I went a little berserk on the twitter last night. I watched a few games back to back on NFL Rewind, and just started tweeting. I think it beats my marathon Basketball Wives tweeting sessions. Anyway, a few things:
1.) I got to see Cam Newton's 422-yard performance against the Cardinals. It should be said that the Cardinals didn't look very good on defense. But it should also be said, that they really seemed to be coming after Newton. I thought he handled the rush about as well as I've ever seen a rookie QB in his debut game. Check out Chris Brown's mock-up of Newton's first NFL touchdown--a 77-yard bomb.
2.) I know the notion of playing under pressure has been basically debunked. But watching Tony Romo's performance, and comparing it to his numbers, will make you suspicious. All interceptions and fumbles are killers, but some are just genocidal. I have no idea why Romo was running with the ball like a loaf of bread near the goal line, or what made him say, "Hey my number one receiver is hurt, I think this is a good time to test the best cornerback in the league."
With that said, I suspect the desire to take chances cuts both ways. I'm sure Romo could play smarter at the end of football games. But I wounder if the same urge to try for the touchdown, isn't the same urge that makes him a good quarterback. That touchdown to Miles Austin, really could have been picked off.
Finally, I'd love to see a statistical breakdown of QBs in the fourth quarter. The vague sense that Romo isn't a "clutch players" needs to be measured against some math.
3.) I got to chatting last night on the twitter last night with a dude who can't watch the games on Sunday because his RPG group plays at the same time. This was shocking. I really thought I was the only person in the world who generally believed "Against The Giants" to be a really cool double entendre.
It got me to wondering why nerds tend toward baseball, instead of football. I don't know if the brawny, muscle-headed rep of the game scares away geeks, but football always struck me as a game for intellectuals--chess with concussions as someone said on twitter, or RTS with actual people.
I was nerd almost as a matter of biology. But given where I grew up, I never thought of myself as such until much later. I wasn't stuffed into my locker (that was rather dangerous in 1989) and was generally pretty well liked. I never really felt socially banished. So I lack the standard nerd-narrative of pariah status.
You just had to love Ronnie Lott in West Baltimore. There wasn't much choice. The way we played the game, was the way we wanted to live You had to know what it meant for Doug Williams to ether John Elway. It was like hip-hop--a hood lingua franca.
4.) Here are some thoughts from Detroit on the NFL's worst owner:
Well, the Fontes/Ross era combined for six playoff appearances in nine seasons; the Lions made the playoffs eight times in 58 seasons prior to Fontes' arrival (well, Barry's arrival). The Lions went 9-7 in 2000, missing the playoffs thanks to Paul Edinger's game-winning FG in week 17.
As a result, Ford hired a broadcaster with no previous front office experience, watched him tear down a veteran team and replace it with a 2-14 version ... despite four consecutive seasons during which the Lions never approached that 9-7 mark, Ford rewarded Millen with a contract extension. At that point, Millen had led the Lions to a 16-48 record, tied for the 12th-worst four-season stretch since the advent of the 16-game schedule in 1978, and yet Ford made him reportedly the second-highest-paid general manager in the league. (I didn't even know that before. RAEG.)
At the end of his tenure, the Lions were 31-97 over that eight-season stretch (giving Millen the blame for all of 2008), ninth-worst in NFL history. The two franchises who managed worse streaks were the Cardinals, various periods from 1936 to 1945, and the Eagles, various periods from 1933 to 1943. (They each had four streaks that overlapped.) In essence, Millen took an average team and made it a WWII-era bottom-feeder. And the event that led to all this was arguably B. Sanders choosing to quit rather than to put up with another year of the lunacy that is football in Detroit.
That event is probably on par with a hypothetical ousting of Parcells, especially given what Parcells managed in Miami and what Barry contributed to in Detroit. (Five of the Lions' 10 modern playoff appearances came during Barry's career.) Ford has owned the team for 51 years. In the 50 seasons under his watch, the Lions have won 10 games or more 5 times. They've won exactly 1 playoff game. Snyder matched that total in his first year as owner (they beat the Lions, in fact, in 1999), and his Redskins have won 10 games twice in 11 seasons.
I can certainly understand the frustration that Redskins fans must feel, watching a storied franchise slowly being driven into the ditch by Voldemort, but trust me, Snyder has a long, long way to go to be the worst in the league. The fact that he's openly dumb just makes his stupidity more obvious; Ford's ability to hide in the shadows doesn't make his any less important. (We could throw in Mike Brown and Bill Bidwill for good measure; I'm not entirely convinced that Bidwill even realizes his Cardinals nearly won the Super Bowl once. If Snyder wants to lead the NFL in incompetence, he'd better be prepared for a long battle ... there are masters at work before him.)
