Who’s The Favorite And Who’s A Sleeper In The English Premier League?

Who’s The Favorite And Who’s A Sleeper In The English Premier League?:

The Premier League, which kicks off Friday afternoon, is often regarded as the most competitive league in the world, if not the best. In fact, both of those assumptions might be false: While the Premier League boasts four of the top 10 and six of the top 15 teams in the world according to our Soccer Power Index rankings, only one other team cracks the top 50.1


This imbalance shouldn’t come as a shock: Aside from Blackburn Rovers in 1994-95 and Leicester City in 2015-16, only four teams have won the Premier League since its inception in 1992-93. And if you look at the table for every Premier League season — especially for the past decade — the top six spots are more likely than not occupied by some or all of the same six teams currently ranked in the world top 15.


If you’re hoping that the upcoming season will offer some vicissitude at the top of the table, don’t hold your breath: According to our Premier League predictions, Manchester City is a good bet to repeat as champions. And the five spaces below the Citizens will likely be occupied by — you guessed it! — Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United. After we ran 20,000 simulated seasons, the closest any team got to the top six was Crystal Palace — still 16 points off the pace.

… The top six teams in the Premier League are among the richest sports franchises on earth. All that money means they can afford to pay often ludicrous fees to attract the world’s best players. Money turns into results in major competitions, and results in major competitions turn into more money. And that new money turns into the buying of yet more of the world’s best players, and the top six feedback loop endures.

(Via Features – FiveThirtyEight)

I get why the world gets energized by the World Cup, but remind me why anyone cares about the Premier League? It makes football more boring than American football (for the championship contenders).

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This sea is disappearing because it’s near death

This sea is disappearing because it’s near death:

THE ARAL SEA, which lies between Kazakhstan in the north and Uzbekistan in the south, was one of the four largest lakes in the world.

There was a time when the shoreline of the Aral Sea was an idyllic affair. Well, not anymore.

So how did human activity manage to drain the 67,339 square kilometers sea which used to supply tens of thousands of tons of fish every year?

In the 1950s, the Soviet Union diverted the Aral Sea’s two rivers sources – the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya – for agriculture. As a result, the decreased water flow made the sea saltier, killing off the abundant freshwater fish.

By the 1980s, it had completely destroyed the fishing industry, which at its peak represented roughly 13 percent of the Soviet Union’s fish stocks.

This, in turn, forced a mass migration of people as the dried-out Aral seabed caused an imbalance in the weather patterns.

The area’s inhabitants also suffered health problems at unusually high rates, from throat cancers to anemia and kidney diseases. Infant mortality in the region has been among the highest in the world.

(Via Travel Wire Asia)

Regardless of what one thinks about Global Warming and humans impact on nature, this is 100% man made. See also the Salton Sea in case one thinks this was a Soviet-only occurrence.

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Perseid meteor shower peaks August 11 and 12

Perseid meteor shower peaks August 11 and 12:


’One of the best—if not THE best—meteor showers of the year is about to kick into high gear, and the timing is perfect; with the new moon occurring at exactly the same time as the Perseid meteor shower, this show could be spectacular at 60-70 meteors per hour and sometimes double or even triple that.…’

Via Big Think

(Via Follow Me Here…)

Hmm. I need to find a good spot in Japan for viewing. Suggestions?

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Why Carbs Don’t Make You Fat | The Art of Manliness

Why Carbs Don’t Make You Fat | The Art of Manliness
— Read on www.artofmanliness.com/articles/why-carbs-dont-make-you-fat/

To;dr – it’s boring old calories across the food spectrum that make us fat, not carbs all on their own.

This is a very long yet information dense read. I recommend it if for no other reason than describing Brett’s original view (low carb FTW!) and how he advocated that stance only to allow himself to be persuaded away from it by science. It’s a sadly uncommon bit of bravery to be willing and able to change one’s own mind.

This does back up my anecdotal observations in Japan where they eat the diet ultimately recommended here: high (healthy, low processed) carbohydrates, low fat, and moderate protein all in modest caloric intake. They do other things, like eating family-style when eating out in a group, that help to keep the calories down.

My own eating further backs this up in my own mind: when I eat a largely Japanese diet my weight drops; when I eat a modern American diet my weight increases.

Ultimately, Michael Pollen summed it up best:

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

As always, YMMV.

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Take This Cheat Sheet To The Ballpark To Decide When To Leave ←

Take This Cheat Sheet To The Ballpark To Decide When To Leave:

 … baseball is not exactly packing the extra minutes [of a typically 3:05 long game] with scoring and excitement — unless pitchers jogging in from the bullpen is exciting to you. Plus, the stakes are low. They play 162 of these things. Add it all up and you understand why lines of fans hit the exits to beat the traffic home.

Of course, as any purist will tell you, a fan who leaves a ballpark early risks missing out on heart-pumping late-inning action: Just ask the owner of the car whose taillights were visible just outside Dodger Stadium as Kirk Gibson’s walk-off homer to win Game 1 of the 1988 World Series landed in the right-field stands.

