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Wednesday Open Thread

I'll be working all day (and probably tomorrow as well.) Here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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    From our "Patriot Games" file: (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed Jan 28, 2015 at 08:24:51 AM EST
    Let the flamethrowing commence again. Analyst Warren Sharp continues to press his increasingly compelling case that the deflated football controversy currently enveloping the New England Patriots on the eve of their appearance in Super Bowl XLIX was likely not just a one-time occurrence in last week's AFC championship game, but rather has been an ongoing issue with the team since 2007.

    Specifically, he further examines in detail the precipitous and suspicious decline in the overall number of fumbles committed per season by the Patriots versus the rest of the league's teams, after Tom Brady and Peyton Manning successfully lobbied the NFL in 2006 to allow teams to supply their own footballs both at home and on the road:

    "Based on the assumption that plays per fumble follow a normal distribution, you'd expect to see, according to random fluctuation, the results that the Patriots have gotten since 2007 once in 5842 instances.

    "Which in layman's terms means that this result only being a coincidence, is like winning a raffle where you have a 0.0001711874 probability to win. In other words, it's very unlikely that results this abnormal are only due to the endogenous nature of the game."

    If all this is indeed true -- and the statistics provided by Sharp strongly suggest that his findings are not merely a matter of coincidence -- then the Patriots are clearly undermining the integrity of the NFL's product with their chicanery, and league officials need to act.

    Aloha.

    And what I found interesting is that (none / 0) (#8)
    by Anne on Wed Jan 28, 2015 at 09:11:19 AM EST
    when he looked beyond just the Patriots' performance, and included the other teams in the league, the anomaly didn't go away.

    Watched Inside the NFL last night, and they showed how little time it takes to take a football from 12.5 psi to 10.5 psi - and that the difference can be felt.

    Wonder if there's any pre-game/equipment guy videotape from the other Patriots' games...???

    Parent

    Trial by Bombast & Innuendo (none / 0) (#16)
    by Mr Natural on Wed Jan 28, 2015 at 10:03:53 AM EST
    When Errorbars Hit Mainstream News

    The NFL recently hired physicists at Columbia to help make the case for science with the football fiasco, but I think that's unnecessary: a few good experiments with temperature and friction and lots of measurements by lots of different pressure gauges will empirically demonstrate how much of a range we might expect from such things. In other words, understanding errorbars.

    In fact, I heard quite a few people call in to ESPN radio over the past week trying to explain to the sports radio hosts what might be going on scientifically, only to be hung up on. The truth is, it's not as interesting a story to think about it just happening outside our control. It messes with our sense of omnipotence and control.

    This is bad news for society, as more and more things become "datafied" and as we assume that will translate into perfect information.

    I've been reading MathBabe's blog for a number of years and, as an old engineer, recommend her writing, especially re statistics.

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    Maybe I'm always thinking too much like a lawyer (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by Peter G on Wed Jan 28, 2015 at 11:39:03 AM EST
    and not like a scientist, but isn't the issue here whether the footballs were deflated in violation of the rules (i.e., whether one team was cheating) and not whether deflating the footballs would give one team an actual advantage over the other? I mean, the latter question is interesting, but it should be of no moment in an investigation of whether a team is due to be sanctioned for cheating.  (It's not like there's a plagiarism defense that goes, "Sure I copied from that other kid's paper, but her paper turned out not to be as good as I thought it would be.")

    Parent
    But MathBabe's post says nothing about ... (none / 0) (#19)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed Jan 28, 2015 at 11:19:15 AM EST
    ... the controversy, and is mostly a lament about how nobody is paying attention to science anymore. While I'd agree with her about that, her reference to the NFL is merely tangential.

    Perhaps all these people who are pointing so frantically to the science of air pressure and temperature in their quest to exonerate the Patriots, might want to also explain how the cold weather only managed to affect the footballs on the Patriots' sideline in Foxboro, while simultaneously leaving unaffected the Colts' footballs on the other side of the field.

