La Brea Tar Pits Trap Scientists

first_imgSid Perkins of Science News dropped in at La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, and got stuck, not in tar, but in the sticky evolutionary interpretations of these world-famous fossil deposits.  This fossil bed, right in one of the ritziest parts of Los Angeles (adjacent to the County Art Museum), Perkins whimsically calls “L.A.’s oldest tourist trap” because of the many mammals and birds that once paid a visit, never to exit again.  Even roaches checked in, but they didn’t check out.  Millions of bones have been uncovered at the site, making it one of the richest Pleistocene fossil deposits in the world.    The standard explanation of the fossils is that herbivores became trapped in the gooey tar.  Carnivores and birds of prey, leaping on the easy meals, became trapped also, and all sank together into the sticky preservative  The tale is not without its mysteries, however:Disarticulation.  The bones are completely jumbled. One of the most conspicuous findings from a census of bones is the near absence of complete skeletons.Carnivore ratios.  A large majority of bones are from carnivores:In a result that counters intuition, bones of predators were almost seven times as common in Pit 91 as were those of prey.  Overall, an estimated 80 percent of the mammals were carnivores, and 60 percent of the birds were birds of prey.  That’s a surprise, says [John] Harris [curator of the museum at the site], since the number of herbivores in a stable ecosystem always outnumbers the predators by a wide margin.    Presumably, Perkins suggests, “Each herbivore entrapment probably triggered a feeding frenzy that resulted in up to a dozen predators being trapped as well.”Skull to limb ratios.  Most of the bones are skulls:Of the seven mammal species that the team analyzed from Pit 91, skulls and jawbones were collected most often.  Only half as many limb bones were recovered as would be expected from the number of heads retrieved.One possibility is that trapped herbivores, like bison or sloths, became tired and fell on their sides, exposing only one set of ribs and limbs to the meat-eaters.  But the same puzzle exists with the carnivore bones:Even carnivores became sitting ducks; the predators’ limb bones don’t show up in the pits in the proportions expected if their carcasses had escaped scavengers.  Dire wolves, an ice age predator larger than today’s gray wolf, appear to have been scavenged less often than the saber-toothed cats.  However, the large numbers of missing bones among any of La Brea’s meat eaters is surprising, says [Blair] Van Valkenburgh [of UCLA].  Modern carnivores rarely feed on other large carnivores, even when carcasses are available, she notes.Isotope Ratios.  Scientists trying to deduce the last meal of victims by measuring isotopes of carbon and nitrogen in the bones found some puzzles:The carbon-isotope ratios found in the bones of dire wolves that lived 30,000 and 15,000 years ago have proved mysterious because they can’t be explained by the consumption of herbivores, such as bison, horses, and turkeys, known to be living in the La Brea ecosystem at that time.    A hypothesis is offered is that the wolves had eaten seafood, perhaps sea lions, at the coast – but that is nine miles away.Clean bones.  The bones show little exposure to the elements:Several characteristics of the fossil bones suggest that the remains of trapped animals sank quickly into the tar, the researchers note.  First, 93 percent of the bones show no sign of exposure to the weather.  Almost half of the specimens show little or none of the outer-surface abrasion that indicates, for example, the scouring action of sediments.  Finally, only 2 percent of the bones show any evidence that they had been gnawed or chewed by scavengers.This remarkable site, encompassing about 23 acres, has yielded “the remains of more than 650 species, including at least 60 mammal species, 140 types of plants, 120 varieties of insects, and 60 species of snails and other mollusks” during the past century of excavation, and current paleontologists have a huge backlog to inventory.  The fossils include many extinct mammals, such as “dwarf pronghorn antelopes, short-faced bears, ground sloths, and the North American versions of lions and camels,” (as well as mastodons, mammoths and one human skeleton), along with bones of all the current L.A. mammals “with the curious exception of opossums.”  Visitors to the attractive George C. Page Museum can watch scientists and volunteers at work separating the specimens from the matrix using fine brushes and picks – a painstaking, time-consuming process.1Sid Perkins, “L.A.’s Oldest Tourist Trap: At Rancho La Brea, death has been the pits for millennia,” Science News, Week of Jan. 24, 2004; Vol. 165, No. 4.Perkins ends with an anecdote about 60 cedar waxwings getting stuck in a tar seep last November, indicating that animals still get trapped.  The problem is, cedar waxwings are not birds of prey.  The fossil birds of prey outnumbered non-carnivorous birds 60% to 40%.  In this case, he surely would have mentioned if 90 eagles or vultures had been seen swooping onto the trapped songbirds.  The facts indicate that the present is not the key to the past.   There’s always a story one can weave to explain away hard facts, but La Brea exemplifies a sticky situation for evolutionists.  In fact, there are even more serious problems at La Brea that Perkins did not mention.  (Thanks to William Weston for the following, from results of his independent research involving many visits to the site for years; you can read parts of his report at the Creation Research Society website.)  Add these pieces to the puzzle:Hard-packed asphalt.  From the earliest days of discovery, no large pools or lakes of asphalt were ever reported at La Brea.  Only small tar seeps, too small to trap large mammals, were ever seen.  Most of the site consisted of hard pavement-like asphalt that could easily be walked on by a mastodon or bison or camel.  The large lake seen there today was artificially produced later from an asphalt quarry operation that was filled in with water.  (Yet plastic mastodons were later installed as if sinking into the lake, to mislead the public.)  Visitors today can find a couple of small oozing seeps, but no large expanses of tar that presumably trapped millions of prehistoric animals.  Perkins suggests that the asphalt softened during hot seasons, but that does not happen today, and is just a story without observational support.Narrow pits.  The notion of tar ‘pits’ is a myth.  The ‘pits’ are narrow, funnel-shaped assemblages of fossils embedded in asphalt and sand.  Of the pits excavated, only seven showed dense concentrations of fossils.  None of them is large enough to imagine trapping a huge mammal, yet mammoth and mastodon bones have been found in them.  (Weston shows a cartoon of a mammoth on a high platform trying to dive into one of the funnels and scrunch his body into it.)  They give the impression of being blowholes from oil shale underneath.  Weston describes one of them:The seven major fossil-bearing pits were of various sizes.  On average, they were about 15 feet in diameter and tapered down 25 feet to a hole several inches wide. … One unusual pit was only four feet wide.  Designated as Pit 16, it had vertical sides that went down 21 feet before it tapered three more feet to the typical three-inch-wide chimney.  Somehow numerous animals including dire wolves, saber-tooth cats, coyotes, camels, bison, horses, and even the bulky mastodon had managed to squeeze themselves into a hole not much wider than a bathtub.Radiocarbon date improbabilities.  Carbon-14 dates in Pit 9 were claimed to indicate 38,000 years old at the bottom and 13,500 years at the top.  For the pit to be a death trap, that means the tar would have had to remain liquefied for about 24,000 years.  Yet crude oil emerging from the ground begins to thicken and harden immediately when exposed to the air, forming a crust.  Sunlight, heat and oxidation all harden tar relatively quickly.  Therefore, “the existence of open pits of tar that could trap animals over a period of thousands of years,” Weston says, “must be regarded as highly improbable.”More on the carnivore ratios.  Weston’s figures show 85% of the total number of animals as carnivores, and 70% of the birds as being flesh-eating.  “The uncontested leader is the eagle,” he points out.  “It is puzzling why eagles would be so vulnerable to entrapment.  Not only are they quite rare when compared to such teeming populations as pigeons and doves, but they are also larger and more muscular and thus less likely to be victimized.”Observational ratios.  When modern animals and birds are found to become stuck in tar seeps, they match the expected carnivore to herbivore ratios.  Weston provides a reported example from 1934 with 131 birds of 13 species trapped.  The non-carnivorous birds outnumbered the birds of prey 22 to 1, similar to the expected balance in nature.Few waterfowl.  Wading birds like ducks and geese would presumably be the most likely to suffer entrapment (picture a whole flock settling down together into an oily lake and, surprise!).  But the largest category of non-predatory birds found was the turkey – a land-roving bird.Dense packing.  The bones were tightly packed together, and even insect parts, including wings and antennae, were found in the eye sockets of the skulls.  Finding any connected parts of an animal, even an insect, was extremely rare.  “In addition,” Weston writes, “the bones were in an entangled mass, closely pressed together, and interlocked in all possible ways.”  Most showed breakage and grooves or depressions.  Presumably bubbles in the tar agitated the fossils, but again, that is not observed happening today.Waterlogged wood.  Stumps of water-saturated wood were found in some pits.  Bones were found adjacent to “uprooted stumps or torn branches that were heavy with water.”  An early excavator said, “The disposition of this brush and associated material as well as markings on the brush itself, indicate that this stuff was all washed in.”These facts indicate that something is seriously wrong with the entrapment story being fed to the public at the George C. Page Museum at the site.  Taken together, the observations seem to point to a catastrophe of some sort.  Weston has a version: he believes carnivores were concentrated on hilltops as flood waters were rising, and were the last to drown.  Their bones, last to settle to the bottom, were disarticulated and concentrated by currents and washed into depressions where gas and oil seeps had formed from underwater blowholes.    Whether or not you find this scenario more plausible than the entrapment story, why shouldn’t the public be told all the facts, including the many problems with the standard model?  This case fits the evolutionists’ propaganda strategy we see so often.  They start by assuming evolution and long ages, and then weave a just-so story around the facts that caters to the imaginary idea of long periods of slow, gradual evolution.  Uncomfortable facts are swept under the rug or dismissed with just-so subplots.    The last exhibit at the Page Museum is especially grievous.  A large wall mural portrays the grand drama of cosmic evolution, starting with a presumed origin of life from random chemicals at the top, down through millions of years of biological evolution, a recorded voice reciting the whole glittering generality to the enraptured visitors.  They look and listen in reverence as more and more complex life emerges, until finally, an astronaut at the end of the imaginary timeline leaps out into the cosmos from which he ultimately sprang.  Now for crying out loud, the La Brea story does not even cover millions of years.  Even assuming the Darwin Party’s own time scale, the Pleistocene epoch represents only the last one tenth of one percent of the geologic column.  Yet this is the mythology with which millions of visitors, including a large percentage of public school children on field trips, is indoctrinated, in spite of the facts.  Is there a righteous cause here?    P.S.  By the way, word has it that the late benefactor, George C. Page, whose largesse paid for the museum, was a creationist.(Visited 160 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Baichung Bhutia hopes Ishan Pandita would play for India one day

