In this issue of OMGWTF
Girls rowing boats.
Vote on a poll about world championships.
People getting married.
People creatively settling billiards wagers.
The importance of being earnest.
The Final Countdown.
stuff that has recently made me happy
one drink at a time
Internet: Spreading The Awkwardness
You may contribute to their growing collection — or just laugh your ass off.
Internet: Asian Poses
More strange photography. I’m Asian and I don’t even understand it. Bonus: lots of photos of cute Asian girls. Go nuts, guys.
Nature: Serial Sharks
I’m sure deep in our shivering primordial hearts, we all knew this:
Great white sharks hunt just like Hannibal Lecter
By SETH BORENSTEIN
AP Science Writer
Great white sharks have some things in common with human serial killers, a new study says: They don’t attack at random, but stalk specific victims, lurking out of sight.
The sharks hang back and observe from a not-too-close, not-too-far base, hunt strategically, and learn from previous attempts, according to a study being published online Monday in the Journal of Zoology. Researchers used a serial killer profiling method to figure out just how the fearsome ocean predator hunts, something that’s been hard to observe beneath the surface.
“There’s some strategy going on,” said study co-author Neil Hammerschlag, a shark researcher at the University of Miami who observed 340 great white shark attacks on seals off an island in South Africa. “It’s more than sharks lurking at the water waiting to go after them.”
The sharks feeding at Seal Island could have just hovered right where the seals congregated if they were random killers-of-opportunity, Hammerschlag said. But they weren’t.
The sharks had a distinct M.O.
They were focused. They stalked from a usual base of operations, 100 yards from their victims. It was close enough to see their prey, but not close enough to be seen and scare off their victims. They attacked when the lights were low. They liked their victims young and alone. They tried to attack when no other sharks were around to compete. They learned from previous kills.
And they attacked from below, unseen.
There’s a big difference between great white sharks and serial killers and it comes down to that old gumshoe standard: motive. The great whites attack to eat and survive, not for thrills. And great whites are majestic creatures that should be saved, Hammerschlag said.
“They both have the same objective, which is to find a target or prey or victim,” said study co-author D. Kim Rossmo, a professor of criminal justice at Texas State University-San Marcos. “They have to lurk. They want to be efficient in their search.”
The human criminal has to worry about being caught by police and thus is even more careful, said Rossmo, who was a police officer for more than 21 years in Vancouver, British Columbia.
The entire shark-serial killer connection is something right out of a crime novel.
R. Aidan Martin, a Canadian shark researcher who has since died, was reading a whodunit that detailed the relatively new field of geographic profiling, which tries to find criminals by looking for patterns in where they strike. He connected with Rossmo, a pioneer in that criminal field, and they applied the work of tracking down criminals to sleuthing shark strategy.
Martin and Hammerschlag watched sharks from sunrise to sunset, applied the “fancy math” of geographic profiling and came out with plots that showed there was some real stalking going on, Hammerschlag said. Older sharks did better and were more stealthy than younger, smaller sharks, demonstrating that learning was occurring, he said.
The study focused on just one location, but the same principles are likely to be applied to other shark hunting grounds. They can’t really apply to shark attacks on people because those are so infrequent, Hammerschlag said. But if you could figure out the base of operations for the great whites, it would give you a good idea of places to avoid if you were worried about shark attacks, he said.
Other animals, such as lions, also reveal strategies in their hunting, Hammerschlag said. Land animals have been observed more easily from the air or elsewhere on the ground.
University of Florida shark attack researcher George Burgess, who had no role in the study, said the researchers simply used a new tool to show what scientists pretty much knew all ready: “Sharks are like many other predators that have developed patterns to their attacking that are obviously beneficial as a species.”
Chicks: Last Place Can Still Make History
Nine hundred years makes every Greyhound trip seem fast and luxurious…
Venice gets its first woman gondolierWriting by Stephen Brown
Editing by Charles Dick
VENICE (Reuters) – Nine centuries of male monopoly on the canals of Venice came to an end Friday when the first woman passed the grueling test to become a trainee gondolier.
Giorgia Boscolo, the 23-year-old daughter of a gondolier, got the lowest points for one of the 22 places available, while two other women candidates failed to gain admission at all. She is now authorized to take passengers on her gondola while completing her training.
“I have always been in love with gondolas, unlike my three sisters, and I used to prefer going rowing with my father to going out with my friends,” Boscolo told Ansa news agency.
