US Veterans Form New Crusade to Battle ISIS.

In this Powerlineblog.com article, Paul Mirengoff describes the movement by US military veterans to join the fight against ISIS or ISIL. (see distinction <a href=”http://clarkgriffithblog.com/2014/08/30″>Here</a&gt;) It is reported that there are as many as 900 applicants.

Where Obama made reference to the Crusades of the 10th to 12th Centuries, this movement is the same as it is a response to the killing of Christians, but differs in that the US veterans, mostly Christian we believe, are joining Syrians and Kurdish forces. The Syrians are Christian but the Kurds are Muslim.

This will be interesting.

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U.S. BOOTS ON THE GROUND IN IRAQ AFTER ALL

The Washington Post reports that some former U.S. troops have taken up the fight against ISIS in Iraq:

[A] growing band of foreigners [is] leaving behind their lives in the West to fight with new Christian militias against the Islamic State extremist group. The leaders of those militias say they have been swamped with hundreds of requests from veterans and volunteers from around the world who want to join them.

According to the Post’s account, some of the ex-U.S. troops are strongly motivated by religion. Others simply don’t want to leave the battlefield as long as ISIS is on the march.

So far, the number of American and other foreign fighters does not appear to be large. For example, Dweh Nawsha, the militia featured in the Post’s article, contains only six Westerners among its 200 Iraqi Assyrian Christian fighters. However, the Assyrian Patriotic Party says that more than 900 foreigners have been in touch about joining the fight.

The Kurdish authorities in Northern Iraq, where the Christian militias operate, are working out how to vet foreign fighters. All recruits reportedly are interviewed before they come and some sort of background check is said to be carried out. It seems unlikely, though, that the background check consists of much.

In general, the Kurds are happy to have additional fighters. However, some fear that the influx of foreign Christian fighters will make the struggle seem like a holy war, a Christian Crusade. The Kurds insist that they are fighting only for their land.

Right now, the Kurds use Christian militias as a second line of defense. The front line consists of Kurdish peshmerga forces. However, if ISIS continues its merciless assault on Christians in the Middle East, it seems likely that thousands of Western Christians will join the fight and that their role will expand.

Free-lance American fighters have participated in foreign wars before. However, the only precedent I know of for substantial private American participation is the Spanish Civil War. American Socialists organized the Eugene Debs brigade. American Communists, a much more cynical lot, organized the Abraham Lincoln brigade, which consisted of nearly 3,000 Reds. A cousin of my father was one of them.

The Spanish Civil War has come to be called a dress rehearsal for World War II. The fight against ISIS in Iraq sometimes feels like a dress rehearsal for something ominous.

Star Trek Actor Leonard Nimoy, “Spock,” Dies at 83 After Battle With Pulmonary Disease – Atlantic Mobile

Live Long and Prosper, the perfect Vulcan motto. I’m and old Trekkie so this is a sad moment.
http://m.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/02/live-long-and-prosper-leonard-nimoy-spock-stark-trek–dies-83/386423/

Obama’s Unfortunate National Prayer Breakfast Speech

Barack Obama appeared at the National Prayer Breakfast yesterday and his speech there, delivered in a somnolent, and desultory way, called out the horribly cruel burning of a Jordanian pilot and other barbaric Islamic acts.  He then turned, and where he has been unable to mention that these barbaric acts were done in the name of Muhammed, he mentioned that horrible acts during the crusades, the inquisition, and then leaped forward to slavery and Jim Crow laws in the US were done in the name of Christ.   So, according to Obama, who was raised in a Muslim country and attended an Islamic Madrassa (religious school) when young and impressionable, makes the case that Islamic barbarity is done by a fringe element and is not done in the name of Muhammed, but he claims the Crusades, Inquisition, slavery and Jim Crow were done in the name of Christ! There is a difference here and it is disturbing. Obama is giving us the Islamic version of history!!

Obama’s version of history is also wrong. The Crusades were a Christian response to the Ottoman conquest of the Holy Land. When one mentions Ottoman Conquest, Ottoman desecration is also included as Christians were slaughtered, churches were burned, artifacts destroyed, art defaced, literally. The Holy Land had been Christian since Roman times and were overrun by Muslims in the seventh century and the Crusades were several hundred years later, from 1095 to about 1350. They were undertaken in the name of Christ, obviously, to recover historically Christian lands. As we know all too well today, the Crusades failed. 

The Inquisiton is an interesting subject for Obama to raise.  This is as close to Muslim orthodoxy as Catholicism has ever been. The major crime in the Inquisition was apostasy, or leaving the religion, That is a capital offense under Islam and, at times, under the Inquisition. The deaths caused by the Inquisiton over hundreds of years would rise to a slow Tuesday for Boko Haram.
 
