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19 days agoChelsea winger Christian Pulisic eyeing loan move away

first_imgChelsea winger Christian Pulisic eyeing loan move awayby Paul Vegas19 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveChelsea winger Christian Pulisic is eyeing a loan move away in January.The Daily Mailsays he is said to be considering asking for a loan move away from Chelsea if he is not given more opportunities soon.Pulisic has found himself falling down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge just three months after completing his £58million move from Borussia Dortmund.The 21-year-old has been an unused sub in the last three Premier League matches – and hasn’t been seen in top flight action since August.Now the American is open to the prospect of moving elsewhere in January if Frank Lampard continues to overlook him in his Chelsea plans. TagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

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Prominent 2 spirited Cree man from northern Alberta delivers history lesson in

first_imgAPTN National NewsA prominent 2 spirited activist has just wrapped up a visit to Vancouver.Harlen Pruden was invited to speak about the historic place of 2 spirited people in First Nations culture.The phrase 2 spirited is an anishnabe term meaning both a male and female spirit existing in the body.As Tina House reports, Pruden also wanted to share some of the challenges that gay First Nations people face today.last_img

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Its ridiculous Vancouver files claim over 2015 fuel spill in English Bay

first_imgVANCOUVER – Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson says the city has filed a federal court claim against the owner of a vessel that spilled fuel into English Bay in 2015, as part of the city’s continuing effort to get compensation for its response efforts.Robertson says three years after the MV Marathassa spilled 2,700 litres of bunker fuel into the bay, the city still hasn’t been compensated for about $550,000 it spent on response efforts.Robertson says Vancouver has sought repayment through the federal government’s Ship-source Oil Pollution Fund, but has only been promised compensation for 27 per cent of its costs — something Robertson called “totally unacceptable.“It’s ridiculous that it’s taken over three years now fighting for our costs to be covered by an oil spill in our harbour,” Robertson told reporters gathered at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Sunday.The city’s claim against the ship owners — filed last month but announced on Sunday — calls for damages, interest and court costs related to the spill.Robertson said the city’s difficulty in getting paid back for what he described as a “relatively small oil spill” shows there aren’t enough measures in place to protect coastal communities against more major spills.He said the costs and impacts of a potential diluted bitumen spill from the increased tanker traffic that would come with the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion has not been meaningfully addressed by the federal government.Robertson said the Ship-source Oil Pollution Fund was set up by the federal government to act in the interest of communities like Vancouver, but is failing to do so.“It clearly does not do that, does not deliver the results. This speaks to the greater concern we have with Kinder Morgan and oil tankers,” he said.Transport Canada, which oversees spill response, could not immediately be reached for comment.The claim’s statements have not been proven in court.last_img read more

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Search resuming this weekend for Dawson Creek man who vanished near Kinuseo

first_imgAnyone with information to assist the police are asked to call Tumbler Ridge RCMP at (250) 242-5252. TUMBLER RIDGE, B.C. – The search for a Dawson Creek man who went missing near Kinuseo Falls nearly three weeks ago will be resuming this weekend.Cpl. Madonna Saunderson with North District RCMP said in a release that Search and Rescue units, as well as police, will be resuming the official search on Saturday for the 29-year-old man. The man is believed to have fallen into the Murray River near the bottom of Kinuseo Falls while on a camping trip sometime during the overnight hours on June 9th or 10th.Cpl. Saunderson said on June 12th that after an extensive search conducted on the water with jet boats and in the air with a helicopter and a fixed-wing aircraft for two days, that officials suspended the search because the fast-moving water in the Murray River was hampering search efforts.last_img read more

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Senator Yuen Pau Woo presented by leaders Lab Speakers Series

first_imgIf you are interested in knowing more about the changes happening in the Senate, Senator Woo will shed light on how Senate reform has led the Senate in a direction that is less partisan; more diverse in background, gender, and qualifications. FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The Comunity Development Institute is hosting their Leaders Lab Series with guest speaker Senator Yuen Pau Woo.On Wednesday, July, 17th, 2019 at the Northern Lights College, Room 202, at 7 pm join in this free talk by Senator Yuen Pau Woo an independent Senator representing British Columbia.last_img

