Linky Friday No. 61

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Ordinary Times. Relapsed Lawyer, admitted to practice law (under his real name) in California and Oregon. On Twitter, to his frequent regret, at @burtlikko. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.

Related Post Roulette

41 Responses

  1. Kazzy says:

    AL5: I was put off by all the backlash to Chu. I don’t watch “Jeopardy” but it seemed silly to read about all the ire he drew. I’m curious if his race played into it at all. We tend to respond differently when people who look “different” then act “different”. He played within the rules and took advantage of an underutilized strategy. Billy Beane had movies made about him for doing that very same thing.

    And Trebeck still reads the clues of note cards? They haven’t automated that process yet? Suck it, Trebeck.Report

    • Kolohe in reply to Kazzy says:

      The thing is, Chu became famous without being really good. (the story of fame in our modern age).

      Ok, that’s not quite fair. He’s definitely good, but not great. I mean, he had the most important skill, being fast on the buzzer – which gave him insurmountable leads going into over half his games. But he would have been knocked out in the 4th game if his opponent didn’t also miss the final question. He would have been a relatively big money winner, but not, iiuc, Tournament of Champions eligible.

      His knowledge base has humungous gaps, and he’s not very capable, in my opinion, of inferring the correct answer (that is, question) from the clue when that clue is at the edge of his ken.

      Hunting for the daily doubles definitely helped his game, he got 75% of all of them during his run (and was 19-8 in correct answers), but still, in the early games, both stats were much more even – one incorrect answer could have changed everything and knocked him out a lot earlier.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Kolohe says:

        So it sounds like it was a bit of a high-risk, high-reward strategy that he made work for a brief while before being exposed. What he lacked in talent he made up for in his approach. That seems admirable, provided he didn’t violate the rules of the game… which he didn’t. He played within the rules to win money he probably wouldn’t have won using a more conventional approach.

        I’m curious to see what happens next. How would this approach work in more capable hands? Will it be emulated? Improved upon? Legislated against? What does Nick Saban think of all this?Report

      • Kolohe in reply to Kolohe says:

        The one thing that Watson revealed is that buzzer timing is the most important thing. You are literally unbeatable if you have that down pat. (which a machine does). And buzzing in too early locks you out for a second or two.

        I wonder if their is a rhythm for buzzer timing that makes repeating Chu’s strategy sub-obtimal for most. Clues in a given category are normally all the same type, and often, esp for ‘clever’ categories, all about the same length. It seems to me likely that jumping around won’t get most people in the necessary grove to be able to buzz in first, but not early.

        Who knows though. If this strategy does work more generally, it will be replicated more frequently. (though, as some of the articles have pointed out, Chu is not even close to the first one to use DD hunting).Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Kolohe says:

        There is some parallel here with the spread offense in football. When the spread first started, it was viewed as a gimmick. Then the argument was that it could never withstand a real conference like the SEC. Then it did, and there was a move to ban it. In large part because in the eyes of some, that’s not how football should be played. Likewise, one can look at Chu and say “That’s not how Jeopardy should be played!”

        There’s no objective answer to how a game should be played. Mostly, it comes down to “Is this a good measure of the skill and strategy of the players?” and “Is the game more interesting or less interesting if this strategy becomes the default?” (And whether or not there is the risk of it becoming the default.)Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Kolohe says:


        But the question becomes: Who gets to decide?

        A few years back, there was some clown who wanted to start an all-white basketball league, arguing that the way the game was played now was “wrong”. Obviously, it was a bunch of racist claptrap by some guy trying to make a name for himself, but to the extent that we should have taken his criticisms seriously, one had to ask what positioned him to determine the right and wrong way to play the game.

        Now, Jeopardy and other game shows are unique in that there is someone or a group of someones who do “own” the game more or less. The creators/producers of the show could decide tomorrow that a player must select at least three question in a given category before moving on or some other such measure to prevent Chu’s strategy from being repeated and the lot of us would have little ground to complain.

        But other competitions are less centralized. Sure, the NCAA can make rules that affect its members and the NFL can do the same, but neither one can claim to unilaterally own or define football. We already see that with different on-field rules and the need to establish what set of rules are being used anytime a pickup game starts up.

        Look no further than pick-up basketball, which has its own basic set of rules and a few relatively standard variations that are largely resistant to changes done at either the NCAA or NBA level (though neither of those leagues play with rules as much as the NFL does).Report

      • Kim in reply to Kolohe says:

        can you post the rules to pick up basketball? now that you mention it, i’m curious!Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Kolohe says:

        @kazzy Ultimately, the fans do (and opinioneers and such, of course). Well, the fans and anti-discrimination law in the case of a Whites Only league. The slow-down-the-game rule failed in the NCAA due in part to the affected coaches raising a ruckus and getting a lot of bad publicity. It may happen at some point, but they’ll have to make a genuine case about player safety rather than the “integrity of the game” case they used to make.

        With Jeopardy, I suspect the decision-makers will be influenced by a whole bunch of complaints about how Jeopardy has become boring since it’s all become about the timer. Or in the absence of such complaints, it’ll just be something that some people grouse about while others point out that if it were such a successful strategy how come it couldn’t be replicated?Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to Kazzy says:

      I’m utterly fascinated by all the Chu-hate. He played by the rules, and won a good chunk of money. Good for him!Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Burt Likko says:

        I do think there was some in-group/out-group stuff to it. We see it all the time whenever someone zags when others zig. Their standing in the community (whatever that community might be) matters greatly when it comes to determining whether they are a genius or a jerk.

