June 19, 2013 12:30 pm
Home-field advantage is a long-running idea in sports. The home team knows the turf, they’ve got more fans in the stands, and they got to sleep in their own beds rather than some bedbug-infested hotel. But is home-field advantage really all it’s cracked up to be?
Whether or not home-field advantage exists is a pretty easy thing to test. Broadly, the answer is yes: teams tend to win at home more than they win away. This applies in women’s sports, and some Olympic sports (when the judging is subjective). But it seems to fall apart when the games are really important.
At SB Nation, they wondered whether people were too reliant on the home-field advantage. Jon Bois crunched some numbers, and found that had they played all their games at home, NBA teams would have won 10 percent more games, NFL teams 6.4 percent more, MLB teams 5.46 percent more and NHL teams 5.22 percent more. Bois writes:
I’ll leave it for you to decide why there is a significantly greater home advantage in the NBA than in other leagues, but I do find it interesting. The NBA’s environments don’t vary in playing dimensions, as is the case in baseball, and weather isn’t a factor. The only significant variables I can think of are the quality of the crowd, and the distance teams have to travel when they’re on the road.
This jives with the research available on why the home-field advantage might exist. One study tried to figure out just what created home-field advantage, and found that while a few things seem to impact the home team, the biggest factor pushing them to win is the crowd. Another study found that booing the away team actually worked, boosting the home team’s performance and hurting the away team’s. This might not be true in soccer though – where research suggests that it is familiarity with the field and conditions and referee bias that has the biggest effect on winning at home.
Bois goes on to analyze different sports and cities, concluding that Miami teams have a terrible time at home while San Fransisco and Minneapolis–St. Paul are nightmares for away teams. Overall, despite Miami, the home-field advantage stands, and it’s probably because of the fans. So keep rooting for the home team, because you could really make a difference.
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June 18, 2013 11:30 am
Bullying has been around forever, but it’s taken on a whole new tenor in recent years. With a new set of tools to use, bullies are no longer just roughing kids up and taking their lunch money—they’re causing serious, permanent problems for bullied kids. From internet stalking and blackmail, to using chemical warfare in the form of food allergies, bullies today aren’t like they used to be.
In today’s New York Times, Catherine Saint Louis has a story about bullies using kids’ foods allergies against them. She spoke with Dr. Hement P. Sharma, the head of the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington:
Every few months, a child recounts being force-fed an allergen, Dr. Sharma said, adding, “Even if it’s just a child who feels singled out because of their food allergy, it compounds the emotional burden.”
Many kids, Saint Louis writes, don’t really understand how serious food allergies can be. This PSA from Food Allergy Research & Education, a nonprofit group, depicts how food bullying can seriously harm children:
In one study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, 251 families were polled about their children’s allergies, and the bullying they might have experienced. Over 30 percent of kids in the survey reported being bullied because of their allergies—bullying that frequently included threats from their classmates. The study also found that about half of the bullying goes unnoticed and unreported.
Many schools are aware that this is an issue. About 15 states, including Texas and Arizona, have specific guidelines for their cafeterias that tackle food bullying specifically.
From food to Facebook, bullies have seriously stepped up their game since the days of wedgies—so much so that several government organizations have started campaigns to address it. And now, not even the lunch room is safe.
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June 18, 2013 10:00 am
Men say a lot of strange things when they encounter a woman they find attractive, most of which we will not print here. But one safe-for-work phrase is particularly strange: “hubba hubba.” Where did this odd little set of sounds come from, and how did it become associated with pretty ladies?
Like many expressions, the origin of “hubba hubba” is debated. Neatorama explains four of the most common theories, many of them beginning with the military. The first says that it came from the Chinese “ni hao pu hao,” and was picked up by Army Air Corps members while they were training with Chinese pilots in Florida during World War II. This version of history claims that the phrase spread through Bob Hope, the host of a weekly radio show broadcast from military bases. The problem with this theory that “hao pu hao” was completely mistranslated. It actually means “are you well,” but was mistranslated to “it is good under heaven when boy meets girl.”
The second military theory stays in the military but loses the Chinese. This one says the word “hubbub” was taken up by a military leader, who forced his troops to shout the words. The third military history says is that it’s a shortened and mutated version of the “hup hup hup” used by drill sergeants.