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The WalkOn

How Madden Ratings Are Made The Secret Process That Turns NFL Players Into Digital Gods by Neil Paine graphics by Reuben Fischer-Baum illustration by Mike McQuade Original 75 Comments Hidden Skill Set Poor awareness, decision-making Walt Hickey @WaltHickey Moore’s ratings elicit all sorts of reactions — anger, joy, pride, ridicule. Here, for example, is a sampling of reactions on Twitter to Tom Brady’s ratings over the last few years. madden rating tom brady a 93 further exemplifies why it is the worst of the EA sports games #thatsjustdisrespectful #hesthegreatestever— mackey (@kylemack_) August 28, 2012 Reuben Fischer-Baum is a visual journalist for FiveThirtyEight. “I’ve heard it speculated that even the Madden team themselves don’t really know what’s going on,” Bailey said. In the next madden game Tom Brady’s rating is going to be 100— Zachary Olds (@ZacharyOlds) February 2, 2015 The quarterback drills brought me back to earth. Asked to throw the ball as far as I could, I threw it pretty consistently between 17 and 20 yards in an often-loose spiral. I then threw the ball toward my colleague Neil Paine, who was trying his hand at receiver, and connected only 40 percent of the time on short, medium and long passes. Watching the drills unfold, Moore said I was throwing the ball too low and would probably end up hitting offensive linemen in the back of the head often. When I had exhausted my arm, I did some receiving drills — or attempted to. I was useless beyond 10 yards but caught each of the three short passes thrown my way. Brad Hilderbrand, a communications specialist for EA, said I could possibly be a great tight end. My pride swelled again. And then it withered the moment my foot touched a football. My range was so pathetic that I couldn’t boot it more than 20 yards, which at least doesn’t preclude me from being one of the league’s great onside kickers. Punting was no better. Any team with me as its punter would go for it on fourth down every time because I couldn’t kick it farther than 11 yards. “Offensive guard is probably your athletic skill set,” Moore said at the end of the day. “But you’re probably going to want to put on 100 pounds. So, that’s going to be hard for you to bulk up there and still maintain the performance that you put on display today.” Leaving Orlando, I reflected on the day and felt one thing above all: extreme pain. My back was seizing up, my right arm went somewhat numb, and a nap had only made me more sore. When I got home in the wee-morning hours, I took enough ibuprofen to dull my senses and decided that I should exercise more often.3 The soreness continued for three more days. I strolled onto the gridiron in Orlando wearing old gym clothes and the cheapest sneakers available, which I had ordered three days prior. I did the three stretches I remembered from my middle school Presidential Physical Fitness Test — touch your toes, lunge side to side, twist your arm out of its socket — and some light jogging. That may have tired me out more than I expected. My 40-yard dash and 10-yard split times were poor — 6.75 seconds and 2.30 seconds, respectively. Those numbers were a problem because they determined my speed and acceleration grades, which are two of the most important ratings in Madden. Player performance is notoriously more difficult to quantify in football than in baseball. Physical Talent Throwing Power Moore lobbied for many of the new rating categories, spurred by the same motivation that drove “Micro League Baseball” to add player ratings in the first place: greater differentiation among players. It says so right on his business card. ^ Including practice-squad members, free agents and other fringe players. ^ The namesake of retired coach and commentator John Madden. ^ Their equipment styles, for instance. ^ Good rightly cautioned me about the imprudence of declaring anything in gaming a definitive “first,” given the variety — and, just as often, the obscurity — of games and platforms in the medium’s history. ^ It’s impossible to say because “Micro League” didn’t actually have the capacity to track statistics from simulated games. ^ Perhaps it’s no coincidence that in another region of the baseball universe, the field of sabermetrics was tracing a parallel path at roughly the same time. Both endeavors were seeking to distill a player’s on-field performance to its numerical core, albeit for somewhat different purposes. ^ Acceleration, agility, hands, strength, speed, endurance, intelligence and discipline. ^ Also developed by EA’s Tiburon studio outside Orlando. ^ EA Sports’ ratings are on a 1 to 99 scale. ^ Not counting the overall rating, which just serves as a composite of a player’s component attributes. ^ There aren’t even college ratings to fall back on anymore; EA Sports put its NCAA Football series on hold in 2013. ^ Typically watched on the NFL’s RedZone channel. ^ In fact, the overall rating generally doesn’t use all — or even most — of the 43 component attributes at its disposal. Many categories effectively receive a weight of zero. ^ After a little digging, I found that the “press” rating measures a very specific skill: the defensive back’s ability to jam a receiver at the line of scrimmage while lining up in tight coverage. ^ In that class-action lawsuit, a group of retired NFL players sued the NFL Players Association — and won — over royalties that the union received from sales of Madden games containing classic teams with unnamed players whose ratings bore a striking resemblance to the talents of those teams’ real-life members. The unnamed players had “the same height, same ethnicity, same uniform number, same position,” Good said. “Although those things are very substantial in identifying a person, it was also that they would perform as you would expect that player to have performed in real life.” ^ As NBA Jam illustrates, there’s no limit to how much a video game can crank up the dial on pure athleticism. ^ Brady and Rodgers boast throwing power ratings of 93 and 95, respectively; Manning sits at 85. ^ Both Wayne and White boast speed ratings beneath the average of 90 for receivers in “Madden NFL 15”. ^ Front Page Sports: Football Pro Sierra Online’s “Front Page Sports: Football Pro,” regarded as the most realistic football simulation of its time, came out in 1993 and had eight ratings. Walker added that he never considered me one of his top rowers. “Even though you pushed yourself at practice, you lacked that same self-discipline away from practice and would often stumble into morning practices having not slept the night before,” he said. That is entirely correct. ^ Craig M. Booth’s excellent NFL height/weight charts inspired the scatter-plots in this article. ^ I have not. ^ Presumably to be used in event of a successful play in-game, so essentially unnecessary. ^ I just made a Manningface. ^ Using the 2014 roster each time. ^ Throw Power 0yds Moore’s employer, Electronic Arts, is the world’s fifth-biggest game publisher by revenue, and Madden is among its most popular titles. The franchise has generated more than $4 billion in revenue since its debut in 1988. Yet for all of EA’s resources, Moore performs his czar duties in surprising solitude. He’s assisted by a former Madden tester who oversees players’ cosmetic details4 and the usual barrage of (ever-civil) feedback on Twitter. But when it comes to the task of managing a database of more than 100,000 player attributes, one of the best-selling sports franchises in gaming history largely leaves matters up to one man. The Walk-On Donny Moore at his cubicle at EA / Photo by Erika Larsen “The possibilities are endless.” Walt Hickey is FiveThirtyEight’s lead writer for lifestyle. Deep Accuracy 0/5 Translating the athletic skills of flesh-and-blood humans into digital form has been a necessary part of sports gaming as long as real-life players have been incorporated into the software. According to Good, that practice dates at least5 as far back as the 1984 release of “Micro League Baseball” for the Commodore 64. “Micro League” was among the first sports simulations with a license to use Major League Baseball players on team rosters, an innovation that helped usher in the modern era of sports gaming. Developers were suddenly presented with a novel problem: having to represent actual players’ likenesses within the technical constraints of the day. One solution? Assigning numerical skill ratings to help differentiate good players from bad. “They were transitioning from primitive video games that were just trying to approximate the basic acts of a sport,” Good told me, pointing to the Atari 2600’s sports titles as examples of early games without rated players. “Basically, all players perform equally,” Good said. “They just wanted [to know]: ‘Do we have three outs and three strikes? You can throw the ball from third to first to put a guy out?’ ” But with the advent of licensed games, the stakes were raised. “You want Kirk Gibson to play differently from Tony Gwynn,” Good said. The method of “Micro League Baseball” was to algorithmically translate a player’s real-world statistical benchmarks — his batting average or home-run total, for instance — into skill ratings that would presumably6 spit similar numbers back out on the other side of the simulation. It was effectively the computerized version of older board games like All-Star Baseball whose colorful spinners reduced the essence of a ballplayer to a series of probabilities, locked in an eternal marriage with chance.7 But player performance is notoriously more difficult to quantify in football than in baseball. On the gridiron, detailed individual statistics are kept for only a handful of positions, and those numbers frequently miss the whole story because of interactions between 11 players on each side of the ball. Game developers quickly realized that football players, in contrast with their cousins in baseball, would need to be graded on a wider variety of skills — and that ratings-makers would have to temper the science with a whole lot of art. Madden Rating Adjusted 64 A Rating-Changing MomentNov. 23, 2014 A 75 overall rating for a rookie receiver is nothing to sneeze at, but that was just the beginning for the New York Giants wideout. Beckham recorded 31 catches in his first six games, raising his rating to an 80 overall by Week 11. And in front a national TV audience the next week, he hauled in 10 balls for 146 yards against the Dallas Cowboys — 43 yards of which came on arguably the greatest catch in NFL history. Beckham’s rating would increase by 10 more points, and he ended the year with huge upgrades in awareness, route-running, catching in traffic — and, of course, spectacular catch. Take, for example, a player’s trucking score, which captures his ability to run over a defender. Mine ended up being 9 out of 100, which makes me highly unlikely to take on Jadeveon Clowney and prevail. But my interaction with Clowney has an element of randomness — that weighted dice roll could lead to luck for me and misfortune for him, which would mean I’d lower my shoulder and it would somehow push him aside. When I walked on the field to try out for the game, I found this idea oddly comforting. On the early December day I visited his cramped cubicle, tucked away in a corner of an office building on the EA Sports campus near Orlando, Moore was putting the last touches on a roster update that would be downloaded later in the week by PlayStation and Xbox owners around the globe. When he was finished, 577 players saw some aspect of their skills re-evaluated on the basis of the previous week’s action. It’s an activity that Moore repeats every week of the season in an attempt to ensure that Madden imitates NFL reality. Reggie Wayne The effects of the ratings on actual gameplay can be arcane for even the most seasoned Madden veterans. Perhaps no one outside of EA Sports has spent more time contemplating Madden’s inner workings than SB Nation’s Jon Bois, the creator of Breaking Madden, a football column that doubles as an absurdist meditation on the game itself. But Bois confessed that he still can’t quite figure out what some of the rating categories actually do for players on the virtual gridiron. “There are definitely more obscure settings,” Bois said. “There’s a slider called ‘press,’ which I have no idea what it means. I set it to zero every time, and I still have no idea what it does, or what ‘press’ even is.”15 Neil Paine @Neil_Paine It’s all laughs for Bois, who excels at turning Madden into surreal comedy. But the cryptic nature of the game’s growing set of player attributes can also have frustrating consequences for serious gamers. “The unfortunate thing for Madden is that a lot of [its] player ratings are opaque,” USgamer senior editor Kat Bailey told me. “There are so many systems going on that you don’t always know which [ratings] affect which [systems].” How Madden helped a schlub like me make it into the NFL Reuben Fischer-Baum @reubenfb Speed Making The First String 2014-15 When “Madden NFL 15” shipped, the third-year linebacker had an overall rating of 64 and was buried on Denver’s bench. But after an injury to Danny Trevathan in August, Marshall joined the Broncos’ starting lineup. After he put together four straight games with a Pro Football Focus grade of +1.0 or better by midseason, Marshall was rated 75 overall with vastly increased awareness, tackling, zone coverage and play recognition ratings. By Week 14, he carried an 81 overall rating, up a league-high 17 from where he’d started the season. Medium Routes 0/2 Short Routes 0/3 Hidden Skill Set Reading defenses,calling audibles Adjusted 75 Footnotes Interactive 40-Yard Dash 0.0 sec Hickey’s best scores for combine drills. Next: Reggie Wayne Mute Video Physical Talent Throwing Power 3 Cone 0.0 sec “Some designers and producers complain that there are too many ratings,” Moore said of his colleagues. “They ask, ‘How can we limit the number of ratings?’ But I would argue you make players more vanilla with fewer numbers.” That’s why Moore wants to continue adding categories even if it makes his job progressively more daunting. “The developers and programmers hate this,” he said, “but it would be great to do more ratings.” He then launched into an only-half-joking suggestion that the game might add a long-snapping rating someday. When Moore sits down to build a player’s ratings for the newest version of Madden, he goes through one of two separate processes, depending on whether the player is a veteran or a rookie. Each type of player offers its own challenges. Veterans have existing ratings from previous games, but the degree to which each of their categories must be changed is uncertain. Rookies, meanwhile, must be created completely from scratch.12 For the past few versions of the game, users can download Moore’s latest roster update every week of the season via Xbox Live or the PlayStation Network. That means a player’s ratings fluctuate based on how he plays each time he takes the field. To figure out whose ratings to tweak and by how much, Moore said he combines his observations and notes taken during games13 with subsequent film study, conventional statistics, and — increasingly — advanced metrics from outlets such as Football Outsiders (particularly for schedule strength) and Pro Football Focus. “The big factor during the season is stat-based,” Moore said. “The advanced metric sites like Pro Football Focus, like the Football Outsiders, this guy named Ryan Riddle — [a] former NFL player who actually does a blog that has a lot of great information — those types of things bring out the snap-by-snap look on a player. And that, to me, gives a truer look in terms of a player’s value, rather than the conventional ‘how many receiving yards’ or ‘what was the completion percentage for the quarterback.’ ” Pulling all that data together, however, is when Moore’s instincts take over. Listening to him describe the process of rating a Madden player across all 43 categories, I began to realize that he has unwittingly adopted a sort of ad hoc Bayesian updating process. He said there’s a bit of “What have you done for me lately?” in the ratings but that certain categories are fundamentally more or less prone to short-term adjustments — another Bayesian-sounding notion. “Speed largely stays the same,” Moore said, “although when guys get hurt, I will make a change to [their] speed and agility” — a fact Cam Newton came to know firsthand. “Carry rating can be in flux if a guy fumbles a few times,” Moore continued. “Every position has certain ratings more impacted in-season than others.” Meanwhile, a category like “spectacular catch” can change on the basis of a single play. Moore defended the policy, saying that this particular rating has little to no effect on actual gameplay — but it underscores the ad hoc nature of some of Moore’s changes. Such modifications will take a veteran player through the end of the season. Moore makes additional adjustments over the summer based on age-related factors and other reports coming out of OTAs and training camps. “In the offseason, I look for guys trending up — young guys — or down — older players,” Moore said. As for the rookies, their creation process dominates Moore’s spring schedule. Starting around March, Moore begins sketching out the ratings framework for projected draftees using a series of templates for each position. Working with measurables from the scouting combine and pro days, he establishes a player’s ratings in categories such as speed and strength, which are almost directly tied to the drills performed by prospects in advance of the NFL draft. For instance, a 4.50-second time in the 40-yard dash will usually earn a prospect a speed rating of 89, barring particularly strong scouting comments about his fleetness of foot (or lack thereof). At the same time, Moore dives into the various public pre-draft scouting reports for each player, marking down pluses and minuses when consistent themes emerge and applying those adjustments to the templates in areas where the raw combine measurables are less useful, such as coverage skills or play recognition. Hidden Skill Set Knack for getting open This did not lend itself to a great deal of differentiation between players. The assortment of skills that needed to be collected for each player grew as football games progressed through the 1990s. By the end of the decade, EA Sports’ NCAA Football series9 assigned 14 attributes to every player in the game,10 while Madden began handing out 17. With the advent of fifth-generation consoles, the degree of complexity in simulating football increased dramatically, requiring a wider range of player attributes to feed into the new game engines. “Quarterback decision-making is the most difficult thing to simulate,” Moore said. “We’re trying to simulate strengths and weaknesses as best we can within the game, but how you play the game is still you.” 205 Pounds Weight When I asked Moore what types of players Madden had the most difficulty simulating, two archetypes sprung to his mind. “There’s the Peyton Manning guy — not [Tom] Brady or [Aaron] Rodgers because they have strong arms18 — but the quarterback that’s pure decision-making, accuracy and touch,” Moore said. “And the crafty veteran wide receiver with the ability to find holes in zone [coverage], like Reggie Wayne or Roddy White.”19 As he is wont to do, Moore suggested the latter could be better simulated with even more ratings or traits. “We could rate if a receiver was on the same wavelength with his QB,” he offered. After all, Moore loves to add to Madden’s stable of ratings. His pet example is passing accuracy, which was originally represented by a single rating but is now broken down into three separate classifications by distance. In previous versions of the game, the single rating was applied to the sureness of every throw, which failed to capture a big part of what makes each quarterback unique. In reality, some QBs have better accuracy on short tosses than deep bombs (think Brady), while others are better at judging long throws than short passes (Joe Flacco comes to mind). By splitting pass types into subcategories, Moore thinks he is better able to represent the characteristics that define different quarterbacks. Greater rating detail has also recently enabled Moore to address one of the criticisms that has dogged sports games — and Madden in particular — from time immemorial: that fast players are fundamentally overvalued. (Regarding the tendency for digital speedsters to far surpass the skills of their real-life counterparts, ESPN’s Patrick Hruby once mused that “Oakland Raiders boss Al Davis should have been a game programmer.”) Moore doesn’t shy away from that critique. “When you make a guy fast in a video game, he’s just a little too effective,” he said. Take receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, a former track standout who hasn’t exactly had a great NFL career despite ranking among the league’s fastest players. Heyward-Bey is just the kind of one-dimensional speedster whose avatar traditionally wreaks undue havoc in Madden, but Moore insists the revamped ratings have made it more difficult for those players to trick the game’s engine. Bailey confirmed this development. “It was true for a long time [that] the little speedy guys could just get open, and that was that,” she said. “I don’t think that’s as much of the case anymore.” But while speed can be mitigated, Moore granted that there’s no good way to overcome the problem of simulating a quarterback like Manning, whose most important skills — reading defenses, calling audibles, seeing things on the field that no one else can, and making sound decisions — are instantly negated when a gamer picks up the controller. Comments KICKING/PUNTING Madden Rating No player to participate in the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine since 1999 had a 40-yard time as bad as mine.2 The closest was Regis Crawford, a 316-pound offensive guard out of Arizona State who after the 2004 combine went undrafted. Crawford still managed to run the dash 0.70 seconds faster than me. Next up came agility drills — one shuttle run with three cones in an L-shape, another a 20-yard back-and-forth — that would determine how agile I wasn’t. I have the maneuverability of a rudderless aircraft carrier. Moore charitably characterized my style as “a real north and south kind of player.” Then came a lunging jump, in which I posted a consistent 6-foot, 5-inch leap. Moore seemed less appalled than he had all day. “Not bad there,” he said. It was one of the only times I felt anything approaching pride. Footnotes Tecmo Super Bowl Nintendo’s seminal football game was released in 1991 and used no more than seven rating categories for any player. The game wasn’t super realistic. Bo Jackson was an all-time great in the NFL; he was superhuman in Tecmo. by Walt Hickey graphics by Reuben Fischer-Baum photography by Marius Bugge But these days, I don’t have to step on the field to know what happens when I step on the field. We have Madden for that. And shockingly, the people behind Madden were willing to turn me into a guinea pig. All I had to do was give them 36 hours and sit in front of a panopticon of cameras, and they’d turn my corporeal self into a digital one. I booked a flight to Florida. The most pressing issue on my mind: what my Madden ratings would be. The game (the most recent edition is “Madden NFL 15”) rates players on a scale from 0 to 99, basing overall scores on 43 categories, including trucking, deep passing, strength and agility. A guy like me was virgin territory for Donny Moore, the Madden Ratings Czar. How exactly would he quantify the football ability of a person with hardly any? That I was essentially a rookie made Moore’s job even harder. As my colleague Neil Paine explained, rookies require an intense amount of research — game tape, college stats, combine performance — because they have no NFL experience to use for a rating. The only way Moore could draw up my forecast was by watching me play. On the agenda: the 40-yard dash, agility drills, and basic throwing and catching evaluations. After that was all over, I figured I’d be one of Jon Bois’s Breaking Madden creations. For the past few years, in a series for SB Nation, Bois has been tweaking players’ stats to show what happens when those players are made superhuman or all too human. I expected to be in the latter category. But I wanted my avatar to at least get a point on the board, at least complete a couple of passes, and at least lead a team to one victory over several simulations (even if I broke an interception record for good measure). I wanted to show that the average dude could survive the rigors of the NFL. I’ve never exactly been an athlete. The last organized sport I attempted was three semesters of club crew in college. I reached out to my former coach, Nathan Walker, to get an independent assessment of my athletic priors. In an email, Walker said he didn’t imagine I was “the type of kid who defined himself through sports while growing up.” That is an understatement. I went to an elite-football high school but ran the debate team. He said that in my first year of rowing, I was “clumsy and awkward,” and my limbs didn’t quite go where I wanted them to. Nonetheless, he said, I was “a pure joy to watch” because I was passionate about it.1 Essentially, like most Americans, I’m not exactly out of shape, but I’m not exactly in shape either. I’m generally just a shape. Original 64 Maybe the only thing causing me to play poorly was that I wasn’t playing as myself. I challenged Madden’s creative director, Rex Dickson, to a scrimmage. Starting at QB for the Giants: Walt Hickey. Hickey did not have a good day. He threw 7 for 25, threw three interceptions and was sacked three times. The Giants lost 42-7. The only points came thanks to wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who could make any quarterback look good. He scored on a short pass that he turned into a 94-yard touchdown. My only comfort was to imagine the great headline The New York Post would put on its back page the next day: “Hickey Fails to Leave a Mark.” The Virtual NFL February 26, 2015 I was on the 50-yard line, trying to make sense of the long slant route ahead of me. My debut was not going well. I was winded, slightly dehydrated and kicking myself after a day of mediocre runs and failed catches. The next pass was my last chance to impress, and I knew the cameras would be on me. When I heard “hike,” I took off. Eight yards out, I saw the ball above in a spiral. I jumped for it pitifully … and hit the ground. The ball was not in my arms. Before that pass, I knew I wasn’t cut out for the NFL. But when it sailed over my head, something else became clear: I was barely cut out for a video-game facsimile of the league. I was in Orlando with a crew of people who work on Madden, EA Sports’ premier football simulation, because I, like many obnoxious New York Giants fans, once had a fleeting moment of hubris. Sometime during QB Eli Manning’s 97 interceptions over the past five years, I thought: “Christ, even I could throw a better pass than that.” I cannot throw a better pass than that. Yet there was a sort of perverse appeal to the damage I’d bring to the Giants if I were swapped with Manning. What would happen if a schlub like me played in a league as unforgiving as the NFL? Listen to Walt Hickey and Neil Paine discuss their reporting and how they broke Madden. Clockwise, from top left: Hickey poses in front of the cameras; the computer builds a 3D model of Hickey’s face based on his photos; skin tone and facial detail are added; Hickey’s final rendering Case StudyOdell Beckham Jr.Rookie Player Broad Jump 0’0″ Position WR Position QB 6’1″ Height Bailey offered an illustration from franchise mode, in which a gamer uses a finite supply of experience points to boost players’ skills. “It can be unclear which ratings you want to increase,” she said. Spending experience points on awareness, for instance, will almost always increase a player’s overall rating — but for defensive players and even quarterbacks, that boost won’t cause them to play better when they’re being controlled in-game. Meanwhile, wide receivers can actually see tangible in-game benefits from a higher awareness score. Confused yet? “I’ve heard it speculated that even the Madden team themselves don’t really know what’s going on,” Bailey said. “Because they’ve got years upon years of systems and code just layered on top of one another, where it’s not always entirely clear how they’re interacting. “It’s kind of a crazy system.” Whatever the virtues and drawbacks of Madden’s player ratings, though, they’re just a starting point. The game must still be played. Neil Paine is a senior sportswriter for FiveThirtyEight. “You’re going to be setting new ground in how low we go with the ratings,” Moore told me on my second day in Florida. But I still had a chance to succeed. In Madden, everything’s a weighted dice roll — one player slamming into another isn’t an athletic act, it’s a probabilistic one. Even bad players like me could get lucky now and then. Next: Michael Vick Mute Video Case StudyBrandon MarshallVeteran Player Gamebreakers There are certain player archetypes that have always been difficult for Madden to accurately simulate. The classic example is Michael Vick from “Madden NFL 2004“; Vick’s speed was overvalued in the game. But less egregious examples occur whenever a gamer takes control of a player whose real-life counterpart possesses immense physical gifts but lacks awareness. The converse is also true; players whose defining skill is football IQ — Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne, for example — are inept in the hands of an inept gamer. Watch the gamebreakers 24 Years Age Early player ratings were simplistic. The legendary “Tecmo Super Bowl,” released in late 1991, kept 14 ratings categories in total. But only a few affected in-game performance for any given position. Meanwhile, the initial version of Sierra Online’s “Front Page Sports: Football Pro,” regarded among the most sophisticated football simulations of the mid-1990s, tracked just eight rating categories for each player,8 with the same traits taking on radically different meanings depending on the player’s position. (For instance, a quarterback’s strength rating might refer to powerful throws, while the same category for a lineman would control his ability to block.) Two months later, Moore and company asked me to return to Florida for the big reveal: what I’d look like as a real (fake), live (artificial) NFL (Madden) player. When I was first in Florida, EA mapped my face for an avatar by putting me in front of 12 high-definition cameras, each poised at a slightly different angle. It looked like what Jeremy Bentham would have made if he had gone into photography after he was tired of designing prisons. I posed seven ways — one mugshot, left and right profile shots, a natural smile,4 one with my mouth slightly open,5 one with a wrinkled forehead and eight chins, and one screaming. When I saw the photos in December, they looked like I had just walked out of an anti-methamphetamine advertisement. The photos came with polarized flashes that stripped my face of any shadow. Zooming in on the high-def shots made it look like I had slept in hot grease. Will Gibson, the technician who took the photos, said they made me look sort of like Ray Romano. But this, he said, was the point. “Put Brad Pitt in front of this,” he said, “and he’d look like Steve Buscemi.” For example, one of the most important categories when computing a quarterback’s overall rating is awareness, which is based on experience and attempts to quantify factors like decision-making and depth of playbook knowledge. Awareness clearly affects how computer-controlled quarterbacks play the game; the lower the rating, the more likely a CPU opponent is to throw into coverage or miss open receivers. But despite its heavy weighting in the overall rating formula, a quarterback’s awareness score makes no difference when a human is controlling him. When you, the gamer, are in charge, it’s up to you to be “aware” for the avatar you’re controlling. Bois described the same conundrum using a basketball analogy. “I’ve found that the video-game version of J.R. Smith is incredible,” he said. “He’s just way better than he is in real life, and I think the reason is because you get to make the decisions and not him. He’s an amazing player, but once you distill him to his physical self, he’s just unstoppable half the time.” So at what point does an unaware Peyton Manning — or an aware Smith — cease to be a true representation of the original? It’s an interesting philosophical issue and one connected to the delicate balancing act of favoring skilled gamers while having virtual players mirror the strengths and weaknesses of their real-life counterparts. “It’s a fine line,” Dickson said. “You want to make sure that somebody with great stick skills can still win and be successful but at the same time not transcend a really crappy team and all of a sudden they can beat anyone.” When that equilibrium is disturbed, the game can sometimes even be criticized as too realistic. In 2013, testers from Houston complained to Dickson after playing as the Texans’ undrafted rookie quarterback Case Keenum. “They all said, ‘[With] these computer physics, I can’t have fun with this guy: Every pass is inaccurate,’ ” Dickson said. “We’re watching film on [Keenum], and it’s like, ‘Well, he’s a third-stringer. Every pass is inaccurate. This is real life.’ ” “They said to us, ‘Well, if I’m good and making good decisions, I should be able to make good reads and get the pass there,’ ” Dickson continued. “But all of a sudden then you’re making guys like Geno Smith look like Peyton Manning, and your stick skills are now superseding the simulation. We’ve actually had that in the game before, and it didn’t go over well. People reject that. “You shouldn’t be able, just because you’re really good at Madden, to make Geno Smith all of a sudden awesome. Geno Smith, even if he makes a good read, is still an inaccurate passer. That’s just the way it works in the NFL, and that’s modeled in our simulation.” Polygon’s Good used a baseball example to illustrate this tug of war between enjoyment and realism: “How do you make failing seven out of 10 times fun?” It’s a challenge that doesn’t seem to be completely solvable using player ratings, no matter how much faith Moore places in them. Then again, I doubt it will stop him from trying. “In a perfect world, in ‘Madden 2037,’ we might have [ratings] split into 10 or 15 different awareness-type categories,” Moore said, still rattling off items from his wish list. “Like awareness around the end zone, awareness in the fourth quarter … Finally, after all the component categories are set for both rookies and veterans, the numbers are used to generate the fabled Overall Rating. When I asked Moore about this, I expected him to decline to comment, citing a proprietary formula shrouded in secrecy. Instead, he cheerfully called up a spreadsheet containing the values that go into computing a player’s overall grade (and later e-mailed it to us). And somewhat anticlimactically, the overall rating is simply a weighted average of a player’s ratings across the 43 skill categories tracked by Madden, with different categories taking on more weight depending on the position.14 For example, the most heavily weighted categories for quarterbacks in “Madden NFL 15” are awareness and throwing power (each contributes about one-fifth of a quarterback’s overall rating), accuracy by zone (short and medium accuracy are both slightly more valuable than deep accuracy), and play-action passing. Together, those categories make up 89 percent of the overall grade for QBs, with the rest of the weight given to throwing on the run, agility, speed and acceleration. Short Accuracy 0/5 Just lost ALL respect for the madden ratings creators! They got russell wilson the same rating as Tom Brady! GTFOH!!!!!— ☆G.O.A.T☆ (@YoungPrevo) July 22, 2014 Receiving “Quarterback decision-making is the most difficult thing to simulate,” Moore said. Position QB Michael Vick Deep Routes 0/2 Actual participation was out of the question. This is no longer George Plimpton’s NFL. The size of an NFL player has ballooned — players are taller and larger than ever before. Between 1974 and 1999, rookie offensive linemen got 24 percent heavier. I’m not getting near the turf of an actual football field. Plus, my insurance isn’t that great. Madden has generated more than $4 billion in revenue over its 26-year lifetime. Yet for all EA’s resources, Moore performs his czar duties in surprising solitude. Continue Reading Mute Video Walter Hickey Monroe, N.Y. Moore’s job has morphed from a behind-the-scenes technician to a sort of celebrity — and villain — in gaming circles. And in an increasingly data-heavy sports landscape, it’s a role that sits squarely in two intersections of growing importance — between scouting and analytics, simulation and reality. Because in both Madden and the post-“Moneyball” sports world, humans become a collection of data points and then are turned back into a digital approximation of themselves. It was against this backdrop that Moore began his professional affiliation with EA. In 1998, he was still a student at the University of Central Florida, pursuing a degree in political science, when in November when he noticed advertisements for an “NCAA Football 99” tournament at the student union. Moore and his roommates were devotees of the game — he recalls elaborate house rules requiring that a witness be present every time a game was played in the friends’ shared Dynasty Mode savefile. On a whim, he skipped class, entered the contest using Florida State as his team, and won first prize. Moore’s detailed knowledge of the game’s minutiae impressed NCAA Football developers on hand for the tournament. On the spot, they offered him a part-time job testing the coming edition of the game, a break he would later parlay into a full-time gig as an EA Sports football tester. Playing and testing the games, Moore got a firsthand look at the give-and-take between gameplay and player ratings. He recalls the time a long-forgotten defensive tackle for the University of Kentucky inadvertently became a superstar after a typo assigned him a speed rating11 of 85 — blazing for a lineman — and when the Oakland Raiders, long known for their real-life fixation on speed, became unstoppable because the Madden game engine translated the overall velocity of the Raiders’ roster into far better virtual performances than the team was capable of in reality. Moore would eventually be promoted to a designer and associate producer along his path to Ratings Czar, but the relationship between Moore’s testing background and his current job is clear. “The [ratings] are probably the single biggest factor in gameplay,” Moore said. And the ratings have far more moving parts now than when Moore began working at EA. Each player in the game is graded in 43 categories — many of which were added when Madden transitioned from the sixth generation of consoles to the seventh. There are also nearly 20 new player-tendency tags, known as “traits,” that control specific player behaviors. PASSING When I first met my avatar, it was like staring into a mirror set up across the uncanny valley. My facial features were nearly exact, down to the barely noticeable scar on my chin. But I looked disoriented — even more disoriented than I was on the day of the shoot. My neck lolled; my eyes were glazed over; my blinking was algorithmic. My avatar played just as strangely as it looked. We’re used to playing Madden with athletes who have remarkable skill sets; they move quickly, consistently and responsively. I did not. It was like driving in the snow: You know how the car is supposed to move, but it just doesn’t behave as expected. This is what happens when your Madden score is 12. A 12 out of 100 is bad. Very bad. The lowest-rated player in “Madden NFL 15” is Jacksonville Jaguars long snapper Carson Tinker, who’s a 41. Peyton Manning Extra Points 0/4 Walt Hickey 17 Throw Power 15 Throw On Run 14 Strength 03 Deep Accuracy 00 Consistency 12 Overall Long 0 yds Despite the praise during practice — that I had more of an offensive-guard skill set, that I could be a tight end, that I was “a real north and south kind of player” — when it comes down to it, I’m clumsy and awkward, my limbs don’t quite go where I want them to go, and at best, it’s just fun to watch me. Generally speaking, I don’t think a regular person could compete with the pros. Most people are somewhat good at something. But greatness — regularly scheduled weekly articulations of greatness — is something that just can’t be turned on. And yet I won some games as quarterback. In the 15 seasons that EA simulated with me as QB for the Giants,6 the team never had a winning season but did win an average of 2.9 games each year. Head coach Tom Coughlin was also fired every season. So, win some, lose some. Moore also simulated me as a receiver, kicker and punter, each of which also dragged the Giants down. The team had an average of 3.3 wins with me as a receiver, 3.5 wins with me at kicker, and 3.8 wins with me at punter. Somehow, I made 95 percent of extra-point attempts, and my average punt was 27 yards. Skeptical, I emailed Moore to see whether the game might be flawed. “It might be one of those things in our simulation where it might not simulate the Extra-Point kicks based off of ratings enough,” he said. Even my achievements may have happened in error. UPDATE (July 24, 7:15 p.m.): In July 2015, Moore announced his retirement as Madden’s Ratings Czar, leaving EA Sports to join the daily fantasy sports company FanDuel. Madden NFL 16, which will be released in August, will be the final game in the series to contain ratings curated by Moore. CORRECTION (Feb. 25, 1:23 p.m.): A previous version of this article incorrectly characterized Tecmo Super Bowl’s rating system. The game kept 14 rating categories in total, not per player. Moore looked relieved during the scrimmage. My abysmal performance was proof that Madden really is a simulation of the NFL: A player who somehow lucks into the league without any skills really doesn’t have a chance. He’d have to rely on his teammates to compensate. Thankfully, Madden doesn’t allow for locker-room coups. I will never on my best day be as good as Manning on his worst day. And yet, Madden was way too kind. The Giants should have been so, so much worse with me at the helm. My avatar couldn’t have been rated much lower. I was far closer to a zero rating than I was to the lowest legitimate athlete in the game (Tinker, the long snapper). Despite that, my avatar still managed to lead a team to a little less than three wins a year on average? That doesn’t make sense. The Giants went 6-10 last season. There’s no way Eli Manning is only three wins above Walt Hickey. All we need to do to demonstrate this is to look at the team that performed exactly as I expect mine would: the 2008 Detroit Lions. Although that team was among the worst of all time and failed to win a game, it was made up of talented players who were each still vastly better athletes than I am. Indeed, that year, the overall ratings for four Lions quarterbacks — Daunte Culpepper (80), Jon Kitna (84), Dan Orlovsky (73) and Drew Stanton (77) — vastly exceeded my rating. Factor in my shocking kicking performance (maybe I could make 95 percent of extra-point attempts on, say, the moon or some other low-gravity satellite), and I think that even my low stats fail to encapsulate just how bad (or rather how normal) I am. Madden’s simulation is geared to work within a realm of athleticism where I do not reside. To articulate my actual performance on the field, I’d probably need a negative rating. If you hang around the Madden studio enough, you’ll hear a curious phrase tossed around, a relic from games of a decidedly different genre and medium: “Dice rolls.” Although Madden takes pains to immerse gamers in the fantasy that they are controlling real NFL players, every interaction between two players in the game is also dictated by underlying probabilities, weighted by the various ratings of the respective players. As Rex Dickson, Madden’s creative director, said: “The way the game works on a high level is that when two players run into each other and are about to do an interaction — let’s say it’s a ball-carrier and a linebacker — it’s going to take several ratings and throw them into a formula and do a dice roll. “The dice roll is how we get the randomness. So it’s basically his break-tackle chance against your tackle chance and then a dice roll on top of that. The ratings mismatch is your modifier on the dice roll. If he’s 10 points higher than you for his tackle rating, the dice roll is going to be favored in his favor to get the tackle versus the flip where it’d favor the break-tackle.” After hours of hearing this kind of talk during our visit to EA’s studios, my colleague Walt Hickey had a realization: This is basically Dungeons & Dragons for sports fans. If an obsessive following is a requirement for that comparison, consider Madden certified. The annual unveiling of Madden’s player ratings is an event unto itself. Beyond just Newton, many NFL players grouse to Moore about their numbers. (Kerry Rhodes, while playing safety for the New York Jets, made a YouTube video titled “WTF Madden!” demonstrating pretty conclusively that his throwing power rating was too low.) There are also sites where amateurs, apparently dissatisfied with Moore’s handiwork, aim to create their own competing sets of ratings. And the ratings have even been deemed to constitute “likeness” in lawsuits such as Parrish, et. al v. NFLPA.16 Bois told me that he thought the game does about as well as it can when it comes to converting real players’ abilities into a series of numbers. “If we were going to be entirely realistic, you’d probably have to have 1,500 different skill sliders” per player, he joked. “But this is a decent way to distill it into a thing that the layman can play around with and use.” Bailey agreed. “It’s an inexact science,” she said, “but for the most part [Moore] gets it right.” Yet for all of Madden’s quest for realism, there are certain aspects of football that the game still, and may always, have trouble simulating. On one level, sports video games give regular Joes and Jills the opportunity to perform athletic feats that most could only dream about in real life — blazing runs, high-flying dunks, cannon-armed throws — and games have gotten pretty good at simulating these aspects of what it means to be a professional athlete.17 But sports video games will always struggle to accurately replicate the cerebral side of sports; that’s why it’s more difficult to simulate being Ricky Rubio than LeBron James. I asked Moore whether there were any sports that regular people could jump into and be at least a little competitive. “Poker, if you consider that a sport,” he said. Mohegan Sun has a poker tournament at the end of the month. How hard can that be? Physical Talent Agility The Virtual NFL February 25, 2015 Hunched over a keyboard, surrounded by computer monitors, Donny Moore, 37, controls the fate of the National Football League. Its players throw as hard as Moore wants. They run as fast as he says they should. And the stars of America’s most popular sport aren’t always delighted by his judgments. Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, for instance, was upset. “I want to talk about my speed,” Moore remembers Newton saying as he clambered into Moore’s cubicle last April. Despite leading all NFL quarterbacks in rushing yards in 2013, Newton ranked as only the ninth-fastest QB in the league, according to Moore — hence Newton’s unhappiness. But as Moore wheeled around from his den of screens, he was confronted by not only Newton, but also an enormous boot on Newton’s foot, the result of recent ankle surgery. “Yeah,” Moore said as Newton hobbled toward him, “let’s talk about your speed.” Eventually, Newton was pleading with Moore to not make him slower. Such is the power afforded Moore, a hyperactive Floridian who works as the official Ratings Czar1 for EA Sports’ Madden NFL video-game franchise. In that role, Moore is tasked with assigning more than 40 numerical grades to each of the NFL’s roughly 2,600 players,2 evaluating them in categories ranging from passing accuracy to tackling ability. Moore’s process has largely been a black box, and yet it shapes how more than 5 million gamers simulate pro football — particularly because there’s no official alternative to his numbers. A decade after signing a controversial exclusivity deal with the league and the players union, Madden3 is still the only licensed NFL game in town. In fact, an entire culture has grown up around Madden and its attempts to distill human athleticism into numbers. It is all good marketing for EA Sports but also speaks to the sway Madden holds. The ratings are a de facto time capsule from the year they were produced, a digital archive that offers players some measure of immortality in a sport where the average career lasts only a shade over three years. “It’s important to these guys that they be rated 99 in speed; it’s important to somebody that he have the best arm in the game,” Owen S. Good, a writer for the video-game news site Polygon, told me. The allure of the Madden rating might also speak to the relative lack of meaningful statistics in football itself. It would be strange for a baseball player to complain about his ratings in MLB: The Show, for instance, because a realistic baseball simulator (by necessity) has ratings grounded in actual statistics. But in a sport where objective measurements are often inadequate, subjective numbers — like those generated by Moore — take on greater currency. All these factors put more pressure on Moore to produce ratings of ever-increasing accuracy even as they highlight the fundamental paradox limiting Madden’s realism: It’s nearly impossible to accurately simulate some players as long as a gamer must assume control of the athlete’s brain. read more

