Monday Works Roundup, 7/24/17

Jul. 24th, 2017 04:45 pm
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Posted by Erin Ptah

Leif & Thorn
But I’m A Cat Leif (art | Being!Leif, Thorn | worksafe)
Team Flashback (art | Thorn, team, ex-team | worksafe)
Stave Church Views (art | scenery | worksafe)
Embassy Gem Family Fusions (art | gem!Sven, Ragnild, Iona, Katya, Leif | worksafe)

Mother-Son Reunion (sketch | Marco, Eva, daemons | worksafe)

I should have been brave like you (sketch | Chihiro/Mondo | worksafe)

Francesco Gabbani (art | Francesco | worksafe)

The Doctor is Into It (sketch | Genji/Mercy | worksafe)

Figure drawings 7-15-17 (sketches, NSFW)
Hands and Feet 7-19-17 (sketches, worksafe)
Dominik (reward chibi, worksafe)

This Week in But I’m A Cat Person:
Let’s pull this Being apart and take a look at the code.

This Week in Leif & Thorn:
Thorn confesses his feelings. Then tries it a bunch of different ways just to make sure the point came across.

Filed under: Leif & Thorn, Works Roundup Tagged: Animorphs, Danganronpa, Eurovision, Overwatch

(no subject)

Jul. 24th, 2017 07:48 am
copperbadge: (radiofreemondaaay)
[personal profile] copperbadge
Good morning everyone, and welcome to Radio Free Monday!

Ways To Give:

Anon reminds us that the 2017-18 school year is coming, and [ profile] positivelypt has a post up with links to wishlists for underserved classrooms. You can check out the list, give, and reblog here.

[ profile] rilee16 is struggling to cover medical expenses after two head injuries last year, and has a fundraiser running to cover living expenses, previous medical bills, and a recent rent increase. You can read more and help out here.

Help For Free:

Anon linked to [ profile] globalsextrendsproject, who are working on an independent research projected aimed at establishing whether there are global trends in stimuli for sexual arousal and the content of sexual fantasies. You can read more and reblog here or fill out the form here. I took a quick breeze through the form and it's primarily short-answer rather than multiple choice, once you get past the demographic stuff.


[ profile] stabulous has a post up about Welcome Blanket, a project initiated by the Smart Museum of Art in Chicago and anti-Trump craftivists. They are asking people to send handmade blankets to be exhibited at the Smart and afterwards distributed to refugees and immigrants arriving in the US. The hope is to create 3200 blankets to equal the length of the wall Trump wants to build across the US-Mexico border. You can read more at the link above, and find out how to participate at the official site, which includes activism resources whether you want to actually send in a blanket or not.

News To Know:

[personal profile] brainwane linked to Creative Commons, which is offering grants of up to USD$1000 for small projects ("Salons, campaigns, translations, e-books, printing, collaborations, and more") which grow the global commons. They want help increasing discovery, collaboration, and advocacy towards their mission. You can read more and apply for a grant here.

Anon linked to [ profile] dr-kara's new comic available on ComixOlogy, [Super]Natural Attraction! Kara is well-known to me as a groovy artist who does cool stuff so while I haven't read this yet I wholeheartedly recommend her work. She has a rebloggable post about it here and you can buy and read it here.

And this has been Radio Free Monday! Thank you for your time. You can post items for my attention at the Radio Free Monday submissions form. If you're not sure how to proceed, here is a little more about what I do and how you can help (or ask for help!). If you're new to fundraising, you may want to check out my guide to fundraising here.
rydra_wong: Doonesbury, Watergate, two congressmen: "If only he'd knock over a bank or something ..." "By George, we'd have him them!" (bank -- watergate)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
So Sean Spicer's resigned (we all knew it was coming), Sessions discussed the Trump campaign and policy issues with Kisylak in 2016, and Trump looks like he's revving up to fire Mueller and Sessions and then pardon himself and his family for everything they've done ever.

And all I can focus on is this story that Sean Spicer stole a mini-fridge from junior White House staffers.
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Posted by Ramin Skibba

Aliens could be hiding on almost any of the Milky Way’s roughly 100 billion planets, but so far, we haven’t been able to find them (dubious claims to the contrary notwithstanding). Part of the problem is that astronomers don’t know exactly where to look or what to look for. To have a chance of locating alien life-forms — which is like searching for a needle that may not exist in an infinitely large haystack — they’ll have to narrow the search.

Astronomers hoping to find extraterrestrial life are looking largely for exoplanets (planets outside Earth’s solar system) in the so-called “Goldilocks zone” around each star: a distance range in which a planet is not too hot and not too cold, making it possible for liquid water to exist on the surface. But after studying our own world and many other planetary systems, scientists have come to believe that many factors other than distance are key to the development of life. These include the mix of gases in the atmosphere, the age of the planet and host star, whether the host star often puts out harmful radiation, and how fast the planet rotates — some planets rotate at a rate that leaves the same side always facing their star, so one hemisphere is stuck in perpetual night while the other is locked into scorching day. This makes it a complex problem that scientists can start to tackle with powerful computers, data and statistics. These tools — and new telescope technology — could make the discovery of life beyond Earth more likely.

These images show a star-forming region viewed through the Hubble Space Telescope (left) and a simulation of what it would look like as seen at a potential future observatory called the Large UltraViolet Optical Infrared Surveyor (right). New telescope technology could make the discovery of life beyond Earth more likely.


Two teams of astronomers are proposing different methods of tackling these questions. One argues that we should try to identify trends in the data generated by surveys of thousands of planets, while the other favors focusing on a handful of individual planets to assess where they’d lie on a scale from uninhabitable to probably populated.

Jacob Bean, an astronomer at the University of Chicago, advocates for the broader approach in a paper he and two other researchers published this spring. It’s not possible to know for sure if a distant planet is friendly to life, Bean says, so he and his colleagues aim to compare lots of planets to figure out which are most likely to host the conditions thought to be important to produce and sustain life. Determining how the amount of water or carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is correlated with distance from the star, for example, could help inform future, more targeted searches that use new space telescopes to look for worlds with hospitable climates. “How many planets do we need to look at to find the number of ‘Earth-like’ ones? That’s the multibillion-dollar question,” he said.

This is an artist’s illustration of systems of planets outside our solar system. Scientists are trying to figure out how to narrow the search for life on other planets.

NASA / ESA / M. Kornmesser (ESO)

Data that’s already available from NASA’s Kepler space telescope could help astronomers figure out what percentage of planets might be habitable. The Kepler mission revolutionized the study of exoplanets: It has allowed astronomers to analyze thousands of planets and their host stars, rather than the mere dozens or hundreds of extraterrestrial bodies — most of which are uninhabitable gas giants — on which we had data in the pre-Kepler period. In all, Kepler scientists have found 2,335 confirmed exoplanets, plus many more candidates waiting to be verified. With this information, researchers can get a better handle on how many solar systems have rocky planets circling at the right distance from the star or stars at the center, how often those stars zap the planets with radiation, how many planets are likely to have water, and how many feature other indications of a habitable climate. From there, scientists could deduce which of these factors are most important to the formation of planets that could develop life as we know it and determine which kinds of planets and stars are most worth focusing on.

