World Cup: Round of 16, who to cheer for

For a reminder, I did a ranking of who my favorite teams were by spreadsheet.  This is difficult because Uruguay has lost probably my favorite player, in terms of maximum entertainment value, do to his antics, but continues to have Diego Forlán, so I think I’m going to leave them at #2 and not readjust everything.  Also I’m lazy.

Cheer for Uruguay

Cheer for Uruguay

Updated list of 16 ranked:

  1. United States
  2. Uruguay
  3. Mexico
  4. Argentina
  5. Costa Rica
  6. Brazil
  7. Colombia
  8. Chile
  9. Algeria
  10. Nigeria
  11. Netherlands
  12. Greece
  13. Switzerland
  14. Belgium
  15. France
  16. Germany

Brazil v Chile (I’d be happy for Uruguay with a Chile victory, though)
Colombia v Uruguay
Netherlands v Mexico
Costa Rica v Greece
France v Nigeria
Germany v Algeria
Argentina v Switzerland
Belgium v United States

Can I add how exciting it would be to get to the next round with two african teams and no European teams.  #BigDreams

World Cup: Who to Cheer For (or who I cheer for anyway)

For me to be really interested in a football match, I have to decided who I am going to be cheering for.  It’s not enough for love of the game, you have to be emotionally involved with the outcome.  I came up with a little spreadsheet that accurately reflected how I make choices on who to cheer for.  This is a little different than my attitude in the Women’s World Cup where I cheer solely based on what is best for the US.  I ranked them based on the things I care about.

  1. If your are related to the US Women’s National Team (which is to say the USMNT) then I award you five points.  It’s nearly a trump card.
  2. If you are in the same region (CONCACAF) as the US, you get one point.
  3. If you’re on Continental Europe, you lose one point.
  4. If you speak an Iberian Language (functionally Spanish or Portuguese), you get one point.
  5. If you’re uniforms are a pretty shade of sky blue, you get one point (Uruguay and Argentina).
  6. You get a point for every player I know and like.
  7. You lose a point if you were an Axis power in World War II.
  8. Any ties are broken by Five Thirty Eight’s Soccer Power Index — I will always cheer for the underdog, all other things being equal.

So I fed all that information into a spreadsheet and very happily got a list that put the teams that I knew I liked or hated in the right place, and gave me some insight on how to apply my preferences to teams I didn’t ever think much about.  If you’d asked me before I made this whether I’d cheer for Netherlands or Japan, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you.  But now I’ve got numbers telling me what to do.  As you can see, if it wasn’t for the association with the US Women’s team, the US would only be 6th on my list, and France, Germany, and Italy, who I only cheer against, are all at the bottom.  They really should be tied, because I can’t imagine cheering for any of them.  On principle.  (Thank you England for these wholly irrational prejudices).  That said, I love to watch Germany play, they make beautiful soccer.

Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 12.22.50 PM

 

For those who can’t read the chart:

  1. United States
  2. Uruguay
  3. England
  4. Spain
  5. Mexico
  6. Argentina
  7. Honduras
  8. Costa Rica
  9. Brazil
  10. Ecuador
  11. Colombia
  12. Chile
  13. Algeria
  14. Australia
  15. Iran
  16. Cameroon
  17. South Korea
  18. Nigeria
  19. Ghana
  20. Ivory Coast
  21. Portugal
  22. Netherlands
  23. Japan
  24. Croatia
  25. Greece
  26. Switzerland
  27. Russia
  28. Bosnia and Herzegovina
  29. Belgium
  30. France
  31. Italy
  32. Germany

Oh, you want to know who to cheer for in all the matches?  Many of the first matches have already passed, but I am going to put the whole list here.  Will update when we have knowledge on the next rounds.  A reminder that this isn’t meant to be a prediction of who will win, just who your heart should belong to for ~2hrs. Bold is who I cheered/will cheer for and gray is games that had passed at the time of posting this.

