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Should Unibras Be Banned at NBA Games?

Friday, April 24th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

 

Here’s something all Americans — regardless of race, creed, color, national origin, or political orientation —  should be able to agree on. This must not be allowed to become a trend at NBA games!

This guy was spotted at the New Orleans Pelicans-Golden State Warriors game Thursday night in all his glory in a sea full of red Pelicans t-shirts that were handed out to fans at the gate.

The ‘unibra’ (as it’s being called) is a nod to Pelicans player Anthony Davis, who trademarked phrases tied to his ‘famous’ unibrow when he was drafted in 2012.

If the NBA can ban smoking and guns in their venues, surely they can – they must — ban this public display of painted chest hair, right? For the children!

 

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Your Face Could Be Your Password

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 - by James Jay Carafano

The Day is Coming When Your Body Will be Your Mobile Device

By James Jay Carafano

Passwords are stupid security. Jimmy Kimmel proved it.

Corporate America is frustrated with how dumb we are.  They are busy looking for other ways for you to prove that you are you-before you start using their stuff.

The most unique identifier we have is us.

American Express is looking at facial recognition.  They are busy “trying to figure out how to capture and authenticate face images accurately and quickly on a mobile device, given that facial recognition has a potential to be more secure than usernames and passwords.”

PayPal wants to be even more intrusive—and gross. How about ingesting an authenticator and carrying it in your stomach?

As these systems proliferate they blur the line between us and our machines.  And what privacy do we have left when corporations take up space in our intestines?

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Win Big on FanDuel and DraftKings Tonight: Top Tournament Picks

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015 - by Max Steinberg

Today is a big day for tournaments on both DraftKings and FanDuel. The $200,000 FanDuel Monster is one of the biggest tournaments you’ll find this early in the year: it’s only $200 to enter, and will award $30,000 for 1st place.

And if you really want to go for it, DraftKings has the $200,000 Gold Glove, which is the biggest $1,000 entry tournament in the history of daily fantasy baseball. $40,000 will go to 1st place.

If the thought of risking $200 or $1,000 on baseball makes you a little queasy, both FanDuel and DraftKings have fantastic smaller buy-in tournaments as well, ranging from $2-$100 and awarding big money for 1st place.

Because today is such a big tournament day, my picks today will be focused more on predicting the underused plays and finding the good teams to stack. Keep that in mind while reading, and good luck!

(Stats via Fangraphs.com and Dailyfantasywinners.com)

Top Play

Carlos Gonzalez ($3,700 on FanDuel, $4,400 on DraftKings)

In Gonzalez’s last 10 games, he has not eclipsed 2 FanDuel points, has one extra base hit, and is batting under .200. But Gonzalez is by far my favorite play on both sites.

In baseball, there is a lot of variance in hitting, a fly ball out hit just a few extra feet can be a home run, and a line drive hit just slightly more to the right or left can become an extra base hit. Gonzalez clearly is experiencing that negative variance right now, his BABIP (batting average on balls hit in play) is only .205, down from a career number of .340, and this is a statistic that almost always normalizes through the course of the season. His HR/FB is also at 7.7%, down from a career number of 18.2%.

Furthermore, he’s displaying no warning signs to have us worried about a career decline. He’s still young (29 to be exact) and he’s making great contact (his SO% is actually down this year).

Gonzalez is a great hitter playing at home in Coors Field, and his price is simply way too low to pass up. He also has the benefit of a great matchup. Gonzalez loves hitting off-speed pitches and James Shields is a pitcher who throws a lot of change-ups and curveballs. And with Gonzalez in such a slump, he’ll likely be passed up by the masses, making him the perfect tournament play.

Contrarian FanDuel Stack

The Padres and Rockies are great teams to target tonight, both are playing at Coors in a game with an over/under of 10. But since most daily fantasy players will be targeting these guys, we want to find a team to stack who may be a little under the radar. That doesn’t mean totally ignore Rockies and Padres players in your tournament lineups. A few of those players should be peppered into every lineup, just that using 3-4 guys from the teams below could lead to a big payoff, especially if some of the bigger names struggle.

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Is a $1 Hot Dog at a Ballgame Better than Nothing?

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Ordinarily, being a curmudgeon and a cynic when it comes to humanity, I would say to the baseball fans in Kansas City who are whining about their $1 hot dogs being unappetizing and tasteless, “What the hell did you expect for a dollar”?

But take a look at the comparison between an every day hot dog at Royals Stadium and the $1 variety.

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The damn thing looks like it’s a holdover from last season.

Concession giant Aramark released a statement that claimed reassuringly that the hot dogs were safe to eat — as if that’s the issue everyone is up in arms about:

As the above tweet states, a company called Aramark manages concessions for the club. Aramark released a statement following the event, claiming their health inspector found no violations with the hot dogs.

“Customer satisfaction is of the utmost importance to us and we take all guest concerns seriously. During Friday night’s game, where we served 63,000 hot dogs, the Kansas City Health Department was onsite to inspect our buck night hot dog operations and found no violations. We are aware of the images posted to social media and are in the process of investigating and contacting those guests to get more information. As previously stated, we strive to ensure the food served at Kauffman Stadium is great tasting, of the highest quality and safe to eat.”

This is not the first time the Royals, and Aramark, have been involved in this type of situation. In November, a food safety manager for both the Royals and Chiefs told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” about the subpar food practices taking place in both stadiums.

The employee, Jon Costa, claims he reached out to Aramark a number of times before going public with the story. Costa was fired a few weeks ago, according to the KCTV5 report. 

Given the circumstances, and the fact that the club has been embroiled in similar controversy in the past, it’s tough to imagine much coming out of this. Aramark may investigate the situation, but it’s not as if the partnership between the company and the ball club will end.

Stadium food is so darned expensive because the cities take a cut as well. Aramark has concessions in all the major sports and at most stadiums in the US. They have little competition, although in recent years, some stadium management companies have brought in regional or local food operations to offer popular local favorites.

But the staples of ballpark eating — dog, beer, soda — are ridiculously expensive. An 8 oz beer goes for $6.50 at White Sox ballpark. A hot dog, $5.75. $3.95 for a small soda. Bring the wife, a couple of kids, and your wallet will be $50 lighter just from the food.

But does the ownership have a responsibility to serve good tasting food to the fans? You might say that if you pay a buck for a hot dog, you get what you pay for, but the problem is, a lot of other food served at regular prices is nearly inedible as well. “Soft” pretzels that will break your teeth, burned brats, stale buns — Aramark maximizes profits by making the absolute minimum effort necessary to deliver their products.

There’s not much value in a $1 hot dog that looks like it came out of the wrong end of the dog. But perhaps ballpark consumers have a right to expect more than what the Kansas City Royals and Aramark are giving them.

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3 Awesome, In-Your-Face Dunks by the Clippers’ Blake Griffin

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015 - by Rick Moran

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The NBA playoffs are upon us, which means game intensity is through the roof and players leave it all out on the floor.

Already there have been several scrums between rivals, denoting the physicality of the games, as well as the emotional back and forth that players experience. The Bulls-Bucks series took a quantum leap of fierceness when players lost their cool and a rugby scrum broke out on the floor.

With that kind of intensity on display, enter the Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin.

When Griffin entered the league in 2010 (an injury kept him out of the 2009 season when he was drafted by the Clippers) with a fine pedigree of being named college Player of the Year out of Oklahoma, he made an immediate impact — at least, that is, on ESPN. He quickly became known for his posterizing dunks, and his aerobatic highlights were a nightly staple on the sports network.

But Griffin needed a lot of work on the rest of his game. Since his rookie year, he has steadily improved his low post game and has developed a deadly mid-range jump shot.

But few in the league can dunk a ball in traffic with the kind of authority that Griffin throws it down with. Here are three awesome dunks in the third quarter of Game 1 vs. the San Antonio Spurs:

Just for fun, click to the next page to see the top 10 NBA dunks of all time according to House of Hoops.

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7 Most Lethal Killer Robots in Movie History

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015 - by James Jay Carafano

Hollywood loves wickedly lethal killer robots on the loose. The common fear of ‘killer robots’ is grounded in what we learned from the movies, not in the science behind autonomous weapons.  Here, to make the case, are seven of the more bodacious boogieman ‘bots of the Silver Screen.

