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first_imgCalling all interior designers: has Darwinism rendered you superfluous?  J. Scott Turner thinks so.  He wrote a book called The Tinkerer’s Accomplice: How Design Emerges from Life Itself (Harvard, 2007).  It was reviewed by Claus Wedekind in last week’s Nature with the title, “The interior designer.”  This does not imply that interiors need an exterior designer, but that interiors can design themselves.    Wedekind liked the book.  The basic idea is that design emerges without help from the tendency for self-organization and self-preservation.  Homeostasis is the property living things have to regulate themselves amidst a dynamic environment.  Feedback from the environment influences structures such that they self-adapt and co-evolve with the surroundings: these he calls Bernard machines after Claude Bernard, a contemporary of Darwin, “who emphasized the role of homeostasis in physiology.”    Turner postulates that homeostasis is a common feature of life, giving rise to self-organizing and self-regulating machines from the level of cells and tissues to structures larger than an organism – or even a community of organisms.  Collagen fibers, embryonic tissues, antlers and termite mounds are some of the examples described in the book.  Termite mounds “not only capture wind to power ventilation but also regulate its capture.”  This makes a termite mound a self-organized, self-regulating structure, “an organ of homeostasis,” the idea goes.    Homeostasis and natural selection work hand in hand, according to Turner.  He challenges Dobzhansky’s famous dictum that “nothing in biology makes sense apart from evolution,” replacing it with, “no attribute of life, including its evolution, really makes sense unless we view it through a physiological lens.”  Designers need not apply, in other words: physiology is the interior designer.  The agents of homeostasis “lead, largely by themselves, to the marvellous harmony of structure and function we observe in nature.”    How can elaborate structures emerge naturally, though, without intention?  Is intention real, or an illusion?  This is the question Wedekind asks:This leads to the tantalizing question of whether darwinian evolution can dismiss intentionality.  Obviously, creative brains can cope better with an unpredictable world and may have a selective advantage, so creativity and intentionality can evolve and in turn influence evolution.  But does it really need a brain like ours to bring intentionality into play?  Turner views this question through a physiological lens and develops a picture of a modular brain that could be understood as a kind of ‘climax’ ecosystem with competing and coevolving cells, and with homeostasis as the organizing principle of cognition.  He argues that we intentionally design the world when our neural ecosystems generate ideas that then guide our bodies to reshape it.  The point is that the brain may be just one example of what Turner calls ‘persistors’ – persistent environments that are created by systems of Bernard machines and that have a process-based form of heritable memory.  ‘Darwin machines’ – replicators that have to prove themselves under natural selection – shape evolution in the absence of intentionality.  But the author argues that life and evolution happen when Darwin machines act in concert with Bernard machines, which are the agents of homeostasis and can be seen, in their own particular way, as goal-seeking and purposeful.  These are the ‘tinkerer’s accomplices’ of the title.Wedekind seemed tickled with Turner’s witty prose.  He thinks that, despite its intellectual challenges, the book would give a motivational kick to physiology students.  “This important book is for those who search for an understanding of the various forms that life can take and of how life works.”  Such understanding serves another function.  Wedekind confessed a frustration that lured him to Turner’s thesis for relief:Sharing a broadly accepted idea or philosophical concept comes with a danger: after a period of indulgence in mutual affirmation, it is easy to forget how to effectively defend the concept against a smart and captious critic…. evolutionary biologists can struggle to find their best arguments when challenged by a well-prepared enthusiast of ‘intelligent design’.1Claus Wedekind, “The interior designer,” Nature 446, 375 (22 March 2007) | doi:10.1038/446375a.The Darwin Party heads keep sending out their novice debaters as if they think this puts the intelligent design Visigoths on edge.  The Visigoths in the camp outside are wondering, meantime, how such shallow logic could make it into Nature, the DP’s warfare manual.  Any undergrad logic student could show how self-refuting this thesis is.  The argument makes no sense even if one assumes evolution at the outset.  Each example from the living world Turner provides has intelligent design already built into the genetic code, not self-generated out of thin air.  And count the number of times mindless entities are personified in the quote above and the entire “interior designer” concept unravels.  It’s like we have to keep slapping the hands of the bumbling Darwin Party emissaries and reminding them, “You can’t say that.  That word is not in your vocabulary.  You can’t plagiarize our ID manual; we won’t let you get away with it.”  They never learn.  Maybe it’s a strategy; perhaps they believe a million novices can compensate for one philosopher.    So with a smile and a snicker under our breath, we send back a greeting card into the Darwin Castle, wishing the best to the newlyweds, the Sorcerer’s Apprentice and the Tinkerer’s Accomplice.  Father Charlie and Tinker Bell, surrounded by indulgent guests enjoying mutual affirmation, must be proud parents.  They probably hope Little Miss Tinker Bell Jr. will be able to zap the brooms the Apprentice unleashed and bring back order.  But we know what’s going to happen.  The brooms will douse the wand and carry on, submerging the Castle in a flood of entropy.  This makes our work so easy.  All we will have to do is mop up when the walls fall down.(Visited 30 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more