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Ohio State wrestling gears up for Big Ten and NCAA Championships

Ohio State wrestling coach Tom Ryan said he gets the sense that this season, his team is doing big things. “Despite the fact that we’ve got so many young people on the team, I think there’s great leadership and a great sense of this group leaving a legacy here,” Ryan said. Having started seven freshmen for most of the year, the No. 6 Buckeyes’ resume suggests the team has gone above and beyond the expectations of many. After storming out of the gate at 7-0, the Buckeyes dropped back-to-back road contests against Nebraska and then Minnesota. About two weeks later, the Buckeyes toppled then-No. 2 Iowa, 21-9, in their first win against the Hawkeyes since 1966. Some even called it their biggest dual win in school history. Just nine days after the Iowa match, defending national champion, Penn State, hammered OSU, 34-9, in State College, Pa. OSU then responded with wins against then-No. 12 Michigan and Michigan State to close the Big Ten regular season. While the mission of winning a Big Ten regular season championship was unsuccessful for OSU (11-3, 5-3 Big Ten), Ryan said there’s still a lot of wrestling left. “Men in this sport that have left a legacy shine in March,” he said. “And we’re still three weeks away from March.” What Ryan is referring to are the Big Ten and NCAA Championships, which begin in early March and last through much of the month. Before that, the Buckeyes’ attention is solely focused on this weekend when they will travel to Stillwater, Okla., for the Stillwater Regional of the NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals. OSU, which drew the No. 3 seed in the region, is set to wrestle No. 6 seed Boise State on Feb. 12. “I think the big thing that Boise State presents for us is that they have a couple of really good individuals,” he said. Perhaps most importantly against Boise State, Ryan stressed how critical it was for 165-pound freshman Derek Garcia to wrestle his best heading into the postseason in order to hopefully qualify for the NCAA Tournament which is selective in what wrestlers it takes. “Every single match for Derek Garcia’s critical to make sure we bring ten (wrestlers) to the national tournament. Because I do believe he can do something there,” he said. OSU is at full strength with all of their starters rested and ready to go. At least, Ryan said, as much as they can be in mid-February of the season. The winner of OSU’s dual against Boise State wrestles No. 2 seed Nebraska, who handed the Buckeyes their first loss back on Jan. 6. One-hundred-eighty-four-pound redshirt junior C.J. Magrum said that while there will be no looking past Boise State, he’s excited at the prospect of a rematch. “We’re kind of upset we didn’t get the second seed (in the Stillwater region) but at the same time, we’ll never wrestle Nebraska as worse we did the first time we wrestled them,” he said. OSU lost, 18-16, as a result of bonus points in the first match up. “Lightning’s not going to strike twice,” Magrum said. “We’re pretty confident going into the match that we should take care of them.” One-hundred-thirty-three-pound redshirt freshman Logan Stieber agreed. “Last time we didn’t wrestle well, and they kind of kicked our butts,” he said. Ryan said he understands the challenge at hand. “We’re going to see two teams that, based on their season, you might say, should beat us,” he said. But that doesn’t stop him from liking the matchups each team presents. He still gets the sense this is a team that’s doing big things, he said. “This group wants to win it,” Ryan said. “We’ll see how bad they want to win it on Sunday.” read more

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Edgar Davids I expected a lot more from Pogba

first_imgFormer Juventus midfielder Edgar Davids is not “convinced” at all by Paul Pogba and has urged the Frenchman to showcase more of his talentThe 25-year-old played a pivotal role in France’s World Cup-winning campaign at Russia this summer.However, Pogba has again reverted to the patchy form that he often had last season with Manchester United.Manager Jose Mourinho had handed the French midfielder the captain’s armband in the hope that it would inspire improved performances at United.But the Red Devils’ recent results have suggested otherwise after losing two of their opening four Premier League of the 2018/19 campaign.Davids himself is disappointed to see Pogba’s continued struggles at United.Although the Dutchman knows that Pogba has what it takes to be one of the world’s best central midfielders.Cristiano Ronaldo, Nemanja Vidic, Manchester UnitedVidic: “Ronaldo is the most professional footballer I’ve seen” Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Nemanja Vidic opened up on how a 21-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo’s professionalism left him stunned at Manchester United.He told Canale 5: “I am not at all convinced by Paul Pogba.“He plays a lot in England, it’s true, but I expected a lot more from him.”Recent reports suggest that Pogba may be on the verge of a sensational return to Juventus as part of an exchange deal with Argentine striker Paolo Dybala.But Davids feels that there is still more to come from Dybala and urged him to “work harder”.“Dybala is a great talent, but he has to work harder,” he continued.“It is not always the fault of the coach or the game system, even the player must look in the mirror and do more.”Davids spent the majority of his career at Juventus and won three Serie A titles along with two Italian Supercups.last_img read more

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Lobbying Efforts Galvanize Unalaska Hospital Project

first_imgTribal and federal officials say the plan to build a regional hospital for the Southwest in Unalaska is closer than ever to reality.Download AudioFor most locals, the idea of a full-size hospital in Unalaska has always been little more than a pipe dream. But not for Tom Robinson of the Qawalangin Tribe. He’s been trying to make the hospital happen for more than five years.Unalaska’s Bureau of Indian Affairs hospital was bombed by the Japanese during World War II. (Courtesy: National Library of Medicine)“We noticed that we really needed a medical facility in Unalaska,” Robinson says. “And with the course of events of losing some of our elder a couple years ago, the [Qawalangin] tribe really pressed the issue.”They teamed up with their tribal health provider, the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association, to put new energy into lobbying for a hospital. Now, the APIA’s primary care services administrator, Jessica Mata-Rukovishnikoff, says that work is paying off.“It is definitely the closest we’ve been in all the years since we first started the project in 2008,” she says.That’s thanks in part to Alaska Sen. Mark Begich. He’s lobbying for up to about $100 million in federal funds for the project. Mata-Rukovishnikoff says the APIA would be happy to see even part of that sum, and they’re asking local groups to chip in, too.“They’re more likely to see and pass and give money based on support from the community,” she says. That includes more than just tribal stakeholders. The hospital will be designed to serve everyone in the region — locals, veterans, fishermen and other industry workers and tribe members.So the APIA is casting a wide net to look for funding. Meanwhile, other details of the project are still coming together. There’s no location for the hospital in Unalaska yet. And housing for its 200 or so expected employees is still up in the air.In terms of services: Mata-Rukovishnikoff couldn’t say yet how many beds the hospital would have. But she says it should offer a 24-hour emergency room, basic surgeries and a range of specialists.She’s also hoping they can provide prenatal and maternity care. That would mean expectant moms wouldn’t have to spend weeks in Anchorage when it was time to give birth, which, she says, “would be something of a major accomplishment.”For outpatient services, the new facility would absorb Unalaska’s two existing clinics — the APIA’s Ounalashka Wellness Center, and the Iliuliuk Family & Health Services community clinic.IFHS director Eileen Conlon-Scott expects to move all her staff, services and grant funding over to the new hospital. The clinic’s current building might become an administrative office.Scott says the merger would be a big step forward.“We have people that don’t get health care services because they can’t afford to fly off the island,” she says. “[At IFHS], we’re trying to bring consultants to the island at least to get an initial check-up by a specialist, but to have some of these specialists here the whole time — it’s much better for our community.”For Tom Robinson of the Qawalangin Tribe, flying to Anchorage for routine care has been the norm for far too long.“If you look at what the locals in the region have to go through to get primary care — it’s very tough,” he says. “And this’ll also serve our elder — can you imagine the stress that our elder have to go through to travel to get primary care?”Robinson says the hospital would serve about 2,000 tribal members, and as many as 10,000 Aleutian, Pribilof and Southwest residents in total.It would also make good on a decades-old loss — by replacing the native hospital destroyed in Unalaska during World War II.“Our hospital was bombed by the Japanese … and then burnt down by the military. And thereafter, it was never rebuilt,” Robinson says. “Really, there wasn’t any effort put back into — or there wasn’t the initiative to have it rebuilt until recently.”Even if everything goes according to plan, Unalaska won’t see its new hospital until about 2018 — and Robinson is confident it’s going to happen. The tribe has already started doing community outreach in Unalaska. They’re planning on more as they start looking at locations for the hospital later this year.last_img read more

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107 Hindus killed 31 forced to disappear in 2017

first_img.At least 107 people of the Hindu community were killed and 31 were made to disappear in 2017, which are higher than previous year’s figures, claimed Bangladesh Jatiya Hindu Mohajote (BJHM) on Saturday.Polash Kanti Dey, general secretary of BJHM – a grand alliance of national Hindu organisations – came up with the statistics while revealing a report titled ‘Atrocities on Religious Minorities in Bangladesh from 1 January to 31 December of 2017′ at a press conference at Dhaka Reporters’ Unity (DRU) in the city, reports UNB.According to the report, 782 Hindus were either forced to leave the country or threatened to leave. Besides, 23 were forced to get converted into other religions.Polash said at least 25 Hindu women and children were raped, while 235 temples and statues vandalised during the year.The total number of atrocities happened with the Hindu community in 2017 is 6474, according to the BJHM report, which was 11,335 in 2016.Making some pointed references, Polash said communal question paper was provided during Rajshahi University admission test, a family of Mymensingh was forced to leave by influential people of the district after vandalising Hindu houses in Rangpur.BJHM president Prabhas Chandra Ray told the press conference that though the total number of atrocities has declined because of the joint efforts of the government, BJHM and Hindu society, the incidents of killing and enforced disappearance are still alarming.He also claimed that the administration’s negligence and the influence of powerful people are the main reasons behind the atrocities which have created a huge threat for the safety of the country’s Hindu community.Claiming that no other country in the world experiences minority killings during election as much as Bangladesh, Prabhas expressed his concern over the increased killing risk of Hindus during the upcoming national election.Prabhas, however, expressed the hope that the number of atrocities on the minority community will come down to zero level soon with government efforts.last_img read more