 

7. The Golem (1915)

This silent film was hailed as the first science-fiction movie ever. (It predates Sharknado III by a full century!). Only fragments of the film still exist. Plot summary: antique dealer finds mythical ancient Golem and brings it back to life; Golem falls in love with dealer’s wife; Golem goes postal. Not much science in this fiction.  Heck, the dude is made of clay.

 

6.  The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

Robots became a staple of Hollywood science fiction. Most were mindless drones like the trash-can robots that battle “Crash” Corrigan in Undersea Kingdom (1936). But this classic sci-fi film offers a different take. Here, the eight-foot tall Gort has a mind of his own. He’s aboard an alien spacecraft that lands next to the Washington Monument. When an earthling speaks those mysterious words “Klaatu barada nikto,” Gort takes off on a rampage to recover the spaceship’s pilot. The filmmakers were mostly interested in presenting pacifist metaphors that chide Cold War hysteria. Their message: The only way to handle violence is to have no violence. Sure, get right on that. Warning: A 2008 remake of this movie is brain-numbingly terrible. Watch it at your own peril.

 

5. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

“I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.” Wow, that’s not what Dave wants to hear. Dave is floating through space and HAL, the robot brain that is piloting the ship bound for Jupiter, won’t let Dave back in. Hailed as one of the greatest science fiction films ever, the betrayal by a computer run amok struck a chord with audiences.  In the heyday of the hippie, at the height of the Vietnam War protest movement, the motto was trust no one over 30—and that goes for our robots too. Technology is the enemy.

 

4. Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970)

Before The Terminator had “Skynet,” there was Colossus—a super-computer running all US nuclear defenses. In this anti-tech movie, the humans turn on Colossus. The big brain then speed-dates the Soviet computer system, and they team up to rule over mankind for its own good. It’s a not-so-benevolent dictatorship. If humans don’t cooperate, the computer just threatens them with nuclear holocaust.  What could go wrong? The problem with the science here is that it’s strictly aspirational. Forty-five years after this film’s release, we still aren’t close to building true artificial intelligence.

 

3. Westworld (1973)

Think Disneyworld, only filled with robots. They look like humans, and you can do whatever you want to ‘em… and they don’t mind. Who wouldn’t want a pass to that park? It’s all fun and games until the protocol that keeps the robots from harming guests goes haywire. Then, most everybody dies.  Michael Crichton wrote the screenplay. He made a career out of writing about the moral implications of science gone wild. But his science is usually just short of being solid. In Jurassic Park (1993) scientists extract DNA from fossils to make their own dinosaurs (just ask the world’s expert on the subject, Jack Horner).  And Crichton’s killer robots were just as fantastical.

 

2. Hardware (1990)

This vastly under appreciated movie about a raging robot in a post-apocalyptic world is so worth watching.  Think the Golem with wires. The film is particularly noteworthy for the evil, bloodthirsty, peeping-Tom killer robot. Love the style and gore—but, like the Golem, there is not much science here either.

 

1. i, Robot (2004)

Not the best killer-robot movie ever. But in 2035, where robots do pretty much everything, a detective investigates the unimaginable: the murder of a human by an android. In the process, he discovers a robot revolution.  The future of humanity winds up in the hands of Will Smith (just as it did in the 2007 film I am Legend). The science is pretty non-existent, but the film is notable for popularizing writer Isaac Asimov’s law of robotics: “a robot may not harm humanity, or by inaction allow humanity to come to harm.”  Humans can’t make decisions with that kind of efficiency, and we sure can’t make robots with that capability. It’s Asimov’s laws that are dumb—not the idea of building safeguards to keep killer robots in line.

Hollywood’s killer robots are pure fantasy. Autonomous weapons are real. But the two should not be confused. Denouncing autonomous weapons, as Human Rights Watch does, is premature.

Soon the UN will debate whether or not to ban the ‘bots. But outlawing technology before it’s even built is a dumb idea. The question is: Will Turtle Bay be swayed by Hollywood horror plots or by the science?

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Stop the Clown Show, Mr. Trump

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015 - by Mark Ellis

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During the perilous days of the 2012 presidential campaign, as the Republican primary was gearing up, I published two op-eds focused on Donald Trump in the Portland Oregonian. The first, “Making the Case for the Donald,” was a breakdown as to why I thought Republicans should at least hear potential candidate Trump out. The second, “The Donald Trump Enemies List,” was all about the fallout from Trump’s stalled “candidacy.”

I was half-kidding with both submissions, and I thought that would be OK because my sense was that Trump was half-kidding too. That said, I thought The Donald had some good ideas, and I liked his delivery.

I took some heat in the comments sections, and I’m sure I would have been excoriated more if most people hadn’t figured that clicks and comments, even when they trash the writer, are actually a sign of success in internet writing. They didn’t want to give me the satisfaction of being excoriated.

After Trump got out, I remember sitting down in front of my television and realizing that the entire Trump candidacy was probably a public relations gambit aimed at drumming up buzz for the show I was preparing to watch, Celebrity Apprentice.

When the campaign moved on, I flip-flopped between Santorum and Gingrich, drearily aware of a gut feeling that it was all for naught. When the primary smoke cleared I bled all over my keyboard in support of Romney, and fell into a depression when he lost.

I understand now that my early infatuation with candidate Trump was actually a kind of pre-traumatic stress disorder. I’d seen four years of President Obama, and the idea of four more was freaking me out. I was flailing in the darkness.

Here we go again. Trump is out there, making familiar noises. But here’s what I would like to say to Mr. Trump, from the heart of a working-class conservative.

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Which Of These Astonishing Guitarists Outperforms the Other?

Monday, April 20th, 2015 - by Allston

Here’s the hugely talented Joe Bonamassa versus the equally skilled and versatile Warren Haynes, performing at the Guitar Center’s “King of the Blues” show.

“Guitar Duel”:

I am utterly on the fence on this one.  Bonamassa wins by a millimeter?

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The 6 Worst Oscar-Winning Best Pictures

Monday, April 20th, 2015 - by J. Christian Adams

Before the Academy Awards ceremonies, we see lots of lists — best movie ever, best movie by decade, and so on. But after Hollywood’s big night, the lists go dark. To brighten things up, here are the six absolutely worst, ever, Best Picture winners. I’ve seen them all, and though they might have been Best Picture on Oscar night, these are stinkers:

6. The Lost Weekend (1945)

Before The Lost Weekend, moviegoers hadn’t seen sloppy drunkenness on the big screen.  Billy Wilder’s binge more than made up for two decades of big-screen sobriety.  By the end of the movie, you’ll want to get on the wagon.  What carried such shock value in 1945 is a long, boozy bore.

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Want to Win Big Money Tonight on FanDuel and DraftKings?

Friday, April 17th, 2015 - by Max Steinberg

Daily Fantasy Baseball: Five Top Plays for DraftKings and FanDuel

We’re almost two weeks into the Fantasy MLB season. Hopefully, you’ve gotten your feet warm playing on DraftKings and FanDuel, because both sites have some great big buy-in contests running tonight.

On FanDuel, you have the $200 Playboy Baseball Championship qualifier. The winner of the qualifier gets a seat in a 70-player live fantasy baseball tournament held at the Playboy Mansion, and 1st prize is $100,000.

And (if this is any incentive at all) you’ll get to meet me! I qualified on Wednesday night and will be heading to the Mansion in early June.

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You. This guy. Playboy Mansion. C’mon.

On DraftKings, they’re hosting the $250,000 MEGA Perfect Game. This one is $300 to enter, but will award $50,000 for first place.

DraftKings has been very aggressive with their guarantees this year, and it’s likely this tournament doesn’t completely fill up. This means free added money to the prizepool, making this tournament very profitable. If you feel like taking a shot at higher stakes, tonight is the night.

Below are my five top plays for each site. Some of these players are only good plays on certain sites because of the salary differences, so keep that in mind when drafting your lineups. Good luck tonight!

