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Evolutionists Confess to Lying

first_imgIf lying evolved as a fitness strategy, can we believe anything an evolutionist says?In his blog entry “The Evolution of Lying” on The Conversation, Rob Brooks, a professor of Evolutionary Ecology and Director of the Evolution & Ecology Research Centre at University of New South Wales, gave half-hearted credit to a new theory on deception as a by-product of the evolution of cooperation.  The open-access paper by two Irish evolutionists, Luke McNally and Andrew L. Jackson, was published by the Royal Society this week.  It posits lying as an evolutionary strategy:Our results suggest that the evolution of conditional strategies may, in addition to promoting cooperation, select for astute cheating and associated psychological abilities. Ultimately, our ability to convincingly lie to each other may have evolved as a direct result of our cooperative nature.Brooks agrees that lying evolved, but feels the model of McNally and Jackson is too simplistic.  “I would like to see if it can help us understand the fine-scale tensions between cooperation and dishonesty in human affairs,” he said.  “There is a lot more to lying than simply misrepresenting the world.”  The liar can deceive himself as well, for instance, in order to make the lie more believable.From there, Brooks considered Sam Harris’s short e-book Lying, in which Harris advocates we all try to do better at overcoming our evolutionary tendencies, “arguing we can both simplify our own lives and build better societies by telling the truth in situations when we might be tempted to lie.”  Here’s how Brooks concludes all this discussion about lies and truth (bold added, italics in original):Harris gets bottom-up processes and the conflict between individual benefits and group functioning. His book is worth a read for his impassioned argument that each of us, as individuals, would benefit from resisting the urge to lie.I’m not convinced. What would help right now is some theoretic and empirical evidence that showed the conditions under which Harris’ prescriptions might work. And that’s the beauty of papers like today’s one from McNally and Jackson.Irrespective, a better understanding of how lying evolves, no matter how simple, might do enormous social good.For one thing it might help constrain the worst dishonesties in politics, public relations and propaganda.The question none of them are considering is, if lying evolved, and if self-deception is possible, and if deception can be very convincing, how are the readers to know who is telling the truth?Imagine a liar so skilled, he convinces his listeners that he is 100% against the worst dishonesties in politics, public relations and propaganda.  He tells you he wants to achieve enormous social good to provide a better understanding of how lying evolves.  Now, add to it that he is self-deceived.  Doesn’t his credibility implode?  How could one possibly believe a word he says?Brooks has the Yoda complex.  So do McNally and Jackson.  They believe they can look down on the rest of humanity from some exalted plane free of the evolutionary forces that afflict the rest of humanity.  No; they need to climb down and join the world their imaginations have created.  In the evolutionary world, there is no essential difference between cooperation and deception.  It’s only a matter of which side is in the majority at the moment.To see this, consider a majority of humans in a population that are self-deceived and believe that by giving magic Kool-Aid to the defectors, laced with cyanide, they will help them become cooperators.  The few defectors in that situation who try to stop them would be perceived by the majority as the real liars and non-cooperators.  By what standard would anyone in this Darwinian world know the difference between truth and lies?Having no eternal standard of truth, the evolutionary world collapses into power struggles.  The appeals by Brooks and Sam Harris to try to “resist our temptations to lie” are meaningless.  How can anyone overcome what evolution has built into them?  How can either of them know what is true?Since all these evolutionists believe that lying evolved as a fitness strategy, and since they are unable to distinguish between truth and lies, they essentially confess to lying themselves.  Their readers are therefore justified in considering them deceivers, and dismissing everything they say, including the notion that lying evolved.An even stupider notion came out of the Association for Psychological Science.  This is the evolutionary story that “political motivations may have evolutionary links to physical strength”  (see also Science Daily with its photo of a guy flexing his bicep).  A group of Darwine-drunk psychologists are trying to convince the world that “Men’s upper-body strength predicts their political opinions on economic redistribution.”  According to them, “an evolutionary perspective may help to illuminate political motivations, at least those of men.” Strong men oppose redistribution of wealth, namby-pamby men and women support it, they claim.  It’s not clear if they intended to impugn Obama’s masculinity this way, and those of all his staff, but it doesn’t really matter how many biceps they measured in their survey of political opinions. (Exercise: list exceptions to their “rule” from world history.)   You know their whole premise is false from their comment, “This is among the first studies to show that political views may be rational in another sense, in that they’re designed by natural selection to function in the conditions recurrent over human evolutionary history.”  OK, their point is?  If physical strength is a measure of fitness “designed” by natural selection, then anti-redistributionism is a measure of fitness, too.  Get the wimps out of the way!  They’re impeding evolutionary progress.  Isn’t “self-interest” the highest good in Darwinism?  We won’t belabor the misconception of conservatism they presented, because they already defeated their credibility by calling natural selection “rational.”  Readers are justified in dismissing everything these quacks say, too, if they had any inclination left to trust the word of “evolutionary psychologists” about anything. 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South African classic The Suit made into a short film