first_imgView comments Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. UPLB exempted from SEA Games class suspension Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH LATEST STORIES WATCH: Streetboys show off slick dance moves in Vhong Navarro’s wedding The 6-foot Seavmey, who enjoyed a big height advantage over Alora, also beat the Filipino in the Asian Olympic Qualifying Tournament last year.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 shutout SEA Games in Calabarzon safe, secure – Solcom chief LOOK: Venues for 2019 SEA Games Kirstie Elaine Alora of the Philippines (red) competes against Sorn Seavmey of Cambodia (blue) in the finals of the women’s -73 kg category of the 29th Southeast Asian Games competition Tuesday at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center. Alora lost, 6-13. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/SEA GAMES POOLRio Olympian Kirstie Alora ran into a familiar tormentor and suffered the same fate to settle for silver in the women’s +67kg class in taekwondo in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games Tuesday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.Alora, who was the country’s flag-bearer, fell to Sorn Seavmey of Cambodia, 13-6, in the final.ADVERTISEMENT Catriona Gray spends Thanksgiving by preparing meals for people with illnesses Onyok Velasco see bright future for PH boxing in Olympics PLAY LIST 00:45Onyok Velasco see bright future for PH boxing in Olympics01:27Filipino athletes get grand send-off ahead of SEA Games03:07PH billiards team upbeat about gold medal chances in SEA Games00:50Trending Articles01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games05:25PH boxing team determined to deliver gold medals for PH03:04Filipino athletes share their expectations for 2019 SEA Games02:25PH women’s volleyball team motivated to deliver in front of hometown crowd JRU fends off Mapua, finishes first round with 4th win MOST READ Read Next Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasalast_img read more


first_imgTagsTransfersAbout the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your say Real Madrid wing-back Hakimi: Best decision to join Borussia Dortmundby Carlos Volcano10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveReal Madrid wing-back Achraf Hakimi says his move to Borussia Dortmund has been the best decision of his career.Hakimi is on-loan at BVB this season.He said, “I grew up in the youth clubs of Real Madrid, with whom I did the whole route up to the first team, but I needed to change, I need to grow as a player, gaining more space and achieving new goals as a starter.”In Dortmund everything is going well, I hope it goes on for a long time.”I am very happy to be here. It was not easy to adapt, but now I find myself at ease.” last_img read more


first_imgChelsea boss Lampard pleased with 2-goal Batshuayi: We need himby Paul Vegasa month agoSend to a friendShare the loveChelsea boss Frank Lampard was pleased with striker Michy Batshuayi for his two goals in their Carabao Cup win over Grimsby.The Blues ran out 7-1 winners to set up a round of 16 tie with Manchester United.Lampard said, “He has worked hard and trained well. He came on at Wolves and made an impact, came on against Liverpool and nearly made an impact and that is great for me when you give a message and someone shows they can train daily and improve there. “Michy has talent, he can hold the ball up and use both feet and can score goals, and he is important for us. He got his chance and scored goals tonight which is good because we need options up front.” About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more


first_imgDozens of stars from TV, sports, music and film will ante up and bet big to support talented young cancer researchers and change the future of cancer at Tower Cancer Research Foundation’s (Tower) 3rd Annual Ante Up for a Cancer Free Generation Poker Tournament and Casino Night on Saturday, June 4, 2016 at the Sofitel Hotel, Riviera 31, 8555 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048.Samantha Harris, host of Entertainment Tonight, and former host of Dancing with the Stars, who is a breast cancer survivor, will be honored with the inaugural Cancer Free Generation Mission Award. Red carpet arrivals begin at 6:00 PM PDT.The evening will honor Samantha Harris, breast cancer survivor and host of Entertainment Tonight, and longtime former co-host of Dancing with the Stars. The event has attracted the support of numerous celebrities who are expected to attend including rock icon Gene Simmons of KISS, Brad Garrett (Everybody Loves Raymond), Joey McIntyre (New Kids On The Block), Jesse Spencer (Chicago Fire), Carl Weathers (Rocky), Gilles Marini (Sex and the City, Dancing with the Stars), Mekhi Phifer (ER/Torchwood: Miracle Day/White Collar), Samuel Hunt (Chicago PD), Sophie Tweed-Simmons (Gene Simmons Family Jewels), Tig Nataro (Comedian), Tito Ortiz (MMA/UFC Champion), Jason Collins (retired NBA player), Tony Denison (Major Crimes), WWE/E! Total Divas Maryse Ouellette and Eva Marie, Frank Kramer (The Heidi & Frank Show/ Dish Nation).Cancer Free Generation (CFG) is the young leadership division of Tower Cancer Research Foundation. CFG seeks to identify, among their peers in the Southern California region, visionary and innovative doctors, medical professionals and researchers and enable them to discover and implement new ideas and techniques to conquer cancer. Additionally, CFG’s efforts support young people and their families who have been impacted by cancer, so that they may approach life with renewed strength and optimism. With this dual approach, CFG’s goal is to help ensure that the next generation becomes the first cancer free generation. CFG’s executive committee consists of young professionals working in a variety of fields including finance, law, real estate, entertainment, and medicine. Many members of CFG’s leadership are, themselves, young cancer survivors. Their common vision is the desire to build a more inspired community via connecting fascinating and passionate young people who make a difference in the world.Top prizes include a seat in the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event, January 2017 in the Bahamas; 5-Night Stay at the Trump Hotel Waikiki Hawaii; and a 3-Night Stay for Two at the Hilton Los Cabos.Tickets may be purchased at the Tower website or by calling 310.299.8477.last_img read more