first_imgFormer India football captain Bhaichung Bhutia hailed Ishan Pandita after the Bengaluru boy became the first Indian to get a professional contract from a La Liga club when he signed a one-year deal with CD Leganes.”I haven’t seen him play as he has never played in India. Nonetheless I would take this opportunity to congratulate him for his achievement. Bagging a contract with a La Liga team is no mean feat,” Bhutia said on Wednesday.Leganes, a club located on the outskirts of Madrid, got promotion to Spain’s top division football this season. They are currently placed 11th in the league table.Ishan Pandita in the centre (Facebook profile) Pandita has been handed the No.50 jersey on Tuesday. He has joined the first team but will start by playing for the junior side — Leganes B — due to his limited exposure and tender age.Leganes B ply their trade in the Tercera Division, Spain’s fourth division. (Bangaluru boy becomes first Indian to sign up for La Liga)”I would like the national coach (Stephen Constantine) to have a look at him. We would love players with international experience to play for the country. He can probably fit in the India U-20 team in the future,” Bhutia, who is also All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) advisor, said.The AIFF has long expressed its desire to host the U-20 World Cup, and it is learnt President Praful Patel also sought FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s help in the matter when the world football governing body’s chief visited Goa recently to launch the U-17 World Cup’s logo.advertisement”Heartiest congratulations to Ishan Pandita, first Indian to sign for Spanish @LaLiga Aclub. A landmark achievement at such a young age,” Patel tweeted on Wednesday.Heartiest congratulations to Ishan Pandita, first Indian to sign for Spanish @LaLiga club. A landmark achievement at such a young age. Praful Patel (@praful_patel) October 5, 2016AIFF Senior Vice-President Subrata Dutta said this will inspire Indian clubs to produce more such players who can play in Europe.”This is a fantastic achievement, to be playing in the Spanish League. This is a proud moment for us. I hope Indian clubs will produce more such talents who can go on to play in Europe and improve the standard of Indian football,” Dutta told IANS.Besides Leganes, Getafe had also shown interest in signing the Indian striker who has Kashmiri roots. But Getafe’s relegation from the top division after last season allowed Pandita to choose Leganes as his destination.Late last year, Pandita had an eight-month spell with the junior side of Almeria in the Spanish second division.But because he wasn’t of 18 years then, he couldn’t sign a professional contract.However, his early days began with Alcobendas CF, currently in Tercera Division.last_img read more