first_img18 May 2016SA: @AtandwaKani stars alongside his father, John Kani in the upcoming locally produced movie ‘The Suit’ #Dstv872 pic.twitter.com/kIs7TA84kL— TransAfricaRadio (@TransAfrica872) March 9, 2016The short film version of Can Themba’s classic South African story, The Suit, has been written for screen and directed by fledgling filmmaker Jarryd Coetsee. The film stars Atandwa Kani, son of South African acting legend John Kani, in the lead role of Philemon.The story, set in 1950s apartheid South Africa, deals with the consequences of an extramarital affair gone wrong, but the metaphor acts as a more substantial comment on the brutal effects of the forced removals of the time. The story was banned by the National Party government when it was first published, but has since become a standard in high school set work curriculums; it has also been adapted for stage.Themba was a journalist for Drum magazine and an apartheid dissident. He died in exile in 1968.About his debut film, Coetsee, who first read the novel as a set work at school, told the South African Sunday Times newspaper that the story was still important. Its themes of personal space and humiliation offered a more emotional understanding today of the profound trauma experienced by millions of South Africans during apartheid.In the story, Philemon discovers a suit left by the lover of his wife, Matilda. He proceeds to use the suit to torment and humiliate her.“Oppression is cyclical and it affects personal relationships in a destructive way,” said Coetsee. “I can think of no time in our history when it has been more urgent to heed Themba’s cautionary tale because we are now at great risk of oppressive forces derailing our progress.”Watch the trailer belowThe Suit also stars Phuti Nakene as Matilda and John Kani in a small, supporting role.The film has been selected for the Zanzibar and Durban film festivals, with Coetsee and Kani hoping that word of mouth and some critical success might lead to it being shown at other international short film festivals over the next year.While it might only be in short-film format, no expense has been spared in recreating the era, offering a visual quality worthy of any feature-length production, thanks to Coetsee and his team at Mandala Films.He hopes that success for The Suit will spur on more short film narratives that will celebrate local stories, both old and new.Source: Times Livelast_img read more

2018 Farm Bill Work Continues

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Senator Sherrod Brown is the first Senator from Ohio to be on the Senate Agriculture Committee. Work on the 2018 Farm Bill continues inside the beltway and The Ohio Ag Net’s Ty Higgins recently visited with the Senator about the latest progress.last_img

Last.fm Introduces a Subscription Fee For Streaming Music Via Its Mobile Apps

first_imgTags:#music#web The personalized music streaming company Last.fm has announced that its radio service will become an ad-free, subscriber-only feature on iPhones and Androids, starting February 15.Last.fm Radio will remain free via its website and desktop app as well as for U.S. and U.K. users of Xbox Live and Windows Mobile 7 phones.Last.fm Radio offers a personalized station, playing full song tracks based on users’ preferences. Currently, that streaming service is free in the U.S. and U.K. via an ad-supported app.In explaining the decision to move to a subscription-based model, Last.fm says that “In other markets and on emerging mobile and home entertainment devices, it is not practical for us to deliver an ad supported radio experience, but instead, we will migrate to what we believe is the highest quality, lowest cost ad-free music service in the world.”The change brings Last.fm in line with many other music services that charge you to listen to music via your mobile devices. The $3-per-month fee is less than Spotify’s $9.99, but Last.fm does not let you play tracks on demand. audrey watters 5 Outdoor Activities for Beating Office Burnout Related Posts center_img 4 Keys to a Kid-Safe App 9 Books That Make Perfect Gifts for Industry Ex… 12 Unique Gifts for the Hard-to-Shop-for People…last_img read more