I'd insert some word about Jerry Jones here, but I don't think I'm qualified anymore. More on that later.
5.) Another endorsement for NFL Rewind which is offering a free trial through September 19. The game really looks spectacular. Watching Newton yesterday got me thinking a lot about story-telling. I knew he lost the game, and yet on that final drive my blood was still up. It was as though I expected him to defy space-time.
It's very similar to story-telling in that way. How can we know that D'Angelo is a dead man and root for him anyway? Know what happens at the end is good. Knowing how it happened is so much better.
6.) I bought a glass bodum tea pot. I make mint tea every morning and every night. I think I'm in love.
Einstein’s gravitational waves rest on a genuinely radical idea.
After decades of anticipation, we have directly detected gravitational waves—ripples in spacetime traveling at the speed of light through the universe. Scientists at LIGO (the Laser Interferometic Gravitational-wave Observatory) have announced that they have measured waves coming from the inspiral of two massive black holes, providing a spectacular confirmation of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity, whose hundredth anniversary was celebrated just last year.
Finding gravitational waves indicates that Einstein was (once again) right, and opens a new window onto energetic events occurring around the universe. But there’s a deeper lesson, as well: a reminder of the central importance of locality, an idea that underlies much of modern physics.
Today’s empires are born on the web, and exert tremendous power in the material world.
Mark Zuckerberg hasn’t had the best week.
First, Facebook’s Free Basics platform was effectively banned in India. Then, a high-profile member of Facebook’s board of directors, the venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, sounded off about the decision to his nearly half-a-million Twitter followers with a stunning comment.
“Anti-colonialism has been economically catastrophic for the Indian people for decades,” Andreessen wrote. “Why stop now?”
After that, the Internet went nuts.
Andreessen deleted his tweet, apologized, and underscored that he is “100 percent opposed to colonialism” and “100 percent in favor of independence and freedom.” Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, followed up with his own Facebook post to say Andreessen’s comment was “deeply upsetting” to him, and not representative of the way he thinks “at all.”
Most people know how to help someone with a cut or a scrape. But what about a panic attack?
Here’s a thought experiment: You’re walking down the street with a friend when your companion falls and gashes her leg on the concrete. It’s bleeding; she’s in pain. It’s clear she’s going to need stitches. What do you do?
This one isn’t exactly a head-scratcher. You'd probably attempt to offer some sort of first-aid assistance until the bleeding stopped, or until she could get to medical help. Maybe you happen to have a Band-Aid on you, or a tissue to help her clean the wound, or a water bottle she can use to rinse it off. Maybe you pick her up and help her hobble towards transportation, or take her where she needs to go.
Here’s a harder one: What if, instead of an injured leg, that same friend has a panic attack?
The bureau successfully played the long game in both cases.
The story of law enforcement in the Oregon standoff is one of patience.
On the most obvious level, that was reflected in the 41 days that armed militia members occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns. It took 25 days before the FBI and state police moved to arrest several leaders of the occupation and to barricade the refuge. It took another 15 days before the last of the final occupiers walked out, Thursday morning Oregon time.
Each of those cases involved patience as well: Officers massed on Highway 395 didn’t shoot LaVoy Finicum when he tried to ram past a barricade, nearly striking an FBI agent, though when he reached for a gun in his pocket they finally fired. Meanwhile, despite increasingly hysterical behavior from David Fry, the final occupier, officers waited him out until he emerged peacefully.
Ben Stiller’s follow-up to his own comedy classic is a downright bummer, no matter how many celebrity cameos it tries to cram in.
You don’t need to go to the theater to get the full experience of Zoolander 2. Simply get your hands on a copy of the original, watch it, and then yell a bunch of unfunny topical lines every time somebody tells a joke. That’s how it feels to watch Ben Stiller’s sequel to his 2001 spoof of the fashion industry: Zoolander 2 takes pains to reference every successful gag you remember from the original, and then embellish them in painful—often offensive, almost always outdated—fashion. It’s a film that has no real reason to exist, and it spends its entire running time reaffirming that fact.
The original Zoolander, to be fair, had no business being as funny as it was—it made fun of an industry that already seems to exist in a constant state of self-parody, and much of its humor relied on simple malapropisms and sight gags. But it was hilarious anyway as a candid snapshot of the fizzling-out of ’90s culture. Like almost any zeitgeist comedy, it belonged to a particular moment—and boy, should it have stayed there. With Zoolander 2, Stiller (who directed, co-wrote, and stars) tries to recapture the magic of 2001 by referencing its past glories with increasing desperation, perhaps to avoid the fact that he has nothing new to say about the fashion industry or celebrity culture 15 years laters.
