Saturday, December 27, 2014

i <heart> nfl: philip rivers

Many questions regarding which of your teams would be going to the playoffs were resolved last week. Except of course mine, whose Week 17 features both the Falcons and Ravens vying for the final two playoff spots. So in the mean time, congratulations to the Pats/Broncos/Colts/Stillers/Bagels in the AFC and Boys/Lions/Packers/Cards/Seahawks in the NFC. 

Aside from the battle for the remaining two wildcard spots, a few games will determine division champions and therefore seeding, which are probably just a big deal for fans/rivals of these teams. But one exciting end-of-the-season event for the casual fan is the much-vaunted coach firings! My bets: Jim Harbaugh, Rex Ryan (has already cleared out his office), Marc Trestman, Ken Whisenhunt, Gus Bradley, and Analytical Ron. Hit me with yours!

The Beastquake strikes Arizona!

Sun 1pm: There are still four AFC teams competing for the final wildcard spot. The San Diego Superchargers take it with a win over the KC Reidskins, who can also take it with a win concurrent with losses by both the Ravens and Houstons. KC might have a better chance if they would throw touchdown passes to their wide receivers. The Cleveland Browns will be driving under the influence against my beloved Ravens, who also need to pull out a W (coupled with a Chargers loss). But given the Ravens recent horribleness against backup, backup QBs, that feat is far from sure. I'm very sad that Sexy Rexy had Christmas plans. A more certain victory is the Texas Houstons' imminent defeat of the future London Jags, but they'll still need  losses by the Ravens and Chargers to reach the postseason.

4:25 on the dot (PJ Leahy's, LIC): While God clearly hates the NFC South, Panther's QB Cam Newton should get his Christmas wish of his favorite team reaching the playoffs with a win. Devon Hester is already loosening up the officials for a Dirty Birds victory. The Lions defense hopes to stomp on Aaron Rodgers and his Packers, as these teams compete for the NFC North title. And the Seahawks will finish as division champions assuming they can dispatch the future (and past!) LA Rams. 

SNF: While it is a primetime game, the matchup between the Bagels and Stillers only matters for seeding, so look for your team to receive an effective playoff BYE week against the Bagels.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

i <heart> nfl: joe montana

The games are full of implications this week! Only two games have no consequence for the playoffs (see if you can guess which ones!), so buckle in! In other news, LA is gonna have to wait until at least 2016 before some awful team(s) move(s) there. We've got another player released on rape allegations, conveniently after said team was eliminated from playoff contention. Sadly, you can't wear that Aaron Hernandez jersey you got for Christmas to his murder trial. And Congressional incompetence could cancel the Super Bowl! I suppose if this were ever to happen, this is probably the year for it.

Oh no you DON'T!

TNF: It's nice that Google has the poop emoji () technology necessary to describe this game. The Jags defeated the University of Tennessee by a score of whatever to who cares. (Hint: this is the first game that doesn't matter)

SatNF (Shannon Pot, LIC): Saturday Football... woohoo! Desean Jackson exacted revenge on his former team as the Skins probably knocked the Iggles out of playoff contention in last night's last-minute upset. Only December Tony Romo can save them now! Knowing that Jim Harbaugh hunts children for sport, QB and noted procreator Philip Rivers overcame a 21-point deficit to keep the Chargers' playoff hopes alive, in this Falcons-esque loss for the Niners.

Sun 1pm (PJ Leahy's, LIC): My Dirty Birds check into the Hotel Katrina in a must-win against the Nawlins Aints and the worst fans in football. The Carolina Panthers continue to excel at fan costumes with car-crash Cam Newton facing off against Johnny Fucking Football, expected to perform better this week due to his new playcalling flask. My beloved Ravens, led by QB James Franco, are entertained by the Texas Houstons and QB JJ Watt throwing to tight end JJ Watt, with defensive lineman JJ Watt on the other side of the ball. The D'town Lions didn't need to ruin their appetites by eating butthole when the Bills were going to throw them a pizza party. Having already punched their ticket to the playoffs, they travel to a decrepit Bears team whose coaches are being waterboarded and fans are cutting their wrists. Can Tom Brady headbutt his way to the first seed in the AFC with a victory over the J-E-T-S, whose fans look to be receiving their Christmas wish of firing GM Jim Izdik?

4pm-ish: Andrew Luck looks to compliment the nearly-clinching Cowboys to defeat against his Colts. And the StL Rams host the NYF Giants in the other game that doesn't matter this week.

