Dec. 31 was the deadline for BBWAA members to put their Hall of Fame ballots in the mail, which means the 2018 inductees are fixed—we just won’t know who they are until the ballots are counted and then announced on Jan. 24. But we can predict, and with more and more media members announcing their votes ahead of time,…

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What’s your favorite Conor McGregor title defense? Since catching Eddie Alvarez reaching a few days after the 2016 election to nab the lightweight championship, the Irishman hasn’t fought in the UFC. He earned the featherweight belt in 2015 by unhooking Jose Aldo’s jaw in 13 seconds, but the UFC re-appropriated that…

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The College Football Playoff’s two New Year’s Day semifinal games were a study in unexpected contrasts: a mostly dull blowout in the Sugar Bowl rubber match between Alabama and Clemson after the two teams had been so even in their previous playoff meetings, which followed an all-time double-overtime Rose Bowl classic between Georgia and Oklahoma that threatened to blow up the scoreboard with its big plays. The net result, however, was a pair of SEC teams in next Monday’s championship final, even if they got there in very different ways.

For Georgia, Monday’s victory over Oklahoma was all about absorbing the toughest blows the fearsome Sooner offense could dish out — then fighting back in the second half and finally outlasting Baker Mayfield and company in double overtime.

We knew going into the Rose Bowl that the Sooners would probably find themselves in a shootout. In fact, on paper this was exactly the kind of game you could picture Oklahoma thriving in, with 1,058 combined yards and 102 total points by both teams. (In that sense, it was reminiscent of the Sooners’ November win over Oklahoma State, which saw the teams put up 1,446 total yards and 114 points.) Thanks to a world-beating offense and a leaky D, Oklahoma specializes in winning when neither side bothers to play much defense.

But that game plan only works when you can either pull away with your firepower late or gut out stops when you need to. And the Bulldogs had an answer for all of Oklahoma’s explosions.

In the first half, Georgia hung around just enough to stay within striking distance, especially after picking up three quick points before halftime. (A clumsy Sooners squib-kick left Georgia within a completion of field-goal range to end the half, which ended up proving quite important.) In the third quarter, the same defense that had been shredded for 360 first-half yards held the Sooners to 29 yards and zero points. Even when the Sooners roared back to life with a pair of touchdowns in the fourth, the Bulldogs summoned a crucial sequence: With five minutes remaining, they forced Oklahoma into a 3-and-out; strung together a seven-play, 59-yard TD drive to tie the game; then stopped OU’s offense again with under a minute left to force overtime.

It was a setting where Oklahoma is used to getting the last word — and Georgia just wouldn’t let the Sooners have it. That carried over into OT, when a big third-down stop stalled Oklahoma’s bid for the winning touchdown, and again when Lorenzo Carter tipped Austin Seibert’s go-ahead field goal short of the uprights. After Sony Michel sprinted 27 yards for the walk-off score, the balanced Bulldogs, not the Sooner scoring machine, had closed the game on a 16-3 run. In the end, Georgia essentially managed to match the mighty Oklahoma offense yard for yard. And in a game absolutely loaded with big plays, the ledger improbably favored the Bulldogs (who had 321 total yards on their nine plays of 20 or more) rather than the Sooners, who’d led the nation in the category during the season.

Alabama’s road to victory was smoother than Georgia’s, to put it mildly. Although Clemson’s defense had posted superior regular-season numbers, the Crimson Tide D set the tone early by holding the Tigers’ offense to zero points, zero first downs and 3 total yards in the first quarter, opening up a quick lead that Alabama would never surrender. The Tide ended up dominating the Tigers in terms of yardage (261-188), with the outcome practically sealed by the middle of the third quarter.

Maybe the biggest surprise was simply in how the Crimson Tide cruised to their win. Although nobody expected the third installment in this rivalry to match the pyrotechnics of Georgia and Oklahoma, Clemson and Alabama had combined for 75.5 total points per game in their last two championship showdowns, and Bama had become a better offensive team (and a shakier defensive one) since last season. It seemed possible that fans in New Orleans could at least be in store for some version of the shootout in Pasadena.

Instead, defense carried the day: Neither team gained 300 yards or averaged more than 3.5 yards per carry or 5 yards per pass. Following in the footsteps of Deshaun Watson, who’d generated 463 yards of total offense on 77 touches against Alabama a year ago, Clemson QB Kelly Bryant mustered merely 143 on 55 touches — and was picked off twice for good measure. The Tigers’ offense, which relied on an improved running game this season, was never able to gather much momentum on the ground or in the air until it was too late. This Tide defense seemed to channel Nick Saban’s teams of old, rather than the unit that looked uncharacteristically mortal against Auburn when it last played.

And so, it’s an all-SEC championship for the first time since 2012’s Alabama-LSU rematch. That game ended up being a snoozer, and if the Tide have their way defensively again, history could repeat. But after Georgia’s thrilling semifinal victory, laden as it was with huge plays, and an Alabama win that saw the Tide answer every potential comeback by forcing a backbreaking turnover, this title game might overcome its regional matchup and send off the 2017 season in style.

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.

2.5 percent

The 2017 box office will have netted somewhere in the ballpark of $11.1 billion, about 2.5 percent below the amount for a record-setting 2016. Several promising titles based on brand names or existing intellectual property flopped last year — think “The Mummy” and “The Dark Tower” — while others fell short of what could have been. The worldwide box office is up, and could hit $40 billion. [Variety]


20 House seats

Democrats are likely to be competitive in the 2018 midterm elections this November. All but 20 House seats held by Republicans have at least one Democratic candidate filed to run in the district. Contrast that to the 80 Democrats who don’t have a Republican opponent yet. [The New York Times]


50-50

On the last possible day, President Trump’s transportation department scrapped a proposal approved by the previous administration to have the federal government underwrite half the cost of an Amtrak tunnel connecting New Jersey to New York’s Penn Station. This is yet another setback for a critical infrastructure project that’s been delayed and defunded before. [Crain’s New York]


50 percent

Despite some of the mightiest headwinds on the planet, the paper business actually saw consumption grow 50 percent between 1980 and 2011. That’s in many ways because no industry really ever went paperless. They just ended up using paper in different ways. [The Guardian]


300

Number of prominent actresses, agents, writers, directors, producers and executives who signed on to a new initiative to fight sexual harassment in both Hollywood and blue-collar workplaces. The effort — Time’s Up — will involve a $13 million legal defense fund to help working women protect themselves from retribution if they report sexual misconduct in the workplace. Time’s Up will also aim to improve gender parity at studios and talent agencies. [The New York Times, Time’s Up]


2,281

“Body brokering” is the seedy industry that sells human bodies donated to science for considerable windfalls. A Reuters investigation into one firm — BRC — found profiles of 2,281 donors who saw their remains sawed off and sold to buyers. [Reuters]


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If you see a significant digit in the wild, send it to @WaltHickey.

