Supplemental: Tom Brady said he invented the Internet!


The Times tackles Mark Brunell:
In hard copy, the report appears atop the first page of the New York Times sports section.

Accompanied by three large photos, its lay-out consumes two-thirds of that page. On-line, it carries this headline:

“Deflation Experiments Show Patriots May Have a Point After All”

Say what? In our hard-copy Times, the headlines say this:
Upon Scientific Review...
A paper explains how the Patriots’ footballs could have become deflated by atmospheric conditions.
Uh-oh! In essence, the New York Times is reporting today that the latest script—the latest “journalistic” Group Story—may be falling apart.

But so what? At ESPN—the “news org” which has embarrassed itself in the brainless way it has pimped this story—the Times report is being ignored. In this age of incessant group howlers, our “journalism” typically works like this.

Does the New York Times report prove that the New England Patriots engaged in no wrong-doing? Does it prove that the Patriots actually didn’t underinflate those footballs?

It’s hard to prove that someone didn’t do something. It’s still possible that someone on the Patriots’ staff deliberately underinflated some footballs to some degree in violation of NFL rules.

That remains possible—after all, everything is! But if the New York Times’ analysis is sound, it’s beginning to look more and more like the childishly-named “Deflategate” scandal may have been our latest Journalistic Clown Show.

Below, you see the way James Glanz’s sprawling report begins. Unless Professor Tegmark is wrong, another ballyhooed “press corps” script may be biting the dust:
GLANZ (1/30/15): Thomas Healy does not have tickets to the Super Bowl, but he plans to fly to Phoenix with something that is even harder to come by than seats at Sunday’s game: the first detailed, experimental data on how atmospheric conditions might have reduced the air pressure in footballs used by the New England Patriots in their victory over the Indianapolis Colts nearly two weeks ago.

Those footballs, which the N.F.L. has said were deflated to pressures below league standards, have created a national meta-bowl whose outcome is seemingly as important as who wins on Sunday. The question driving the public dialogue is whether the Patriots tampered with the balls to make them easier to handle, or whether simply moving them from the warmth of a locker room to the chill and dampness of the field could account for the deflation.

The Patriots have absorbed a beating in that larger contest, with many scientists concluding that only the surreptitious hiss of air being released from the balls could explain the difference. But now the Patriots have started to rally, and in a big way. Healy, who provided The New York Times with an advance copy of his technical paper on the experiments, concluded that most or all of the deflation could be explained by those environmental effects.

“This analysis looks solid to me,” said Max Tegmark, a professor of physics
at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who reviewed the paper at The Times’s request. “To me, their measurements mean that there’s no evidence of foul play.”

Other evidence is also turning the Patriots’ way...
Warning! There are imperfections in Glanz’s reporting and in Tegmark’s analysis.

To cite one important example, neither fellow seems aware of a very basic fact—we don’t yet know what the air pressure readings actually were for the Patriots’ infamous footballs.

A bit later in his report, Glanz covers himself on this basic point, referring to “the deflation of 2 pounds per square inch that the N.F.L. is believed to have found” (our emphasis).

He could have said “rumored” instead of “believed.” In fact, no one knows how much deflation the NFL found, or says it found, in the twelve footballs under review.

To this point, the NFL has offered no statement of its findings. This whole gang-bang has been fueled by a somewhat murky claim in a single leak from an anonymous NFL “source”—a murky leak which was taken to mean that eleven footballs were found to be inflated to 10.5 pounds per square inch, two pounds below the permitted minimum pressure.

Uh-oh! Last weekend, a second anonymous NFL leak said that isn’t what the NFL found! But as typically happens in clown shows like this, that second leak has been ignored as the chimps and buffoons of our national “press corps” continued to run with their story.

Warning! Once these chimps memorize a tale, they rarely subject it to change.