first_imgNEW YORK, N.Y. – Cracking down on hate, abuse and online trolls is also hurting Twitter’s standing with investors.The company’s stock plunged Friday after it reported a decline in its monthly users and warned that the number could fall further in the coming months. The 20.5 per cent plunge comes one day after Facebook lost 19 per cent of its value in a single day.Twitter says it’s putting the long-term stability of its platform above user growth. That leaves investors seemingly unable to value what the biggest companies in the sector, which rely on their potential user reach, are worth.Twitter had 335 million monthly users in the quarter, below the 339 million Wall Street was expecting, and down slightly from 336 million in the first quarter. That overshadowed a strong monthly user growth of 3 per cent compared with the previous year.The company said its monthly user number could continue to fall in the “mid-single-digit millions” in the third quarter.While Friday was Twitter’s second-worst loss since it went public in November 2013, the stock has still doubled in value over the last 12 months.Long criticized for allowing bad behaviour to run rampant on its platform, Twitter has begun to crack down, banning accounts that violate its terms and making others less visible.Twitter is now attempting to rein in the worst offenders after years as one of the Wild West corners of the internet.At the same time, it must convince people it’s the go-to platform in social media, even though it is dwarfed right now by Facebook.Facebook has more than 2.23 billion users while its apps WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger each have over 1 billion.Twitter on Friday reiterated its efforts to “to invest in improving the health of the public conversation” on its platform, making the “long-term health” of its service a priority over short-term metrics such as user numbers.As part of these efforts, Twitter said that as of May, its systems identified and challenged more than 9 million accounts per week that are potentially spam or automated, up from 6.4 million in December 2017. The company has previously disclosed these numbers.A Washington Post report put the total number of suspended accounts in May and June at 70 million. The Associated Press also found that Twitter suspended 56 million such accounts in the last quarter of 2017. While Twitter maintains that most of these accounts were dormant and thus not counted in the monthly user figure, the company also warned that its cleanup efforts could affect its counted user base without giving specific numbers.“We want people to feel safe freely expressing themselves and have launched new tools to address problem behaviours that distort and distract from the public conversation,” CEO Jack Dorsey said in a prepared statement.Twitter’s market value dropped by more than $6 billion Friday, to around $26 billion. Investors still value Facebook at $503 billion. Facebook lost $119 billion in value on Thursday.Twitter’s second-quarter net income hit $100.1 million, after a loss last year during the same period. It’s the company’s third profit in a row, the third it has ever posted.Per-share, the San Francisco company’s net income was 13 cents, or 17 cents adjusted, in line with expectations, according to a poll by Zacks Investment Research.Revenue of $710.5 million, up 24 per cent and edging out expectations of $696 million._____Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on TWTR at https://www.zacks.com/ap/TWTRlast_img read more


first_imgLONDON – The trade body representing British music warned Thursday that the industry’s financial fortunes, currently sky-high as a result of the popularity of the likes of Ed Sheeran, could be damaged in the event of a “bad Brexit deal.”The BPI, which has been championing the interests of big players such as Sony Music U.K. as well as more than 400 independent music companies for decades, said a failure to strike an adequate deal would prevent the industry becoming an “international calling card” in a post-Brexit world.“With Brexit approaching, music can help to showcase what is exciting about the U.K. as we forge new trading relationships, but only if our government supports us by ensuring a strong Brexit deal that enables artists to tour freely, robustly protects music rights, and prevents physical music products being impeded in transit,” said Geoff Taylor, the chief executive of BPI.Taylor’s warning came as the BPI reported booming British music exports last year, when they rose 12 per cent to 408.4 million pounds ($530 million). That’s the highest level since records began 18 years ago and means the total generated since 2000 is over 5 billion pounds.The BPI said U.K. artists accounted for one in every eight albums globally in 2017. And the world’s bestselling album was British in nine of the past thirteen years, most recently with Ed Sheeran’s “Divide.” Other British success stories in 2017 were Rag’n’Bone Man, whose debut album “Human” came in fourth, and Sam Smith’s “The Thrill of it All” at five.Revenue growth was particularly strong across Europe, up 29 per cent since 2015, with France doing particularly well. Europe remains the U.K.’s biggest export market for music, though the United States is the single biggest national market by a significant margin, accounting for more than 35 per cent of U.K. music earnings. Exports to China were also strong in 2017.Buoyant sales in Europe highlight the fact that British exporters are in a so-called “sweet spot” at the moment — British exporters have been able to benefit from the 15 per cent or so fall in the pound following the Brexit vote in June 2016 while still having full and unimpeded access to the European single market.With less than 30 weeks to go to Brexit, it’s still unclear how Britain will trade with the other 27 countries in the EU. Both sides have said they want to maintain smooth trade but the EU has insisted that Britain cannot continue to have the same sort of tariff-less access as it enjoys now if it doesn’t abide by the rules governing the single market, including the freedom of movement for people.last_img read more


The winners of these two matches will play each other on July 9 at 4 p.m. EDT. See our World Cup predictions for the latest probabilities.In DepthThe second- and third-lowest-scoring teams to make the quarterfinals of this World Cup square off against each other in Saturday’s early game (Belgium, with six goals, vs. Argentina, with seven), and then the lowest-scoring team (Costa Rica, with five goals) faces the highest-scoring side (the Netherlands, which has scored 12).Let’s look at Belgium vs. Argentina first.Since Argentina ignominiously exited the 2010 World Cup with a second consecutive quarterfinal loss to Germany, little Lionel Messi has been dominating the world of soccer like nothing we’ve seen in modern times.After scoring only one goal in both his previous World Cup tournaments combined, this year he’s taken the tournament by storm, scoring four goals (including a stoppage-time game-winner against Iran) in his first three matches, and recording the game-winning assist with just minutes remaining in the fourth.Stoking questions about whether it relies too much on Messi, however, the rest of his team has been awful on offense; Argentina’s other players have managed to put