Our science staff is trying to lead a more scientific life in 2018. Throughout the week, we’ll be questioning whether some of our favorite habits and hobbies are based on junk science or real evidence. Here’s the first entry, on personality quizzes.


If I were a witch, my Hogwarts House would be Ravenclaw. Or possibly Slytherin. It depends on what publication is directing the Harry Potter Sorting Hat’s work.

I am also a mild extrovert, my moral alignment is neutral, and the Star Wars character I’m most like is the Tauntaun Luke sleeps inside of in “Empire Strikes Back.”

Another big part of my personality: I really like online personality quizzes. Maybe you could tell.

But I’ve never really taken these tests seriously. Not even the Myers-Briggs — a test that is frequently used in professional development and hiring settings and costs $50 to take online. ($55.94 with tax. I’m an ENTP.) Call me cynical. Call me a skeptic. Call me a Ravenclaw with a dash of Slytherin. The point is, I always regarded personality quizzes as strangely addictive horse hockey, good for trading memes with friends, excellent at consuming your cash (or your employer’s — sorry, Nate), but not much more. “Astrology for nerds,” I called it. And as my colleagues and I compiled a list of the junk science we were resolved to let go of in the new year, I fully expected to be writing about how I was going to stop taking these damn things.

Instead, I get to spend 2018 immersed in a new series of personality tests — ones that are actually evidence-based and scientifically sound. That’s because, while most of the personality tests shared around the internet are, indeed, bogus procrastination devices, there is a science to personality, and it’s something that researchers really can put into a quantified, testable format, said Simine Vazire, a psychology professor at the University of California, Davis.

The most popular — used by the vast majority of scientists who study personality — is called the Big Five, a system that organizes personality around five broad clusters of traits: extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness to experience.

You aren’t asked about hypothetical situations. You aren’t asked about which words you like best. You aren’t given five images of different sunsets and asked to pick which one best reveals your inner soul.

Those clusters were not randomly chosen. Instead, the categories stem from research that began in the 1920s and ‘30s, when researchers first theorized that you might be able to figure out the anatomy of a personality by studying the words we used to describe what people are like. But it wasn’t until the 1970s and ‘80s that scientists finally had enough computing power to test their hunches. Researchers took thousands of surveys about the words people used to describe themselves and others, applied factor analysis, and came up with five big themes the traits clustered around, according to Christopher Soto, a psychology professor at Colby College. (Some researchers use a similarly derived model that adds a sixth trait: honesty-humility.)

The idea behind the Big Five is that everyone’s personality has a little of all five trait groups. What the test does, essentially, is tell you where you fall on the spectrum of each of the clusters. Your results are based on comparing you to all the other humans who have taken the test. So, for instance, when I took the Big Five through a website run by Soto, I ended up in the 99th percentile for extroversion, the 58th percentile for agreeableness, the 29th percentile for conscientiousness, the 43rd percentile for neuroticism and the 99th percentile for openness to experience.

That result is a bit different from the results you get with most online personality tests, which tend to group people by type — you’re a Hufflepuff, or a Charlotte, or an ISFJ. This is one of the big problems with pop culture ideas of personality, from a scientific standpoint. They try to fit us all into a set of immutable types. “That’s why we don’t like Myers-Briggs,” Vazire said. “We shouldn’t be talking about types of people.” That’s because, like most things with humans, personality traits fall on a bell curve and most of us will be near the middle of that distribution. When you try to categorize people by type, you end up with a lot of people who are placed in boxes that seem far apart, but whose distribution of personality is actually pretty close to each other. “Types create more artificial boundaries, where most people are really close to the boundary line,” Vazire said. “That’s the nature of human difference.”

The Big Five also differs in the way it asks questions. With the Big Five, you get direct statements — I am a person who is outgoing and sociable — and you agree with that, or you disagree. Sometimes you’re given a spectrum of agreement to choose from — agree strongly, disagree moderately. You aren’t asked about hypothetical situations. You aren’t asked about which words you like best. You aren’t given five images of different sunsets and asked to pick which one best reveals your inner soul.

“People feel like those are magic,” Vazire said. “I don’t want to take that feeling away from people because it’s not really harmful. But it harkens back to Freudian ideas of unconscious. The better and more valid way is to ask you pretty transparent questions.” The Big Five, she told me, has produced results that can be shown to remain largely consistent across a person’s lifespan and that can be used to predict at least some part of a person’s likely academic achievement, dating choices and even future parenting behavior. It has also been validated cross-culturally to some extent, Soto told me. Although, to do that, researchers re-create the model from scratch, using dictionaries of local languages, and the fifth cluster — openness to new experiences in the English-language version aimed at Americans — is often something different in other countries, influenced by different cultural values.

But none of that scientific evidence does much to make the Big Five popular online. In fact, when personality scientists think about their pet peeves with online quizzes, they take themselves to task. “I think we feel like we’ve done such a bad job of marketing the scientifically valid stuff,” Vazire said. Their science resolution, she said, isn’t so much to get people to stop taking personality quizzes, but to get those people who love quizzes to transfer some of that enjoyment to the Big Five. That’s something Soto and his team have been working on — creating a Harry Potter version. Of course, because it’s the Big Five, Soto’s test doesn’t tell you an absolute personality “type.” Instead, it tells you how compatible you’d be with each of the four Hogwarts Houses. I’m 69 percent compatible with Slytherin, 44 percent compatible with Gryffindor and 43 percent compatible with Hufflepuff. And Ravenclaw? I’m 99 percent compatible. 7

Turns out, sometimes, the scientifically valid answer isn’t so different from Buzzfeed’s.

Now that the 2017 regular season in the books, it’s time to look forward to the 2018 season right?

Just like eating at some of the top restaurants in the nation, it’s good to know what’s on your plate next, regardless of how far away you are from your next dish.