That’s the big-picture strategy for the search for life. The other research, which was led by University of Washington astrobiologist David Catling and which will soon be undergoing peer review, claims that we’re ready to zoom in, going from questions about whether the conditions are right for life to whether life has actually developed on planets we’re interested in. His team proposes a statistical framework to evaluate these worlds.

In addition to a planet’s location and size, it matters whether its star gives off tons of radiation that could scorch off the atmosphere, leaving the planet with nothing to protect it from space weather. For example, the planets circling TRAPPIST-1 and Proxima Centauri, two red dwarf stars, exist in just such a threatening environment, and a new study by Harvard astrophysicists gives them a very low chance of supporting life. If a planet does have an atmosphere, then it matters what’s in it, as oxygen could be a sign of alien beings on the surface — even if they’re only tiny — and water vapor means it’s more likely that the climate is friendly to life. Methane, ozone and carbon dioxide could be positive signs too, but they can be produced by processes that don’t necessarily signify life, such as volcanoes.

This artist’s concept compares Earth to the exoplanet Kepler-452b, which sits in the so-called Goldilocks zone of its star. The illustration is just one guess as to what Kepler-452b might look like.

NASA / Ames / JPL-Caltech / T. Pyle

To put together as complete a picture as possible about a planet, astronomers need both high-resolution images of the solar system and a light spectrum of the planet, which reveals what gases are present in the planet’s atmosphere based on what wavelengths of light from the star appear or fail to appear after passing the planet. If they had access to more powerful telescopes than those in use today, astronomers would want to collect even more information, including details about the age and activity of the star; the planet’s size and distance from its star; the composition and pressure of the atmosphere; whether there were signs of water, such as glints of light reflecting off oceans; and what signs there were of geological processes such as tectonic or volcanic activity. Catling eventually hopes to be able to use this information to categorize planets so that you could say Planet Y has a 20 to 40 percent chance of having life, while Planet Z has an 80 percent chance.

But at the moment, his plan is largely theoretical.

“We’re not at the point where we can really calculate the frequency or probability of life, but it’s a useful exercise,” said Eric Ford, an astrophysicist and astrostatistician at Penn State University who was not involved in either study. “As in, ‘Here’s what we’d like to do, and, given our limitations, what’s the least-bad assumptions we can make about our prior knowledge?’ It turns an impossible problem into one we can gain a foothold in answering.”

The image on the left shows exoplanet Kepler-538 b. Is there life on 538? Astronomer Frank Drake (right) proposed a formula for estimating the number of alien civilizations in our galaxy.


Catling and his team proposed an approach that characterizes the chance that there’s life on a planet based on what’s known about the planet and its star, updating the chances as more data comes in. Distinguishing between the knowns and unknowns helps reduce the biases affecting the system and allows it to produce fewer false positives — but only if the humans doing the characterization have a good understanding of how likely it is that a set of planetary features indicates an inhabited planet versus a lifeless one. Since we haven’t yet found life beyond Earth, even in our own solar system, it’s hard to estimate these things with any confidence.

Catling’s approach evokes the famous “Drake equation,” put forth by astronomer Frank Drake in the 1960s as a way to figure out a ballpark number of extraterrestrial civilizations in the galaxy. The idea is to estimate how many stars there are, how many of those have planets, how many of those planets could support life, how many actually develop life, how many of those life-forms evolve into intelligent life, and so on. Starting with the simpler pieces and then building up to more complex ones helps us better understand the puzzle as a whole, even if some big pieces are still missing.

“This is a wish list,” Catling said of his group’s method, noting that we don’t have the technology to make it happen. “It’s like trying to find microbes before microscopes in the 16th century. We’re at that point now.”

Catling’s team is anticipating data from new telescopes, like the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and the James Webb Space Telescope, both set to launch next year. But they’re also looking beyond these to more sophisticated telescopes that may be built in the 2030s and 2040s. Those will likely have the capability to detect more potential signs of life from many more exoplanets.

Both approaches use a lot of data and tell scientists quite a bit about how planets form and whether they harbor the conditions that we think allow life to develop. But at least until those next-generation telescopes are finished, we will probably have to wait to find out if we’re alone in the universe.

“Even if we had an ‘Earth twin’ and detected oxygen and methane and glinting from oceans, we’ll never be 100 percent sure,” Catling said. “The only thing truly 100 percent would be [an alien] signal. … That would be a slam dunk.”

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Posted by Neil Paine

A week ago, I wrote about how both the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros are in rare historical company this season. According to FiveThirtyEight’s Elo power ratings — which measure a team’s strength at any moment — each is playing roughly as well as the fabled 1927 Yankees played. But this season’s top-heaviness extends well beyond just the Astros and Dodgers. Each member of MLB’s ruling class this season is unusually strong, which suggests that, come October, we may be watching the the most stacked playoff fields in memory. That’s great news for fans — but it’s also really bad news for the wannabes and would-be Cinderellas that are currently chasing the front-runners.

One easy way to visualize the power balance of a league is to look at how its teams at any given ranking slot measure up to those from other seasons in the past. For example, the Dodgers have the best Elo rating (1602) of any top-ranked team through July 20 of a season in the expansion era (since 1961). Likewise, the Astros are by far the best second-ranked Elo team of the expansion era.

Go down the line, and each of Elo’s top six teams carries one of the strongest ratings in modern history for its slot. The third ranked Washington Nationals, for instance, are more like the top team in an average season than a mere third wheel. The Boston Red Sox would be running a strong third most seasons; this year, they’re a distant fourth. The Indians and Cubs can both tell similar stories.

As we approach the July 31 trade deadline, this is more than just an academic curiosity. A team’s willingness to pony up prospects for a better shot at the World Series is directly tied to how much good it thinks a trade will do. In a wide-open season, even teams outside the top tier of contenders could be convinced to roll the dice on an upgrade — particularly with the expanded wild-card format. But the stronger the top teams are, the less incentive teams on the periphery have to make a championship push. According to Elo, we haven’t seen a stronger crop of elite teams in the expansion era than this season’s top six.1

As recently as a few years ago, you could have lamented the lack of dominant teams at the top of the major leagues. At this same time in 2015, for instance, the leading Elo teams were among the weakest at their slots in the expansion era. But baseball’s era of parity seems to be officially over, with the game moving back toward imbalance. While a top-heavy MLB might never look like its basketball equivalent,2 it’s still going to be tougher than usual for aspiring contenders to break through — a fact you can bet every GM is keenly aware of in the lead-up to the deadline.

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Posted by Anna Maria Barry-Jester, Maggie Koerth-Baker and Kathryn Casteel

Welcome to TrumpBeat, FiveThirtyEight’s weekly feature on the latest policy developments in Washington and beyond. Want to get TrumpBeat in your inbox each week? Sign up for our newsletter. Comments, criticism or suggestions for future columns? Email us, or drop a note in the comments.

