Week-long training inspires Harvard’s dining team

first_imgHarvard’s students were still on break, but from Jan. 7-11, class was in session. Harvard University Dining Services (HUDS) took advantage of a rare downtime on campus to host 226 hourly employees and 44 managers for a first-of-its-kind week-long training.“We’re a large department,” noted David Davidson, managing director for HUDS, “and also an extremely busy one, with teammates scattered across campus. We rarely get to come together to work on the soft skills, the interpersonal understanding, connection, creativity, and inspiration that keeps you engaged in your job at a higher level. This week was a special moment.”The training opened with a video, featuring photos of the fall semester and messages of thanks for the staff from administrators and students.  The group then dug into the theme “Working at Harvard,” starting with a review of the new Campus Services Mission and Guiding Principles. Employees broke into work unit groups to share how they live the mission in their jobs. For the guiding principle “Build partnerships based on trust and transparency,” for example, ideas ranged from learning about a coworker’s heritage or culture to being flexible in your position when others need help. For “Committing to be a learning organization,” employees mentioned highlighting healthy choices for customers or being mindful of the learning pace and preference of coworkers.Other “Working at Harvard” sessions included a police department overview of campus safety, a review of employee benefits (including a benefits fair), and Title IX training.,The themes for the rest of the week were “Working at HUDS,” “Skills for Your Job,” and “Teamwork.” These trainings featured sessions such as intensive, in-kitchen training with the Culinary Institute of America (focused on beans and grains) and the Humane Society of the United States (focused on vegan cookery), Diversity and Inclusion training, creating a team resume, understanding sustainability buzzwords, understanding and building credit, and peer stories of career advancement at Harvard.Planning began in the late summer, led by Susan Simon, the training coordinator. “We’ve never done anything as intensive as this before,” noted Simon. “It was like a professional conference, with program tracks. Everyone contributed ideas and took the lead on various segments.  Our managers were able to share their expertise, work with people they might not normally work with, and bring out conversations and experiences that elevated the whole team.”Before this year, HUDS traditionally offered voluntary training days in January and March, but participation was nominal. “It was an amazing experience for me,” said Ed Salerno, senior general manager for Eliot and Kirkland House Dining Halls. “I got to interact with my employees in a different way, and likewise they got to interact with each other. Sometimes we get bogged down with solving problems, but for this week, as a team, we got to see the best of each other and I think it will make us more positive as a unit moving forward.”last_img read more

Man points handgun at customer in deli line at Orlando Publix

first_imgSurveillance video matched the victim’s account and showed the gunman had his finger on the trigger “[d]uring the entire encounter,” Officer John Dalles’ arrest report said. Police are trying to identify a man who pointed a handgun at the face of a 73-year-old man who was in line at the deli counter of an Orlando Publix.According to the Orlando Sentinel, the 73-year-old man said he was just standing in line at the deli on Saturday evening when he noticed the man next in line glaring at him.The 73-year-old man then asked the glaring man “Sir, what can I do for you?” “Do we know each other?”, according to an arrest report.The man then stepped back, drew a handgun, and aimed it at the other man’s face. As he was pointing the gun, he told the other man not to mess with him, the report said.The 73-year-old man backed away with his hands up and the other man, who was wearing a mask and gloves, put the gun under his shirt before walking away.Other shoppers and employees fled the scene, police said.Police received several calls saying there was a gunman inside the store.When officials arrived to the scene, store employees told them the victim is a regular at the store. They said the gunman seemed “furious,” according to the police report.last_img read more