Here is the rundown of the opponents for each NFL team in 2018:

AFC EAST

New England Patriots
Home:Buffalo Bills,Miami Dolphins,New York Jets,Green Bay Packers,Houston Texans,Indianapolis Colts,Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings
Away:Buffalo Bills,Miami Dolphins,New York Jets,Chicago Bears,Detroit Lions,Jacksonville Jaguars,Pittsburgh Steelers, Tennessee Titans

Buffalo Bills
Home:Miami Dolphins,New England Patriots,New York Jets,Chicago Bears,Detroit Lions,Jacksonville Jaguars,Los Angeles Chargers,Tennessee Titans
Away:Miami Dolphins,New England Patriots,New York Jets,Baltimore Ravens,Green Bay Packers,Houston Texans,Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings

Miami Dolphins
Home:Buffalo Bills,New England Patriots,New York Jets,Chicago Bears,Detroit Lions,Jacksonville Jaguars,Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans
Away:Buffalo Bills,New England Patriots,New York Jets,Cincinnati Bengals,Green Bay Packers,Houston Texans,Indianapolis Colts,Minnesota Vikings

New York Jets
Home:Buffalo Bills,Miami Dolphins,New England Patriots,Denver Broncos,Green Bay Packers,Houston Texans,Indianapolis Colts,Minnesota Vikings
Away:Buffalo Bills,Miami Dolphins,New England Patriots,Chicago Bears,Cleveland Browns,Detroit Lions,Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans

AFC NORTH

Pittsburgh Steelers
Home:Baltimore Ravens,Cincinnati Bengals,Cleveland Browns,Atlanta Falcons,Carolina Panthers,Kansas City Chiefs,Los Angeles Chargers, New England Patriots
Away:Baltimore Ravens,Cincinnati Bengals,Cleveland Browns,Denver Broncos,Jacksonville Jaguars,New Orleans Saints,Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Baltimore Ravens
Home:Cincinnati Bengals,Cleveland Browns,Pittsburgh Steelers,Buffalo Bills,Denver Broncos,New Orleans Saints,Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Away:Cincinnati Bengals,Cleveland Browns,Pittsburgh Steelers,Atlanta Falcons,Carolina Panthers,Kansas City Chiefs,Los Angeles Chargers, Tennessee Titans

Cincinnati Bengals
Home:Baltimore Ravens,Cleveland Browns,Pittsburgh Steelers,Denver Broncos,Miami Dolphins,New Orleans Saints,Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Away:Baltimore Ravens,Cleveland Browns,Pittsburgh Steelers,Atlanta Falcons,Carolina Panthers,Indianapolis Colts,Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers

Cleveland Browns
Home:Baltimore Ravens,Cincinnati Bengals,Pittsburgh Steelers,Atlanta Falcons,Carolina Panthers,Kansas City Chiefs,Los Angeles Chargers, New York Jets
Away:Baltimore Ravens,Cincinnati Bengals,Pittsburgh Steelers,Denver Broncos,Houston Texans,New Orleans Saints,Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

AFC SOUTH

Jacksonville Jaguars
Home:Houston Texans,Indianapolis Colts,Tennessee Titans,New England Patriots,New York Jets,Philadelphia Eagles,Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Redskins
Away:Houston Texans,Indianapolis Colts,Tennessee Titans,Buffalo Bills,Dallas Cowboys,Kansas City Chiefs,Miami Dolphins, New York Giants

Tennessee Titans
Home:Houston Texans,Indianapolis Colts,Jacksonville Jaguars,Baltimore Ravens,New England Patriots,New York Jets,Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins
Away:Houston Texans,Indianapolis Colts,Jacksonville Jaguars,Buffalo Bills,Dallas Cowboys,Los Angeles Chargers,Miami Dolphins, New York Giants

Indianapolis Colts
Home:Houston Texans,Jacksonville Jaguars,Tennessee Titans,Buffalo Bills,Cincinnati Bengals,Dallas Cowboys,Miami Dolphins, New York Giants
Away:Houston Texans,Jacksonville Jaguars,Tennessee Titans,New England Patriots,New York Jets,Oakland Raiders,Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins

Houston Texans
Home:Indianapolis Colts,Jacksonville Jaguars,Tennessee Titans,Buffalo Bills,Cleveland Browns,Dallas Cowboys,Miami Dolphins, New York Giants
Away:Indianapolis Colts,Jacksonville Jaguars,Tennessee Titans,Denver Broncos,New England Patriots,New York Jets,Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins

AFC WEST

Kansas City Chiefs
Home:Denver Broncos,Los Angeles Chargers,Oakland Raiders,Arizona Cardinals,Baltimore Ravens,Cincinnati Bengals,Jacksonville Jaguars, San Francisco 49ers
Away:Denver Broncos,Los Angeles Chargers,Oakland Raiders,Cleveland Browns,Los Angeles Rams,New England Patriots,Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks

Los Angeles Chargers
Home:Denver Broncos,Kansas City Chiefs,Oakland Raiders,Arizona Cardinals,Baltimore Ravens,Cincinnati Bengals,San Francisco 49ers, Tennessee Titans
Away:Denver Broncos,Kansas City Chiefs,Oakland Raiders,Buffalo Bills,Cleveland Browns,Los Angeles Rams,Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks

Oakland Raiders
Home:Denver Broncos,Kansas City Chiefs,Los Angeles Chargers,Cleveland Browns,Indianapolis Colts,Los Angeles Rams,Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks
Away:Denver Broncos,Kansas City Chiefs,Los Angeles Chargers,Arizona Cardinals,Baltimore Ravens,Cincinnati Bengals,Miami Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers

Denver Broncos
Home:Kansas City Chiefs,Los Angeles Chargers,Oakland Raiders,Cleveland Browns,Houston Texans,Los Angeles Rams,Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks
Away:Kansas City Chiefs,Los Angeles Chargers,Oakland Raiders,Arizona Cardinals,Baltimore Ravens,Cincinnati Bengals,New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers

NFC EAST

Philadelphia Eagles
Home:Dallas Cowboys,New York Giants,Washington Redskins,Atlanta Falcons,Carolina Panthers,Houston Texans,Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings
Away:Dallas Cowboys,New York Giants,Washington Redskins,Jacksonville Jaguars,Los Angeles Rams,New Orleans Saints,Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans

Dallas Cowboys
Home:New York Giants,Philadelphia Eagles,Washington Redskins,Detroit Lions,Jacksonville Jaguars,New Orleans Saints,Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans
Away:New York Giants,Philadelphia Eagles,Washington Redskins,Atlanta Falcons,Carolina Panthers,Houston Texans,Indianapolis Colts, Seattle Seahawks

Washington Redskins
Home:Dallas Cowboys,New York Giants,Philadelphia Eagles,Atlanta Falcons,Carolina Panthers,Green Bay Packers,Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts
Away:Dallas Cowboys,New York Giants,Philadelphia Eagles,Arizona Cardinals,Jacksonville Jaguars,New Orleans Saints,Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans

New York Giants
Home:Dallas Cowboys,Philadelphia Eagles,Washington Redskins,Chicago Bears,Jacksonville Jaguars,New Orleans Saints,Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans
Away:Dallas Cowboys,Philadelphia Eagles,Washington Redskins,Atlanta Falcons,Carolina Panthers,Houston Texans,Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers

NFC NORTH

Minnesota Vikings
Home:Chicago Bears,Detroit Lions,Green Bay Packers,Arizona Cardinals,Buffalo Bills,Miami Dolphins,New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers
Away:Chicago Bears,Detroit Lions,Green Bay Packers,Los Angeles Rams,New England Patriots,New York Jets,Philadelphia Eagles,Seattle Seahawks

Detroit Lions
Home:Chicago Bears,Green Bay Packers,Minnesota Vikings,Carolina Panthers,Los Angeles Rams,New England Patriots,New York Jets, Seattle Seahawks
Away:Chicago Bears,Green Bay Packers,Minnesota Vikings,Arizona Cardinals,Buffalo Bills,Dallas Cowboys,Miami Dolphins,San Francisco 49ers

Green Bay Packers
Home:Chicago Bears,Detroit Lions,Minnesota Vikings,Arizona Cardinals,Atlanta Falcons,Buffalo Bills,Miami Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers
Away:Chicago Bears,Detroit Lions,Minnesota Vikings,Los Angeles Rams,New England Patriots,New York Jets,Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins

Chicago Bears
Home:Detroit Lions,Green Bay Packers,Minnesota Vikings,Los Angeles Rams,New England Patriots,New York Jets,Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Away:Detroit Lions,Green Bay Packers,Minnesota Vikings,Arizona Cardinals,Buffalo Bills,Miami Dolphins,New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers

NFC SOUTH

New Orleans Saints
Home:Atlanta Falcons,Carolina Panthers,Tampa Bay Buccaneers,Cleveland Browns,Los Angeles Rams,Philadelphia Eagles,Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Redskins
Away:Atlanta Falcons,Carolina Panthers,Tampa Bay Buccaneers,Baltimore Ravens,Cincinnati Bengals,Dallas Cowboys,Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants

Carolina Panthers
Home:Atlanta Falcons,New Orleans Saints,Tampa Bay Buccaneers,Baltimore Ravens,Cincinnati Bengals,Dallas Cowboys,New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks
Away:Atlanta Falcons,New Orleans Saints,Tampa Bay Buccaneers,Cleveland Browns,Detroit Lions,Philadelphia Eagles,Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Redskins

Atlanta Falcons
Home:Carolina Panthers,New Orleans Saints,Tampa Bay Buccaneers,Arizona Cardinals,Baltimore Ravens,Cincinnati Bengals,Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants
Away:Carolina Panthers,New Orleans Saints,Tampa Bay Buccaneers,Cleveland Browns,Green Bay Packers,Philadelphia Eagles,Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Redskins

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Home:Atlanta Falcons,Carolina Panthers,New Orleans Saints,Cleveland Browns,Philadelphia Eagles,Pittsburgh Steelers,San Francisco 49ers, Washington Redskins
Away:Atlanta Falcons,Carolina Panthers,New Orleans Saints,Baltimore Ravens,Chicago Bears,Cincinnati Bengals,Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants

NFC WEST

Los Angeles Rams
Home:Arizona Cardinals,San Francisco 49ers,Seattle Seahawks,Green Bay Packers,Kansas City Chiefs,Los Angeles Chargers,Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles
Away:Arizona Cardinals,San Francisco 49ers,Seattle Seahawks,Chicago Bears,Denver Broncos,Detroit Lions,New Orleans Saints, Oakland Raiders

Seattle Seahawks
Home:Arizona Cardinals,Los Angeles Rams,San Francisco 49ers,Dallas Cowboys,Green Bay Packers,Kansas City Chiefs,Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota Vikings
Away:Arizona Cardinals,Los Angeles Rams,San Francisco 49ers,Carolina Panthers,Chicago Bears,Denver Broncos,Detroit Lions, Oakland Raiders

Arizona Cardinals
Home:Los Angeles Rams,San Francisco 49ers,Seattle Seahawks,Chicago Bears,Denver Broncos,Detroit Lions,Oakland Raiders, Washington Redskins
Away:Los Angeles Rams,San Francisco 49ers,Seattle Seahawks,Atlanta Falcons,Green Bay Packers,Kansas City Chiefs,Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota Vikings

San Francisco 49ers
Home:Arizona Cardinals,Los Angeles Rams,Seattle Seahawks,Chicago Bears,Denver Broncos,Detroit Lions,New York Giants, Oakland Raiders
Away:Arizona Cardinals,Los Angeles Rams,Seattle Seahawks,Green Bay Packers,Kansas City Chiefs,Los Angeles Chargers,Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett is unsure about his future with the team going as far to say that he doesn’t expect the Seahawks to bring him back for the 2018 season, according tothe Tacoma News Tribune.

“I probably won’t be back next year,” Bennett, 32, admitted.

“Just seems like it’s a young man’s game. I can see them going younger, with younger players,” Bennett added. “That’s part of the game.”

Along with Bennett, veterans such asRichard Sherman, punterJon Ryanand cornerbackJeremy Lane might not return to Seattle next season.

Additionally, the playing futures ofsafetyKam Chancellorand defensive endCliff Avril are in question due to neck injuries.

The Seattle Seahawks may be forced to completely overhaul their roster.

“With me, I’m fine. I mean, whatever happens, I’ve loved being a Seahawk. … You love the organization. You love the players that you played with. We’ve won a lot of games. So if I am not here I would never have any hard feelings toward the organization. I love Pete Carroll and [general manager] John Schneider, and we just move forward. It’s part of football,” Bennett told reporters.

“This is just part of sports. It just keep growing and you continuously play for another organization, if you have the opportunity.”

Bennett, who had 8.5 sacks this season, is due a $4M roster bonuson the fifth day of the 2018 league year, which begins on March 14 and is signed through 2020.

“People, a lot of fans don’t realize it when people have injuries and how they play through it,” Bennett said. “Most people tear their plantar fascia they don’t even do anything. I played through it the whole season. Swollen knee.

“You do what you can for your teammates. You do what you can. That’s just the sport.”

There’s no denying that in the prime of his 20-year Major League career, Curt Schilling was one of the best regular season pitchers that baseball had to offer.