It might not be all soldiers’ faults though—other theories that Neatorama provides involve baseball (“haba haba” meaning “hurry hurry”) and television (one character on The Honeymooners used to say “hamina hamina” when confused or excited). The Honeymooners explanation doesn’t hold up to Oxford English Dictionary, however, as it point to 1944 as the first reference to the word, when in the journal American Speech the following sentence was published: “The inevitable fact is that the cry ‘Haba-Haba’ is spreading like a scourge through the land.”
But none of these get us to the sexual connotation of the word. For a theory on that we have to turn to Playboy, where Margaret Atwood suggests that “hubba hubba” actually came from the German word “hubsche,” which means beautiful. But linguist Anatoly Liberman, writing in the Oxford University Press’s Language blog, says that looking far beyond our borders for the origins of this word is fruitless:
Hubbub, as already mentioned, has come to English from Irish, so that hubba-hubba may be a loanword. Yet attempts to trace it to some foreign source (Chinese, Spanish, and Yiddish) carry no conviction and have been abandoned. In all probability, hubba-hubba is English.
So, as with many etymological mysteries, the origin is still pretty mysterious. And while the phrase is slowly fading into the distance when it comes to cultural relevance, it still pops up here and there. In 2004, New Zealand launched a safe sex campaign with the slogan “No Rubba, No Hubba Hubba.”
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June 17, 2013 1:42 pm
When it’s bright outside, your face instinctively makes this scrunched up frown. You might think of it as a harmless reflex, but that sun induced frown might actually impact how you feel. One recent study tried to figure out whether frowning at the sun actually makes you angrier overall.
To conduct the study, the researchers surveyed random people walking along a beach or boardwalk. They asked people walking with and without sunglasses to take a quick survey that asked them about their feelings of anger and aggression. It is from these survey results that they concluded that those walking towards the sun without sunglasses were generally more angry from all the frowning. The authors write, “we found that participants walking against the sun without sunglasses scored higher in a self-report measure of anger and aggression compared to those walking with the sun behind and/or wearing sunglasses.”
Now, one obvious question about this study is whether the people they surveyed were unhappy because they were frowning, or were unhappy because they had sun in their eyes. The researchers thought of this. They also asked their participants about how much the sun was bothering their eyes, and accounted for that in their data analysis.
This idea that your facial expression can secretly change your mood isn’t new. Previous studies have suggested that even things like Botox can make you feel happier because you’re being forced to smile all the time. And the idea that frowning is related to the sun isn’t new either. Charles Darwin noticed the way that frowning helped to shade the eyes, writing in The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals:
The currogators, by their contraction, lower the eyebrows and bring them together, producing vertical furrows on the forehead—that is, a frown.
So while Darwin probably didn’t wear sunglasses, you certainly can, and it might make you less of a grump.
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June 17, 2013 11:19 am
For a pharmaceutical company, competition with generics can be killer. When a company has the monopoly on a brand name drug, without generic competition, it can name its price. As soon as a generic begins to compete, however, it now has to drop its prices and make less money. When a company that makes generic drugs would enter the market to compete with the brand name version, many big pharmaceutical firms would simply pay the generic competition a sum of money to stay off the market. But today, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled against big pharmaceutical companies, saying that the Federal Trade Commission could indeed sue companies who engaged in “pay to play” deals.
The winning opinion was written by Stephen Breyer, who was joined by Anthony Kennedy, Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan. The dissenters were John Roberts Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia. Samuel Alito recused himself.
The case brought the “pay to play” issue to the Supreme Court involved a gel used to treat men with low testosterone. The Albany Herald reports:
In the case before the court, Solvay sued generic drugmakers in 2003 to stop cheaper versions of AndroGel, a gel used to treat men with low testosterone.
Solvay paid as much as $30 million annually to the three generic drug makers to help preserve annual profits estimated at $125 million from AndroGel.
The ruling of the Supreme Court states that it will not assume that all of these “pay to play” deals are illegal, but rather that any court that reviews these cases should consider them carefully. But the parties who do sign these deals will have to prove that they are not violating anti-trust laws. According to SCOTUS blog, “the ruling is likely to essentially put an end to such payments in the future.”
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