Category: Jason Waddell

Youtube Scavenger Hunt

by: Jason Waddell

Hannes had been bugging me.

Pestering really. Text messages linking to the most inane, random YouTube videos.

“I’m not even interested in golf”, Hannes added.

I responded each time with the only appropriate response.

“Not now Hannes, I’m at work.”

When this proved an ineffective deterrent, I was forced to change tactics. “Tell you what, I’ll make you dinner Friday, and we can watch YouTube videos to your heart’s content.”

Prelude

The dishes were cleared and the festivities began, aimlessly at first.

“Less than 5000 views! It’s a travesty!”

Hannes was nothing if not passionate. As we watched, he waxed poetic on the intricacies of the YouTube ecosystem.

“Every YouTube session diverges in one of two directions: you either get stuck in some obscure abyss, or you reach VEVO.”

“So there’s a tipping point? Could we intentionally cross from one to the other?”

We devised a game.

The Rules

At the end of each video, YouTube presents you with a 4 by 4 grid of suggested videos. The goal was to start at a completely random location and, by navigating the suggested video links, eventually reach VEVO territory. More specifically, the Nicki Minaj: Anaconda official video. Truth be told I didn’t actually know what Nicki Minaj looked like, and had only heard the name as some sort of negatively regarded pop sensation. But I wasn’t one to turn down Hannes’ anthropological offerings.

Our starting point? A click of the Wikipedia “Random Article” page.

gravityAssist

Perfect. We’d search YouTube for “gravity assist”, click the first link, and begin our journey there.

Planetary Physics

Video 1: Gravity Assist or Stealing a Planet Angular Momentum and Getting Away With It 
Video 2: Gravity Assist
Video 3: Gravity Visualized
Video 4: David Blaine: How I held my breath for 17 min

Four clicks in and we’d made our first leap. We were moving on to greener pastures.

Youtube’s Got “Talent”

David Blaine led us to You’ve Got Talent territory, one step closer to music and one step closer to Nicki Minaj.

Video 5: Top 5 Magician auditions on Got Talent
Video 6: Top 5 acts EVER on World’s Got Talent 

Click six was undoubtedly a bad move. Before formalizing the challenge, Hannes and I had gotten stuck in an inescapable web of cyrillicly-titled Russian folk music videos. Cultural diversity was not our goal. We needed to toe closer to America’s Got Talent and steer clear of the World’s edition, multiculturality be damned.

Video 7: America’s Got Talent 2014 Top 10 (First Auditions)
Video 8: America’s Got Talent 2013 Episode 10
Video 9: Michael Jackson song sung by a 16 year old young man Must see AWESOME!!!

Okay, color me unimpressed, but performing a Michael Jackson piece at age sixteen is hardly noteworthy. The King of Pop himself started his recording career at a much younger age, so you’re not remotely in prodigy territory. And can we be clear on video naming etiquette? This video was hardly awe-inspiring, and certainly doesn’t classify as compulsory viewing.

But it did lead us to a deep place. A dark place. A swirling eddy we’d soon be desperate to escape. The Michael Jackson corner of YouTube. Neverland Ranch.

Michael Jackson Purgatory

Video 10: MICHAEL JACKSON BILLIE JEAN HD MUNICH BEST QUALITY
Video 11: Michael Jackson – Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
Video 12: Michael Jackson – Black or White

There was no progress in sight.Every video ended with another wall of suggested Michael Jackson videos. We had to get out, by any means necessary. We devised a plan. Find Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal. Surely there we could take an Alien Ant Farm cover escape hatch.

Video 13: Michael Jackson – Scream
Video 14: Michael Jackson: Smooth Criminal – Moonwalker Version [Blueray]

We didn’t find a link to a cover. What we found was much, much worse.

Parody Hell

Video 15: Disney’s Frozen – Thriller by Michael Jackson

Video 16: Memorial Michael Jackson animation – MJJCN

Video 17: Michael Jackson VS Spongebob 2!!! Revenge of the Sponge

Ugh. The ‘2’ in the title isn’t an errant character. It’s the second in a series of, from what we could see, at least four installments.

