Anna Kournikova Fight at Hardbat Classic Las Vegas. Venetian Lavo Nightclub

Anna Kournikova looks on as Killerspin’s Biba Golic hits with the Harbat Classic’s celebrity host Judah Friedlander.    Judah’s a good player, Biba is a brilliant player, Anna’s pretty but …. not so much Table Tennis I think – Anna K refused to even hit the ball!

Biba Golic Anna KournikovaSo, the greastest prize in US Table Tennis history of $100,000  is awarded to bar player Jack Baker of Mobile Alabama and the only big Hardbat news is the fight at Lavo Nightclub between a drunk woman and Anna Kournikova.  Kournikova was a featured celebrity at the tournament though she does not appear to be much of a Table Tennis player.  I never even saw her hit a ball.

Here Anna Kournikova is pictured watching while Biba Golic (a spectacular player, originally from Serbia) plays with Judah Friedlander.

Adding to the misfortune is that my wife and were right near the action at the Venetian when we chose not to go to the Lavo party after we’d had a lot to eat at the  (very excellent) Palazzo Sportsbook party by Budweiser.   Both were held on the second day of the tournament.

We might even have been able to say “hey, were were there during Anna Kournikova’s lowlife highball ping pong fracas.

Celebrity watcher Perez Hilton reports below on the fight at the Hardbat Classic in Las Vegas between Anna Kournikova and another woman at the Lavo Nightclub afterparty.

Could the offender have been angry because Anna Anna didn’t play any Table Tennis during the tournament?   Not even with her beauty and style rival the charming Biba Golic, a top Table Tennis player who unfortunately did not compete in the All Star division of the tournament, but who will be featured in the ESPN coverage coming in September.

Perez Hilton:

Former tennis pro Anna Kournikova ended up with cuts on her neck after getting into a Sin City shoving match on Saturday night.

At the HardBat Classic party inside Lavo Nightclub, another woman at the club threw a drink on her and all hell broke loose!

According to an onlooker, the Enrique Iglesias‘ girlfriend/possible wife and her assistant were sitting at a VIP table when the other woman bumped them. They shoved each other but were separated.

Then, the mystery woman returned later for more trouble!

“The woman came back over and threw a drink on Anna and her assistant,” said the source. “The woman was definitely drunk.”

Anna wanted to have the women kicked out, but it escalated quickly to where the pair were pushing and shoving each other!


The woman grabbed Kournikova by the neck and pushed her into a wall right before security broke them apart!!!

Anna did not need treatment but was extremely shaken up.

Violence is never the answer!

Killerspin Hardbat used for the Hardbat Classic

A controversial new paddle made by Killerspin for the Hardbat Classic in Las Vegas made it very hard for many experienced players to compete effectively with each other or with the lower ranked players who often had a huge point advantage as well as the equipment handicap from making everybody use either the paddle shown here or an even cheaper “junk paddle” version.

Although I approve of the handicapping process I think they need some modifications to make a paddle that favors defender play , produces long, quality rallies rather than the short rallies this blade tended to create.   I only saw a handful of  “great points”  where we would have seen hundreds with regular sponge rubber.     I’d favor a modification that would introduce a USTTA approved hardbat and/or a sponge slow version.     Another approach might be to move to the “big ball” format which is much slower but does not destroy the fun of watching high quality loopers arc the ball back and forth many times.

Inexperienced and non- players want high quality play and this blade does not give us much of that, even when it is weilded by some of the finest players in the country as happened at the Hardbat Classic.


Table tennis will probably *never* be a good TV sport but it’s the world’s greatest participation sport and I think the focus needs to be on bringing people into the game rather than changing it to fit TV better.

Bud Light Hardbat Classic at The Venetian Hotel, Las Vegas – is this good or bad for the game?