the same number of balls into their opponents’ nets (one) as those opponents have themselves (Bosnia’s own goal). Argentina’s shooting breaks down like so:Messi has scored on four of 16 shots (including converting three of 11 attempts from outside the penalty area).In the 18 shots set up by Messi (the highest number of chances created by any player going into the quarterfinals), Argentina has scored once (Angel di Maria’s game-winner against Switzerland).In the 46 shots Messi was not involved in, Argentina has scored only once, failing to score on all 42 attempts from outside the 6-yard box.Thus — despite having Messi, and despite Messi playing brilliantly — Argentina has only scored on 7.5 percent of its shot attempts, second-worst among quarterfinalists.Belgium, on the other hand, has seen six different players score. But that’s only six goals; even though Belgium has taken a tournament-leading 21 shots per game, the Red Devils have scored on only 7.2 percent of those shots, the worst of all quarterfinalists.Belgium has largely gotten by on excellent goalkeeping, with Thibaut Courtois allowing only two goals despite facing 13 shots on goal worth 4.84 expected goals (using ESPN/TruMedia’s Expected Goals model). His .22 “goals allowed below average” (GABA) per shot is the highest of remaining goalies (higher is better).Another team with good goalkeeping so far is Costa Rica, whose Keylor Navas has saved 14 of 16 shots on goal, with an average GABA of .21 per shot, good for second behind Courtois.Neither Costa Rica nor the Netherlands are what you’d call possession teams: Despite their impressive run, the Netherlands has held the ball just 44 percent of the time, and Costa Rica has held it 42 percent (the only other quarterfinalist with less than 50 percent possession was Colombia, with 46 percent). The flip side of playing this way is that these two teams also lead quarterfinalists in average pass distance (21.7 and 20.8 yards, respectively).But for the most part, Costa Rica seems badly overmatched. While they’ve shot a respectable 14.3 percent, that’s mostly because they’ve been unable to get shots at all — they’ve taken about nine shots per game, averaging only three on goal. Both those figures are by far the lowest of any remaining squad.The Netherlands, on the other hand, had one the most impressive runs into the quarterfinals. The Dutch faced the most difficult route (their opponents had an average Soccer Power Index rating of 80.0), but so far have the second-highest goal differential at +8.The Netherlands has been far superior on contested plays. When taking on defenders, the Flying Dutchmen have been successful a whopping 69 percent of the time. That compares to just 31 percent for Costa Rica. The Netherlands has won contested balls in the air at a 57 percent rate, compared to 36 percent for Costa Rica.In trying to find what, aside from good fortune and good goalkeeping, has driven Costa Rica’s gritty run (it’s scraped by against the second-hardest schedule), just about the only thing I could come up with was evidence of how well it’s run the offside trap. Costa Rica has drawn an enormous number of offsides calls: It’s pulled its opponents offsides 28 times (the next-most among quarterfinalists was 12, by Germany).Overall, our World Cup odds give Argentina a 14.9 percent chance of winning it all, the Netherlands an 11.8 percent chance, Belgium a 2.3 percent chance, and Costa Rica a 0.7 percent chance.YesterdayIn the first competitive match between France and Germany since the semifinals of the 1986 World Cup, Germany took the lead early with a headed goal by defender Mats Hummels. It was Hummels’s second goal of the World Cup, making him the first defender to score twice in this year’s tournament (he would get company later in the day). Both of Hummels’s goals have been headers, and both have been by assisted by Toni Kroos.For Germany, headers are nothing new: Over the past 50 years (as far back as ESPN Stats & Info’s data set goes), Germany has scored 37 headed goals in World Cup play, nearly twice as many as any other country (Italy has 19). Scoring first — by head or foot — has been Germany’s recipe for success in the World Cup, especially as of late. The Germans are 21-0-2 in their last 23 World Cup matches when scoring first, their last loss coming in the 1994 quarterfinals to Bulgaria.France, on the other hand, trailed for the first time at this year’s tournament, and still has never won in a World Cup match when trailing at halftime, losing all 11 times. Les Bleus made efforts to equalize, ending up with more shots (13) than Germany (8), and more chances created (10 to 7). But it was all for naught.In Friday’s second match, Brazil opened the scoring in the seventh minute, its fastest goal of the tournament. The goal came from a Neymar corner kick, his first assist of the tournament. It was Thiago Silva’s first career World Cup goal, and it was Brazil’s third goal from a corner, tied with France and Germany for the most in this World Cup.Brazil was in control for the remainder of the first half, completing seven of 15 passes into the attacking penalty area and creating seven total chances. Neymar created four chances, including the assist; Colombia, as a team, created two in the first half.Brazil extended its lead to 2-0 on defender David Luiz’s 34-yard free kick, the second-longest goal of the tournament. Luiz failed to score in his first 39 career international appearances, but he has found the back of the net in his last two. Brazil has now taken a two-goal lead in a World Cup match 49 times, and has won all 49.The breakout star in the tournament so far, Colombia’s James Rodriguez, converted a penalty to give his side hope; he scored in all five of his games in the tournament. It was his sixth goal, giving him a two-goal lead in the race for the Golden Boot. Colombia scored five goals combined in its last two World Cup appearances (1994 and 1998).Brazil and Germany’s semifinal meeting on Tuesday will, incredibly, mark only the second time these two countries have met at the World Cup. The other was the 2002 final, won by Brazil 2-0. — Jacob Nitzberg, senior statistics analyst, ESPNOff the PitchThe Netherlands and Costa Rica have been friends for a while. In fact, the Dutch were a big source of aid to the Costa Ricans until recently, when the latter ascended to middle-income status. The relationship has gradually shifted to focus more on trade and economic cooperation, but it’s still worth looking at the aid the Netherlands provided over the years.AidData reports that the Dutch sent about $362.5 million Costa Rica’s way between 1978 and 2010. The bulk allocation