Friday, September 12, 2014

Scotland Independence Referendum

With all the news about Scotland's vote on independence, I have been recalling my undergrad years in the 1990s at University of St Andrews.
I loved being the only Coventry lass on campus surrounded by all those handsome red-headed barries (= scots slang for sweet, sexy lads).
My boyfriends at St Andrews reflect the divisions in Scots society now playing out in the referendum campaign.
Seamus was my main fancy man -- the scion of an aulde establishment family. I was going through a "First I look at the purse" phase, so I was happy enough to be squired about town by Seamus and has large wallet. He kept me in ribbons and pearls for almost four years.
But, as a man, he was rather boring. Not so, Sean the dashing tutorial assistant in my 1st year biology course who wore his kilt to every class. Sean never quite finished his Ph.D. and never rose above TA. His wee joke was that he was too busy with his T and A duties to get around to his thesis.
In 1st year, I fell into the unfortunate habit of dropping by Sean's library carrel 3 times a week for special tutoring. He would close the blinds on his carrel window and doors and then insist that biology could only be learned without clothing. I certainly learned a lot about biology. So much so, that I signed up every year for whatever course Sean was TAing. As a side benefit, I received A+ in all my assignments. Sean teased me by telling me that my A+s were for my diligence as a great kisser.
For almost four years, Seamus remained in the dark about my doings in the dark with Sean until that unhappy day that my former BFF Deirdre took it upon herself to bring Seamus up to date with my two-timing.
Where are they now? Seamus and Deirdre are unhappily married. Seamus is chair of his local Conservative Party constituency association. I hear that he can hold his party meetings in a small pub booth with room to spare. He and his Conservative mates are busy campaigning for the no side to keep Scotland in the United Kingdom.
Sean has never left the uni scene. Without a Ph.D., he's still a TA -- no longer at St Andrews but now at the University of the West of Scotland (Dumfries campus). I've kept in touch with Deirdre and she tells me that Sean still has a reputation for awarding A+s to pet students who come in for special hands-on help. Naturally, he's a Scots Nationalist activist.
If I could vote as an honorary Scot, I would vote with boring Seamus against Sean who is loads of fun, but having never grown up has remained poor. I fear that Sean's fate would be writ large as Scotland's future if the Scots vote for independence next week.
When it comes to Scotland's future, "First I look at the purse" still seems like a good approach. I do hope that Scotland votes no on the 18th, so that in future Coventry lasses like myself can still enjoy your wonderful St Andrews lads without having to cross a border that has not existed for 400 years since James I came down from Scotland to be crowned king of England.
Note that Nobel prize-winner Paul Krugman warns that an independent Scotland will likely have to start their own currency -- a difficult job indeed. Be careful what you wish for, Scotland, you just might get it.
Note: Names and descriptions of individuals mentioned in this blog note have been altered to protect the guilty. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

NFL 2014-15 Recap ATS

In official Godiva toy boy and fiance Archibald's non-profit pool picking National Football League (NFL) winners against the spread (ATS), I swim naked of all football knowledge other than Professor Leavitt's lessons about gaming market anomalies. I was wrong about the Super Bowl picking SEATTLE over NE. Underdogs are now XXIV-XXIII-II ATS in the first LXIX Super Bowls and still in line with Professor Steven Levitt's prediction that the Super Bowl underdog will be the best bet in sports over a statistically significant M matches. The NFC leads the AFC XXVI-XXIII.

I pride myself on leaving emotions out of my picks, but was pleased to pick against Coach Bill Belicheat.
My Canuck canoodler Arch points out the uncanny similarities between Coach Belicheat and Canadian Prime Minister Darth Harper and former American President Richard Nixon.

I am satisfied to finish 134-130-3 ATS overall for the full year: 4-7 in the playoffs after finishing the regular season at 130-123-3. Overall, I was 85-77-2 road underdogs, 
39-43-1 home underdogs and 10-10 attempting to identify "value" home overdogs. I finished behind the best of the simple plain-vanilla approaches in 2014: all-roadies at 138-126-3. 
The all-underdogs approach remains the long-run champion having defeated all-favorites yet again in 2014 for the 18th underdog triumph over the past 23 years since 1992 averaging 51.7% over that span. 
The elite 8 round was the one week of the year when I pick all overdogs based on public policy expert and NFL hobbyist Gregg Easterbrook (aka TMQ = Tuesday Morning Quaterback), who reports that the 1 and 2 seeds have won 73 out of 100 matches in this round. In the regular season, overdog favourites win about 2/3 of all matches and just under 1/5 of matches turn on points. I doubt that the spreads in this playoff round are large enough to turn around the overdog advantage over the 500 years of data that we would need to test my proposition. Nevertheless, 2 of the 3 straight-up overdog winners this year lost ATS.
I ended up in the middle of all 3 pools that I play in.  
A final Boo-Yah to the memory of the great ESPN sports anchor Stuart Scott. When I was a grad student at Indiana Institute of Technology, my toy boy of the time Reginald insisted that we watch SportsCenter before going to bed and I was always glad he did. During our break-up (caused by Reginald's failure to address his gambling addiction), he would tell me that I was cooler than the other side of the pillow. Reginald, I hope you recognize that you never had it so good and never will again.