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DraftKings Plays

Curtis Granderson (OF, $3,800) – Batting leadoff for the Mets, Granderson’s price is already too low regardless of the matchup. But he’s also at home and going against a reliever turned starter in David Phelps. Phelps has a projected 4.00 ERA as a reliever, it’s likely that he fares even worse as a starter.

Mike Trout (OF, $5,800)My projection system has Trout as the best fantasy player tonight, performing 2 fantasy points higher than any other player today. This isn’t surprising. He faces Astros pitcher Roberto Hernandez, a pitcher with a weak K/9 of only 5.5 and a projected walk rate of 3.5BB/9. The Angels are projected to score almost 5 runs and are going to a hitter’s park in Houston. The only thing that is missing in this puzzle is that Trout is facing a righty, but Trout could make up for it with stolen bases. Hernandez has a -8 rSB, he’s one of the worst pitchers at holding baserunners in the MLB.

Ryan Braun (OF, $4,200) – Braun has had a really rough start to the season. He hasn’t topped 8 fantasy points all year and has yet to hit a home run. But in fantasy baseball, we trust the projections rather than recent performance, and Braun is still projected to be close to a .850 OPS hitter by Steamer this year. Furthermore, Braun has a career OPS of 1.036 against left handed pitchers, and he’s going up against lefty Jeff Locke tonight. It’s tough to take a player who has been so cold this season, but his cold start also has its benefits. Braun is usually a $5,000+ player. At $4,200 he’s an absolute steal.

Yasmani Grandal (C, $3,400) – This is mostly a play based on price. Grandal is a switch hitter, but he hits better from his left side, and he’s facing a weak righty in Kyle Kendrick tonight. He’s also been having a great season so far batting 2nd in the order for the Dodgers. But mainly, I just like Grandal because of his value, $3,400 is simply much too low for a hitter of his caliber.

Neil Walker (2B/3B, $3,500) – I’m not sure why Walker’s price has dipped so low, but I’m certainly taking advantage of it. The Pirates face a poor righty in Jimmy Nelson at home and Walker should be in the middle of the order. His .780 projected OPS by Steamer is on par with many players in the mid $4,000 salary range.

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FanDuel Plays

Michael Bourn (OF, $2,700) – The list of positives for Bourn tonight is massive. He’s leading off for the Indians who are projected to score the most points out of any team tonight. He’s also going against Mike Pelfrey, who has a slightly high projected walk rate (3.38/9 innings) and a catcher in Kurt Suzuki who’s very poor against base stealers (-9 rSB). Bourn isn’t an elite base stealer, but should swipe 20 on the year, so this matchup is very helpful for him. Lastly, the Twins Park is poor for lefties because of a massive wall in right field. But Bourn is not a power hitter, so that wall has little effect on his production. Minnesota is actually a great singles and doubles park, which fits Bourn perfectly.

Freddie Freeman (1B, $3,500) – Going from Turner Field, a pitchers park, to the Rogers Centre, a big home run park, Freeman should benefit from the change of scenery on the road. Toronto pitcher Drew Hutchison also has big splits, with lefties hitting at an .880 OPS against him in his career. $3,500 is likely the lowest we’ll see Freeman’s price this season, so he’s an obvious pick with these other factors in his favor.

Mookie Betts (OF, $3,100) – Ubaldo Jimenez had a fantastic first start for the Orioles, but sportsbooks aren’t totally buying it; the Red Sox are projected to score almost 4.5 runs tonight. Even if Jimenez keeps the Red Sox bats under control, Betts doesn’t even need put the ball in play to be a force, Jimenez’s long delivery makes him terrible at holding baserunners (-8 rSB in his career) and Betts is a solid base stealer. The old Ubaldo is a pretty wild pitcher as well, so if he reverts back to old form, all Betts needs to do is draw one walk and with a stolen base, and he’d already have a 3 point night. Betts has the upside as well, he’s capable of stealing 2 or 3 bases in this game and has HR power.

Chris Carter (OF, $2,600) – Here’s a fun stat, Chris Carter hits about 50% fly balls when he puts it in play, and has a career 1.179 OPS on those fly balls. This makes sense, Carter is a huge power hitter so any fly ball hit in play has a chance of leaving the park. Going against the Angels Jered Weaver, Carter fly ball right should sky-rocket. Weaver’s fly ball rate of 70% one of the highest in the league, so it would shock me if Carter hits any grounders tonight. It will certainly be homerun or bust for Carter, but his chance of hitting one out should be quite high tonight, making Carter a great GPP play.

Clayton Kershaw (P, $11,800) – One thing you may have noticed to start the season is that #1 pitchers have not done so well. In two games this season, Kershaw has had 12 fantasy points and 6.33 fantasy points, which is not what we want from a $12,000 pitcher. But don’t be fooled by this trend. Kershaw is without a doubt the best pitcher tonight dollar for dollar, and I would not recommend going cheap on pitchers. Sportsbooks have Kershaw as a -265 favorite, and project the Rockies to score under 2.75 runs. That’s despite his weak start to the season. And don’t forget how Kershaw wrecked the Rockies last season. In mid-June, he threw a complete game no hitter with 15 strike outs, worth 28 fantasy points.

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This 5th Grade Singapore Math Problem Has Some Experts Stumped. Can You Solve It?

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

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This problem from the Singapore Math series was posted on Facebook by Singapore TV personality Kenneth Kong. He wrote, “This question causes a debate with my wife …. and its a P5 question.” The Singapore Math curriculum is used by the country of Singapore with enormous success (their students are usually ranked at or near the top in international rankings). P5 is roughly the equivalent of 5th grade math in the U.S., but this question is actually from the recent Singapore and Asian Schools Math Olympiad, which is given to the top 40% of students in the country.

So, are you smarter than a 5th grade Singapore Math Olympiad student? (You can find the answer here.)

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This Baby Looked in the Mirror and Discovered Something Fascinating About His Face

Friday, April 10th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

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Now … head to the nearest mirror and see if you can crack yourself up with your own eyebrows! It might be a welcome respite from all the negativity in the world today.

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Losing Bodyfat or Gaining Muscle Mass: Which is More Important?

Thursday, April 9th, 2015 - by Mark Rippetoe

Muscle mass comprises between 30 and 50 percent of your body’s total weight — the more the better. Composed of more than 650 muscles, it is the primary user of calories in the active human body, and the storage facility for most of the body’s protein. Muscles are the motors which move the skeleton — the system of levers we use to interact with our environment — and are therefore responsible for our physical relationship with our surroundings.

Fat, on the other hand, is where calories are stored, not used. Mostly, fat just lays there, using very few calories itself but hoping you’ll use the calories it stores as fuel for muscle contraction. In great quantities, the few hormones produced in adipose tissue may become metabolically significant, and in great quantities adipose tissue can become the host of significant amounts of inflammation.

But bodyfat itself is not the problem. The processes that allow for the accumulation of bodyfat are the problem.

Accumulating bodyfat means that there is an imbalance which must be addressed, usually by correcting the quality and quantity of the diet and physical activity schedule. On very rare occasions, there is a profound hormonal imbalance, too. However, morbidly obese people will almost always show you how they got that way if you accompany them to the grocery store. No matter what they tell you, these people eat lots and lots of very s***** food — lots of fat, sugar, and cheap alcohol.

They are a separate situation, and not the topic of this discussion.

We’re discussing you — either your slightly overweight, normal, or underweight self, of the age demographic that reads PJ Media — and your muscles. And for you, gaining muscle is more important than losing fat. Muscle is important metabolically, in a much more significant way. Muscle tissue does much more than just move you around — it keeps you alive, and the more you have, the more alive you get to stay.

Muscle tissue is the body’s most important regulator of blood sugar, and therefore of insulin. Muscle burns most of the carbohydrate calories you use during the day, and thereby controls both the release and subsequent fate of the insulin secreted by your pancreas. Type II diabetes is very strongly negatively associated with the health and size of your muscles, because the activity that makes muscles big and healthy is also the activity that uses and regulates sugar and insulin.

It is not an overstatement to say that the activity that keeps muscles big is also the activity that prevents type II diabetes.

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This is very important in a country with diabetes in almost 10% of the population. Diabetes is a very bad deal, because it shortens life expectancy by an average of 10 years and makes your shorter life more expensive and less fun.