Her father, Dante, said being a gondolier was “a job that requires a lot of physical strength, but with experience you need less effort and my daughter has lots of experience.”
The flat-bottomed boats are propelled by a standing oarsman and are nowadays used for giving tourists romantic trips through the city. To gain entry to the guild of gondoliers, candidates also have to demonstrate knowledge of Venetian history.
She still has to complete her training, but in the meantime, row (pole?) on, dudette!
Poll: How Should A Legitimate Billiards World Championship Fill Its Field?
I started this poll last week (please excuse the misspellings) and voting is moving briskly along.
If you haven’t voted yet, you still have another week. Then, we shall discuss the results over tea and crumpets or burgers and soda like the civilized sportsmen and sportswomen that we are. Jacket and tie optional.
Congratulations to IronChefOverEasy & Allie Kat of the West
about danged time
They’re getting married.
IronChefOverEasy is easily my oldest friend in pool. We both learned to play with Cuetecs. Allie Kat went to my high school and is super-cute, super-sweet, and super-tidy. Basically, she is my complete opposite.
May you both live happily, ever after!
Jack & Ron
no this is not a Bruce Springsteen song
Jack and Ron are good friends who regularly play straight pool together at the pool room I usually go to. They’ve played each other for years and generally, they only play each other. They are highly competitive.
Each year, they play one big match, a race to 100. I’m not sure what the winner gets, but I do know that the loser has to pay a pretty penny for his loss.
This bench is at one of the busiest intersections in the city.
From what I remember in previous years, the loser also has to take out a full-page advertisement in Billiards Digest. Keep an eye out and let me know if you see the advertisement. It’s been a while since I cracked open an issue of BD — they’re not very common around here.
the importance of being earnest
really, I mean it
This past Thursday, I received an email notice of a women’s eight-ball tournament in the area to be held on the upcoming Saturday. Free practice started at 11:00 a.m. with the tournament starting at noon. The pool room was not too far away and so I made plans to attend.
I woke up at 8:00 a.m., puttered around with a few things, gassed up my bus pass and set out. I caught the first bus at 9:04 a.m. Two transfers and 90 minutes later, I was at the pool room. I’d actually arrived a half-hour before they were scheduled to open. However, the door of the pool room was open so I went inside.
The manager was there getting things started for the day and he was nice enough to give me a practice table. I noticed the tables had been recently recovered with nice cloth. In particular, three front tables were now covered in Simonis Tournament Blue. The rest of the tables were covered in the traditional green. This was a HUGE improvement over the mismatched tan and red fuzz these tables had been covered in before.
Since there was no one else there, I took one of the three blue front tables to practice on. Surely these were the “action” tables — the best tables in the house with the tightest pockets and generally only given out to known regulars or reserved for high-stakes money games. I rolled the balls out on the table and prepared to be thoroughly thrilled with practicing on top-rate equipment.
I shot two racks of balls and yet, I couldn’t get the feel for the speed of the table. I did notice the pockets were not shimmed, as action tables usually are. These pockets were just a hair smaller than five inches. Upside: I almost felt like I was a good pool player. Downside: I knew I wasn’t. After the second rack, I took the cue ball and rolled it up, down, and across the table.
My diagnostic tests showed me several things: the tables were not level, some rails were dead, and other rails were extremely lively. This table, as pretty as it looked, was a lemon.
At 11:00 a.m., the Tournament Director (TD) walked cheerily through the door. TD is a very friendly and nice person who is sometimes quite clueless about pool although he has been playing many years. He spotted me playing on the blue table and said immediately, “Oh, we’re not playing on that side today. We’re playing on the other side.”
The other side had five Diamond bartables that the room had only recently installed. They were maybe about two or three weeks old. Still, I remembered reading in the email that the races for this tournament were to three on the winners’ side and to two on the “contenders'” side (the word “losers” had a negative connotation so TD preferred not to use it). Naturally, I thought we were playing on the big tables (as we had in the past for this kind of tournament) since the races were so short. “So… we’re playing races to three and two, loser breaks on… barboxes?”
“But why? We played a round-robin last time races to three on big tables and we finished well ahead of schedule. Why would you shorten the races?”
“Oh, I don’t know… Just thought it might be a good change.”
“But we don’t need a change. The format was fine before. Plus, it was on big tables before. A race to two, loser breaks, on a barbox is almost like a coin toss!” I did not understand why he was shortening the race.
