Darwinists Award New Inductee

first_imgThe journal Science published the winning entry in the 2006 contest “GE and Science Prize for Young Life Scientists.”  The Grand Prize went to Irene A. Chen (Harvard) for her essay entitled, “The Emergence of Cells During the Origin of Life.”1  Her chemical-evolution scenario makes generous use of that word emergence and its synonyms.Modern living organisms are organized into cells.  Fundamentally, a cell consists of a genome, which carries information, and a membrane, which separates the genome from the external environment.  By segregating individual genomes from one another, cellular organization is thought to be critical to the evolution of replicating systems.  Some of the oldest known rocks on Earth (~3.5 billion years old) contain biochemical signatures of life and also contain tantalizing suggestions of cellular fossils.  But how did early self-replicating chemicals give rise to the “cell” as a unified entity?  The combination of a genome and membrane does not constitute a unified cell unless interactions between the components result in mutual benefit.  Was it a lucky accident that genomes and membranes began to cooperate with each other (e.g., evolution of an enzyme to synthesize membrane lipids)?  Or are there simple physicochemical mechanisms that promote interactions between any genome and membrane, leading to the emergence of cellular behaviors?  We explored such mechanisms experimentally, using model protocells.Her essay dealt with the possibility of a “self-replicating genome inside a chemically simple, self-replicating membrane” that would be akin to “early evolution” by natural selection at the level of molecules.  She spoke of “membrane fitness (i.e., growth)” in a process that ostensibly gets away from chance, because the fat globules are observed to grow in solution according to a kind of survival of the fittest.  Apparently Darwinian selfishness got started early on:We suggest that a similar process took place during early evolution–vesicles encapsulating highly active genomic replicators would generate osmotic pressure, causing them to “steal” membrane from other vesicles containing less active sequences.  Genomic fitness (i.e., replicative ability) would be translated into cellular fitness as the genome and membrane increased together, moving the evolutionary unit from the replicating molecule to the whole cell.  As soon as replicators became encapsulated, a primitive form of competition could emerge between cells (see the figure).  Remarkably, this process does not require a chance increase in complexity (e.g., addition of a new enzyme), but instead relies only on the physical properties of a semipermeable membrane encapsulating solute.Her paper even suggested avenues for further research.  For instance, a charged genetic molecule might be found to be more effective at stealing membrane lipids.  “Could this influence the natural selection of the genetic material itself?”, she asks.  Once the membrane competition settles down, however, the dynamics would also decrease.  This is not a problem, she indicates, because by now, genetic evolution has mastered the art of innovation: “evolutionary solutions to this problem (e.g., permeases, synthetic enzymes) could cause a ‘snowball’ effect on the complexity of early life.”  Geophysic’s inability is Darwin’s opportunity, so to speak.  She spoke of information in the genome, but did not attempt to explain where the information comes from.2  Except for one brief suggestion that charged RNA might have some unspecified advantage gaining membrane lipids, she also did not discuss how a genetic takeover of the “membrane fitness” might have occurred.3    Other entries that lost out on the Grand Prize included one called “Unraveling the Mysteries of Small RNAs,” another on “Photosystem II, a Bioenergetic Nanomachine.”1Irene A. Chen, “The Emergence of Cells During the Origin of Life,” Science, 8 December 2006: Vol. 314. no. 5805, pp. 1558 – 1559, DOI: 10.1126/science.1137541.2The information in DNA is described in the film Unlocking the Mystery of Life as “the most densely compact and elaborately detailed assemblage of information in the known universe.”  The new film The Case for a Creator says that the genetic information for all animal life would fit into a teaspoon, with room left over for all the books in the world ever written.  Dr. Dean Kenyon described the information density of DNA in the bonus features of the film Where Does the Evidence Lead? as a quintillion bits per cubic millimeter.  Transferred onto man’s digital media, that much information would produce a stack of DVDs over six times the height of Mt. Everest.3At some point, the genome would need to direct the construction of the membrane and control traffic going in and out.  In addition, this genome would need the capability of reproducing itself – and all the parts of the cell – with a high degree of accuracy.  Living cells today have elaborate networks of enzymes, channels, gates, and molecular machines involved in all these processes.  For more on the implausibility of genetic takeovers, see 01/28/2005 and 11/25/2004.Well, Irene has the vocabulary down: emergence, tantalizing suggestions (12/22/2003), simple physicochemical mechanisms that lead to emergence of complexity, and on and on anon.  The only “snowball effect” was her snow job on the judges.  We’ve dealt with the problems of the fatbubble theory (09/03/2004) and the RNA world (07/11/2002) and other leading scenarios at length elsewhere so many times (follow the Chain Links on Origin of Life), it would be superfluous to repeat them here (sample, 02/15/2004).  This young lady did a pretty good job of disgracing her mind without our help.    Why did other contestants lose out?  Simple; they wrote about nanomachines and networks and photosynthesis – things that sound like intelligent design.  With the Visigoths at the gates (05/06/2006), the Darwin Priests needed to reassure the peasants by showcasing another inductee into the Temple Prostitutes, to show that the cult of Tinker Bell under King Charlie continues unthreatened.  Sad to see another promising young scientist fall under the spell (see next commentary). (Visited 12 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