Video 18: Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” Tribute in LEGO
Video 19: Shrek – Thriller (Parody of Michael Jackson)

We thought it couldn’t get worse. But that was just wasted optimism.

The Seventh Circle

Video 20: Creeper – A Minecraft Parody of Michael Jackson’s Thriller (Music Video)
Video 21: Wrecking Mob – A Minecraft Parody of Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball
Video 22: Like An Enderman – Minecraft Parody Gangnam Style
Video 23: Minecraft Style – A Parody of PSY’s Gangnam Style 1 hour (With animations)

Insanity began to set in. But our path was clear. We had to reach the surface. Swim through the mire of parodies to each an official PSY video.

Video 24: Baby Gangnam Style – PSY babies dancing (Evian)
Video 25: “Walking Dead – Dancing Zombie” – Gangnam Style – Daniel Cloud Campos
Video 26: Psy – Gentleman Spiderman (SA Wardega)
Video 27: PSY – “Gentleman” (Hongtleman) Parody by Trend Factory
Video 28: Gentleman-Little PSY
Video 29: GUNMAN STYLE – GANGNAM STYLE (ASIAN WESTERN PARODY)
Video 30: PSY (ft. HYUNA) 오빤 딱 내 스타일-
Video 31: PSY – HANGOVER feat. Snoop Dogg M/V

Jackpot. Our destiny was just a few clicks away.

The Promise Land

Video 32: Nicki Minaj – Pills N Potions (Official)
Video 33: Nicki Minaj – Anaconda (Lyric Video)
Video 34: Nicki Minaj – Anaconda Video Reaction
Video 35: Nicki Minaj Anaconda Video: Behind the Scenes Vlog

Controversy

Something was wrong. Clicks that should lead to the official video didn’t. There was no way to get there organically.

“Are you sure it’s on YouTube Hannes?”

“I watched it yesterday. It’s got more than 200 million views. It’s on there. Keep trying.”

We tried a few more videos in vain, but the connection wasn’t there. Was YouTube silently directing traffic away from the video? Had they deemed it too raunchy to stumble upon by accident? What reasoning had caused this behavior?

As a final measure, we searched for Anaconda directly. And sure enough, it was there.

Maybe YouTube was on to something. Maybe we shouldn’t be watching this video after all.

September Vices

by: Jason Waddell

Here’s some shit I’m into.

BoJack Horseman

bojackHorseman

I don’t know if this is actually a good television show. Do we still say “television”, even with a complete disassociation of the physical technology? The phrase “do you want to play Nintendo” outlived my ownership of a Japanese console.

BoJack Horseman is a Netflix produced cartoon about a has-been horse-man, washed up and former star of of a tacky Full House-esque nineties sitcom. The voice acting selection seemed hand picked to pique my interests, starring Will Arnett, Alison Brie and Aaron Paul. I’m well aware that my taste in actors reads like a listicle from Stuff White People Like. The casting got me in the door, and a general need for escapism kept me there.

I don’t know if BoJack Horseman is actually a good show. If you’re looking for something on par with the quality delivered by Arrested Development, Community and Breaking Bad, this isn’t the place. BoJack deals in relatively dark themes for a cartoon, but more often than not misses the emotional mark. Despite my misgivings, I endured the entire first season, which is perhaps a testament. It doesn’t “get better”, so if you’re not sold after an episode or two, I’d give it a pass.

Recommended for: People who don’t need much comedy in their animated comedies.

 

Todd Barry: The Crowd Work Tour

toddbarry-thecrowdworktour-585x439

I first discovered Todd Barry through his appearances in Season 4 of Louie, where Todd regaled a bar crowd with his retelling of a petty victory over a local comedy club owner who had mistakenly typed his name as “Todd Berry”. Todd Barry practices a perfected style of dry comedy, but here discards prepared material for a script-less crowd work tour. With some comics crowd work can feel like a hack collection of canned barbs masquerading under the guise of improvisation, but Barry’s work is truly entertaining and hits all the right notes.

You can buy The Crowd Work Tour for a fiver over at Louis CK’s site.

Recommended For: People who claim to “love to laugh” in their dating profiles.