What air pressure readings did the NFL actually find? Like everyone else, we have no way of knowing. But according to today’s report, atmospheric pressure and rain could explain inflation levels reaching all the way down to the neighborhood of 10.5 pounds per square inch.

Uh-oh! If that analysis is sound, this whole script may be falling apart. And oops! According to Glanz, you haven’t heard such warnings till now in part because our brilliant professors began by f*cking things up:
GLANZ (continuing directly): Other evidence is also turning the Patriots’ way. In a usually obscure profession that has received extraordinary attention during the controversy, some academic and research physicists now concede that they made a crucial error in their initial calculations, using an equation called the ideal gas law.

When that error is corrected, the amount of deflation predicted in moving from room temperature to a 50-degree field is roughly doubled.
Healy, a graduate student in mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, went further: He measured the pressure drop in 12 footballs when they were moved from a room at 75 degrees to one at 50 degrees (the approximate temperature on the field in the Colts game).

In the experiment, the deflation of the footballs was close to the larger, correctly calculated value. When Healy moistened the balls to mimic the effects of the rainy weather that day, the pressure dropped even further, close to the deflation of 2 pounds per square inch that the N.F.L. is believed to have found.
Question: Which “academic and research physicists now concede that they made a crucial error in their initial calculations?”

Glanz is too polite to say so, but one such expert was PBS super-professor Neil deGrasse Tyson, who seems to be defining himself as a bit of a pompous loudmouth more and more each day.

Later in his report, Glanz drops the hammer on only one of our bungling physicists. Wouldn’t you know it? He drops the hammer on Professor Tegmark himself:
GLANZ: When the football controversy arose, a number of physicists cited the ideal gas law, which many of them taught in introductory courses. But applying the equation to real situations can be surprisingly deceptive. When a gauge indicates that the ball contains 12.5 p.s.i.—the minimum allowed by the N.F.L.—the actual pressure is more than twice that amount because the surrounding pressure of the atmosphere must be considered.

This roughly doubles how much a dip in temperature can lower the pressure. During a phone conversation, even Tegmark, the M.I.T. professor, initially used the lower value until recognizing the mistake. “I stand corrected,” he said, adding, “It’s pretty funny that the ideal gas law is making headlines.”
Leave it to the New York Times! Professor Tegmark gets cited by name. Perhaps in accord with Hard Pundit Law, the exalted guild member, Tyson, gets to slip away.

Let’s state our key point again: No one knows what air pressure readings the NFL actually found. (More precisely, no one knows what air pressure readings the NFL says it found.)

That said: If the Times’ analysis is correct, pressure readings down to 10.5 pounds may well have resulted from atmospheric and weather conditions. If true, that suggests that it’s completely normal for colder-weather NFL games to be played with footballs with pressure readings below 12.5 pounds, despite all the screeching you’ve heard from ESPN’s legion of outraged and overwrought former quarterbacks.

In colder-weather games, the footballs might start at 12.5 pounds of pressure. But the air pressure readings would drop from there as the game progresses. Other footballs might start at 13.5 pounds of pressure (the highest permitted level), then descend from that point.

(At one point, Glanz seems a bit murky about this range of permitted readings. The Patriots’ footballs may have started at 12.5 pounds of pressure, the Colts’ at 13.5.)

Has this whole scandal been a scam—the latest version of “Al Gore said he invented the Internet?” Did the press corps adopt A Story It Liked, then start keening and wailing from there?

At this point, we can’t settle that question. But that possibility is strongly implied by this sprawling Times report, which is being ignored by ESPN even as we type.

Has the public been conned by the “press corps” again? To understand the way these gong-shows work, consider the latest exciting leak, the one which appeared on Monday.

Excitement! Jay Glazer of Fox Sports tweeted the latest thrilling news in the latest thrilling scandal:

Breaking news: sources tell @FOXSports the NFL has zeroed in on a locker room attendant w Patriots who allegedly took balls from officials locker room to another area on way to field. Sources say they have interviewed him and additionally have video. Still gauging if any wrong doing occurred with him but he is strong person of interest

Excitement! Presumably, it was Glazer’s “sources” who used the thrilling term “person of interest,” thus employing the language of exciting criminal probes.