Onwubere shrugs off admiration of Abueva in first PBA game

first_imgScottie Thompson also worthy of Finals MVP, thinks Cone Meralco ‘never the same’ after Almazan injury in PBA Finals Onwubere put up six points and nine boards while guarding and outhustling the workhorse Abueva who had a better line of 16 points, nine rebounds, and two rejections.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next LATEST STORIES Brian Heruela arrival bolsters Phoenix backcourt, defense Jiro Manio arrested for stabbing man in Marikina Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Rombaon grabs bronze in cross country MTB race PLAY LIST 01:04Rombaon grabs bronze in cross country MTB race01:27Filipino athletes get grand send-off ahead of SEA Games03:30PH’s Rogen Ladon boxing flyweight final (HIGHLIGHTS)02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award MOST READ View commentscenter_img For Onwubere, facing off against an NCAA legend such as Abueva was a surprise challenge in his first professional game.“I was star struck. Yhat’s Abueva we’re talking about,” said Onwubere in Filipino as his KaTropa dispatched Abueva’s Alaska, 106-98, at Cuneta Asrodome. “Then of course we’re in two different teams and we play to win.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSTim Cone, Ginebra set their sights on elusive All-Filipino crownSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSAfter winning title, time for LA Tenorio to give back to Batangas folk“I really wanted to do my best in defending him, and when I got the chance on offense I will shoot over him.”Despite not playing in TNT’s opener, Onwubere mmediately paid dividends in his 28 minutes on the floor as a starting small forward. OSG plea to revoke ABS-CBN franchise ’a duplicitous move’ – Lacson Woods optimistic for 2018, but schedule still unclear Steam emission over Taal’s main crater ‘steady’ for past 24 hours His debut took a little longer PBA IMAGES and when Sidney Onwubere finally played his first PBA minute, he had to brush off his excitement, jitters, and admiration.Onwubere debuted in TNT’s second game in the PBA Philippine Cup on Friday, where he was tasked to match up with the polarizing Calvin Abueva.ADVERTISEMENT Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew OSG plea to revoke ABS-CBN franchise ’a duplicitous move’ – Lacson Redemption is sweet for Ginebra, Scottie Thompsonlast_img read more