changed with time, and in the 1980s seemed to focus on industry growth, with $1 million going toward agriculture in 1981, $31 million toward imports to Costa Rica in 1984 and $7 million toward forestry in 1989. The ‘90s began a slow transition, with $17 million spent on multisector industry growth in 1994, $22 million on debt alleviation in 1996 and $21 million on general environmental protection in 1997. With this final pivot, it looks like Costa Rica found its stride — environmental protection continued to be the focus of Dutch aid through 2006, with a final peak of $17 million. Since then, Costa Rica’s tourism industry has boomed, and Dutch aid has all but completely ended.Further ReadingMohawks, Faux-hawks And Macklemores: The Top-Heavy Hairdos of the World CupThe World Cup USMNT Replacement Team Power RankingsStop Making Sense It’s Old Dutch Empire vs. Old Spanish Empire day, as Argentina (independent from Spain since 1816) takes on Belgium (independent from the Netherlands since 1830), and Costa Rica (independent from Spain since 1821) takes on the Netherlands itself.In BriefArgentina vs. Belgium: 12 p.m. EDTNetherlands vs. Costa Rica 4 p.m. EDT read more


Friday, Feb 27, 3:28 p.m.The panel: “Commissioner’s Perspective: 1 on 1 with Rob Manfred”The panelists: Brian Kenny, Rob ManfredRob Manfred has a long history with Major League Baseball. And Major League Baseball has long tried to avoid letting its history weigh it down. In a wide-ranging interview at Sloan on Friday, one month into his tenure as league commissioner, Manfred sounded like a man trying to make sense of how to reform a game without hollowing it out.A few days ago, Manfred said that there was a universe in which baseball could shave eight games off its regular-season schedule “sometime down the road.” A reduction in the current 162-game schedule could make the sport’s playoff timing a little more flexible, and might increase fan interest in each game. At Sloan, Manfred said he chose the 154-game mark because it would take the majors “back to a number that’s already in our record books.” Could he see MLB going even lower, to 150? No, because then “you’re going to go have a record book with 150, 154, 162 …” Only in baseball, a sport hallowed enough to get the Ken Burns treatment, could the record book be more important than the ledger. Integrity is paramount. (Or as Manfred, who has worked for the league for nearly two decades, put it when talking about whether to reform gambling laws around sports betting: “Integrity, it’s Rule One.”)Yet this is a commissioner who clearly wants to find ways to change the game. Manfred has introduced rules to speed the pace of play, and said Friday he’s very happy with the replay system MLB added last year. He said that in the future — “past Rob Manfred” — the league could have a team outside North America, and before that, maybe even one in Mexico. Now that would be historic. — Chadwick Matlin Sunday, March 1 12:17 a.m.After what conference co-organizer Jessica Gelman said was a “heated discussion,” voters for the top research paper at Sloan reached a split decision and split the $30,000 prize pool between two papers. The winners:Who is Responsible for a Called Strike? by Joe Rosales and Scott SprattCounterpoints: Advanced Defensive Metrics for NBA Basketball by Alexander Franks, Andrew Miller, Luke Bornn and Kirk GoldsberryRosales and Spratt, both of Baseball Info Solutions, presented work suggesting that pitch framing, which has traditionally rewarded most of the credit to catchers alone, is actually a function of three independent participants: the catcher, pitcher, and umpire.Franks, Miller, Bornn, and Goldsberry — all members of Harvard’s XY Hoops group — used player tracking data to quantify individual defensive play in the NBA. The academic version of this group’s paper has been accepted at the statistics journal Annals of Applied Statistics.The groups behind the winning papers each received $15,000 for their efforts. Additionally, Bornn and Goldsberry, along with co-authors Alex D’Amour and Dan Cervone, received the conference’s top poster prize of $1,000 for “Move or Die: How Ball Movement Creates Open Shots in the NBA.” — Mike Lopez Friday, Feb 27, 11:55 a.m.Daryl Morey has been as instrumental to the rise of the Sloan conference as he has been to the rise of the Houston Rockets. Morey, the general manager of the Rockets, has steered the team to third place in the Western conference — behind MVP-candidate James Harden, whom he acquired in a now-legendary 2012 trade — and helped start the Sloan conference in 2007. At Sloan on Friday, I boxed him out to ask a few questions about advanced basketball analytics, specifically player-tracking data from companies like STATS’ SportVU technology. While he can’t divulge the details of the Rockets’ private statistics, Morey’s remarks about the publicly available numbers are especially insightful because the Rockets are one of the most stats-savvy teams — not just in the NBA, but in all of sports. — Andrew FlowersAudio Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/flowers_morey.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume. Saturday, Feb. 28 3:15 p.m.Will sports betting inevitably become legal in the U.S.? It sure seems like it.Momentum behind legalization has grown since NBA Commissioner Adam Silver wrote an Op-Ed in the New York Times in November 2014 explicitly endorsing legal sports gambling. The facade of professional sports leagues that oppose sports betting is beginning to crack. And it’s clear why: money.Silver estimated the market for illegal sports wagering is currently $400 billion per year, though it’s likely that figure is inflated. But even lower-end estimates of around $80 billion still represent a huge market. Sports betting is already enormous in Europe, Australia and many other regions. State governments want in because of the potential revenues.Professional sports leagues are intrigued because they see gambling interest as a ratings driver, much like fantasy sports have been. (And, coincidentally, daily fantasy sports sites – with cash prizes – bear an eerie resemblance to gambling anyway.) Gambling is already inherently analytical; but the appetite of stats-savvy fans for geeky coverage about odds is growing. Jeff Ma, a contributor to ESPN’s new sports-betting site, Chalk – said gambling analytics would meet the demand from those with a “high-brow” interest.But there are major risks to legalization. The revelations that former NBA referee Tim Donaghy owed gambling debts and bet on games he officiated was a reminder of the long, scandalous history of how gambling can challenge the integrity