Prime Minister Calls on Jamaicans to Report Criminals

first_imgStory Highlights Prime Minister, the Most Hon Andrew Holness, is again calling on Jamaicans to assist the police in the fight against crime, especially in identifying criminals in their communities. Prime Minister, the Most Hon Andrew Holness, is again calling on Jamaicans to assist the police in the fight against crime, especially in identifying criminals in their communities.“Nobody is invading Jamaica to commit crime; it’s the people in our communities. We know them and we see them. They are our children and they are our relatives. Our silence encourages them,” he said.The Prime Minister was speaking at a ground-breaking ceremony today (April 24), for the construction of 230 housing units as part of the Foreshore Estate development in Delacree Pen, South West St. Andrew.Mr. Holness stressed that the Government is doing as much as it can with the resources available to put measures in place to protect innocent citizens and observe and secure their rights, whilst bringing down the crime rate.“We can only achieve it with a partnership, and your role in this partnership as good citizens is to provide us with the information. The police cannot act in a clinical and surgical way to deal with the criminals without having intelligence,” Mr. Holness emphasised.He said much of the intelligence is garnered from citizens who are willing to tell what they know, adding that persons should not fear providing information, as they will be protected.“We have demonstrated that if you give us the information, and we have given you the avenues to do it – Crime Stop and the special number that the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) and the police have (provided) – your own security and confidentiality will be protected,” he said.“Now is the time for cooperation; now is the time for partnership,” the Prime Minister said. “Nobody is invading Jamaica to commit crime; it’s the people in our communities. We know them and we see them. They are our children and they are our relatives. Our silence encourages them,” he said. The Prime Minister was speaking at a ground-breaking ceremony today (April 24), for the construction of 230 housing units as part of the Foreshore Estate development in Delacree Pen, South West St. Andrew.last_img read more

Tamara Taggart says shes in a puddle of tears after kindness shown

first_imgThis morning, the three most-read stories on Straight.com are all about CTV Vancouver’s decision to axe its popular 6 p.m. news anchors, Mike Killeen and Tamara Taggart.Since the story broke, the Straight website has heard from many commenters expressing their admiration for the two broadcasters.Many have also slammed Bell Media for dumping the pair, who’ve been the faces of its flagship program since early 2011. Twitter Facebook Login/Register With: Advertisement Late last night, Taggart tweeted that she “spent the day reading messages, texts, tweets and emails”.“I’m in a puddle of tears, overwhelmed by your kindness,” she wrote. “It’s been my privilege to have grown up with you the past 21 years. The love you have shown me is with me forever. xx” LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Advertisement Advertisementlast_img read more