Natural Sources of Methane Surprise Climate Scientists

first_imgMethane is 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. Look where it comes from.The media are all reacting to the latest report from a federal commission on climate change, which says that global warming is a bigger threat than thought. Leftists are demanding prompt action (Science Daily) to avoid catastrophe (Nature). Some conservatives (Breitbart News), including President Trump (CNS News), are claiming the report is politically-motivated ‘fake science’ written by Obama holdovers in the government. CEH is not taking a position on this, but we do like to point out when peer-reviewed journal papers and consensus-believing secular science media cast doubt on whether global warming is humanity’s fault, if for no other reason than to show that a consensus can preach dogmatically from shaky ground – just like they do with Darwinism. Consider:From burping cows and food miles to greenhouse gasses (BBC News). This short article with video claims that cows, who emit methane from both ends of their digestive tracts, are at an all-time high in number.The amount of methane produced by livestock farming is predicted to rise by 60 percent over the next 11 years, which could be catastrophic for combating climate change. So what changes should we make to our eating habits?This could be blamed on humans, because we are breeding so many cows, but before humans began domesticating cattle, there were times in earth history when wild animals were much more numerous. Think of the methane that must have been emitted by herds of sauropods! Does it make sense that humans need to cut back on eating beef because today’s cows are at record numbers? What about the herds of wild bovines before the rise of agriculture, and the millions of bison that used to roam the American west?Bison herd, Black Hills, South Dakota (DFC).How a termite’s mound filters methane—and what it means for greenhouse gases (Phys.org). Cows are not the only belchers of methane. Many animals that digest plant material have gut bacteria that digest the cellulose and emit methane as a by-product. That includes termites, which are far more numerous than cattle. This article says that termites are able to recapture some of the methane they emit, which is helpful, but not all of it. Their measurements show that half of it escapes into the atmosphere. So even if science cuts termite methane emissions in half, that’s still a lot of greenhouse gas coming out the rear ends of these “poorly understood creatures.” Did the IPCC take termite methane into account? Remember methane is 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2) which receives most of the attention in climate mitigation talks.4,000-year-old termite mounds found in Brazil are visible from space (Science Daily). Let’s combine the previous paragraph with this finding also reported in Nature: “Termite mounds dating back millennia can be seen from space.” These are big termite mounds if they can be seen from space! Found in Brazil, they cover an area as big as Great Britain. How much methane were these billions of termites emitting for millennia before the Industrial Revolution? Both articles say nothing about that.Volcanoes and glaciers combine as powerful methane producers (Astrobiology Magazine). This article and another in Phys.org report a surprising discovery of large amounts of methane coming from a glacier in Iceland. This is the “first published field study to show methane release from glaciers on this scale,” and it represents a “huge amount” of methane.A study of Sólheimajökull glacier, which flows from the active, ice-covered volcano Katla, shows that up to 41 tonnes of methane is being released through meltwaters every day during the summer months. This is roughly equivalent to the methane produced by more than 136,000 belching cows.This means that even if many people gave up eating beef, and if ranchers cut their herds significantly, it would not make up for what is already coming from one glacier. Undoubtedly there are other sites on the planet with these conditions that are also emitting natural methane without any help from mankind. The open-access paper in Nature Scientific Reports explains all this, and yet another paper in Nature Scientific Reports insists that “increased mitigation efforts” will be required to meet the UN goals. Did the climate consensus take this into account when building their models and informing governments at climate conferences that drastic action must be taken by man to remove the threat we put ourselves in by building smokestacks? Not likely; the first paper admits that “subglacial microbial communities with methanogenic potential may be more significant and extensive than previously anticipated.” The press release gives astonishing news:“This is a huge amount of methane lost from the glacial meltwater stream into the atmosphere,” said Dr. Peter Wynn, a glacial biogeochemist from the Lancaster Environment Centre and corresponding author of the