of sports. Here, too, analytics can help. Ryan Rodenberg, a professor at Florida State University, suggested statistical scrutiny of betting markets would combat fraud and fixing. Several private European firms already specialize in such analytics.The panelists were asked that if they had to bet on legalization sweeping the country, when it would happen. The lines offered by the panelists ranged from 2-to-10 years. Dan Spillane, the Assistant General Counsel for the NBA, didn’t offer a timeline, however. He just said “years, not months.” — Andrew Flowers Saturday, Feb. 28, 1:00 p.m.The session: “Analytics of the Tommy John Injury Epidemic”The speaker: Glenn FleisigWe’re in the midst of an epidemic of elbow injuries among major league pitchers. Twenty-five percent of current MLB pitchers have had an ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction (“Tommy John surgery”) and 15 percent of minor league pitchers have undergone the procedure. Over the last decade, the problem has trickled down to high school and little league players. In 1990, none of the baseball players coming to the Andrews Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center clinic Tommy John surgery were kids. Today, one third of them are high school age or younger, said Fleisig, the research director at the American Sports Medicine Institute.What’s to blame for the epidemic of torn elbow ligaments? Are more players getting hurt? Or are we just better at diagnosing these injuries? Are doctors more willing to do the procedure? Or are patients more eager to have it?The answer, said Fleisig, is all of the above. Some players assume they should go in for surgery at the first sign of elbow pain, just “to get it over,” but that’s the wrong attitude. Best case scenario, the surgery can return a player to the career trajectory he was on before he got injured, but it won’t improve performance and not every player makes it back to play, Fleisig said.About 80 percent of major league players who get Tommy John surgeries make it back to the mound, but only two thirds of those who undergo the procedure make it back and stay there.Most elbow ligament injuries occur due to overuse. During the middle part of the pitch when the elbow is held upright at a right angle, the joint experiences severe torque. “It’s like holding a string with five 12-pound bowling balls,” Fleisig said. (That’s why doping raises the risk of an elbow injury — “If you’re on the juice you’re making your muscles too strong for your tendons and ligaments to handle.”)There’s a common notion that curveballs are dangerous, but the research doesn’t bear that out, Fleisig said. “We expected the curveball to have more torque than the fastball, but it turns out it has less.”Four things determine which players get injured — biomechanics, how much a player pitches, training and recovery. “It’s not one of these things or the other, it’s all of them,” Fleisig said.Wear and tear on the elbow is one of the most important factors, and when Fleisig’s group followed a group of 500 kids over a ten-year period, they found that pitching more than 100 competitive innings more than tripled the risk of needing a Tommy John surgery. Likewise, more than 80 pitches per game quadrupled the risk of injury, and kids who pitched when fatigued had 36 times the risk of having surgery.In an effort to cut the rates of elbow injuries among young pitchers, Fleisig and his colleagues have teamed with Major League Baseball to create Pitch Smart, age-appropriate guidelines to avoid injury. Suggestions include limits on the number of pitches thrown and not pitching when fatigued. “The best computer we have is right here,” Fleisig told me, pointing to his head. — Christie Aschwanden Saturday, Feb. 28 4:05 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28, 11:20 a.m. Friday, Feb 27, 12:21 p.m.The Panel: “Valuing Franchises: How Sports Teams Break the DCF”The Panelists: Lyle Ayes, Aswath Damodaran, Joe McNulty, Randy Vataha, Abe Madkour (moderator)The recent sales of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Clippers for over $2 billion have opened up a new paradigm in sports franchise valuations. As shocking as the price of those transactions may have been, the mood at this Sloan panel was buoyant. In fact, panelists seemed to be most worried about prices getting so high that billionaires would be priced out of the market. As Lyle Ayes, managing director of the investment bank Evercore’s sports advisory practice said, “how many people can pay $4 billion for an asset?”Panelists thought the seemingly inexorable rise in franchise valuations was driven by the increasing value of media and content rights. Aswath Damodaran, an NYU professor who focuses on valuation (and FiveThirtyEight contributor), commented that across the entertainment industry, owning content is becoming king. Ayes cited the NBA’s massive new TV deal as evidence of this trend. He noted that advertisers put a large premium on live content like sports because viewers are relatively captive during the event. Interestingly, none of the panel members thought that a team’s performance had a large impact on valuation. The most important factor, according to the panel, was metro area population and GDP. The New York Knicks can command significantly more from their local TV rights for bad basketball than the San Antonio Spurs can command for good.Despite the increase in the real earnings of teams as media deals improve, panelists (with the exception of Ayes), broadly agreed that sports franchises still do not make sense as actual businesses. While they are relatively low-risk and uncorrelated with other potential investments, almost any analysis of the current cash flows — or lack thereof — will not find them to be great investments. As Damodaran noted, the supply of franchises is relatively fixed, while demand has been growing. The panelists did not see this dynamic changing any time soon. — John Ezekowitz Friday, Feb 27, 2:20 p.m.The panel: “Basketball Analytics: Push the Tempo”The panelists: Shane Battier, Mike Zarren, Sue Bird, Mike D’Antoni, Pablo TorreAre basketball teams now so saturated with data and analytics that it’s hard to use them for a competitive advantage?Mike Zarren, assistant general manager for the Boston Celtics, raised an interesting point about what qualifies as analytics in an analytics age. “If I know how well a player slept last night, is that analytics?” The breadth of topics discussed — injuries, biometrics, pace, traditional positions, rest, incentives, shot selection, team chemistry — reveal what a truly broad spectrum of questions and answers fall under the umbrella of basketball