This leads to Obama’s most outrageous comment which was that Slavery and Jim Crow were undertaken in the name of Christ. Obama cites a vague reference in the Old Testament about “slaves obeying their masters.”  for his claim, he forgets that was not Christ. He has shown that he has little knowledge of history, but this shows him to be ignorant of the anti-slavery and civil rights movement, as slavery was not undertaken in the name of Christ, it was ended in the name of Christ, as William WIlberforce in England and the Abolitionists in the US were deeply Christian in their fervent hatred of Slavery. John Brown carried Christ’s words in the bible as he attacked the slave establishment in Harper’s Ferry.

The most contemporary and egregious claim is that Jim Crow laws were instituted in the name of Christ. Even a person as unaware of History as Obama should recognize that it was Christ’s followers who lead the fight to eliminate Jim Crow laws. Reverends Ralph Abernathy, and Martin Luther King, Jr were men of the church,  lead a religious movement to eliminate Jim Crow under the banner of the Southern Christian Leadership Council. How could Obama miss this fact?

Obama, as stated above, is poorly educated in history, but he is politically clever.  By attempting to equate terror now with the Crusades and Inquisition and blaming Christ he is delving into the realm of the progressive movements belief in Moral Relativism, the idea that there is no universal truth, and, if you think Muslims are bad now, you should have seen the Crusaders in 1100.  Yes, it is absurd, but remember what Professor Gruber said about Obama voters!.The politically adept Obama is speaking to his flock.
   

SuperBowl XLIX Shows the Essence Of Sport

Sports is distinguished from theater or entertainment by the fact that the outcome is in doubt. I have taught this fact for years and the example I use is that if theater was sport, King Lear would, on occasion, rally to reclaim his throne. That would make a great show.  This year’s SuperBowl shows that the outcome is in doubt until it’s over. As Yogi Berra said, “It’s not over until it’s over.” Even after Kearse’s miraculous catch brought the Sea Hawks to within a few yards of the victory and a run brought them to a yard of it, a equally miraculous interception did not end it. It took a misplay by Seattle to move the ball far enough from the goal line to allow Patriot’s quarterback Brady to take a knee safely to allow the last 18 seconds to run off the clock. Prior to that, he had the dilemma of not having enough room to take the knee behind the center as he actually would have had to attempt to advance the ball to near the line of scrimmage to allow that to happen. All of that with the risk of a fumble along the way.
The last play was set up by an interception at the goal line of a forward pass at a critical moment. The entire audience, including me, was wondering where the superb running back, Marshawn Lynch, who lead the league in running touchdowns this season, would carry the ball into the end zone. The pass was a surprise to me and hundreds of millions of viewers, but apparently not the Patriots who were expecting this sort of play. They had scouted the Sea Hawks and had seen them use this sort of play before. In practice, the play worked, but Coach Belichick told safety Malcolm Butler, “Now you know how to defend that play.” Indeed he did. But that did not end the game, it was still in doubt until a penalty allowed the Patriots the extra five yards and the ability to end the game on a knee.
This game illustrated the difference between theater and sport as well as any I’ve seen. No writer could get away by writing a script that allowed for the events of this game. The successful touchdown pass six seconds before the half, Brady’s 8 for 8 completions that put the Patriots ahead with 2:02 remaining, Kearse’s miraculous reception that seemingly set the stage for a Sea Hawks victory and then the interception. This game shows the superiority of sport over theater as popularity indicates. The outcome of a game is in doubt, obviously at the beginning, but sometimes at the end as well.

Naivete Shattered, Deflategate Reconsidered..

Yesterday I wrote about Deflategate as a non issue and was questioned by several of you. One guy called my piece an example in “nerdiness.”. fThank you, I think.

I have now reconsidered as I really didn’t think anything was amiss. Now I am forced to reconsider my position.

I erred on the balls issue, It seems that each quarterback has balls prepared to his liking before each game. I thought that a dozen balls were prepared and given to the officials before the game like in baseball where the umpires prepared the balls by rubbing Delaware River mud on them. Now I learn that each team supplies a dozen balls for its use, only. This is like allowing the pitchers in baseball to prepare the balls they will use. Just imagine the ingenious application of various substances that would occur there. I am sure some sticky stuff finds its way to the footballs in this case, and, I imagine, that the balls are inflated to the minimum legal limit by some teams to allow temperature to take effect later. That does occur, apparently.