This Shirt from Pull and Bear

IMG-20140909-WA0012

 

The above picture is a product of a misguided attempt to win a girl back with the flirtatious guessing game “what’s in my mouth”, hoping she would someday return the favor. We’d been watching Project Runway together in recent weeks, and I had hoped she would appreciate the aesthetic alignment of the shirt pocket with the (spoiler alert) Kinder Surprise capsule. The whole thing was a failure, which goes to show, there’s no accounting for taste.

Recommended for: Losers.

 

Zinedine Zidane

Recommended for: People who feel the robbery scene from Spring Breakers didn’t live up to its potential.

Optimizing Poker Decisions using ICM

by: Jason Waddell

Poker is a hard game. Tournaments payouts add a layer of complexity to the process. Chips won do not directly correlate to dollars earned. Let’s take a relatively simple hand.

icm1

 

We are in the top 3 of a tournament with the following payout structure:

  • 1st: $30.15
  • 2nd: $18.10
  • 3rd: $12.05

The player on the button folds, and we are left with a rather binary decision: push or fold. Although our hand is terrible, the cards are live, and letting the small stack double-up for free by taking the blinds isn’t a terribly attracting. How can this hand play out? Discretely there are 4 possibilities:

  • We raise, are called and win.
  • We raise, are called and lose.
  • We raise and our opponent folds.
  • We fold.

How do we make that decision? Enter the Independent Chip Model (ICM), a model which translates the players’ tournament holdings to their expected tournament winnings in dollars (or any other currency). Basically, plug in the payout structure and each player’s stack size, and ICM gives you each player’s expected winnings.

The above four outcomes result in the following stack sizes at end of hand:

Starting Stacks:
1682 (Button)
1790 (Hero)
1028 (BB)

Stacks if we raise, are called and we win:
1652
2848
0

Stacks if we raise, are called and we lose:
1652
762
2086

Stacks if we raise and villain folds:
1652
2150
698

Stacks if we fold:
1652
1610
1238

In terms of ICM for the hero (that’s us!), we have:

ICM pre-hand: 21.4

  • ICM if called and we win: 25.6 (+4.2)
  • ICM if called and we lose: 16.6 (-4.8)
  • ICM if raise and villain folds: 22.90 (+1.5)
  • ICM if we fold: 20.6 (-0.8)

Broken down like this, the decision is purely mathematical, as a function of two quantities:

  • The probability villain folds to our shove
  • The probability that we win, given a call.

This is a simple expected value calculation, bread and butter for any statistics student. Villain’s cards are unknown, and using simulation we know that the probability our hand (57 offsuit) beats a random hand is 40.5%. This is a bit of a simplification, as villain’s probability of calling could change as a function of his hole cards, but in this situation it should be fairly representative.

What is the probability villain folds? Well that’s a true unknown, and one we have to guess at. But first, let’s see what our expected ICM looks like as a function of villain’s probability of folding. The weighted expected value calculation is:

icm2

 

Next, we visualize this formula by examining expected ICM as a function of our villain’s probability of folding (p_fold).

icm3

 

If we fold, we know our expected ICM: it’s fixed at $20.6. Thus, we want to pick the option that maximizes our ICM. Here, we can calculate where the black and blue lines cross. Solving for p_fold, we get a value of 0.134, or 13.4%. So the question is, do we expect villain to fold more than 13.4% of the time?

Let’s step into his shoes for a moment. His remaining chip stack is 698. If we shove, he faces calling his stack to win a pot of 300 + 300 + 90 + 698, or 1388. This is giving him odds of almost exactly 2:1 to call, which means he is properly priced to call with basically any two cards.

Thus I expect villain to fold less than 13.4% of the time, and we go ahead and fold our cards.

 

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ChannelFireball: Signets and Faydens

by: Jason Waddell

So it turns out I’m not terribly consistent with the rate at which I write articles, so here’s a third in two weeks. It takes inspiration from our “Debate Topics” forum thread. Let me know if you like the format, there’s plenty more to cover!

 

ChannelFireball: Ghost of Cubing Future

by: Jason Waddell

Happy new year! To celebrate, I’ve written a ChannelFireball article on the future of cubing, where things stand and directions designers can take things in the future. It’s a bit unlike past articles I’ve written, so do let me know if you’d to see more in this vein from time to time.