3 Ways Tech Can Help You Scale

first_imgTags:#business growth#company scaling#Entrepreneur#growth#scaling up#small business#tech#tech tools Serverless Backups: Viable Data Protection for … How to Make the Most of Your Software Developer… Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at ReadWrite.com. He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at readwrite.com. What Nobody Teaches You About Getting Your Star… Related Posts Scaling requires both humans and technology to be successful.Planning to scale your business without focusing on technology’s role? Good luck. Without the right tech, you may as well replace your CRM with stone tablets.Growth never happens by accident, even if you’re already in a great position. You may have a product your customers love, a big market ready to accept you, and a staff up to the challenge. However, none of that matters if you can’t deliver the same results when your customer base explodes.Maybe you’re not as ready to scale as you think. What happens if the surge in demand for your product fizzles out? What happens if your vendors can’t keep up or you don’t have the financial stability to push through tough times? If you scale too quickly or too slowly, your dreams of market dominance may never come to fruition.The smartest companies scale marketing automation by creating long-term plans and carefully implementing the right tools to achieve them. You can’t hire more humans to work through every problem — not if you expect to make a profit, anyhow. Scaling a business means leveraging tech to do more with less.If you are truly ready to scale and want to learn how, follow these tips to pick the tech tools that are right for you:1. Re-evaluate your user friendliness.Don’t abandon the needs of the niche that got you started. Do, however, lean on technology to make your offering more appealing to a larger group of people, expanding your customer base. It doesn’t matter whether you provide housecleaning services, sell bookcases, or teach tech CEOs to do yoga. In every industry, the companies that provide the most user-friendly products or services win the most business.You can focus on the power of your solution all you want, but it won’t matter if no one can figure out how to turn on your product or locate your brick-and-mortar location to use your services. Take a lesson from Pariveda Solutions and the Houston Food Bank. Using the power of Amazon Web Services, Pariveda created an app that helps families in need find nearby food banks quickly and easily. This tech investment helped the Houston Food Bank expand its reach — aka scale — without hiring an army of outreach specialists.Never assume your product or service offers a good user experience just because your existing audience likes it. Perform usability testing to discover potential issues and correct them before you make heavy investments in expansion. Something that may seem intuitive to you may be alien to the users you plan to target.2. Kick-start employee onboarding.Employee onboarding takes a long time. The longer employees spend in training, the more they cost the business. That may not hurt much when you have a team of five, but scale your company to 30, and suddenly, you have an onboarding and training cost crisis on your hands.Use technology to streamline your new hire onboarding process. Your existing team members are highly valuable, which means they don’t need to waste their days helping rookies fill out forms. Invest in tools that help employees add themselves to email lists and learn the ropes of self-serve benefits systems. Talmundo, for example, digitizes all of your onboarding paperwork and provides a roadmap of the onboarding process, while the all-in-one software platform Zenefits allows new hires to self-onboard — doing everything from accepting offer letters to completing tax and benefits enrollment forms — before they even walk through your door.Tools like these allow newbies to figure out the easy stuff on their own and spend more time learning role-specific tasks. What’s more, the latest HR tech comes packaged with shiny AI capabilities. Smarter tools not only help businesses train new workers quickly, but they can also help you recruit employees who will catch on faster. Select the tools that make sense for your company’s size, industry, and goals to slash training time and give your growing team a running start.3. Jump into the marketing fast lane.Adding your emails to a scheduling tool doesn’t qualify as marketing automation. To scale successfully, invest in marketing tools that help you track, analyze, and execute better campaigns.Rival IQ, for instance, analyzes social media accounts within your industry to show you how you stack up against the competition. If other brands are gaining followers because of their awesome videos, this tool lets you know. Meanwhile, SEMRush’s Keyword Magic tool helps you make the most of your all-important content whether you want to evaluate the effectiveness of your current SEO strategies or delve into new territory.These are just two of the hundreds of useful martech products currently available. Lead scoring, email marketing, social media management, analytics — if it’s a marketing function, someone out there has the tech to make it easier. Use those resources to help your company grow at the speed you want in the direction you choose.Still think you’re ready to scale on your own? Technology these days can handle almost any task that humans can. Leave the easy stuff to the robots so you and your team can spend your valuable time on the strategy and tactics that will help you achieve your scaling goals. Reasons to Outsource General Counsel Services f… Brad AndersonEditor In Chief at ReadWritelast_img read more