Muscle tissue also performs several other important jobs besides moving you around. It modulates immune function by providing an active repository for immune system cell component proteins — very important for a long illness — and it serves as a receptor site for sex hormones, thereby regulating some of their functions as well.

But mainly, muscle tissue burns calories, by using energy when it generates the force of contraction, and the processes by which energy is used are processes the human body is designed to perform. When your muscles fail to perform these processes — in other words, when you sit squarely on your ass, failing to use your muscles — the machinery gets disassembled because there is no market for it, and maintenance is expensive.

And the less muscle mass you have, the harder it becomes to keep fat from being deposited. Muscles burn both fat and carbohydrate for fuel, and the bigger the fireplace, the more fuel the house can burn.

So the presence of this machinery is very important, but its loss is a normal part of aging, for several reasons. In his most excellent and very widely-read article for our website, Dr. Jonathon Sullivan explains the process in detail.

He also makes the point that the only practical way to slow or reverse these processes is to subject the body to the type of stress that makes muscles need to be bigger, and the thing that most people become less likely to do as they get older. If loss of muscle mass is a function of aging, maintaining that muscle mass requires that you do the things that would actually make it grow in a younger person — strength training and eating enough quality protein and calories to enable its growth.

So the question we started with — which is more important, the loss of body fat or the increase in muscle mass? — is easy to answer. But if this is so, why do the vast majority of people who start an exercise program do so with the expressed intention of “losing weight,” by which they really mean losing bodyfat?

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Yes, You Can Win at Daily Fantasy Sports Without Being a Fanatic

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015 - by Max Steinberg

Most of you have likely tried daily fantasy football on FanDuel. A few of you may have dabbled in daily fantasy basketball. You may have become aware that daily fantasy baseball on FanDuel has just begun, but shied away from the seeming complexity.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount of players to choose from, or to not even consider playing because of your lack of baseball knowledge.

But daily fantasy baseball is actually one of the most fun and profitable sports on FanDuel. The tournaments and prizepools are actually larger than basketball, and they will be even larger once the basketball season ends.

And it’s a much less stressful endeavor than basketball.

You know every team’s lineup well before the 4:00 p.m. lock, and there is rarely, if ever, a late scratch. You have plenty of time to create a lineup without an injury throwing a wrench in your plans and making you start from scratch. And even if you pick a player that doesn’t hit or gets injured, your lineup can still be very profitable as long as you pick a couple hitters who have great games.

But you might not be a baseball fan. Maybe you root for your favorite team but don’t follow any other teams. Maybe you don’t watch baseball at all.

But I honestly think none of that matters. Anyone can become a winner in daily fantasy baseball. Here’s why:

  • You never have to watch a baseball game to know what to do. In fact, I consciously avoid watching the games. Everything we need to know or learn about the players on the field will be in the meticulous stat recording that happens every game. We don’t need to see Mike Trout strike out three times against Felix Hernandez to know that Mike Trout had trouble against Felix Hernandez. And no one, aside from a professional scout, is going to learn anything from watching.
  • Baseball strategy is all statistical analysis. If you are good at math or at least have a sharp mind, all you need to know is what statistics to look at and how to interpret them. This sounds complicated, but it’s really not if you know where to look.
  • Online Sportsbooks have most of the information you need. Moneylines and over/unders tell you which teams to target for hitting, and what pitchers to use. And player props on Bovada.lv help you choose between two close hitters and see projected strikeouts for pitchers. Sportsbooks put a lot of money into making these lines as accurate as possible, so you should trust their accuracy.

Fantasy baseball also has more resources for strategy and analysis than football or basketball. Using just a few of these great resources, you can construct a great lineup in just 30 minutes. Here are my favorites:

1)    Rotogrinders.com Daily Lineups and Weather. This page has batting orders (as they are released throughout the day), run projections, and weather for every game, every day. You should be checking this page throughout the day as lineups come out and the weather changes. Rotogrinders also has great, easy to use tables that are very helpful for picking players.

2)    @KevinRothWx on Twitter. You know how meteorologists are notoriously inaccurate? This guy breaks that stereotype. Kevin Roth is a Dallas-based weatherman who analyzes weather for baseball games. He is rarely wrong in his analysis, and knows enough about baseball to give you advice on what kind of effect the weather will have on the games. He did not make one bad prediction last year.

3)    Fangraphs.com. This site contains “Steamer Projections” for every hitter and pitcher. Steamer is one of the most accurate projection formulas in the MLB, so instead of evaluating players on a game-to-game basis (which would be impossible), you can rely on Steamer to project player performance very accurately. Steamer’s OPS projections for hitters is a great way to know how good or bad a hitter is.

4)    The tools on DailyFantasyWinners.com. Most importantly, the rSB tools. rSB is a stat that evaluates how well a pitcher or catcher prevents stolen bases (SB). SBs are worth 2 points a piece on FanDuel, so targeting a pitcher/catcher battery that does poorly against SBs can provide a huge edge. We also provide 3 top hitting picks every day on the front page, so we take care of 1/3 of your lineup for you.

Before I get into a few picks, here are some things to note about daily fantasy baseball on FanDuel.

1)    Pitchers are more valuable than hitters. On FanDuel, the scoring system is skewed in such a way that pitchers have a significantly higher point per dollar on average than hitters. Because of this, you essentially want to ignore pricing for pitchers and just choose the best pitcher with the best matchup. An easy way to evaluate this is to just look for a team that’s the biggest favorite in a low over/under. Pick the pitcher on that team, and you’ll make the right pick the majority of the time without any further research. A lot of the time, the best pick is just the pitcher with the highest salary.

2)    Spot in the batting order matters a lot. The leadoff hitter, on average, has almost 1 full at bat more than the player who hits 9th in the order. A player who moves from 9th in the order to 1st has an approximate 25% increase in fantasy production.

3)    The throwing hand of the pitcher affects how well a hitter can hit. A left handed pitcher is usually going to dominate lefties, but struggle against righties. Try to only use players who are facing a pitcher with the opposite dominant hand.

4)    The atmospheric effects in the mountains make Coors Field (where the Colorado Rockies play) a very easy place to hit the ball hard. The over/under is always huge when teams play there, and fantasy production skyrockets for every player. Make sure to use as many players at Coors Field as possible on days where the Rockies play at home.

Now, onto the picks:

Pitcher

Jordan Zimmermann ($9,900) – Zimmermann is a small favorite going against the Mets young ace Jacob DeGrom, but he’s projected to hold the Mets to under 3 runs and is one of the best pitchers playing today. Steamer projects him with an ERA around 3, a 7.7 SO/9, and an absurdly low BB/9 of 1.69.

Hitters

David Peralta ($2,600) – Peralta should hit 4th in the Diamondbacks order, and is going against long-reliever turned starter righthander Chris Heston. The D-backs are projected to score over 4 runs, and Peralta, projected to have a .750 OPS by Steamer and a career .850 OPS hitter against righties, should have a quality game. A player like this, batting clean-up, should be priced in the low $3,000s.

Billy Hamilton ($3,700) – Hamilton is a base-stealing machine leading off for the Reds. He swiped 56 bases last year, and Steamer projects him to steal 65 this year. So when evaluating whether Hamilton is a good play, we mostly care about his base stealing matchup. He has a great one, facing a battery of Gerrit Cole (rSB -3) and catcher Francisco Cervelli (rSB -8). Cervelli is one of the worst defensive catchers in baseball, so Hamilton should have an easy time on the basepaths.

Michael Bourn ($2,700) – Bourn is not the elite base-stealer that Hamilton is, but he is projected to steal 18 bases this year by Steamer. He has a crazy matchup for swiping bases, Astros pitcher Scott Feldman has a -15 rSB, likely worst in the MLB. But what I also like about Bourn is he should hold his own as a hitter tonight, the Indians as a team are projected to score almost 4.5 runs and Bourn should be a big part of that batting lead-off.

Paul Goldschmidt ($4,700) – You may not know the name Paul Goldschmidt if you aren’t a baseball fan, but he’s one of the best young hitters in the game right now and bats 3rd for the Diamondbacks. Like Peralta, he benefits from playing against Chris Heston and although he is a right hander going against a right handed pitcher, it doesn’t matter for such an elite hitter like Goldschmidt. He’s the best high salary option tonight.