Republican senators are still sorting out how to accomplish their goal of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. Proposed strategies this week have been all over the place — passing GOP senators’ Better Care Reconciliation Act, doing nothing and letting Obamacare fail, and repealing the ACA and replacing it later. These are very different policy moves that would have very different effects on the health insurance landscape. But all of them have one thing in common: They assume the private insurance marketplaces set up under the Affordable Care Act continue to provide coverage through 2018. But there are at least three key decisions the Trump administration has to make that could affect what that looks like.

Insurers in most states have submitted proposals for the insurance plans they want to sell in 2018. Those plans are being negotiated and reviewed. According to data compiled by Charles Gaba at, an independent tracker who supports the ACA, there may be an average 33 percent increase in premiums next year (before subsidies), and around 20 percent of that is due to uncertainty created by the current administration. Although negotiations are ongoing and some states have yet to reveal proposals, those estimates square with statements from insurers and health policy experts. A national average, however, masks huge variations by state: For example, insurers in Vermont and Oregon are seeking relatively small premium increases, while people in New Mexico and Georgia could see steep increases.

There are a variety of reasons for these increases. One is that it’s not clear whether the Trump administration will enforce the mandate that most people have health insurance or pay a fine, though it has already weakened it, which could mean fewer healthy people participating in the marketplaces and higher premiums for those who do. Another is that we don’t know whether President Trump will use marketing and advertising to promote enrollment as the Obama administration did, which has been shown to increase enrollment among healthier people. There are already signs he will not: The Daily Beast reported that the Department of Health and Human Services has been using money earmarked to promote enrollment to create videos attacking Obamacare. And Politico reported that the department canceled contracts with two companies that were supposed to help enroll people during the open enrollment period for next year. Again, fewer healthier people in the marketplaces results in higher premiums.

The other big outstanding question is how Trump and Congress will deal with payments owed to health insurance companies. Insurers are required to give the poorest enrollees discounts on things like deductibles and co-pays; the law intended for the federal government to reimburse those discounts — with Congress appropriating the funds. When Congress refused to do so, Obama made the payments anyway, and Congress sued his administration. (The court case is ongoing.) Trump has been making the payments on a month-by-month basis while threatening to pull them, using the payments as leverage in the ongoing repeal debate in Congress. More than half of people using the marketplaces receive these payments; if insurers aren’t reimbursed, it will push up premiums and could lead some to leave the marketplace.

What the administration does with these three things will help determine premiums for next year, which will also determine who can afford coverage and how much the federal government spends in subsidies. We’ve written about uncertainty and the markets before at TrumpBeat, but it’s worth bearing in mind that the ongoing debate in Congress affects not only future legislation, but also existing law.

Voting integrity: ID check

The 1993 National Voter Registration Act was aimed at making it easier for more Americans to vote by coupling registration opportunities with driver’s license and public assistance applications and making it harder to kick registered voters off the rolls. Now there’s evidence that Kris Kobach, the vice chairman of Trump’s new Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, wants to change that law.

In emails that were released last week as part of a lawsuit brought against him by the American Civil Liberties Union, Kobach wrote of planned legislation that would amend the National Voter Registration Act so that it explicitly allows states to require proof of citizenship — a passport or a birth certificate — for a voter to register. That news has only added fodder for the chorus of criticism aimed at Kobach and his commission.

We’ve written previously about the many problems with Kobach’s claims of widespread voter fraud. The short version: Nobody knows exactly how much illegal voting occurs, but all the available data points to it being extremely rare. Interestingly, though, it’s just as hard to prove the negative effects of the voter ID laws Kobach has championed.

As with illegal voting, it’s difficult to study voter ID laws, and nobody knows for sure whether they reduce turnout — effectively suppressing legal votes. No two states have exactly the same laws, and most of the laws have been in effect for less than five years. Maybe most importantly, there are confounding factors that make it difficult to tease apart cause and effect — for instance, the states that had adopted a strict voter ID law by 2015 already had lower voter turnout than those that did not. That comes from an analysis of peer-reviewed research on this topic published in May by Benjamin Highton, a political scientist at the University of California, Davis. He found just four studies that were designed to account for these kinds of real-world problems; all came up with results that suggest ID laws have very limited impacts (less than 4 percentage points) on voter turnout.

This is unlikely to be the final word on the subject, of course. Scientifically, this question is at the starting gate, not the finish line. But it’s possible that American politics is currently fighting a heated partisan battle over two risks — voter fraud and ID-law-related voter suppression — that are both extremely small.

Immigration: Opening the door

A central plank of Trump’s “America First” campaign platform was a pledge to limit immigration: He vowed to crack down on both illegal immigration and abuse of guest-worker programs that, Trump argued, push down wages for American workers. Since taking office, Trump has stuck with his “hire American” rhetoric, signing an executive order that tightened rules on visas for foreign workers and pledging to overhaul the legal immigration system

This week, however, Trump’s Department of Homeland Security said it would increase the number of visas for workers in low-wage industries that rely on temporary employees. The department announced that it was adding 15,000 H-2B visas for workers in seasonal, nonagricultural jobs, a 45 percent increase from what is normally issued for the second half of the fiscal year.

The H-2B announcement scrambled the usual politics of immigration. Business groups, which have often expressed concern about Trump’s hostility to immigration, praised the decision, saying that they need temporary foreign workers to fill labor shortages in the hospitality, construction and seafood industries. Meanwhile, the Center for Immigration Studies, an independent research organization that advocates for limited immigration, criticized the move, which it argued takes jobs away from a pool of U.S. workers. (The group noted that the White House declared this “Made in America” week and highlighted the administration’s hire-American policies.)

In its announcement, the Department of Homeland Security noted that businesses only qualify for the visas if they can prove that they are likely to “suffer irreparable harm” if unable to hire foreign workers. But critics are skeptical that labor shortages are as severe as companies claim. The Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank that Trump has aligned himself with on certain issues, argued in a recent report that almost all of the top 10 occupations for H-2B workers have relatively high unemployment rates and have experienced stagnant or declining wages since 2004. That, the group argues, suggests there is no shortage of available workers, at least on a national level. (The report does note that it is possible that states and local areas are experiencing a limited labor pool for these jobs but claims the H-2B program maintains a framework that exploits foreign workers.)

It isn’t clear why Trump agreed to increase the H-2B program even as his administration is cracking down on visas available to skilled workers in areas such as tech and limiting other routes of legal immigration. But it’s worth noting that Trump himself has used H2-B visas in the past to hire temporary workers for his resorts and hotels and even remarked on the difficulties of hiring part-time workers during a debate last year.

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Posted by Edited by Oliver Roeder

Welcome to The Riddler. Every week, I offer up problems related to the things we hold dear around here: math, logic and probability. There are two types: Riddler Express for those of you who want something bite-sized and Riddler Classic for those of you in the slow-puzzle movement. Submit a correct answer for either,3 and you may get a shoutout in next week’s column. If you need a hint, or if you have a favorite puzzle collecting dust in your attic, find me on Twitter.

