Football: A Modest Proposal

It's World Cup time, so it's time for the next edition of CIP's ideas for fixing soccer.  (Actually the games I've seen have been very exciting).

1)Keep the damn time on the scoreboard clock.  I mean really.

2)Replace the ridiculous penalty shot shootouts with a seven on seven overtime.

3)Get rid of penalty shots altogether.  Replace with hockey style time in the penalty box.

4)Experiment with replacing the throw in with a kick in.  (Pele's suggestion).

5)Replace the stupid group and knockout system with a seven round Swiss System tournament. This could eliminate the need to play off ties.  Each team plays seven games and winner has highest score after seven rounds.

Not Enough Guns

The Golden State Warriors started the playoffs with three of the greatest shooters in the game.  This tended to obscure the fact that they didn't really have any others who could consistently hit the open three.  Once their number one scorer went down they struggled but battled their way into the finals, with Klay and Steph consistently doubled.  Even when Klay went down, they were in the game until the final seconds.

Toronto had at least seven guys who could shoot, and six who were hitting threes.  In the end, they had more strength in numbers.

Next year looks tough for the Warriors, even if both Klay and KD sign up for more.  Both are likely to miss much or all of next season.

They badly need a quality shooting guard or two and a stretch 4 who can hit the corner 3.  A center who could put up big numbers would also be nice.

Dynasties tend to be brief in today's NBA.  Free agency, the salary cap, and the wear and tear of 100 plus games combine to bring down the mighty.

Edward O. Wilson

I recently wrote a review of Wilson's latest book, Genesis, here.  Wired has a new interview with Wilson, which discusses his life and work, and Genesis in particular.

The centerpiece of Genesis is Wilson's theory of group selection.  In the interview, Wilson makes a point of the validation of his model using mathematical modelling.

The interview is highly recommended.

Book Review: She Has Her Mother's Laugh

by Carl Zimmer.

Lee recommended this book to me, and it is really excellent.  It took me a while to read it, since I was busy with other things, and because I like to take time digest what I've read.  I have taken three graduate/undergraduate courses in evolution and human genomics in the last couple of years, but I was very gratified that Zimmer still had a lot to teach me.

It's aimed at a popular audience, but it is wide ranging and admirably documented with hundreds of endnotes.  Zimmer is a talented writer, and he knows how to tell a story and how to explain the sometimes complex workings of heredity.  He does an admirable job of explaining both the history and the latest (up to 2015) developments in this rapidly developing field.

If you take a biology or evolution course you will get a kind of cartoon version of Mendel's and Darwin's work and thought.  The reality is considerably more nuanced, and Zimmer will explain it, as well as the many steps that led to the m…

Your Genome is a Mess

Your genome, and mine, are cluttered with trash.  Some of it is mostly just useless, only occasionally becoming dangerous, like the one million plus Alu units in your genome.  These Alu units each consist of about 300 base pairs each, interspersed at random places in the genome, and have no known function except propagating themselves - classic junk DNA.  Every time a cell divides, your body wastes a lot of energy duplicating these 300 million base pairs.

Each of us also is likely to be packing around a number of dangerous recessive alleles - gene copies which don't do much damage unless you inherit a copy from each parent.  These are a good reason to avoid excessive inbreeding.  Overly inbred populations like Ashkenazi Jews, many Arabs, and some Indian Jati have a heavy load of genetic disease in consequence.

Gene copying in humans is a rather precise process, with only about one mutation in ten billion base pair copies, but with 3 billion base pairs to be copied in every cell di…

Fixing The Court

Republicans have made a multi-decade project of peopling the federal courts with anti-abortion and pro-business ideologues.  Mayor Pete has an idea for fixing this - he wants the Supreme Court to have 5 Republican and 5 Democratic party appointees plus 5 supposedly non-partisan justices appointed for one year terms by the other ten.

This is a pretty terrible idea, based on the number of problems I can see in ten minutes contemplation.  What if, say, the Republican Party is burned to the ground as justice and common sense dictate, and is replaced, say by two parties?  How much of their time will the ten spend wrangling over what other five to appoint?  Will they need to hire and supervise investigative staffs.  This would also be a pretty major wound to the Constitution.

I have a proposal which, IMHO, is both better and simpler.  Require all judges to be confirmed by a supermajority of the Senate, say 2/3 or maybe 3/5.  This should ensure that no extremists get appointed, or at least t…

Emerson wrote...

"...When you strike at a king, make sure you use a milkshake."

OK, I'm pretty sure that is not what he really said, since milkshakes probably hadn't been invented yet.  This latest fad in political pseudo violence strikes me as a pretty bad idea, even it was mildly amusing the first time it happened.

It can be a cheap laugh at already ridiculous figures, but mainly it just makes their supporters mad - and they are already mad enough to be very dangerous.  Calmly pointing out that their ideas are bad is less satisfying, but who knows, it might even work sometimes.