36 Chambers – The Legendary Journeys: Execution to the max!

August 29, 2014

100% of the people reading this post are reading this post (and other lies about statistics)

Filed under: Economics, Schooled!, Science!, Specific Stupidity, Technology — Tony Demchak @ 5:10 pm

A friend recently shared an article about the Ice Bucket Challenge that claimed only 27% of the money raised is going towards research. Here’s the article. 

Here’s the headline: 

ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE: ALS FOUNDATION ADMITS LESS THAN 27% OF DONATIONS FUND RESEARCH & CURES

$95 Million Later: Only 27% Of Donations Actually Help ‘Research The Cure’

I was pretty angry. The tone of the article is really awful too, slamming the ALS foundation for these heinous crimes. Yet, there’s some additional facts tucked away in a pie chart that give the lie to the headline. 19% of the funds raised go to patient and community outreach; a viable use of funding, don’t you think? 32%, the largest chunk of the funding, goes to public education. How dare they spend the money trying to make people aware of the disease and its effects! That’s what Wikipedia and webMD are for! Oh, and the $95 million figure they quote isn’t what they actually break down in the chart either — it’s only the expenses for the year ending January 31, 2014.

Given that pie chart, in fact, 79% of the donations go directly to aiding sufferers of the disease or increasing awareness; that’s pretty good. The foundation is rated very highly by Charity Navigator too. 

The salary for the CEO is pretty insane — $300k+ is nuts for a non-profit. However, it’s only a tiny slice of the total pie, and not nearly as bad as scaremongers would have you believe. If we, in the United States, don’t want to use tax dollars to contribute to health care, funding of organizations like this one is a great way to contribute. 

August 28, 2014

Josh Gordon is better than an air traffic controller

Filed under: Science!, Specific Stupidity, Sports — Tony Demchak @ 3:46 pm

I’m not surprised that Josh Gordon’s 1 year suspension was upheld. Here’s what I did find surprising, courtesy of Dawgs by Nature:

ESPN’s Outside the Lines first broke the story of the impending suspension on the second day of the NFL Draft back in early May.

 

Later report near the end of July revealed that Gordon had tested positive for marijuana, but that the level of THC metabolites were 16 nanograms per millimeter (barely over 16.01 parts per billion) in one of his samples and above the league’s absurdly low threshold of 15 ng/ml to consist of a “positive.”

 

That threshold is higher than any other major sport, including the very strict IOC, which stands at 175 ng/ml. Even air traffic controllers can have a level up to 50.

 

However, due to what effectively equates to a coin flip, the NFL’s standard testing procedure is to randomly select one of the two samples provided by the player. The first one is tested and if it comes up positive, above the threshold, the second sample is tested merely for the presence of the same banned substance, without regards to the threshold. If the first sample comes up negative, below the threshold, the second sample isn’t tested.

 

Gordon’s first 16 ng/ml sample sparked a test of his second sample. The second one came up 13.6 ng/ml. Based on this procedure, it confirmed what the league considers a “positive.” And the rest is history.

Well, it’s good to know he’ll be able to find a job directing air traffic while he’s suspended. A much less stressful job than catching footballs, apparently. 

August 21, 2014

Batman and the villain who hates him

Filed under: Television and/or Movies — Tony Demchak @ 3:55 pm

It may seem to you, dear reader, that I am undergoing some sort of metaphysical experiment, devoting this entire blog to troll Kevin and provoke a response from him. That’s a filthy lie. 

However, I did happen to find a couple of articles about the Man of Bats (not to be confused with Bat Manuel) and his principal villain, the Joker. 

First up, we have a ranking of everybody who has ever played the Joker. Noting that I’ve seen relatively little of the animated series, I think any list that has Nicholson over Ledger is just, well, wrong. Mark Hamill as number one… Kevin will, almost certainly, agree with this assessment (I believe he’s done so before). Based on the video games, I will say that he’s done a remarkable job of capturing Joker’s essence, even if he’s just a tiny bit more cartoonish than I’d like my Joker. 