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If you have any more questions, feel free to tweet me @maxjsteinberg.

And note that if you’re playing on DraftKings, my picks and advice will not be very helpful. DraftKings has a vastly different scoring system and salary structure, and requires a completely different strategy. FanDuel strategy is simple, so if you’re new to baseball I recommend sticking to FanDuel for now.

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Does a Podcast Have to be About Sex to be Feminist?

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Salon’s resident feminist Jenny Kutner chronicled her top 7 feminist podcasts that are “way sexier than Serial“. A spin-off of This American LifeSerial is a non-fiction podcast that harkens back to the golden era of radio, sourcing material from old headlines to generate serial tales of true life criminal investigations. It’s as remarkable as any other product of the entertainment industry in that it’s managed to put a slight twist on a tried and true endeavor. But feminist? Not particularly. And neither are Kutner’s alternatives.

Sexy, yes. Six out of the seven essentially discuss only sex. The seventh, Crybabies, is a podcast hosted by two women who get weepy. A lot. As in “let’s listen to this Adele song and cry”. It’s strange that a contemporary feminist would cite a crying female podcast as a feminist totem given all that angry bra-burning for which they’re supposedly famous. Isn’t crying contradictory to their anti-biology trend?

In any case, why does a podcast have to be about sex in order to be considered feminist? Are buzz words like “frank and funny” or “deep and interesting” enough to justify discussions about orgasms, phone sex and drag queens as being feminist? What’s the alternative for women looking to embrace their empowerment outside the bedroom?

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Is It Time Women Start Apologizing for Being Feminists?

Friday, April 3rd, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

With her song “Sorry Babe, You’re a Feminist” comedian and songwriter Katie Goodman reacts to the onslaught of millennial celebrities who refuse to take on the title of “feminist” with reasons ranging from the practical (“like voting, like driving?”) to the politically stereotypical rants about online conservatives (perhaps she has yet to encounter Christina “Factual Feminist” Hoff Sommers via AEI?) and obnoxious commentary about math being “hard.”

Where’s her line about being sexually subservient like Queen Bey, going on a local Slut Walk, or falsely accusing a male college student of rape? What about the needs of women in the Islamic and third worlds? She mentions education, but never bothers to acknowledge the anti-feminist mentalities that lead to generations of women growing up ignorant, sexually mutilated, or forced into marriages or sex slavery.

After hearing her rhyming rant of a tune, would you want to call yourself a feminist, or is Goodman merely personifying the many reasons why women are turning away from the feminist movement today?

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Want to Win Big Money Tonight in Daily Fantasy?

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015 - by Max Steinberg

There are 13 games tonight in the NBA, which can be overwhelming to handle. So instead of my normal article with just picks and strategy, I decided to write about (almost) every game so you can get a feel for all the relevant picks of the night. I left out a couple games, like Bulls at Bucks, because they have almost no viable players from a fantasy perspective. Good luck tonight, and if you have any questions make sure to tweet me @maxjsteinberg.

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DET @ CHA

Probable: Reggie Jackson

Doubtful: Greg Monroe, Spencer Dinwiddie

Reggie Jackson played only 22 minutes yesterday, coming down with an illness mid-game, and he was unable to make it through. He’s listed as probable though, so it seems like he’s feeling better. Jackson has been on an absolute tear since Greg Monroe went out, averaging 50.8 fantasy points (DraftKings) per game in that stretch. His backup, Spencer Dinwiddie, is doubtful as well, which assures Jackson even bigger minutes in this game. His price has risen significantly on FanDuel and DraftKings, but not enough.

Kemba Walker is a great play for Charlotte, especially on DraftKings. He’s averaging 40 minutes per game in his last 3, he’s only $7,500, and Detroit is in the bottom 1/3 in offensive fantasy points allowed this season.

PHI @ WSH

Probable: Kris Humphries

Out: Jason Richardson

Washington draws one of the best matchups in the NBA, facing the 76ers at home. However, I see only two good plays for the Wizards. John Wall has been playing 44 mpg in his last 3 games, and has averaged 57 fantasy points a game in that span! His price on DraftKings is much too low at $8,800. Marcin Gortat has been seeing big minutes as well, averaging 34 in his last 3 games. He’s fairly priced on both sites and should benefit from the 76ers sloppy offense.

The only viable play I see on the 76ers is Nerlens Noel. His price has skyrocketed, and this isn’t the best matchup, but he’s still in play for tournaments. He’s capable of monster games.

BKN @ NYK

Questionable: Travis Wear

Two players on the Nets have been playing very well in their past 3 games: Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez. It seems that the Nets have started to run their offense through Lopez, and he’s been averaging 23 points and 9 boards in his last 10 games. Joe Johnson has seen a USG increase (up to 20% in his last 3) and a minutes increase (36 mpg in his last 3). The Knicks are a fantastic matchup for both, and I like their prices best on FanDuel, Johnson especially, who’s only $5,600.

I think every Knick is either overpriced or too much of a risk to play, but I wouldn’t mind taking a chance on Andrea Bargnani. His USG has been sky high recently with no scorers in the Knicks lineup, so he can put up points in a hurry. I worry about his minutes, though.

IND @ BOS

Questionable: C.J. Miles

The viability of players on Indiana comes down to whether Miles plays. If he doesn’t, C.J. Watson at only $4,400 on both sites is a great play. He played 28 minutes yesterday when Miles went down and had 35 fantasy points. George Hill should benefit as well, with his backup Watson playing some minutes at SG. If Miles does play, however, I don’t think anyone is very fairly priced on the Pacers.

On Boston’s side, I think Isaiah Thomas is a sneaky tournament play on DraftKings. His $5,800 price is cheap for a player who has eclipsed 40 fantasy points several times for the Celtics. But he’s a risk.

TOR @ MIN

Probable: Anthony Bennett

Doubtful: Ricky Rubio, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Martin

Out: Gary Neal, Gorgui Dieng, Kyle Lowry

Lots of injuries means lots of good plays. Let’s start with Toronto.

You can count on Demar Derozan getting minutes tonight. He’s averaged 40 mpg since Kyle Lowry went down and his USG has been 31% in his last 3 games. He’s priced high, at $8,000 on both sites, but not quite high enough. Grevis Vasquez has a great FanDuel price at only $4,000, and a fantastic matchup against Zach Lavine and the worst defense in the NBA. He’ll be overlooked tonight but I think he’s a lock for 20 fantasy points. Don’t forget about Lou Williams and Jonas Valanciunas as well, both have been better with Lowry out and this matchup against this decimated T-Wolves team is incredible.

On Minnesota, a lot comes down to whether Kevin Martin plays. If he doesn’t, Zach Lavine is solid. His 43 minutes per game and 25% USG are both big numbers for a player who’s priced under $6,000. Adrien Payne is also a nice play with Gorgui Dieng out, priced at only $4,000, but is only a tournament play. And if there’s any indication that Justin Hamilton could have a minutes boost, he’s also a fine play, but coming off an horrible migraine that caused him to miss 5 games, he’s been limited to about 25 minutes.

DAL @ OKC

Probable: Monta Ellis

Out: Nick Collison, Andre Roberson

Russell Westbrook’s price has come down slightly, he’s now $12,700 on both sites. This is a good matchup as well and should be a fast-paced game, but I just don’t see enough great min-salary plays to warrant playing Westbrook tonight. I’ll try to get him in some of my tournament lineups, though. My favorite play from this game is Enes Kanter, he hasn’t been on a great run lately because of some strange games and blowouts, but he’s still underpriced on FanDuel at only $7,000. This should be a close game.

For Dallas, I like (but don’t love) most of their starters. Monta Ellis, Chandler Parsons, and Tyson Chandler should all be good plays. The Thunder have been playing at a torrid pace in their last 10 games, the over-under for this one is 216.