PVL schedules provincial matches next month

first_imgFrontrow holds fun run to raise funds for young cancer patients  LOOK: Loisa Andalio, Ronnie Alonte unwind in Amanpulo for 3rd anniversary Read Next Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH Nonong Araneta re-elected as PFF president LATEST STORIES BSP sees higher prices in November, but expects stronger peso, low rice costs to put up fight “We just want to go straight to our fans in the provinces and show our appreciation to them for supporting the PVL through the years,” said Sports Vision president Ricky Palou.The PVL will also make stops in Bacolod City and Iloilo on Oct. 17 and Oct. 18, respectively.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutBatangas is also being eyed as a venue for future matches.—BONG LOZADA, INQUIRER.NET The Premier Volleyball League is scheduled to play exhibition games in three cities outside of the capital in October in an attempt to grow the brand outside of Metro Manila.Tuguegarao will be the first out-of-town host on Oct. 7 when San Sebastian takes on BanKo-Perlas at People’s Gym at 3:30 pm followed by the game between three-time champion Pocari Sweat and Creamline at 5:30 p.m.ADVERTISEMENT Fire hits houses in Mandaluyong City Roberts nets brace as Global Cebu earns draw vs Hougang United MOST READ Fire hits houses in Mandaluyong City Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC View comments Duterte had wanted Albayalde to take terminal leave — Go PLAY LIST 02:31Duterte had wanted Albayalde to take terminal leave — Go01:30PNP officials inspect Cubao bus terminals ahead of Undas00:50Trending Articles01:37Protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf01:47Panelo casts doubts on Robredo’s drug war ‘discoveries’01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Gameslast_img read more

8 days agoAgent sets return date for Juventus captain Chiellini

first_imgAbout the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your say Agent sets return date for Juventus captain Chielliniby Carlos Volcano8 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveJuventus captain Giorgio Chiellini hopes to be playing again in the New Year.The 35-year-old defender was ruled out for at least six months by a torn anterior cruciate ligament at the end of August.“His recovery is progressing positively and the man has this magnetic positivity,” Davide Lippi told TMW Radio.“It’s incredible. He works so hard every day and when I call him up, he’s the one who reassures me. He is making giant leaps forward.“I don’t know the precise date of his comeback, but it will certainly be in the New Year. It might be the end of January, February or March, but he will certainly be there for the final part of the season.” last_img read more

Video: Jay Bilas Drops Hilarious “What Are Those?!” At West Virginia Player’s Gold Sneakers

first_imgCollege GameDay at Syracuse.SYRACUSE, NY – FEBRUARY 01: ESPN College GameDay hosts (L-R) Rece Davis, Jalen Rose, Digger Phelps and Jay Bilas prior to the game between the Duke Blue Devils and the Syracuse Orange at the Carrier Dome on February 1, 2014 in Syracuse, New York. (Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images)West Virginia guard Jevon Carter had to know he’d get a reaction with the shoes he’s wearing tonight. With the Mountaineers facing Virginia in a great match-up at Madison Square Garden, Carter broke out bright gold kicks for the occasion. They’re quite audacious.#WVU has arrived at MSG. Here’s Jevon Carter… pic.twitter.com/amEmnakzrl— Greg Madia (@GregMadia) December 8, 2015Jay Bilas certainly noticed the kicks, hitting Carter with a loud “What Are Those?!” on air.  For those who aren’t as hip as Bilas, “What Are Those” is a meme that became popular over the summer, and is generally exclaimed at someone wearing lame or ridiculous shoes. Even Michael Jordan got hit with it this year, so don’t feel too bad, Jevon.[Reddit]last_img read more

PM Holness Completes Successful Visit to the Dominican Republic

first_imgStory Highlights Jamaica has signed a visa waiver agreement with the Dominican Republic.It is one of several bilateral agreements brokered by Prime Minister Andrew Holness during a recent official visit to the country.The visa waiver will facilitate easier travelling for holders of diplomatic and official passports between Jamaica and the Domincan Republic.Prime Minister Holness signed a communiqué with the President of the Dominican Republic His Excellency Danilo Medina, which sets out a raft of agreements between both countries in the areas of travel, tourism, commerce, education and agriculture.There is also an agreement to finalise arrangements to sign a multi-destination tourism framework in the upcoming months.In addition, a joint business and investment council will be established in the next few months, which will allow both private and public sector to collaborate on how to facilitate an increase in business and trade relations between the two countries.Both Prime Minister Holness and His Excellency Medina, stressed the importance of increasing levels of trade and bilateral investment including the investments of Jamaican firms in the Dominican financial sector, as well as Dominican investments in different economic sectors of Jamaica.Prime Minister Holness expressed an interest in the social programmes that the Government of the Dominican Republic has been developing, especially with regard to affordable housing through public-private partnerships, such as the Juan Bosch City project, in order to examine the possibility of replicating similar initiatives in Jamaica.Both leaders expressed their willingness to pursue exchanges and training programmes between teachers and students to promote mutual understanding and capacity building in Spanish and English language skills.Prime Minister Holness paid an official visit to the Dominican Republic from May 15-16.This was the first bilateral official visit of a Head of Jamaican Government to the Dominican Republic in more than 34 years.Accompanying the Prime Minister on the trip were Senator the Honourable Kamina Johnson Smith, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade; Honourable Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism; Senator Aubyn Hill, Special Ambassador for Investment; and Dr. Nigel Clarke, Ambassador for Economic Affairs, among others government officials. Prime Minister Holness signed a communiqué with the President of the Dominican Republic His Excellency Danilo Medina, which sets out a raft of agreements between both countries in the areas of travel, tourism, commerce, education and agriculture. Prime Minister Holness paid an official visit to the Dominican Republic from May 15-16. Jamaica has signed a visa waiver agreement with the Dominican Republic. It is one of several bilateral agreements brokered by Prime Minister Andrew Holness during a recent official visit to the country.last_img read more