study. “It greatly exceeds average methane loss from non-glacial rivers to the atmosphere reported in the scientific literature. It rivals some of the world’s most methane-producing wetlands; and represents more than twenty times the known methane emissions of all Europe’s other volcanoes put together.”Aerial photo of Greenland with countless glaciers (DFC)Climate sensitivity to ozone and its relevance on the habitability of Earth-like planets (Icarus). Another factor not considered in climate models is the interaction of greenhouse gases with ozone. This paper is noteworthy on two fronts: (1) ozone warms the planet, and (2) exoplanets without proper ozone concentrations may not be habitable. So while humans have worked very hard to reduce the “ozone hole” they believe was produced by man’s use of fluorocarbons (which appears to have worked, thankfully, since the ozone hole is healing), they may have been warming the planet as a side effect of getting the atmosphere back to its natural state. Ponder that conundrum, as we ask again if climate models took this factor into account:Atmospheric ozone plays an important role on the temperature structure of the atmosphere. However, it has not been included in previous studies on the effect of an increasing solar radiation on the Earth’s climate. Here we study the climate sensitivity to the presence/absence of ozone with an increasing solar forcing for the first time with a global climate model. We show that the warming effect of ozone increases both the humidity of the lower atmosphere and the surface temperature. Under the same solar irradiance, the mean surface temperature is 7 K higher than in an analogue planet without ozone. Therefore, the moist greenhouse threshold, the state at which water vapor becomes abundant in the stratosphere, is reached at a lower solar irradiance (1572 W/m2 with respect to 1647 W/m2 in the case without ozone). Our results imply that ozone reduces the maximum solar irradiance at which Earth-like planets would remain habitable.Climate correction: when scientists get it wrong (Phys.org). In this consensus-defending piece, Patrick Galey tells how the media and scientists goofed on November 1 by reporting a flawed paper. The paper claimed that oceans were warming faster than thought. But in science’s defense, Galey assures readers that you can trust the scientific consensus, even when they are wrong. Watch this dramatic illustration of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat:Peter Frumhoff, chief climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the ocean study correction was “a beautiful thing”.“The rapid, transparent acknowledgement and correction of inadvertent errors in scientific papers… is at the heart of what separates science from dogma,” he told AFP.And so, let us all lean on the scientific consensus, the article says, with appeals to authority and bandwagon:“Science is a human endeavour and it’s therefore imperfect. What’s important is that results are scrutinised and replicated by others so that we can assess what is robust and what isn’t,” Gavin A. Schmidt, director at the Goddard Institute for Space Sciences at NASA, told AFP.“Current climate change has been looked at by thousands of scientists (and other interested people) and our understanding of it is pretty solid,” he said.If your confidence in the consensus has just been restored, despite the “replication crisis” science is dealing with (16 Nov 2014), consider that those previous articles all admitted that the consensus did not take into effect methane from glaciers, methane from termites, ozone warming, and methane produced by vast herds of large and small animals (from termites to sauropods) long before mankind built the first coal plant.Folks, you are watching a real live current case of dogmatic scientists banding together in self-promoting consensus, convincing the media they are right, and pushing governments to redistribute wealth as penance for mankind’s climate sins. And yet at the same time they keep finding new natural sources of greenhouse gases, like methane that is 30 times more potent than CO2, that they never thought about before. The climate models used as a club by these fallible scientists cannot know all the unknowns and unknown unknowns. So is it possible, we ask, that thousands of scientists can be wrong? There are historical cases of this phenomenon, where the minority or the maverick was right against all the screaming hordes of consensus bigots accusing their critics of being “anti-science.” Whether you believe the climate consensus is your business, but you had better build your case on research into real data, not on appeals to authority. And do that with Darwinism, too. Hopefully we have shown for 17 years now that the Darwin consensus is trusting in a house of cards built on quicksand in a windstorm, despite their dogmatic, bigoted intolerance of skeptics. 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Brand South Africa takes agenda to build competitiveness to Mpumalanga