Second, we have a report of a disaster nearly averted: Pierce Brosnan as Batman. I like Pierce Brosnan. I really do. The Thomas Crown Affair was a great flick, and he’s my generation’s James Bond. He was even great in Remington Steele. What he would be awful as is Batman. At no point in his film career have I seen intensity, and intensity is a sine qua non for Batman. Christian Bale had it, Val Kilmer had it in small doses (even if it was more imperiousness than intensity). Michael Keaton had at least some of it. Brosnan has zero. He’s spent so much time playing “cool, calm, and collected” that it’s completely mad to think of him genuinely losing his shit, or just barely hanging on. 

Ben Affleck can have a vindictive asshole type personality — see the brilliant Dogma — which means that he could bring that level of “he might lose his shit” to Batman. Maybe he’ll fail, but as I’ve already argued, Batman movies rarely succeed or fail based on who plays Batman.

August 20, 2014

Yay sanity

Filed under: Sports — Tony Demchak @ 6:22 pm

It may not be sexy, it may not sell as many tickets, but Pettine made, in my estimation, the right move: Brian Hoyer will be the starting QB for the Browns. Manziel needs some time to be seasoned, to learn the offense, and to develop both as a mature adult and as a quarterback.  

August 15, 2014

Please, Mike Pettine — reconsider

Filed under: Sports — Tony Demchak @ 1:12 am

I really, really want Johnny Manziel to succeed. A key part of that success is learning the NFL on the sidelines. And yet… there are reports that if Manziel has a monster game on Monday Night Football, he could start for the Browns against Pittsburgh on September 7. The last sentence of the article tries to backtrack some, but I fear what might happen if there’s too much pressure on Johnny too early. 

I hope Pettine knows what he’s doing.

July 30, 2014

Woo marginal improvement!

Filed under: Sports — Tony Demchak @ 7:30 pm

In a trade that shall rock the very foundations of baseball for eons to come, the Indians traded Justin Masterson for a pretty decent outfield prospect. His stats on Baseball Reference are promising, and he’s been tearing up AA. Might even get a September call up, although it’s far more likely we’ll see him next season. He strikes me as Michael Bourn, but healthy and with a contract that isn’t horrific. That’s if he doesn’t develop power. If he does, we could be looking at a Mike Cameron with better plate discipline. Sign me up for that!

July 28, 2014

Next step: renaming to Rotunda of Notoriety

Filed under: Sports — Tony Demchak @ 12:29 am

So, the Hall of Fame saw the upcoming logjam of great, dare I say overqualified, players and acted boldly. Sports on Earth is less sanguine about the change. 

The changes, specifically, are two: first, you have to sign a conduct clause in order to cast a ballot and second, you now get 10 years instead of 15 years on the ballot. The first rule is to prevent the Dan Le Batard scenario from occurring again, obviously. Sadly, the conduct clause includes nothing about denying votes to the sort of people dumb enough to not vote for Greg Maddux.

It’s the second change that’s getting the press, and rightfully so. Whether you take the Let’s Go Tribe approach (“shorter period = quicker access to the Veterans committee”) or the Sports on Earth approach (“shorter period = fuck the steroid era guys”), it’s going to be an adjustment. In the short term, it will only affect two players — Alan Trammell (who should get in) and Lee Smith (who shouldn’t, probably). It theoretically would affect Don Mattingly (shouldn’t get in either), but he’s already in year 15. I very much doubt this decision was made about any of those three players, though. It’s about, for either good or bad, cycling through candidates as quickly as possible.

Here’s my take. The steroid era is a fart in a closed room with no windows. We have to pass through the room, even linger in it, to get to the “post-steroid room” on the other side (which is presumably a less flatulent room). The question for us is this: how bad is the fart? We could install a window and let the fart out of the room. We could hold our breath. We could spend our time worrying about who farted. We could ignore the room altogether. Or, we could recognize it’s not that bad, we’re all mature adults, and can handle a bit of fart if the stuff in the room is worth it (and it is).

In my metaphor, here are the possible solutions:

1. “Installing  a window.” Directions from the Hall of Fame remove the mystery from the process; instruct voters that, barring an actual positive test or suspensions, allegations of steroid use cannot be used as grounds to deny a player entry.