Blame game on as train mows down 5 elephants in Assam

first_imgA passenger train mowed down five elephants on Saturday night, triggering a blame game between the Assam forest department and Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR).The engine of the train derailed due to the impact at 9.40 p.m. The section was restored after the engine was put back on track almost five hours later.Forest officials said the drivers of the 15611 Guwahati-Silchar Fast Passenger train ignored flashlight signals and ran into a herd of elephants crossing the track in central Assam’s Hojai district. They said the spot between Hawaipur and Lamshakhan stations, some 180 km east of Guwahati, is a notified elephant corridor.Railway officials claimed the section where the elephants were crossing was not a notified elephant corridor and that a 30 kph speed restriction had been imposed on all trains based on inputs from the Forest Department.Three calves dead“Five elephants, including three calves, reportedly died due to the impact. The loco pilots said the calves did not move from the track and the adult elephants began surrounding them when the accident happened,” an officer of the Lumding Railway Division said.“Our people are trying their best to prevent elephant casualties, but the railways seem to be taking such incidents lightly. I cannot fault our department as the railways had been informed about the movement of elephants and forest guards had tried to warn the drivers with flashlights,” Forest Minister Pramila Rani Brahma said on Sunday.A railway line passes through 13% of the elephant corridors in the Northeast, primarily Assam. Though the NFR said Saturday’s tragedy did not happen in one of them, forest officials said they submitted a list of 19 places along railway tracks where elephants have been moving across tracks constantly in Lumding, Hojai and Lanka forest ranges.Saturday’s accident site falls under the Lanka forest range, the area’s wildlife officials said. According to the NFR, incidents of elephant crossings have increased sharply in the recent past and trains have been slowed down whenever the Forest Department shared information on herd movement.Coordination is crucial“It is only because of the close coordination between field level officials of the forest and railway departments that 200 incidents have been prevented this year alone,” NFR spokesperson Pranav Jyoti Sharma said.The NFR is keen on mitigating elephant mortality on railway tracks but at the same time safety of train movements has to be ensured, he added.Green activists say encroachment and habitat destruction have forced elephants to stray out of traditional routes for food. One such diversion in December last year saw five wild elephants being knocked down by a speeding train near a tea estate in north-central Assam’s Sonitpur district. Data provided by the Wildlife Division of Assam’s Forest Department say electrocution, train-hit and attack by villagers killed 40 elephants in 2017. Despite the mortality, elephant population in Assam rose from 5,246 in 2002 to 5,719 last year.last_img read more