Riddler Express

From Steven Pratt, a real-life electoral problem:

In Steven’s hometown, 11 fine folks are running in a primary for three at-large seats on the City Commission. Each voter may vote for up to three candidates. This election will reduce the field of candidates from 11 to six.

  1. How many different (legal) ways may a voter cast his or her ballot?
  2. How many different outcomes (excluding ties) are there for who advances to November’s general election?

Submit your answer

Riddler Classic

From Àlex Sierra, a cloak-and-dagger puzzle:

Twice before, I’ve pitted Riddler Nation against itself in a battle royale for national domination. War must wage once more. Here are the rules. There are two warlords: you and your archenemy, with whom you’re competing to conquer castles and collect the most victory points. Each of the 10 castles has its own strategic value for a would-be conqueror. Specifically, the castles are worth 1, 2, 3, … , 9 and 10 victory points. You and your enemy each have 100 soldiers to distribute between any of the 10 castles. Whoever sends more soldiers to a given castle conquers that castle and wins its victory points. (If you each send the same number of troops, you split the points.) Whoever ends up with the most points wins.

But now, you have a spy! You know how many soldiers your archenemy will send to each castle. The bad news, though, is that you no longer have 100 soldiers — your army suffered some losses in a previous battle.

What is the value of the spy?

That is, how many soldiers do you need to have in order to win, no matter the distribution of your opponent’s soldiers? Put another way: What k is the minimum number such that, for any distribution of 100 soldiers in the 10 castles by your opponent, you can distribute k soldiers and win the battle?

Submit your answer

Solution to last week’s Riddler Express

Congratulations to 👏 Elaine Hou 👏 of Tampa, Florida, winner of the previous Express puzzle!

You and your two older siblings are sharing two extra-large pizzas and decide to cut them in an unusual way. You overlap the pizzas so that the crust of one touches the center of the other (and vice versa since they are the same size). You then slice both pizzas around the area of overlap. Two of you will each get one of the crescent-shaped pieces, and the third will get both of the football-shaped cutouts. Which should you choose to get more pizza: one crescent or two footballs?

You’ll get more pizza by eating the two footballs.

To show why, solver Sai Rijal began with the following shape in the middle of the pizzas:

Since sides AB, BC, CD, DA, and BD are all radii of one of the circular pizzas, Sai explained, they form two equilateral triangles: ABD and CDB. Because of this, the angles ABC and ADC are each 120 degrees. Therefore, the slice of the red pizza bound by ABC, and the slice of the blue pizza bound by ADC, have the area \((1/3)\pi r^2\) — they’re just one third of each pizza. Let’s remove these 1/3 slices from each of the two pieces of football slices you have. You have 2/3 of a pizza. This is your fair share, because there were two pizzas and three eaters. The remaining segments are extra pizza you have earned through mathematics!

Although it wasn’t necessary for answering the question, you could also go further and calculate the specific areas of the crescents and the footballs. Assume, for simplicity, that each pizza has a radius of 1. It turns out that the two footballs have an area of \(\frac{4\pi -3\sqrt{3}}{3}\), or about 2.46; one crescent has an area of \(\frac{2\pi+3\sqrt{3}}{6}\), or about 1.91. Solver Zack Segel shared his lovely pen and paper work to that end:

GitHub user mimno even created an interactive Monte Carlo simulation of the pizzas, again finding that you’re better off going for the footballs. And others, I’m told, solved the problem by ordering two actual extra-large pizzas. Bon appétit!

Solution to last week’s Riddler Classic

Congratulations to 👏 Neema Salimi 👏 of Atlanta, winner of the previous Classic puzzle!

In the National Squishyball league, the owner of the top-seeded team (i.e., you) gets to select the length of the championship series in advance of the first game, so you could decide to play a single game, a best two out of three series, a three out of five series, etc., all the way up to a 50 out of 99 series. The owner of the winning team gets $1 million minus $10,000 for each of the victories required to win the series, regardless of how many games the series lasts in total. Thus, if the top-seeded team’s owner selects a single-game championship, the winning owner will collect $990,000. If he or she selects a four out of seven series, the winning team’s owner will collect $960,000. The owner of the losing team gets nothing. Your team has a 60 percent chance of winning any individual game. How long a series should you select in order to maximize your expected winnings?

You should select a best-of-25 series, where the first team to 13 wins takes the title. You stand to win about $736,222 on average.

This problem was most commonly approached computationally, with most solvers turning to Excel to guide them through the postseason strategizing. Solver Andrew Hoffman explained how he built such a spreadsheet:

At any given point in the series, each team has a certain number of games left that they need to win in order to win the series (call this number A for Acme and B for Boondocks). They start with the same number. After each game, there’s a 60 percent chance A decreases by 1 and a 40 percent chance B decreases by 1. If either team has 0 games to go, that team has won. You can then build a table recursively for the win probability at cell (A, B), which we’ll call P(A, B) = 0.6 * P(A-1, B) + 0.4 * P(A, B-1). For example, P(2, 1) = 0.6 * P(1, 1) + 0.4 * P(1, 0) = 0.6 * (0.6 * P(0, 1) + 0.4 * P(1, 0)) + 0.4 * 0 = 0.6 * (0.6 * 1 + 0.4 * 0) = 0.6 * 0.6 = 0.36. Build the table through P(50, 50). Then for each N, multiply P(N, N) by the winnings if N games are required: 1,000,000 – 10,000N. This gives the expected winnings for Acme for each N. The maximum value of $736222.04 occurs at N = 13, referring to a 13-out-of-25 series.

Andrew also submitted his graphical results of this project, showing that the expected value (EV) peaks at a series requiring 13 wins.

Others, such as Tyler Barron, Chris Ketelsen and Justin Brookman, turned to Python code, and you can find their alternate solutions above.

Want to submit a riddle?

Email me at

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Posted by Walt Hickey

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.

-4 points

Favorability rating for the New York Yankees, the only negative spread in the league, according to a SurveyMonkey Audience poll. The most broadly-liked teams are the Cubs, Cardinals and Royals. [FiveThirtyEight]

9 years

O.J. Simpson was granted parole yesterday and will be released from Lovelock Correctional Facility on October 1 after nine years behind bars for a Las Vegas robbery. [ABC News]


The for-profit Ark Encounter, a bible-themed amusement park, sold a piece of land the county says is worth $48 million to a non-profit affiliate, Crosswater Canyon, for $10. The park is attempting to be exempt for a new safety tax. [Lexington Herald Leader]

28 percent

Sears’ stock is up 28 percent from a month ago, a rally bolstered by new cash injections and the announcement yesterday that the company will sell appliances on with Alexa technology allowing people to control their appliances with voice commands. [CNBC]

46 percent

Google Glass, which as recently as two years ago was the cultural signifier that let the world know you make too much money, has begun a second life as the industrial wave of the future, with manufacturers and conglomerates using the wearable technology to optimize performance. GE reports a 46 percent decrease in the time it takes a warehouse picker using the product, and surveyed employees overwhelmingly said it would reduce errors. [Wired]

70 foreign workers

In the middle of what the White House pitched as “Made in America” week, the Trump Mar-a-Lago club asked the government to allow them to hire seventy foreign workers in the fall as they can not find American cooks, waiters and housekeepers. [The Washington Post]

If you see a significant digit in the wild, send it to @WaltHickey.