The most shocking article sent to me is the following that deals with the Patriots apparent success in not losing fumbles at home. If you are a conspiracy minded person and think Coach Belichick capable of such subtle thinking, read this one. Just to spike interest, read the following quote and then the article.

“Ironically, as my study yesterday showed, the Patriots performance in wet weather home games mysteriously turned ridiculous starting in 2007.  In 2006, they went 0-2.  From 2007 onward, they went 14-1.”

Now, read on and I am sorry for the misleading post yesterday, nerdi as it was.

The New England Patriots Prevention of Fumbles is Nearly Impossible

By Warren Sharp

After reading this piece, be sure to review the follow-up article, which looks at individual player data for New England Patriots when playing on other NFL teams.

QUICK NOTE: The analysis at the TOP looks at fumbles LOST. Further down, I look at ALL fumbles, regardless of who recovered.

Yesterday I investigated whether or not the New England Patriots outperform expectations in bad weather.  I had several recommendations to look at home and road data, as opposed to just home data.  Mulling whether or not to undertake that further (time consuming) analysis, I watched this video:

I immediately noticed something that cannot be overlooked: the issue with ball security and fumbles.  Then I remembered this remarkable fact:

The 2014 Patriots were just the 3rd team in the last 25 years to never have lost a fumble at home!  The biggest difference between the Patriots and the other 2 teams who did it was that New England ran between 150 and 200 MORE plays this year than those teams did in the years they had zero home fumbles, making the Patriots stand alone in this unique statistic.

Based on the desire to incorporate full season data (not just home games, as a team theoretically bring “doctored footballs” with them on the road) I performed the following analysis:

I looked at the last 5 years of data (since 2010) and examined TOTAL FUMBLES in all games (as well as fumbles/game) but more importantly, TOTAL OFFENSIVE PLAYS RUN.  Thus, we can to determine average PLAYS per FUMBLE, a much more valuable statistic.  The results are displayed in the chart below.  Keep in mind, this is for all games since 2010, regardless of indoors, outdoors, weather, site, etc.  EVERYTHING.

(click to enlarge)

One can CLEARLY SEE the Patriots, visually, are off the chart.  There is no other team even close to being near to their rate of 187 offensive plays (passes+rushes+sacks) per fumble.  The league average is 105 plays/fumble.  Most teams are within 21 plays of that number.

I spoke with John Candido, a Data Scientist at ZestFinance who I know from work on theNFLproject.com website, and sent him the data.  He said:

Based on the assumption that fumbles per play follow a normal distribution, you’d expect to see, according to random fluctuation, the results that the Patriots have gotten over this period, once in 16,233.77 instances”.

Which in layman’s terms means that this result only being a coincidence, is like winning a raffle where you have a 0.0000616 probability to win. Which in other words, it’s very unlikely that it’s a coincidence.

I actually went back and researched 5 year periods for the entire NFL over the last 25 years. The Patriots ratio of 187 plays to 1 fumble is the BEST of ANY team in the NFL for ANY 5 year span of time over the last 25 years. Not was it just the best, it wasn’t close:

  1. 2010-2014 Patriots:  187 plays/fumble
  2. 2009-2013 Patriots:  156 plays/fumble
  3. 2006-2010 Colts:  156 plays/fumble
  4. 2005-2009 Colts:  153 plays/fumble
  5. 2007-2011 Patriots:  149 plays/fumble
  6. 2008-2012 Patriots:  148 plays/fumble
  7. 2010-2014 Texans:  140 plays/fumble
  8. 2004-2008 Colts:  139 plays/fumble
  9. 2006-2010 Jets:  135 plays/fumble
  10. 1999-2003 Chiefs:  134 plays/fumble

There are a few key takeaways.  First and foremost, the 187 plays/fumble dwarfs even the rest of the best seasons the last 25 years.  Second, the Patriots have been at the top of the NFL since 2007.

Ironically, as my study yesterday showed, the Patriots performance in wet weather home games mysteriously turned ridiculous starting in 2007.  In 2006, they went 0-2.  From 2007 onward, they went 14-1.

The next obvious question becomes, where were the Patriots in this statistic pre-2007?  Take a look:

(click to enlarge)

As you can see, the Patriots won their Super Bowls having a below average rate of fumbles lost given today’s average of 105 plays/game.  But in 2007, something happened to propel them to a much better rate (you’ll remember, that just so happened to be the same year they went 16-0 in the regular season).  But even looking at these numbers, its clear how insane the 187 number is:  they are almost running 100 MORE plays without a single fumble as compared to the 2002-2006 period when they won 2 of their 3 Super Bowls.