We’re back from a fun three days in Las Vegas and I’m thinking about whether the approach taken by Budweiser (the big tournament sponsor) and Killerspin (equipment maker and I think the sponsor of the “All Star” competition)  is going to be good or bad for the wonderful game of Table Tennis.

My short take is yes, this is great for the game because it raises awareness and gets people playing more in bars and basements and therefore will bring more people into the serious side of the sport.    However I would recommend better social media  next year, tied initially to the bar tournaments and then to the big Las Vegas spectacular.  There was very little media buzz offline or online about this tournament despite hundreds of free trips to Las Vegas, celebrities, big money,  pretty athletes, and a two hour ESPN special coming in September!      Everybody loves this game in different ways and somehow this part was lost in the PR campaign leading up to and including the tournament.

In real Table Tennis the play is at a much higher level than we saw even among the best players at the Hardbat Classic because everybody was required to use one of two special  “hard bat”  paddles made just for this tournament.

$100,000 Winner Jack Baker, originally from London and now from Mobile Alabama, had won a local bar tournament.  He was an excellent player but would have been crushed by Trevor Runyan but for the point spread.  Runyan is a US Hardbat Champion who barely made it out of the All Star tournament to face Jack in the semifinals where he lost due to the point spread.  I think the spread was 17 but don’t know yet (I missed the final day’s matches).

Despite a lot of grumbling by the best players who faced the huge handicappings, I think the idea of spotting points is good because it forces everybody to play their very best.    Not so with these paddles, which basically forced many of us who know the game well to play far below our normal levels.     I had trouble even keeping the ball on the table – I think because I’d mostly practiced with the hardbat against a robot which did not give me a sense of what type of shot would be coming to me from these paddles.     Every player I saw from beginner to international class was struggling to get performance out of this blade, so if I had to make one recommendation for next year it would be to find better equipment that would showcase skills.     Old style hardbats, used in the heydey of the game as a spectator sport, shoud be reviewed by Bud and Killerspin.

The lower end paddle was much like the junkiest type of pips out paddles you’d buy for a few dollars at Wal- Mart, where the higher end paddle was a notch up in blade and rubber quality though still seemed light and hard to control.    Head was normal sized where a better hardbat head might have been larger.   The  pips rubber allowed a very modest level of spin but control was so weak that the rallies with these paddles tended to be very, very short.

This problem was significant as the whole idea is to get people excited about watching long rallies and I do not think this type of equipment is best for that.     Better would be to find a blade/rubber combination that slowed the speed and spin down but allowed longer rallies with more work and motion on the part of the players.  This is what might turn Table Tennis into a more popular spectator sport in the USA.

Another popularity strategy I’d love to see would be regular bar tournaments with money or prizes.   I think Bud’s done a lot of good in that direction with the Hardbat Classic, though  it was disappointing for me that the distributor held a small tournament locally but did not pony up the money to send the winner to Las Vegas .   Especially because the winner was … me.

Although I heard something about “4000 local tournaments” that number made no sense because there did not appear to even be a total of 1000 players at the tournament – more like about 300-400 would be my guess and that includes the “basement” players that had no rating, players like me who were rated by the US Table Tennis Assn, and the 8 all stars, mostly from Killerspin’s great team of amazing players.

The Table Tennis “All Stars” who were invited by Killerspin and Bud played against each other and this was the most exciting, high quality play even though they were handicapped with the low grade rackets.     Table Tennis Superstar and Olympic Silver Medalist  Ilya Lupulesku was there but was having a lot of trouble with the hardbat and the fact that his ranking meant he had to give many points to his opponent.      He did not even make it out of his first round robin with other All Stars.    I understand that David Zhuang, another amazing player who has won the US national championships lost *every match* in his first round robin in the “pros” division – I assume because he had to give up to 17 points to the other players.

My initial reaction was that the handicap system was failing to be fair with points, but the idea was to make it very hard on the best players and in this they succeeded  – few “great” players made it out of the initial round.   My round robin opponent  Ashu Jain, a brilliant player with the HBC hardbat, managed to win a a lot but was finally defeated due to the large point handicaps.