How Liverpool Built A Potential Champion

Seasons with Klopp 2015-16 only includes games when Klopp was manager.Source: Opta Sports In the round of 16, Liverpool got to face Porto and avoid a match against Real Madrid or Juventus. This increased the Reds’ chance of winning the Champions League from about three percent to about five percent. For the quarterfinals, Liverpool got a tough matchup in Manchester City, but most of the other remaining teams were also extremely strong, so the draw caused only marginal movement in Liverpool’s chances of winning the Champions League. Then the semifinal draw brought the greatest bounty, as the Reds avoided Bayern Munich and Real Madrid to face Roma instead. This increased Liverpool’s chance of winning the league from about 20 percent6The exact number was not available, so I extrapolated from the last number available before that draw. to 29 percent.The table to the left shows the net total improvement, in percentage points, of the chance SPI gave each team of winning the Champions League before and after the draw for each round. Among the teams that reached the quarterfinals, none benefited more than Liverpool. (And this calculation doesn’t even include Liverpool’s luck in the group draw, when the Reds were given the weakest of the eight groups.)Liverpool can winAs the table of team luck shows, Real Madrid has reached the Champions League final by facing a true gantlet. They got Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16, Juventus in the quarters and Bayern Munich in the semifinals. However, the draw is not the only method by which good fortune may affect the outcome. Real would not have made the finals if Bayern Munich had not been extremely profligate with its chances. Bayern scored only three goals, but based on the chances the team got, we would expect them to have gotten 6.9 goals.But the way Bayern got all those chances bodes well for Liverpool. They pressed high and created turnovers. If Liverpool can execute its pressing game as effectively as Bayern did, the Reds should also be able to make trouble for Real Madrid. In this game, Liverpool’s defensive flexibility probably will be less help — sitting back and allowing Cristiano Ronaldo time to find space in the penalty area does not seem like the best option. With heavy metal soccer, Klopp may finally win a Champions League and bring a trophy back to Liverpool.CORRECTION (May 24, 2018, 6:15 p.m.): A previous version of this article incorrectly described Real Madrid’s path to the Champions League finals this year. They played Bayern Munich in the semifinals. Liverpool had the luck of the draw in this tournamentChange in each team’s chance of winning the Champions League before and after the draws, according the Soccer Power Index, 2018 Sevilla+3 Direct attacks to final third conceded per match25.021.218.7 The Egyptian-born Salah was coming off a 15-goal campaign with Roma in Serie A, but the signs of even bigger breakout were there. Liverpool inked him for around $47 million in June of last year, which was then a club record, and 42 goals later, that deal is looking like an incredible bargain. Firmino and Mane both similarly showed their potential before their Liverpool signings: Firmino’s production for Hoffenheim in 2014-15 and Mane’s for Southampton in 2015-16 were among the best player seasons in the sample I examined, which included non-striker attacking players in the five biggest leagues over the previous three seasons.3Minimum 2,500 minutes played combined between the player’s domestic league and the Champions League and European League. Liverpool used data to identify players who weren’t just on a hot streak but who demonstrated repeatable skills, and those purchases have paid off in goals.Liverpool adjusted to improve its defenseJurgen Klopp has called his style of play “heavy metal” soccer. His teams focus on creating and exploiting transition opportunities, the moments when neither team has established possession or set its defensive structure. His teams press high up the pitch, closing down opponents even when they have the ball well into their defensive half. In Klopp’s first season with Liverpool in 2015-16, his team led the league with a roughly 52 percent success rate in breaking up new opposition possessions. This metric calculates how often and how successfully a team closes down its opposition early in the opponent’s possession, which reflects the degree to which they implement a pressing defensive style.4Pressing rate is calculated by identifying when a new possession begins, and then tracking if the team in possession either completes three consecutive successful passes or completes an attack (by taking a shot, playing a pass into the penalty area, or winning a corner). If the possession is stopped, whether by a turnover, a foul or the ball going out of play for a throw-in, that counts as a “press.” The next season, with a year of training under their belt, Klopp’s players stepped up their pressure, breaking up nearly 54 percent of opposition possessions early. Once again, this rate led the league. However, there were some drawbacks to this style: In both those first two seasons, Liverpool was relatively vulnerable to direct attacks. If the first line of press failed, the Reds often found themselves chasing back to stop a counterattack headed for their goal. This is measured by direct attacks into the final third of the pitch, which