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Posted by Anna Maria Barry-Jester

It has been a very confusing week in federal health care policy. Early in the week, the Senate abruptly abandoned an effort to pass a bill to repeal and replace parts of the Affordable Care Act after four senators said they wouldn’t support it. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell then said he would push to pass a bill that would repeal parts of the law in two years, buying the Senate more time to come up with a replacement. Three senators quickly said they wouldn’t support that approach, and the Senate all but gave up. That lasted until President Trump called various senators to the White House, pressuring them to keep working until they agreed on a bill, just a day after he suggested letting Obamacare fail.

Like I said, it’s been a confusing week.

There are some obvious reasons that the GOP is having a hard time coalescing around a plan. Part of the problem is that Republicans don’t agree on the priorities for repeal. The conservative wing of the party wants to peel back regulations and reduce federal spending. Moderates are concerned about changes to Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program for the poor, and reduced support for low-income people who are buying private insurance. Two have also said they don’t support defunding Planned Parenthood for a year, as would happen under each of the bills.

Then there’s the challenge of the GOP bills’ lack of support from the public.

You’d be forgiven for not knowing where things stand on the seven-year Republican promise to repeal and replace Obamacare. There are at least three bills floating around, each with opponents within the Republican Party and varying levels of detail about what the effect of each plan would be on the health insurance landscape.

So here’s a roundup of current proposals, what we know about their impact and who supports them:

The Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act

What’s in the bill: This legislation — a new version of the measure that has been debated since the first draft was released on June 22 — would reduce subsidies for people who buy insurance on the marketplaces set up by Obamacare. Some of the Obamacare taxes would be repealed (though two taxes on the wealthy would remain in place). It would allow states to opt out of many of the insurance market regulations, including mandatory coverage of “essential health benefits,” which include maternity care and mental health treatment.

The legislation would also freeze the Obamacare expansion of Medicaid. The expansion opened up the program to all people earning under 138 percent of the federal poverty limit in states that opted in.4 Starting in 2020, the expanded part of the program would take no new enrollees, and states would be reimbursed significantly less for those who continue to be covered (under current law, the federal government would pick up 90 percent of the cost of those enrollees). The bill would also put most of the rest of the Medicaid program on a budget. States would receive a maximum fixed amount per enrollee, or a lump sum for the whole state program, rather than the open-ended reimbursements they get today.

Altogether, the bill would decrease costs for higher-income, healthier people without employer-sponsored insurance and would increases costs for lower-income, sicker people.

What we know about its effects: The bill was posted Thursday, and a Congressional Budget Office analysis of it released the same day found that 15 million fewer people would have insurance coverage next year and 22 million fewer would be covered in 2026, compared with how many would be covered under current law. Premiums would increase over the next two years even as the plans those premiums pay for cover less, according to the CBO, but would decrease starting in 2020. This plan would reduce the federal deficit by $420 billion over a decade, according to CBO estimates.

Who supports it: It’s not yet clear how senators feel about it, although there are clues from previous, similar iterations of the bill. It’s unlikely to please conservative Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who have said that previous iterations of the Senate bill, similar in many ways to this version,5 didn’t do enough to cut regulations. Several moderate Republicans have also expressed concern about the proposed changes to Medicaid funding.

The Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act, with an amendment from Ted Cruz

What’s in the bill: This version of the bill is largely similar to the one above, but it includes a complicated amendment adopted from a proposal by Cruz. The change would allow insurers who sell regulated, Obamacare-compliant plans to also sell largely unregulated plans. Insurers would be required to offer coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and cover essential health benefits for the Obamacare-compliant plans, and they wouldn’t be allowed to charge based on how sick a person is. Insurers selling these plans, however, could likely also sell plans that cover far fewer services and could deny people coverage based on their health status or charge them more for these plans.

What we know about its effects: The amendment is so complicated that HuffPost reported that it could be a month before it can be fully analyzed by the CBO. The Senate needs a score of the bill before it can proceed with a vote, so it asked the Department of Health and Human Services for an analysis; HHS hired the consulting firm McKinsey to produce a report, which the Washington Examiner obtained Wednesday. The report purportedly shows that premiums would drop under the Cruz plan, but experts say it offers little in the way of useful information, as Sarah Kliff explained at Vox. For starters, it looks at how the amendment would work if added to existing law, not the Republican bill.

Experts believe it would gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions by pricing them out of the market. The insurance industry has come out hard against the Cruz plan. In a memo circulated publicly, America’s Health Insurance Plans, one of the insurance industry’s largest trade associations, condemned the amendment, while Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, a lobbying group representing the insurer, told Senate leaders the proposal was “unworkable.” Health policy experts warn that if the Cruz amendment becomes law, healthy people will buy on the unregulated, cheaper market, leaving people with more health care needs on the Obamacare markets.

Who supports it: Four senators have previously said they would not vote to move forward with debating this bill: Lee, Paul, Susan Collins of Maine and Jerry Moran of Kansas. Only 14 senators have expressed clear support, according to The New York Times.

Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act, aka repeal and delay

What’s in the bill: This bill would repeal much of the ACA starting in 2020, though some changes would take effect immediately.

The bill would repeal the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid, as well as the subsidies that help people buy insurance on the private marketplace. It would repeal all of the taxes created by the ACA and eliminate a fund created for public health work after 2018. It includes numerous other changes as well, such as eliminating requirements on what services state Medicaid programs must cover. The repeal bill would, however, add $1.5 billion over two years to respond to the opioid crisis and funding for community mental health centers.

It would also retroactively (to 2016) get rid of the requirement that employers offer coverage to employees and the requirement that most people have insurance — by eliminating the financial penalties for both.

What we know about its effects: The CBO (which has had a busy week) released an analysis of this bill on Wednesday. The agency thinks 32 million additional people would be uninsured in 2026 (compared with current law) and that the federal deficit would be reduced by $473 billion during that time. The estimated increase in the number of uninsured people includes 19 million who would fall from the Medicaid rolls. But millions would also be uninsured as a result of an upended insurance market, according to the analysis — the agency found that premiums would roughly double by 2026 and that about three-quarters of the population would live in places where no insurer would be willing to sell coverage in the private market.

Of course, this strategy is built around developing a replacement plan over the next two years. But it’s impossible to say what that would look like. Meanwhile, with the immediate repeal of the individual insurance mandate, some 17 million would be expected to lose coverage next year.

Who supports it: Notably, Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said after a meeting on Wednesday that he didn’t think there were even 40 senators who supported the strategy of repeal and then replace later. Several senators, including Collins, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, have already come out against the approach.

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Posted by Perry Bacon Jr. and Harry Enten

Arizona Sen. John McCain has been more critical of President Trump in recent weeks.