        Beyond his race/ethnicity, I also understand many folks (including competitors, Trebeck, and viewers) found his personality off-putting. It’s hard to know how much of that was predicated on his “otherness”, but if you’re thought of as a jerk already and then behave atypically, people seem more likely to describe the atypical behavior itself as jerkish.

        If someone more “likable” (based on whatever definition of “likable” one prefers) than Chu used the same strategy, I venture to guess it would have been received at least somewhat differently.

        At the end of the day, brotherman won himself some cash he might not have otherwise gotten and did so playing entirely within the rules. I say more power to him.Report

      • Kolohe in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Then again, reality TV lives by the off-putting personality. And per Chu himself, the producers told him to mix it up with Trebek a bit toward the end of his run (though probably not as much as, say, Sean Connery does).

        So I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some small level of marketing conspiracy in all this. (plus Chu is a professional actor)Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Burt Likko says:

        I did not know those things. Thank, @kolohe .Report

  2. Brandon Berg says:

    Is “malinger” transitive?Report

  3. NewDealer says:

    JS1: IIRC there was a scandal with Sherrif Joe’s underling soliciting sex workers at massage parlors, getting serviced, and then arresting the sex workers. The prosecutor decided that he could not convict based on the videotapes showing police officers have sex with sex workers. This seems like a law that could be easily abused.

    JS5: This seems like shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic to me. How useful is a Masters in Legal Studies going to be. Most if not all regulatory compliance jobs can be done by somone without a JD. IIRC they only recently became so-callled JD advantage positions and possibly because of career development spin on the jobs. Some of my friends went into looking at contract management and/or banking compliance and other legal adjacent fields when they could not get law firm jobs.

    The Bart transportation was interesting.

    Speaking of Elon Musk (I love his name), Larry Page of Google said he would rather leave his billions to someone like Elon Musk than to charity recently and this was going around the net.

    MS1: I never doubted that the French do indeed work more than 35 hours a week but the senior counsel interviewed seemed to have a much more reasonable work week than his American counterparts. 45-50 hours a week still gives you enough time to have a social life and not be dead tired when you get home.Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to NewDealer says:

      Re: no-risk-JD: if it looks like bullshit and sounds like bullshit, you probably don’t want to use any other senses to confirm that diagnosis. Who is going to respect a one-year degree they’ve never heard of from a law school they’ve never heard of?Report

      • NewDealer in reply to Burt Likko says:

        All good points. I wonder if it is going to be given to people who are not doing well and/or flunk out by not meeting their required GPA.

        I wouldn’t quite call this the no-risk JD. It seems more like consolation prize and having students not be angry about student loans with nothing to show for it. It still screams of an half-prize though. Maybe you can use it to become a civics or social studies teacher in High School but that is about it.Report

  4. Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    Regarding the Eggs & refrigeration. Seems that is not the only USDA/FDA regulation that harms our food supply. There is a significant lack of slaughterhouses in the country (thanks to Regs), such that a lot of small, specialty ranchers have to send their livestock to the mega slaughterhouses in order to get the meat. Problem is, if there is a problem at the slaughterhouse, and any contamination is found, all the meat has to be tossed, even if it isn’t found to be contaminated. The smaller ranchers often lose a lot of money that way, but since it is difficult to start a small slaughterhouse, they don’t have a choice.

    Seems the USDA/FDA regs could use some updating.Report

  5. greginak says:

    CP5: Chipolte clearly doesn’t understand American work culture. It sounds like something they would do in one of those foreign countries. Employees just cannot have a voice in making the business run. Haven’t they learned anything from anti-union efforts and how business IS run.Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to greginak says:

      Their business model is clearly doomed to failure, evidenced by the proliferation of their failed burrito restaurants.Report

    • Michael Cain in reply to greginak says:

      Since they’re Denver-based, their court cases make the local paper. Chipotle is currently embroiled in one class-action lawsuit for misclassifying people training to be assistant managers as exempt employees and not paying them for their overtime, and it looks like another one starting to crank up for refusing to pay overtime in other situations where they were legally obligated to do so.Report

  6. j r says:

    Several complaints were made on the Facebook page…

    That is where I stopped reading. They might as well be reporting on what’s written on the bathroom walls.

    I honestly believe that if people made a conscious decision to ignore these sorts of stories that are primarily based on recounting what random people have written on Facebook. Twitter, YouTube and blog comments, the quality of journalism would increase almost immediately.Report

  7. Zane says:

    Wait, I was expecting a story about narwhals! There was a picture, but no story!
    *is sad*

    Just for that, here:

    (Thanks for the links, Burt!)Report

  8. Kim says:

    Vikings were traders, but calling them the start of the war between east and west is disingenuous at the very least, and simply wrongheaded at worst.
    The Vikings turned into the Hanseatic League — they were apt to trade more in Russia because russia had good wood for boats. Don’t raid your suppliers is an obvious businessman’s adage.Report

  9. Kolohe says:

    SG5: this is a case of literally don’t hate the players, hate the game. I was surprised when I learned a few years ago how little the various NFL cheerleading squads make for their Sunday appearances (and even less when pro-rated over practice time during the week.)

    OTOH, the expectation has always been that these women use the job as a gateway to more lucrative modeling gigs, as well as getting (non-charity) appearance fees and and a slice of the merchandising sales (i.e. calendars). (though I’m not entirely sure of the last one).

    They should really form a union. (really.)Report