But, when it came to the most important month of all- October- the fierce right-hander took it up a notch to say the very least.

In five postseasons, Schilling was 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in 19 games- all starts- with four complete games and two shutouts. His teams went 14-5 in those games overall, as well as a perfect 5-0 when they faced elimination. In those five crucial games, Schilling posted a 1.37 ERA (6 ER, 39 2/3 IP).

It’s this undeniable success- his tendency to elevate his game when it mattered the most- that helped Schilling win three World Series championships; four of those five elimination starts came in years that his teams won it all.

You couldn’t ask for a more clutch performer.

Think about it. Take Schilling’s postseason dominance, then add it on top of his impressive regular season numbers. Let’s recap those for a moment. 216-146 in 569 games (436 starts), 83 complete games, 20 shutouts, a 3.46 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, .243 BAA, and EXCEPTIONAL command. In 3,261 career innings, his strikeout-to-walk ratio was 4.36 (3,116 to 711)- which is the second best mark of ALL-TIME.

I could go on and on about how great of a pitcher Schilling was. Instead, I’ll just share this article by Sporting Newsthat further puts Schilling’s accomplishments into perspective backed up by facts and statistics; definitely worth checking out.

So yes, Schilling undoubtedly, 100% belongs in Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame due to his accomplishments on the field…

BUT HIS POLITICS!!!!!

Yes, there are folks who don’t believe Schilling, 51, should be inducted because of his highly conservative views. In fact, on last year’s ballot, Schilling lost 19 votes among returning voters, which gave him 53.2% of the votes, well below the required 75% for induction; Schilling didn’t hold back on what he thought about those voters either (quote in link).

Now it’s important to recap why Schilling lost those votes, and there are a few obvious reasons to back this up. To start, he was a vocal supporter of Donald Trumpduring the election.

Other than being a Trump supporter, in August 2015, ESPN suspended Schilling for a month for tweeting the following image which compared (some) Muslims to Nazis, which he deleted:

He was finally fired from ESPN in April 2016, after posting this meme on Facebook in response to a North Carolina law that was recently passed at the time:

Then of course there was that time he jokingly called a t-shirt that seemed to support the lynching of journalists as “awesome”, in a tweet from November 2016, which he deleted as well:

These are just a few examples of the controversies that have surrounded Schilling regarding his political views. For more, this article from The Washington Post offers some other examples.

So while Schilling has posted some controversial things, he’s entitled to have those opinions. And they shouldn’t hinder his chances of making the Hall of Fame. Getting inducted is what about you accomplish ON THE FIELD, not about what you post online to your own social media accounts. The lynching thing in my opinion was the dumbest of the three examples provided; but do you actually think he wants journalists to be killed? It was meant as a joke.

Look, if Schilling had raped or killed someone, this would be a totally different story. If that were the case, I wouldn’t want him to get inducted to the Hall. Why give someone like that the spotlight? A REAL monster? That would make sense.

The bottom line is this: Schilling has opinions that are unpopular to many, and he isn’t afraid to share them on his social media platforms, or voice them on his radio show for Breitbart, the far-right news outlet. He hasn’t committed any crimes, he hasn’t hurt anyone- except for the feelings of many liberals- but that’s not his fault.

Yes, Schilling is highly successful. Some may say that because of this, he should just keep his mouth shut and not let his unpopular opinions be known because he knows people who once looked up to him will be offended and not like him anymore. But he chooses to not be silent. He chooses to speak his mind, share his memes, voice his conservative opinions, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Schilling doesn’t care what you think, and he’s certainly not going to stop doing what he’s doing, which shouldn’t keep him out of the Hall of Fame. He’s going to get in too; prior to receiving 53.2% of the votes last year, he tallied 39.2% the year before, and 29.2% the year before that. So he’s trending upward, despite all the controversy that involved him between the 2015 and 2016 ballots. So even though he lost 19 votes, there were people that were able to look past his political views, simply because of the type of pitcher he was- which is the only thing that should matter, in his case.

Results for the 2018 Hall of Fame class will be announced on January 18, so we’ll see if Schilling gets in. I don’t think this will be his year. Even if it’s not, he’s absolutely deserving, and it’ll only be a matter of time.

The man belongs in the Hall of Fame due to his BASEBALL accomplishments, and it’s really that simple.

If one College Football Playoff showdown is a matchup of old, familiar playoff foes (Clemson vs. Alabama, Part 3) the other is stocked with relative neophytes: Oklahoma and Georgia. It’s the Bulldogs’ first-ever appearance in the playoff since it began in the 2014-15 season, and Oklahoma is making only its second playoff bid after losing to Clemson in the 2015 Orange Bowl. Here’s what to look for in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day between the Bulldogs and Sooners:

Oklahoma’s defense is terrible by playoff standards. Will it matter?

Among this year’s four playoff teams, three are extraordinarily balanced: Alabama, Georgia and Clemson each rank among the nation’s top 10 in efficiency on both offense and defense.8

Oklahoma, on the other hand, is a study in imbalance.

Not only do the Sooners have the best offense of 2017, but the difference between their offensive efficiency and the second-ranked offenses (Alabama and Oklahoma State) is about the same as the difference between No. 2 and No. 10 Central Florida’s. Since the playoff started four seasons ago, the only offense remotely close to being as efficient as Oklahoma’s belonged to Oregon in 2014 — and the Ducks weren’t really that close to the Sooners.

At the same time, the Oklahoma defense is easily the worst of any playoff team. The Sooners allowed 25 points and nearly 385 yards of total offense per game this season. They rank 59th in the country in defensive efficiency. It’s safe to say that Oklahoma has the most one-dimensional profile of any team to ever make the College Football Playoff.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the Sooners are primed for a playoff letdown. Oklahoma has the best quarterback in the country (Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield) and a host of other weapons that can make opposing defenses pay. Their stat sheet could give any defensive coordinator a heart attack. (This is, after all, a team that surpassed 600 yards of total offense in more than half of its games!)

But it’s also worth noting that in three years of playoff action, the more efficient defense won 67 percent of its games, while the superior offense won only 56 percent. Even if those numbers are skewed by Alabama’s success as a defensive juggernaut, the Tide have won with defense for a reason. Oklahoma will have to buck that trend if they want to prove that a great offense can win, too.

Can Georgia keep winning from ahead and complete its rise?

Roughly one year and two months ago, the Georgia Bulldogs were 4-4 under new coach Kirby Smart after losing to the Florida Gators. Their Elo rating was +9.1, only the 33rd-best in the country. And although Georgia perennially hauled in great recruits, there was little to suggest it would be sitting two wins away from a national championship on New Year’s Day in 2018.

