everything is bigger yet smaller

September 19, 2008 at 4:46 am | Posted in brian, technology, tennis | 1 Comment

i finally found out why, in televised tennis, they never show both the replay and hawk-eye (or spot shot or whatever corporately-sponsor name they come up with). i used to think it was because spot-shot was wildy inaccurate and probably rigged. now i know it’s because spot-shot is mildly inaccurate. but more importantly, spot-shot collects more data about the incident (by incident, i’m talking about the information relative to the spot the ball touches) to reach it’s conclusions than our eyes or our brains or even our video cameras.

hawk-eye takes information from a number of cameras, probabilitizes (which i’m using to mean assessing the probability of) things like trajectories, spins, velocities and then creates a simulation of the flight of the ball to locate where the ball hit.  this means spot-shot, because it interprets more data, can know things about the location of the landing we, even with our eyes or our brains or even our video cameras, cannot perceive.

take for instance the 2007 final at wimbledon between federer and nadal.  nadal smashes a shot to the baseline.  federer, believing it to be out, doesn’t make a play.  the chair umpire rules out.  the video replay rules out.  however, hawk-eye says in.

the reason: due to it’s superior information gathering and processing, hawk-eye knows that that ball hit with that power will,  on a grass surface, compress and skid for about 10 centimeters.  so while the all of us, even our video cameras, witnessed the ball as out, spot-shot knew, in its heart of hearts, the shot was in.

so the question is, should who should interpret our sport rules?  humans or god or given that god isnt around, the next best thing, super-sensitive computers?


September 3, 2008 at 3:04 am | Posted in blood, college football, fight, murder, tennis, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

if you didn’t get a great big sports boner (girls included) this weekend then you missed out on pure pleasure. the spanish karate kid (nadal) wasted everybody in tennis. and tennis was awesome. somehow i don’t think the us open will have as much of an emotional effect on me as wimbledon did (it was probably the most fulfilling emotional experience of my life) but you never know. it’s amazing that there are actually some american men in the next round. which is good because that means they’ll show mens tennis over the williams sisters. i was getting tired of watching women play (sorry), except that there are some major babes this year. remember the final is next sunday. moving on to college football. the university of utah is awesome! they beat michigan. michigan! in michigan. awesome. i noticed the nationally televised game had a lot of praise for utah. it seems utah and byu will probably be the best non major conference teams this year, which may mean nothing. but it could mean…something. and their (hopefully) perfect seasons up until they meet at the end of the season will be memorable. maybe. seems like they both play some weak teams. and now the best part about sports….DVRs! that’s right. and HD. wow. sports look so cool. and i am writing about it. oh:

“stop copying us.” i hate that i put a commercial on here. but i told brian i would blog about it. kill me.

wimbledon, 2008

July 9, 2008 at 5:30 am | Posted in aaron d.w., tennis | 1 Comment

for posterity’s sake, i’d like to mention that sunday was one of the greatest days of my life. i got up at 7:30a to watch the wimbledon final between rafael nadal and roger federer. during the first rain delay, i went up to brian and gavin’s house. there’s was a big party, basically. i ate some waffles and then the rain delay was over. we watched a riveting 4th set. i couldn’t believe it. really. then there was a brief rain delay in the 5th set, and i played ping pong outdoors. which is nice because of how much space you have, but also kind of weird because you have to deal with the wind. i typed in “ping pong wind” into google, but it thought i said wind, not wind. like a wind up toy ping pong, pictured below.

when tennis started again, we went back inside and watched a fantastic 5th set that i was sure would spill over into the next day. but by some miracle, nadal broke federer and served out to win. there were so many incredible shots by both of those guys. i was really glad to see federer playing so well, especially considering that according to djokovic, federer was vulnerable after his french open loss.

the main point is that this was more than just the best sporting event i’ve ever been a part of. for probably the only time in my life, i wasn’t disappointed by the athletes i love. i don’t get disappointed in them. disappointment isn’t the right word. but it does make me sad when they don’t play as well as i know they can. in basketball my favorite teams always lose, and they usually lose early. same in everything. but not with this wimbledon. if i’d planned wimbledon out, it might’ve been really close to this. i was glad to see all the early upsets: blake and roddick in the 2nd round; djokovic choking in the 3rd; sharapova in one of those early rounds. and i was really excited to see nadal and federer reach the final so convincingly. nadal only lost a set en route to the final and federer didn’t even drop a set.