…. more soon with pictures ….

ABC Search Affiliate Browser Hijack using advertising

Update:  The malware seems to be hitting affiliates other than the ABCSearch, making a bit stronger their claim of innocence in matters relating to browser hijacking.

Still, it would seem to me that these problems would disappear if every affiliate relationship was defined by a *real, verified person* and then ad companies were required to identify (to authorities AND to the hijack victim) the recipient of any advertising revenue generated by the hijack.    This would put the pressure on the hijackers, not the victims.

NOTE:  It’s not yet clear to me the indirect role that ABCSEARCH plays in this frustrating equation of a browser hijacking redirecting to ABC advertisers.   It would seem they could police this activity better (as I think Google does with their adsense program).

I’m now struggling to remove a browser hijack routine where a spam affiiliate of ABCSEARCH is forwarding me to unwanted websites.    I’m furious with ABCSEARCH for failing to provide me with *any* helpful information, most importantly the identification of the affiliate who is the recipient of this fake search traffic.    ABC benefits from unwanted advertising and to some extent from this illegal activity and therefore is reluctant to lift the veil of secrecy that helps protect purveyors of unwanted advertising.  That is outrageous of them.

(I’m on a Vaio Desktop running Windows XP)

I found the info (below)indicating many others have had similar problems with the ABC advertising network.      Obviously they don’t directly support spammers but they *indirectly* support them by making it difficult to track down the offenders, some of whom are actually selling programs online that use a combination of infecting the computers with a browser hijack and ABC search ads.

When I figure out how to remove this ABCJMP ABCSEARCH spamming malware routine I’ll post it here.  In the meantime please let me know if you have the same problem.

What is is owned and operated by, the world’s largest privately held pay per click advertising network. Advertisers come to ABCSearch to distribute their ads across our broad network of search partners and content sites. is used as our network referral ID to identify and qualify traffic sent by our traffic partners.

Why am I seeing on my computer?

Because ABCSearch is comprised up of a network of thousands of traffic partners, one of these partners may have included you into their distribution network. If you have received any advertisements that contain the url, it is important to understand that and the advertiser are not directly responsible for the advertisement you received through our partner distribution that contains the advertisement with in the domain name.

For Help

It is a high priority of and our advertisers to ensure a positive user experience. If you feel you have been receiving unwanted advertising through a distribution partner, please contact us with as much of the following information as possible: your IP address (, the full URL string with ie:, screenshots, and any other details you can share about your experience. With this information we can assist in getting you removed from the publisher’s distribution. However, because we do not control any part of the publisher’s process, we do not guarantee results. If the publisher uses advertisements supplied by’s advertising clients, we can try additional means to contact them and resolve any opt-out requests provided. Please send all correspondences to and we will do our best to assist you.

Thank you,
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The Illusion of Free Will

Gotta love the internet.  I was trying to find the Wegman Report, a very interesting critique of how global warming advocacy too often masquerades as science, and stumbled into a recent discusson of Free Will with an expert in Neuroscience and philosphy featured in the  New York Times:

… the philosopher agreed with Dr. Haggard that free will has biological roots. In fact, that is something all the men seemed to agree on: that free will is not a spiritual or magical experience endowed supernaturally within us, but rather, that the conscious decision-making ability is a result of organic brain activity.

Bud Light Hardbat Classic at The Venetian in Las Vegas

The Hardbat Classic Table Tennis Ping Pong rumors are not only true, they are truly Table Tennis and it’s going to be Vegas, baby!

I’ll be competing in the Bud Light Hardbat Classic which starts this Friday at the spectacular Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas.   Top prize is … wait for it …  $100,000.00   That’s  enough money to pay the interest on our blossoming national debt for … well…. a couple of seconds.   But never mind that….

