Saturday, October 11, 2008

Shark healthcare not so good

Will Dunham, Associated Press:
Scientists using DNA testing have confirmed the second-known instance of "virgin birth" in a shark -- a female Atlantic blacktip shark named Tidbit that produced a baby without a male shark.

The shark came to the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Centre in Virginia Beach not long after being born in the wild and lived there for eight years with no males of the same species, said Beth Firchau, the aquarium's curator of fishes.

The 5-foot (1.5-metre) shark died after being removed from the tank for a veterinary examination, and a subsequent necropsy revealed that Tidbit was carrying a fully developed shark pup nearly ready to be born, Firchau said.

Demian Chapman, a shark scientist with the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at Stony Brook University in New York state, performed DNA testing that showed the pup had no father. Virgin birth such as this is known as parthenogenesis.
I know most people find this story interesting because apparently sharks produce their own holy messiahs and Anakin Skywalkers (although theirs die in the womb). What I find more interesting, though, is that the shark died while visiting the doctor. For all we know, the shark was perfectly healthy.

I bet some whiny conservatives are going to start blaming lawyers for the rising shark malpractice rates. But listen, folks, you cannot make it to a full shark trial if you do not at least have a reasonable claim for shark malpractice.

BONUS: This unrelated but amusing shark comic strip.

Friday, October 10, 2008

LCS picks '08

Sorry these are a bit late, as the Phillies already won game 1. We'll start with that series first.

The Phillies are 4-4 against the Dodgers this year, with the Dodgers sweeping in L.A. in early August and the Phils sweeping in Philadelphia in late August. The Dodgers lead the Phillies in various pitching categories, such as 3.68 ERA for L.A. vs. 3.88 ERA for Philly, 1.29 vs. 1.36 WHIP, 2.51 vs. 2.03 K/BB, 7.49 vs. 6.71 K/9. The Phillies, on the other hand, are the way more powerful offensive team, as a quick look shows: 799 runs for Philly vs. 700 runs for L.A., 214 vs. 137 home runs, 762 vs. 659 RBI, .770 vs. .732 OPS. The only place the Dodgers compare is with on-base percentage, which is only because Philadelphia did so poorly - .332 vs. .333 OBP.

I'm willing to give pitching more strength than hitting, because on average hitters fail more than pitchers. If Ted Williams hit .407, that means he still got out three out of every five at bats. Of course, he also got on base 50% of the time (.509 OBP), but obviously the Phillies don't get on base that much (see above). However, it seems that ballparks do play a factor - this season, each team won four games at home against the other. Philadelphia has home field advantage. Could that be the key? I hope so, because I don't want the Dodgers to win. L.A. has been atrocious offensively all year, but they have finished strong. That, combined with better pitching, makes me pick Los Angeles in seven games.

As for the ALCS, the Rays finished 10-8 over Boston this year, which isn't as much as I thought. However, they did win seven of the last nine against the Sox (the last game was about a week or two before the Red Sox clinched). Comparing Boston to Tampa Bay, Boston has the hitting edge. Boston leads in on-base percentage, .358 vs .340, slugging, .447 vs .422 SLG, and runs 845 vs 774. Pitching is pretty much a push. Both had a 114 ERA+, with 1185 strike outs for the Sox versus 1143 strike outs for the Bay Rays.

Looking at the second half of the season, the Rays scored more runs and hit more homers (by quite a bit), but Boston still had a better OPS (.794 vs .785), and a better OBP (.360 vs .345). Looking at ERA shows the Rays had better pitching (3.85 ERA vs 4.33 ERA), but going beyond that shows maybe not. They had the same 1.31 WHIP, with the Sox sporting a much better K/BB ratio (2.58 K/BB vs 2.13 K/BB).

I hate to say this, I really do, but I have to pick the Red Sox in seven. I would pick Sox in 6, but I'm giving credit to the Rays for winning so many games against Boston. I, obviously, will be strongly pulling for Tampa Bay, but I just don't think they can make it past the Sox.

I hope I'm wrong on both fronts, because I would love to see a Philly and Tampa Bay world series. I might not even watch and L.A. and Boston series.

I clear myself

Matt Apuzzo, Associated Press:
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Trying to head off a potentially embarrassing state ethics report on GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, campaign officials released their own report Thursday that clears her of any wrongdoing.

Sen. John McCain's running mate is the subject of a legislative investigation into whether she abused her power as governor by firing her public safety commissioner. The commissioner, Walter Monegan, says he was dismissed in July for resisting pressure from Palin's husband, Todd Palin, and numerous top aides to fire state trooper Mike Wooten, Palin's former brother-in-law.

Lawmakers are expected to release their own findings Friday. Campaign officials have yet to see that report — the result of an investigation that began before she was tapped as McCain's running mate — but said the investigation has falsely portrayed a legitimate policy dispute between a governor and her commissioner as something inappropriate.
In other news, O.J. Simpson's lawyers have released their own verdict declaring him not guilty.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Shit, what time is it?

About that time when cable networks show movies like this:



The woman is Cynthia Rothrock. Like Joe Biden, she has lived in Scranton and Wilmington, and like Joe Biden, she has studied Tang Soo Do, Wu Shu, and Eagle Claw.