From that point on, though, the Bulldogs embarked on one of the great overnight improvements in playoff history. Since that day late last October, they went 16-2 and added 22 points to their Elo rating. Georgia now ranks second behind Clemson in Elo (+31.3). Since the College Football Playoff started in 2014, only one playoff team — Washington in 2016 — added more to its Elo rating between its low point of the previous season and its rating heading into the playoff:

The most improved playoff teams

Among College Football Playoff teams, the biggest improvements in Elo rating between the team’s low point in the previous season and the playoff

Elo Rating
Season Team Before Playoff Prev. Season Low Diff.
2016 Washington 29.4 4.8 +24.6
2017 Georgia 31.3 9.1 +22.3
2015 Oklahoma 29.5 8.8 +20.7
2017 Oklahoma 30.0 9.7 +20.3
2014 Florida State 32.1 12.0 +20.1

The College Football Playoff began in 2014

The Bulldogs are an exceptionally well-rounded team, ranked fifth nationally in offensive efficiency and second in defensive efficiency during the regular season. All-SEC running back Nick Chubb surpassed 1,100 yards for the third time in his career and No. 2 rusher Sony Michel nearly broke the 1,000-yard mark as well. Freshman quarterback Jake Fromm stepped in to instantly become one of the most efficient passers in the country.

FiveThirtyEight: Oklahoma needs help on defense to win the Rose Bowl

Perhaps the only concern about the Bulldogs is if they find themselves in the unfamiliar territory of playing from behind. Fromm has been much better when the Bulldogs have a lead. During the regular season, only three Power Five conference QBs had a bigger split between their Total Quarterback Rating while the team was leading and while it was trailing:

Granted, Fromm’s split comes in a small sample because Georgia seldom trailed during its 12-1 campaign. (Georgia ran only 16 percent of its plays while behind on the scoreboard, nearly half of which came against Auburn in the Bulldogs’ 40-17 November defeat.) But perhaps Oklahoma’s best chance against the Bulldogs is to use its dominating offense to jump out to an early lead, then hope its defense can force Fromm into freshman mistakes while playing from behind. Between Georgia’s impressive balance and Oklahoma’s shaky defense, however, that might be a task easier said than done.

As the FiveThirtyEight staff recovers from a hectic year of news, we’ve been reflecting on our favorite stories from the past 12 months. What follows is not a comprehensive list of our best work, but it is some of what has lingered in our minds as we get ready for 2018.9


untitled-1_0003_layer-1-copyOur editor in chief, Nate Silver, started the year like many others: trying to make sense of the 2016 presidential election. He wrote a dozen essays about what happened, including entries on President Trump’s superior Electoral College strategy, the media’s probability problem and “the Comey letter.”

untitled-1_0003_layer-1-copyThis summer, Kid Rock was rumored to be the next celebrity to follow Trump’s path into politics. But the poll that started the buzz came from a shady corner of the internet and may not have been conducted as advertised. Harry Enten went down a rabbit hole and found that fake polls are a real problem.

untitled-1_0003_layer-1-copyWhen Trump was a candidate, he often noted that the electoral system was rigged because so many noncitizens were registered to vote. But the evidence that Trump cited when making claims of voter fraud didn’t show what Trump said it did. Maggie Koerth-Baker investigated how an academic paper became a keystone of the Trump administration’s allegations of voter fraud.

untitled-1_0003_layer-1-copyAfter about half a year of the Trump presidency, Julia Azari came to a striking realization: Trump is a 19th-century president facing 21st-century problems.

untitled-1_0003_layer-1-copyThe media’s coverage of the Trump administration has been filled with stories that employ anonymous sources to discuss what’s happening in the White House. Not all anonymous sources are created equally, though. Perry Bacon Jr. put together a guide for when to trust a story that uses anonymous sources and which anonymous sources are worth paying attention to.

untitled-1_0003_layer-1-copyAs the Democrats seek to take back Congress in 2018, David Wasserman wrote about their uphill climb: The congressional map is historically biased toward the GOP.

untitled-1_0003_layer-1-copyTrump’s rise to power inspired a huge following in some corners of the internet. In March, we profiled one of the president’s most rabid fan clubs: a subreddit called “The_Donald.”

untitled-1_0003_layer-1-copyAs the Supreme Court deliberates partisan gerrymandering, Galen Druke has been profiling the problems with redistricting reform efforts: Partisanship always finds a way back in.

untitled-1_0003_layer-1-copyTrump’s contentious back and forth with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, was a defining story of the summer. As the heads of state traded threats, Oliver Roeder wrote about how game theory can be used to win a nuclear standoff.


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As stories about sexual assault and harassment inundated the fall, Clare Malone noted that nearly all of them were about people in white-collar industries. That prompted her to investigate whether the #MeToo moment will reach women in low-wage jobs.

untitled-1_0002_layer-1-copy-2Anna Maria Barry-Jester spent much of the year covering the Republicans’ efforts to roll back the Affordable Care Act. But she also looked beyond Obamacare. In April, she wrote about how patterns of death in the South still show the outlines of slavery, and in June, she wrote that the health care system is leaving the southern Black Belt behind. In conjunction with those stories, Ella Koeze created an interactive map that shows 35 years of American death data.

untitled-1_0002_layer-1-copy-2After the mass shooting in Las Vegas, there was some debate over whether stronger gun laws lead to less gun violence. But just looking at correlations between gun laws and violence isn’t enough, Jeff Asher and Mai Nguyen wrote, because guns can cross state lines even when gun laws don’t.

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When the FBI released its first crime report under Trump, Clare Malone and Jeff Asher noticed something: It was missing a ton of data, and the agency’s explanations for why didn’t add up. FBI Director Christopher Wray now says the data will again be released to the public.

untitled-1_0002_layer-1-copy-2This hurricane season was relentless for the U.S., with several major storms causing major damage. If Hurricane Sandy is any indication, the recovery from that damage is not going to be quick. Julia Wolfe and Oliver Roeder used FiveThirtyEight’s longest chart ever to show that New York City is still getting calls about Sandy recovery.


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After the U.S. men’s national soccer team broke our hearts with the worst loss in the history of U.S. men’s soccer, we went looking for another squad to support. It’s not like us to just pick things at random, so we designed a quiz that helps you find the World Cup team you should root for.

