starving for substance

The Need for Control

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on August 26, 2009

A really good article was posted on Deadspin today about the story of an NBA scorekeeper.  He talked about how much leeway is in the score-keeping process and how a team could artificially inflate the number of assists, steals, and blocks a player had.  Granted, I care about the NBA about as much as I care about collegiate softball (to clarify, I don’t), but this is still a really interesting example of why control systems are important.

I took a class on accounting control systems and got probably the worst professor the UofI College of Business ever had, a professor so bad that I requested our senior legacy gift be his severance package (and after checking the professor listings, he’s no longer at the university, big ups COB for actually listening to your students!).  However bad the professor was, the coursework proved to be mildly interesting.  In a nutshell, it asked “How can we stop people from screwing the system?” and here’s a great real life example of that.

If a team can nudge up the average stats of a player, they increase his market value and add more monetary value to their team.  Along with this, the team can get more recognition by getting star players better stats, ensuring a star player makes it into the nightly sports coverage, which consequently shows the home team as well.  Interesting.  Note that this does not affect the actual outcome of the game, but it still does affect (however subtly) the stat line of a player.  Instances where Nick Van Excel is arbitrarily given 23 assists probably does not happen every night, but it seems fair to conclude that when at home, a player might average one or two more assists than he deserves, and better players will receive the benefit of the doubt.  It’d be interesting to see if this actually changed the amount of money a player was valued at.

It kinda sucks for these players because I’m sure a lot of them are thrilled to play a game for a living, and as a childhood fan of the NBA, I’m sad to see that it’s not a game, it’s simply just another business trying to maximize shareholder value.  However, it is interesting to see how relevant the need for control systems are in every aspect of life, which points to the fact that while the general consensus of people is that man is inherently good, what they teach us in school is that man cannot be expected to act morally when left to his own devices.  Sounds biblical.

<Note> I was cynical in my definition of an accounting control system, for a more thorough (and actually accurate definition, read this. </Note>



Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on August 23, 2009

Sticks and stones can break my bones but words have the power to kill me.


Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on August 21, 2009

A few weeks ago, when CFC summer school and poor sleep habits were running me ragged, I was sitting at my computer talking to a friend online.  I realized I only had about 45 minutes or so before a small group reunion dinner and so I decided to grab a quick nap beforehand.  I IM’d my friend, telling her to give me a wakeup call in 50 minutes since the summer revealed a tendency in me to take one hour naps and wake up four hours later.

45 minutes later, my alarm rings and I groggily turn it off and contemplate not going to dinner with my old small group.  Five minutes later, I’m still lying in bed and my phone rings (I have a sweet ringtone, btw).  The following conversation occurs.

“Are you up?”
“Yeah.  Sorta.”
“Get up.”
“I’m tired.”
“This life isn’t about your comfort.  Now go to your small group reunion.”

Ouch and burn.  “This life isn’t about your comfort.”  Stupid simple reminders like that as I go into the new school year and I guess the rest of this life.  I realize that I’ve become so obsessed with the notion of my own comfort and how my comfort dictates everything else in my life.  If I’m comfortable, it’s easy to do anything, but if it takes me out of my comfort zone, I hate it and will do everything possible to get out of it, even resorting to childish reasons like sulking in a corner.

Since this life is not my own, I need to remember that this life is not about me.  If anything, over the past couple months, I’ve become much more bitter, selfish, and complainy.  I still think this life is about my comfort, my desires, my ambitions.  I still don’t think it’s about anything else.  So I guess I’m thankful to hear some kick in the butt words every once in a while that attempt to bring me out of my rut, to hear some sermon suggestions that will get my line of thinking back on track, however, I know where the one solution lies.  I’m also too selfish and prideful to really hammer things out.

This life is not about your comfort…because this life is not about you.


Potential Pet Peeve

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on August 8, 2009

I was reading a review of a place on and a person was talking about the quality of a place decreasing exponentially.  Is this possible?  I always thought exponential growth was possible, but if something is supposed to decrease exponentially, is this possible?  Say something becomes worse by a factor of -3.  If it was to decrease exponentially, -3^2 is 9.  I get that they’re trying to say that the quality went from -3 to -9, but is it correct for them to say that?

Just wondering.  If this is wrong, this is going to become one of my pet peeves. 🙂



Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on August 2, 2009

I’m not a fan of moving after I moved from Indiana after 3rd grade. Now, as I move out of my apartment, I find myself really hesitant to pack things up. I keep thinking about the past two years of memories. Two years with the same guys, the same apartment, and four different personalities.

I hate to say “that’s life,” but sometimes it is. People come, people go. I hate saying goodbye to people because I’m horrible with staying in touch. So as I move out of my home for the past two years, I find myself getting more and more sentimental, knowing that the memories I hold on to will be all I have left of these people. When the other three guys first left, I kept waiting for Paul to knock on my door and tell me some fact about baseball I cared nothing about but feigned enthusiasm because he loved that sport so much. I kept waiting to hear the sound of gunfire coming from Kevin’s room as he played videogames and screamed obscenities and racial slurs at online opponents. I kept waiting for Hao to drop the F-bomb at every little thing that went wrong in his day. But after a couple weeks of waiting, I realized that these things were gone forever.

I miss the way Hao could express happiness and sadness with a single F-word. I miss making fun of Kevin’s obsession with bodybuilding as he failed epically in his battle against genetics. I miss Paul’s pizza and how I could always eat his leftovers. Hao’s TV we would watch Bears games on. The one time we had a thanksgiving dinner. I miss our horribly racist sense of humor as we made waffles and ate fried chicken with grape drink while we watched the inauguration of President Obama. I miss everyone making fun of each other because we knew no other way to show how we cared for each other.

Goodbye is simply a fact of life but one that’s such a painful part to accept. And while I thought I made peace with the fact that these roommates and that part of my life is over, moving out of this apartment puts an uncomfortable air of finality on things.

A roommate picture with Paul after he failed to eat 7 pounds of pudding