At any rate, Glazer pimped this “breaking news.” Everyone else started screeching.

Later, a second anonymous report said “the area” into which the footballs were taken was actually a bathroom. Presumably, Glazer’s “sources” didn’t mention that fact, since it suggests a possible innocent motive for this deeply troubling detour, which seems to have lasted ninety seconds, another point Glazer missed.

That said, do you notice something else that was AWOL from Glazer’s report?

That’s right! His sources told him that the attendant had been interviewed. But Glazer failed to report what the attendant had said!

Just a guess: When he was interviewed, the attendant said he went into the bathroom in order to go to the bathroom. That may or may not be true, of course. But why do you think this thrilling report didn’t include what the attendant said?

We can’t tell you what did or didn’t happen with respect to those footballs. Just for starters, we’ll wait to see what the NFL alleges when it finally issues a report.

We can tell you this: ESPN has disgraced itself as this gong-show has unfolded. But then, so has the broad sweep of the national “press corps,” including the clownish Rachel Maddow, who used a referee shirt and a referee’s whistle to entertain us rubes Wednesday night as she pretended to investigate this matter.

That’s the way our corporate-sponsored Rhodes Scholars now function! In fairness, ESPN’s overwrought former QBs have been quite a few pounds of air pressure worse.

Tom Brady said he invented the Internet! Between Tyson and Maddow and Mark Brunell, what hope is there for our ability, as a people, to stage public discussions?


  1. Rachel Maddow boasts that she doesn't own a television machine. Watching the NFL, or any other program for that matter, doesn't fit her gestalt. She may have been dressed in the referee shirt in preparation for officiating The Lingerie Bowl.

    1. As a newbie troll, cicero, you should know we have previouls had a long post here at Daily Howliberal about Our Rhodes Scholar's drunken purchase of a color TV machine.

    2. Uh-oh! In essence cicero is wrong.

    3. Ok. So RM wearing the referee shirt was really auditioning for the defunct "Jennifer Falls".

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  2. Yes, Bob. The football "may" have started at different levels of inflation. And space aliens "may" aimed a "Deflat-O-Ray" at only the Patriots' footballs.

    Meanwhile, as badly as the NFL wanted this whole thing to end quickly and go away, the lead attorney investigating Deflategate says the investigation will take "several weeks."

    Uh oh. I think they may be onto something and have a lot more people to talk to.

    1. And people think there's a group called Bobfans!

      Comments like this 12:59 inanity make it perfectly clear there is a coherent group of commenters here (some have the temerity to call them trolls or worse, douchebags), a group which simply cannot abide Somerby, to the point where they just can't ever admit:

      Somerby's got a point, the coverage of this issue has been credulous and herd-like.

      We could never invent these people, but they seem to be everywhere nevertheless.

    2. Oh my Goodness! "The coverage of this issue has been credulous and herd-like."

      Quick! Grab the smelling salts! Repair to the fainting couch! How will the Republic ever survive!

    3. What is the alternative to this kind of bits- and-pieces reporting? It would be useful to do a time line comparison to the long-term Watergate story?

      Presumably, there would be no NFL investigation if the Colts' balls subject to identical atmospheric conditions had been equally deflated. So I guess there may be something there.

    4. What we can and can't tell you, urban legend, goes a long way toward that which is said.

  3. Gee. The attendant said he used the restroom when he used the restroom. Who could have predicted that?

    I guess that clears everything up. Case closed.

    1. But so what? Its hard to prove he didn't even if he claimed he used a wide stance.

  4. This isn't just an attack on Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, it's an attack on decency itself. I'm miffed.

    1. That's right! Excitement! Just a guess. When decency standards fall away completely a ball boy can't go into a bathroom and not be sure there isn't a ball girl in the next stall.