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Despite never playing a snap in the 2017 NFL season, Colin Kaepernick dominated the conversation around football this year. As Kaepernick went unsigned in the offseason, Kyle Wagner and Neil Paine investigated whether it was Kaepernick’s skills that were to blame. It wasn’t.

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As the 2016-17 NBA season came to a close, FiveThirtyEight’s NBA team made the case for five different MVPs, including the eventual winner, Russell Westbrook.

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One of the runner-ups for MVP, James Harden, has bloomed over the past few years into one of the league’s best players. Chris Herring noted one of Harden’s many quirks: He’s great at drawing fouls behind the 3-point line.

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Nate Silver is tired of baseball closers being used only as ninth-inning specialists. So, to help get more of a team’s best relievers in the game earlier, he created a new stat: the goose egg, which tracks which relievers are the best at putting out fires when the stakes are highest.

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People are still trying to figure out why there are so many dang home runs in baseball now. Rob Arthur continued his investigation into the home-run surge, and the evidence points to the balls being juiced.

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Speaking of those home runs, midway through this MLB season, there had been 56,785 home runs hit since the start of 2006. Neil Paine and Rachael Dottle charted how far those home runs would have traveled if you put them all together (4,280 miles) and which MLB player’s bombs traveled the furthest.


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For years, the Bechdel Test has been used to evaluate whether a film is invested in its female characters. But the Bechdel Test is an imperfect measure of Hollywood’s inequalities. So Walt Hickey, Ella Koeze, Rachael Dottle and Gus Wezerek canvassed Hollywood in search of a new one and watched 2016’s 50 top-grossing movies to see how they stacked up.

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Is your Dungeons & Dragons character rare? Gus Wezerek went spelunking to tell you whether you’re basic in your selection of a goliath paladin.

untitled-1_0000_layer-1-copy-4If you’re still searching for that perfect margarita recipe, Walt Hickey, Nate Silver, Christine Laskowski and Tony Chow have you covered.

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If one of your 2018 resolutions is to get better at spelling bees, we have the perfect guide for you. (It’s harder than it looks.)


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In February and March, FiveThirtyEight’s science team explored Mars. As part of that series, Christine Laskowski and Maggie Koerth-Baker noted why sex is one of space’s final frontiers.

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When Maggie Koerth-Baker wasn’t writing about space sex, she was writing about panda sex. In November, she wrote about Pan Pan, the panda who was so good at sex that he helped save his species.

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The Trump administration has reshaped the nation’s science agenda, and Republicans are often demanding that researchers provide “sound science” to substantiate their claims. Christie Aschwanden wrote about that term and why the easiest way to dismiss good science is to demand sound science.

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Dan Engber went to rural Oregon to find the grandfather of alt-science. His name is Art Robinson, and his contrarian views about things like climate change have found their way into powerful circles in Washington.

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Diddy Kong Racing for the N64 was never able to escape that long shadow cast by Mario Kart. While the game got a remake for the DS, it never got a true successor. And if we’re being honest, it probably never will. Fortunately there’s a fan video to help fill the void left by its eternal absence.

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Foreign governments are granting Trump projects big favors to get what they want from...

President Donald Trump purportedly stepped away from his business interests for the duration of his term as president, but Vanity Fair‘s Tina Nguyen says that foreign governments are granting favors and greasing the wheels for Trump-branded projects around the world.

Anita Kumar at McClatchy reported that the Indonesian government has chosen to build a new road to shorten the drive between the island chain’s main airport and the new Trump golf resort.

In Panama, the national government directly intervened in a lagging sewer project connected to the new Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower in Panama City. The original contractor tasked with constructing the system went bankrupt, prompting the government to use its own money to construct sewage and water pipes connecting to the resort hotel.

“And in other countries,” Kumar wrote, “governments have donated public land, approved permits and eased environmental regulations for Trump-branded developments, creating a slew of potential conflicts as foreign leaders make investments that can be seen as gifts or attempts to gain access to the American president through his sprawling business empire.”

As Nguyen noted, all of this appears to place Trump squarely in violation of the Emoluments Clause, which prohibits federal officials from accepting gifts or anything that might be constituted as a bribe from foreign governments.

However, she said, “Just weeks after Trump won the election, the Argentinian government suddenly granted a permit for a long-delayed Trump Tower development in Buenos Aires. In September, Trump’s Middle Eastern business partners granted a company partially owned by the Chinese government a contract to build a road to Trump World Golf Club in Dubai, seemingly going against his pledge to not engage in foreign business transactions during his presidency. And, of course, there is the ongoing constitutional crisis that is the Trump International Hotel Washington D.C., which critics claim violates the Emoluments Clause on a regular basis.”

Two lawsuits have been brought against the Trump administration alleging these violations, one of which was dismissed by a judge just before Christmas.

Kumar spoke with Noah Bookbinder of the Committee for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), who said, “If you have a foreign government providing a benefit to the Trump company that is going to violate emoluments clause of the Constitution.”

The president is reportedly receiving boons to his projects — which he claims he handed over to the management of his sons, Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump — from the governments of Uruguay, India and the Philippines.

Read the full McClatchy report here.

Mormon leader Thomas Monson dies aged 90

Thomas S Monson, who served in top leadership councils for the Mormon church for 50 years and became its president in 2008, has died. He was 90.

Monson was a church bishop at 22 and in 1963 the Salt Lake City native became the youngest church apostle ever, at 36. He was a counselor for three church presidents before assuming leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Monson died at his home in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, according to church spokesman Eric Hawkins. The next president was not immediately named, but the job is expected to go to next longest-tenured member of the church’s governing Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Russell M Nelson, 93, per church protocol.

Monson’s presidency was marked by his noticeably low profile during a time of intense publicity, including the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns of Mormon Mitt Romney. His most public acts were appearances at church conferences and devotionals as well as dedications of church temples.

He will be remembered for continuing the religion’s push to be more transparent about its past; his emphasis on humanitarian work; and lowering the minimum age for missionaries.

He will also be remembered for leading the faith’s involvement in the passage of a gay marriage ban in California in 2008. At his urging, Mormons were vigorous campaign donors and volunteers. That prompted a backlash against the church that included vandalism of church buildings, protest marches and demonstrations outside church temples nationwide.

In subsequent years, the church began utilizing a softer tone on the issue. In 2015, the church backed an anti-discrimination law in Utah that gave unprecedented protections for gay and transgender people while also protecting religious freedoms.

But the religion came under fire again in the fall of 2015 when it banned baptisms for children living with gay parents and instituted a requirement that those children disavow homosexual relationships before being allowed to serve a mission. The changes were designed to avoid putting children in a tug-of-war between their parents and church teachings, leaders said.