Brazil v Croatia
Mexico v Cameroon
Spain v Netherlands
Chile v Australia
Colombia v Greece
Ivory Coast v Japan
Uruguay v Costa Rica
England v Italy
Switzerland v Ecuador
France v Honduras
Argentina v Bosnia-Herzegovina
Germany v Portugal
Iran v Nigeria
Ghana v USA
Belgium v Algeria
Brazil v Mexico
Russia v South Korea
Australia v Netherlands
Cameroon v Croatia
Spain v Chile
Colombia v Ivory Coast
Uruguay v England
Japan v Greece
Italy v Costa Rica
Switzerland v France
Honduras v Ecuador
Argentina v Iran
Germany v Ghana
Nigeria v Bosnia-Herzegovina
South Korea v Algeria
USA v Portugal
Belgium v Russia
Australia v Spain
Netherlands v Chile
Cameroon v Brazil
Croatia v Mexico
Italy v Uruguay
Costa Rica v England
Japan v Colombia
Nigeria v Argentina
Bosnia Herzegovina v Iran
Honduras v Switzerland
Ecuador v France
USA v Germany
Portugal v Ghana
South Korea v Belgium
Algeria v Russia

TAM Sunday: I give a presentation to a zillion people

I got up early to get ready to see the papers, and to make sure I was there to watch everyone else’s papers because they usually aren’t crowded.  TAMmers leave in droves on Sunday before the event is over and the papers were really poorly advertised this year.  There was no program, there was no schedule that anyone had access to, our names weren’t printed anywhere, certainly our subjects weren’t printed anywhere.  It was poorly done, I have to say — we’re not headliners, but we are people who still had to pay despite the fact that we’re talking.  The least they could have done is put our names somewhere so people would know what they were listening to.

Anyway, I went to the papers.  I was fairly nervous, but it was OK, I was the last to go, so I had to sit through 6 other papers before it was my turn and, unfortunately, the paper before me ate into my time a little, so I had to shorten mine up on the fly.  Which was also fine, because I could see anything thanks to the lights reflecting off of my glasses, so I couldn’t really read my notes anyway.

It went over very well.  The presentation was about the importance of using emotion and recognizing emotion in discussions, using the failure of the LGBT side in the Prop 8 campaign as an example of how emotional messanging works.  There’s a huge tone debate in the movement at the moment, for those of you who don’t remember DBAD, because some people think that other people are too mean or confrontational.  The point of my speech was to say that emotional content is one of our most useful tools, and being a dick creates an emotional response.  It’s a useful tool in the tool box.  But most importantly, just because the movement is about logic and rationality that doesn’t mean that ignoring emotion is the right way to go about convincing others — ignoring human emotion is irrational.  Including within the movement — skeptics are not immune from being human, we should start taking that into account better when we argue.

I got a large applause when I was done, and after I left the stage a little crowd of people came over to thank me or talk with me about the issues.  It was very cool.  I was expecting some backlash — perhaps from being on the internet for too long — I thought some people would tell me that emotions have no place in rational debates or that they didn’t appreciate my assumption that everyone in the room was pro-gay rights, but the responses were great.

I was too keyed up to sit through the next presentation, especially as the World Cup Final was about to take place, so I just went into the hallway and talked to people who came up to me to say thanks about my presentation.  To pat myself on the back a little, I’m going to write some of the Twitter responses:

kefox: Great talk this morning on communicating w/emotion. Our side is smarter & really ought to be the Jedi masters of this.

Tasutari: Ashley could easily have given a full talk – good slides, good content, well presented.  Plus, there was a Joss Whedon quote.

charlesj: Ashley tells us what we need to hear, continuing from Tavris’ talk yesterday

jennifurret: Ashley nailed it on using emotions when arguing skepticism.  Sometimes you need to be a dick!

TCTheater: Ashley is kicking ass and taking names.  Excellent capstone to papers segment.

SkeptiCareBear: Propaganda bad, but lack of all emotion worse.  Good talk by Ashley.