BillionDollar Billy Beane

The film version of “Moneyball” depicts many establishment baseball types as ignorant of where wins in baseball come from and clueless about how to properly value talent.Take, for example, the scene when John Henry — the billionaire owner of the Boston Red Sox — tries to recruit the Oakland Athletics’ general manager Billy Beane. Henry tells Beane that any managers not rebuilding their teams with Beane’s system in mind are “dinosaurs,” and then hands him a slip of paper. On it, there’s an offer for Beane to become the new Red Sox general manager for the insane amount of $12.5 million over five years. His fictional colleague tells us that the offer would make Beane “the highest-paid GM in the history of sports.” Despite appearing tempted, Beane ultimately declines the deal, claiming, “I made one decision in my life based on money and I swore I’d never do it again.”1In real life, Beane briefly accepted the Red Sox’s offer before changing his mind (citing community and family reasons). He even began negotiating with the A’s over what compensation the Red Sox would have to give his old team for stealing him away. At the press conference announcing that he’d changed his mind, Beane was asked about that negotiation (from a contemporary news report):“Asked from a baseball talent-evaluator perspective what he was worth, Beane laughed and said, ‘I had one opinion before [accepting Boston’s job] and once I got there, I had a different opinion.’”Beane may not be the highest-paid GM in the history of sports, but he may be the most famous. An outfielder originally drafted 23rd overall by the New York Mets in 1980, Beane made his MLB debut in 1984, but was never successful against top competition. After getting washed out of the league, he became a scout for the A’s and eventually worked his way up to GM in 1997. As GM, he has used Bill James-style advanced statistics to inform his decisions, and taken a strictly economic approach to valuing and acquiring players. Under his leadership, the A’s have been a very successful franchise despite routinely carrying one of baseball’s smallest payrolls. Beane’s story caught the attention of author Michael Lewis, who made him the central character in his 2003 bestseller “Moneyball” and something of a cultural icon for sports analytics.Beane’s methods continue to be analyzed and celebrated by sabermetricians, and the A’s continue to massively exceed expectations given the amount they spend. They own the best record in baseball so far this season, and have the fifth-lowest payroll.2While also being rated as the “unluckiest” team this year. They currently lead MLB in Pythagorean wins by an even wider margin. It’s the best 100-game start of Beane’s career, and the best for the organization since its 1990 pennant-winning squad. Over the last 15 seasons,3The period covered by Baseball Prospectus’s payroll data. the A’s under Beane have had the fifth-best winning percentage in baseball, with the fourth-lowest total payroll. (The data used here is current through Monday, July 21.)Beane has been a godsend to the frugal A’s, enabling them to achieve top-tier performance at bottom-tier prices. For this, the A’s have paid him fairly modestly4In general, good GMs are probably way underpaid, but Beane is even more so. — but since we don’t know how much winning is worth to the A’s organization, it’s hard to say exactly how much Beane has been worth to them.For a team like the Red Sox, however, the picture is much more clear. Over the last 15 years, they’ve happily spent over $2 billion in the pursuit of wins — and because they’re one of baseball’s most successful franchises, no one in Beantown is complaining.From a strictly economic perspective, not offering Beane however much money it took to get him may have been one of the Red Sox’s poorest decisions since letting Babe Ruth go to the Yankees for next to nothing. And I mean that literally: Over the past 15 years, Billy Beane has been nothing less than the Babe Ruth of baseball GMs. The Red Sox offered Beane $2.5 million per year,5The 2002 Boston Red Sox paid Dustin Hermanson — a relief pitcher with a 4.21 ERA — $5.5 million, or more than twice as much in annual salary as they offered Beane. but even $25 million would have been a bargain.Finding Beane’s potential dollar value to the Red Sox is relatively simple: It’s the amount the team spent under general managers Theo Epstein and Ben Cherington, minus the amount it would have had to spend for the same performance with Beane as GM.6Hat tip to Jeremy Kahan — a hedge fund analyst and good friend of mine — for zeroing in on the Red Sox angle to this question.To show this, we first we need to figure out just how many A’s wins Beane has been responsible for, and how much those wins would cost on the open market.Let’s start by comparing the A’s performance under Beane’s leadership to the performance we would expect from a typical GM with the same payroll.7Prior to their change in ownership in 1995, the A’s maintained a healthy payroll, including the largest in the league in 1991, following their World Series appearance the year before. By the time they started downsizing, Beane was already with the team. This means there’s no way to compare Beane’s performance to that of a different A’s GM with a similar payroll. I created a logistic regression model8A type of model used to predict things like win percentages. that predicts a team’s win percentage by season based on the team’s relative payroll (excluding Oakland from the data), as measured by how many standard deviations it was above or below the average MLB payroll for each season. Below, I’ve plotted the non-Oakland team-seasons from 2000 to 2013 (on which the model is based) in groups of 15 by payroll (so, the dot farthest to the right represents the 15 team-seasons with the highest relative payrolls), and plotted the model’s prediction as a red line. I then plotted Oakland’s 15 seasons through 2014 as a single green point:The point on the upper right represents the 15 team-seasons with the highest relative payrolls. These teams were 2.68 standard deviations above the mean payroll on average and won 58.5 percent of their regular-season games on average.9Note there’s not much difference from a linear regression, which would have an underlying (season-by-season) R-squared value of .183 (though this can be increased by using less noisy metrics such as run differential). Oakland, on the other hand, averaged .81 standard deviations below the mean payroll and won 54.8 percent of its games on average.From this we can take each team’s expected wins per season based on payroll,10The logistic regression formula in Excel is: =1/(1+EXP(-(-0.009677+0.127212*[SD Payroll]))). and then see how many games above or below average it ran. Here’s Oakland, broken down by year (Note: 2014 is through the season’s first 98 games only):This comes out to 180.2 wins above expectation given the A’s payroll (165.5 prior to this year). That’s 12.0 wins above expectation per season (and there’s a good chance of that per-season average rising).“Wins above expectation” may sound familiar to you. It’s conceptually very similar to wins above replacement (WAR), the stat we use to evaluate how many wins a player earns a team versus how many games that team would expect to win without him.11There are two main differences between wins above expectation and wins above replacement:WAR is based on direct player performance metrics like hitting, fielding, etc., while a general manager’s wins earned are imputed indirectly from his team’s performance (both of these methods have their pluses and minuses).WAR is above “replacement,” meaning it’s the number of wins a player earns not over an average player, but over a borderline player — someone you would pay the minimum. A GM’s wins here are measured above what we would expect from the average non-Beane GM.But the difference between a “replacement” GM and an average GM is unclear to me: They all cost a pretty similar amount, and how much value they add is a mystery, so I thought an average GM was the appropriate baseline. Regardless, this means that this comparison could be understating Beane’s value. For example, Babe Ruth earned only 126 wins above average as a batter, compared to his 163 wins above replacement.Beane’s 12 wins per season above what we would expect of an average general manager is slightly more wins than Barry Bonds earned when he hit 73 home runs in 2001 (11.9 WAR). The most WAR earned by any batter over his entire career was 163 by Babe Ruth.12At least for now, Ruth does maintain a slight edge over Beane