“Well, you of all people should be glad the races are shorter.”
“What?! Oh, hell no. Longer races favor the better player. If I had my way, we’d play races to five at least.”
“Oh, come ON!” TD laughed heartily. “You don’t believe that’s true, do you? That shorter races don’t favor the better player? No way!” TD looked at me as if I had just told him I watched Bigfoot run ten racks, cook an omelet, and ride off into the sunset on a motorcycle.
“Believe it? I know it. Ask any serious player, they will tell you the same.”
“Oh, reeeally? Yeah, I’m so sure they’d agree!” TD went to go set up the tournament board, chuckling all the way.
TD, as nice as he was, had just treated me as most men do in the world of pool — that is, he treated me with condescension and a great lack of respect, both for my knowledge and my game, even though he had known me for some time. What was frustrating was that TD was by no means a great player. Heck, he wasn’t even a good player. I could beat him very, very easily, and I had done so on more than one occasion. Yet, he had recently decided to start a professional pool clinic.
GodDAM that’s annoying.
I understand that great teachers aren’t necessarily great players, and that great players don’t necessarily make great teachers, but s—! TD, as you can see, did not have a thorough understanding of the game and was completely unqualified to advertise himself as a professional — yet that was what he was doing.
I turned in the balls for the big tables and went over to the side with the bartables. I tried once again to reason with TD. I said earnestly, “You think a race to two is supposed to help the better player?”
“Well, yeah. You don’t have to do as much work to win.”
“Okay, now would you then say that a race to one would help me more since that is even less work for me to win?”
“Oh, no. Anybody can win a race to one.”
“Yes, so you see, the shorter the race, the harder it is for the better player to win. A race to two is less than a race to three — it would be harder for me to win.”
TD laughed and said, “Oh, but that’s if everyone breaks and runs.”
“Nowadays, a lot of people can.”
“C’mon, no one, and I mean, NO ONE is going to break and run in this tournament. It’s a girls’ tournament!”
That statement was f—ed up in all sorts of ways but I decided to ignore it for the time being in favor of remaining calm in order to better present my case that longer races favored the better player.
Taking a deep breath, I said evenly, “TD, I don’t know if you know, but the level of women’s pool is going up ALL the time. There are A LOT of women that can break and run, especially on a barbox. A race to two on a barbox is a very, very short race.”
TD patted me on the shoulder and said, “Oh, don’t you worry about it. I don’t think one game is going to make that much of a difference.”
As I watched him go off to the bar, I left many things unsaid. One game. One game in a race to three is 33% of the match. One game in a race to two is 50% of the match. One game in a race to one is ALL of the match. Each game is more and more important the shorter the races are. I had so many reasons, so many statistics, so many arguments — but I knew they would all be wasted.
There is no arguing, or even discussing, a topic or idea with someone who already thinks they know everything.
In any case, this was his tournament. If I had to play extra-tough since the races were now shorter, so be it. I could still win. I began to practice on the barboxes.
By noon, only two other girls had shown up to play.
By 1:00 p.m. there were no signs of anyone else showing up to play so the tournament was cancelled.
I didn’t feel so bad about the tournament being cancelled as I had been practicing nonstop since 10:30 that morning and had already logged in a solid two-and-a-half hours of pool (minus a few minutes for my attempt at educating TD about the length of tournament races). Besides, Diamond barboxes are rare on my side of the world and although these Diamonds were showing an ALARMING amount of wear (drink stains, holes and tears in the cloth) for being just a couple of weeks old, they still played quite nice and I thoroughly enjoyed my practice.
The other two girls played each other a few games. One of them had to go and so the remaining one played me three or four games before she had to go, too. The manager came down and began to lock up the open tables. I began to pack up but he said, “Oh no, you can keep playing.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, yeah, go right ahead.”
Now, this was too good to be true so I had to make sure. “What are the rate for the tables? I can pay in advance.”
“No, no, go right ahead.”
“You’re leaving it on free practice?”
“Yeah, you just keep playing.”
Dear reader, this man, for all his good intentions, had no idea about the damage that I could do. I’ve run into this kind of situation before. Usually, it’s when a guy and I go to dinner and he magnanimously waves his hand while proclaiming, “Go ahead and get whatever you want.”
I will put down the menu, look him in the eye, and say with great seriousness, “Do you really mean that?”