  5. And of course, it's just like the "War on Gore." Everything is.

    1. Did somebody almost get killed?

    2. As I recall, Mark Brunell was an NFL quarterback during the Clinton Administration and throughout the whole War on Gore.

      It all makes sense now.

    3. Mark Brunell took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of plays that led him to be selected the 29th best post-merger quarterback at the time these things were decided.

  6. Ont thing worth investigating is whether or not the Colts kept their balls near a heater in violation of league rules.

    1. Just for starters we'll wait to see if the NFL can figure out what happened to the Colts' asses after the Patriots took the trouble to hand them to them.

  7. So what was the atmospheric pressure that day in Foxboro? Bob doesn't say. Neither apparently does the Times.

    As for the weather conditions, yes it was rainy. The temperature was also in the low 50s at kickoff, and dropped to the upper 40s.

    1. That said, nothing matches the pressure of the play-offs. Not even a regular season game with a play-off atmosphere.

  8. This could all be "legitimate football deflation, though badly bungled". And don't forget that Belichick and Brady were never pals in high school.

    1. Thanks for offering your commentary effort in good faith.

    2. Back at ya Slick.

    3. I am not Slick. I never was called Slick. It is possible I have been called Slick before. Even if I have been called Slick I will simply say I didn't know.

  9. Martin Luther King, Jr, was not wiretapped by LBJ.

    Al Gore did not say he invented the internet.

    George W. Bush did not say Mission Accomplished.

    Aristotle is full of it.

    1. In fairness, what hope is there for our ability, as a people, to stage public discussions?

    2. Why would Al Gore say he invented the internet when he said he created the internet?

      "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country's economic growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system. "
      Al Gore, March 9, 1999.

    3. None whatsoever as long as we continue to be so mean on quarterbacks.

      But fear not. We have proven, with geometric logic, that black female directors can't possibly be snubbed.

    4. It was the Chimps, I tell you. The damn chimps and their fanatical belief in Hard Pundit Law. I'd have produced those keys to the men's room, too and found those old yellow stains.
      But I'm only here so I won't get fined.

    5. We haven't proven that black female directors can't be snubbed but we've proven there is no reason to think they were, and that it isn't good practice and in fact is rather pathetic to decide to suspect they were until proven otherwise.

    6. Hey, speaking of directors and snubbed.

      In the last post Bob told us:

      "If you Google “Selma AND snubbed,” you will read, again and again, that DuVernay got snubbed because the Academy is so heavily older, white and male."

      I just tried it. I got two links back to Bob;s post, two links to an article on a Scottish TV web site, and nothing at all resembling what Bob said you would get "again and again."

      Maybe he should write it on the men's room wall at the stadium in Foxboro and something more interesting will pop up.

  10. None of this would matter if Tom Brady would simply man up and wear a pair of gloves.

  11. "Say what? Uh-oh! But so what?

    It’s hard to prove that someone didn’t do something. It’s still possible.
    That remains possible—after all, everything is!

    Warning! To cite one important example, A bit later in his report, He could have said, In fact, To this point,

    Uh-oh! Warning! Chimps!!!!! Uh-oh!

    Excitement! Excitement! Everyone started screeching."

    And the Academy Award for Best Repetitive Screen Play In a Musing
    American Discourse Goes to:

    Bob Somerby: Air Escapes from the Valley of the Chimps

  12. It's not over until university professors report how long it really takes the average (median, mean and mode) ball boy to whiz.

  13. I'm a sports fan but all this ridiculous hype always kills it for me. NFL, particularly Super Bowl hype is like the OJ trial back in the day, no matter how much I try to avoid it all I still can't help be inundated with more than my fill. My interest this sports weekend is on the intriguing UFC main event matchup between two returning all-time fan favorites, MMA badboy Nick Diaz vs the legendary Anderson Silva. It has the potential to be epic!