so wimbledon is supposedly the most sacred tennis event. i don’t buy into that, but according to people, this wimbledon victory for nadal is the best tennis result spain could hope for. and now spain is trying to do what boston couldn’t… win the championship in 3 major sports. the patriots lost to the giants in last year’s super bowl, so only ended up with 2 championships: the red sox in baseball and the celtics in basketball. basketball, baseball, and football are arguably the most popular american sport and boston is one of the favorite cities, despite a history of racism. but they only got 2 out of 3. i’m trying to think of the top sports worldwide. obviously soccer is number one, and spain just won the uefa final. i think tennis is one of the top 3. and nadal just won two straight majors for spain. maybe basketball is becoming more of a world sport. at least the nba is trying to convince me that it is every chance they get. so all spain needs to do is win basketball in the olympics. and spain will be better than boston. i’m pretty sure most people already think spain is better than boston. except maybe scorsese. that departed movie was awesome.

i found these spanish commercials last week. rafael nadal and pau gasol. the premise is that they’re going to be given these really great watches. but they have to perform some task. after they fail, the lady tells them that they can only have the watches if they give up sports. then they hang out on the beach, making margaritas and telling girls what time it is using their sweet watches.

not the best commercials. i wish nadal would only ones like that commercial from last year’s us open. which reminds me, i’ll be very interested to see how he fares in the us open. he’s on like a 26 match winning streak but has never been able to get it done on hard courts. so maybe this will be the year.

and in tennis news

June 24, 2008 at 11:35 pm | Posted in aaron d.w., basketball, tennis | 2 Comments

the raptors want to trade t.j. ford. they’re ready to go with jose calderon as their point guard. supposedly they were going to trade ford and rasho nesterovic for jermaine o’neal. which i think would have been a mistake. but mostly because i don’t like the pacers and i do like t.j. ford. so if they’re interested in keeping me happy, indiana and toronto made the right move in stopping the negotiations. i’m not a knicks fan or anything, and i’m certainly not a mike d’antoni fan, but i think the knicks should try to get t.j. ford. he could just run all over the place. or i think the hawks should. but they just got mike bibby. or maybe the trailblazers.  as guess as long as he doesn’t land on his neck again i’ll be glad that he’s still playing.  even if he’s playing on a team i don’t like.

deron williams and carlos boozer are on the usa olympic team.  i still think iverson should be on the team, but i’m glad they went with williams.  i think boozer might be an olympic dud, but maybe i’ll be wrong.  even if boozer is on the jazz, he still went to duke, so there’s plenty about him to not like so much.  especially since he never responded to brian’s suggestion that he take on the nickname slambidunkxtrous.

rafael nadal played his opening match of wimbledon this morning against andreas beck.  i kept thinking he was playing against john beck, but i think he wouldn’t have dropped a point against john beck.  or against jon schmidt.  if one of the sets was a piano competition, i still think nadal might win.  i don’t know if nadal has ever played the piano, but i’m sure i’d like him as a piano player.  i’m biased though.  i think i would root for nadal in anything.  and i know that i would root against jon schmidt in everything.  like if he was up against cancer (even just skin cancer) or something, i’d root for cancer.  so nadal won 6-4, 6-4, 7-6.  he didn’t face a break point all day, and was (clearly) totally dominant on his serve.  but his return game left a lot to be desired.  he was on the defense during beck’s service throughout the morning.  only 2 breaks.  anyways, they went to tiebreak in the 3rd set and nadal beat beck 7-0.  it’s just the first round, and it’s not nadal’s favorite surface, so i think he’ll get more return confidence.  his next round matchup is against a big server, so hopefully he figures that out quick.

the williams sisters won.  they both looked really good.  venus was playing really well, i thought.  and serena played in a trenchcoat.  well, she warmed up for like 2 minutes in a trenchcoat and then took it off.  i think that a williams sisters final would be awesome.  i would root for venus.  they’re doing a piece on lindsay davenport.  how she lost to venus in the 2005 final 4-6,7-6,9-7.  then some really touching music came on.  you know, kind of like the where amazing happens music, but more touching.  and it showed davenport’s baby and she said that tennis isn’t her top priority anymore.  i wonder if her baby will be a tennis player.  or a piano player.  i wonder if lindsay davenport has ever met jon schmidt.  somehow that guy is “semi-popular” outside of utah as well.  that’s something i just don’t get.  they just said her husband’s name is jonathan.  makes you wonder.