Melina Mara / The Washington Post via Getty Image

Arizona Sen. John McCain was diagnosed with brain cancer this week, his office announced on Wednesday. He has a brain tumor called a glioblastoma and is now in Arizona, recovering from a surgery to remove a blood clot above his left eye. It is not immediately clear whether McCain will return to the Senate in the next few days or weeks or if his absence will be longer. FiveThirtyEight wishes McCain and his family the best in his recovery.

McCain is a well-respected figure in both parties, which led to an outpouring of well-wishers that included both and President Trump and former President Obama. He is also a landmark figure in American politics — and has at times been both an ally and opponent of Trump — so we thought it was important to look at McCain and his potential absence in that context.

McCain, 80, has often been described — and has sometimes described himself — as a “maverick.” But as we discussed in February, the truth is somewhat more complicated, with McCain having gone through various phases since he was first elected to the Senate in 1986.

After having been a fairly typical Republican for his first dozen or so years in the Senate, McCain ran to the left of front-runner and eventual nominee George W. Bush in his 2000 presidential bid. He made campaign finance reform one of the central themes of his candidacy. In the run-up to his 2000 candidacy, he often sided with moderates or liberals on key votes, as can be seen in how often McCain differed from the conservative position on the American Conservative Union scorecard:

Disenchanted with the Bush presidency, McCain flirted in 2004 with joining the ticket of Democratic nominee John Kerry. But in 2007, on the eve of his next presidential run, McCain became one of the leading advocates of increasing the number of troops in Iraq, which was a much more popular idea on the right than the left. Again showing his ideological flexibility as the GOP’s 2008 presidential nominee, McCain considering picking Connecticut senator and former Democrat6 Joe Lieberman as his running mate, who supported hawkish national security policies like McCain but also backed abortion rights and held many other liberal views. But instead McCain opted for Sarah Palin, who was strongly against abortion rights and beloved by the conservative base.

In the Obama years, McCain voted with Republicans on the big issues, such as opposing the Affordable Care Act. Yet, he worked with Democrats on a 2013 bill that would have granted citizenship to undocumented immigrants. And at the end of last year’s presidential campaign, he declared that he would not support Donald Trump. (Earlier in the campaign, Trump had mocked McCain’s war record, saying, “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”)

So is McCain a flip-flopper — or an opportunist? Neither, really; instead, he’s been fairly consistent.7 For most of his tenure in office, McCain has not shifted his legislative philosophy so much as the rest of Congress has shifted — and become more partisan and ideological — around him. Although McCain voted with Republicans about the same amount in both periods, he went from being slightly more partisan than most senators between 1987 and 1996 to among the least partisan senators in the years since then because party-line voting increased so much during that period.

McCain is probably best understood not through a label like “maverick,” but instead through his actual positions. He is consistently pro-military, pro-intervention and hawkish on national security issues, from Iraq to Russia to North Korea. He is also most passionate about those matters, leaving writing bills on issues such as abortion or tax reform largely to his colleagues. On domestic policy, McCain can be all over the place; for example favoring a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants at times but other times saying he opposes that idea.

How all of this has played out in the era of Trump is complicated. McCain has voted with Trump’s position 90.5 percent of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight’s Trump Score. Still, in such a highly partisan epoch, only two Republican senators — Maine’s Susan Collins and Kentucky’s Rand Paul — have voted with Trump less often this year.

And as time has gone on, McCain has come to be more critical of the president. After almost always voting with Trump from January to April, he has voted against Trump’s position on three of the last four Senate votes in which the White House has taken a clear stance. He was one of the strongest voices in the Senate in the chamber’s June decision, by a 97-2 vote, to add new sanctions against Russia and require congressional approval to lift existing ones, an idea that the Trump administration opposed.

McCain has built relationships with figures like Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who is trying to steer Trump toward more traditional foreign policy stands. And from the beginning of Trump’s tenure, McCain’s been taking trips abroad and telling anyone who will listen that the president’s comments about Muslims and other controversial stances are not representative of all Americans. It is hard to think of that many other examples of U.S. senators repeatedly questioning the president of their own party while travelling overseas.

McCain has not just differed from the president on foreign policy. The Arizona senator has called for the creation of a special congressional committee to investigate Trump’s ties to Russia, along the lines of what has created in the Nixon era to probe Watergate. He has also urged reporters to keep pushing for details on the Trump-Russia issue. When news emerged recently about a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and Russian figures, McCain pointedly said, “I guarantee you there will be more shoes to drop, I can just guarantee it.”

McCain’s critics on the center and the left have more room to be critical about his positions on domestic policy. He is unquestionably establishment-friendly and media-friendly, making constant appearances on Sunday morning talk shows, which often makes him seem more liberal than his actual record. Historically, he’s been quite conservative on economic policy. And while at times McCain has been sarcastic and pessimistic in his assessment of the Republicans’ health care bill — criticizing Republicans’ secrecy in drafting it and recently suggesting that the GOP work on a bipartisan bill — he’s been slow to articulate his own position on the legislation, although a statement he issued last week suggested the bill needed significant revisions.

Still, even if they have taken the same stances on most issues for the last six months, John McCain is a very different kind of Republican than Donald Trump, He’s been one of the leading figures of a group of senators that includes Nebraska’s Ben Sasse, Arizona’s Jeff Flake, South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham and others. These senators are not moderate or anti-Trump, at least according to their voting records. But they are different from the president in style and tone and are willing to criticize the White House on some issues. Unlike Trump, they can also be gracious and conciliatory toward their political opponents. In 2008, when rank-and-file Republican voters at his events spoke negatively about Obama’s character and background (falsely suggesting that Obama was an “Arab”, for example), McCain defended his Democratic rival and urged a focus on policy differences. He declined to pointedly attack Obama’s relationship with the controversial pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright

So if you are Donald Trump, the absence of McCain is complicated. His absence from the Senate will make it even harder for Republicans to pass health care, as he’s backed Trump’s agenda most of the time. But he’s been a loud and proud critic of Trump when he opposed him — and he’s been opposing Trump more often in recent weeks.

One more cat on the couch

Jul. 21st, 2017 09:25 pm
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Posted by Erin Ptah

This guy is safely back at the local shelter where he came from.

The name on the shelter paperwork is Eli, so that’s what I’m going to call him, not the name picked out by the roommate who brought him home and then wasn’t around to take care of him.

Eli is super shy and super timid, but also totally mellow — even when he was scared he never bit or scratched, just hid. In the three weeks he was at the flat, there was literally one time when he felt safe enough to approach a human on his own volition. Then he got spooked again, and there weren’t enough days to re-reassure him before returning him to the professionals.

But I did get photos of him on the couch.

Petting for a sweet boy.

I hope he gets adopted by someone he can climb all over.

Filed under: Personal Tagged: cats, picspam
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I still have to review Extra Virginity as well, but I actually liked that one, so it will take longer to compose….

