TMQ Nation fires back
"Well chaps, it's November -- what say we nip down to the Ikea and buy some Christmas decorations?"
Not even in stores and already he's hurt!
Julia Randall of Tacoma, Wash., asks for an update on the predictions derby. My off-price ultra-generic prediction, Home Team Wins, is 74-55 -- 74-56 if you count the London game as a home date for Miami. That's 57 percent correct, not great considering most football predictors hover in the low 60 percent range. (Home Team Wins is besting ESPN's Eric Allen, who is only 72-58 -- Eric, just pick the home team, you don't even need to know who's playing!) The Isaacson-Tarbell Postulate, proposed by readers Eric Isaacson and Catey Tarbell, is kicking tail. Their formula is Best Record Wins; If Records Equal, Home Team Wins. The Isaacson-Tarbell Postulate -- which requires no insider information, no computer analysis, indeed no thought -- is currently 94-36, or 72 percent. The other top predictors I am aware of are Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson of ESPN, Jay Glazer of Fox, and Sean Leahy of USA Today. These four are all 89-41, or 68 percent. But those four are staring at the taillights of the Isaacson-Tarbell Postulate -- a system which requires no thinking!
AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann
Get on the ground!
AP Photo/Heidrun Lohr/Sydney Theater Company
Oh Hedda, you make me want to sing!
Last week's column cited this video, which claims to prove yogic flying; I was amused by the pseudo-scientific narrator in the white lab coat. Alex Waller of Overland Park, Kan., reports, "The lab coat guy claims that in 1987, enough flying yogis to represent 'the square root of 1 percent of the population of Israel' gathered, and this lowered violence in Lebanon. The problem is that the square root of 1 percent is 10 percent. Israel's population in 1987 was 4,390,000, so they are claiming approximately 440,000 yogis gathered in one place and hopped around. And it didn't make any news reports?" Many promoters of the yogic worldview wrap themselves in pseudo-science, and for some reason consider "the square root of 1 percent" both a mystic number and very small. But 1 percent is .01, and 0.1 (which is 10 percent) times 0.1 equals .01. The square root of 1 percent is 10 percent.
The ride may be It's a Small World, but the waistline stats say otherwise.
Hamilton Falk of Philadelphia highlights this story of a high school which won a game 83-0, yet did not run up the score! It was 72-0 at the end of the first quarter, and after that, the coach did everything possible to avoid further scoring. Falk adds, "My only concern comes from the fact that the Patriots now know it's possible to score 72 points in a quarter, and will probably be shooting for a 250-point game at some point this year." On the flip side of the coin, Jeffrey Pollard notes this Arizona case of two Pee-Wee football coaches who got into a fistfight over the outcome of a game. And going through an old file I found an e-mail from Brian Regan of Rockaway, N.J., from mid-September, predicting LSU would be punished by the football gods for throwing deep to run up the score with three minutes remaining and a 41-7 lead over Virginia Tech. Yea, verily, it came to pass when LSU met Kentucky.
The New Horizons probe is the fastest object ever built by humanity -- and would require more than 100,000 years to reach the nearest star beyond our sun.
TMQ noted that colleges are now 57 percent female and 43 percent male -- and on the way to being 60-40 -- lamenting I was born too soon. Shannon Sue of Seattle writes, "Speaking of the 60-40 trend, have you thought [about] what this will do to marriages? Studies suggest that most women want to 'marry up' in education and salary. With less and less men going to college, women will be competing for the male college graduates as marriage partners. In addition, with the huge boom of divorced women entering the playing field, many of whom have few qualms about dating younger men (hence the term 'cougar'), I think there will be a big swing in dating dynamics favoring younger, educated men. Sorry -- you really were born too soon!"
San Diego Chargers
The Chargers won at home backed by cheerleader professionalism -- then had to go on the road against Adrian Peterson.
TMQ wrote that Worcester Polytechnic Institute's name is locally pronounced "Wooster," and in another part of the column asked why the MSM (mainstream media) don't report that the real mission of the new Littoral Combat Ship is the protection of oil tankers in coastal waters. Matt Boyle of Bath, Maine, was up to speed on both points: "Even if you forget about the '-ah' pronunciation of the letter' R' in New England, Worcester in WPI is pronounced 'wuss-ter.' Worcester is not to be confused with the College of Wooster, which is locally pronounced 'whoo-ster.' And about the Littoral Combat Ship -- I work at the Bath Iron Works shipyard, which is basically running the General Dynamics version of the vessel, to compete against the Lockheed Martin version in 2009. You hit the nail on the head as for the real purpose of the LCS. But you failed to mention that the U.S. government also plans to sell the ships to friendly, oil-producing countries so that they can protect their own oil coasts."
TMQ urged drivers' ed teachers to teach young people not to drive in caravans, which cause distractions and crashes. Daniel Barbour of Richmond, Va., notes in a comment that could apply to the laws of many states, "Virginia's new laws regarding the number of passengers new drivers are allowed to have in their cars actually promote caravan driving by young drivers. Virginia's laws state that: 'If you are under 18 and hold a learner's permit or a driver's license, Virginia law says you may only carry one passenger who is under age 18 while you hold a permit and during the first year that you drive. After that, you may only carry three passengers who are under age 18, until you reach age 18.' While the obvious intent of this law is to help prevent the new driver from becoming distracted by passengers, my personal experience with this a few years ago while I was that age is that this law indirectly promotes caravan driving, which as you pointed out is a very big distraction, especially for the lead driver. For example, if a group of six friends under the age of roughly 18 -- it depends on how old they were when they obtained their licenses, otherwise the three-passenger rule might be in effect -- want to drive somewhere, they are essentially legally required to take three separate cars, all of which will inevitably follow each other around town, caravan-style. By trying to remove one distraction from teen drivers, state legislatures have practically mandated another."
In addition to writing Tuesday Morning Quarterback, Gregg Easterbrook is the author of "The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse" and other books. He also is a contributing editor for The New Republic, The Atlantic Monthly and The Washington Monthly.