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Ion trap quantum computing

first_img Explore further NIST Demonstrates Better Memory with Quantum Computer Bits This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. “Instead of moving ions around,” Stock continues, “you apply a two-ion operation between all neighboring ions at the same time. The created multipartite ‘entangled’ array of ions is a resource for quantum computing.” Actual computing is then based on measurement of ions in the array in a prescribed order and using a slightly different measurement basis for each ion. “In this scheme, it is the time required to read out information from the ions that critically determines the operational time scale of the quantum computer,” Stock says.Stock describes the measurement component as vital to this model of quantum computing. Instead of exciting the ions and getting them to emit a photon and measuring the photon, Stock and his colleague instead devised a different way in which they were able to measure the quantum bit encoded in a calcium ion. “You can use an ionization process to speed up measurement, since the electron can be extracted faster from the atom than you can get a photon out of an atom. The extracted electron is then guided onto a detector by the ion trap itself.” All of this takes place on a nanosecond time scale. “By speeding up the measurement,” Stock insists, “we can speed up the operation capability of the quantum computer.”Stock points out that this quantum computing scheme would be impractical as far as taking over common use from classical computers. “The lattice would have thousands of ions, which would need to be controlled, and carefully stored and protected. It means that the computer would be relatively large and impractical.”Uses for such a quantum computer are not limited to breaking data encryption. “This process would allow us to take problems of great complexity and still solve them on a humanly possible timescale. This could provide the key to modeling complex systems – especially perhaps in biology – that we can’t solve now. This would be a tremendous advantage over classical computing.”More information: Stock, René and James, Daniel. “Scalable, High-Speed Measurement-Based Quantum Computer Using Trapped Ions.” Physical Review Letters (2009). Available online: link.aps.org/doi/10.1103/PhysRevLett.102.170501 . Copyright 2009 PhysOrg.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or part without the express written permission of PhysOrg.com. Citation: Ion trap quantum computing (2009, May 12) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2009-05-ion-quantum.html Stock, a post-doc at the University of Toronto, points out that ion trap quantum computing has made a lot of progress in the last 10 years. “Ions in traps have been one of most successful physical implementation of quantum computing in physical systems.” Stock believes that it is possible to use ion-trap quantum computing to create measurement-based quantum computers that could compete with classical computers for very large and complex problems – and even on smaller scale problems. His work on the subject, done with Daniel James, appears in Physical Review Letters: “Scalable, High-Speed Measurement-Based Quantum Computer Using Trapped Ions.”“One of the most important considerations in quantum computing is the fact that quantum computing scales polynomially, rather than exponentially, as classical computing does.” This polynomial scaling is what makes quantum computing so useful for breaking data encryption. In order to make data encryption more secure, one usually increases the number of bits used. “Because of the exponential scaling, breaking data encryptions quickly becomes impossible using standard classical computers or even networks of computers,” Stock explains. “The improved scaling with quantum computers could be one a biggest threads to data encryption and security.” While this sounds promising, Stock points this out that there are still problems with quantum information processing: “While scaling would be better with quantum computing, current operation of quantum information processing is too slow to even compete with classical computers on large factoring problems that take 5 months to solve.”The way ion-trap quantum computing works now – or at least is envisioned to work – requires that ions be shuttled back and forth around the trap architecture. Stock explains that this takes time. “As the complexity of problems and the size of the quantum computing to be implemented increases, the time issue becomes even more important. We wanted to figure out how we could change the time scale,” Stock explains. “We found that we could speed up the processing by using an array of trapped ions and by parallelizing entangling operations.” (PhysOrg.com) — “Right now, classical computers are faster than quantum computers,” René Stock tells PhysOrg.com. “The goal of quantum computing is to eventually speed up the time scale of solving certain important problems, such as factoring and data search, so that quantum computing can not only compete with, but far outperform, classical computing on large scale problems. One of the most promising ways to possibly do this is with ion traps.”last_img read more

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Selfassembled monolayers of NHCs on gold have ballbottype motion

first_img PausePlay% buffered00:0000:00UnmuteMuteDisable captionsEnable captionsSettingsCaptionsDisabledQuality0SpeedNormalCaptionsGo back to previous menuQualityGo back to previous menuSpeedGo back to previous menu0.5×0.75×Normal1.25×1.5×1.75×2×Exit fullscreenEnter fullscreen Tailored chemistry links nanoparticles in stable monolayers Research groups from Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität in Münster led by Professors Harald Fuchs and Frank Glorius, used scanning-tunneling microscopy analyses combined with first principles calculations of representative NHC monolayers on gold surfaces to determine how the monolayers can be both chemically robust and highly mobile. They found that the NHC bound to gold forms an adatom that then traverses the gold surface in a ballbot-type motion. Their report appeared in a recent issue of Nature Chemistry.NHCs form a particularly strong bond with gold because of the sp2 hybridized lone pair of electrons on the carbon atom (See figure of NHCs above). Studies have shown that NHCs can be used to form particularly stable self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) on gold surfaces and can even be modified after formation of the monolayer, but these studies are difficult to compare with each other because they do not have similar R groups.The nitrogen-substituted R groups play a significant role in the behavior of the NHCs. Bulky R groups prohibit dimerization but may affect the stability of monolayer formation. Also because the nitrogen atoms are part of an aromatic ring, they serve as electron donors to the substituents. The type of substituent affects the electronics of the molecule.In this study, Wang et al. used three different NHCs that were synthesized in the Glorius group, each of which had R groups that had previously been studied and represented a range of steric and electronic properties. These groups include IMes which has 2,4,6 trimethyl phenyl rings as the N-substituents; IPr which has 2,6-diisopropylphenyl substituents; and IMe which just has methyl groups as the N-substituents. Play Credit: (c) Nature Chemistry (2016) doi:10.1038/nchem.2622 Beginning with carboxylate versions of IMes, IPr, and IMe, they deposited the NHCs onto the gold surfaces via ultrahigh vacuum vapor deposition. XPS confirmed that the NHC, not the carboxylate version, was bound to the gold surface. Scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) showed that IPr and IMe made neat, controlled surfaces, while IMes molecules were less ordered. Citation: Self-assembled monolayers of NHCs on gold have ballbot-type motion (2016, October 20) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2016-10-self-assembled-monolayers-nhcs-gold-ballbot-type.html Journal information: Nature (Phys.org)—Self-assembled monolayers are molecules anchored to a surface. These molecules have been used to advance the fields of molecular sensors and electronics. Monolayers on gold surfaces are typically anchored by a thiol. One alternative to thiols are N-heterocyclic carbenes (NHCs). First isolated in 1991, NHCs have proved an important molecule for practical uses because it can serve as a ligand for transition metals as well as some main group elements. NHCs have also been used for organocatalysis, cross-coupling reactions, and pharmaceuticals. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.center_img Explore further © 2016 Phys.org , Nature Chemistry a, Schematic illustration of the procedure used to install NHCs on gold by physical vapour deposition. b, The investigated NHCs. c, The STM image (V = −2.2 V, I = 34 pA) shows IMes directly bonded to a Au(111) surface. d, The STM image (V = 2.73 V, I = 25 pA) of IPr on Au(111) shows a highly ordered and dense hexagonally packed full monolayer. Credit: (c) Nature Chemistry (2016) doi:10.1038/nchem.2622 At various surface coverage densities, the IPr surface would form islands that broke apart and recombined. This indicated that the surface was mobile, but there was no change to morphology of the gold surface. Despite this mobility, the bond between the NHC and the gold surface proved to be highly stable at high temperatures.This behavior may be explained by the formation of adatoms, or the interaction of one NHC molecule with one gold atom. This adatom then moves around the surface as one entity, which the authors liken to ballbot movement. They confirmed this structure by looking at the height of the IPr monolayers.DFT calculations helped to explain how exactly these adatoms formed and moved. IPr and IMe likely bound to a gold atom that was pulled from the surface. Simultaneously, a gold atom from the second layer moves into the vacant hole. The gold atom that was pulled from the surface was bound irreversibly to the NHC to form an adatom that then readily moved across the surface. Additional free energy calculations looked at the effects of bulky R groups, specifically comparing IPr with IMes. Wang et al. found that the pi interactions between the phenyl rings and the surface play a role in adatom formation and mobility. They reasoned that there is a balance between steric hindrance, as with IPr, and pi interactions, as displayed with IMes. And, indeed, the non-bulky IMe compound, which was more mobile than IPr and IMes, was able to form dimeric and trimeric complexes with one gold atom.This study provides important insights into how NHC-Au monolayers form and behave. They seem to form a stronger bond than thiols with gold, but they also display mobility that is influence by the identity of the nitrogen substituents. The NHCs that tend to have weaker pi interacts with the gold surface readily forming adatoms that then move across the surface like a ballbot. More information: Gaoqiang Wang et al, Ballbot-type motion of N-heterocyclic carbenes on gold surfaces, Nature Chemistry (2016). DOI: 10.1038/NCHEM.2622AbstractRecently, N-heterocyclic carbenes (NHCs) were introduced as alternative anchors for surface modifications and so offered many attractive features, which might render them superior to thiol-based systems. However, little effort has been made to investigate the self-organization process of NHCs on surfaces, an important aspect for the formation of self-assembled monolayers (SAMs), which requires molecular mobility. Based on investigations with scanning tunnelling microscopy and first-principles calculations, we provide an understanding of the microscopic mechanism behind the high mobility observed for NHCs. These NHCs extract a gold atom from the surface, which leads to the formation of an NHC–gold adatom complex that displays a high surface mobility by a ballbot-type motion. Together with their high desorption barrier this enables the formation of ordered and strongly bound SAMs. In addition, this mechanism allows a complementary surface-assisted synthesis of dimeric and hitherto unknown trimeric NHC gold complexes on the surface.last_img read more

