Thursday, November 26, 2009

Photos the World Over

On this Thanksgiving Day, I want to take the chance to point you towards some of the photos in the National Geographic's International Photography Contest.  We live in a big world, and it's often good to remind us of that, in the midst of being thankful what we are blessed with.  Enjoy the photos, and Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 23, 2009

25 Years Later

Twenty-five years ago, the #1 ranked high school basketball player in the nation was shot and killed.  Ben Wilson's death resonated across the country.  In the Sunday Chicago Tribune, he's remembered by K.C. Johnson who was a member of the Evanston basketball team that lost to Wilson's Simeon team in the state championship, in his last high school game.  His violent death came to personify the rising violence that was part of the growing drug epidemic in Chicago.  Today it's worth being reminded by the continued sadness at his death that unfortunately the problem of urban gun violence is not also a story of the past. 

Ben is still probably not the most famous basketball player to wear #25, though.  Another famous man born in the 60s who also wore #25 likely wins that honor, and now maybe has the chance to do something about the violence still ongoing.

Monday, November 16, 2009

On Stats (and Football)

I cannot understand the outcry today over Bill Belichick's decision to 'go for it' in last night's game.  Not a single media member that I have seen on TV has stopped to ponder whether it was a decent decision.  Nope, they've been quick to pile on.  Yes, the decision didn't work out.  But let's not kid ourselves, it was unequivocally the right one.

As Nate Silver observes (yes, of PECOTA and 538 fame),

Bill Belichick is not dumb, provided that his goal is to help the New England Patriots win football games. Instead, much of the NFL's conventional wisdom on when to go for it on fourth down is horribly, horribly wrong -- teams are way too conservative and punt way too often. This is the one case where 9-year olds playing Madden -- it's no fun to punt in a video game -- quite literally make better decisions than most NFL head coaches. With that said, since the same flawed conventional wisdom can govern hiring and firing decisions, there may be a price to be paid for unconventional (if statistically correct) playcalling; see also Marty Mornhinweg.

If you follow that first link, it affirms--the Pats had a 79% chance of winning doing what they did, versus 70% by punting. So why is there outrage?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

On Football, Part 2

And worth reading as well, Malcom Gladwell, again on football.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

On Football, Part 1

Well worth reading is fellow far upper Midwesterner Chuck Klosterman on football.