Thomas Monson attends a corner stone laying ceremony at the dedication of the Draper Utah Temple in Draper, Utah, in 2009.
Thomas Monson attends a corner stone laying ceremony at the Draper Utah Temple in Draper, Utah, in 2009. Photograph: George Frey/Reuters

The revisions triggered anger, confusion and sadness for a growing faction of LGBTQ-supportive Mormons who were buoyed in recent years by church leaders’ calls for more love and understanding for LGBTQ members.

Monson also continued the church’s push to be more open about some of the most sensitive aspect of the faith’s history and doctrine. A renovated church history museum reopened in 2015 with an exhibit acknowledging the religion’s early polygamous practices, a year after the church published an essay that for the first time chronicled founder Joseph Smith’s plural wives.

Other church essays issued during Monson’s tenure addressed other sensitive topics: sacred undergarments worn by devout members; a past ban on black men in the lay clergy; and the misconception that Mormons are taught they will get their own planet in the afterlife.

The growth and globalization of the religion continued under Monson, with membership swelling to nearly 15.9 million, with more than half outside the US. There were 71,000 church missionaries serving around the world at the end of 2016.

Mormons considered Monson a warm, caring, endearing and approachable leader, said Patrick Mason, associate professor of religion at Claremont Graduate University in California.

He put an emphasis on the humanitarian ethic of Mormons, evidenced by his expansion of the church’s disaster relief programs around the world, said Armand Mauss, a retired professor of sociology and religious studies at Washington State University.

Monson often credited his mother, Gladys Condie Monson, for fostering his compassion. He said that during his childhood in the Depression of the 1930s their house in Salt Lake City was known to hobos riding the railroads as a place to get a meal and a kind word.

“President Monson always seemed more interested in what we do with our religion rather than in what we believe,” Mauss said.

A second world war veteran, Monson served in the navy and spent a year overseas before returning to get a business degree at the University of Utah and a master’s degree in business administration from the church-owned Brigham Young University.

Before being tabbed to join the church’s governing Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Monson worked for the church’s secular businesses, primarily in advertising, printing and publishing including the Deseret Morning News.

He married Frances Beverly Johnson in 1948. The couple had three children, eight grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. Frances died in 2013 at the age of 85.

Monson was an avid fisherman who also raised homing pigeons, specifically, roller pigeons who twirled as they flew. He was known for his love of show tunes, Boy Scouts and the Utah Jazz.

The man expected to take Monson’s seat, the 93-year-old Nelson, has been a church apostle since April 1970. Nelson will choose two new counselors from the Quorum of the Twelve who will join him to form a three-person “presidency” that is the top of the religion’s governing hierarchy. Monson’s two counselors were Henry Eyring and Dieter Uchtdorf. They will go back to being regular members of the Quorum unless they are chosen again.

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How Donald Trump’s war on intelligence is destroying American national security

President Donald Trump’s insecurity over losing the popular vote and the salacious allegations in the Steele Dossier have prompted him to lash out at the intelligence community’s claims that Russia influenced the 2016 election. Now that war against the intelligence community is impacting American national security.

A Wednesday Washington Postreport revealed that the National Security Agency is hemorrhaging staff at an alarming rate. Some of these “highly skilled” staffers have become “disillusioned” with intelligence but the leadership and a reorganization effort under the new administration has sent many to update their resumes.

The work these experts do included monitoring a broad array of subjects including the Islamic State, Russian and North Korean hackers, and analyzing the intentions of foreign governments, and they were responsible for protecting the classified networks that carry such sensitive information. Yet, these staffers saying that they want a higher-paying job in the private sector or more flexible hours.

Since 2015, hundreds of hackers, engineers and data scientists have bailed on the NSA, former officials said. Now it’s reaching a level that national security can be impacted. Of the 17 spy agencies, the NSA is the largest and they’re responsible for collecting the information that goes into the presidential daily briefing that Trump doesn’t understand. Over the first year in office, aides have even been forced to tailor the briefing so it doesn’t include anything about Russian interference in the election so as to not anger Trump.

“Some synonym of the word ‘epidemic’ is the best way to describe it,” said former NSA senior researcher Ellison Anne Williams. She left her job at the NSA in 2016 to start her own data-security firm and took 10 NSA staff with her. “The agency is losing an amazing amount of its strongest technical talent, and to lose your best and brightest staff is a huge hit.”

The agency won’t disclose the number of vacancies over the last year, but it said there is 5.6 percent decrease in staff who specialize in science, technology and math. The NSA isn’t the only place the Trump administration has implemented the right-wing war on science. In Scott Pruitt’s Environmental Protection Agency, scientists became the enemy. Even Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was told never to say the words “climate change.” Losing the experts means new staff are filling the positions without the experience central to the NSA’s mission collecting huge swaths of data and analyzing it.

Former staff have complained that they felt their mission was marginalized by a restructuring of the agency. Others allege the reorganization was “an enormous distraction.” Some even call the pay structure and promotion program part of the problem. According to former staff, it prioritizes seniority over experience or expertise.

Another former employee alleged that the problems began with former contractor Edward Snowden and the arrest of former contractor Harold T. Martin III in 2016. Accessing data and information became more difficult for those trying to do their jobs. The witch hunt searching for leakers made things worse. An environment with collaboration has turned toward suspicion, a former staffer said.

“It comes down to death by a thousand cuts,” said a former employee, adding that people “tend to quit in packs. One person hits their breaking point, and once they leave, the dominoes start falling.”

NSA spokesman Tommy Groves didn’t discount the reports.

“If the price of security becomes that we drive away the very men and women that generate value in the first place, we now have a self-induced mission kill,” National Security Agency Director Administrator Michael Rogers said in a conference speech.

Trump’s attacks on the 17 intelligence agencies that confirmed the Russian interference couldn’t have made morale any better. After meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump swore that Russia didn’t do it.

“He said he didn’t meddle, he said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times,” Trump told reporters in November. “Every time he sees me he says I didn’t do that, and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it.”

Trump has also waged a war with the FBI, calling it “tainted” and alleging it is part of the “deep state” shadow government.

“It is also a possible obstruction of justice, witness intimidation, and it’s obstructing justice by saying to agents, ‘you better not dig too deep, you better not find anything because I will attack you,'” former Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks said to MSNBC.

The only way to maintain staff is to tape into the sense of duty “for God and country,” said former threat operations center chief Daniel Ennis. He thinks the agency will recover, because it always has.