    Or maybe we're to then assume that some sort of mysterious and divine provenance was somehow at work against Bill Belichick and Tom Brady on that day, not unlike how the Angel of Death passed over the houses of the Israelites in the Book of Exodus while on its way to kill the firstborn sons of their Egyptian captors.

    Sorry, but given their past behavior, New England does not deserve the benefit of the doubt here.

    Aloha.

    Parent

    You haven't proven any of that, Donald. (none / 0) (#21)
    by Mr Natural on Wed Jan 28, 2015 at 11:31:42 AM EST
    So far you haven't provided anything but bombast and innuendo to make your case, enhancing it by smearing the motives of anybody, like me, who dares question your great outgassing of hot air by asking for the methods and empirical data supporting your suppositions.

    I've forwarded a couple of pieces of explanation.  In response, you've offered little but rote appeals to authority, the classic logical fallacy.

    I don't have any skin in this game.  I don't give a damn about either team.  American style football is a stupid brutal sport.

    Parent

    If you tell me that any of the footballs (none / 0) (#28)
    by Anne on Wed Jan 28, 2015 at 12:02:40 PM EST
    used by the Colts that day were registering lower than the mandated 12.5 psi, I'm happy to put this all off on air temps and contraction/expansion, etc.  Or if you can tell me that the Colts kept their footballs next to the heater on the sidelines, and the Patriots didn't, then there may be a case for why the pressure in one team's footballs differed significantly from the other team's.

    Since these are explanations that are eminently obvious even to the non-scientists who still remember from their elementary school science - or Seinfeld - that heat expands things and cold contracts them, I have to believe these were the first possibilities considered as an explanation.  In other words, if you hear hoofbeats, look for a horse.  I think they looked for the horse, and failing to identify it as the source of the hoofbeats, are now considering it could be a zebra - and not the kind wearing a referee uniform.

    Is there an explanation for the Pats' startlingly good - low - stats on fumbling as a percentage of plays?  Is it possible that, in the years since teams were allowed to provide their own balls, that there's an explanation that doesn't involve playing with a tampered ball?  Is there an explanation for these numbers to be so consistently low regardless of when and where and under what conditions the games were being played - indoors, outside, cold, heat, rain?

    I don't know that anyone has any answers, other than those who may have been involved, if this was a case of equipment tampering.  But what we do know doesn't lend itself to accepting the Pats' denials as the last word.

    Parent

    NASA - Day of Remembrance is Today (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by ScottW714 on Wed Jan 28, 2015 at 08:57:05 AM EST
    NASA will pay will tribute to the crews of Apollo 1 and space shuttles Challenger and Columbia, as well as other NASA colleagues, during the agency's annual Day of Remembrance Wednesday, Jan. 28.

    NASA's Day of Remembrance honors members of the NASA family who lost their lives while furthering the cause of exploration and discovery. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and other agency senior officials will hold an observance and wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

     LINK

    I had no idea they did this every year, but very grateful there are people willing to risk their lives to better humanity.

    Parachute failure 1967
    - Vladimir Komarov

    Decompression 1971

    • Georgi Dobrovolski
    • Viktor Patsayev
    • Vladislav Volkov

    Vehicle disintegration during launch 1986
    • Greg Jarvis
    • Christa McAuliffe
    • Ronald McNair
    • Ellison Onizuka
    • Judith Resnik
    • Michael J. Smith

    Vehicle disintegration on re-entry 2003
    • Rick D. Husband
    • William McCool
    • Michael P. Anderson
    • David M. Brown
    • Kalpana Chawla
    • Laurel B. Clark
    • Ilan Ramon
    • Dick Scobee

    Training/Test Related can be found HERE.


    In 1986 (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by jbindc on Wed Jan 28, 2015 at 09:02:53 AM EST
    I was in my senior year of high school, sitting in Mrs. Sogge's 5th hour speech class when the principal came over the PA and made an announcement about the Challenger.

