I was barely 13 years old during WrestleMania VI on April 1, 1990, and just about at the height of my pro-wrestling fandom. I watched every televised event and read wrestling magazines, and I had been to a live event at the Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu. I even watched unofficial wrestling-analysis shows that aired in the middle of the night. I was delirious.My favorite wrestler was Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, who took on “Mr. Perfect,” who had yet to lose in a televised head-to-head matchup. Brutus won. “Mr. Perfect,” a.k.a. Curt Hennig, had finally lost.Hennig died in 2003 at age 44.Of course, the main event at WrestleMania VI was the “Ultimate Challenge,” in which The Ultimate Warrior defeated Hulk Hogan to unify the Intercontinental Championship and the WWF Championship for the first — and so far only — time ever (the WWF changed its name to the WWE in 2002).The Ultimate Warrior, James Hellwig, died two weeks ago at age 54.Here are a few other pieces of information about WrestleMania VI:One match — Earthquake’s defeat of Hercules — featured two wrestlers who are now both dead.It was Andre the Giant’s last major televised match; he died in 1993 at age 46.Dusty Rhodes, who won his first wrestling title in 1968, is 68. His tag-team partner, Sapphire, his opponents “Macho Man” Randy Savage and the Sensational Queen Sherri, and his surprise manager, Miss Elizabeth (who was in a “feud” with Macho Man, her real-life husband), died in 1996, 2011, 2007 and 2003, respectively.Just five of 14 matches featured wrestlers who are all alive today.Here’s the card with all of the televised matches for the night. I’ve marked the ones who are dead in red; it’s one-third of the wrestlers who appeared (12 of 36, plus Miss Elizabeth).For all the dramatized bloodshed of professional wrestling, the card for WrestleMania VI certainly looks like a bloodbath. Is there anything fishy about pro wrestling, or are my intuitions about what percentage of young 1990s athletes should be alive 25 years later just way off?Let’s look at some data.I collected biographical information (including date of birth and date of death, if applicable) from the Internet Wrestling Database on all WWF wrestlers who are/would be younger than 60 in 2014, and who had at least 20 pay-per-view appearances between WrestleMania I in 1985 and the time the WWF was forced to change its name by the World Wildlife Fund in 2002 — for 203 in all.I then calculated each wrestler’s chances of dying between the ages of 25 (roughly around when his or her career may have started) and however old he or she is/would be in 2014, using actuarial tables from the Social Security Administration. Because health technology has improved significantly, I used a 1990 actuarial table to cover years before 2000, a 2000 table to cover years 2000 to 2009, and a 2010 table to cover 2010 to the present.I then broke them down by age groups and compared each group’s death rate with its expected death rate:We can also calculate the probability of so many wrestlers dying in each age group and overall by chance (using binom.dist), and it comes out like so:Note: I calculated each wrestler’s odds individually, but the probabilities in the last column of this table are based on the average probability for each group (which gets us extremely close, though technically it could be calculated precisely).I don’t want to speculate as to the cause of this phenomenon, though a number of theories in varying shades of sinister spring to mind. But it saddens me to think that my 13-year old self was so thoroughly entertained by watching ghosts. Rest in peace.