first_imgJohannesburg, Wednesday 16 September 2015 – Brand South Africa will on Thursday 17 September 2015 bring the country’s agenda of building competitiveness, pride and patriotism, to the province of Mpumalanga during a one-day workshop at the Mecure Nelspruit Hotel, in Nelspruit.This is in line with Brand South Africa’s agenda to encourage all South Africans to play their part in building South Africa as a globally competitive destination for investment, tourism and skills.Provinces and cities are crucial to the positive positioning of South Africa because they cumulatively contribute to perceptions about the country.These are the perceptions that drive the country’s reputation.Building positive perceptions about South Africa requires all citizens to have hands on deck and Brand South Africa is happy to host representatives of business, government and civil society at the workshop.The inputs from the workshop will contribute to Brand South Africa’s efforts to position the country as a competitive investment destination.Media are invited to attend the workshop. The details are as follows:Date: Thursday 17 September 2015Time: 08h30Venue: Mecure Nelspruit Hotel, Cnr. N4 & Graniet Street, NelspruitEnquiries/RVSP: Manusha Pillai on [email protected] or SMS to 082 389 3587Follow the conversation on #CompetitiveSAlast_img read more

QLD wins ‘Friends of Rugby League’ Origin battle

first_imgA rainy Canberra morning didn’t stop a keen bunch of politicians and former Rugby League stars from battling it out in the 2015 ‘Friends of Rugby League’ Touch Football match at the Senate Oval, Parliament House on Wednesday morning. With New South Wales dominating the annual match in recent years, 2015 marked Queensland’s turn to lift the trophy, much to the delight of captain, Senator Barnaby Joyce. Former Queensland Origin player, Michael Crocker also joined the Queensland team, who ran away with a 4-2 win in the wet conditions.  NRL Chief Executive, Dave Smith donned a green and gold uniform for the second year running, joining both sides throughout the match. This comes one day after helping New South Wales to a 2-1 win in the Victorian Friends of Rugby League match at AAMI Park on Tuesday morning.Former New South Wales’ great, Nathan Hindmarsh was another player who backed up again in the 2015 match in the Blues side, led by MP Alex Hawke, hopeful of continuing their winning streak.But it wasn’t to be, with the Queensland side confident that this morning’s win will be a good omen for tonight’s main game. Touch Football Australia would like to thank Touch Football ACT referees, Adam Flint and Clint Jory for refereeing the game as well as ACT representatives Chris Tarlinton, Andrew Moylan, Ian Bateman, Jayde Bennett and Damian Prendergast for playing in the match. To view some of the photos from the event, please visit the Touch Football Australia Facebook page –www.facebook.com/touchfootballaustralia.  Related LinksQLD Wins Origin Gamelast_img read more

a month agoNapoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly buzzing: I do this for our fans

first_imgAbout the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your say Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly buzzing: I do this for our fansby Carlos Volcanoa month agoSend to a friendShare the loveNapoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly was floating after their victory over Champions League opponents Liverpool.Koulibaly was outstanding for the 2-0 win.He said at the final whistle: “I arrived late to pre-season training as I was at the Africa Cup of Nations and Kostas Manolas had joined a new team, so it took us a while to learn how to play together and we conceded a lot of goals, but we’re improving.“I try to give 110 per cent to these fans, as they give me so much love and I want to repay them. “I throw myself into challenge for them, as I want to take the Napoli colours to the top, so it fills my heart when they cheer for me.” last_img read more