    Wow - can't believe it's been so long.

    And how old that makes me!

    Parent

    You feel old? (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by Zorba on Wed Jan 28, 2015 at 09:33:12 AM EST
    You're not old, I'm old.
    I was a Girl Scout leader back then.  We had a meeting that day, and naturally enough, the girls knew about the disaster and wanted to talk about it, so we did.
    Then I had them stand in a circle as we sang "Taps" ("Day is Done, Gone the Sun").


    Parent
    I was playing cards (none / 0) (#22)
    by sj on Wed Jan 28, 2015 at 11:37:51 AM EST
    with some friends when another friend dropped by and casually said that the Challenger had exploded. I was engrossed in the game and it took me a second before I thought, "wait, what?"

    I'm no fan of Reagan and never have been, but I thought his speech that day was fine, moving and honorable.

    Wait.. there are words to Taps?

    Parent

    Thought you were a decade younger than me (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by Dadler on Wed Jan 28, 2015 at 09:56:11 AM EST
    But I was only a sophomore in college in 1986. You learn something new every day.

    Parent
    Just turned 46 (none / 0) (#18)
    by jbindc on Wed Jan 28, 2015 at 10:36:06 AM EST
    Almost 3 weeks ago.

    Parent
    I Was in 10th Grade... (none / 0) (#26)
    by ScottW714 on Wed Jan 28, 2015 at 11:51:29 AM EST
    ...and my locker mate told me between classes.  I don't remember an announcement or anything at school.

    I could point to that spot, almost 30 years later, to where I was standing when he told me.  Which is odd considering I don't remember thinking it was a huge deal until I got home and saw my parents, they were never home when I got home.

    Parent

    Thank you for posting this, Scott. (none / 0) (#9)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed Jan 28, 2015 at 09:17:43 AM EST
    Just one minor correction. Dick Scobee was not a crewmember on Columbia in 2003. Rather, he served as commander of the Challenger in January 1986.

    Parent
    Dang... (none / 0) (#10)
    by ScottW714 on Wed Jan 28, 2015 at 09:24:29 AM EST
    ...sorry about that.

    Parent
    Also, we should remember ... (none / 0) (#25)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed Jan 28, 2015 at 11:42:17 AM EST
    ... astronauts Gus Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chafee of NASA's never-completed Apollo 1 mission,, who were killed in January 1967 when their command module caught fire and burned during a routine launch pad exercise, only 25 days before they were to actually launch into orbit.

    Parent
    From our "Only in L.A." file: (none / 0) (#1)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed Jan 28, 2015 at 07:33:47 AM EST
    So, where was Batman when she needed him? Likely, he was drinking a pitcher of margaritas with Robin at The Abbey in West Hollywood:

    Los Angeles Times | January 28, 2015
    Mr. Incredible convicted in Hollywood Boulevard brawl with Batgirl - "A man who wears a Mr. Incredible costume to entertain tourists on Hollywood Boulevard was convicted Tuesday of punching and body-slamming a Batgirl during a fight last year. Muhammet Bilik, 35, was convicted of battery and sentenced to a day in jail, three years probation, 20 days of Caltrans work and 36 anger-management classes in connection with the Oct. 22 attack in front of TCL Chinese Theatre that was caught on camera and uploaded to YouTube."

    And sadly, this isn't the first instance of superheroes and lovable children's cartoon characters going astray in the City of the Angels.

    Please join us next time on "Sesame Street After Hours," boys and girls, as Bert and Ernie take us to visit Miss Helena Hanbasquette on the set of her latest video shoot at the Manhole Productions Studios in Reseda, while Kermit and Miss Piggy teach us the importance of knowing how to hold our liquor, as they roll drunks on Santa Monica Blvd.