so federer showed up to wimbledon with a cardigan that has and “F” on the chest.  and it has 5 buttons.  one for every wimbledon championship.  i don’t remember how many buttons his jacket had at the french open.  but i do remember how many french open championships he has.  dis.  anyways, i like federer.  i don’t get why everyone thinks that he’s struggling so much.  so he lost to djokavic in the australian open and to nadal in the french open.  big deal.  djokavic is playing really well and nadal is the best clay-court player ever.  so coming into wimbledon everyone was talking about how this is the year because federer is on the way down.  but he hasn’t lost a grass court match since like 2004 or something.  i think 60 straight grass court matches.  not only is federer probably the best tennis player in history, he’s for sure the best grass court player in history.  so i don’t know what people are talking about.  i mean, i think nadal is going to make him work for it.  if they face off in the final, i’m hoping for another match like last year’s.  but still, it’s federer.  and he’s the one to beat.  but even if you’re roger federer, you don’t have to buy into how you’re supposed to wear something classy to wimbledon.  wimbledon dress-code is worse than the nba dress-code which is racist.  wimbledon tries to make you remember that you’re not supposed to play tennis unless you’re rich.  i guess you don’t play wimbledon unless you’re rich.  or rather, as soon as you win wimbledon you’re rich.  and then you can buy cardigans to wear.  so despite everyone worrying about roger’s focus and his abilities, he cruised to victory in the first round.  i don’t want to look up the score.  he won in an hour and 19 minutes.

oh yeah, and sharapova won.  her dog gave her the signal to eat a banana partway through the second set.

the future of tennis

June 9, 2008 at 8:56 am | Posted in aaron d.w., tennis | 1 Comment

this morning rafael nadal and roger federer fittingly faced off in the final of the french open. (i know alliteration impresses brian, and i want him to think that i’m a decent writer.) this is the third straight year where nadal and federer played each other in the final. the year before, nadal beat federer in the semifinal. last year rafael nadal didn’t drop any sets on the way to the final before beating roger federer 3-1. then in wimbledon federer won 3-2 in one of the most incredible matches i’ve ever watched. so this year i figured would be a close one. both federer and nadal were playing the best clay court tennis of their careers. federer had only dropped 3 sets before the final and nadal had again not lost any. the match wasn’t close at all. nadal got an early lead and broke federer twice in the first set to win it 6-1. roger f. was down 2-0 in the second set and put together a good twenty minutes of tennis with some stunning winners to tie it up at 2-2. each held serve and then rafael n. went crazy, winning the next 9 games to finish the match in around 2 hours.

i figured the match would last a lot longer. i’d planned my whole morning around watching tennis and found myself with a lot of free time. luckily, there was another competition going on: robonaut vs. athlete.


robonaut is a humanoid robot designed by nasa to be able to perform extra-vehicular activities (i.e. space-walks). it has a torso shaped like a human with arms and hands and a helmet that looks like boba fett. the helmet has two eyes, so that visual relays can provide depth. the arms have a total of 14 degrees of freedom each: 2 in each wrist and 12 in each hand. this gives the robonaut a surprising amount of dexterity, which in turn enables robonaut to perform tasks that were not designed to be handled by robots. the size of the hands is roughly the same size as a suited astronauts hands, so robonaut can get to those hard-to-reach areas (much like a nice toothbrush). the torso can be placed in a number of lower “bodies” depending on the required task. the two that i’ve seen is the segway robonaut where he has a segway for legs and the centaur robonaut where he “sits” on a 4-wheeler of sorts.

athlete is a six-legged robotic lunar rover. athlete stands for All-Terrain Hex-Legged Extra-Terrestrial Explorer. the athlete is 4 meters in diameter and can stand 6 meters tall. each of the six legs has six degrees of freedom. athlete can roll along or walk, depending on the terrain, and is capable of sustaining a load of 450 kg. multiple athletes can be docked together to form what some call ultrathlete, which i can only imagine stands for Ultimate Laterally-TetheRed All-Terrain Hex-Legged Extra-Terrestrial Explorers. it can move over 10 kmh on terrain like that of the moon, 100 times faster than the mars rover, and can climb 35 degree inclines of rocks.

the competition of interest is a race up to the top of a hill in a crater in arizona, which is essentially a simulation of robot racing on the moon or on mars, which will become widely popular in the late 21st century.