shows when an opposition team can break forward into dangerous areas.5Direct attacks are calculated as attacking moves in which at least 50 percent of the movement is directly toward the goal, meaning that if you draw a straight line from where the attack started to where it ended and then measure the total distance the ball covered over all the passes and runs in the move, the ratio between those two distances must be at least 0.5.This season, Klopp has drilled his team to drop the pressing intensity in matches where it’s not needed. While they still can press high, Liverpool can also sit back and absorb pressure, as they did to great effect in the Champions League quarterfinal against Manchester City. This improved tactical flexibility has yielded results — reducing opponents’ goals, chances and successful fast attacking moves by a significant margin. The Champions League final seems immune to upsets. Real Madrid won three of the last five finals, with Bayern Munich and Barcelona taking the other two. And now Madrid is one win away from its fourth title in six years and third in a row. But this list of winners should not obscure that smaller clubs have come close. Atletico Madrid has taken Real Madrid to extra time twice in the last five finals, and Borussia Dortmund lost a nail-biter of a final 2-1 to Bayern. This year, it is Liverpool that has a real shot at upending a traditional power structure in the Champions League. And according to FiveThirtyEight’s Soccer Power Index, a Liverpool victory would not even be that much of an upset: SPI gives the team a 47 percent chance of lifting the trophy on Saturday.How did Liverpool become a true Champions League contender? To a certain degree, this is unsurprising. For starters, Liverpool is no upstart, at least historically. The club has five European Cups and its revenues are among the highest in European soccer.1Ninth highest last season, according to Deloitte. But the Reds have played in the Champions League only four times in the last decade, and this season is the first time they have even reached the knockout stages since 2009. It took an extensive and highly successful rebuilding effort to get Liverpool to the cusp of a European trophy. The three key components of this effort were smart analytics, innovative tactics and the usual helping of good luck.Liverpool struck gold in the transfer marketThe engine of this Liverpool team is its front line. Manager Jurgen Klopp prefers a 4-3-3 formation with four defenders, three central midfielders, and a forward line with a central striker flanked by two wide attackers. Center forward Roberto Firmino and left forward Sadio Mane combined for 44 goals and 22 assists between the Premier League and the Champions League, while Mohamed Salah matched that production almost by himself with 42 goals and 14 assists.Every one of these players was acquired in the transfer market: Firmino in 2015, Mane in 2016 and Salah last summer. Hitting on star attackers in three consecutive transfers is a major accomplishment no matter what your budget, but it’s especially impressive for Liverpool, which cannot afford to pay as much as the world’s richest clubs — as was made evident when Philippe Coutinho forced his way out of Liverpool for Barcelona in January. To build one of the world’s most dangerous front lines, Liverpool had to look for relative bargains, which more or less ruled out peak-age players at the height of their powers. Further, with Klopp’s pressing style, the team had to avoid the typical lumbering center forward and look for players versatile enough to press high and interchange in the attack. They needed attackers who could play anywhere in the front line. To find these key pieces, the team turned to analytics.One of the simplest ways to identify undervalued attackers is with expected goals (xG) and expected assists (xA) — two metrics that estimate the quality of scoring chances, built from information collected by sports-data company Opta.2The model for calculating expected goals seeks to give a single estimate for the likelihood of scoring a given shot, and the estimates for each shot are then added up over a season to give an expected goals total. You can find further methodological details in previous writeups. The ability to get on the end of good scoring chances, or to create them with a telling pass, is more stable across seasons than the ability to finish off such a chance. Over the last three years, very few young players have put up big numbers in xG and xA per 90 minutes while playing on smaller clubs and getting the majority of their minutes from outside the center forward role. Liverpool found three of them. Klopp has improved Liverpool’s defense this seasonHow Liverpool has fared in three defensive statistics during seasons under manager Jurgen Klopp Liverpool got lucky tooIt is practically impossible to win a cup final without some good fortune. Liverpool, by using its resources smartly and developing more flexible tactics, put itself in position to take advantage of good fortune when it arrived. And this year, every time the UEFA drew teams into competitive fixtures, Liverpool benefited. Expected goals conceded per match1.030.970.86 Roma-3 Pressing rate51.753.749.5 Juventus-2 Barcelona+6 Defensive stat2015-162016-172017-18 Bayern+9 Liverpool+11 Man City+2 Real Madrid-11 Source: FiveThirtyEight’s Soccer Power Index TeamChange in chance of winning read more

