tricky ground: it's morally wrong to deliberately injure another human being, even when the other human being is Raffi Torres. 

Only in Chicago do you need to wear a snow coat to a baseball game. That is what I will be doing this weekend, unless the game is cancelled on account of rain or snow or something. Chicago in April is so not charming.

The new American Sherlock Holmes with Lucy Liu as Watson is kind of entertaining. 

So I gave a talk at our departmental retreat on Sunday. One of the slides I showed was a map of Sweden with a genetic variant mapped on it - little crosses marking the sites from which plants were sampled, color coded by the genetic variant they possess. Supposedly this genetic variant was one associated with a particular beach phenotype, and the map showed it at different frequencies inland and near the water. Well. Fast forward to yesterday and it turns out that it was the completely wrong genetic variant. Totally meaningless data. I had pulled the wrong column from the relevant matrix (you can't see the whole matrix when it's 1307 x 428103 cells, so you have to be accurate with what you retrieve).  So this story sounds boring when I type it out like this but let me tell you: EMBARASSING. Except no one will ever know. Except that I put it on the Internet.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Me: blah blah blah something about my blog.
Mom: Which you never update.
Me: I updated it twice in the last week!
Mom: Since this morning?
Me: This morning? Are you kidding? What do you want from me?
Mom: I guess I wanted a comment. But I guess you can't comment on your own blog, so maybe it's not your fault.
Me: Thanks.