the competitors arrived early. athlete on the left, robonaut in the middle, k-10 on the right with scout right behind k-10. the suited astronaut was the ref.

after a brief rain delay, k-10, robonaut and athlete are ready to go. robonaut shows off his dexterity with a little bit of a cheap move, tying athlete to an anchored stake.

with robonaut and athlete busy battling each other, k-10 heads for the hill,

and then remembers that it is not capable of climbing hills. with athlete tied to a stake, robonaut takes off up the hill.

athlete finally breaks loose and heads for the steepest part of the hill, in hopes of cutting off robonaut’s path.

athlete passes robonaut, since hill-climbing is its strong-suit. but robonaut has some more tricks up his sleeve. he hooks a tether-line to athlete and catches a ride during the last quarter of the hill.

robonaut takes advantage of its understanding of the slingshot maneuver to swing past athlete for the victory. robonaut wins and gets its picture taken with athlete.

but what robonaut didn’t know is that there was no prize. they give robonaut a box with the label “trophy” and robonaut opens it up, only to be embarrassed in front of all its friends.

looks like athlete gets the last laugh. (that was for brian again.)

they hate our freedom

June 7, 2008 at 12:21 am | Posted in aaron d.w., tennis | Leave a comment

i got on tennis.com last night to check what time today’s matches started. the two matches today are nadal-djokavic and federer-monfils. so i wanted to set my alarm and wake up early to watch. nadal is the world number two and he’s the three-time french open champion who has never lost a match at the french open. in fact, he hasn’t even dropped a set in this year’s french open. on the other hand, djokavic is the world number three who won the australian open and has won more matches in the last year than anyone else. the winner of this match will be the world number two and will be playing in the french open final. i only saw half a set by monfils and i thought he was fast and looked cool, but brian said that he’s got a great game. so i obviously wanted to get up and watch. i know the matches start early in the french open, and tennis.com said that at 10:00a eastern time the tennis channel was going to start broadcasting. i woke up at 8:00a mountain time and turned on the tv. there was nothing on. so i got online to see when the games would start only to find out that the nadal-djokavic match was already over. what a joke. not only do i have to wait for 2 hours before i can watch tennis, but one of the matches i was interested in watching was already over and i had already seen the result: nadal in 3 sets. nadal is in the final and he still hasn’t lost a set.

i had two hours to kill. so i did the only sensible thing. i read about the september 11th attacks on the world trade center and the pentagon. did you know that there were large (and lethal) amounts of asbestos in lower manhattan for a few months? there’s been over 60 people associated with the cleanup effort that have died of cancer. oh yeah, and the air had been declared safe without testing it first.

so it’s finally 10:00a and tennis is on. maybe they’ll just skip the nadal-djokavic match so i can watch monfils and federer before i have to go up to school. nope. they’re going to show the nadal-djokavic match. if only i hadn’t already seen online. that’s okay. nadal is my favorite player and i don’t like djokavic, so it’ll be worth it to see him get killed.

it’s tied 1-1 and nadal has advantage. he’s already had 4 break chances this match. and he hits this incredible backhand winner to go up. so he’s up 2-1 now. game four, nadal is serving but down 15-30 and hits another backhand winner. 30-30. another winner, this time a forehand. 40-30. passing shot for the game.

now they’re talking about nadal’s foot and knee problems. apparently he’s a size 11 1/2 but wears size 10. no wonder i always think his feet look so small. djokavic comes to the net twice in a row. first time gets a volley winner. second time nadal loops it over him. 15-15. unforced error djokavic. 15-30. “You have 10-story buildings that leave more debris than these two 100-story towers, Where the fuck is everything? A serious week-long search and we’ve found 200 [bodies] in a pile of 5,000? What’s going on? Where is everyone? Why aren’t we finding more bodies? Cause it’s all vaporized — turned to dust. We’re breathing people in that dust.” Mercedes commercial. the game must’ve finished while i was reading. it doesn’t matter, i already know nadal will win the set (and the match). djokavic won. nadal’s up 3-2 and serving.

i just read this page: a critical review of morgan reynold’s “why did the trade center’s skyscrapers collapse?”

and now nadal is up 5-4 and 40-30. set point. first serve fault. second serve unforced error by djokavic. prediction: nadal will win 6-4, 6-2, 7-6. so i have to leave now. maybe i’ll tape the monfils match. and not look online. i already saw that they were tied after 2 sets. good for monfils.

it is annoying, all those bounces of the ball

January 28, 2008 at 6:01 am | Posted in brian, tennis | Leave a comment

that’s what the old-man commentator said while djokovic was serving during the tiebreak in the fourth set up 2 sets to 1 over tsonga in the finals of the austalian open. earlier he said something about how the europeans and eastern-europeans have dominated this grand slam. i thought the cold war was over.

but all the commentators spent most the match comparing tsonga to ali because they look alike.

we guarantee that tsonga will one day become president of france, barring an assassination. we also guarantee that djokovic and sharapova are now an item. isn’t it cute how they both won the austalian open?

