The Best Live Band Ever is performing May 4, 2019 at the legendary Carlyle Club

“The world’s best band” – that’s how Forbes magazine describes Doc Scantlin and his Imperial Palms Orchestra. It’s true, I’ve seen them several times and there is no better show imaginable. Doc and his amazing talents and his amazing friends will be performing at the Carlyle Club in Alexandria, Virginia, on May 4, 2019.

Here’s the link for tickets: Doc Scantlin and his Imperial Palms Orchestra at the Carlyle Club.

College Donations – An American Institution

Wealthy donors have contributed billions to America’s colleges and universities for years. The Chronicle for Higher Education, which I’ve often quoted in my companion website, published the following article citing a history of major contributions over the last few decades, going back to 1967:

Major Private Gifts to Higher Education

Some examples:

  • Michael Bloomberg to Johns Hopkins, several gifts totaling over $1 billion
  • Bill and Melinda Gates to University of Cambridge, over $200 million
  • Larry Ellison to University of Southern California (USC), over $200 million

The list is lengthy and the donors are interesting – it’s worth checking out.

Lori Loughlin & Husband: Not Guilty?

So there’s this:

Lori Loughlin & Husband Feel ‘Manipulated’ in College Scam: ‘They Had No Bad Intention,’ Source Says

It wouldn’t surprise me if Lori Loughlin and her husband are telling the truth.  There is, after all, a presumption of innocence in America – doesn’t that still  exist?  I wouldn’t be surprised if, in the final analysis, they end up

  1. convicted in lower court and
  2. fully exonerated on appeal

The reason I think that way is this fantastic 2014 book by Sidney Powell:

Licensed To Lie

It reads like a John Grisham novel, but is real.  Powell is a former federal prosecutor who defended one of the very many defendants to a series of cases brought on by the US Department of Justice’ Enron Task Force.  In her book, Powell details a pattern of overreach and legal abuse, documented in great detail and backed up by appellate court decisions – including at least one appellate court-ordered investigation.  It’s a stunning, maddening book, and when these “college scam” cases hit the news in the  last few weeks, I was reminded of her work.  The similarities are striking.

Time – and millions of dollars in legal fees – will tell.

The Real MIT Blackjack Team

I’ve been posting about th3 2008 film 21.  The video below is an interview with the real MIT blackjack team on whom the film is based.  They discuss the math behind their card counting scheme that won them anywhere from $10,000 to $500,000 per trip to Las Vegas as they “counted cards”.

21 (2008 film)

I posted earlier this week about an old Rihanna song and I mentioned that it’s featured in the 2008 film 21.  That’s a really interesting movie that tells the true story – sort of – of the MIT team that beat the blackjack tables in Las Vegas.  The methods they used are real, the movie embellishes a bit to create a rather sinister nemesis to make it a more compelling film.  But the core story is real. If you’ve seen it, it’s fun to watch.

Here’s the trailer:


Earlier I posted about Python.  Since then I’ve worked a Python project that interacted with a SQL database using SQL Alchemy and got an opportunity to do quite a bit in the way of data transformation and data integration, leveraging Python’s remarkably flexible capabilities and rich libraries for use with analytics, machine learning and deep learning, and more.  It’s a great language.  I love Java but I can certainly see why Python has the momentum right now.  It’s an easy language to pick up.  Whereas a typical Java program requires quite a bit to reach the simple “Hello, World” test program, Python gets you there much more quickly.

print("Hello, world");

That’s it! Crazy easy. Compare this to Java:

public class demonstrateHelloWorld {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        System.out.println("Hello, World");

Now – to be fair – there’s a reason this Java example is more involved, its due to Java’s requirement that code be structured in the form of a class. Python doesn’t require that but offers the same option. If you’ve seen this sort of Python code:

if __name__ == "__main__":
  print('Hello, world')

… then you know what I’m talking about.

A side-by-side comparison of the two languages is more involved that I intend to do here, my only point is that Python is very easy to start with and get productive with quickly.

For example, interacting with local text files can be involved with other languages. With Python, its simple:

file = open('output.txt', 'w')
file.write('Hello World')

That’s it. Stupid simple.

My last project this year involved middleware servers, REST services, data tranformations of all sorts, multiple databases and data stores leveraging SQL and JSON, abstracted environment configurations to support dev ops in the larger environment, and more. Easy to manage in Python.

It’s a great language. Java is still number one, and the last I checked I think even C++ still dominates over Python on the list of world’s most in-use software languages.

But Python is the one to watch.