    1. Yes, but realize that Super Bowl hype has been going on for quite a few years. Rather than growing tired of it, 112.5 million people watched the game last year on TV, making it the highest rated TV show of any kind in history. And the game itself wasn't very good.

      The Super Bowl has become a cultural phenomenon, far beyond the game or even the sport of football, even if you will be watching the UFC.

    2. Agreed, it's enormously popular, even reaching the status that of a national holiday. I just happen to have a low threshold for hype and overexposure.

      What some people apparently can't understand is that this burning "controversy" is all part of the salesmanship and it helps EVERYONE involved laugh all the way to the bank, including and especially the "horribly maligned" Patriots organization. Someone posted here the other day that the League just wished this would all go away, LOL get real. Think professional wrestling for a minute, it's called an angle, we now have a scenario involving a heel, or victim, depending upon your perspective, that even the most casual observer can get wrapped up in (even Rachel gets to suit up!). Check out New England fan EJ Dionne's latest column in which he, after referencing Babe Parilli for authenticity sake, is now reveling in the idea that he now gets to be a bowtie wearing "without apologies" sports "outlaw" with a whole nation supposedly against him and his boys as he sits down to watch The Big Game. Not quite as good as fighting terrorism with the beloved Red Sox, but definitely a step up from the outdated "we're just adorable underdogs" self-image that Boston/New England fans have long cultivated.

      With some many being preoccupied, the roads less congested, at least until they fill up with drunk drivers right after the game, it's a great day to go fishing!

  14. This Times article offers real expertise, which is a welcome exception to usual reporting. I used to think that mainstream media like the the Times, CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, etc. were so big and established that they had access to high-level experts who helped them to frame technically complex stories. Maybe that was actually true years ago. But, today, main stream media excel in poposity -- trappings of expertise, but often without the real thing.

    In numerous high-profile situtations, a single, independent blogger has had more accurate coverage than all the main stream media. E.g.,Prof. K. C. Johnson on the Duke rape accusation case. Law student Brendan Loy on Hurricane Katrina. Jeralyn E. Merritt of Talk Left blog and Daily Howler on the non-murder of Trayvon Martin. Eugene Volokh on legal issues.

    Let's hope that this Times article represents the beginning of a trrend toward more accurate reporting by the main stream media.

    1. I find this "real expertise" line quite hilarious coming from a guy who doesn't believe there is any real scientific consensus concerning global warming.

      But then again, "real expertise" to you has always meant one "scientist" you agree with.

      In this case, we have a scientist explaining in general terms how weather conditions, temperature and atmospheric pressure can deflate a football. He doesn't explain how it can deflate the footballs of only one team.

      So Somerby adds his theory that the Colts footballs must have been inflated to the max, while the Patriots football were inflated to the minimum and they both deflated from there.

      Given the actual weather conditions in Foxboro that day, I find the "Deflat-O-Ray" theory from above equally as plausible.

    2. Anon -- there is a consensus that the earth has been warming and that greenhouse gases have contributed to he warming. There is no consensus on the rate at which CO2 adds to the warming. This figure is measured by"climate sensitivity." The latest UN IPCC report said they have no best guess as to climate sensitivity. They don't know what the true value is. They say it's "highly likely" that it's in the wide range of 1.5 to 4.5 deg C, but for all they know, it might be above or below that range.

  15. If I had a nickel for every misstatement that climate-change denier David in Cal has bloviated about the looming human-caused environmental crisis, I could outspend his heroes, the Koch brothers.

    NOAA scientists used much of the same raw temperature data as NASA, but they employ a different baseline period and their own methods to estimate global temperatures. And yet NASA and NOAA—as well as the Japan Meteorological Agency and the Met Office Hadley Centre in the United Kingdom—all come up with very similar records despite different approaches.

  16. So, the bottom line seems to be that environmental factors are linked to NFL jersey colors? One team was affected. The other, not.