SAC @ HOU

Probable: Terrence Jones, Jason Terry, Corey Brewer

Questionable: Demarcus Cousins, Dwight Howard

Out: Donatas Motiejunas, Rudy Gay

It looks like Terrence Jones will be back for this game, but coming back from a collapsed lung he’s useless from a fantasy perspective. I think James Harden, Trevor Ariza, and Josh Smith continue to see big minutes for the Rockets, and are all great plays, but they’re all priced a little high so don’t go overboard. Smith really disappointed 2 nights ago, but I still have faith in him especially if Dwight Howard sits this one out. His price on DraftKings is fair at $6,700 in this great matchup.

Rudy Gay is out for the Kings, and Demarcus Cousins is questionable. If Cousins sits this one out, the Kings will have a lot of great values. Gay and Cousins are USG hogs. I think Ray McCallum and Omri Casspi benefit most here and are must plays if Cousins is out (as long as Casspi starts). Jason Thompson should also certainly hit value at close to min salary on both sites, and one sleeper I like is Derrick Williams. He may come off the bench but is listed at SF on DraftKings and his USG was 33.6% in his previous game without Cousins. He’s min salary.

DEN @ UTA

Questionable: Darrell Arthur, Derrick Favors

Out: Rodney Hood

Utah is one of the slowest paced teams in the NBA, so I don’t love any Nuggets here. But I do love some Jazz players, particularly Rudy Gobert and Gordon Hayward. Their prices are high but this matchup with the Nuggets is one of the most favorable in the league. If Derrick Favors is out, Trevor Booker becomes a must-play. He’s averaged 14.5 points and 8 rebounds with Favors out and is under $4,500 on both FanDuel and DraftKings.

LAC @ POR

Out: Jamal Crawford

The Clippers are coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Warriors and are on a back-to-back, so they are 2.5 point underdogs to the Trailblazers here. Blake Griffin is coming off an awesome game, and it’s possible that confidence will help him in an important game. He’s underpriced on both sites. I’m worried Chris Paul may be tired having to handle Steph Curry last night, but his price on DraftKings is exceptional at $9,600 and the Trailblazers have struggled against PGs all year.

My favorite play on the Blazers is Nic Batum, he’s fairly priced on both sites and the Clippers are bottom 5 in fantasy points allowed to SFs. He should benefit from a fast-paced game.

NOP @ LAL

Questionable: Ryan Anderson, Carlos Boozer, Jeremy Lin

Ryan Anderson may be back tonight, but coming off a knee injury he should be very limited. And it’s hard to tell whether Boozer or Lin will play tonight, I think they’re both 50/50.

Anthony Davis has an incredibly favorable matchup here going against Ryan Kelly and an absolutely awful Lakers D. His $11,400 price tag on DraftKings puts him in close to must-play territory.

For the Lakers, Jordan Clarkson, Wes Johnson, Wayne Ellington, and Jabari Brown are great plays if Lin is out, but get infinitely worse if Lin plays. Clarkson has a great price on DraftKings especially at only $6,000. I also still like Jordan Hill if Boozer sits, his production has been amazing off the bench.

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Is Successful Feminism Capitalist Feminism?

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Dame Stephanie “Steve” Shirley, while a wife and a mother of a special needs child, pioneered an all-female staffed software company in England in the 1960s. Fascinated by technology, she also had a head for business. Possessing an interest in employing working mothers, her staff were able to work from home in a variety of capacities, including as coders and programmers. A self-made millionaire, Shirley turned many of her employees into millionaires as well by opening stock options to them at a time when that was a relatively unheard of benefit. 

Adopting the nickname “Steve” in order to get her foot in the door with male clients, she employed “extraordinary energy, self-belief and determination” in a pre-second wave feminist era. Shirley didn’t wait for bras to be burned or Gloria Steinem to appear in her bunny suit before taking charge. In fact, the UK’s Sex Discrimination Act of 1975, a direct result of the second wave feminist backlash, required that Shirley hire more men into what she was proud to make a nearly all-female company.

This pioneering businesswoman’s story flies in the face of second wave feminist tropes regarding female business owners, women in the workplace, equal pay and women in STEM. Which demands the question: If feminism seeks to be an empowering voice for women, what can it learn from the ideologies, like capitalism, that it chooses to berate or ignore?

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The X-Files Returns with New Episodes, Here Are the Top Five to Watch on Netflix to Prepare

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015 - by Liz Sheld

The buzz is out there over the six-episode return of the hit TV series The X-Files. In honor of the forthcoming tenth season of the show, it’s time for me to revisit my favorite five episodes of the series.  The reboot will be captained by series creator Chris Carter so any worries the show might get hijacked by a disloyal opportunist should be assuaged.  (ProTip: Chris Carter also created Millennium, staring Lance Henricksen. Go watch that.)

I have limited these episodes to the “freak of the week” episodes– those episodes that aren’t part of the grand arc of the show.  They are stand alone episodes for the most part and are easy to watch if you want to get into the series.

Here they are in nor particular order:

1. “Soft Light” episode twenty-three, season two

Most notable: Tony Shalhoub is the star of this episode and what’s better than Monk in an episode of The X-Files? Almost nothing.

The plot is great, Shalhoub plays physicist Chester Ray Banton. Due to an unfortunate accident his lab, Banton’s shadow acts as a black hole and vaporizes any one who it touches.  The episode ends with Banton locked up in a government facility where scientists are running tests on him.

2. “Home” episode two, season five

Most notable: The creepiest, most disturbing X-Files episode ever. Possibly the most disturbing thing that has ever been on TV.

We follow Mulder and Scully to Home, Pennsylvania where they are investigating the corpse of deformed baby found in a sandlot. We meet the three Peacock brothers (irony!) who are deformed siblings that never leave their house and breed with their quadruple amputee mother who lives under the bed.  Seriously.

3. “Duane Barry” episode five, season two

Most notable: The discovery of microscopic implants with bar codes in Duane Barry’s body.  Gillian Anderson’s pregnancy forced a two-part episode where Scully is abducted by aliens or not if you don’t believe.

Escaped mental patient and alien abductee Duane Barry takes hostages, his psychiatrist among them, and Mulder is brought in as a hostage negotiator. Barry is tricked into being shot and Mulder finds that Barry was telling the truth about his alien implants. The actor who plays Duane Barry, Steve Railsback, is terrific. Duane Barry talks about himself in the third person.

4. “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” episode four, season three

Most notable: Clyde Bruckman tells Scully how she is going to die. This episode won several Emmy Awards.

Clyde Bruckman is a psychic that can see the details surrounding the deaths of people and because of his talent, he becomes a suspect in a murder as he knows information surrounding the murder only the killer would know.  Although Scully is skeptical of his psychic abilities, the two become close and he tells Scully how she will die. I won’t spoil the ending, but I teared up.

5. “Millennium” fourth episode, seventh season

Most notable: Crossover with Millennium series, a sort of closure to the show since Millennium was cancelled. (Really, go watch Millennium)

Mulder and Scully are called into examine one of four FBI agent’s graves that have been exhumed. All four FBI agents had committed suicide and their graves were surrounded by goat’s blood after exhumation. If there’s weird occultism mixed with biblical prophecy, it obviously involves the FBI spin-off Millennium Group.   Assistant Director suggests Mulder and Scully talk to Frank Black (Henriksen) who was part of the now-defunct Millennium Group. Black is, where else, but in a mental hospital.

Those are five of my favorite The X-Files episodes, tell me what episodes are your favorites or why you disagree with me in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

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Want to Win Big Money Tonight? Read These Tips!

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015 - by Max Steinberg

Wednesdays in the NBA are usually big days for daily fantasy, and today is no exception. Tonight, FanDuel is running a rare $1,000,000 Slam. Entry is only $25, the prize pool is a cool million, and 1st place will receive $100,000. There are also 13 NBA games, which means there is a ridiculous amount of viable plays to choose from tonight.

It’s important to find only those very compelling plays that will shoot us to the top of the tournament leaderboard.

Before I get into my picks tonight, I want to talk about a stat called Usage Percentage (USG%). USG is an equation (you can find that exact equation here) that evaluates how often an individual player controls the ball for his team on offense. More simply, it shows how small or large his offensive role is on the team.

Most daily fantasy players look at matchup factors like ‘DvP’ (Team Fantasy Defense vs a specific position) to evaluate whether a player is a good play, but DvP is really only useful when the matchup is exceptional. The rest of the time, we’re lost. That’s why using other stats like USG can be so important.