in total WAR (with 183.6) on account of his 20.6 WAR as a pitcher. In fact, if you assemble the top 15 position player seasons of all time, they still trail Beane’s 15 seasons as GM, with 180.1 WAR combined versus Beane’s 180.2 wins above expectation.No one can get that lucky. If you’re expected to win 1,116 out of 2,364 games, winning 1,296 games instead may not look impossible, but that’s because our intuitions about these things are terrible. Excel’s binomial distribution function makes calculating such odds pretty easy:13The Excel formula to calculate odds of winning a certain amount given an expected win rate is: =BINOM.DIST([Games]-[Wins],[Games],1-[Expected Win Percent], TRUE). In this case they’re somewhere around one in 13 trillion — effectively zero.14Granted, though odds that they’ve just gotten lucky overall are nil, it’s likely that the A’s have been “running well” to some extent — meaning, their performance has probably exceeded their true expectation. But this is true of any top team. Of course, we can’t know to what degree Beane alone is responsible for the A’s success. But as GM, Beane is formally responsible for the A’s performance, and there aren’t any other obvious causes that would suggest he isn’t responsible (there have been several different managers and 100 percent turnover of players during Beane’s tenure).Imagine the A’s wanted to have exactly this level of success and were willing to pay whatever it cost. With Billy Beane, the A’s have paid $839,902,108 to their players from 2000 up to and including the start of the 2014 season (but prior to recent acquisitions). How much do other teams normally have to pay for this level of success?There are a lot of estimates for the price of wins out there, ranging from ESPN’s Dan Szymborski’s $5.5 million per marginal win and FanGraphs $6 million on the lower end to Lewie Pollis’s $7 million and up to Hardball Times’ $7.6 million on the high end. To make things a little more complicated, the price of wins has also risen substantially with the growth of payrolls in the last decade15I’ll stick with FanGraphs and Hardball Times, because their historical estimates are readily accessible.:If we use these values to price wins above or below expectation on a year-by-year basis for every team as we did for Oakland above, and then sum up by team, it would look like this:FanGraphs’ value for Oakland’s performance adds up to $812 million since 2000, while the Hardball Times’ value adds up to $891 million. Over three-quarters of a billion dollars — that’s huge! We can smell-check these numbers by looking at the overall picture. Leaving aside standard deviations and year-by-year breakdowns for a moment, we can see how each team’s total payroll over the last 15 years has compared to its performance:That trend line shows us how well teams have performed relative to how much they’ve paid, but we can also use it for the reverse:16By solving for Win Percentage. In Excel: =([WPct]-0.4130893)/(0.0000669). The Oakland Athletics have won 54.8 percent of their games, so the corresponding 15-year payroll (the amount we would expect a team to have paid for that win rate) is about $2.02 billion — about $1.18 billion higher than the Athletics actually paid.So the smell-check turned out a higher number than the estimates based on the normal price of wins, when that normal price already seemed absurd.This isn’t broken down year by year, so it could just be that the A’s won a lot more in years when wins were cheaper. To correct for this, we need a more empirical method for pricing wins. On a year-by-year basis, how big would each team’s payroll have to have been to buy its performance? Using the regression above (and some fancywork in R17This is done using the inverse of the logistic regression built above, which leads to very complicated math, but can be done fairly easily in R using the boot package (where “mod” is the logistic model):require(boot)invPred <- function (W,G,mod) {(logit(W/G) – coef(mod)[[“(Intercept)”]]) / coef(mod)[[“payroll.sd”]]}I should note this leads to some very valuable-looking seasons (like Seattle’s 116-win season in 2001), because that kind of success is virtually impossible to “buy.” But it sums up across seasons very accurately.), we can model this and see that wins may be harder to buy than standard win-valuation models (FanGraphs, Hardball Times, etc.) would suggest. Valuing each team’s relative season-by-season performance this way leads to a very different accounting from above:Over the past 15 years, the A’s have exceeded expectations by close to $1.38 billion — even better than our smell-check estimate of $1.18 billion. This suggests that they’ve performed slightly better in years when they were at a bigger payroll disadvantage (at 2013 market value, those A’s wins would cost closer to $1.78 billion).18Note: though I use a logistic regression so the price of wins isn’t perfectly linear, this approach corresponds roughly to a price per win of around 4.7 wins per standard deviation of payroll. So the table of win prices over the years corresponding to those of Hardball Times and FanGraphs above would look like this: Yes, that’s “billion” with a B. (Or two.)* * * * *Now that we have a sense of Beane’s performance and how much it would cost to replicate it, let’s turn back to the Boston Red Sox and their failure to sign him (or even to offer him anywhere near his worth).The situations in Oakland and Boston aren’t directly comparable. Exploiting market inefficiencies is probably easier for Beane than it is for a successful big-money team, because he has never had to face the winner’s curse or the diminishing returns of spending. On the other hand, the A’s have been way above average, not just a little above average. Aside from the Red Sox’s post-season successes,19I should also note that, while not having any championships to show for it, the A’s have made the playoffs the same number of times the Red Sox have (seven), and they’ve been remarkably unlucky, losing all six series-deciding Game 5s they’ve played. the team has only performed 0.6 percent better than the A’s over the 15-year period — for which they’ve paid an extra $1.2 billion in salaries.But some of that money was spent and some of those wins came before the Red Sox attempted to hire Beane. To be conservative, let’s just look at the period since Henry made Beane his offer: In the last 12 years, the Red Sox spent $1.714 billion on payroll, while the A’s spent $736 million. We can then break down what it could have looked like if Beane had worked for the Red Sox like so:Let’s say it would have cost Boston the same $736 million that it cost Oakland to get the A’s performance with Beane.At the hypothetical $25 million-per-year salary I suggested earlier, Beane would have cost the Red Sox another $300 million. (It’s possible that Beane would have wanted more, but it’s even more possible that they could have gotten him for less.)The difference in performance between the A’s and the Red Sox over that period (where the Sox were as successful as at any point in the franchise’s history, and the A’s were supposedly stagnating after Beane’s early success) has been about 50 games for Boston. Since we don’t know exactly how good Beane would be at procuring additional wins above his Oakland performance, let’s assume that the Red Sox would have had to pay the typical amount teams have paid for wins in the period to make up the difference. According to the year-by-year price of wins from my calculations above, those 50 wins (taking when they happened into account) would have a market value of about $370 million (though this might have been lower with Beane in charge).If we combine these — the price of the A’s performance ($736 million) plus Super-Expensive-Billy-Beane’s salary ($300 million) plus the additional 50 Red Sox wins at high market estimates ($370 million) — merely duplicating their previous level of success still would have saved the Red Sox more than $300 million relative to what they actually spent, and that’s with reasonably conservative assumptions. That’s money they could have pocketed, or spent making themselves even better.In other words, failing to understand Beane’s true value may have cost the Red Sox hundreds of millions of dollars or more. “Moneyball” isn’t just some nerdy obsession that helps a few teams save a bit of money. It’s about more than nickels and dimes; it’s about millions and billions.CORRECTION (July 24, 7:10 p.m.): A footnote in an earlier version of this story misstated the most recent year the Oakland A’s played in the World Series; it was 1990, not 1991. read more