The Eagles Have A CallInSickToWorkLevel Super Bowl Hangover

MIN56MIN64MIN 37, NYJ 17+4.5– IND9.24.7OAK1.00.75.41402 GB23.08.7LAR98.21.310.01558 PICKWIN PROB.PICKWIN PROB.ResultREADERS’ NET PTS Philly’s Super Bowl hangover is among the worst everWorst seven-game starts to a season (by Elo and win-loss record) for defending Super Bowl champions, 1967-2018 Home teams are in bold.The scoring system is nonlinear, so readers’ average points don’t necessarily match the number of points that would be given to the average reader prediction. BAL57NO53NO 24, BAL 23+8.4– 2013Ravens1591-372005Patriots4-3.571 Game quality is the harmonic mean of the Elo ratings for the two teams in a given matchup.*Average change is weighted by the likelihood of a win or loss. (Ties are excluded.)Source: ESPN.com 198549ers1620-73198549ers3-4.429 2005Patriots1641-712002Patriots3-4.429 1970Chiefs1624-612018Eagles3-4.429 Biggest Elo DeclinesWorst Starts CAR57.512.8BAL61.912.225.01581 Elo declines are relative to preseason Elo ratings for the season of the title defense.Sources: Pro-Football-Reference.com, ESPN.com JAX72JAX66HOU 20, JAX 7+6.6– MIA56MIA52DET 32, MIA 21+2.4– DEN10.75.2KC98.41.56.71551 PHI69PHI64CAR 21, PHI 17+5.3– Five of the teams on the lists above managed to recover enough to make the playoffs: the 1976 Steelers, 1985 49ers, 2001 Ravens, 2005 Patriots and 2010 Saints. (Pittsburgh even came within a game of returning to the Super Bowl.) But most of the defending champs who came out struggling could never quite recapture the magic of their championship runs — or, at least, they dug themselves too deep of a hole to climb out of. A 3-4 record might not sound too terrible, but since 1995 only 19 percent of teams that start 3-4 end up making the playoffs. (Yes, the Eagles are almost certainly more talented than a typical team that starts 3-4, but the odds aren’t great even after isolating teams that won at least 12 games the previous season.)So, this hasn’t exactly been the start coach Doug Pederson was looking for. But what’s to blame? And how can Philadelphia buck the odds and get back to its winning ways?It might be tempting to point the finger at a passing offense that went from fifth in adjusted net yards per attempt before Carson Wentz went down with a knee injury late last season to just 17th this year. And it’s true that backup Nick Foles was a shell of his Super Bowl self when starting the first two games of 2018, and that Wentz has had less time to throw deep and create big plays than he did while putting up MVP-caliber numbers a season ago. Certainly the Eagles’ offense has sputtered to a mere 22.0 points per game (22nd in the league) this year, after averaging 31.1 with Wentz in the 2017 regular season.2And 31.3 in the playoffs with Foles at the helm, for that matter.But by and large, Wentz has continued to be effective in orchestrating the Eagles’ passing attack, ranking eighth in the league in adjusted net yards per attempt — only two slots lower than last year — despite working his way back from a serious injury. Wentz’s average pass has traveled 2.3 fewer yards through the air according to ESPN’s Stats & Information Group, contributing to a decline in touchdowns per attempt (admittedly a problem for a red-zone offense that has dropped from first to 17th in efficiency). And yet Wentz is still moving the chains at the same rate,3His first downs per attempt are higher this year (37.9 percent) than last (36.4 percent). completing a sky-high 70.8 percent of his throws and tossing only one interception in 195 attempts.If Wentz’s performance has dropped off, it has only been a slight dip at most, perhaps one amplified by an abrupt change in clutch splits. In the final five minutes of one-score games in 2017, Wentz’s passer rating was 114.8 — 12.9 points higher than his rating for the season. This year, his passer rating in the same situations is 92.7 — down 15.4 points from his overall rating. But those plays make up only about 23 percent of Wentz’s passes, an unfair sample upon which to judge his entire body of work, even if it does have an outsize effect on the Eagles’ chances of winning from week to week.More significantly, the team around Wentz has been trending in the wrong direction. The QB is having to rely on tight end Zach Ertz more than ever, with wideouts Nelson Agholor and Alshon Jeffery struggling to get open downfield. (Mike Wallace was supposed to replace Torrey Smith as a complementary receiving threat, but he landed on injured reserve after just two weeks.) Meanwhile, Philly’s running game has declined from fourth in yards per carry (and third in yards per game) to 21st in each category, with Eagles ball-carriers slipping from third in yards after first contact per run to 19th.“I have no lack of confidence whatsoever in our run game,” Pederson insisted Monday. But after a contest in which Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement combined for just 38 yards on 17 carries (a 2.2-yard average), perhaps his belief should be wavering. With Jay Ajayi on injured reserve, Philly is down to Smallwood (who ranks ninth in yards after contact per rush but hasn’t always been able to find a clear path to the second level4He ranks 28th of 47 qualified running backs in yards before first contact.) and Clement (who ranks 35th in yards after first contact per run). The result has been a less dynamic running game — Philadelphia’s longest rush is just 21 yards, tied for the least-impressive long run of any team — and an inability to slam the door when leading, such as in Sunday’s loss.Speaking of that defeat, it exposed another, even larger area of concern for the defending champs: defense. Last season, Philly ranked fourth in defensive expected points added (EPA) per game; this year, its ranking has slipped to 15th, with declines coming in near-equal measure against the pass and the run. Injuries have piled up, including ailments to 2017 starters Timmy Jernigan and Rodney McLeod. And while Fletcher Cox and the front seven have still managed to apply plenty of pressure,5According to Football Outsiders, Philly ranks eighth in pressures per dropback, and Cox ranks second in the league (behind the Los Angeles Rams’ Aaron Donald) with 