StevenTheWonky: Ashley is kicking ass.

ArcheoWebby: A presenter that knows how to use a computer.  Nice.  Good Job Ashley.

So that was awesome.  Then I went to watch the soccer game and it was so depressing, partially because there was no food at the bar and I was starving to death while also watching the US kill themselves — I’m happy for Japan, but we lost that game because we made a lot of stupid, careless mistakes and couldn’t get shots on Target.  My heart goes out to Abby Wambach.

Then I heard the end of the diversity in skepticism panel, which I sort of lost interest in thanks to DJ seeming to think that getting conservatives and religious people in the movement should be some sort of a priority.  I’m with Jamila on the whole getting active about causes that skeptic people should be able to see are ridiculous — the war on drugs, the prison policy.

Sean Faircloth gave essentially the same speech he’d given at the SCA Summit and it went over very well.  He’s a very good cheerleader.

Then there was the closing remarks from Randi and we were done.  I ran into Randi in the hallway and thanked him for letting me speak and he said he’d heard I’d done very well.  I’m sure he was just saying that, but it was still awesome.  I went down to the Del Mar and hung out with a lot of people who were still there and then went to Penn and Teller over at the Rio.  Boy are Las Vegas cabs expensive, by the way.  We were in the first seat in the Mezzanine, which was actually excellent because it was easier to see how they were doing the tricks.  A lot of their tricks have been on their show or on other shows, but it was still a lot of fun.  And then someone in the line for cabs recognized me and thanked me for my talk, so people at the Rio cab line probably thought I was some important person.  Buahaha.

Then I packed and went to bed.

Monday, I got on the airplane and swallowed my crown.  And I’m freaking out about it.  Yep.

Here comes TAM9 from Outer Space

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As faithful readers of the blog will know, I am going to TAM in Las Vegas this weekend.  I am currently writing from the airplane because I was bored enough to shell out the $13.  It is the future.

Today, I will land around 1PM and then I’m going to go get food at Baja Fresh.  I’m very excited, it’s been so long since I’ve had Baja Fresh and it’s amazing.  There are workshops going on all day but I didn’t have the money to be going to all of that.  Tonight Rebecca Watson is having some thing that also costs money, so I probably won’t be going. I also don’t understand what the thing is, so that doesn’t help.

OMG trying to use wordpress from this droid browser is going to make me shoot myself. FFS.

Tonight, I am insanely going to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 at midnight. This is insane because it won’t start until 3AM east coast time, so I’m going to be very very tired. But how often do you get to go see the last Harry Potter the first night it comes out? Never, exactly.

Then tomorrow is filled with all sorts of stuff and I don’t even know what the schedule is. I feel somewhat guilty about that, like I should have paid more attention, but I’m going to all of it, so there’s no real point in looking into it more. Tomorrow night is Penn’s Donut Party, and I’m quite excited about that. I mean, it’s donuts and Penn Jillette, what isn’t to love? I even brought a special party dress! It, alas, doesn’t have a donut on it.

Saturday is more talks that I don’t remember who is when, the third place WWC game is that day between France and Sweden, and I honestly don’t care that much so I probably won’t watch, and then that night I get to go to a double top secret thing that is going to be awesome so you should be jealous, and also feel pretty cheated that I won’t even tell you what it is. On Sunday, I am presenting my paper at 9:50 AM. Awesome, right? There’ll only be like a thousand people in the audience, so no pressure. Then! Then then then!!! USA vs JAPAN, EPIC BRAWL 2011!

I want the US to win, but I have to say I would be really happy for Japan if they won. The team is really amazing, and it’s the first time an Asia side has gotten this far in the WWC. Plus, the whole tsunami meltdown thing. But, I want the US to win so that people will pretend to care about womens soccer for a few more days, I would find that greatly pleasing.