Football How Ohio State will replace right guard Branden Bowen

Ohio State right guard Branden Bowen raises his helmet to the crowd as he is carted off the field during the first quarter of the Buckeyes’ game against Maryland on Oct. 7. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorOhio State’s offensive line had seemingly found its groove. Over the past several games, the line had provided quarterback J.T. Barrett with plenty of time each time he dropped back to pass, particularly in Saturday’s game against Maryland.But with less than two minutes left in the first quarter of Ohio State’s eventual 62-14 victory over Maryland, redshirt sophomore right guard Branden Bowen fell to the turf on a play that broke down and forced Barrett to scramble out of the pocket for a two-yard gain. The hulking lineman was carted off the field with a cast on his left leg and later was diagnosed as having fractured both his left tibia and fibula.“Keep Branden Bowen in your prayers,” head coach Urban Meyer said after the game. “I think he’s going to have surgery tomorrow, broken leg. Clean break. And so just gotta get him healthy and get him back.”For a number of reasons, the loss of Bowen will affect the team. Emotionally, it is the loss of a teammate and a painful injury the team knows will cost Bowen the rest of his season. From a personnel standpoint, it leaves a hole on the right side of the offensive line that requires filling before the team travels to Nebraska.Even when Bowen is replaced on the line, the new starter will lack the previous game experience the starter possessed and the chemistry he had developed with the other starters.“That’s our brother. And as an offense, that’s our brother as well, so I mean, you’re losing one of the key cogs of the offensive unit with Bowen going down,” redshirt senior center Billy Price said. “That game experience that Bowen had, it’s irreplaceable. Even last year’s game experience and him coming in and taking that time.”Redshirt sophomore Matt Burrell took Bowen’s place Saturday. Burrell listed as the left guard backup on the team’s depth chart and who has been seen before games going through warmups as a center. Redshirt junior Malcolm Pridgeon was listed as Bowen’s official backup at right guard.Burrell had been among those competing for the starting right guard spot in the summer, but ultimately lost the position battle to Bowen. As it stands right now, Burrell figures to be the most likely candidate to inherit the starting job, but Meyer left open the possibility of another position battle.“Next man up, right now looks like Matt Burrell,” Meyer said. “And we’ll see if there’s any competition at that spot. [The depth is] alarming, but Matt played OK.”For now though, the expectation among the players is that Burrell will inherit the will fill Bowen’s vacancy. Bowen was a key factor in the momentum the line had built coming into the game, Price said. Now the mentality is next man up.“Matt came in for [Bowen] and he performed very well today,” Price said. “A guy who we always [tell] ‘You never know your number’s going to be called so you have to make sure you prepare.’”When Burrell lost the battle in the offseason, it was likely a major blow to his confidence as he had lost a position battle the season prior at the left guard spot to now-sophomore guard Michael Jordan.And as Price said, that lack of confidence still separates Burrell from Bowen for the time being.“He’s always questioning, ‘Hey did I do this right?’ or ‘Hey, did I do this right? And it’s again, football is a game of highs and lows and you’ve just got to go out and block,” Price said. “You can’t just sit here and constantly think about, ‘Hey, OK I’ve got to make sure that this is playing perfect.’ Playing offensive line, you’re not going to play perfect.” read more

Opinion Barcelona needs to sell Ivan Rakitic next summer

first_imgWe will tell you the reasons Ivan Rakitic needs to be sold by FC Barcelona next summer, it appears that his time at the Catalan club has passed.Even though Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitic is still one of FC Barcelona’s top players, we truly believe that the club needs to sell him next summer and we are going to discuss the reasons we think this is the best option for both parts.The Croatian midfielder is arguably one of his country’s most decorated players alongside Luka Modric, he was an essential part of the National Team that reached a historic World Cup final last summer that they lost against France in Russia.At club level, Ivan Rakitic has practically never stopped winning and growing as a football professional. After starting with Swiss club FC Basel, a young Rakitic was scouted by German side Schalke 04 and they could buy him for €5 million back in 2007.During his time in the Bundesliga, the Croatian midfielder quickly started developing the skills that eventually took him to the Spanish La Liga after Sevilla decided to pay a low €2.5 million to the German club and that’s when his career really started to take off.Ivan Rakitic came to Spain for a long time, and it’s been 9 years already since the first time he arrived.”Sería un gran sueño para mí poder volver a jugar con la camiseta del #SevillaFC”, dijo hace menos de un año un Ivan Rakitic al que ahora, tras llegar Frenkie de Jong, empiezan a ver en la Ciudad Condal fuera del Barça https://t.co/vNu2MesTBi— Carlos Pérez (@carlosperezED) January 25, 2019With the Andalusian club, Ivan Rakitic’s football really started to flourish and his last year with them was the perfect season that called the attention of major clubs like Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester United, and FC Barcelona.With Cesc Fabregas leaving the Catalan club after a failed attempt to succeed there, Barcelona’s number ‘4’ jersey was suddenly open and the Spanish giants were the ones who made the biggest offer for the player.They paid a reported €21 million in 2014, he came alongside Luis Suarez on the same season and he made an immediate impact. Since then, Ivan Rakitic has completely taken charge of the position as one of the most creative midfielders in the club.Since he came to the Catalan club, Rakitic has contributed to the club’s success and won a total of 12 trophies which include three La Liga titles, one Champions League, four Copa del Rey titles, two Spanish Supercups, one UEFA Supercup, and one FIFA Club World Cup.But the new generations are coming and Ivan Rakitic has already won everything at Barcelona, it is time for him to leave room for other great players and also attempt to leave a good amount of money for his transfer to the club that gave him everything.FC Barcelona, Valencia CFMatch Preview: Barcelona vs Valencia Boro Tanchev – September 14, 2019 Is derby time in La Liga, as Barcelona welcomes Valencia to the Camp Nou Stadium tonight at 21:00 (CET).Con la llegada de nuevos fichajes, canteras y malos partidos de Rakitic. ¿Debería el Barça venderlo y confiar en los jóvenes? pic.twitter.com/LDxEAT3CAP— Soydelbarca_ (@Soydelbarca2) January 25, 2019Even though he is already considered a veteran, Ivan Rakitic still has several good years of great football on his boots and the Catalan club should get a good deal for a World Cup runner-up who has won everything at Barcelona.Frenkie de Jong’s arrival is another reason why he needs to leave, his presence could easily prevent the Dutch young player to grow to become the player that everybody imagines he will transform into someday.The number ‘4’ that Ivan Rakitic wears right now is one that fits Frenkie perfectly, a mythical number at FC Barcelona that not any player can wear and seems destined to belong to De Jong once he comes to the club next summer.All the signs point to Ivan Rakitic leaving FC Barcelona, the only problem here is that manager Ernesto Valverde would oppose his arrival but the club already thinks that even the manager could leave soon if the results don’t come his way throughout the current season.We all know that the main target this season is the Champions League, Valverde will surely resign if he doesn’t win the title and this will leave the open door for players like Rakitic next summer.The player already told Estadio Deportivo that his dream is to return to Sevilla.We keep going 💪⚽️! ➕3️⃣✅ #ForçaBarça 🔵🔴 pic.twitter.com/xXXS8S84wY— Ivan Rakitic (@ivanrakitic) January 20, 2019Which club do you think could be better for Ivan Rakitic after FC Barcelona? Please share your opinion in the comment section down below.last_img read more