We can’t advocate ever leaving early from the World Series.2 But at an average, middle-of-the-season, low-stakes game, exceptions can be made. The decision of when to exit is delicate: You want to leave games in which the outcomes are more or less predictable given the current score, but you don’t want to miss out on late-inning heroics. This decision is the kind of problem that data scientists are equipped to solve.

(Via Features – FiveThirtyEight)

Tl;dr – Leaving in the 6th inning if there is a 4+ run lead is the sweet spot.

Also, I love this stuff.

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Ancient Refrigeration

Yakhchal: Ancient Refrigerators – EARTH ARCHITECTURE

By 400 BC, Persian engineers had mastered the technique of storing ice in the middle of summer in the desert. The ice was brought in during the winters from nearby mountains in bulk amounts, and stored in a Yakhchal, or ice-pit. These ancient refrigerators were used primarily to store ice for use in the summer, as well as for food storage, in the hot, dry desert climate of Iran. The ice was also used to chill treats for royalty during hot summer days and to make faloodeh, the traditional Persian frozen dessert.

I love classical practical physics. I keep filing these stories away for my eventual retirement place which I want (as of now) to be as off-the-grid as practical.

Coin Toss

I just saw a man stop at an intersection, flip a coin, register the result, and base his next move on it.

Personal Responsibility in Health Care

From nytimes.com:

Personal responsibility is, of course, not a binary construct. When we say unhealthy behavior — overeating, smoking, excessive alcohol use — is not your fault, we may rob people of the initiative to change it. When we say that same behavior is all your fault, we fail to recognize a more complex reality: Health is a product of genes, environment, work, education, family, medical care and many other factors.

Although it seems we should encourage personal responsibility, punishing the opposite may be heavy-handed and even counterproductive. Breaking down every factor that leads patients to develop cancer or heart disease or Alzheimer’s — and penalizing or rewarding them based on the share they could in theory control — seems a herculean and morally suspect task.

Personal responsibility is an attractive goal with deep roots in American culture. But if it’s too aggressively pursued, it may conflict with another worthy ideal: In a nation as wealthy as the United States, sick humans deserve health care — even if they can’t pay, and even if they’ve made some bad choices.

One eye opening experience was when I was climbing (really, walking up) a mountain in Nara, Japan. I kept passing the same guy. He was not quite my height but easily 30KG (about 66 pounds) lighter than me. Crazy hair, wispy beard, and a tan that identified him easily as a laborer.

I would pass him at the end of various legs of the journey. He would be at a waystation, puffing on a cigarette and drinking a Coke while munching down on some junk food. He would effortlessly pass me on each leg with a large bundle strapped to him, not seeming to break a sweat.

I don’t smoke. I don’t drink soda. And I don’t eat junk food.

But no one will convince me the fellow I crossed paths with so many times wasn’t healthier than me.

That health is a tapestry of “genes, environment, work, education, family, medical care, and many other factors” seems right to me.

In another anecdotal example, someone I know with similar habits to my own went on his “grind”, which basically means sudden excercise and dietary change largely focused on removing carbohydrates from his intake. He worked hard on his “grind” for several weeks to achieve a substantial weight loss. He admits the unlikelihood he will be able to maintain his current weight, and he was miserable while working toward it.

So when we talk about personal responsibility with health care, how do these two edge cases fit?

There needs to be an intelligent, nuanced, and scientifically-based discussion on how best to address Western (especially American) health in the immediate, short, and long terms. The current approaches seem inadequate.

Photo by Joseph Gonzalez on Unsplash

How Much Sugar Would It Take To Get A Rocket To The Moon?


How many cups of sugar would it take to get to the moon? — Jacob P., age 4.5

I’m going to be upfront here: I chose this particular question because I thought it would be kind of fun to troll some rocket scientists. I figured that asking them this question would be like asking a bunch of engineers about the number of cats that would be required to build the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

So you can imagine my surprise when Mason Peck, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Cornell University, started cheerfully telling me about the sugar-based fuel used to launch homemade rockets. “There are lots of amateur rocketry people around the world that are interested in wacky propellants,” Peck told me. “Anything with some kind of hydrocarbon in it works pretty well. So obviously sugar would work. Pepperoni works, and it smells delicious by the way.” Yes, seriously.

I strongly recommend diving into this article. It is fun, informative, and humbling if you were not a 4.5 year old with such a great question. And I always enjoy a good Maggie Koerth-Baker drafted science article.

Photo by SpaceX on Unsplash

The Washington Post: NASA lost contact with a satellite 12 years ago. An amateur just found its signal.

NASA lost contact with a satellite 12 years ago. An amateur just found its signal.

NASA confirmed an incredible discovery Tuesday — that an amateur radio astronomer, on the hunt for a classified government satellite, stumbled upon signals from a spacecraft that had been thought lost 12 years earlier, raising hope that NASA can resurrect a mission that changed our understanding of the “invisible ocean” around the Earth.

How cool is this? I think I worked on PowerPoint presentations and sat in meetings on Tuesday. Peace & Love to my employer, coworkers, and customers but I would much rather have discovered a lost spacecraft.

“Too cool” is the correct answer to “how cool is this?”, by the way.