One of the things I did get done yesterday between work, the ball game, and the Epic Sunburn, was finish a slim book of short stories called A City Equal to My Desire by James Sallis. This wasn’t a book that was recommended to me, which means I don’t have to feel bad about truly disliking it. I found it in a keyword search on the library website for books about ukuleles, and it has a short story called Ukulele And The World’s Pain, which admittedly was one of the better stories in the book despite still not being very good.

From what I can tell, he did pick the best story out of the book to develop into a novel, “Drive”, but it is very obviously unfinished in short-story form. Sallis has a couple of ongoing problems in the short story collection, one of which is that he tends to skip the vital information you need in order to know what the fuck is going on. And not in a “the blanks slowly get filled in” way, or in a “your imagination is more terrible” way (though there is a little of that) but just in a way where like…he says something that you understand to be vital to the story but which is missing context, then spends like a page describing the fucking diner someone’s sitting in, and by then any context forthcoming doesn’t get linked back. It’s like being in the middle of a paragraph when you hit the photo plates in an older book – yes the photos are very interesting thank you but I need to finish the thought you were sharing with me before I go back and look at them. I think maybe he thinks this is challenging the reader but it’s not, it’s just annoying and makes what are otherwise interesting premises totally opaque. I shouldn’t need to work this hard for a story about a hit man who decides not to kill a politician. 

If the book had a more cohesive theme in terms of the stories, it might be more readable – he clearly enjoys building worlds and then doesn’t quite know what to do with them once he’s built them, so if this was an entire book of “weird and different worlds” ala Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, I would buy in more fully and I think he would have put a little more elbow in. But it’s not. It’s mostly “here’s a really interesting world and a person living in squalor in it does something while being in it”. Also he appears to be fascinated by describing things that are shaped like pi. And a lot of times it feels like he read a wikipedia article on something and wanted to share some knowledge, so he just kind of built a half-assed story around his wikiwander. 

And all of this I would probably let go if say, it was something I was noticing in a fanfic writer, or someone who was just starting out, or someone I felt was genuinely trying to get a point across. But there’s this inexplicable sense of arrogance to the collection, a sort of smugness to it that in professional writers drives me up the goddamn wall. Stephen King sometimes falls into the same trap, where it feels like the author believes they don’t have to respect their readers because they are The Writer. 

The thing about volumes of short stories is that you keep reading it because sometimes there is a real gem. And there are one or two good stories in the volume, but I don’t know if they’re worth the rest of it. 

So my review I guess is mostly me being annoyed, but it boils down to “If you like short stories in the SFF Noir genre, give it a whirl, but if you’re bored with a story none of them get better, so feel free to skip to the next one.” 

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Posted by Harry Enten

The Yankees’ longstanding self-important and overpaid ways have been pushed aside by a plucky band of youngsters and rising stars. So is it now fair to say that the franchise once proudly known as the “Evil Empire” is no longer baseball’s most hated team?

Nope. As far as most Americans are concerned, the Yankees are still plenty hateable, thank you very much. In fact, they’re the most hated MLB team.

That’s according to a FiveThirtyEight-commissioned SurveyMonkey Audience poll of 989 self-described baseball fans, conducted June 30 to July 8.8 The poll does provide the Yankees with one talking point: They received more votes as people’s favorite team than any other franchise. But a deeper look at the results reveals that the Cubs are a much better fit for the title of America’s best-liked team (if such a thing even exists).

Because baseball fandom is highly regional, Americans have many favorite teams. The Yankees top the national list of favorites, but with just 10 percent of the vote.

The fight to be America’s favorite team is very close

Share of respondents who said a given team was their favorite

1 New York Yankees 10%
2 Boston Red Sox 8
3 Chicago Cubs 8
4 Atlanta Braves 8
5 Los Angeles Dodgers 5
6 San Francisco Giants 5
7 Texas Rangers 4
8 St. Louis Cardinals 4
9 Detroit Tigers 4
10 Philadelphia Phillies 4
Seattle Mariners 4
12 New York Mets 3
13 Cincinnati Reds 3
14 Cleveland Indians 3
15 Minnesota Twins 3
16 Baltimore Orioles 3
17 Arizona Diamondbacks 2
Pittsburgh Pirates 2
19 Los Angeles Angels 2
20 Colorado Rockies 2
Kansas City Royals 2
Milwaukee Brewers 2
23 Chicago White Sox 2
Oakland Athletics 2
25 San Diego Padres 2
26 Houston Astros 2
27 Tampa Bay Rays 1
28 Washington Nationals 1
29 Miami Marlins 1
30 Toronto Blue Jays <1

Percentages are rounded.
Responses from a survey of 989 American baseball fans conducted from June 30 to July 8, 2017.

Source: SurveyMonkey

The Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves come very close behind at 8 percent, while the West Coast’s bitter rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants, aren’t far behind at 5 percent. The difference between the top teams is so small that the Yankees would tie for third place (with the Braves), trailing the Cubs and Red Sox, if you exclude fans from the state of New York.

Breaking down the favorite-team results by census region we can see that, unsurprisingly, different areas of the country prefer different teams. While the Yankees are in a tight fight for first place with the Red Sox in the Northeast,9 they don’t come anywhere close to being the favorite team (or even breaking 10 percent) in any other region.

Every region has its own favorite

Share of respondents who said a given team was their favorite by census region

Yankees 28% Braves 22% Cubs 22% Giants 15%
Red Sox 23 Rangers 12 Tigers 12 Dodgers 13
Phillies 16 Yankees 9 Cardinals 11 Mariners 12
Mets 12 Red Sox 8 Twins 10 D-backs 7
Pirates 10 Orioles 6 Indians 9 Angels 6
Tigers 2 Cubs 5 Reds 8 Yankees 6
Dodgers 2 Astros 4 Brewers 8 Rockies 5
Cubs 1 Cardinals 4 Royals 5 Padres 5
White Sox 1 Reds 3 White Sox 4 Athletics 5
Reds 1 Mets 3 Yankees 3 Red Sox 4
Rockies 1

Percentages are rounded and may not add to 100.
Responses from a survey of 989 American baseball fans conducted from June 30 to July 8, 2017.

Source: Surveymonkey

The Braves are first in the South, with the Texas Rangers second.10 The Midwest is dominated by the Cubs, trailed by the Detroit Tigers, the Minnesota Twins and the Cubs’ arch-rival, the St. Louis Cardinals, all in double digits. Meanwhile, the Giants are just ahead of the Dodgers and the Seattle Mariners in the West.11

What isn’t regional is how well the Cubs are liked — that finding came up pretty much everywhere. We often think of fandom as stopping at one’s favorite team, but fans can like (or dislike) more than one team. So in addition to asking fans who their favorite team was, we also asked each fan whether they had a favorable or unfavorable view of 10 randomly assigned teams. That means the sample size for each team’s favorable or unfavorable rating was a little over 300 fans. For most teams (19 of 30), 67 percent or less of the fans we polled felt they could offer an opinion — again, suggesting the regionality of baseball. But more than 80 percent of fans had a rating for the Cubs, and they were well-liked by nearly everyone.