25.5 pressures. the secondary has done a poor job in coverage — according to Football Outsiders’ charting data, Jalen Mills is allowing a staggering 11.7 yards per pass attempt (and is the fourth-most-targeted cornerback in the NFL) — plus the team ranks 21st in yards per rush allowed.Coordinator Jim Schwartz hasn’t altered his defense’s identity much: The Eagles don’t blitz often, relying on the line to generate pressure and counting on sound coverage and pursuit to limit opposing gains. But so far, that plan hasn’t worked as well as it did during the Eagles’ championship push.Philadelphia’s saving grace, though, might be its division. According to Elo, only the AFC East and AFC South are easier prey for their top-rated team than the NFC East, in terms of the quality of the next-best team in the division. (Philly remains the highest-rated team in the NFC East, by a whopping 91-point Elo margin over Washington.) Although our playoff odds give a slight edge in the division to the Redskins (41 percent to 39 percent, with Dallas checking in at 19 percent), things could be much worse for the Eagles if their competition were tougher.The banged-up Eagles have just one obstacle between them and a much-needed bye week: a showdown with the equally tailspinning Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday in London. Despite the teams’ disappointing starts, this is one of the best games of Week 8, both in terms of matchup quality (i.e., the harmonic mean of the teams’ Elo ratings in each game) and how likely it is to swing either team’s odds of making the playoffs: 1981Raiders1555-91198249ers2-5.286 CHI27.99.3NYJ9.25.314.61457 2010Saints1581-541976Steelers3-4.429 LAR71LAR81LAR 39, SF 10+2.9– BUF52IND59IND 37, BUF 5+8.0– MIN67.7%±13.3NO78.0%±10.123.31609 Elo’s dumbest (and smartest) picks of Week 7Average difference between points won by readers and by Elo in Week 7 matchups in FiveThirtyEight’s NFL prediction game LAC62LAC69LAC 20, TEN 19+3.1– HOU51.313.9MIA29.013.627.51460 WSH53.013.9NYG0.70.814.61433 SEA37.916.0DET34.713.729.61543 Team ACurrentAvg. Chg*Team BCurrentAvg. Chg*Total ChangeGame Quality 1987Giants1534-1591987Giants1-6.143 Even for an NFL champion, life comes at you fast. Eight months ago, the Philadelphia Eagles were on top of the football world, having captured the franchise’s first Super Bowl title with a thrilling win over the New England Patriots. But after blowing a 17-point, fourth-quarter lead to the visiting Carolina Panthers on Sunday, the Eagles have started 2018 with a mediocre 3-4 record, sinking them to just a 45 percent chance of making it back to the playoffs (according to FiveThirtyEight’s Elo prediction model). Few defending champs have experienced a bigger drop-off to start the following year, and the early-season malaise has Philly’s faithful wondering whether this is just a standard Super Bowl hangover — or something worse.Going back to 1967 (the season after Super Bowl I), 52 teams have attempted to defend an NFL championship. Of those, just four — the 1987 New York Giants (1-6), 2006 Pittsburgh Steelers (2-5), 1999 Denver Broncos (2-5)1A team that was beginning life after John Elway. and 1982 San Francisco 49ers (2-5) — started the season with a record worse than the Eagles’ 3-4 mark over their first seven games. And in terms of Elo, only 11 Super Bowl winners lost more points of rating through seven games than the Eagles have, relative to preseason: CIN44.311.8TB20.19.120.91486 The best matchups of Week 8Week 8 games by the highest average Elo rating (using the harmonic mean) plus the total potential swing for the two teams’ playoff chances, according to FiveThirtyEight’s NFL predictions 198249ers1531-861981Raiders3-4.429 1999Broncos1593-961999Broncos2-5.286 2006Steelers1581-1012006Steelers2-5.286 OUR PREDICTION (ELO)READERS’ PREDICTION For Philadelphia, a win over Jacksonville could help stabilize its championship defense, boosting its playoff chances up to 53 percent. But a loss would knock those odds down to 30 percent, making a bad situation much worse.Defending champs rarely find their season hanging in the balance in Week 8. But if Philly doesn’t correct some of its problems against the Jaguars, the Eagles could quickly find themselves staring at one of the biggest post-Super Bowl letdowns in NFL history.FiveThirtyEight vs. the readersIn addition to our updating NFL prediction interactive (which uses FiveThirtyEight’s Elo ratings to forecast the rest of the season), you can pick against the algorithm in our prediction game. The prize? Bragging rights and a place on our giant leaderboard.Here are the games in which Elo made its best — and worst — predictions against the field of prognosticators last week: ARI61%DEN52%DEN 45, ARI 10+12.1– PIT61.76.1CLE0.70.66.71445 NE60NE64NE 38, CHI 31+0.7– PHI45.510.4JAX21.89.019.41537 Playoff %Playoff % WSH53WSH53WSH 20, DAL 17-1.6– 2002Patriots1549-602013Ravens3-4.429 Week 7 contained a special milestone for FiveThirtyEight prediction contestants: It was the first week of the season in which the average reader actually beat Elo’s picks! The readers picked up an average of 33.7 points against the model last week, with their only major slip-up being too little confidence in the Buccaneers against the Browns. (Elo looked particularly dumb when it picked Arizona to beat Denver, only to watch in horror as the visiting Broncos thrashed the Cards 45-10.) On the season, though, Elo still leads by an average of 199.6 points — so more weeks like this will be needed to chase down the computer.Particular congratulations are in order to Jesse Goddard, who led all (identified) users in Week 7 with 220.0 points, and to Scott Duhaime, who pulled into the season-long lead with 533.3 points. Thanks to everyone who has been playing — and if you haven’t, be sure to get in on the action! You can make picks now and still try your luck against Elo, even if you haven’t played yet.Check out our latest NFL predictions. 2001Ravens1601-511970Chiefs3-3-1.500 ATL80ATL77ATL 23, NYG 20-3.2– NE91.36.0BUF4.24.110.11526 2018Eagles1599-481968Packers3-3-1.500 SF0.70.7ARI0.20.10.81387 KC76KC74KC 45, CIN 10-2.8– TB77TB61TB 26, CLE 23-12.7– YearTeamElo RatingChangeYearTeamRecordWPct read more

