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The Hole In Tire Universe
2008-03-14 14:03
by Ken Arneson

Today is Pi Day (3.14), but if that's not nerdy enough for you, it's also Einstein's Birthday, and if you want to be even geekier that that, you can participate in Talk Like A Physicist Day, which, marvels of marvels, is also on today's crowded agenda.

All of these mysterious quantum entanglements I heard about from some of the science blogs on the Periodic Table of Blogs--Cosmic Variance here, and Cocktail Party Physics here, but when I went to look for the reference this morning, I clicked on the wrong science blog, and ended up at the blog called Bad Astronomy here, where I got sucked into reading about the old 70s TV show Nanny and the Professor.

I barely remember watching that show as a kid, but the show did have the child actress Kim Richards, who later starred in the movie Escape to Witch Mountain. When I was nine years old, I thought Witch Mountain was the greatest movie I had ever seen, perhaps I hadn't seen many movies and didn't know better, perhaps because it was my first taste of sci-fi (this was two years before Star Wars), or perhaps because I had a crush on Kim Richards. (This "greatest" status didn't last long; later that summer my cousin visiting from Sweden took me with him to see some movie he had heard of called "Jaws", and totally shattered my cinematic innocence.) Curious, I did some googling to see what Richards was doing these days, and discovered she has mostly retired from acting to raise her family. But while she stepped away from the celebrity life, another family member stepped in: Richards is the aunt of Paris Hilton.

To entangle these quanta even further, I happened to spend a very uneventful night inside Paris Hilton last May, before returning home to the Bay Area to watch Matt Morris pitch a masterful game against the Oakland A's the following day, a performance which probably led to Morris' eventual trade to the Pittsburgh Pirates, a horribly stupid trade which probably led to the firing of Pirates GM Dave Littlefield. Which makes me think of the Baseball Prospectus book signing with Kevin Goldstein and Christina Kahrl that I attended this past Monday here in my hometown of Alameda, CA, an event which, to be honest, wasn't a whole lot more noteworthy or eventful than my night with Paris Hilton, other than the one statement that stuck in my mind, which was Goldstein saying that Littlefield was probably the last of baseball's stupid GMs. Every team is run by committees of Einsteins these days, all talking about baseball like physicists.

Perhaps, then, the sequel to Moneyball should be called some ultra-physicist-sounding name like "Infinityball", except that the term "Infinity Ball" has already been used in my favorite episode of the TV cartoon show The Tick. In this episode, The Tick vs. The Big Nothing, The Tick has to travel to the center of our galaxy to help the Whats stop the Heys from throwing a black hole into another black hole and destroying the universe. The Whats try to explain to The Tick the science behind the Heys' evil plan, but The Tick can't stay awake to listen. "Science...boring...interest fading...zzzzzzzz...."

The Tick was created by Ben Edlund, and I was curious, like I was with Kim Richards, to see what he was doing these days. I found on IMDB that he has written a movie called Pox which is due out sometime this year. And looking at the cast for that movie, I discovered that my brother-in-law has a role in the film, playing a character called "Walraven".

Mr. Walraven, in real life, is a huge LA Angels and UCLA basketball fan, and his alma mater beat my alma mater, UC Berkeley, in the Pac-10 basketball tournament last night. I suspect that he will have a lot of bragging rights over me this year. But there is some hope for me--the Cal Bears' baseball team has been red-hot this season. They are 10-1-1 so far this season, with their only loss coming at the hands of Missouri and pitcher Aaron Crow, who is serious candidate to be the top pick in the 2008 MLB draft. Bryan Smith, who used to write with me over at, and now works with Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus writing about minor league and amateur baseball, wrote a nice (subscription-only) article about the Bears yesterday.

In the article, Smith discusses two of the Bears' best hitters, junior David Cooper and senior Josh Satin, but fails to mention the other Bears hitter with an OPS over 1.000, centerfielder Brett Jackson. Jackson is a sophomore currently hitting .325/.491/.550, and leading the team with seven stolen bases.  I mention him where Smith doesn't, because Brett's father Peter used to be my boss in my previous job, and he is also an investor in the company I am currently working for.

My current company just (finally, finally) released version 2.0 of our software (formerly known as Fairpole) and my business partner (who quantum entanglementally used to play third base for the Bears) and I have been working tirelessly all week to work out the kinks in it that you only discover once you release it into the wild. Hopefully, once that process is over, we can bring the new version of the software back over to, as well.

I hope this explains my recent silence on this blog. The momentum on the blog has deflated a bit, but I've been busy tying the entire universe together, and haven't had time to rant about how stupid I think the A's are for even thinking about sending Eric Chavez on that long plane ride to Japan, or conversely to write about how happy and optimistic it makes me to see how well the entire A's staff is pitching in spring training. And since it looks like Red Sox may start the season without both Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka, perhaps the A's can fly to Tokyo next week and surprise everyone by starting off the season with a Big Bang.

2008-03-14 17:39:22
1.   Brent is a Dodger Fan
Uh. Wow.
2008-03-14 19:13:36
2.   Daniel Zappala
What is the name of your company and your blogging software? Or do yo not want to enmesh things even further?
2008-03-14 20:35:29
3.   Ken Arneson
2 Both the company and the software are now named "Passbox".
2008-03-14 21:51:50
4.   Johnny Nucleo
Great post. James Burke would be proud.

Here at the Geekiest Place in the Universe, on 3.14 they serve pie in the student center lobby. They really know how to party on Pi day.

2008-03-15 06:37:36
5.   Ruben F Pineda
My Baseball Prospectus was signed by Christina Kahrl and Kevin Goldstein. I got to take a night off from law school. I even had to Sushi House for dinner. I have fond memories of that night...
2008-03-16 10:51:20
6.   scareduck
I'm still irrationally disappointed that there's no celebration for e day (2/7).
2008-03-17 10:08:43
7.   ToyCannon
Nanny and Professor - went to high school with David Doremus who played the oldest boy on the show. We didn't run with the same crowd but I know he lettered in a few sports and always drove a nice truck.

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