analytics. However the field is defined, it all serves the same master: talent. Shane Battier, the poster boy for the adoption of analytic ideas at the player level, summed up the mission perfectly: “It’s about creating space to allow talent to do what they do.”Zarren returned to a well-worn focus at this conference — communication of insights — and defended that arena as the place where a competitive advantage still exists: “You have to use it, it has to affect the decisions you make. I don’t think there is a saturation of that yet.” — Ian Levy Friday, Feb 27, 10:40 a.m.The panel: “Innovators and Adopters”The panelists: Shane Battier, Michael Lewis, Daryl Morey, Jeff Van Gundy and Jackie MacMullanPity Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant. Out for the season with injuries after performances well below their high standards, they’re now punching bags in Boston, at least according to the first session of the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference on Friday.The other panelists treated the retired Battier more or less as Lewis depicted him in a New York Times Magazine article in 2009: the platonic ideal of the intelligent NBA player, one who incorporates insights from advanced statistical analysis to optimize his game for team success. (Battier initially resisted that framing, saying “it was about winning,” before eventually letting on that yeah, he was a pretty smart player.) LeBron James, with whom Battier won two titles in Miami, was the more typical player, open to occasional tastes of analytics-based tips.Anthony and Bryant, though, were depicted as the anti-Battiers, in a question by moderator MacMullan (who, like Battier, works for ESPN, which owns this website and sponsors Sloan). MacMullan noted their selfishness and focus on scoring over other ways of contributing to their teams. (To which my boss, Nate Silver, would respond that Anthony’s shooting makes his teammates better.) Battier made clear how much he relished having those two stars as foils, learning their tendencies so that he could neutralize their strengths when playing defense. MacMullan pointed out that Battier blocked more of their shots than any other player’s. Anthony also topped the Battier leaderboards for balls stolen and offensive fouls drawn. And the pair led another personal leaderboard Battier innovated: They gave him the most “looks of disdain” when they found out he’d be guarding them. — Carl Bialik Friday, Feb 27, 4:35 p.m.At last year’s Sloan conference, Dean Oliver was our ESPN colleague, leading analytics at the Stats & Info Group. This year, he’s here as the Sacramento Kings’ director of player personnel and analytics. I spotted him Friday huddled with a few of his peers from other NBA franchises. Oliver has been in the sports analytics business for three decades, and has seen it grow from a field wrestling with a lack of data to one with more data than it knows what to do with. He spoke with me about the similarities in working for teams and working for sports media, and about what it takes for a franchise to succeed at using analytics. — Carl Bialik Friday, Feb. 27, 6:10 p.m.Walking into a conference at Sloan today I walked by yet another guy in a sports coat — and then did a double take, because this guy’s blazer sleeves were rolled up…and he was a 13 year-old. There are some teenagers running around Sloan but none looked younger than Sam Hafetz and his friends, Manu Hurskovitz, 14, and Jonah White, 14. After calling their parents for permission (hi, Mr. Hurskovitz!), I dragged them to our podcast table. There, Jody Avirgan asked what brought them to Sloan (it’s their second year attending), why they love sports analytics, and what they’d do if they became GMs of the Celtics. — Chadwick MatlinAudio Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/kidsatsloan.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Friday, Feb. 27, 4:43 p.m.The panel: “Commissioner’s Perspective: Growing Soccer with Don Garber”The panelists: Don Garber, Grant WahlMLB and MLS share two letters and the pickle of how to balance tradition and innovation. Baseball’s struggle comes from within, as Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred showed earlier Friday. Major League Soccer isn’t as conflicted about changing rules and trying new technologies, MLS Commissioner Don Garber said. Its burden, unlike MLB’s, is its peripheral place in a global game.Garber said he wanted goal-line review technology, extra time put on scoreboards (instead of only a ref with a “Timex that probably cost 20 bucks” knowing how much time remains) and a whole lot more. “If I were king, we would have instant replay, we would have cameras on our players, we would be putting them on goalposts.” He’d put a microphone on the field. Players would wear GoPro cameras. He watched hockey players wear GoPros at the NHL All-Star Game and thought it was cool.But Garber can’t have all those things. Other sports’ U.S. pro leagues just need to get the owners to agree, but MLS needs the approval of IFAB, the International Football Association Board — or, as Garber called it, the International Federation of Somebody Who Has Something To Do With the Rules That’s Not Me. Garber’s message to IFAB: “Let us be the Guinea pigs.” He worries that the world’s most popular sport could lose its lead “just because of our structure. We should be able to use the power of our influence to lead.” — Carl Bialik Saturday, Feb. 28, 9:50 a.m.There are bold-faced names headlining the ninth annual Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, sure. But for academics like myself the real action is in the research paper contest, where academics and researchers are hoping to create the kinds of insights that the bold-faced names one day treat as gospel. For these researchers, Sloan marks the culmination of what can be more than a year’s worth of work. The stakes are high: top prize is $20,000, with second place worth $10,000. For some of the PhD students submitting papers, that may equal their annual salary.But until now, the mechanics of how this contest is judged have largely been cloudy (see an overview of the 2015 contest here, or my personal experience submitting a paper to the 2014 contest here). On Friday, conference co-lead Paul Campbell helped clarify how Sloan makes its picks. “We try to be consistent about what we solicit,” said Campbell. “We kind of have our perspective on the validity of the method, and making sure that the academic and mathematical rigor is there. Also, do the results make sense?”The 2015 research paper contest began back in September, when Campbell and this year’s judging committee, comprised of various MIT student organizers and academic advisers, received 189 abstracts. Of that total, 68 were invited to turn in a formal paper for submission in mid-December. Paper submissions were placed into one of four tracks: basketball, baseball, other sports or the business of sport. The top two submitted papers from each track were given the opportunity to present at this year’s conference. In addition, 11 papers were given a poster in the halls of the convention center.Each of the eight finalists were allotted a 20-minute presentation on Friday. The judging committee identified the top presentation in each of the four categories based on a 50-50 split of the presentation itself and the originating paper.