City of San Diego trying to advance progress of homeless rehousing programs

first_img 00:00 00:00 spaceplay / pause qunload | stop ffullscreenshift + ←→slower / faster ↑↓volume mmute ←→seek  . seek to previous 12… 6 seek to 10%, 20% … 60% XColor SettingsAaAaAaAaTextBackgroundOpacity SettingsTextOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundSemi-TransparentOpaqueTransparentFont SettingsSize||TypeSerif MonospaceSerifSans Serif MonospaceSans SerifCasualCursiveSmallCapsResetSave SettingsSAN DIEGO (KUSI) – The San Diego City Council’s Select Committee on Homelessness today advised staff to move forward with a pilot program intended to increase employment for people using the city’s rapid-rehousing programs, which provide temporary assistance to those who are newly homeless or facing chronic homelessness.City leaders have dedicated millions of dollars to three temporary tent shelters for those who’ve been living on the street. For the last three to four months, it’s been a place to stay for nearly 700 people. According to new data, the goal of getting at least 65% of the tent’s occupants into housing has fallen short. Four months into the bridge tent program, the number of people moving out of the bridge shelter tents and into housing is just 12%.Councilmember Chris Ward, who is chair of the City Council’s Select Committee on Homelessness said the city’s low inventory of housing is part of the challenge of moving people from shelters to more permanent housing. The committee also heard about the need for stability and helping the tent occupants find some security and stability inside the tents.“So people aren’t getting jobs within that subpopulation, and I think that’s the missing link here that this pilot program is seeking to fulfill,” he said. “To the extent we can do that and have more people getting that gainful employment, having that steady income stream is going to help them be successful at the end of their temporary stay through the rapid-rehousing program and not fall right back into homelessness.”Lisa Jones, who is vice president of homeless housing innovations for the San Diego Housing Commission said the occupants in the tents are very vulnerable. “We have a population that is 49% chronically homeless, and another 44% have a disablilty. Many suffer from mental health issues. 37% are age 55 or older so we have a population that is considered very high need- one that really needs time to decompress and stabilize in a shelter environment where they feel safe and secure.Jones said one immediate priority would be to hire more skilled housing specialists with social work or counseling backgrounds who would help to stabilize the clients “so they remain in the shelter and reduce the numbers of exits and entries, back and forth.” Although a lot of percentages and numbers were cited at the committee meeting, one of the big questions that most at the meeting could not answer is how to create the housing that is essential to ending homelessness. Jones said she agrees that city leaders and housing advocates need to develop a broader strategic plan.“How do we best maximize the limited funding resources that we have and target them appropriately?” More funding from Sacramento could be coming soon. State lawmakers have just approved $33 million in funds to the San Diego region for housing and reducing homelessness.Pilot participants will be screened to determine appropriate employment services. Then, depending on urgency of needed services, agencies — including the San Diego Workforce Partnership, San Diego Regional Task Force on the Homeless and the San Diego Housing Commission — will place individuals using existing relationships with employers. Staff will also work with city departments to fill chronically vacant positions, including groundskeeper, laborer and library aid roles.Staff believe the program can assist 200 households its first year and 100 its second. A household is defined as an individual or family.Total pilot costs are projected to be $3.5 million and $1.7 million for years one and two, respectively. The majority of pilot funding has already been budgeted in the form of existing rapid-rehousing appropriations and grants. That leaves funding gaps of $322,728 for each year. The Lucky Duck Foundation has committed to filling the year-one gap, Kuntz said.RELATED STORY: San Diego City Council moves forward on affordable housing initiativeNew year-one expenditures will include $72,500 to hire a pilot coordinator and $50,229 for an additional job center coordinator. The positions will improve connectivity between existing resources while allow housing and employment officials to focus on their respective specialties, Kuntz said.“We’re already doing these things, spending money on it,” he said. “How do we fill in some of those gaps to improve coordination and targeted programming? That’s what we’re funding — the gap costs are to connect these systems.”Staff will measure the pilot program’s success by tracking the amount of households able to pay stable rent at the conclusion of rapid-rehousing programs, as well as the amount of households that are stable one to two years after exiting rapid-rehousing.Tamera Kohler, Regional Task Force on the Homeless chief operations officer, said her staff will follow program outcomes to determine appropriate strategies at a countywide level.I hope that over time as we measure those we’re able to see the best referrals, intervention and coordination, and then teach and train those best practices to strengthen us overall regionally,” she said Posted: June 18, 2018 KUSI Newsroom, Sasha Foo, City of San Diego trying to advance progress of homeless re-housing programs Categories: Local San Diego News FacebookTwittercenter_img KUSI Newsroom, Sasha Foo June 18, 2018 Updated: 9:44 PMlast_img read more