The Cubs are the most liked team and the Yankees the least

Favorable and unfavorable ratings for every MLB team when respondents were each asked their views on ten randomly assigned teams

Chicago Cubs 81% 67% 14% +53
St. Louis Cardinals 69 50 19 +31
Kansas City Royals 64 47 17 +30
Boston Red Sox 84 56 28 +28
Colorado Rockies 55 41 14 +27
Baltimore Orioles 67 46 21 +25
San Francisco Giants 69 46 23 +23
Minnesota Twins 58 40 18 +22
Pittsburgh Pirates 64 43 21 +22
Houston Astros 64 43 21 +22
Cleveland Indians 69 45 24 +21
Seattle Mariners 61 41 20 +21
San Diego Padres 61 41 20 +21
Atlanta Braves 70 45 25 +20
Arizona Diamondbacks 59 39 20 +19
Detroit Tigers 58 38 20 +18
Texas Rangers 64 41 23 +18
Los Angeles Angels 63 40 23 +17
Chicago White Sox 69 43 26 +17
Milwaukee Brewers 60 38 22 +16
Oakland Athletics 57 36 21 +15
Los Angeles Dodgers 73 44 29 +15
Cincinnati Reds 61 36 25 +11
Washington Nationals 61 36 25 +11
Tampa Bay Rays 57 34 23 +11
New York Mets 78 43 35 +8
Toronto Blue Jays 58 33 25 +8
Miami Marlins 60 33 27 +6
Philadelphia Phillies 62 33 29 +4
New York Yankees 92 44 48 -4

Percentages and percentage points are rounded.
Responses from a survey of 989 American baseball fans conducted from June 30 to July 8, 2017.

Source: SurveyMOnkey

Sixty-seven percent of baseball fans nationally had a favorable view of the Cubs, while just 14 percent had an unfavorable view. Amazingly, this gave the Cubs the highest favorable rating in the poll in addition to a tie with the Colorado Rockies for the lowest unfavorable rating. In every region of the country, the Cubs had a favorable rating of above 60 percent and an unfavorable rating of 20 percent or less. The Cardinals (at +31 percentage points) were a distant second to the Cubs (at +53 percentage points) when it came to net favorability (favorable rating minus unfavorable rating).

The Yankees are an entirely different story. While a fairly high 44 percent of fans have a favorable view of the Yankees, they are the only team in the country for which more fans hold an unfavorable view (48 percent) than favorable view. (For the sake of context, no other team has an unfavorable rating above 35 percent.) Yankee fans will be particularly stung by the fact that more fans have a favorable view of the rival Red Sox (56 percent) than the Yankees.

Not only are the Yankees generally disliked, they’re also outright hated by more fans than any other team. When asked to give their least favorite team, an astounding 27 percent of fans said theirs was the Yankees. The Red Sox were a distant second at 10 percent.

The Yankees are America’s most hated team

Share of respondents who said a given team was their least favorite

1 New York Yankees 27%
2 Boston Red Sox 10
3 Los Angeles Dodgers 5
4 Arizona Diamondbacks 5
5 Chicago Cubs 4
6 Washington Nationals 4
7 Miami Marlins 3
8 Atlanta Braves 3
9 Chicago White Sox 3
New York Mets 3
11 San Francisco Giants 3
12 Detroit Tigers 3
13 Toronto Blue Jays 3
14 St. Louis Cardinals 2
15 Oakland Athletics 2
Texas Rangers 2
17 Cleveland Indians 2
18 Philadelphia Phillies 2
19 Pittsburgh Pirates 2
20 Minnesota Twins 2
21 Los Angeles Angels 2
Milwaukee Brewers 2
23 Cincinnati Reds 1
24 Houston Astros 1
25 San Diego Padres 1
26 Tampa Bay Rays 1
27 Baltimore Orioles 1
Colorado Rockies 1
29 Kansas City Royals 1
30 Seattle Mariners 1

Percentages are rounded and may not add to 100.
Responses from a survey of 989 American baseball fans conducted from June 30 to July 8, 2017.

Source: Surveymonkey

The Yankees were the least favorite team in every region in the country, and it wasn’t a particularly close race anywhere.

Every part of America hates the Yankees

Share of respondents who said a given team was their least favorite by census region

Yankees 34% Yankees 25% Yankees 28% Yankees 26%
Red Sox 17 Red Sox 10 Cubs 11 Dodgers 12
D-Backs 6 D-Backs 6 Cardinals 8 Red Sox 8
Mets 6 Nats 6 Red Sox 5 Giants 6
Cubs 4 Braves 5 Indians 5 Athletics 5
Phillies 4 Tigers 5 White Sox 4 D-Backs 4
Nats 3 Blue Jays 4 D-Backs 4 White Sox 4
Rockies 3 Marlins 4 Braves 4 Marlins 3
Marlins 3 Mets 3 Marlins 3 Rangers 3
Dodgers 2 Phillies 3 Twins 3 Angels 3
Brewers 2 Rangers 3 Nats 3

Percentages are rounded and may not add to 100.
Responses from a survey of 989 American baseball fans conducted from June 30 to July 8, 2017.

Source: Surveymonkey

Interestingly, we do see that there is at least some correlation with being well-liked in a region and having haters. The Red Sox are the second-most disliked team in the Northeast,12 the Cubs are the second-most disliked team in the Midwest, and the Dodgers are the second-most disliked team in the West. Perhaps fans of other teams are just jealous of these teams’ popularity, or perhaps there’s a rivalry element to this finding. All of these team’s top rivals (Yankees for the Red Sox, Cardinals for the Cubs and Giants for the Dodgers) were fairly popular in their own right, and each fan base listed the rival as their least favorite team.

Of course, I don’t think any of these disliked teams in each region are going to be crying about being hated. Ownerships don’t care whether you watch a team to root for or against it — they just care that you watch. Each region’s most and second-most disliked team also ranks among the top 10 in MLB attendance this season. As Oscar Wilde wrote, “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

Still, these numbers suggest you shouldn’t mistake notoriety or ticket sales for being well-liked. In some cases, well-known teams (like the Cubs) are also well-liked — but in others (cough, Yankees), these teams can be better described as “notorious.”

Check out our latest MLB predictions.

If Hillary Clinton Had Won

Jul. 20th, 2017 03:01 pm
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Posted by Nate Silver

What’s different – and what’s the same – in a world where the 2016 election went the other way? Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, 2016 Election

Greetings, citizens of Earth 1! I’m filing this dispatch from Earth 2, where Hillary Clinton got just a few more votes last November than she did in your world. And I really do mean just a few more: On Earth 2, Clinton won an additional 0.5 percent more of the vote each state, and Donald Trump won 0.5 percent less. That was just enough for her to narrowly win three states – Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan – that she narrowly lost in what you think of as “the real world.” Races for Congress turned out exactly the same here on Earth 2, so Clinton is president with a Republican Congress.

Things are really different on Earth 2! Merrick Garland is on the Supreme Court instead of Neil Gorsuch. Clinton didn’t enact a “travel ban.” The United States didn’t withdraw from the Paris climate accord. Kellyanne Conway has a CNN show.


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