Countries set to agree UN migration accord despite walkouts

first_imgMARRAKECH, Morocco — Top U.N. officials and government leaders from about 150 countries are uniting around an agreement on migration, while finding themselves on the defensive about the non-binding deal amid criticism and a walkout from the United States and some other countries.The Global Compact for Migration has proven a test for globally minded policymakers who want to ensure safe and orderly migration of people displaced by issues like war, economic necessity and climate change.They have run into stiff political headwinds, mostly in parts of the West that want national borders to remain sacrosanct.German Chancellor Angela Merkel joins U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres among the biggest names in Marrakech for the two-day conference that is set to agree, but not sign, the compact by acclamation shortly after the opening Monday.The Associated Presslast_img read more

Tom Brady Doesnt Need Gronk — Or Moss Or Welker — To

By 2010 — a down year by New England’s standards but the first year of the Pats’ experiment with two-tight end jumbo packages — 31 percent of Brady’s passing yards were coming on play-action passes; rookies Gronkowski and Hernandez helped the Patriots to the highest rate in the league, a stark contrast from 2006 when Brady ranked 29th out of 32 qualified passers.The unpredictability goes for other supposed Brady calling cards, like consistent yards after the catch. Brady typically rates among the league leaders in YAC per completion, but he dipped to 24th out of 33 qualified passers in 2014, a season in which the Pats went 12-4 and won the Super Bowl.There’s no telling how long Brady will keep making it deep into the postseason, but just as compelling as wondering how long the old man can keep this up is waiting to see what sort of offense he’ll bring with him if he does.VIDEO: The Patriots better worry about Julio Jones Related: Hot Takedown When the New England Patriots upset the St. Louis Rams in Tom Brady’s first Super Bowl, way back in 2002, Brady was throwing passes to Kevin Faulk, Troy Brown and David Patten. By 2008, he was throwing to the greatest wide receiver of all time, backed by a deep, talented receiving corps. Once Randy Moss left town, the Pats retooled with perhaps the best tight end in NFL history — and again once that tight end was repeatedly lost to injury. These were all very different players with very different strengths, but the Patriots found success with all of them.One of the more remarkable things about Brady appearing in his seventh Super Bowl on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons at age 39 is how many different styles of offense he has found success in. It’s rare enough to find a quarterback who can make all of the throws, let alone one who can do it to so many different players with so many different game plans.Brady isn’t going to beat anyone with his legs (although he’s an effective sneaker), but the Patriots are unmatched in tweaking their offensive strategy for the personnel on hand. New England has had great offensive seasons in which over 70 percent of passing yards went to wide receivers, a high rate for the NFL. The Patriots have also had great seasons when WRs caught half of their yards or less, a rarity in the league. Five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Wes Welker was greatly responsible for some of the Patriots’ most concentrated (and successful) passing seasons, eating up yards alongside Moss and Gronkowski. During his four best years, the Patriots were truly a star-driven passing offense, with fourth and fifth options like Jabar Gaffney and Danny Woodhead making a comparatively small impact in the passing game. In 2011, New England’s most top-heavy season of the Brady era, Welker, Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez accounted for 33 of Brady’s 39 receiving touchdowns and over 70 percent of the team’s receiving yards.But the Pats don’t need stars in order to succeed. In 2005, Deion Branch, David Givens and Troy Brown caught just a little over 50 percent of the Pats’ receiving yards, with Ben Watson, Tim Dwight and Kevin Faulk adding contributions. An injury to Edelman in 2015 led to a similar situation – Gronk was the only player to crack 700 receiving yards, but eight players had at least 250. Of course, it helps to have some talent — the 2006 Patriots didn’t get much happening in their passing game with Reche Caldwell as WR1.That success with diverse sets of receivers has also come with diverse sets of game plans. Unlike, say, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers rolling left or Cardinals signal-caller Carson Palmer gunning the deep ball, conventional wisdom says that Brady’s game morphs to fit his personnel.One way we can test whether that’s true is to look at whether the things Brady was known for early in his career have continued to be central to his game as his career has progressed. At one point, the nearest thing he had to a specialty (besides those QB sneaks) was the play-action pass. Play-action is an effective part of any offense, and certain quarterbacks tend to rely on it more than others. But while Brady mastered it alongside future Hall of Famers Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, it has drifted in and out of his game over the years.ESPN’s more advanced passing data only goes back as far as 2006, after Brady had already established himself as a top quarterback — but a year before Moss and Welker showed up and the Pats began breaking passing records. Even picking up then, we can see drastic shifts in how often the Pats have gone to the run fake and how much of the passing offense it has made up. The 2016 Pats are light on wide receivers, although not exceptionally so for a Brady-led team. Julian Edelman topped 1,000 yards, and Chris Hogan established himself as a useful second receiver, but Danny Amendola mostly disappeared (putting up 243 yards in 12 games), and Malcolm Mitchell wasn’t exactly devastating. Meanwhile, tight ends Martellus Bennett and Rob Gronkowski (in eight games) combined for 1,241 yards, while running back James White chipped in another 551 in receiving.But, thanks in part to the Patriots, these positional distinctions don’t mean as much as they used to. Gronk isn’t a WR like Randy Moss was, but he is still more or less used as a receiver (a distinction that is, as Seahawks pass-catcher Jimmy Graham found, worth a lot of money in the pay scale). Perhaps a better way of looking at Brady’s versatility is how he does in the presence or absence of top targets. And while the Pats’ best seasons have come with major weapons at their disposal, they do just fine without them, thank you. Hot Takedown’s Super Bowl Special read more