To further illustrate how these numbers are astonishing, the below graphics lay out clearly how far off the Patriots are from the rest of the league.  Its evident to the eye how far removed they are from the norm.  Whether we look at a histogram laying it out, where the Patriots and their 187 plays/fumble is far from the “bell shaped curve”:

(click to enlarge)

or the same chart as above, this time displaying color bands as we move away from the 105 plays/fumble average.  You can see the darker red band contains all teams but the bottom 3 and the top 3, and that the bottom 3 are very close to the darker red band.  Meanwhile, the Patriots are really in a league of their own:

(click to enlarge)

Could the Patriots be so good that they just defy the numbers?  As my friend theorized:  Perhaps they’ve invented a revolutionary in-house way to protect the ball, or perhaps they’ve intentionally stocked their skill positions with players who don’t have a propensity to fumble.  Or perhaps still, they call plays which intentionally result in a lower percentage of fumbles.  Or maybe its just that they play with deflated footballs on offense.  It could be any combination of the above.

But regardless of what, specifically, is causing these numbers, the fact remains:  this is an extremely abnormal occurrence and is NOT simply random fluctuation.

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UPDATE: It was suggested that I look at ALL fumbles, not just fumbles lost.  With that said, let’s look there:

First, it should be noted (as the tables above show) that teams playing indoors fumble the ball less frequently.  Reasons are many, foremost the ball won’t be wet from precipitation, damp from late night condensation, and a variety of other reasons.  Which is why, if you look at the very first chart I posted above, you’ll see the teams who fumble the MOST/play are generally colder weather teams who play outdoors (PHI, DEN, BUF, PIT, WAS, NYG, KC, NYJ).  Whereas at the other end of the spectrum, aside from the Patriots in their own world, are HOU, ATL and NO, all dome teams.

The below graphic looks at ALL fumbles over 5 year periods the last 25 years.  I planned to cut this off at JUST the top 10 teams, but all we would have seen were the Patriots and dome teams.  Top 15 would have accomplished the same.  So I had to expand to the top 25 team periods.  As you can see, of the top 25 team-periods, 17 are dome teams, including 11 of the top 15.   First, let’s look at the chart, then we’ll look at comparisons to average:

(click to enlarge)

As is apparent, the Patriots are the only outdoor NFL team the last 25 years to average 70 plays/fumble or better, and they did it from 2007-2014 (four, five year periods).  Its simply uncanny, as the statistics above similarly showed.

Averages:

  • Over the last 25 years, indoor teams averaged 43 plays/fumble (in all games they played that season, regardless of site, understanding that half their games would be played indoor sans-weather).
  • Since 2000, they improved to 46 plays/fumble.
  • Over the last 25 years, outdoor teams averaged 41 plays/fumble.
  • Since 2000, they improved to 43 plays/fumble.

The Patriots averaged 73 plays/fumble the past 5 years, almost 70% better than the 43 plays/fumble that outdoor teams averaged since 2000.

Next, lets look only at the current 5 year period:

The league average plays per fumble from 2010 thru 2014 was 50 plays/fumble.

  • For indoor teams, the average was 55 plays/fumble.
  • For outdoor teams, excluding the Patriots, the average was 46 plays/fumble (9 fewer).

The Patriots averaged 73 plays/fumble, almost 60% MORE than outdoor teams, and almost 50% MORE than the league average the past 5 years.

(click to enlarge)

Since we now can clearly in the data, both near term and long term, that dome-based teams (who play at least 8 games out of the elements) have an advantage in the fumble department, we can exclude them from comparisons to the Patriots.

If we do, I can produce a chart identical to the one at the very top which looked ONLY at fumbles lost.  This one looks at ALL fumbles, whether lost or recovered.  I think the point still remains:

(click to enlarge)

If this chart looks nearly identical, it should.  The Patriots are so “off the map” when it comes to either fumbles or only fumbles lost.  As mentioned earlier:  this is an extremely abnormal occurrence and is NOT simply random fluctuation.

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Warren Sharp of sharpfootballanalysis.com is an industry pioneer at the forefront of incorporating advanced analytics and metrics into football analysis. A licensed Professional Engineer by trade, Warren applies the same critical thought process and problem solving techniques into his passion, football. After spending years constructing, testing and perfecting computer models written to understand the critical elements to win NFL football games, Warren’s quantitative analytics are used in private consulting work, and elements of which are publicly shared on sharpfootballanalysis.com. To contact Warren, please emailsharp@sharpfootballanalysis.com or send a direct message on Twitter to @SharpFootball.

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