Uber and Lyft drivers protest for better working conditions

first_imgUber and Lyft drivers gather for a protest in downtown San Francisco. James Martin/CNET Edan Alva started driving for Lyft more than four years ago as your typical side hustle. Then he lost his job and began relying on his Lyft wages to pay the bills. It didn’t take take long for Alva to realize he couldn’t make enough to pay for rent or his son’s health insurance. “[Lyft] seemed like a promising solution, Alva said. “It became a feeling of being trapped.”On Friday, Alva and about 40 other Uber and Lyft drivers gathered in downtown San Francisco to demand the ride-hailing giants for better conditions. The gig economy workers were protesting for higher pay and a union.In an open letter, published to coincide with the protest, drivers called on Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and Lyft co-founders Logan Green and John Zimmer for changes in treatment. Drivers tried to present the letter at the protest, but weren’t able to enter Uber’s headquarters. “We’ll be back,” they chanted in response. Lyft Uber Uber drivers demand their labor rights “Drivers need a seat at the table as equal partners to chart our path forward,” wrote representatives of Gig Workers Rising and Mobile Workers Alliance, two groups of drivers. “It’s time for Uber and Lyft to do right by us.”The protest comes as California considers Assembly Bill 5, which could allow for drivers to be classified as employees, rather than independent contractors as they currently are. As employees, the drivers would be eligible for benefits and have the right to organize collectively. The Assembly, California’s lower chamber, passed AB 5 in late May. It’s currently in the State Senate. Uber and Lyft have previously called for amending current laws to allow for more worker benefits, including paid time off and retirement planning, irrespective of worker classification. They also supported the establishment of a new driver association that would represent driver interests and administer benefits.Lyft says it recognizes the concerns of drivers. “Lyft is advocating for an approach in line with the interests of our driver community, by modernizing century old labor laws that make it difficult to provide both flexibility and benefits,” the company said in a statement. “It’s encouraging that more groups are joining the conversation to preserve flexibility for drivers while also providing new benefits and protections.”Uber echoed the sentiment.”We will continue to work collaboratively with our diverse community of drivers — and the legislators who represent them — to improve the quality and security of independent work,” an Uber representative said in a statement.The I’m Independent Coalition, a project of the California Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement that it didn’t oppose AB 5 “but is advocating for a modern approach that protects what drivers care about the most – flexibility – while expanding modern labor protections such as benefits and pay transparency.” The coalition supports independent contractors, including Uber and Lyft drivers who wish to remain independent.The issue of gig worker classification has simmered for years, and lawsuits have been filed against both Uber and Lyft. Several cities and states have looked at the issue, and New York City passed minimum wage laws for drivers last year. In May, the National Labor Relations Board said drivers should be classified as contractors instead of employees. At the Friday protest, drivers complained the relationship between the companies and its contractors was unfair.”We’re the ones that have helped these companies become rich,” said Linda Valdivia, who’s driven for Uber and Lyft for about three years. “We want to claim our own rights as drivers. We want to have our own benefits.”Drivers responded by cheering, “Drivers united will never be defeated.” “Stop fighting with us,” Valdivia said. “Stop treating us like we’re disposable and sit with us at the table.”Alva, the Lyft driver, reiterated the complaints.”We will not stop until we are heard,” Alva said. “We demand Uber and Lyft to listen to us.”Originally published July 19, 10:10 a.m. PTUpdate, 10:47 a.m.: Adds Uber statement. Update, 11:33 a.m.: Adds comment from the I’m Independent Coalition. Update, 12:54 p.m.: Adds quotes from protesters.  21 Share your voicecenter_img Comments Tags Mobile Roadshow 8 Photoslast_img read more

Sye Raa sets worth Rs 2 crore gutted in massive fire at

first_imgPictures of Giant sets worth 2 crores of Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy gutted in a massive fire accidentScreenshots of Twitter videoGiant sets worth Rs 2 crore erected for the shooting of Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy were gutted in a massive fire at megastar Chiranjeevi’s farmhouse in Kokapet on the outskirts of Hyderabad in the wee hours of Friday.Actor-turned-producer Ram Charan had erected the giant sets for the shooting of period drama Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy at the farmhouse of his father. It is learnt that the massive fire was caused by a short circuit on Friday morning. Since it was a holiday for the film unit, no loss of life is reported. Krishnamurthy, the Principal Correspondent of Republic TV in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, shared a video of this accident and wrote: “Massive fire in megastar #Chiranjeevi’s farmhouse in Kokapet on the outskirts of #Hyderabad where shooting for #SyeraaNarasimhareddy is on. Fire erupted because of short circuit. Luckily, no one was injured as it was on off day. @SrBachchan.”According to reports, the shooting of Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy was delayed due to some issues. Hence, Chiranjeevi and Ram Charan had decided to erect these giant sets in their farmhouse for a hassle-free shooting. The film unit had shot some crucial scenes in this Rs-2-crore worth set on Thursday. Though fire tenders were rushed in immediately, they could not stop the huge damage.Later in the afternoon, Ram Charan posted on the Twitter page of his banner Konidela Pro Company, “Unfortunately, a fire broke out on our #SyeRaa set in Kokapet earlier this morning. Thankfully, everyone in the team is safe and no one is hurt. We are really looking forward for our last schedule to finish. #SyeRaaNarasimhaReddy” Sye Raa Narasimha ReddyTwitterSye Raa Narasimha Reddy is a long delayed movie and the fans of the mega family have been desperately waiting for its release. The movie was scheduled to hit the screens during Sankranti 2019, but it was postponed to August. However, the delay in its production landed its release in uncertainity. Now, this fire accident will further delay its production and release.Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy is a historical war film based on the life of freedom fighter Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy from Rayalaseema. The film, which is directed by Surender Reddy and produced by Ram Charan under the banner Konidela Production Company, stars Chiranjeevi, Sudeep, Amitabh Bachchan, Vijay Sethupathi, Jagapati Babu, Nayanthara, Tamannaah and Brahmaji.No one injured in the fire accident #chiranjeevi #SYeRaa pic.twitter.com/snzoIoOZ9y— Filter Kaapi (@FilterKaapiLive) May 3, 2019Massive fire in megastar #Chiranjeevi’s farmhouse in Kokapet on the outskirts of #Hyderabad where shooting for #SyeraaNarasimhareddy is on. Fire erupted because of short circuit. Luckily, no one was injured as it was on off day. @SrBachchan pic.twitter.com/vsIIJBjpZI— krishnamurthy (@krishna0302) May 3, 2019last_img read more