Some Fouls Are So Bad Theyre Good

Last week, prompted by ESPN’s new “30 for 30” documentary on the “Bad Boys” Detroit Pistons, I examined the question of just how “bad” the Bad Boys really were. In that piece, I used relative technical foul rates as a proxy for “badness” to establish that the Bad Boys Pistons teams did, indeed, deserve that moniker. Their two championship squads were two of the “baddest” teams in the past few decades, earning more technical fouls relative to their peers than any other teams since 1982. But one question lingers: Were they so good because they were so bad, or in spite of it?To find out, I looked at 30 years’ worth of the league’s correlation between technical fouls and winning. Technicals are the NBA’s official in-game punishment for conduct that the league and officials deem “unsportsmanlike” (short of a flagrant foul), which is why we’re using it as our proxy for badness.1In the Bad Boys Era, what are now flagrant fouls were mostly just technical fouls, and didn’t carry the extra penalty they do today. They, of course, have the immediate and measurable result of giving the other team one free throw by the shooter of its choice — worth around .85 points on average.2There’s also a minor effect of sometimes adding time to the opponent’s shot clock.Despite that negative consequence, teams that get more technical fouls than average tend to be pretty good. What’s more, the more technicals they earn, the more likely they are to be even better.Here’s a plot of the number of technical fouls (badness) a team had relative to the league average that year against its win percentage (goodness). The data below is pulled from all team seasons since 1982-83,3Limited to teams for which we have at least 10,000 combined minutes worth of data. showing only those that were badder than average.Look at the red dots, which are rolling 25-team averages. As the teams get more techs — or get badder — their winning percentages increase. That’s intriguing, as is the fact that the top 26 baddest teams in the data set all had winning records. Overall, 63 percent of these bad teams were good enough to have a winning record, and the top 100 of them had an average winning percentage of 60.3 percent.4The correlation between technical rate and win percentage is .27, which is pretty high for any metric based on only one stat.But finding a relationship in one season isn’t enough. The real test is whether the metric predicts performance in other seasons.5This is called taking your test “out of sample,” which separates cause and effect. Note, though, that it doesn’t necessarily tell you which is which. Below you’ll find a graph showing how technical fouls predict team strength in neighboring seasons, and how they compare to a variety of other popular metrics. For strength, we’ll use SRS, or “Simple Rating System,” which is a team’s average margin of victory adjusted for strength of schedule6The technicals per game metric I used is calculated relative to each season, while the other metrics are not. This gives it a slight advantage.:Effective field goal percentage comes out on top of this group, but technical foul rate holds its own, coming out as a better predictor of past or future team strength than stats stalwarts like points per game or rebounding percentage.7Also, technicals are more positively predictive than turnovers are negatively predictive, which is fascinating but beyond the scope of this article.That’s a bit wacky — the technical foul, remember, can’t provide value directly, because it gives up .85 points (on average) to the opposition. From where I sit, then, there are two potential kinds of explanation: Explanations that embrace the nasty. These would argue that teams that get more technical fouls are better because the behavior that leads to the technicals (i.e., bad behavior) likely provides more benefit than the occasional .85 points that it costs.8OK, actually there’s a third line of thinking, which is that technical fouls don’t cost the .85 points that we think they do because, say, referees overcompensate for calling technicals by giving teams better calls later in the game. But for all intents and purposes, I’ll treat those as part of the second theory. In baseball, high/inside pitches used to brush batters off the plate usually result in balls or sometimes even hit batters, but are commonly believed to be worth it (whether they actually are or not, I don’t know). For what it’s worth, I checked a boatload of possible confounding variables and combinations thereof, such as home/away (53 percent of technicals go to the away team); ahead/behind (57 percent go to the trailing team); and playoffs/regular season (if it were strictly a matter of effort, we would expect a difference when all teams have equal incentives to play hard. No major differences found). Coaching technicals appear to be at least as predictive as player technicals. If there’s a correlation between aggressive play and winning and aggressive coaching and winning, Occam’s Razor suggests that you should favor a single theory that explains both phenomena, such as that an aggressive ethos (which applies equally to coaches and their players) causes winning. In football, I’ve found that rookie quarterbacks who throw more interceptions (all else being equal) often have more productive careers. In basketball, offensive rebounds have a potentially similar problem from the opposite direction: While apparently a good thing, in quantity they signal that a team doesn’t shoot very well. In poker, a too-high showdown win percentage likely indicates that a player doesn’t bluff enough and/or doesn’t make enough marginal calls. So far my research hasn’t turned up any smoking gun proving the case one way or the other, but on balance I’d say the results are more consistent with the second option: Technical fouls exist to deter certain types of unsportsmanlike behavior, but if those behaviors are broadly advantageous (by intimidating or hurting the opponent, for example), they could be “priced incorrectly” at only (roughly) -.85 points each.9Compare it to the deterrence problem: In order to coerce different behavior, things have to be punished at a rate much worse than their actual effect.That something ostensibly negative can ultimately be predictive of something positive (or vice versa) isn’t an unheard of dynamic in sports. For instance: Not all good teams get a lot of technical fouls (the San Antonio Spurs, for example, consistently rank near the bottom of the league), but the vast majority of teams that get a lot of technical fouls are good. Of the 27 teams with the best winning percentages since 1982, two-thirds (18) have had more technical fouls than the league average at the time. (Compare that to the top 26 technical-getting teams having winning records.) But it’s unusual in basketball for an event with a negative impact to have a positive correlation with team strength. Take a look at some other things that have a direct impact on the