Saturday, October 24, 2009

NFL stuff you may not know

or care about....

After 39 games as a starter in the NFL, Kyle Orton is 27-12 with a 56.8% career completion rate and a 1.4 TD/INT ratio. After starting 39 games in his career, Eli Manning was 20-19 with a 54% career completion rate and a 1.2 TD/INT ratio. And just for craps and giggles, you should know that after 40 games as a starter, Ben Roethlisberger was 29-11 with a 62% career completion rate, a 1.2 TD/INT ratio and a Superbowl title.

Both E.Manning and Roethlisberger have played for teams with great defenses but Eli has had the benefit of a consistently superior running game and offensive line. Both currently have started 77 games in their careers. Eli Manning is 47-30 with a career 56.2% completion rate and 1.4 TD/INT ratio, a career yards/attempt of 6.5, a career QB rating of 77.9 and one Superbowl title. Roethlisberger is 55-22 with a career 63.4% completion rate and a 1.5 TD/INT ratio, a career yards/attempt of 8.0, a career QB rating of 90.9 and two Superbowl titles.

If the Miami Dolphins could find some pass defense they could still be a force in the AFC. They are possessing the hell out of the football, averaging over 35 minutes of possession per game. But they lost games earlier in the season because (1) They couldn’t defend the pass, so opponents could strike really quickly and (2) They couldn’t put up points fast with Pennington at the helm. Ever since Henne took over, they have put up 38 and 31 points. Their pass D still sucks and it nearly cost them the Jets game but Henne’s ability to go downfield brought them back to win that game. This week’s game against the Saints will be a good barometer. Miami isn’t going to win many shootouts and their pass D has to play better---and there is currently no better passing attack in the NFL than the Saints’.

Four of the next five games for the Atlanta Falcons are against opponents coming off a bye week (Dallas week 7, Washington week 9, Carolina week 10 and New York Giants week 11). Arthur Blank must have pissed off someone in the NFL scheduling office.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Newer, More Improved, Big Bang Theory

There is an interesting article in the NY Times
about the Large Hadron Collider---take the few minutes to read it, if you haven't already.

Here are a couple of excerpts:

"A pair of otherwise distinguished physicists have suggested that the hypothesized Higgs boson, which physicists hope to produce with the collider, might be so abhorrent to nature that its creation would ripple backward through time and stop the collider before it could make one....."

“It must be our prediction that all Higgs producing machines shall have bad luck,” Dr. Nielsen said in an e-mail message. In an unpublished essay, Dr. Nielson said of the theory, “Well, one could even almost say that we have a model for God.” It is their guess, he went on, “that He rather hates Higgs particles, and attempts to avoid them.”

I think this is brilliant. I buy it.

Indeed, I'll take the theory even further: I think that the Higgs boson's time traveling sabotage of the LHC will be successful only for a little while more. Eventually, the boson will not make it in time to catch the lightning bolt to generate the necessary jiggawatts for the trip and it will fail once to get back to CERN in time. Then the CERN scientists will get the LHC functioning perfectly and run it to successfully generate the Higgs boson.....on December 21, 2012.

I expect the applause for my theory to be rapturous. Ba-dum-tisshhhh.

I mean, if you want wackadoodle, I got all kinds of wackadoodle.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

With friends like these....

At a time where science, and indeed even knowledge and learning, is under attack by various malicious and ignorant and fundamentalist factions, we really do not need the head of the NIH to say this....“We’re not the National Institutes of Basic Sciences,” he said. “We’re the National Institutes of Health.”

This could only serve to reinforce the lay person's erroneous notion that basic research is an 'ivory tower' activity with no naturally consequent practical applications. What needs to be said prominently and repeatedly is that open and unfettered basic research (and often serendipitous discovery) drives most of the advances in medicine and health care. And that, as a nation, we should find a way to increase the NIH budget for basic research by at least 5% on an annual basis.

By the way, I am all for "considering clinical and therapeutic implications in their work"; as a matter of fact, I am involved in the process of furthering the conversion of one bit of science into, hopefully, a couple of bits of technology. But where is the money for this fine notion going to come from? Even the NIH SBIR program, which is really a lifeline for small companies that are too early for venture funding, has been somewhat hijacked. The rules have now been changed such that large, venture-backed companies can now compete for this line of funding---this sounds great on paper "Hey, let's fund the stuff that is closer to market" etc, but in reality it is only going to subsidize the risk assumed by venture capital firms and pass that risk onto the taxpayer. Now vulture capitalists can own more of your stuff, that they can strategically sacrifice in their "exit strategies" aka "take the money and run", for even lesser investment on their part. At the same time this kills small companies that actually operate in that difficult and vital space between the "piece of cool datum from university lab" and "stuff that a vulture capitalist will want to own for pennies on the dollar".

So you want to make an overt PR push to "take lab science and make it relevant to health", great. I'm on board. Now show us the money, boss.