June 12, 2014

Francesco Totti of A.S. Roma plays in the 2013 Major League Soccer All Star Game—a setup that, according to new research, might have been a real nightmare for team players.     Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images Sport

How Star Players Can Ruin a Team

There's such a thing as too much talent

Happy first day of the World Cup! To celebrate, let's talk about how our favorite players can ruin everything for their team.

In a nod to everything we learned about cooperation in kindergarten, research to be published in the journal Psychological Science says that having too much talent in a team undermines overall performance. Top players might fail to coordinate with others and even "jostle for the spotlight."

The researchers found this using data from the FIFA World Cup 2010 and 2014 qualifying periods as well as stats from professional basketball and baseball, analyzing how much talent each team had in relation to intrateam coordination during games. "Talent facilitates team performance… but only up to a point," said lead researcher Roderick Swaab in a press release.

Packing a roster with star players could backfire. This is more true for interdependent sports such as soccer and basketball and less so for more individualized sports like baseball. There's also a lesson here for those of us who aren't professional athletes: The researchers say that the too-much-talent effect also exists in the office. For organizations that rely on teamwork for success, hiring top talent might not be the best focus.

Maybe the teamwork argument sounds like common sense, but the study points out that in sports, most people wrongly assume that "piling on more top talent is the key to team success"—something to think about as the World Cup craze reaches its zenith. "We expect to see plenty of team-sheets boasting impressive lineups with top talented players," Swaab said. "However, coaches that simply select their side with superstars may … be the ones taking an early exit from Brazil."

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A screen shot from Tufferson's impressive edit.     Photo: Terry Tufferson/YouTube

That Viral Shark Video from Australia?

Yeah, it's fake, and you've been duped

Terry Tufferson posted a video on YouTube yesterday with some POV footage of his recent jump into Sydney Harbour, which quickly turned into a close encounter with a shark. Titled GoPro: Man Fights Off Great White Shark in Sydney Harbour, the short video has erupted with more than one million plays. However, thousands are calling the whole thing a fake. And they're right.  

Although it's certainly an impressive feat of editing, take your pick of which frame you'd like to center your argument on. Beginning with what looks like the first-ever teleportation of a shark at the 59-second mark, the great white appears in the middle of the frame only to emerge milliseconds later cruising in from the left. Water depth and rolling waves near the 40-second mark also don't seem to match up with the apparent conditions below the well-used Jump Rock at Collins Beach.

Commenters across the Web are pointing to varying light conditions, the swimmer's scream and lack of urgency, why he stopped recording so soon, and poor video quality as evidence of the hoax. Some are even posting response videos using the same footage.

Sharks are apparently a well-known species in Sydney Harbour, and there is nothing stopping a great white from cruising by Collins Beach where Tufferson jumped, but some of the editing loopholes in the video make this particular encounter hard to believe.

Look out, we're entering an era where anyone with a laptop and an Internet connection can fabricate anyobody doing almost anything. Cool? Sure. Scary? Yes, especially when we're swimming with sharks.

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These little chicks could grow up to be fuel for stroke prevention.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

STUDY: Protein Is Key to Avoiding Stroke

14-year study pushes chicken, fish

A recently concluded study has determined that protein might well be the key to drastically reducing your risk of stroke. Just 20 grams per day of chicken or fish can reduce the risk of stroke by up to 20 percent, the research posits.

The study, published in the journal Neurology, monitored the diets and health of 254,489 people over the course of 14 years across multiple countries. "If everyone's protein intake were at this level, that would translate to more than 1.4 million fewer deaths from stroke each year worldwide, plus a decreased level of disability from stroke," study author Dr. Xinfeng Liu told the Telegraph.

Animal protein in particular, rather than the vegetable variety, was found to lower blood pressure, a primary indicator of stroke risk. However, Liu also suggested that people avoid red meat, as it was associated with increased stroke risk.

Previous studies done in the United States have found that protein can both prevent stroke and help people recover from it. A University of California Irvine study from 2010 found that certain supplemental proteins could help restore brain and limb function in paralyzed rats.

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Non sibi sed patriae, George H.W. Bush.     Photo: aarrows/ThinkStock

George H.W. Bush Skydives

"41" turns 90. Still charges.

At 90 years of age, George H.W. Bush feels more alive than you do. 

To celebrate his birthday today, our 41st president went skydiving.

Strapped to an ex-military jumper, Bush tweeted that today was "a wonderful day in Maine—in fact, nice enough for a parachute jump," and leaped tandem near his home in Kennebunkport. The duo touched down around 11:15 a.m.

Bush, who also went skydiving for his 80th and 85th birthdays, made a promise two years ago that he would take one last jump to celebrate the start of his tenth decade.

Per Bush's office, this was the ex-POTUS's eighth parachute jump. Not every one of them was for fun, however—his first occurred when the Japanese military shot down his fighter plane during World War II on September 2, 1944, giving him impetus to evacuate.

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Who knew that fish bladders could make such a lovely, clear lager?     Photo: Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr

Craft Brewers Raise a Glass to New Regulations

While big corporations face pressure to post ingredients

On June 5, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau published TTB Ruling number 2014-4, which has simplified the approval process of new beers so they can make it onto shelves and into your hand faster. 

The new ruling allows for more than 30 ingredients—including honey, certain fruits, and some spices—to be exempt from formula requirements that had previously kept new beers off the market for months as they awaited approval. Additionally, the process of aging beer in barrels is now acknowledged by the TTB as a "traditional" method, and products using newly approved methods or ingredients have new labeling requirements.

But the labels are where some big-dog brewing companies are facing trouble with consumers. The nation's two biggest beer makers, Anheuser-Busch and Miller Coors, are now the subject of an online petition fronted by nutritional activist Vani Hari demanding that their beer ingredients be posted online.

Hari claims that additives such as high-fructose corn syrup, propylene glycol (an ingredient found in airplane antifreeze), and fish bladders are used either in beer or during the brewing process. "I just want full disclosure, not to change labels and go through government labels, just to disclose it online so everyone can see," Hari said in an ABC News interview.

Because of TTB rulings such as 2014-4, beer, wine, and pure alcohol products are not required to list every ingredient. According to a Chicago Tribune report, the government used to publish a list of permitted ingredients in beer. The list included food dyes, sweeteners, preservatives, foam enhancers, enzymes, and chill-proofing agents.

Brewers who are just looking to experiment with natural ingredients such as honey or coffee are excited about what the new labeling requirements can do for the craft of brewing. Simple recipe tweaks will no longer have to go through the entire approval process as long as the ingredients are on the approved TTB listings. "It's great news in terms of streamlining for the brewer," says Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association, in a report with MSN Money. "It does give [brewers] greater freedom, and chances are beer drinkers will have more options of beers available to them."

Even Hari agrees that beer deserves to be on shelves and in glasses, not held up by government regulations. In fact, beer is her husband's favorite beverage. "I'm not asking for government involvement. I'm asking for voluntary disclosure on their websites," she said in a story in USA Today.

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