SNF: This NFC West showdown features the Seattle Seahawks against the Zony Cards battling for first place in their division, which would be an enjoyable game if the Cards had a starting QB.

MNF: The Broncos could do me a solid by whaling on the Cincy Bagels like Wes Welker on a dog.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

stem surplus

With Obama's recent executive action on immigration, America's need for foreign workers in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) to assuage our apparent shortcoming is in the headlines again. Students in the US fair fare around average on international testing in the sciences, and the fear is that American economic competitiveness will stagnate while countries such as South Korea, Singapore, and Finland overtake us. Thus the conventional wisdom espoused by CEOs, editorial writers, and lobbyists is that we must import high-tech workers to make up for our alleged deficit. Now while I'm typically gung-ho for immigration in general, the fact is that there is no STEM shortage in the United States. 

This lack of shortage, which I'll call the STEM Surplus, is evident by analyzing the employment of high-tech workers, as described by the recent Bloomberg article and an excellent piece in the Atlantic from earlier in the year. Unemployment rates exceed 7% for the fields of engineering and computer science, in stark contrast to what they would be in an alleged shortage. Additionally, real wages for many science and engineering fields have remained flat for the past couple decades. Science and engineering fields are often dynamic and on the bleeding edge of economic competitiveness, so lobbyists for an influx of STEM workers are able to cite shortages in certain subdisciplines. However, the articles cite the example of petroleum engineering, which was declining two decades ago, have been facing a legitimate shortage due to the expansion of oil fields in the US and Canada (well maybe not for long, with West Texas Intermediate below $55/barrel). The result is that employers started paying more, and suddenly working at an oil rig in North Dakota became a lucrative job. Shortage adverted. The free market works!

The received wisdom of a high-tech worker shortage is propagated by those that benefit from lower wage workers. I'm looking at you, Mark Zuckerberg. A class action lawsuit by Silicon Valley engineers this year concerns the anti-poaching collusion between Google, Apple, Intel, and Adobe. Allegedly orchestrated by Steve Jobs, an agreement was in place between 2005 and 2009 to not recruit each other's employees, thus curbing wages. The tacit admission is that high-tech workers were not properly compensated given their skills. That, and that only half of bachelors recipients in STEM fields find STEM jobs, shows the impossibility of a shortage. 

Bringing the STEM surplus up the educational ladder, it is now typical for recent PhDs in the sciences to be employed in postdoctoral positions (hi!), temporary assignments known for their lower wages and lack of definite career path. And this competitiveness and lack of options may compel some postdocs to compromise research integrity to get ahead. A recent report on US postdocs found “junior scientists are primarily treated as cheap labor rather than as participants in a well-rounded training program.” Getting a job in research after receiving a Physics PhD is a tough, and I can attest that less than half of my friends from grad school continued in research, with most of the remainder finding other technical work (still very good!), and others even going on to ruin Wall Street. Physics seems to be one of those fields that still doing pretty well. Examples of those that aren't are the biomedical field detailed by Derek Lowe of In the Pipeline, and featured in Dan Rather's report PhDon't.

All that being said, if you really love the sciences or engineering, I would never discourage you from following your dreams. But knowing what is on the other side of that education is key to making the right decision. And those espousing falsehoods for their own economic benefit aren't helping. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

i <heart> nfl: brandon marshall

It's been awhile since we talked about the awful goings-on inside the NFL. This week we learn that the ass-clowns that work for that idiot NFL commissioner Roger Goodell are too cowardly to eat a slice of pizza before his majesty Lord Rog does. Is it any wonder that they try to solve their problems with domestic/child abuse by issuing complicated flowcharts. The league seems to think the Ray Rice/Adrian Peterson sagas were a result of their lack of power, but this seems to me a clear case of people being horrible at their jobs. Roger Goodell clearly lied about the Ray Rice tape and interview, and is hopefully soon replaced by someone competent. Elsewhere we have sweatshirt enthusiast and NE Pats coach Bill Bellchick colluding with the team doctor to defraud a player out of millions of dollars. And Adrian Peterson has nothing else to do while suspended, so he's expected to sue the NFL tomorrow, and may retire from football altogether. A good summary of the recent atrociousness can be found in this Deadspin article. What fun!