I am on the plane! On the plane! So bored on the plane! I’m on a plane and it’s going fast and I got a aeronautical themed pashmina afghan

Weirdly enough, George Hrab, the MC of the event, is on the same flight as me. I met him originally at the SCA summit in Washington DC where he performed and we took silly pictures and sent a message to a friend of mine who was insane jealous. Mostly because I don’t listen to the Geologic Podcast and he does, so I don’t have a terribly good knowledge of the George Hrabness. Anyway, he’s sitting behind me and threatening to throw things at me, though I think he’s so absorbed in his iPad or whatever it is that he won’t remember to do that. Plus, they don’t hand out free snacks, which is really the best thing to throw at people.

T-minus 1 hour to Las Vegas. Woooooooo!

Hopefully you’ll get lots of really boring updates from me, because I know you’re all really friggin jealous! I’m going to be hanging out with Heidi Anderson, Jenna Marie Griffith, Jen McCreight, Neil deGrasse Tyson (he will hang out with me, dammit, it will happen), and like 200 other awesome people who are awesome.

Alright, enough of this, I’m going to go back to surfing the web in an attempt to find something to write about for social axcess, I can’t find anything worth writing about.

Women’s World Cup: Weekend Summary: Insanity

Wow, what an insane weekend. So much overtime, so many surprises.

France defeated Australia with no surprises, except that Australia’s defense is even worse than we thought. A lot of people are saying that the Matildas have it in them to be a contender next World Cup, but they’ve got to majorly change their defense to pull that off.

In a huge shocker, heavy favorites Germany actually lost to Japan in one of the most surprising upsets in WWC history. Germany was expected to take home its third world cup in a row, especially considering the home field advantage, and instead they didn’t even make it to the semis.

Japan dominated the game, but didn’t actually score in regular time, despite their incredible possession percentage. They scored finally in the 108th minute, shocking the German crowd who couldn’t accept the way the wind was blowing. This is the first time they’ve ever defeated a European side in the World Cup, and if this didn’t make a hero out of the incredible Sawa, then nothing could. Unfortunately, because Sweden won against Australia, Germany won’t be going to the Olympics next year, which is absolutely absurd. Europe sends the two last standing teams in the WWC to the Olympics, rather than having a qualifying tournament, meaning that their best team isn’t going next year, which is legitimately a real shame, though I can’t say I feel anything but joy for Japan after this game.

France and England played an intense game that went all the way to PKs, a rarity in WWC matches. Although Sunday’s US vs Brazil game would prove to be a much more insanely intense game, France vs England looked like it would end up the best game of the tournament. France dominated play, but England’s goalkeeper kept them in the game and England scored in the second half. England then questionably used all three of its substitutions in the last ten minutes of regular time and France scored with just two minutes left, taking the game into extra time. Neither team scored so it went to PKs, where England lost 4-3.

Hope Powell, the England coach, is rumored to be stepping down after accusing her team of cowardice. Apparently none of her team stepped forward to volunteer to take the Penalty Kicks, except the two who ended up missing them — one was exhausted, and one was playing her first WWC game — but since no one else was volunteering, they did. Probably not the most political way of dealing with the situation, but it was a hard loss.

And then there was US vs Brazil. What a game. I think I’m still recovering from the adrenaline. 2 minutes into the game, the US forced an own goal on poor Daiane, whose head must be hanging low today. The US went on to dominate the game for most of the first half and into the second. And then the referee dominated the game.

I tend not to get upset at calls, I usually get upset at the lack of instant replay, which allows bad calls by fallible eyes to go unchecked. Marta, five time player of the year aka the female Pele, was going in towards the goal and facing a completely fair challenge by Buehler, but the ref decided it was a foul — it very clearly wasn’t on replay. Buehler got a red card and sent off in the 66th minute, meaning the US went on to play a man down for the next hour, and Brazil got a Penalty Kick. For a foul that wasn’t committed, mind you.