Paul George get MVP chants as Thunder roll by Jazz in playoff reprise

first_imgJazz: Host Miami on Wednesday.Thunder: Visit New Orleans on Wednesday.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Steven Adams had 22 points in the first meeting since the Jazz downed the Thunder in six games in the first round of last season’s Western Conference playoffs. Oklahoma City overcame a 4-of-18 shooting performance by Russell Westbrook, who nonetheless managed a triple-double with 12 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.Oklahoma City has won 15 straight regular-season games at home against Utah, although the Jazz did beat the Thunder in Oklahoma City in Game 2 during their playoff series. The Thunder have gone 17-4 since starting this season 0-4.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSUrgent reply from Philippine ‍football chief“I’m going to just play hard,” George said about the chants. “If that happens at the end of the year, then so be it. That’s the least of my concerns. Right now, I’m enjoying playing with this group. We’ve got a special group here. We want to win. We want to win big. That’s first and foremost. Anything else after that, it’s appreciated, but that’s not the concern.”Donovan Mitchell battled foul trouble much of the game but led the Jazz with 19 points, while Rudy Gobert recorded his 23rd double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds. It was the second lopsided road loss in two days for Utah, which fell 110-97 on Sunday at San Antonio. The Thunder jumped to a 6-0 lead, causing Jazz coach Quin Snyder to call a timeout just 68 seconds into the game. Oklahoma City gradually built its lead to 17 points before settling for a 57-46 halftime advantage.“We didn’t do enough on the defensive end, collectively, and that impacts everything,” Snyder said. “We usually weren’t efficient offensively — either didn’t get a good shot or turned it over. You put yourself behind the 8-ball and you almost have to be lucky or perfect to get back in the game and we didn’t play well enough.”George, who scored 25 fourth-quarter points during a 47-point outburst in a win at Brooklyn on Wednesday, nearly reprised that performance in the third quarter.George hit his first 3-point attempt 50 seconds before halftime, then hit his next four shots from behind the arc en route to a 17-point third quarter. That helped the Thunder build their lead to 26 points near the end of the period and the Jazz never seriously threatened after that, although they did cut a 29-point deficit to nine in the final minute.“He was real balanced, under control, took open shots, knocked them down,” Westbrook said of George. “He played at his own pace.”ADVERTISEMENT Lacson: 2019 budget delay due to P75-B House ‘insertion’ Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting Hotel management clarifies SEAG footballers’ kikiam breakfast issue PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss View comments Comelec disputes PCIJ report on voter turnout in Lanao del Sur town Marcus Morris leads depleted Celtics past Pelicans LATEST STORIES 3 IS-linked gunmen slain in Maguindanao offensives Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George goes in for a shot in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz in Oklahoma City, Monday, Dec. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Kyle Phillips)OKLAHOMA CITY — Paul George heard the “MVP! MVP!” chants from the sellout crowd at Chesapeake Energy Arena, and while the Oklahoma City star appreciated them, he was happier the Thunder had just beaten the foe that ended their season last spring.George went 5 of 6 from 3-point range and scored 31 points, Dennis Schroder added 23 and the Thunder beat the Utah Jazz 122-113 on Monday night.ADVERTISEMENT Fans are in a frenzy as Netflix reveals that Henry Cavill is coming to Manila Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Jae Crowder had 13 points and Derrick Favors had 12 for the Jazz.CLOSING TIMEThe Jazz outscored the Thunder 38-23 in the fourth quarter. Epke Udoh, from nearby Edmond, scored 10 points in nine minutes to spark Utah’s bench.“It’s good to see guys that compete and guys that contribute,” Snyder said. “Any time those guys, regardless of the score or situation, they come in the game, you expect them to play the right way and they did. It was good to see their activity. They really made an effort to get the ball to the rim and as a result they created looks for each other.”For a good chunk of the quarter, Thunder coach Billy Donovan stood on the sideline with a look something between bewilderment and frustration. But except for Westbrook, he didn’t bring his starters back into the game, choosing to let many of his reserves figure it out.“I didn’t think we defended the way we were capable of in the fourth quarter,” Donovan said.TIP-INS:Jazz: Mitchell hit a halfcourt shot at the first-quarter buzzer for his first points of the game, allowing him to avoid a second straight scoreless first quarter . Ricky Rubio, who had averaged 18.8 points during Utah’s previous eight road games, had 10 against the Thunder.Thunder: The Thunder are 14-1 this season against sub-.500 opponents, including the Jazz, who entered the game at 13-14 . The triple-double was the 110th of Westbrook’s career.UP NEXT: MOST READ SEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completion Duterte urged to order review of all power deals with generation firmslast_img read more

CAP will not be a Burden on Jamaicans – Minister Paulwell

first_imgMinister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining (STEM), Hon. Phillip Paulwell, says that the Clarendon Alumina Partners (CAP) will no longer be a financial burden on Jamaica. He stated that “the Consolidated Fund will no longer be supporting CAP” adding that “very soon the entity will operate on its own”.The Minister was addressing Government’s decision to retain its stake in CAP, during the post -Budget press conference at Jamaica House on Thursday, April 25.Jamaica owns 45 per cent interest in Jamalco, which is vested in CAP, and the Government had been attempting to sell its stake in the loss-making company to Glencore. Alcoa owns the other 55 per cent.In his Budget Debate presentation a day earlier, the Minister announced that the Government has decided not to continue with the divestment, on the recommendation of itsnegotiating team.Mr. Paulwell told journalists that the Government has signed off on an energy solution for Jamalco, which will see the cost of production falling dramatically, thereby allowing the company to once more become profitable.“That is how we are going to clear the $26.9 billion that we have accumulated overtime,” he stated.The Minister said he could not divulge details of the arrangement at this time, but assured that he would update the nation at the appropri­ate stage. He informed that the arrangement will enable the company to continue operating, in order to preserve jobs, and more importantly, to provide a brighter future for Jamalco.“This energy solution is going to be pursued in a similar way to what was done with UC Rusal,” he said.The Government, in 2012, was able to secure a deal with the Russian-based company to maintain operations at the Ewarton refinery in St. Catherine and save 600 local jobs. As part of the arrangement, the company is investing US$100 million in a coal-fired electricity generating system for Ewarton.As it relates to ALPART and Kirkvine, which remain closed, UC Rusal says it will be switching from oil to gas as the main energy source, which will enable the restart of operations at the plants.UC Rusal had ceased operations at the three plants in 2009, due to the downturn in the global aluminium market, and the high cost of oil.By Athaliah Reynolds-Baker, JIS Reporterlast_img read more