    ;-D

    I Went to Find the Video... (none / 0) (#2)
    by ScottW714 on Wed Jan 28, 2015 at 08:16:03 AM EST
    ...for laughs.  Not really funny when you realize a guy assaulted a woman, so I am not posting.  It's hard to tell if the guy is really big, or if it's the costume muscles, but seeing a big dude go after a woman is bothersome.

    Parent
    Yes, it is disturbing. (none / 0) (#4)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed Jan 28, 2015 at 08:39:27 AM EST
    And to get serious about it for the moment, I think that L.A. city officials have been painfully slow to recognize that the sidewalk solicitations of tourists in Hollywood by individuals seeking to capitalize on the popularity of these characters have become evermore competitive and aggressive. Further, it's been an ongoing problem for quite some time now. They really need to draft and promulgate rules  to regulate this sort of activity, and enforce applicable ordinances to curb disreputable and potentially dangerous behavior.

    Parent
    How Do You Regulate... (none / 0) (#6)
    by ScottW714 on Wed Jan 28, 2015 at 08:58:20 AM EST
    ...the activity of superheros, the keep trying in Xmen with little luck.

    Parent
    I don't know. (none / 0) (#12)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed Jan 28, 2015 at 09:42:48 AM EST
    I've lost track over the years as to the overall number of superheroes there actually are in this country.

    Congress and state legislatures need to address the compelling issue of superhero standards because honestly, we can't have just anybody don a cape, mask and set of tights on a whim, and then claim that he or she is a crimefighter worthy of superhero status.

    Otherwise, what happens when someone who's truly in distress puts out an urgent call for a superhero's assistance, only to have this schmuck show up?

    There really oughta be a law, I tell ya.

    Parent

    "the overall number of superheroes" (none / 0) (#17)
    by Mr Natural on Wed Jan 28, 2015 at 10:05:05 AM EST
    is ZERO.

    Parent
    Jeez, dude. (none / 0) (#20)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed Jan 28, 2015 at 11:24:45 AM EST
    Did the dog eat your sense of humor this morning, along with your homework? You need to go back to bed, and then try getting up on the right side.

    Parent
    Plus Donald... (none / 0) (#27)
    by ScottW714 on Wed Jan 28, 2015 at 11:53:58 AM EST
    ...there is no way he could know that, ditto for aliens, zombies, and gods...

    Parent
    Willie McCool... (none / 0) (#14)
    by Dadler on Wed Jan 28, 2015 at 10:01:26 AM EST
    ...is still the best astronaut name ever. RIP to him, and to all those adventurous souls. (Way more adventurous to me, I might add. I'm like Christoper Walker, who, when asked by Jay Mohr what he would rather have, the gift of flight or the tail of a dog, Chris replied without hesistation, "A tail, it's no contest! Come on, you can always get in a plane and fly. But a tail. People could know, without saying a word to you, how to deal with you that day.  

    "Production Asst: 'Uh oh, look out, Chris is in a bad mood today, stay away from him if you can.'

    "Production Asst 2: 'How do you know?"

    "Production Asst: 'Just look at his tail.'"

    No space travel for me!

    Christopher WALKEN (none / 0) (#15)
    by Dadler on Wed Jan 28, 2015 at 10:01:53 AM EST
    Jaysus!

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    I Was Looking at My Dog... (none / 0) (#23)
    by ScottW714 on Wed Jan 28, 2015 at 11:38:40 AM EST
    ...this weekend thinking the same thing, how different humanity would be if we couldn't hide our emotions.

    I was watching TV, and my dog was on her bed facing the opposite direction.  She was not happy with me, so I did what I always do, gave her some turkey jerky, rubber her belly, and told her what a good dog she is, problem solved, she was facing me and tail was a wagging.  She was happy.

    I looked at the GF and thought, there has got to be an easier way.  And then it hit me, tails would allow us a little insight into what others are thinking.  Not entirely, but just enough to solve so many problems and miscommunications.

    Parent