game that’s similar to that of technical fouls (slightly above or below -1 point each):If everything else were equal, we would probably expect technicals to be in the same range as turnovers or steals, so the total gap from where they ought to be based on in-game value and where they actually are, predictively, is massive.10Note the gap between opponent offensive and defensive rebounds is smaller, even though there’s a straightforward reason that offensive rebounds are a mixed blessing (because it means the team is missing more shots).But even if we’re satisfied that technicals can predict wins, there’s still something we haven’t considered yet: Wins may predict technicals.11It’s like the Euthyphro question, but for sports gods: Are technicals good because the sports gods love them, or do the sports gods love technicals because they’re good? This theory has a few possible scenarios associated with it, such as: Teams that are in contention are playing hard all the time — so hard that they occasionally earn a technical — while teams that are out of contention don’t really care enough to do “whatever it takes” to win.That kind of explanation is intuitively appealing, both because the scenario has a plausible ring to it and because it’s the sort of unsexy answer you often find when you try to explain a strange result.To test this theory, I looked at play-by-play data over the last four years, which breaks fouls — including technicals — down by type. That yielded 1,963 player techs, 422 coach techs, 278 flagrants (similar to the technical, but with a much harsher punishment), and 2,448 three-second violations.12For the data set I used below, I also applied a number of filters: I filtered out the fourth quarter because variance is too great and tactical considerations trump other things. I also dropped hanging, taunting, non-unsportsmanlike and team technical fouls because their numbers are too small to break out, and I’d like to keep the main-line group as homogenous as possible.I combined all that with in-game win percentage calculations provided by Dean Oliver of ESPN Stats & Info, estimating the foul-committing team’s chances of winning before and after the foul (including the resulting free-throw).13I also duplicated all of this research using margin of victory so as not to rely entirely on the predictive algorithm, and the results were virtually identical. We’re interested in the difference between what that foul did to a team’s projected results and its actual results.Averaging across all plays, we can represent the results of this comparison in a slope chart that shows how the team’s chances should have changed in that moment, and how often it actually ended up winning. Take note of those two (well, four) lines for player and coach techs. Both player and coach technicals ostensibly cost teams about a 1.8 percent chance of winning the game, which is what we would expect based on the surrendered free throw. But the actual win percentages of technical-foul-getting teams appear much higher than we would expect. Teams ended up winning 2.1 percent more often than expected after player techs, and 3.8 percent more often than expected after coach techs.14Flagrant fouls don’t do as well, though they include a harsher penalty, including the possibility of the player being ejected.While this result supports our finding that technical fouls predict winning over an even larger number of observations, it’s also consistent with either type of explanation for why this is so. If there were any bias in how technical fouls are distributed — as suggested by the “wins predict technicals” theory — unfortunately it would still bias these results.But there’s something we can do to avoid that. Instead of computing the averages in that chart across every single foul, we can compute them on a team-by-team basis first, and then average the result across all teams equally — treating each team’s results as one data point regardless of how many technical fouls it received. That helps us avoid potentially skewed data if different types of teams (like winning teams) are more likely to get technicals in the first place. When we do that, here’s what we get (the new chart is on the right, with the old one on the left for comparison’s sake):Lo and behold, they’re extremely similar! Teams tend to win 1.4 percent more often when their players get a tech, and a whopping 5.5 percent more often when their coaches do. That similarity broadly suggests that “bad” (technicals) begets “good” (winning), rather than the other way around.To illustrate: If one great team, let’s call it SuperBad, earned every technical foul every year, but by virtue of being a great team won 5 percent more often than its expected win percentage would suggest, that would show up as a 5 percent gain in the chart on the left. (That’s because each time a team got a technical it won 5 percent more often, even though it was the same team every time, and even if the winning was unrelated.) But when averaged across all 30 teams in the league, it would only show a 0.16 percent gain in the chart on the right (SuperBad team ran 5 percent above average when getting a technical, but the other 29 teams ran 0 percent better15OK, technically undefined in this example, so add epsilon if you must.). This would be a perfect “winning begets technicals” scenario.On the other hand, if every team got an equal share of the same number of technicals as our SuperBad team, and every time a team got a technical it won 5 percent more often than it would have otherwise, it would show up both as a 5 percent gain on the left and a 5 percent gain on the right. This would be a perfect “technicals beget winning” scenario.The charts above seem much much closer to this second “technicals beget winning” scenario, as there doesn’t appear to be much difference whether we aggregate by plays or by teams. Indeed, the main reason this isn’t a smoking gun is that the sample size for the right-hand chart is only 120 team seasons, which would normally be much too small to even attempt to draw conclusions about differences of only a couple of percentage points either way. But being so consistent with the much larger sample of the play-by-play chart is powerful corroboration.Here are a few other things that cut against the “winning predicts technicals” theory: Finally, let’s return to the question that kicked off the piece: Were the Bad Boys Pistons so good because they were so bad, or in spite of it?Based on what I’ve looked at so far, I’d say the former has the stronger case: While technical fouls can’t lead directly to winning, the types of behavior that lead to technical fouls just may. Explanations that avoid the nasty conclusion that unsportsmanlike play gives a team an advantage. For example, it could be that technical fouls are committed more often by teams that are already winning, or that winning teams and players just have a propensity to get more technical fouls, and are willing to absorb the cost. read more