The unbelievably awesome Hope Solo blocked the PK, but the ref decided that someone was off their line (another bad call) and gave Solo a yellow card (a truly disgustingly bad call) and forced the PK to be retaken (seriously vomit inducing). Solo did not beat Marta’s shot, and Brazil came up for a tie.

And then something amazing happened, the crowd in Germany decided they hated Marta and Brazil. I mean, really despised them because of how unfair the calls were. It is amazing at any time when a US team is liked overseas, but this was brilliant. Every time Marta touched the ball the entire crowd booed, hissed, and whistled. She was like a horrible villain on the field.

In a beautiful attack by the US on Brazil’s goal, they got called offsides when they were well onside, and immediately after offsides wasn’t called on Brazil, who made a goal. Thanks to horrible calls, Brazil had a second goal, and the US was down by one.

And then Brazil got nasty, they started taking time when they didn’t need it. A player who wasn’t hurt crumpled to the ground when no one was around her in the most spectacularly cynical move I’ve seen to run out the clock, a move that makes Italy and France look like they hardly take dives at all. She stayed down for three or four minutes and got stretchered off the field. The moment play resumed, she jumped off the stretcher and joined the game. The ref only gave her a yellow card, but I would have sent that horrible woman off with a red and a severe talking to.

The German crowd started chanting USA! USA!

They added on 3 minutes of injury time to the game, taking them over the 120 minute mark and, in a truly unbelievable moment, Rapinoe sent a massive pass forward and Wambach headed it in with less than a minute of play left. It was incredible.

So it went into PKs on the anniversary of the 1999 final in Pasadena, where the US won in PKs and everyone was confident that the US was going to pull off the miracle comeback. And they did, thanks to perfect shots from all of the US and a brilliant save by Hope Solo, who is awesome, against poor poor Daiane who made the mistake of looking at the goalie. You never look at the goalie during PKs.

It was the most epic footy I’ve ever seen.

Women’s World Cup 2011: Updated Predictions

OK, so wow, France is doing much better than expected, and my US team is looking like their number 1 rank is deserved.  I am relieved and will go forth being overly optimistic for them because I love them so much.

So, my predictions for the rest of the group games.

Group A

France and Germany are tied on points, but France has a much better goal differential, meaning that all they have to do is tie Germany to move forward as the winners.  Germany is the favorite, but France has looked much better on the field — something I definitely did not predict.  I’d like France to win and that, more than anything, is leading me to say that France will win the group, and Germany will be second.

Group B

Japan is definitely going forward, so the competition is between Mexico and England.  England is well ahead in goal differential, so they can lose to Japan and still move forward, which is exactly what I think is going to happen.  Japan first, England second.

Group C

This is as fun as Group A, because the US and Sweden are literally fighting for the number one slot.  Like France, all the US has to do is tie to win the group.  I think they’re going to outright beat Sweden, or at least that is my hope.  US number 1, Sweden number 2.

Group D

I simply cannot see Brazil not creaming Equatorial Guinea, which may be very fun to watch, so the competition is now  for second place between Australia and Norway.  Norway has not been impressive, but Australia’s defense has been lax.  Australia just has to tie Norway to move on, and I think they’ve got that in them.  I’m saying Brazil 1, Australia 2.

So if the games followed this prediction, we’d end up with the following matches.

Match 25
France vs England

I’m tempted to say France, as surprised as I am by that.  This seems like a very close match to me.

Match 26
Japan vs Germany

Should be a great game as well, but I think Japan is going to be tough to beat.

Match 27
US vs Australia

This should be an easy win for the US.

Match 28
Brazil vs Sweden

This should be an easy win for Brazil.

SemiFinal A/B
France vs Japan

I think this is Japan’s.

SemiFinal C/D
US vs Brazil

Man, this is tough.  I don’t know.  They are my two favorite teams.  I think Brazil is weak in their defense and the US could exploit it, but sometimes it seems like the US barely even shows up.  I’m going to say the US, but I would be thrilled to see either one of these teams in the final.

