Probably gamma bursts have a natural origin, but we shouldn't assume this. As TMQ has noted, what if they are the muzzle flashes of doomsday weapons? Strong gamma bursts tracing to the dawn of the cosmos happened before intelligent life is likely to have evolved. But the new burst occurred "recently" enough that there had been plenty of time for intelligent beings to come into existence and devote themselves to cataclysmic weapons. Gamma bursts appear far more violent than nuclear explosion. If this burst happened in our Milky Way, the radiation would have killed everything on Earth, and any life similar to ours throughout this galaxy. When astronomers look into the heavens, they observe fantastically powerful explosions. We should not blithely assume all are natural in origin.
What Should Rocky Give? Two years ago, TMQ featured Rocky the Dog, noble hound of ESPN contributor Bill Speros. Readers were asked what Rocky should eat, drink or do for relaxation. This year's question: What should Rocky give for Hanukkah or Christmas? If you've seen a preposterous gift advertised, tweet it to me with a link @EasterbrookG.
You Don't Need a Weather Man to Know Which Way the Wind Blows: The tactics for coaching in cold, strong wind are three: First, scheme to get the wind in the first quarter, to jump to a lead. Next, scheme to get the wind in the fourth quarter, when it's money time. Third, if moving with the wind use a fast pace and throw; if moving against the wind, huddle up and rush. Bill Belichick has always cleaved to these tactics, and employed them for New England's dramatic comeback against Denver.
The Patriots won the opening coin toss, so Belichick deferred. That left Denver to decide whether to start with the ball or start with the wind. Denver chose the ball, which meant New England could then take the wind. Remember, on the opening coin flip the victor has three options: If "defer" is the choice, then the flip loser takes the ball, then the flip victor can choose which goal to defend. So the game began with Belichick getting the best-case wind outcome for the first half.
Having the wind in the first quarter didn't help the Flying Elvii, who lost three fumbles, spotting the visitors a 17-0 lead. By halftime, the margin was 24-0, and some of the New England crowd headed for the warmth of their cars.
Down by 24, Belichick had no choice but to take the ball to begin the second half. If the game had been close, Belichick might have chosen a goal instead, to be sure of fourth-quarter wind. When the referee turned to the Denver captain, inexplicably the visitors elected to take the wind in the third quarter, giving New England the wind in the fourth quarter, exactly what Belichick wanted.
Del Rio's blunder on choice of direction in the third quarter was the game's big play, happening while officials held the ball. The blunder was especially bad since, with a solid lead at that point, Denver was likely to rush the ball in the third quarter anyway. Del Rio should have saved the wind for when he might need to throw.