NHL Sides Take Step Backward In Negotiations To End

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman  was “thoroughly disappointed” in three counter-proposals from the players’ association on Thursday and left the negotiating table pessimistic about a resolution.No new talks have been scheduled, and the possibility of a full hockey regular season is quickly shrinking.“Today is not a good day,” NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said.Thursday’s meetings, according to Bettman, were a “step backward,” while Fehr insists the NHL was only willing to work off its offer from Tuesday, rejecting the players’ three counteroffers.The union offered multiple options in response to the NHL’s offer on Tuesday that called for an 82-game season and a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenues between owners and players.Said Blues captain David Backes in a text to ESPN.com: “We feel our newest proposal took a great step toward getting a deal done. It’s too bad the owners don’t feel that way and I fear that we may miss an extended amount of time now.”Bettman said that proposal was the “best that we could do” and added that the two sides are still far apart.“None of the three variations of player share that they gave us even began to approach 50-50, either at all or for some long period of time,” Bettman said.“It’s clear we’re not speaking the same language.”Fehr said two of the union’s proposals would have the players take a fixed amount of revenue, which would turn into an approximate 50-50 split over the term of the deal, provided league revenues continued to grow.The third approach would be a 50-50 split, as long as the league honored all existing contracts at full value.Deputy commissioner Bill Daly contradicted what Fehr said was included in the third proposal, saying in a statement: “The so-called 50-50 deal, plus honoring current contracts proposed by the NHL Players’ Association earlier today is being misrepresented. It is not a 50-50 deal. It is, most likely a 56- to 57-percent deal in Year One and never gets to 50 percent during the proposed five-year term of the agreement.“The proposal contemplates paying the Players approximately $650 million outside of the Players’ Share. In effect, the Union is proposing to change the accounting rules to be able to say ’50-50,’ when in reality it is not. The Union told us that they had not yet ‘run the numbers.’ We did.”Further, Daly told ESPN.com that in the league’s view, none of the three offers from the NHLPA guarantee ever getting to a 50/50 split.Bettman said he was still hopeful the league can have a full season, but time is running out to make that happen.“I am concerned based on the proposal that was made today that things are not progressing,” he said. “To the contrary, I view the proposal made by the players’ association in many ways a step backward.”Bettman said Tuesday the sides would have to reach an agreement by Oct. 25 for a full season to be played. read more