2. “Hold our breath.” This is what most voters are doing now, and this is what the new decision seems to indicate as far as the expected outcome. If we can just hang on, holding our breath, for a few more years, we can all pretend the steroid era didn’t happen. It’ll work itself out.

3. “Worrying about who farted.” The witch-hunt solution. Determine who is to blame for the problem (spoiler alert: it won’t be ‘baseball writers’) and place it all on them. ‘The players’ is the current en vogue solution.

4. “Ignore the room.” Everything and everyone in the steroid era is tainted, either by actual guilt or through association, so the only logical solution (according to this theory) is simply to write it off as a bad job.

5. “Recognize it’s just a fart.” The steroid era is unpleasant; it is not the end of the world. Judge players based on the evidence (shocking concept, I know) and not random guesswork.

My preferred solution is #5, but I think the BBWAA is about 90% #2 and 10% #4 right now. Recognizing that reality, I support the decision to reduce the period, if only because we’ll be holding our breath for less time.

July 22, 2014

Start the Cliff Lee to Cleveland rumors now!

Filed under: Sports, U-S-A! U-S-A! — Tony Demchak @ 9:45 am

Since the blog has been quiet, I decided to elevate our discourse to a higher plane of understanding. One, indeed, might say that had Cliff Lee been throwing more gas, his most recent start might have been a more effective one.

That was the first video, incidentally, I have watched on this PC since my return from Russia. I cannot imagine a better choice. ‘MURICA!

July 13, 2014

Congratulations To Germany

Filed under: Sports — Kevin Feasel @ 8:12 pm

The one World Cup game I saw ended up being a doozie, as Germany defeated Argentina 1-0 in extra time.  Unlike a standard 1-0 affair, this game ended up being a gripping (well, for soccer…) match, and it’s good to see the kids of 2006 (Schweinsteiger, Lamm, Podolski, and the like) pull this one off.

Bonus reading:  how the World Cup in 2006 helped re-instill some measure of German pride in Germany as such.  I hope 2014 helps further.

July 7, 2014

All-Star game rosters

Filed under: Sports — Tony Demchak @ 11:42 am

You can see the actual rosters here. Apart from the gaping vortex of suck starting at shortstop for the AL (thanks, fans!), there aren’t huge numbers of obvious snubs. I do find it bizarre that the AL team’s manager loaded up on first basemen and outfielders. But there is one All-Star that isn’t, who I’d like to introduce you to.

Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB Pos Awards
2011 22 CLE AL 66 223 212 27 54 13 0 7 22 1 0 8 49 .255 .284 .415 .699 94 88 3 1 1 1 1 5/D
2012 23 CLE AL 43 151 142 16 38 6 1 5 16 2 1 8 27 .268 .311 .430 .741 107 61 2 1 0 0 0 5D
2013 24 CLE AL 94 308 289 30 65 17 0 11 36 1 0 16 56 .225 .270 .398 .668 87 115 8 2 1 0 0 5/D
2014 25 CLE AL 72 267 237 36 80 20 1 9 39 2 0 19 43 .338 .395 .544 .940 165 129 1 5 3 2 1 5D3
4 Yrs 275 949 880 109 237 56 2 32 113 6 1 51 175 .269 .315 .447 .762 113 393 14 9 5 3 2
162 Game Avg. 162 559 518 64 140 33 1 19 67 4 1 30 103 .269 .315 .447 .762 113 232 8 5 3 2 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/7/2014.

Lonnie Chisenhall is kind of an awful 3B defensively. He also is just shy of enough ABs to qualify for the batting title. These are details. You know what it isn’t a detail? Being 8th in the entire major leagues in Offensive WAR. A stat that, I will remind you, “punishes” players with less playing time, since it’s a counting stat. Every other player in the top ten is going to the All-Star game, except for Kyle Seager, who is eligible for the final vote (because they’ve stupidly decided only pitchers are eligible for the AL).

Do I think Chisenhall’s performance is sustainable? Of course not. I think he has the chance to be a very good player, but not this good. But isn’t recognizing weird half-seasons precisely what the All-Star games are for?

BTW, if the AL loses the World Series because Derek Jeter fucks up — and I bet he will, since he’s awful this year — I hope it’s the Yankees who get screwed over.

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