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Some dickensian madness

first_imgBehroopiya Entertainers in association with Madball Company, Mumbai presents, A Tale of Two Treaties.  The show will be held on 15 November in the Capital’s Alliance De Francaise, Lodhi road.A Tale of Two Treaties is a one-man Commedia Dell’Arte show where Deepal Doshi plays 10 different masks in a 70 minute performance. In this show the actor is the master of the physical art of transformation through mask and through his mastery transports the audience into the crazy world of Commedia where the primal drives of hunger, lust, and greed rule the lives of its zany characters. The show is highly physical, contains audience interaction, and is meant for audiences aged 15+ due to bawdy sexual and scatological humor. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’The show has been performed in Sweden, USA, Bali, Canada, and India, including most recently at the esteemed Kala Ghoda Festival 2013 and the International Commedia Dell’Arte Conference 2013 at the University of Windsor, Canada.A Tale of Two Treaties is the only show of its kind in India. Deepal is the only Indian artist currently performing this style of theatre in India. This show guarantees a rambunctious combination of physical finesse, engaging theatre, and nonstop craziness which will leave an audience excited, amazed and thoroughly entertained.When : 15 November 2014Where : Alliance De Francaise, Lodhi Road, New Delhilast_img read more

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Clients save 20 when booking Sunwing Experiences

first_img Monday, May 8, 2017 Travelweek Group Clients save 20% when booking Sunwing Experiences Tags: Sunwing Tweetcenter_img TORONTO — Sunwing is offering spring savings on its newly launched Sunwing Experiences, available across the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America.Clients will save 20% when booking prior to May 31 for travel departures until Aug. 31, 2017, while agents also earn commission on each pre-booked tour added to their client’s booking.All tours offered by Sunwing Experiences are hand selected by local experts and carefully vetted for their value, quality and safety. Experiences include zip lining in Mexico, an exploration of colonial cities in Cuba, and diving with marine life in the Dominican Republic. Clients also benefit from the added convenience and cost savings of pre-paying in Canadian dollars.For a full list of excursions included in the sale, go to sunwing.ca/excursions-list.asp Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

House approves Rep Alberts plan providing new retirement savings option for school

first_img21Mar House approves Rep. Albert’s plan providing new retirement savings option for school, state workers The Michigan House today approved legislation sponsored by Rep. Thomas Albert to provide an additional retirement savings option for public school and state employees.Albert’s legislation calls for the state and school employee retirement systems to offer annuity options to employees, in addition to established savings plans.“Our dedicated public school and state workers should have more options for investing their retirement savings,” said Albert, of Lowell, after the House approved his plan. “Annuities offer a good savings option, providing a steady stream of income during retirement. We’re simply adding a completely voluntary option to our existing savings plan lineup so employees can plan for a safe, secure retirement.”The affected employees currently can start annuities through the state only after retirement. Albert’s changes would allow the annuity investment option prior to retirement, with plans vetted and overseen by retirement system officials for soundness.House Bills 5230-31 advance to the Senate for further consideration. Categories: Albert News,Newslast_img read more

Cable operator UPC Czech Republic is increasing th

first_imgCable operator UPC Czech Republic is increasing the speed of its internet services from next month.New and existing customers will be able to surf the web at speeds of up to 240Mbps without a data limit from September.UPC said its customers in the Czech Republic consumed an average of 36GB a month of internet traffic in the first half of this year, up 18% year-on-year.last_img

In This Issue… BOC hints of rate hikes… Over

first_imgIn This Issue… * BOC hints of rate hikes… * Overnight currency rally fades… * PM Gillard tests Chuck’s patience… * RIP Dick Clark… And, Now, Today’s Pfennig For Your Thoughts! More Gyrations… Good day… And a Tub Thumpin’ Thursday to you! Well, my beloved Cardinals did a Tub Thumpin’ on the Reds last night, so they got started on Thursday early! Have you ever heard the Rev. Al Green sing How Can You Mend A Broken Heart? Well, that’s what’s playing as I begin today’s letter, and I have to say that hearing the Rev. sing, really starts my day right! Well… the gyrations and volatility continue in the markets, one day up the next day down. One day a piece of data matters, the next day it doesn’t… But we carry on in spite of these daily movements back and forth… For instance, the euro is rallying this morning, which gives all the other currencies a chance to spread their wings… Spain was able to auction their target maximum amount of euro bonds this morning, and while the yield rose from the last time 10-year bonds were auctioned, the fact that the whole allotment went off without a hitch, is giving the euro some breathing room this morning. For those of you keeping score at home, in January, Spain issued 10-year Gov’t bonds at a yield of 5.403%… This time, they had to sweeten the pie a bit for buyers to take a bite of the debt ridden nation’s offerings… The current auction saw 10-year yields rise to 5.743%.. France also auctioned some debt issues this morning, and they too say yields rise… As I keep telling you, and anyone in the U.S. Gov’t that will listen… This is what will happen to us someday… the markets will demand a higher yield to take on more U.S. Debt… This U.S. Debt really gets me riled up… but the thing I keep coming back to, is that most Americans have no idea the depth of the Debt here in the U.S. I saw a story headline come across the Bloomberg this morning, that said, “World’s Richest Worth $1 Trillion.” The story went on to say that the 40 richest individuals on Earth are worth $1 Trillion… OK, think about that for a minute… If the 40 richest individuals gave everything they had to the U.S. to pay down the Debt, it wouldn’t make a difference, really… In fact, it would take the current Congress about 9 months and they would go right through those riches… Does that help illustrate how bad our debt has gotten? Or.. how about this… The total National Assets are $83.3 Trillion… The total U.S. Unfunded Liabilities are $118.5 Trillion… If each taxpayer were to “ante up” and give the Gov’t money to pay off our Unfunded Liabilities, each taxpayer would have to put up $1,045,026.00… A million dollars! I don’t make these numbers up folks… each Friday, I give you a link to the U.S. Debt Clock… here it is for you to look at… http://www.usdebtclock.org/index.html Ok… sorry I went off on that tangent with Debt… But, I’ve been banging this Debt drum for over a decade now, and believe me now and hear me later, the Debt was nowhere near where it is today… Back to the currencies… Well the Bank of Canada (BOC) left rates unchanged the other day, and tried to throw the markets a bone, by saying that stimulus could be removed sooner than later… But since then, the BOC has made an upward revision to their forecast for 2012 GDP from 2% to 2.4%. They also said that they believed the Canadian economy would hit its capacity limit in the first half of 2013, with economic growth then moderating the remainder of 2013… OK, that’s all well and good, but what about now? If the BOC believes that GDP growth is stronger than they previously did, then why aren’t interest rates going higher right here, right now? Well… I’ve explained this before, but just to review, the BOC can’t wander too far away from the interest rates in the U.S., which we’ve been told by more than a handful of Fed Heads that they will remain near zero through 2014… And I totally dislike the saying, “but this time it will be different”… So… I’ll just say that the BOC is going to have to wander from the U.S. near zero rates, because, inflation is going to be a real problem in Canada if they don’t! So… here I am, sitting here in St. Louis, Mo. And I see rate hikes in Canada… Where are all the “large research departments” with their calls for Canadian rate hikes? OK, Chuck, quit rubbing it in, these rate hikes haven’t happened yet, so you had better be careful calling out the “large research departments”… Ok… let’s mark this down, right here, right now, there is no other place I’d rather be, no wait! Come on Chuck, people don’t read this to see Jesus Jones songs! OK, I apologize, that was my evil twin that took over the Pfennig for a minute… But I’m back now, and I want to say that I think we’ll see one rate hike of 25 Basis Points (1/4%) before year-end, bringing the internal rates in Canada to 1.25%… But, in the first half of 2013, we could see the BOC really ratchet up the rate hikes… Can you say 2% by the end of 2013? And where will U.S. rates be? Still near zero… But just keep the legal beagles happy… This is just what I see, it’s my opinion, and I could be wrong… The euro has sold off by 1/4-cent since I came in, so the gyrations continue… Over in Japan, I’m still not used to saying this, but Japan posted another Trade Deficit, although it was weaker than forecast (Yen 82.6 Billion VS forecast Yen 223 Billion)… But still, no matter the size, it’s still strange to report a Trade Deficit for Japan… the yen traded off, or sold off either one, pick the one you like, but yen is weaker this morning on the Trade Deficit news… Apparently, the markets are like me, and seeing the Japanese Trade Balance in red still shocks them… In Australia… things are getting pretty hairy regarding the May Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) meeting… I told you earlier this week that the RBA tied their monetary policy to the outcome of the 1st QTR CPI (inflation), which is set to print on April 24th… But last night, Prime Minister (PM) Gillard argued that the Gov’t’s plans to return to a budget surplus this year would give the RBA scope to cut rates… OK.. two things pop into my head when I read that statement by Gillard… 1. That she must know something about the CPI report next week, so she’s trying to persuade the RBA to look past the CPI report and to the plans for a budget surplus… or.. 2. She’s trying to apply pressure to the RBA to cut rates… I have quite a few Aussie readers of the Pfennig, and they send me notes all the time, telling me of their dislike for the PM… Hmmm… I now see why! The RBA used to be completely independent, but if they go ahead and cut rates next month, they are going to appear to be under the thumb of the PM… The Aussie dollar (A$) is weaker this morning on those comments by Gillard… When will Gov’t leaders learn to keep their hands out of the cookie jar? When will they ever learn? When, will, they, ever, learn? And this just came across the screens… The Brazilian Central Bank (BCB) cut rates this morning 75 Basis points (3/4%)… That’s a shocker to me, in that while I know that the BCB and the Brazilian Gov’t believe they are in a currency war, and need to get the real weaker, I really didn’t see them going to this length… But they have, and like I said the other day, I’m not sure the currency market guys are willing to fight them any longer… They are going to do a Dieter… and that won’t be good for the real… I haven’t mentioned Gold (& Silver) for a couple of days… I can tell you this… that most observers of the precious metals that have done this for some time, and not your Johnny-come-lately crowd, believe that Gold is simply forming a base here before it moves higher once again… but, the chart guys don’t see it that way… So… you choose your sword here… Me? After all these years of reading and researching these two metals, I can’t change horses in the middle of the stream here… My colors are still pinned to the mast of higher values for Gold & Silver… But remember that’s just my opinion, and maybe the chart guys are right… And the price of Oil remains above $100… I see where the President is going to get his hands in the cookie jar… I have to say that all the things I’ve told you in the past about why Oil prices are high are very important to keep in mind, when you hear politicians spouting off about those “evil Oil companies”… The cost of getting Oil out of the ground continues to rise… Think about that.. Yes, we’ve found all sorts of oil deposits, but it’s not like we can go out and stick an oil rig in the ground and start pumping oil! Any way… that’s just one of the things that keep the price of Oil high… But it’s not manipulated markets, folks… There’s just too many trades going in and out of Oil and no concentrated positions… This is not Gold & Silver, folks… Yes the price if high, and I don’t like it… But the price of just about everything these days is higher… Where’s all the complaining from the Gov’t that a beer at a ballgame costs $9? Don’t even get me started on this stuff, we could be here all day, I think you get my point here… And that brings me inflation here in the U.S. I’m not buying the story in the Bloomberg today about how the Bureau of Labor Statistics has all these people around the country going out and checking the prices of items for the calculation of inflation… Yes, maybe they do that, but that’s just one piece of the puzzle folks… I’ve told you for years about the “substitutions” that are made in the CPI calculation.. I’ve told you about the adjustments that are made to the weightings of items, and I’ve told you about this whole housing thing… it’s in the calc, then it’s not… right now they use “owner’s equivalent rent” which replaces the cost of owning a home with what it cost to rent it… How dumb is that? So… as I get ready to head to the Big Finish today… I want you to keep in mind a couple of things… that you don’t want to get mixed up in the gyrations… and everything isn’t as it appears to be… you have to look closer… Then There Was This… Ok… yesterday I gave you a couple of items that scare the bejeebers out of me… but forgot one that I was going to talk about… it goes like this: The WSJ reported that the U.N. had agreed to send “observers” to Syria… How about you? Does the word Observer when it comes to observing a war bother you? It does me… Vietnam comes to mind… and several places since then that the U.S. was just an “observer”… And yes, I know it says the “U.N.” not the U.S. but do we really think there’s a difference? To recap… The euro is leading a currency rally on the good news from Spanish and French bond auctions this morning… Both sold their maximum target of bonds, but both also saw yields rise. The Bank of Canada is greasing the tracks for a rate hike by raising their forecasts for GDP growth in 2012 and 13… Aussie PM, Gillard, is doing her best to get on Chuck’s persona non gratis list… And Chuck takes us on a ride to visit the Debt Clock… Currencies today 4/19/12… American Style: A$ $1.0365, kiwi .8185, C$ $1.0110, euro 1.3115, sterling 1.6030, Swiss $1.0915, … European Style: rand 7.8220, krone 5.7440, SEK 6.7320, forint 226.25, zloty 3.1860, Koruna 18.9150, RUB 29.49, yen 81.70, sing 1.2510, HKD 7.76, INR 51.98, China 6.3037, pesos 13.17, BRL 1.8780, Dollar Index 79.62, Oil $103.02, 10-year 1.99%, Silver $31.55, and Gold… $1,639.60 That’s it for today… RIP Dick Clark… I remember watching American Bandstand with my older sisters when I was young, and we would try to do the dances they did on TV… And before going out on New Year’s Eve was viable, I watched Dick Clark’s rockin’ New Year… I made a mistake yesterday and said our Blues played last night, but they play tonight, sorry to all that made a point of telling me I was wrong… So… Go Blues tonight! A day game at Busch Stadium today… hint, hint… Alex came home dead tired last night, after a good water polo game on the other end of town… Some of these schools are so far away, but still in the same conference… strange… And little Braden Charles (B, as we call him) was at the house yesterday… he’s a scooter… he doesn’t crawl, he goes across the floor, Army style… funny stuff! OK… time to go, thanks for reading the Pfennig, I hope you have a Tub Thumpin’ Thursday! Chuck Butler President EverBank World Markets 1-800-926-4922 1-314-647-3837 www.everbank.comlast_img read more