The Case For Russell Westbrook MVP

Russell Westbrook is the MVP. You are likely already familiar with Westbrook’s claim to the award because every conversation that suggests someone else is the MVP must do the work of explaining why it is not, obviously, Westbrook.Westbrook’s case for MVP is self-evident. His season-long triple-double is a historic accomplishment, and its grandeur only grows when adjusted to account for the way the game is played today. Here are the top seasons for the triple-double stats sorted by John Hollinger’s Versatility Index, which shows how good players are at those three metrics, combined1Versatility Index is the geometric mean of points, rebounds and assists per 100 possessions., which adjusts for pace: Source: NBA.com SEASONPLAYERPOSS. PER GAMEPTSREBOUNDSASSISTSVERSATILITY INDEX Versatility index is the geometric mean of points, rebounds and assists (per 100 possessions).Source: basketball-reference.com 4’14-’15Westbrook95.741.110.612.517.6 3’15-’16Westbrook96.733.911.315.118.0 LeBron James126+15.140.667.332.124.6 Jimmy Butler141+12.831.563.041.329.4 … 34’61-’62Robertson124.926.710.89.914.2 PER 100 POSSESSIONS 1’16-’17Westbrook97.844.815.114.721.5 James55.152.3+2.840.937.2+3.7 DeAndre Jordan105+3.21.968.818.723.4 5’04-’05Garnett89.131.419.18.016.9 Isaiah Thomas163+18.225.065.446.026.4 2-PT SHOT PERCENTAGE3-PT SHOT PERCENTAGE Kawhi Leonard137+24.023.055.440.428.5 Source: NBA.com PLAYERCRUNCH TIMENET RATINGASSIST %TS %USAGE %PIE DeMar DeRozan139+16.128.854.842.926.1 PLAYERTEAMMATES’ WIDE-OPEN 3-PT % James42.4 Source: NBA.com Top NBA players by involvement during crunch time In general, the more possessions a player uses,2Plays on which a player takes a shot, draws a shooting foul or commits a turnover. the less efficient his personal offense becomes. You can see the frontier of exceptional player seasons forming a rough diagonal, sloping down from Kevin Durant’s 2016-17 in the upper left to Westbrook’s in the lower right. Generally, that’s the frontier of achievement for maximizing efficiency and usage, and anything that breaks past the outer rim is in the running for the best season in NBA history. Curry’s 2015-16 was more or less unprecedented, but was followed up quickly by Isaiah Thomas and Harden this season, each putting up absurd efficiency numbers with what have traditionally been extremely high usage rates. Then there’s Russell Westbrook.While a glance at the advanced stats (55.4 true shooting; 41.7 usage percentage) will give you the gist of the relationship — less efficient, more usage — they mask just how far out of the norm Westbrook has been. He has bucked the trend that’s afflicted super-high-usage NBA players for as long as the league has existed: Westbrook’s usage has exploded … and his efficiency hasn’t really changed. As a challenge to the basic makeup of NBA efficiency trends, Westbrook’s season is just as much of an aberration as Curry’s 2015-16.This is the final entry in our series making the case for five NBA MVP candidates. We’ve also made the cases for James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, Lebron James and Stephen Curry. Also, check out our NBA predictions.That said, just because Westbrook’s season has been impressive does not necessarily make it useful or valuable. And while it’s undeniably hard to do what Westbrook has done, it’s been an open question how much value there is in his tirelessly filling up the box score while also eating up possessions. Players such as Curry and Harden, who shake up the ratio by adding efficiency to a standard-issue star player workload, are far easier to evaluate. But a player who can take on limitless responsibility with seeming immunity to defensive attention is a dangerous tool in situations where good possessions are hard to come by, even if he isn’t the most efficient guy on the floor. We’ve seen Westbrook deliver in those situations this season.An unstoppable, moderately efficient forceWestbrook has been laboring under LeBron-esque playoff demands all season long as the late-game anchor for a severely offensively handicapped team.Westbrook’s crunch-time numbers this season are comical. We’ll define “crunch time” here as the last five minutes of a game (or overtime) in which neither team has a lead greater than five points. In those situations, Westbrook has been unstoppable. His already absurd usage percentage jumps from “just” 41.7 to 62.3. (Sixty-two point three!!!)Something else interesting happens to Westbrook during crunch time: As his usage goes up, so does his efficiency. His true shooting percentage creeps up to 56.9, and his assist percentage goes to 58.3. While he’s on the court in crunch time, the Thunder is outscoring opponents by 21.7 points per 100 possessions (up from +12.5 overall). In fact, Westbrook’s work rate late in games is so prolific that he produces as much value as entire teams. No, really.We know this thanks to a little-noticed stat on the NBA’s stats site called Player Impact Estimate, or PIE. PIE is the share of all box score activity in a game (so points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks) with deductions for negative stats (turnovers, missed shots, personal fouls). The average for a player should be about 103Since there are 10 players on the court., and the average for a team about 50.4Since each team makes up half the players. It’s an especially useful stat when used in tandem with net rating, because you can then see both how well a player is doing individually (the PIE rating) as well as how well the team is performing overall (the net rating).5Net rating is just a team’s scoring differential per 100 possessions.Anyway, Westbrook’s PIE in crunch time is 40.3, meaning he accounts for about 40 percent of both teams’ combined activity all on his own — a greater share of game stats in his clutch minutes than five teams6The Pistons, Heat, Lakers, Nets and Suns. collect as a whole. The Thunder as a team has a 61.4 PIE in crunch time, fourth in the league, which tracks more or less with its 19.9 net rating, which ranks second overall. Westbrook58.2%48.6%+9.633.1%31.4%+1.7 Harden62.652.5+10.134.037.6-3.6 A player totally unfettered from the effect of a defense is dangerous all game long, but a particular nightmare late in games.Team composition mattersOK, so Westbrook can get his whenever he wants to get his. No one really doubts this. But Westbrook’s ability to get his teammates quality shots is a lingering question because Westbrook is not Curry, who distorts the parameters of the game without even touching the ball. Curry’s teammates find better shots and make more of them without Curry ever having to generate a traditional assist. But Westbrook’s teammates … let’s just say not even Curry could charm Andre Roberson into hitting his wide-open 3s.The Thunder roster is not quite as bereft of talent as it’s sometimes made out to be — Steven Adams is a very good center, and Enes Kanter, Victor Oladipo and a few young players like Domas Sabonis all have their uses. But the team’s players are the worst long-range shooters in the league.This is made clear when we separate out the team’s doomed long range shots. 