Now that I've gotten that off my chest, this week's slate of games is quite good! With three games to go for each team, no team has yet to clinch a playoff spot, the first time in 35 years. And a full two thirds of teams are still in the hunt, making every victory/loss that much essential for postseason hopes. Also look for coach firings to commence!

Oh no! Flopping has come to the NFL!

TNF: Yielding to the wishes of the Furgeson protestors, the Zony Cards and StL Rams scored only fieldgoals, in an awful throwback game to a time before the invention of the forward pass.

Sun 1pm (PJ Leahy's, LIC): The car wreck that is the NFC South transmogrified into an actual car wreck, as Carolina QB Cam Newton's truck flipped over four times, barely hurting the QB as he is apparently on God's fantasy team. He will remained sidelined due to pain however, as the Panthers face off against former employer of indentured servants, the TB Bucs. My division-leading (5-2^3) Dirty Birds host an inconsistent Stillers team that is likewise vying for a vision title. Noted midget Johnny Fucking Football makes his first start for the Browns, as he attempts to hug it out against division rival Cincy Bagels. The question of whether F-Bombs can hurt aquatic lifeforms will be answered as the NE Pats can secure the division and the firing of Miami coach Joe Philbin with a win over the Fins. And the JJ Watts host the Confederate States of America, as Texas must win out for the possibility of a playoff spot.

4pm-ish: Noted porn-lover and Seattle QB Russell Wilson takes on the newly hapless Santa Clara 110001ers, led by chump/bitch-ass QB Colin Kaepernick. All of the J-E-T-S are showing concussion symptoms, so they'll be grounded against no one. A contest between Manning-face and Laser-face will commence that could allow the Broncos to capture the division, so look for them to get shocked by the Chargers. And that's all the division-capturing that can happen today! 

SNF: The Double J and his 'Boys are hosted by the Philadelphia Iggles and QB impersonator Sanchize, as viewers patiently hold their collective breathe, look at the calendar, and wait for the inevitable Tony Romo collapse. Take care not to choke on your plate of nachos.

MNF: Although suffering from buyer's remorse, da Bears could do me a solid here by defeating the equally-hapless NO Aints.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

i <heart> nfl: andy dalton

I grew up in the ATL burbs listlessly watching Falcons games on Sunday. Moving to Baltimore after college, my friends instilled appreciation of The Game into me, and I became a fan of both the NFL and the Ravens. I started a bowling team in grad school consisting of fans of the Packers, Bears, Seahawks, Colts, Skins, and Cowboys. I hung out at a local Midwest bar that had Sunday ticket with an old Browns and Niners fan. And then I went and married an Eagles fan! Now we're a Falcons/Ravens/Packers/Bears/Seahawks/Colts/Skins/Cowboys/Browns/Niners/Eagles family, controlling 34% of NFL teams and earning tens of billions yearly in revenue. 

TNF: Jay Cutler doesn't care about how bad his team is beaten by the Cowboys.

This is what I think of your call!

Sun 1pm: In a concerted effort to protect their potentially high draft picks, fans of both New York NFL franchises recently took to the streets, shutting down bridges and tunnels as they demanded only fieldgoals from the J-E-T-S and Giants, especially given the strong draft-pick contenders they face in the Minnie Vikes and some other team, respectively. Houston FC's star footballer Arian Foster wishes the future London Jags a welcome Tally Ho! Much to the disappointment of Drake, Indy travels toHoyer Country to face the Browns, who are sitting on the fence of their first playoff appearance in, like, my lifetime. My beloved Ravens travel to the pastel lands of Miami, without star defensive end Haloti Ngata, who was suspended for focusing on the family. The StL Rams travel to the mess of FedEx field to face the Snyder Shitshows, a matchup of sadness you can see live for a cool three bucks.

4pm-ish (we're going out in LIC for this one!): The Bay Area matchup will be noted for how many hundreds of people get arrested in addition to the trolling of Niners QB Kaepernick, as those with expert knowledge prefer Oakland rookie Derek Carr. Also Jim Harbaugh will be freaking out on the opposite side of the field next time these teams meet. The matchup of the day features the pure offensive vs pure defensive as the Iggles host the Seahawks.

SNF: After losing to the Packers last week, the NE Pats are looking to throw their season away as theCurse of the Bieber befalls them, as travel to the Q to face the San Diego Superchargers.

MNF (Shi, LIC): My Dirty Birds will try not to be too embarrassed as they travel to Green Bay to battle the Pack.