The Great Wall of China A walk on the moon Genom

first_imgThe Great Wall of China. A walk on the moon. Genome sequencing. How did we humans, who share almost all of our DNA with chimpanzees, end up doing all that, while they ended up pretty much where they started?Some scientists will tell you it was language, or tools, or brainpower.Another group of researchers has come up with a new and surprising theory — that something else put us on the road to success. They say it has to do with how we raised our kids.This new theory claims that sharing — first of food and child care, then later of feelings and intentions — was the original secret of our species’ success. Without it, we might have occasionally hunted in a group like other apes, but human civilization requires more than occasional male bonding.So why did we evolve this ability to be so ultrasocial and ultrasharing? Why not chimps?See what these scientists think may have happened. Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.last_img read more

Disabled activists have welcomed the decision of d

first_imgDisabled activists have welcomed the decision of doctors to vote strongly against relaxing their union’s position on physician-assisted suicide.The British Medical Association (BMA) voted by 63 per cent to 37 per cent this week at its annual representative meeting (ARM) in Belfast to maintain its current position of being opposed to physician-assisted suicide.Some doctors had wanted the BMA to move to a neutral stance on the issue.Last September, the latest parliamentary attempt to weaken the law, through a private members’ bill put forward by Labour MP Rob Marris, was defeated by 330 votes to 118.But there were concerns after his bill was thrown out that pro-assisted suicide campaigners were already plotting their next move to try to force through legalisation, either through the courts or parliament.A move to a neutral position by the BMA would have given euthanasia supporters a significant boost in their continuing quest to change the law.Minutes before the debate, delegates had decided by a margin of only three votes to allow the meeting to debate the issue of whether the BMA “should adopt a neutral stance on assisted dying”.  Dr Andrew Mowat told delegates that BMA had debated the issue in seven of the last 10 ARMs.He pointed out that MPs voted by nearly three to one against changing the law to legalise assisted suicide last year, while the Scottish parliament had thrown out a similar bill months earlier.He said: “The public expect their doctors to lead on ethical issues. The thought of doctors killing patients creates public mistrust of us.”He said that evidence from other countries showed that when doctors’ organisations moved to a position of neutrality it was soon followed by legalisation of assisted suicide.Baroness Finlay, a crossbench peer and consultant in palliative medicine, and a leading opponent of legalisation, said: “With our hard-pressed healthcare system, doctors have enough to juggle without being saddled with assessing whose life is worth working hard to improve, and who should be given lethal drugs.”But Professor Clare Gerada, former chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners and a leading supporter of legalisation, said it was the BMA’s responsibility to debate the issue “year in, year out”.The disabled people’s campaign network Not Dead Yet UK (NDY UK), which opposes assisted suicide, welcomed the BMA vote, tweeting: “Thankyou to @BMA for continuing to oppose #assistedsuicide & listening to disabled people. Our lives are worth living,” and, “Disabled people will sleep safer tonight knowing @BMA doctors support us.”Baroness [Jane] Campbell, NDY UK’s founder, added on Twitter: “Great news! Not Dead UK thanks you from the bottom of our heart.”Dr Ian Wilson, chair of the BMA’s representative body, said: “Doctors appreciate the strongly-held views both across society and their profession on both sides of this complex and sensitive issue.“The issue of assisted dying has been regularly debated by the BMA at its annual policy-forming conference, with delegates voting this year to remain opposed to assisted dying.“By engaging with doctors and members of the public in an 18-month long project, we have compiled a comprehensive body of qualitative research to look at the wider context of the issue and enable members to have informed discussions at this year’s conference.“This work will still continue and we will also be holding a special open discussion this week during which doctors will be able to share their views on some of the more complex and practical issues doctors would face if assisted dying were permitted in the UK.”Picture: Not Dead Yet UK supporters protesting about the Marris bill outside parliamentlast_img read more

IBM Signals End of Telecommuting Craze

first_imgRemote Workforce Remote workers are strong proof that talking face to face is the best communication technology. Next Article IBM Signals End of Telecommuting Craze Author of Real Leaders Don’t Follow Free Webinar | July 31: Secrets to Running a Successful Family Business Steve Tobak Learn how to successfully navigate family business dynamics and build businesses that excel. VIP Contributor May 24, 2017 Register Now » 5 min read –shares Remember the time Marissa Mayer banned telecommuting at Yahoo and started a media firestorm? Some thought she’d flipped her lid. Others said she’d made a grave mistake that would kill morale. Well, she hadn’t and it didn’t. That was one of the few things she did right in her ill-fated attempt to turn around the hapless internet portal.While the former Googler didn’t intend to start a trend, she did. HP followed suit a few months later. Then came Best Buy, Bank of America, Aetna and others.Last week, IBM gave thousands of virtual workers an ultimatum: either show up in the office, or go work somewhere else. Considering that Big Blue pioneered the “anytime, anywhere workforce” decades ago, that sort of closes the books on what has turned out to be yet another overhyped management fad.Years ago, telecommuting was all the rage. Many predicted that, in the not-too-distant future, just about everyone would work remotely. Turns out, while working alone can boost productivity for some, the isolation can also have a chilling effect on collaboration and innovation. It’s sort of a mixed bag.Related: How Telecommuting Reduced Carbon Footprints at Dell, Aetna and XeroxWith decision-making becoming more real-time, data-centric and collaborative every day, it’s easy to see that a distributed workforce can slow the wheels of progress. It’s not at all surprising that nearly every company that’s put a stop to working remotely has been in a turnaround situation when team performance is critical.That’s why Apple spent billions to build Apple Park — its new spaceship-like headquarters with 175 acres of parkland and a 2.8 million square-foot main building that can house more than 12,000 employees. It’s all about collaboration and innovation. You’d think the tech giant would know something about that sort of thing.   The notion of overhyped management trends goes far beyond telecommuting. Every year or so the media goes bananas over a new fad. Enterprising opportunists then write books and start lucrative consultancies. There are always companies, big and small, that take the bait. Most end up regretting it, especially those who go for it hook, line and sinker.Related: 4 Reasons Telecommuting Can Be Bad for BusinessBack when I was a young up-and-comer, the big management trends were matrix management, core competency, management by objective, organizational development, six sigma and strategic planning. The hot books were The One Minute Manager, Guerilla Marketing, Crossing the Chasm and Good to Great.Granted, there was some benefit to most of those concepts. It was the hype that caused executives and business leaders to go overboard.One of the best examples of that was outsourcing pioneered by Peter Drucker, the father of modern management. The problem came when outsourcing turned into offshoring, and ended up exporting jobs and importing cheap labor. The result was the near extinction of America’s manufacturing sector.Today, we live in the golden age of overhyped fads: company culture, personal branding, content marketing, cause marketing, growth hacking, emotional intelligence, employee engagement, crowd funding, positive thinking, productivity, time management and, of course, everything Steve Jobs. There are countless books like The Lean Startup, Strengths Finder and Start With Why.As in the past, there is some value to most of those concepts, but again, overdoing it can do far more harm than good. The best recent example I can think of is the self-management craze. For a while, everyone was starting to question whether companies even needed bosses or titles anymore. It turns out that flatter organizational structures are indeed beneficial, but only to a point. As usual, some went overboard.Related: 5 Ways Telecommuting and Flex Time Help You Recruit the Best WorkersA book called Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux popularized the controversial concept of teal or nonhierarchical, peer-to-peer organizational structures. Holacracy took it a step further. But Tony Hsieh’s move to take Zappos in that direction has been an unmitigated disaster. Twitter cofounder Ev Williams dropped Holacracy at Medium, which is currently trying to reinvent itself and its business model.In the early days of the company, Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin toyed with the notion of a completely flat organization without bosses. They finally came to their senses and realized that, while it might work for some companies of limited size, it simply wasn’t very practical or scalable for a growth-oriented company. Kudos to them.Look, I’ve been around a long time, long enough to see dozens if not hundreds of management fads come and go. The problem is when otherwise smart people stop thinking for themselves and start listening to the hype. They follow the crowd because all those people can’t be wrong. On the contrary, they can, and usually are.You know how there’s supposed to be so much wisdom in crowds? Nope: It’s just another fad. There’s no wisdom in crowds, just massive groupthink and herd mentality. You can’t beat the irony. As I say in my book, Real Leaders Don’t Follow: Leaders lead. Followers follow. You can’t do both. And that’s no hype. Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Image credit: Philippe Huguen | Getty Images Add to Queuelast_img read more