Belichick’s Decision was Correct — Convention Wisdom is Sometimes Wrong

When the New England Patriots went up to the line last night on 4th and 2 from inside their 30 yard line, I thought for sure that they were trying to draw the Colts offside and could not believe when they snapped the ball. I told my son and wife that it was the worst coaching decision in history — in any sport!

Most of the sports analysts I have heard last night and this morning seem to agree, although when I look at it today from an analytical perspective, perhaps it wasn’t such a bad decision after all. In poker, which I play quite a bit, we often apply math to various scenarios. The math is only one factor that must be taken into consideration when making a poker decision, but it helps establish a base decision making criteria.

Many of you want to quickly dismiss an analytical approach to making this decision, but in truth, most football decisions come down to playing the percentages. The same football analysts who are dismissing the decision to go go for it on 4th and 2 are using math to justify their dismissal of the move. Their arguments usually go something like… can’t he trust his defense to stop Manning and the Colts? They would have had 70 yards to move down the field and Patriots  had been stopping them most of the time. Most stands for a % in these analysts’ minds. Is it 40%, 50%, 60%. It has to be something, right? They are also making the mistake of applying math to some of the decision and not all of it — sure NE can stopping the Colts some significant % of the time, but how often will they make it on 4th and 2 and even if they miss, how often will the Colts score from 30 yards out?  These are all factors that must be looked at.  If not, why not?

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Incredible Model Railroad in Northern Germany

Miniatur Wunderland Hamburg
Image via Wikipedia

As a kid I always looked forward to visits into New York City when my parents would take me to a see model railroad exhibitions during the holidays. I’ve continued to love model railroads and was just amazed when my dad forwarded me a link to the Miniatur Wunderland exhibition in Hamburg. Isn’t this just incredible?

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Bending a Spoon – The Incredible Power of the Mind

Corkscrewed SpoonDuring a family vacation a few weeks ago a good friend was telling me about some of the seminars he has attended. This friend is a successful real estate agent and often attends seminars by people like Tony Robbins, Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, etc. He was mentioning that he had walked on hot coals, broke multiple wood boards without any martial arts training and was able to bend a spoon. His spoon exploits piqued my curiosity when he explained that he didn’t simply bend the spoon, he was actually able to corkscrew it — twist it like it was a piece of paper. He explained that his ability had nothing to so with strength, but involved believing it was possible and harnessing the power of the mind. He likened this to the stories we have all read about when mothers are able to lift a car to free their children.

I was skeptical of this and assumed, if he was able to do it at all, that the spoon must have been made of extremely thin metal. My friend is in good shape, but his build is very average and he would never be confused with an NFL linebacker. That night we had the friend and his family over for dinner at the condo we were staying at and after a great meal and a few drinks I brought out a spoon. The spoons at the condo were far from thin. In fact, they were extremely thick and heavy. I could not even budge the metal when I tried to bend it the long-way. My friend had claimed not to only be able to bend it, but to corkscrew it like it was paper! The friend looked it over and appeared to want no part of it. He hadn’t attempted his mind-bending on a spoon this thick and it had been a few years since he had bent any spoon.

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The Most Expensive Spreadsheet Ever Written?

Way back in the mid-1980's when I was an investment banking associate for Dillon Read it was my job to run the analysis for all of our bond transactions.  Many of these deals were several hundred million dollars each.  I was trusted to develop the spreadsheets which were the basis for computing all of the particulars on many of the deals. 

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Made it to the Winner’s Circle at Santa Anita

picture-1I took the family to Santa Anita this weekend with our good friends Marshal and Julie.  Marshal often invests in racehorses and showed us around the track.  The guys who he invests with had a horse running in the 10th race — Hard Bill —  and we visited the paddock, met the jockey and owners of Hard Bill.   (more…)

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