BMX skateboarding stars hitting halfpipe at Ramp Jam CarnOval

Ohio State students and faculty may not want to head home too early for Memorial Day weekend. Today, OUAB’s Ramp Jam kicks off and brings BMX and skateboarding action to OSU. Ramp Jam will run 11 a.m.–5:30 p.m. in Buckeye Lot 3 behind the Schottenstein Center. There will be four showcases throughout the day featuring BMX rider Jamie Bestwick, skateboarder Pierre-Luc Gagnon, along with skateboarders Sandro Dias, Danny Mayer, Jimmy Walker, Elliot Sloan and BMX rider John Parker. “The main goal was to bring something to campus that has never been brought here before,” said Shari Lee, special events chairman of OUAB. “I think this is a pretty unique event that not many people get to experience, and it also has a really high appeal and excitement level.” The first shows will start at 12:30 p.m. and will last about 20 minutes. Ramp Jam costs about $65,000 and is funded by the student activity fee, Lee said. The funds go toward performance fees for the athletes and the band, the set-up fees required for the ramp and food vendors, promotional materials, safety and security needs and other miscellaneous costs, Lee said. OUAB receives 52 percent of the $25 Student Activity fee — $13. “With that $13, we have been able to plan 47 events this quarter, resulting in a cost of just under 28 cents per event,” Lee said. “For this specific event we will be utilizing around 1.6 percent of the allocated funds for the quarter.” The construction all over campus, particularly on the South Oval, prompted OUAB to combine Ramp Jam with the third annual CarnOval. “OUAB had been planning to do Ramp Jam for about six months,” Lee said. “CarnOval, because of all the construction on campus, was having a really hard time finding a location, and they were actually going to have to cancel it.” Lee said she believed the collaboration with CarnOval could help Ramp Jam. “I think (CarnOval) will bring a lot of people in because it’s become kind of a staple on campus over the last couple of years,” Lee said. Athletes will sign autographs during 50-minute breaks between performances. Donora, an indie-rock band, along with Cincinnati’s DJ Bandcamp also will perform music at the event. “I think it’s a really unique event, so it’s hard to capture the essence and enthusiasm of the event and that’s why we decided to do a video,” Lee said. “I think all in all the reaction has been good.” Ramp Jam is open to students with a valid Buck ID. read more

Video New second wall freekick routine goes horribly wrong

first_imgWe’ve seen many genius methods when it comes to set-pieces over the years, but Japan’s “second wall” idea went horribly wrong for one unlucky fellaLast year, a Japanese high school reformed the way set-pieces are taken in the country with a method like none other seen before.It involves a three-player-wall, linked arm in arm, edging slowly back from the ball and towards the defence.Now a Sunday League side have introduced something similar, but it did not end well for the guy who got hit in the face.In the video below, two players in green stand in front of the wall in an attempt to confuse the free-kick taker.Christian Pulisic ‘happy’ with his Chelsea debut Andrew Smyth – July 19, 2019 Christian Pulisic was happy with how Chelsea debut turned out despite it ending in a 1-0 friendly defeat to Kawasaki Frontale.But it ended in disaster with one of the two green players lying on the ground after being hit in the face as play resumed.There has been no update on him since, but don’t be surprised if he woke up with a large ball print etched across his face after seeing this.The greatest and most inventive free kick I have ever seen pic.twitter.com/27RQiYybiN— Mario (@MMLe0) August 20, 2018last_img read more