Bits, Bitches, and Bites

First, allow me to apologize for the late–and brief–post. I spent the bulk of my morning resurrecting a dead computer. Well, more comatose than dead. I could boot Windows, but not Linux, and of course it was the Linux installation that had the information I needed.

I’m still not sure what went wrong, but the forensic evidence absolves the computer of all responsibility and points to the root cause having been something stupid I did.

Key lesson: if you have to keep vital information on a standalone computer instead of a network server, make sure you at least put it on a drive accessible from all operating systems on the machine.

Or write it down.

Moving on, a quick update to Tuesday’s piece about Kris Bryant.

Over at FanGraphs, Nathaniel Grow has an explanation of the legal constraints the MLBPA would have to overcome in order to successfully challenge the Cubs’ action.

Unsurprisingly, there’s an arbitration clause–what legal agreement this days doesn’t include mandatory arbitration?–and at least two different dispute resolution processes, depending on whether MLBPA wants to start from Bryant’s current status as a minor league player or his future status as a major league player.

Well worth a read–I won’t spoil Grow’s conclusions about the MLBPA’s eventual actions.

And, with that out of the way, I promise I won’t say another word about baseball.

Until next week, anyway.

Finally, I have to comment on the latest weirdness coming out of Google’s Trends page.

Did you know they’re tracking calorie searches? Neither did I. As I write this, the top five “How many calories are in X?” queries are:

  1. A Banana
  2. Pumpkin Pie
  3. An Apple
  4. An Egg
  5. An Avocado

Am I the only one who finds this list more than a little disturbing?

I mean, a banana? Seriously? More people are worried about the calorie counts of bananas than any other food? The only proper place for a banana is in a banana split, and if you’re eating one of those, the calorie contribution from the banana is hardly significant.

Why is pumpkin pie so high up on the list? Are people still trying to finish off their Thanksgiving leftovers? If so, the number of calories should not be their major concern.

Apples? OK, what kind of apple? With or without the skin? Fresh or dried? Google’s answer, for what it’s worth is that there are 95 calories in a “medium (3″ dia)” apple. Presumably that’s for a standard apple. Note that a Google Standard Apple is not the same as a NLEA* apple. Nor, I presume, an Apple Standard Apple (these days, I believe that’s an iPhone 6).

* Nutritional Labeling and Education Act, the law that establishes the rules for the nutritional information you find on food packages in the United States. An NLEA apple offers 126 calories.

“An egg”? Does anybody really eat a single egg? As a standalone food item, eggs are almost as bad as potato chips for traveling in groups. That aside, I have to think that the cooking method will have a major effect on an egg’s calorie count. The number of people eating raw eggs has to be too small to matter.

I am pleased to see avocado make the list. I’m sure the avocado growers are delighted as well. But again, “an avocado”? Nobody eats a whole avocado as a standalone food item. Half, sliced on a sandwich or in a salad, sure. Several, mashed in guacamole, absolutely. But peel, de-pit, and munch? Uh-uh. Go ahead, tell me I’m wrong. I won’t believe you, but go ahead and tell me.

(I’ll leave the commentary on the rest of the list as an exercise for the reader. Feel free to use the comments to share your reaction to the second five: “a cheeseburger,” “a Big Mac,” “watermelon,” “an orange,” and “a slice of pizza”.)

Mind you, if the contents of the list are disturbing, the fact of its existence is at least unsettling. Remember: if Google is collecting this information, they’re sharing it with advertisers. Keep asking for calorie counts for bananas, pumpkin pie, and eggs, and its only a matter of time before your browser starts showing you ads for stomach pumps.