He will say, “Yeah, anything you want.”
I will make sure again that he is looking me in the eye and I will say slowly, and clearly, “Do you have any idea how much I can eat?”
“A whole f—ing lot. More than you can imagine someone of my size consuming.”
“Oh, aren’t you just so cute!”
“Trust me, after I’m done, there won’t be anything cute about it. If you really mean ‘anything you want’ on the menu, I’ll hold you to it.”
At this point, the guy usually chuckles (condescendingly) and says something along the lines of no, go right ahead, it’s fine by me. I warn him (again) that I have been known to eat enough to feed third-world countries, and I also give him an estimate of how much I think it will cost him. If he still says it’s all right, then I go ahead and order.
After he sees the bill and expresses his outrage, amazement, and/or stream of profanity, I simply say, “I warned you, dude.”
I have learned that I am often underestimated in many ways.
Although it is not my fault (since I give very serious warnings) when people are surprised/ambushed, I sometimes feel bad — especially if they meant well and/or the whole fiasco cost them a lot of money. This is why I’ve adopted my “three strikes” system. I give sincere warning at least three times before I let the hammerstroke fall.
This is the importance of being earnest.
I looked the manager in the eye and said, “Sir, you need to tell me when the free practice ends.”
“Oh no, that’s okay. You just keep playing.”
“No, sir, I really, really mean it. You need to tell me when I can play until. You have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA how long I can play pool without stopping, especially if it is free.”
“At least ten hours.”
He looked at my high heels and my otherwise stylish, non-poolplayer-ish wardrobe (it’s good to dress nice for tournaments, no matter how small they are) and smiled that same condescending smile I have seen seal the fates of many men. “Ten hours, eh?”
“Yes, sir. At least.” With the gravity of judge, jury, and executioner, I said, “I am a pool player who loves pool and wants to be the best pool player in the world. I never get tired or bored of this game. I can play forever. Today, if you let me, I will play until closing or until you kick me out, whichever comes first.”
Sunlight still poured brightly through the windows and the thought of 2:00 a.m. the next morning was less than non-existent. “Hey!” he called out to the bar. “She’s says she’s going to play for ten hours! Ten hours, okay?!” His bartenders nodded back at him.
“Okay, ten hours.” I looked at my watch, it was barely 1:30 in the afternoon. “That means I’ll be done at 11:30 p.m. tonight, correct?”
“Sure, sure. We’ll say midnight, that good?” He smiled that Oh-Look-How-Cute-You-Are smile again. You know, the Aww-She-Thinks-She’s-A-Pool-Player smile.
Again, I said earnestly, “Ten hours. You know what you’re saying.”
He laughed as he walked off and waved, “Ten whole hours. Have a good time!”
“Thank you, I will.”
I am a kid in toy store with an unlimited budget and no adult guidance when I get to play pool for free.
I hadn’t eaten breakfast or lunch that day. I hadn’t done anything except play pool the minute I stepped foot in that pool room. I wasn’t going to waste my valuable free table time (table time, for your information, is very expensive where I live) on anything. I played rack after rack after rack in quick succession. I stopped once to wash my hands and my elbow after there was so much chalk caked into both it interfered with my play. There were no other players in the barbox area so I really had a luxurious experience. There was good music playing over the speakers. I began to break well and to run out. I don’t know how many racks I broke and ran but at one point, it seemed like just about every one.
I was in heaven.
A shadow crossed the table and I looked up. It was the manager. I already knew why he was there. He was no longer the smiling man of before. He was concerned, irritated, embarassed, and maybe even a little frightened.
“Yeah. Uh. Hmm. I’m going to have to ask you to stop at four o’clock.”
“Hmm. Yeah. You’ll, uh, have to pay quarters after that. Yeah.”
“I warned you,” I reminded him. “I meant every word I said. Did you?”
His forehead furrowed and he looked pained, like someone just told him his dog died — but not before it pooped in his shoes. He could say nothing to this and walked slowly back to the bar.
The Final Countdown
July is the last month you’ll be able to read my blog at its old address of massiveunderstatement.blogspot.com or at any of the other sites I post it up at. Beginning in August, all updates will be at
I have revamped the blog with a new layout and most recent posts have been successfully moved with all photographs intact while older posts are still being updated. There are a few bugs and glitches being stomped out so excuse the dust during these last days of remodeling. There is no need to sign up in order to leave comments so post away!
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