In an article written just a few days ago, my brother Danny — a former bond trader and a statistical genius (objectively, of course) — analyzed some data from this NBA season in an effort to evaluate how much USG correlates to fantasy production. You can read the article here. Danny found that USG has a correlation of .867 to offensive fantasy points (points and assists), a ridiculously high correlation.

To put this into context, the correlation between how hot it is outside and how much you sweat is about the same. If we can guess decreases and increases in USG from game to game, we can safely predict increases or decreases in offensive production. And for guards especially, who score fantasy points with almost all offensive stats, we can predict their fantasy output very accurately.

So the question becomes: how do we predict USG increases?

Sometimes a coach decides he wants to run his offense through a player more often. Or a key injury to an offensive player turns a player who once had a secondary role in the offense into the #1 option.

There are many factors. But one easy way to do it is to look at the USG of individual players in their past few games and to compare it to their USG over a longer period. If a player has a higher USG in his past few games than he’s averaged this season, we can safely assume he’ll continue that trend and outperform his salary.

Over at my daily fantasy strategy site, DailyFantasyWinners.com, we have a tool that does this evaluation for you, and it updates every day. Just look for the USG Trends page under the tools tab.

With all this said, making a great lineup is all about weighing all the relevant data, so along with USG, we will also factor in player price, matchup, and minutes.

The picks below are for both DraftKings and FanDuel.

Under the Radar Picks

Trey Burke should be the #1 option for the Jazz tonight

Trey Burke ($5,100 on FanDuel, $4,900 on DraftKings) –

With Gordon Hayward and Rodney Hood doubtful to play against the Blazers, the Jazz have very few offensive options on their team aside from Derrick Favors. Even though he doesn’t start, Trey Burke’s USG has been a sky high 31.5% over his past 3 games, and it should increase even more playing without Gordon Hayward. Hayward was out for the Jazz’s last game vs the Minnesota Timberwolves, and despite only shooting 18.2% from the field, Burke had 16 points and 6 assists in 38 minutes — plenty of production for his low salary.

He also has the benefit of playing at home against a Portland team that is the 6th worst team against PGs this season. Burke has a lot going for him tonight, and at the same price-point as Zach LaVine, he should be significantly underused.

FanDuel Value

C.J. Miles ($4,300) — Rodney Stuckey has been ruled out, which means the Pacers don’t really have a backup SG. Miles’ minutes should increase significantly and he should have a small bump in USG with such a prolific scorer in Stuckey on the bench. His price is also $300 lower on Fanduel than it is on DraftKings, making him already a great value at SF.

A couple of others to watch are C.J. Watson and Luis Scola, who will be the #1 options in the 2nd unit. If Roy Hibbert gets into foul trouble, Scola could see big minutes, and C.J. Watson could see some time about SG toward the end of the game.

Must Play

Enes Kanter has been an exceptional scorer for the Thunder

Enes Kanter ($6,900 on FanDuel, $7,200 on DraftKings) – Kanter is getting comfortable in Oklahoma City’s offense, and he’s starting to thrive. His USG is up to 30.2% in his last 3 games from 22.7% in his past 15, and his rebounding numbers have been fantastic.

The Thunder are thin at PF and C with Nick Collison and Serge Ibaka out, which means Kanter will have to play big minutes in a big game, jockeying for playoff seeding against the Spurs. His price simply hasn’t caught up to his production, either — his price certainly should be in the low $8,000s.

And don’t fear the Spurs’ defense, they have actually been in the bottom half in Fantasy points allowed to centers.

Safe Play

Demar DeRozan ($7,600 on Fanduel, $7,700 on DraftKings) – With Kyle Lowry now out indefinitely, the Raptors need DeRozan’s offense more than ever. Grevis Vasquez is a solid backup, but DeRozan’s role and USG should increase in Toronto’s first unit that lacks offensive firepower. But what I like most about DeRozan is his consistency — he’s averaged 37 minutes a game over the last five games and rarely has a bad performance, and he has the upside to score 30+ points on any given night.

DraftKings Sleeper

Chris Andersen ($3,000) – Chris Andersen should assume the starting role with Hassan Whiteside doubtful, and he draws a great matchup against the Celtics who struggle against Centers and are 5th worst in Defensive Fantasy Points allowed per game. At the minimum salary, he can free up salary to play a big name like Anthony Davis.

But watch for Andersen’s injury status, he’s questionable with a calf contusion.

If you have any questions or comments, shoot me a tweet @maxjsteinberg. Good luck tonight!

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VIDEO: Would You Enroll in Preschool for Adults?

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

The Wall Street Journal is covering the latest trend in rejuveniling among the Millennial set: preschool for adults, where “play is serious business.” Six adults pay anywhere from $300 to $1000 to crowd into a Brooklyn duplex on Tuesday nights from 7 – 10 p.m. and participate in everything from nap time to envisioning themselves as superheroes.

Student Amanda Devereux detailed her reasons for enrolling in the Pre-K at Cosmo:

The self-help and goal-setting aspects were new, but welcome. I can use all the help I can get in making it to the gym, even if it means creating a superhero to get me there. I’m looking forward to seeing whether the preschool experience changes me over the next month, and I’m excited to see where Miss Joni and Miss CanCan take us on our class field trip. Mostly though, I’m excited about the snacks.

Is this latest trend in seeking eternal youth another glorified self-help program, or a sign that our traditional cultural institutions aren’t filled with hope and change? Is there a solution to be found in regressive creativity, or is this just another attempt at blissful ignorance? If you enrolled in preschool today, what would you learn?

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Ballplayer’s Harrowing Escape From Cuba

Monday, March 23rd, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox has to pinch himself almost every day just to make sure he isn’t dreaming. Less than two years ago, his home was Cuba where life was much different. He rode to the games in a horse drawn buggy because even with his elevated status as a player for the national team, he couldn’t afford a car.

He grew up in a small wooden house — three generations of Abreus crowded together. There was never enough to eat. His father worked 12 hour days as a construction worker. But it was not a miserable existence, as young Jose thrived within the bosom of his family.

His love for baseball was matched only by his eye-popping talent. And by the time he reached adulthood, he was tearing up the Cuban professional league and performing wondrous feats in international competitions.

It was his belief that he could make it in the Major Leagues that eventually drove him to gather most of his family together and set off in a small boat for freedom.

He doesn’t talk about the journey much. But he opened up a little to Chicago Magazine in an excellent profile:

They left in the middle of the night, entrusting their fate to a tiny boat, its two motors, and the ink-black sea. For 12 hours, they pressed on. Through darkness, then dawn, then scorching daylight. Through 15-foot waves. And through the paths of trawlers and other ships that could cut their own 20-foot vessel in two.

Six of them huddled close atop a roiling ocean under an angry sky. But it was the hulking man in the middle who held them all together. Jose Abreu led his family—his fiancée, Yusmary; his parents; his sister and her husband—in prayers as the boat bucked and kicked beneath them. “It was dangerous,” he says. “The waves were high, but the Lord was at our side. God gave us the chance to reach our destination.”

It was the most important night of Abreu’s life, but one he has never talked about publicly before. That journey in August 2013 took him from his native Cuba to Haiti and, ultimately, to Chicago and big-league baseball. After signing with the White Sox, Abreu took the majors by storm in 2014, slamming 36 home runs, hitting .317, and posting a major-league-leading .581 slugging percentage—one of the best inaugural seasons ever. He was the runaway winner of the American League Rookie of the Year Award and a contender for Most Valuable Player. Even the men who bought the defecting player’s services for a team-record $68 million were surprised. “We thought he’d do well,” says White Sox executive vice president Kenny Williams. “But I’d be lying to you if I said I thought he’d end up having the year he had.”

And what a year it was. He defied the expectations of critics, while endearing himself to White Sox fans. They said his bat was too slow, that he had a bad swing, that he wasn’t good enough to play in the field. His gaudy numbers proved them wrong.