2’16-’17Harden100.038.410.714.818.3 PLAYEROFF PASSES FROM PLAYEROTHER SHOTSDIFFOFF PASSES FROM PLAYEROTHER SHOTSDIFF Curry40.0 Anthony Davis163-2.78.351.736.124.8 Harden38.3 The best pace-adjusted triple-double seasons Nevertheless, clucking about the righteousness of one MVP candidate over another inevitably returns to an epistemological debate about “value.” And there are a variety of cases to be made for players who had less outstanding, but perhaps more “valuable,” seasons than Westbrook did. James Harden moved to point guard and turned in a season that was two parts Steve Nash, one part Corey Maggette, and his Houston Rockets have faint yet plausible finals hopes. LeBron James had the best statistical season of his career at age 32, in his 14th year in the league. And Kawhi Leonard squeezed 61 wins out of a depleted San Antonio Spurs roster on which Dewayne Dedmon has a reasonable claim to being the second-best player. Each of those players’ teams has a far greater chance than Westbrook’s Oklahoma City Thunder of making the finals and winning a championship.But what if a player is uniquely valuable when the stakes are highest? We’ve seen an example of this before: LeBron James during the 2015 Finals. During that series, James took two games against the ascendent Warriors basically all by himself. James led all players in points, rebounds and assists, and did so while carrying a true shooting percentage of 47.7 and a usage percentage of 39.3. It was a marvelous series for James despite his poor efficiency, in part because his efficiency remained basically in proportion to what’s expected of the most efficient stars despite an altogether absurd workload.Russell Westbrook has done over 82 games what James did for six. He has scrambled our sense of what game-altering dominance looks like in the age of advanced stats, and he’s done it largely without the benefit of the most important tool of the modern game: reliable 3-point shooting, from himself or his team. Westbrook’s success this season has argued convincingly that top-end efficiency isn’t an absolute requirement for success in today’s NBA, so long as you can make up for a dip in quality with sheer force of quantity.Efficiency is not a vacuumAmong a certain part of the advanced stats-minded crowd, Westbrook is easy to dismiss as an outdated, high-usage, low-efficiency volume shooter in an NBA that has moved beyond ball hogs. This makes sense if you view the split between Westbrook and high-efficiency players like Harden as a proxy battle in some broader war for the aesthetics of basketball. On one side you have the game played as a brutal, Pat Riley-style combat sport, and on the other the spread-’em-out game of the Rockets or Warriors. But Westbrook is defying the norms of efficiency, too. He’s just doing it in his own way.Take a look at this chart showing usage percentage and true shooting percentage, which originally ran in an article by my colleague Ben Morris, in which he made the case for Steph Curry as the MVP: How teammates shoot after passes from their stars Russell Westbrook148 min+21.758.3%56.9%62.3%40.3 When a Westbrook pass leads to a 2-point shot, his teammates are shooting 58.2 percent; when they take 2-pointers not directly following a pass from Westbrook, they shoot 48.6 percent. This is a massive difference, but also a logical one: Players shoot better when their point guard sets them up for shots.Things go downhill quickly once OKC ventures out beyond the arc. There, Westbrook passes lead to makes on only 33 percent of attempts; without Westbrook passing to them, his teammates make 31.4 percent. Both numbers are staggeringly bad. The Thunder simply don’t have players who can shoot NBA 3-pointers. Westbrook30.9% Curry58.555.5+3.041.835.6+6.2 STATS DURING CRUNCH TIME Leonard47.249.6-2.443.838.3+5.5 As a team, the Thunder were a bit above average at creating wide-open 3s (meaning the nearest defender was six or more feet away). Getting open 3s is good! Except, they shot 32.4 percent on those wide-open looks, good for dead last in the league. Westbrook himself shot 40 percent, which means the rest of the team shot 30.9 percent. Again, on wide-open 3s. No defender within six feet. Thirty point nine percent. A tabletop cactus could shoot 30 percent with the defense out to lunch.So while Westbrook does not have as profound an effect on his teammates’ shooting as his peers, this is hard to pin on Westbrook himself when he’s holding the bag for an Oklahoma City front office running back the ’93 Knicks.“Stat hogging” is not a phenomenonOne final line of suspicion about Westbrook’s stat line revolves around the notion that the numbers are inflated by methods unnatural to the game. One of those allegations: that Westbrook’s teammates let him collect rebounds to help stuff the stat sheets.But it’s not that simple. For one thing, stars have always received preferential treatment on cheap rebounds. There’s an old story about Rockets players getting gassed up when Yao Ming finally began to yap at teammates who tried to scoot in on missed free throw rebounds — generally the easiest to collect — because those are reserved for the star big man, and the NBA runs on hierarchy. And Kevin Love made a habit of grabbing the ball at the ends of quarters, just after the buzzer sounded, and doing a quick turn, point and grin in the direction of the scorer’s table trying to get credit for the board.7These anecdotes came from Bill Simmons interviews that are lost to history after Grantland was shut down.The Thunder also aren’t as blatant about giving Westbook rebounds as they’re made out to be. Yes, it’s conspicuous that Westbrook is pulling in 8.5 uncontested rebounds per game, up from 5.9 a season ago. But we can track how often teammates give up a rebound so that a nearby teammate can pick up the ball: It’s a stat called deferred rebound chances. This season, the number of the Thunder’s deferred chances has decreased to 16.8 per game from a league-high 17.7 a season ago. What’s changed? Well, the 6.6 uncontested rebounds per game Kevin Durant collected in 2015-16 needed to be redistributed somewhere.Unlike shooting or passing, rebounding suffers from severe diminishing returns. There are only so many rebound opportunities, and only so many bodies needed to corral them. Oklahoma City finished first in overall rebound rate, and third in defensive rebound rate. The Thunder have decided to use this surplus of rebounding to leak extra bodies out into the break, knowing their point guard can collect the rebound and start the break. In other words, the Thunder have made a conscious effort to let Westbrook get the rebounds because they think it helps them win, not just because they wanted Westbrook to hoard triple-doubles. The Thunder are fifth in percent of points scored via transition, so it’s working out for them.But there’s a downside: This strategy often leads to Westbrook playing abysmal defense as he hunts for the rebound — the number of shots he contests is dismal, and by far the lowest among league leaders in defensive rebounds, though they are more or less in the same range as those contested by Harden and LeBron. But then, Westbrook has never been a great defender, and it makes a certain amount of sense to have him sacrifice already questionable defensive attention in service of the offense, especially since the defense manages just fine (10th in efficiency) without him. That’s not an ideal outcome, of course. In a perfect world, Westbrook would be more engaged defensively, and have teammates with shooting range that extends beyond the college 3-point line. But the Thunder’s willingness to let Russell be Russell is its own sort of progress.For years now, we’ve been hearing about how evolutionary players such as Kevin Durant or Anthony Davis or even Steph Curry were set to move the NBA game forward. That has largely turned out to be true: Offense in the league has improved at record rates, primarily because players and front offices have maximized efficiency at every opportunity. The league has found a way to squeeze more production out of more specialized players. And that works just fine as a general rule. But Russell Westbrook’s season proves that’s not the only way to remake the NBA in your image. Shaving away minor imperfections in pursuit of the ideal less-for-more ratio isn’t necessary if you come equipped with a never-ending supply of more. Stephen Curry90+10.827.361.836.123.3 Which stars have teammates who can shoot? James Harden133-3.040.055.651.021.5 Leonard41.4 read more