Only teams with a playoff swing of at least 2 percentage points based on the game outcome shown Only teams with a playoff swing of at least 2 percentage points based on the game outcome shown Only teams with a playoff swing of at least 2 percentage points based on the game outcome shown With three weeks left in the NFL season, 11 playoff spots are open. That means that most of the remaining 48 games — save some stinkers like 49ers-Rams — will make some impact on the postseason. What are this week’s biggest games?For the last month, we’ve been using the model behind our 2016 NFL predictions to calculate how much each team’s playoff chances “swing” depending on the outcome of each game. For example, we currently give the Green Bay Packers a 31 percent chance of making the playoffs. If they beat Chicago this week, we project those chances will increase to 40 percent (independent of other games). If they lose, their chances drop to 11 percent.1Our NFL predictions are based on 100,000 simulations of the rest of the season and are updated after every game ends. In the simulations in which Green Bay beats Chicago, they make the playoffs 40 percent of the time. In simulations where they lose, they make the playoffs 11 percent of the time. But it’s unlikely that Green Bay’s playoff probabilities will be exactly 40 percent or exactly 11 percent at the end of Week 15, because the team’s chances depend on the outcome of several games, not just their own. The Packers’ current chances are much closer to 40 percent than to 11 percent because they are much more likely to beat the Bears (69 percent) than lose to them (31 percent). That’s a 29 percentage point swing! By doing this same math for every matchup and factoring in how each team’s resulting record will affect others’ playoff odds, we can find out which games are the most impactful.But “most impactful” only tells part of the story. Let’s say you’re a Green Bay fan, or a fan of any other team on the playoff bubble. Which set of outcomes would help the most this week? To help answer this question, we’ve updated our predictions page to allow you to pick the outcomes of every game for Weeks 15 through 17, so you can see how each matchup affects every team’s probabilities. In the “best case” scenario I could find for the Packers, they’d beat the Bears, but also Dallas would beat Tampa Bay, San Francisco would beat Atlanta, the New York Giants would beat Detroit, Indianapolis would beat Minnesota, and Carolina would beat Washington.With these six outcomes, Green Bay’s playoff chances rise to 58 percent. Go create your own scenarios! The five biggest games of Week 15 are below. Detroit84987127– Tennessee2425232– AFFECTED TEAMCURRENTIF NE WINSIF DEN WINSSWING Washington4649445– Minnesota1922174– Minnesota1923176– Buffalo24—4– Baltimore27322110– Atlanta9193894– Atlanta9189912– 1. Detroit (9-4) vs. N.Y. Giants (9-4) — 93 total ‘swing’ points Indianapolis3142– Denver54%33%78%44– We’re down to one wild card slot in the AFC. While neither Oakland nor Kansas City has officially clinched the postseason, we currently give both teams a greater than 99 percent chance, and only one of them (probably the Chiefs) will make it in as the AFC West champion. Denver is still clinging to that second wild card spot, but their loss to the Titans in Week 14 set their chances back. They’ll now face a brutal end-of-season schedule, facing New England, Kansas City and Oakland. 4. Carolina (5-8) vs. Washington (7-5-1) — 88 total ‘swing’ points 2. New England (11-2) vs. Denver (8-5) — 90 total ‘swing’ points CHANCE OF MAKING PLAYOFFS CHANCE OF MAKING PLAYOFFS Green Bay3127347– Tampa Bay54%85%42%43– N.Y. Giants7570778– 5. Tennessee (7-6) vs. Kansas City (10-3) — 72 total ‘swing’ points Atlanta9192893– Green Bay3135287– CHANCE OF MAKING PLAYOFFS Detroit8482853– AFFECTED TEAMCURRENTIF TB WINSIF DAL WINSSWING Miami27361521– Only teams with a playoff swing of at least 2 percentage points based on the game outcome shown 3. Tampa Bay (8-5) vs. Dallas (11-2) — 88 total ‘swing’ points Tampa Bay5457516– The Buccaneers have won five straight and control their own playoff destiny. Dallas is guaranteed a postseason slot, but if you choose an outcome to this game on our new NFL predictions page you’ll see that a win improves their chance of a first-round bye to 99 percent, and a loss drops them to 80 percent. This makes a huge impact on their Super Bowl probabilities, so the Cowboys — who are at risk of dipping into a quarterback controversy — have quite a bit to play for here. Only teams with a playoff swing of at least 2 percentage points based on the game outcome shown N.Y. Giants75%54%93%39– CHANCE OF MAKING PLAYOFFS AFFECTED TEAMCURRENTIF TEN WINSIF KC WINSSWING Houston75537926– Washington46375013– CHANCE OF MAKING PLAYOFFS The Lions had their eighth fourth-quarter/overtime comeback of the season on Sunday, and now somehow find themselves in contention for a first-round bye. But Detroit’s remarkable season has come against a pretty weak schedule, and they’ll have to wrap up the year against the Giants, Cowboys and Packers. The winner of this game would be nearly assured of a playoff spot, but the loser will be in decent shape. Green Bay, which is in the hunt for the NFC North, is rooting for the Giants. Tampa Bay, Washington, Atlanta and (somewhat surprisingly) Minnesota would prefer a Detroit win to improve their wild card standing. AFFECTED TEAMCURRENTIF DET WINSIF NYG WINSSWING Detroit8486824– Tennessee24%53%19%34– The Panthers’ playoff chances are more or less nil, but they have the opportunity to play spoiler three games in a row against Washington, Atlanta and Tampa Bay.2You may have noticed that Tampa Bay-Dallas and Carolina-Washington both have a “swing” total of 88 points. That number is rounded, but we use a little more precision when we determine the rankings, and Tampa Bay-Dallas is the (very slightly) more impactful game. Washington would miss the playoffs if the season ended today and would fall to having just a 1-in-5 chance of making them with a loss here. Washington46%22%64%43– Denver5452542– Pittsburgh8991874– N.Y. Giants75827012– Tampa Bay5458508– Green Bay31243310– Minnesota1914217– AFFECTED TEAMCURRENTIF CAR WINSIF WAS WINSSWING The Titans also control their own destiny! Wins against the Chiefs, Jaguars and Texans in the final three weeks will leave the Titans with a 10-6 record and an AFC South title. And yet, we give them just a 24 percent chance of making the playoffs. One reason for this is that this week’s matchup in Kansas City, where the Titans will be major underdogs by any measure. But it’s also possible that our ratings are understating the Titans’ overall strength. Elo carries over from season to season, and while most teams have shaken whatever effect 2015 had on their rating, Tennessee started in such a huge hole — their 2015 end-of-season rating was 1272 — that we’re still rating them as a significantly below-average team. A win in Kansas City would send their Elo, and their playoff chances, skyrocketing.CORRECTION (Dec. 15, 2:13 p.m.): A previous version of this article misstated the best-case scenario for the Packers in Week 15. In that scenario, the best outcome for Green Bay would be the Giants beating the Lions, not the other way around.Check out our latest NFL predictions.