But according to Adrian Nieto, Abreu’s closest friend and teammate, all of that was in doubt during the trip across the Atlantic  to Haiti. There were several moments where Abreu feared for his life:

“Jose was scared for his life in that little boat,” says Sox backup catcher Adrian Nieto, a fellow Cuban immigrant and Abreu’s best buddy on the team. “Everybody was freaking out. At times, he was doubting himself. He had to pump himself up, saying, ‘Let’s go. You got to be the one to take charge here and be mentally strong to get everyone through this.’ He told me many times: ‘If it’s everybody’s life or mine, I’m going to make sure my parents and my sister live before I do.’ Which is crazy for someone to tell you, that they’d put someone else in front of themselves. But that’s how he is.”

Now that the rest of his family has joined him in America, Abreu is setting expectations for his on field performance even higher. But that’s what the great ones do. They expect a lot from themselves and demand it from others. Abreu is a winner, and the White Sox are hoping that attitude rubs off on the rest of the team.

He certainly proved himself in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean when the elements threatened tragedy. After that, hitting a curve ball must seem pretty easy.

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March Madness: The Rich Get Richer

Monday, March 23rd, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Almost all of the Sweet Sixteen teams that will square off for the chance to make the Final Four in the NCAA basketball tourney later this week are programs from major conferences — many of them legendary teams with legendary coaches.

But there are a couple of surprises. Eight seed North Carolina State bumped off top seed Villanova in the East Region. The Wildcats were the only number one seed to fall last weekend. Seventh seeded Wichita State handled #2 Kansas, #6 Xavier ended #14 Georgia State’s dreams and #7 Michigan State shocked #2 Virginia. The Spartans, coached by Tom Izzo, have made the Sweet Sixteen 13 times in the last 20 years.

The lowest seeded team left in the tournament is #11 UCLA. Given the excellence of their program over the years, this isn’t as surprising as it should be. The Bruins had several bad losses this season — including an embarrassing 83-44 shellacking by #1 Kentucky. But UCLA got lucky when #14 UAB upset #3 Iowa State in the opening round and the Bruins eked out a one point win over #6 SMU. The UAB-UCLA game was no contest and the Bruins find themselves in the top 16.

Gonzaga from the West Coast Conference and Wichita State from the Missouri Valley Conference are the only Mid-Major teams to make it through. Atlantic Coast Conference teams went 11-1 with 5 of their 6 entries remaining. The Pac-12 has three teams left, and no other conference has more than two.

What this points to is that the programs that spend the most, have the best facilities, and possess the history that attracts blue chip recruits will continue to thrive at the highest level while the rest fight over scraps.

ESPN:

The names involved read like a who’s who of the past decade — or the past several — in college basketball. Kentucky. Duke. North Carolina. Michigan State. Louisville. Arizona. Wisconsin. Gonzaga. UCLA.

The coaches are a pack of Hall of Famers: Mike Krzyzewski, he of the 1,000-plus wins. Roy Williams, now tied with Dean Smith for all-time tournament wins. Rick Pitino, unparallelled defensive genius. Bo Ryan, synonymous with death and taxes.

Mark Few, who never misses a tournament. Lon Kruger, the only man to take four different programs this deep in the tournament. Sean Miller, the best coach yet to reach the Final Four. Bob Huggins, avatar for windbreaker-clad realism.

Izzo, who is Izzo.

And then there is John Calipari. Kentucky’s coach is not only a messaging savant whose unprecedented salesmanship has netted him an unfathomable wealth of talent, but also a deft molder of parts into wholes. In five full seasons at Kentucky, Calipari has not only sent several full NBA rosters worth of talent to the next level; he has also netted three Final Fours, two national title appearances and one national title. His current team is 36-0 and chasing history. And everyone else is chasing them.

The oddsmakers are still picking Kentucky as the overwhelming favorite to come out of the East Region, and Gonzaga is a heavy favorite to come out of the South Region. Otherwise, it’s even money between Oklahoma and Louisville in the East and Arizona and Wisconsin in the West.

If there’s one game you won’t want to miss, it’s #1 Wisconsin vs. #4 North Carolina on Thursday. Wisconsin, the power team while UNC is long and tall with excellent athletes. The contrasting styles should make for a hugely entertaining game.

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Why Israel Is Ground Zero In the War Between Good and Evil

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

We Jews squabble enough when it comes to religion, but when it comes to Israel the gloves are off. Nothing is a greater testament to this than the vehement rhetoric coming from the Jewish Left in the wake of Netanyahu and the Right’s landslide victory in this past week’s elections in Israel. Whether it was Peter Beinart calling on the Obama Administration to “punish – yes, punish – the Israeli government” the virulent musings of Max Blumenthal, the anti-Israel Jewish Left came out in full condemnation, not just of Netanyahu, but of Israel at large.

The Forward jumped on the “Bibi is racist” bandwagon, reprinting Jeffrey Goldberg’s Tweet-condemnation of the slanderous tale embraced by Obama and his minions. If you are Jewish and have friends on the Left, I guarantee it didn’t take you longer than 10 minutes after Bibi claimed victory to get at least one Facebook post or Tweet claiming “he stole the election like Bush.” My PJ colleague Ron Radosh wisely diagnosed both the Obama Administration and the mainstream media as having Bibi Derangement Syndrome (BDS). And unfortunately, we Jews are not immune.

This BDS, with all its sound and fury, has not brought the diaspora one ounce closer to understanding or relating to their Israeli counterparts. In fact, with the Obama Administration trumpeting the effort to turn Israel into another Ferguson, the dual loyalty accusations will be held over Jewish American heads, both Left and Right, now more than ever. But we Jews don’t see that. All we see is Obama versus Bibi, Left versus Right, “hope and change” versus “despair” and whatever other hot air blown into an otherwise lifeless, meaningless campaign. From the comforts of a “two legs good, four legs better” America we don’t have to force ourselves to look behind V15′s green curtain, let alone consider that Israeli Jews may have very good reasons for having opinions that differ from our own.

When I had the wonderful opportunity to march in New York City’s Israel Day Parade a few years back, I did so under the banner of an openly progressive Labor Zionist summer camp. My husband, a third generation member, had worked his way up from camper, to counselor, to business manager. Now as an alum he was excited to show me, his then-girlfriend, what he loved about his summers and give me the chance to revel in my Zionist pride. He’d worked the camp too long not to see past the politics, but had too many fond memories to be jaded by a lack of logic. In the end we were there to celebrate Israel, celebrate our freedom, and have fun with friends.

Or so I thought, until more than one angry parade-goer spat at me. “You are evil! You anti-Zionist pig! You’re killing us! You Leftists are killing Israel!” How were a group of teens and twenty-somethings, most of whom had been to Israel, many of whom were either pursuing or had obtained citizenship, and some of whom had or were serving in the IDF possibly killing Israel? These kids weren’t doing anything more than holding a contrary political opinion, yet that was enough to accuse them of being murderers. “Wait a minute,” I thought, “isn’t that what the Left is always accusing us of doing?”

I smiled at the crowd and wished them love through their gritted teeth and rage. Only two days earlier I’d been called a “conservative pig” by another camp alum who would later growl at me repeatedly, “You need to change your politics.” I came wanting to celebrate Israel. I wound up embroiled in a hot, angry mess.

Israel awakens our passions as Jews because Israel is a reminder of our responsibilities to God and to one another. If Israel fails, Holocaust awaits. No one but a Jew could understand the weight of that burden. Yet, instead of recognizing that we, Left and Right, are motivated by these same concerns and fears we allow the real haters of Israel to craft our opinions about one another. Suddenly everyone is an Obama, a Beinart, a Blumenthal. Anger morphs into rage and crafts summer camp teens into the next generation of hardened, bigoted, miserable adults, some of whom will then be motivated to become the next Beinart or Blumenthal in our midst.

King David writes in the Psalms, “be angry, but do not sin. Meditate in your heart upon your bed and be still.”

We’ve never lost Israel to an outside force before first disparaging each other to the point of destruction. I walked away from that parade choosing to shed my ideas of Left and Right and see the political battle for what it truly is: A fight between good and evil. My job, then, is to focus on what God commands me to do: act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with Him without fear. I’m here to help sustain a great nation, not destroy it. It is time my fellow Zionists, Left and Right, see past the propaganda and agree to do the same.

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