Infosys working on GST despite uncertainty over passage of bill

first_imgInfosys is continuing its work on developing a technology platform for the proposed goods and services tax (GST), even as the uncertainty persists over the tax reform’s passage in Parliament.Bengaluru-based Infosys had secured the contract to develop the technology framework for the GST for Rs 1,380 crore.Prakash Kumar, CEO of the Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN), was in Bengaluru on Monday to assess the progress made on the project, The Economic Times reported, citing sources close to the developments.”From our end, the project is going ahead as per plans — the delay in the Bill getting passed has not stalled anything,” said an Infosys executive, adding: “If not this session, there’s every chance that the Bill will be passed in the next session. In such a scenario, the technology framework for the GST has to be ready. So, as of now, the project is still going ahead at full steam.” The Modi government was forced to delay the passage of GST bill “indefinitely”, after it failed to get support from Opposition parties in the Rajya Sabha, where it does not have a majority. The government has now postponed the deadline for GST roll-out to 1 June from 1 April, 2016.But Kumar said the project is being carried out as planned.”We are already working on the IT framework,” he said. “It’s going on as planned. You don’t develop these kind of applications in one month, it takes time.”Infosys declined to comment on whether it is continuing with the project.”In case the government makes some changes, we’ll incorporate that. That’s the way it was planned,” said Kumar.”The three most important functionalities in the online system are registrations, returns and payments. We are closely monitoring the passage of the GST Bill and as of now aiming for the system to be ready by April-May 2016, with the key functionalities in place,” said Anurag Dua, director, government and public sector, at PwC.last_img read more