“We have an idea of what the best analytically rigorous paper is, but we want to see if it is presented well. It’s an equal weighting with [the presentation] and the paper,” said Campbell. The four papers still in the running for the top prize, are:Baseball: Who is Responsible for a Called Strike? by Joe Rosales and Scott SprattBasketball: Counterpoints: Advanced Defensive Metrics for NBA Basketball by Alexander Franks, Andrew Miller, Luke Bornn and Kirk GoldsberryOther Sports: Assessing the productivity of NHL players using in-game win probabilities by Stephen PettigrewBusiness of Sports: Diamonds on the Line: Profits Through Investment Gaming by Clayton Graham.Those four finalists are given an additional 10 minutes with which to make their case, this time in front of a larger and more general audience, including Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey and FiveThirtyEight’s own Nate Silver.Those judges, according to Campbell, are asked to judge by something different than the last committee. “Which of these [papers] seems like the most applicable or potentially transformative within the industry?” $20,000 rides on the answer. — Mike Lopez Saturday, Feb. 28, 1:46 p.m.The panel: “Beating the Shift: Baseball Analytics in the Age of Big Data”The panelists: Sandy Alderson, Dan Brooks, Dave Cameron, Ben Lindbergh, Jonah KeriSloan’s flagship baseball panel largely focused on teams’ reactions to sabermetric findings. Alderson, the general manager of the New York Mets, spoke about the proliferation of defensive shifts, and how it has led to changes in the way certain players are valued — specifically right-handed power hitters.Along the same lines, no discussion of baseball analytics would be complete without some mention of strike zone analysis and catcher pitch-framing metrics. Despite the volume of research on the subject in recent years, the consensus of the group was that the market may still not be properly valuing catchers who “steal” strikes on the edge of the strike zone at a higher rate than their peers. Then again, part of that may relate to a theory that pitch-framing is a taught skill. (We’d have liked to hear more thoughts about how umpires doing better at calling an accurate strike zone has led to baseball’s aforementioned drop in run-scoring.)Finally, Keri asked the panel their thoughts about wins above replacement (WAR). The panel agreed WAR was a valuable framework, even if its individual parts can always stand to be improved. For his part, Alderson confirmed that teams use at least some version of it, even with its imperfections, because the idea of creating a cumulative statistic is appealing. — Harry Enten and Neil Paine FiveThirtyEight’s delegation made the pilgrimage to this year’s Sloan conference, a kind of mecca for anyone who’s obsessed with sports, data and retelling how they first felt when they read “Moneyball.” We updated all of Friday and Saturday from Boston, where Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and our own Nate Silver roamed the halls. Read on for highlights from the weekend. CORRECTION (Feb 28, 9:47 a.m.): A previous version of this article misstated the ages of Sam Hafetz and Jonah White. read more


Ohio State freshman forward Samantha Bouley skates toward the puck against Minnesota in Minneapolis on Jan. 21. Credit: Courtesy of OSU AthleticsThe Ohio State women’s hockey team split a two-game series with No. 4 Minnesota (17-5-3, 12-4-3) in Minneapolis this weekend, losing the first game 2-1 and tying the second 1-1,  ending in a 2-1 shootout victory. Saturday’s game marked the first time OSU has earned points against the Golden Gophers since Jan. 11, 2015. The Buckeyes moved to 11-12-3 overall and 5-12-3 in conference.On Friday night, Ohio State had a 1-0 lead through the first two periods. After a scoreless first period, junior forward Julianna Iafallo scored the first goal of the game off an assist from sophomore forward Maddy Field to put Ohio State up 1-0 in the second. Minnesota was kept out of the net for the remainder of the second period thanks to 18 saves from Buckeye goalie Kassidy Sauve.The Scarlet and Gray got off on the wrong foot in the third period with a penalty to put Minnesota on the power play. At 10:48 on the game clock, the Gophers scored their first goal of the game to tie things up 1-1. Shortly after, Minnesota scored again at 16:23 to take the 2-1 lead. The Gophers held off the Buckeyes for the remaining minutes and won 2-1. Sauve had 31 saves against Minnesota but the OSU offense had only eight shots on goal the entire game.On Saturday, the game started out in a similar fashion with another scoreless first period. At 9:38 in the second, Minnesota scored the first goal of the game to take a 1-0 lead. The two teams had a combined seven penalties in the first two periods. At 1:27 in the third period, OSU senior forward Katie Matheny scored off an assist from Field to tie the game 1-1. Sauve defended the Minnesota attack perfectly for the rest of the period and the two teams went into overtime at Ridder Arena. The Buckeye goaltender had 26 saves through regulation.Through five minutes of overtime, the teams remained scoreless and went to a shootout. Minnesota’s Lee Stecklein shot first and scored for the Gophers, but junior defenseman Dani Sadek responded with a goal of her own. The teams went through seven shooters until Iafallo got one past the Gopher goalie to secure the Buckeye win, 2-1. Due to NCAA rules, all shootout wins are recorded as ties in the record book.Minnesota, the best power play team in the NCAA, had seven power play opportunities this weekend, all of which were killed by the Buckeyes. OSU went 0-3-1 against the top-ranked Golden Gophers this season which is an improvement from last year’s 0-4-0.Next up, the Scarlet and Gray will travel to Duluth, Minnesota, for a two-game series against conference opponent No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth. read more