3rd Place
France vs Brazil

Brazil.

Final
US vs Japan

US

Women’s World Cup 2011 Predictions

Group A Predictions Points
Germany (2) W W W 9 (first)
Canada (6) L T W 4 (second)
Nigeria (27) L L L 0
France (7) W T L 4

Germany has already beaten Canada, but France only beat Nigeria by 1, which is potentially good news for Canada. Canada doesn’t have to beat France outright, as long as there’s a bigger point spread between Canada and Nigeria. In fact, the only reason I’m picking Canada over France is the point deferential in the Nigeria game.

Group B Predictions Points
Japan (4) W W W 9 (First)
N Zealand (24) L L T 1
Mexico (22) T L T 2
England (10) T W L 4 (Second)

I’d love to see New Zealand tie England and then Mexico and New Zealand fight it out to go forward, knowing that if it’s a tie, England will move forward. That would be exciting!

Group C Predictions Points
US (1) T W W 7 (First)
N Korea (8) T L W 4
Colombia (31) L L L 0
Sweden (5) W W L 6 (Second)

I think the US is going to start weak, but then find its feet. I would actually like the US to come in second in this bracket, though I think assuming they’ll get out of it is an assumption. If they flat out beat N Korea tomorrow, I’ll feel a lot better about them, they’ve been pretty shaky of late. They could also easily lose or tie Sweden, meaning N Korea isn’t out of the running here.

Group D Predictions Points
Brazil (3) W T W 7 (First)
Australia (11) L W T 4
Norway (9) W T T 5 (Second)
Equatorial Guinea (61) L L L 0

Poor Equatorial Guinea. I’d love to see them tie someone. Or a beautiful upset of Brazil! That’s going to be by far the biggest difference in team quality of the tournement.

So if the games followed this prediction, we’d end up with the following matches.

Match 25
Germany vs England

Oh man, I always love Germany versus England, that’s always so great, such brilliant rivalry there. I think England doesn’t stand a chance, though.

Match 26
Japan vs Canada

Regardless of the second place Group A finisher, I have a hard time seeing any of them beating Japan this year.

Match 27
US vs Norway

This is the US game to lose, but that doesn’t really mean they won’t. Gosh, I’m awfully pessimistic about the US this year, I’m just not feeling the number 1 ranking at all.

Match 28
Brazil vs Sweden

I think this could actually be a good game. Brazil’s certainly got the advantage, but it would be a brilliant upset for Sweden to beat them. And it’s possible.

SemiFinal A/B
Germany vs Japan

Why do so many match ups remind me of WWII? I think this is easily Germany’s.

SemiFinal C/D
US vs Brazil

In my optimistic moments, I think the US could win this. In my pessimistic moments, I think it’s hopeless. It’s a close call, and I’m likely to revise my opinion seeing how the teams progress through the cup, but from here I’m going to say Brazil.

3rd Place
Japan vs US

The US has never placed lower than 3rd, we’ll see if they’ve got the ability to keep that true.

Final
Germany vs Brazil

How men’s soccer of them. I’d love to see Brazil win, as it hasn’t done so yet and it would lend more legitimacy to the Women’s Soccer program in a country where soccer is the sport.

Viva La Roja

So, not a lot to say about the end of the world cup, I just want to show this picture, which you should click to see a very awesome animated GIF, which I stole from someone else. I’m super happy for Spain!

Fatality

Fatality

Goodbye Uruguay

We will miss you. Diego Forlan just can’t be the only person on the team, you know.

Still, they did better than I thought they would against the Netherlands. Just not good enough. If Spain doesn’t win tomorrow, I don’t think I’ll have any interest in watching the finals.

FIFA Predictions for Quarter-Finals: Pretty Good

It only missed one — the US loss to Ghana.  Everything else was dead on.  That’s kind of neat.  Of course, if that success rate continues I’ll be sad because it will mean that Forlan won’t win the World Cup.

Current predictions

538 Odds