I’ll try to keep up with some real time reporting via Twitter or here at the blog, though this may depend on data access at the venue and my own good or bad luck in the tournament.

There will be about a thousand players of all skill levels competing – many after winning their regional bar tournaments held around the USA over the past several months.   Even though I won our local tournament it wasn’t a qualifier for the big one, so I’m making my own way there after they opened it up to everybody.

There are also brackets for a special group of “stars” chosen by the Hardbat Tournament, another for walk in players, and one for “pros” who have a rating or have played in USTTA tournaments over the years.     Although I haven’t played in tournaments recently I was actually the USTTA National Table Tennis Champ in the “1300” rating category  in 1992   (ratings in Table Tennis are kind of like handicapping in golf).

The Bud Tournament is “over handicapped” , meaning that the very best players will have to spot a lot of points to lower ranked players – as many as 17 out of 21.    My take on this tournament  is that it will tend to favor  unrated players who are very experienced with the “pips out” type of rubber required at the Hardbat Classic.

Hardbat Classic Official Website

The Venetian Hotel

Follow the Tournament on Twitter

Follow the Killerspin Team on Twitter

Blogs are talking about the HardBat Classic in Las Vegas at the Venetian:

Spin Mantra

Tournament Guide Magazine

Leased Ferrari

License Magazine

Web Hosting Talk

Table Tennis Top

Las Vegas 1

New, Major Climate Change Report Published

This report out of Copenhagen is the most important climate update statement since the IPCC report process that is now undergoing revision.    The tone is alarming though I remain very confused by this because I’m more familiar than ever with the metrics and remain convinced there are no catastrophes looming.

I’ll try to read through all of this report in the hopes of figuring out why it seems to me we now have a spectacular divergence of scientific data (which does not suggest to me we should be alarmed) with scientific opinion (which seems to suggest  all hell can be expected to break loose pretty soon unless we act in dramatic yet unclear ways to stem the tide of Greenhouse gas emissions).

This report is NOT to be confused with the Copenhagen Consensus, a group founded by Bjorn Lomborg and others to suggest more rational approaches to management of planetary concerns.

Update from Climate Audit, which demolishes the silly Electrical Grid Alarmism graph in this report which reflects (according to the guy who made the graph) better reporting and not more incidents.   It is incomprehensible to me that respectable scientists don’t immediately disavow this kind of graphic nonsense but they will not do that anymore than disavow the nonsense of the film “An Inconvenient Truth” which largely claimed among other absurd things that Katrina was primarily a Global Warming event (it was not this according to any responsible Hurricane researcher you can possible choose), that Lake Chad was mostly a global warming event (not supportable) and that sea level rise of 20 feet was not alarmist nonsense (it is).   Yes RealClimate guys, that means you!   Advocacy  blogs  like RealClimate and Climate Progress generally moderate valid critical points while leaving in attack dog nonsense from supporters). It is sad to see advocacy muscle in on  science as a respectable passion for climatologists.   This is not the 12th century and it is unacceptable if you want reason to prevail in the complex challenges we face on planet earth.

Twitter is playing a significant role in the Iran Political Crisis

Until recently critics of Twitter were quite reasonably skeptical of claims that Twitter significantly influenced the US election or that Twitter was bringing more than trivial bits of real time news to the web, but the Iranian Election shows how important the service has become as a global communication and democratization tool.

Before CNN was adequately covering the sweeping events in Iran Twitter was being used in and out of the country to keep people informed even as other social networks and computer services were shut down.

Although I’m not entirely clear on infrastructure issues, I think Twitter will be able to make it much harder for anti-democratic forces to stifle messaging via the service compared to the more complicated services like Facebook.

Kudos to the service for rescheduling a major infrastructure upgrade until tomorrow, recognizing that Twitter is of increasing importance in making sure news and information flows freely in and out of Iran during the crisis there: Twitter Blog

CNET – Twitter is Confusing Censors in Iran