“i think by that time, i hope that i will have a nice husband and a few kids” is what sharapova said when asked if she’d still be playing ten years from now. 

it was with these feelings that i began the creation of a human being

January 15, 2008 at 11:25 pm | Posted in basketball, brian, tennis | Leave a comment

for any of you that haven’t seen these, look here and here for some great photos of the utah jazz’s new years eve party (which i found courtesy of freedarko).

january is the worst month of the year.   it’s cold, dry and depressing.  how can i write about sports or even leave my house?  and watching the australian open makes things worse.  it’s like 90 degrees over there (or whatever the equivalent of 90 degrees f is over there since they’re all metric).  but it looks like nike hasn’t even tinkered with there tennis line.  it’ll be another year of every other player wearing the exact same outfit.  except for sharapova who wears a radically different dress every match.  if i was nadal, i’d be demanding a similar deal with nike.  it’s ridiculous that the number 2 men’s tennis player in the world has to order his tennis outfits online and only gets to choose between two color schemes like every other idiot.  andy murray loses in the first round.  it’s sad because his hair is getting long and he’s not wearing the same clothes as everyone else.

better than a win

January 7, 2008 at 2:12 am | Posted in aaron d.w., basketball, tennis | 1 Comment

last night ben wallace went 1-6 from the free throw line, 0-3 from the floor and won the game for the bulls 94-93.  he got fouled with the score tied and with like 30 seconds or something left and made one his two free throws to take the lead.  then on the next play he blocked brad miller’s shot and the game was over.  so the piece i read was talking about how the block wasn’t surprising but the free throw was.  after all, ben wallace is a 4-time defensive player of the year and a career 41.9% free throw shooter.  apparently he airballed one of his free throws.  but if he’s a 41.9% free throw shooter, then it shouldn’t be surprising if he makes 41.9% of his free throws.  that’s to be expected right?  so i’m more surprised that he missed 5 free throws.  i would have expected him to make 2 or even 3 of his free throws.  so i guess making only 1 free throw is surprising, but not in the way that andrew seligman means.  wallace.jpgi like what ben wallace said about it best.  “i already had some practice shots, so i needed to make one.  the laws of physics, eventually one is going in.”  at first i thought that he actually meant the law of expected values in probability.  but i recently read fabric of the cosmos by brian greene and so i think about physics a lot more now.  in a quantum mechanics kind of way, ben wallace is right.  when he shoots his free throws, there’s a 41.9% chance that the electrons, quarks, taus, neutrinos, photons, higgs bosons, W and Z bosons, and muons (and possibly gravitons) will all align or move in such a way that he’ll make his free throw.  not a great probability, i admit.  but the point is that it will happen sometimes.  and most likely it’ll happen more than 1 out of 6 times.  in addition, it’s impossible for ben to really predict the effects of all of the observing (photons from the stadium lights and cameras, sound waves from the crowd, other electromagnetic waves in the arena, the higgs field, people watching) that is happening at a basketball game.  so it’s kind of out of his hands whether his free throws go in or out.  but he tries his best.  i’m just glad he understands that he can only determine the probability that the situation will occur in such a way that he makes his free throws. that he gets it is way more important than winning that game.
rafael nadal lost to mikhail youzhny in the chennai final.  people are wondering about his fitness level (he played like a 4 hour match less than 24 hours before the final), but i’m wondering how long he’s going to keep his sweet beard.nadal.jpg

beard to the final

September 4, 2007 at 11:21 pm | Posted in brian, tennis | 5 Comments

isn’t in embarrassing when you show up to a party and eighteen other people are wearing your same outfit?

these guys gotta get new sponsorships. hopefully with a sponsor that allow them to wear something different than their competitors. i mean, it’s gotta hurt your game when you keep thinking about how stupid you must look looking like every other idiot at the us open.

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