By mining electronic medical records, scientists show the lasting legacy of prehistoric sex on modern humans’ health.
Modern humans originated in Africa, and started spreading around the world about 60,000 years ago. As they entered Asia and Europe, they encountered other groups of ancient humans that had already settled in these regions, such as Neanderthals. And sometimes, when these groups met, they had sex.
We know about these prehistoric liaisons because they left permanent marks on our genome. Even though Neanderthals are now extinct, every living person outside of Africa can trace between 1 and 5 percent of our DNA back to them. (I am 2.6 percent Neanderthal, if you were wondering, which pales in comparison to my colleague James Fallows at 5 percent.)
This lasting legacy was revealed in 2010 when the complete Neanderthal genome was published. Since then, researchers have been trying to figure out what, if anything, the Neanderthal sequences are doing in our own genome. Are they just passive hitchhikers, or did they bestow important adaptations on early humans? And are they affecting the health of modern ones?
The number of American teens who excel at advanced math has surged. Why?
On a sultry evening last July, a tall, soft-spoken 17-year-old named David Stoner and nearly 600 other math whizzes from all over the world sat huddled in small groups around wicker bistro tables, talking in low voices and obsessively refreshing the browsers on their laptops. The air in the cavernous lobby of the Lotus Hotel Pang Suan Kaew in Chiang Mai, Thailand, was humid, recalls Stoner, whose light South Carolina accent warms his carefully chosen words. The tension in the room made it seem especially heavy, like the atmosphere at a high-stakes poker tournament.
Stoner and five teammates were representing the United States in the 56th International Mathematical Olympiad. They figured they’d done pretty well over the two days of competition. God knows, they’d trained hard. Stoner, like his teammates, had endured a grueling regime for more than a year—practicing tricky problems over breakfast before school and taking on more problems late into the evening after he completed the homework for his college-level math classes. Sometimes, he sketched out proofs on the large dry-erase board his dad had installed in his bedroom. Most nights, he put himself to sleep reading books like New Problems in Euclidean Geometry and An Introduction to Diophantine Equations.
Jim Gilmore joins Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina, and leaves the race after a poor showing in New Hampshire.
Jim Gilmore’s candidacy this year was improbable—but even more improbable was the minor cult of personality that developed around it.
The former Virginia governor never had a chance. Not, like, in the sense of Lindsey Graham, a candidate with national standing but no path to the presidency. More in the George Pataki sense: a guy who had no real business in race, but was running anyway. Except that Gilmore made Pataki look like a juggernaut. Also, Pataki saw the writing on the wall and had the sense to drop out in late December. Gilmore soldiered on, and ended up as the last of the truly longshots to leave.
The result was that Gilmore turned into a sort of folk hero. Not for voters, mind you—he managed only 12 votes in Iowa and 125 in New Hampshire, and his campaign was funded largely by loans from himself. Because of his low support in the polls, Gilmore only made the cut for the very first kid’s-table debate in August, and then again for the undercard in late January. Other than that, he was shut out completely.
The country’s growth is slowing. The wrong response might make the problem worse.
An anxious superpower is confounded by a troubled economy. For a generation, its growth has been envied; now that growth is decelerating sharply. For decades, it has shaped and guided its economy via tight control of its banks; now that lever is malfunctioning. For years, it has carefully managed its exchange rate and limited the flow of capital across its borders; now the dam is cracking. To anyone who keeps up with the news, the superpower would seem easy to identify: China. But for those with a long memory, it could just as well be the United States of the Nixon era.
Like China today, the United States of the 1970s experienced an abrupt economic slowdown. Its economy had expanded by 4.4 percent a year, on average, during the go-go ’50s and ’60s, but growth slowed by about one-quarter during the following decade, to 3.2 percent a year. Even though growth of more than 3 percent may sound robust by today’s standards, at the time it felt ghastly. Time magazine lamented in 1974 that “middle-class people are being pushed into such demeaning economies as buying clothes at rummage sales”; a year or so later, its cover asked, “Can Capitalism Survive?” In September 1975, after President Gerald Ford survived two attempts on his life in quick succession, an adviser named Alan Greenspan responded with a memo about the “nihilism, radicalism, and violence” that seemed to grip some Americans. When New York City flirted with bankruptcy, its plight was taken as a symbol of broader moral and cultural decay.
A robotic road safety worker in India, a sacrificial llama in Bolivia, a sea otter receives a valentine, a deadly earthquake in Taiwan, a leopard attack in India, and much more.
A murmuration of starlings over Israel, a robotic road safety worker in India, a sacrificial llama in Bolivia, border barriers between Tunisia and Libya, a sea otter receives a valentine, a deadly earthquake in Taiwan, the annual Shrovetide football match in England, a leopard attack in India, and much more.