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The NFL season begins anew

Image credit: Flickr user Craig Hawkins

1.4 percent–the read-option overreaction

How widespread was the use of the read-option last year? Not very. It was on used on 1.4 percent of plays. According to Mike Sando of ESPN Insider:

The zone-read plays taking the league by storm did not happen 98.6 percent of the time. Counting playoffs, the 49ers had more penalties for offensive holding (26) than Kaepernick had rushing attempts on zone-read plays (21). League-wide, these play accounted for 1.7 percent of yards and 1.8 percent of touchdowns, counting playoffs.

Speaking of up tempo offenses…

What will be one of the biggest challenges for Chip Kelly’s high-tempo offense? Fake injuries. Former Bears tight end Martellus Bennett claims that every team fakes injuries. But thank goodness the injury faking isn’t to the level of injury faking in soccer.

Betting Line and Fantasy

Michael Beller writes:

One of the most interesting lines this week is fittingly on one of the most interesting games. At press time, the Cowboys are 3.5-point favorites over the Giants. The line opened at Dallas -3, and ticked up a half point in the last 10 days. In and of itself, that isn’t the least bit interesting. What is interesting, however, is that approximately 55 percent of the betting public is on the Giants, meaning the line is moving against the money.

What does this mean? Vegas is betting against the Giants and trying to get more money to come in on the Giants.

J-E-T-S! Pain! Pain! Pain!

Eighteen months in NFL hell in Sean Fennessey.


Week 1 Previews:

Bet the Farm! 

Random Stat:

According to, “In 2012, eight of the 12 teams that reached the playoffs won their season openers: Falcons, Ravens, Broncos, Texans, Vikings, Patriots, 49ers and Redskins. The 47 Super Bowl winners have gone 38-8-1 in season openers.”

Random fact of the day: Kibosh edition

I thought this was pretty interesting from Merriam-Webster:

For a century "kibosh" has taxed the ingenuity of etymologists. It was prominent enough in lower-class London speech to attract the attention of Charles Dickens, who used it in 1836 in an early sketch, but little else is certain. Claims were once made that it was Yiddish, despite the absence of a plausible Yiddish source. Another hypothesis points to Irish "caidhp bhais," literally, "coif (or cap) of death," explained as headgear a judge put on when pronouncing a death sentence, or as a covering pulled over the face of a corpse when a coffin was closed. But evidence for any metaphorical use of this phrase in Irish is lacking, and "kibosh" is not recorded in English as spoken in Ireland until decades after Dickens’ use.

What is the “worst industrial catastrophe in the history of mankind?”

“Fukushima is the biggest industrial catastrophe in the history of mankind,” says Arnold Gundersen, a former nuclear industry senior vice president. Call me crazy, but I just don’t see how you can make that claim. 

  • How many people died a Fukushima? 2
  • How many people died at Chernobyl? 64 (so far, but the death toll could reach 4,000 according to the World Health Organization).
  • How many people died near the Union Carbine plant in Bhopal India? According to Wikipedia:

The official immediate death toll was 2,259 and the government of Madhya Pradesh has confirmed a total of 3,787 deaths related to the gas release. Others estimate 3,000 died within weeks and another 8,000 have since died from gas-related diseases. A government affidavit in 2006 stated the leak caused 558,125 injuries including 38,478 temporary partial and approximately 3,900 severely and permanently disabling injuries.

It’s too early to know the long term effects of the disaster at Fukushima, but it doesn’t seem possible that it will be worse than Chernobyl and it surely isn’t worse than the disaster in Bhopal.

So how exactly is Fukushima the “worst industrial catastrophe in the history of mankind? 

The Parable of the Horse Manure

Elizabeth Kolbert explain in The New Yorker how New York overcame its horse manure problem in the late 1800s:

In the eighteen-sixties, the quickest, or at least the most popular, way to get around New York was in a horse-drawn streetcar. The horsecars, which operated on iron rails, offered a smoother ride than the horse-drawn omnibuses they replaced. (The Herald described the experience of travelling by omnibus as a form of “modern martyrdom.”) New Yorkers made some thirty-five million horsecar trips a year at the start of the decade. By 1870, that figure had tripled.

The standard horsecar, which seated twenty, was drawn by a pair of roans and ran sixteen hours a day. Each horse could work only a four-hour shift, so operating a single car required at least eight animals. Additional horses were needed if the route ran up a grade, or if the weather was hot. Horses were also employed to transport goods; as the amount of freight arriving at the city’s railroad terminals increased, so, too, did the number of horses needed to distribute it along local streets. By 1880, there were at least a hundred and fifty thousand horses living in New York, and probably a great many more. Each one relieved itself of, on average, twenty-two pounds of manure a day, meaning that the city’s production of horse droppings ran to at least forty-five thousand tons a month. George Waring, Jr., who served as the city’s Street Cleaning Commissioner, described Manhattan as stinking “with the emanations of putrefying organic matter.” Another observer wrote that the streets were “literally carpeted with a warm, brown matting . . . smelling to heaven.” In the early part of the century, farmers in the surrounding counties had been happy to pay for the city’s manure, which could be converted into rich fertilizer, but by the later part the market was so glutted that stable owners had to pay to have the stuff removed, with the result that it often accumulated in vacant lots, providing breeding grounds for flies.

The problem just kept piling up until, in the eighteen-nineties, it seemed virtually insurmountable. One commentator predicted that by 1930 horse manure would reach the level of Manhattan’s third-story windows. New York’s troubles were not New York’s alone; in 1894, the Times of London forecast that by the middle of the following century every street in the city would be buried under nine feet of manure. It was understood that flies were a transmission vector for disease, and a public-health crisis seemed imminent. When the world’s first international urban-planning conference was held, in 1898, it was dominated by discussion of the manure situation. Unable to agree upon any solutions—or to imagine cities without horses—the delegates broke up the meeting, which had been scheduled to last a week and a half, after just three days.

Then, almost overnight, the crisis passed. This was not brought about by regulation or by government policy. Instead, it was technological innovation that made the difference. With electrification and the development of the internal-combustion engine, there were new ways to move people and goods around. By 1912, autos in New York outnumbered horses, and in 1917 the city’s last horse-drawn streetcar made its final run. All the anxieties about a metropolis inundated by ordure had been misplaced.