The state of Alaska is requesting to be involved with Canadian approval of a proposed copper and gold mine across the border in British Columbia. State commissioners of three departments submitted comments on Seabridge Gold’s Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell or KSM mine this month. That open pit mine is planned in the Unuk and Nass river watersheds across the border from Ketchikan. Alaska’s congressional delegation, fishing industry and tribal groups have asked for a more detailed review of that project following a tailings dam failure at a different mine in British Columbia this month.Download Audio:Fishing industry and tribal groups called for what’s called a panel review of the gold and copper project. Such a review could include public hearings and independent assessment of the mining development. Petersburg Vessel Owners Association’s Brian Lynch wants to prevent the tailings dam failure that happened at the Mount Polley mine. “The panel review is the only thing I think that would give us any kind of assurance that we’re not going to have something like that happen. There’s no guarantees but I think if the KSM mine is fully constructed that would be the only thing that would give us any kind of assurances that the water quality will not be impaired for either the Unuk or the Nass River.”KSM received approval from the British Columbia provincial government this summer. The Canadian federal government still has to decide on the project.The PVOA, Alaska Trollers Association, tribal organizations and Alaska’s Congressional delegation have appealed to the U.S. State Department to seek greater oversight from the Canadian federal government. Groups are hoping Secretary of State John Kerry will invoke the Boundary Waters Treaty between the U.S. and Canada as a tool to encourage increased scrutiny of KSM and other large mine projects proposed in the region.Lynch thinks there’s a lack of oversight with projects proposed near rivers that flow out of British Columbia into Southeast Alaska. And he said it’s an economics issue for the fishing industry not just an environmental one. “We have sustainable fisheries, fisheries in Southeast have gone on for about a hundred years. And there’s really no reason barring some disaster why it can’t go on for another hundred plus years. However, with KSM, their mine life they’re estimating 52 years. Well I know fishermen here in Alaska that have been fishing themselves, individuals for 50 years.”The state of Alaska’s comments on the KSM mine are signed by the commissioners of three departments, Natural Resources, Fish and Game and Environmental Conservation. Those comments note that a panel review of the KSM Project may serve to address some of the continuing concerns held by Alaskans.Kyle Moselle is large project coordinator for the Alaska Department of Natural Resources “What the commissioners have asked of the minister of environment is to fully consider those concerns and apply the most appropriate administrative process for addressing them.”Moselle said the state of Alaska has been involved in the review of the KSM mine going back to 2008. And he says it’s too early to say what actions should result from the tailings dam breach at Mount Polley. “What the state of Alaska is looking for is a thorough investigation of the events that led up to that dam breach. There’s going to be a lot of information that needs to be gathered. It needs to be investigated fully. And there will be a report that summarizes that investigation. I think that we’ll be able to make better decisions as a state about what actions to take once we have that information.”The state’s comments ask to review the plans for the tailings facility at the KSM mine and the commissioner formally request to be included in the development of authorizations for this project. The State also requests to be included in the development of monitoring plans associated with water quality, dam safety, and aquatic resources.“We have good working relationships with BC,” Moselle said. “We have good working relationships with the federal government of Canada and we’re building on those relationships as we move forward and as they move forward on the review of additional mining projects that are proposed.”New mines are also planned around the Stikine and Taku river watersheds.