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Over-Optimizing for Performance
Recently on the csharp subreddit, the post C# 9.0 records: immutable classes linked to a surprisingly controversial article discussing how C# 9.0's records are, underneath it all, immutable classes. The comments are full of back-&-forth over whether one should use records for ease or structs for performance. The pro-struct argument revolved around the belief that performance should always be a developer's #1 priority, and anything less was the realm of the laggard. Here is a real-world example that shows with stark clarity why that kind of thinking is wrong. Consider the following scenario:
You're working on a game with dozens, maybe hundreds of people on the team; you don't know because when you were cross with facilities about them removing all the fluorescents, you got accused of being against the new energy saving initiative. Now you swim in a malevolent ocean of darkness that on some very late nights alone in the office, you swear is actively trying to consume you.
The team that preceded you inherited an engine that is older than OOP, when source repositories were stacks of 8-inch floppies, and it looked as if Jefferson Starship was going to take over the world. One year ago they bequeathed upon the company this nightmare of broken, undocumented GOTO spaghetti & anti-patterns. You're convinced this was their sadistic revenge for all getting fired post-acquisition.
Management denied your request to get headcount for an additional technical artist, but helpfully supplied you with an overly nervous intern. After several weeks working alongside them, you're beginning to suspect they're pursuing something other than a liberal arts degree.
Despite the many getting started guides you spent countless evenings writing, the endless brownbags nobody attended, and the daily dozen emails you forward to oppressively inquisitive artists comprised of a single passive-aggressive sentence suggesting they scroll down to the part that begins FW: FW: FW: FW: FW: FW: RE: WE BROKE TOOL NEED WORKAROUND ASAP ...
...yes, despite all of that, the engineering team still spent days tracking down why the game kept crashing with Error 107221: У вас ошибка after re-re-re-re-re-throwing an ex_exception when it couldn't (and should never even try to) load a 16K-textured floor mat.
Despite your many attempts to politely excuse yourself, one blissfully unaware artist exhausts 48 minutes of your lunch break explaining how the Pitchfork review for the latest "dope slab" of this TikTok-Instagram-naphouse artist you never heard of was just sooooo unfair.
And then in their hurry to finish up & catch the 2:30 PM bus home, they forget to toggle Compress To CXIFF (Custom Extended Interchange File Format), set the Compression slider 5/6ths of the way between -3 & -2, look to their left, look to their right, click Export As .MA 0.9.3alpha7, and make absolutely, positively, 100% SURE not to be working in prod. And THAT is how the game explodicated.
You know better than anyone the intermediate file format the main game loop passes to Game.dll, memory mapping it as a reverse top-middle Endian binary structure.
You know for 381 of the parameter fields what their 2-7 character names probably mean.
YOU know which 147 fields always have to be included, but with a null value, and that the field ah_xlut must ALWAYS be set to 0 unless it's Thursday, in which case that blackbox from hell requires its internal string equivalent: TRUE.
YOU know that the two tech artists & one rapidly aging intern that report to you would totally overhaul tooling so artists would never "happen" again, but there just aren't enough winters, springs, summers, falls, July 4ths, Christmas breaks, Presidents Days, and wedding anniversaries in a year to properly do so.
And so somehow you do. A blurry evening or two here. A 3:00 AM there. Sometimes just a solitary lunch hour.
Your dog no longer recognizes you.
You miss your wife calling to say she's finally cleaning out the hall closet and if you want to keep this box of old cards & something in plastic that says Underground Sea Beta 9.8 Grade, you better call her back immediately.
And your Aunt Midge, who doesn't understand how SMS works, bombards you one evening: your father is... no longer with us... they found him... 1 week ago... in an abandoned Piggly Wiggly... by an old culvert... split up... he was then... laid down to rest... sent to St. Peter's... and your father... he's in a better place now... don't worry... it's totally okay... we decided we will all go... up to the mountain
You call your sister in a panic and, after a tidal wave of confusion & soul-rending anxiety, learn it was just Hoboken Wireless sending the messages out of order. This causes you to rapidly cycle.
On your bipolar's upswing, you find yourself more productive than you've ever been. Your mind is aglow with whirling, transient nodes of thought careening through a cosmic vapor of invention. It's like your brain is on 200mg of pure grade Adderall.
Your fingers ablaze with records, clean inheritance, beautiful pattern matching, bountiful expression syntax, aircraft carriers of green text that generate the most outstanding CHM for an internal tool the world has ever seen. Readable. PERFECTLY SOLID.
After much effort, you gaze upon the completed GUI of your magnum opus with the kind of pride you imagine one would feel if they hadn't missed the birth of their son. Clean, customer-grade WPF; tooltips for every control; sanity checks left & right; support for plugins & light scripting. It's even integrated with source control!
THOSE GODDAMNED ARTISTS CAN'T FAIL. YOUR PIPELINE TOOL WON'T LET THEM.
All they have to do is drag content into the application window, select an options template or use the one your tool suggests after content analysis, change a few options, click Export, and wait for 3-5 minutes to generate Game.dll-compatible binary.
Your optimism shines through the commit summary, your test plan giddy & carefree. With great anticipation, you await code review.
A week goes by. Then two. Then three. Nothing. The repeated pinging of engineers, unanswered.
Two months in you've begun to lose hope. Three months, the pangs of defeat. Four months, you write a blog post about how fatalism isn't an emotion or outlook, but the TRANSCENDENCE of their sum. Two years pass by. You are become apathy, destroyer of wills.
December 23rd, 2022: the annual Winter Holidays 2-hour work event. The bar is open, the Kokanee & Schmidt's flowing (max: 2 drink tickets). The mood a year-high ambivalent; the social distancing: acceptable. They even have Pabst Blue Ribbon, a beer so good it won an award once.
Standing beside you are your direct reports, Dave "Macroman" Thorgletop and wide-eyed The Intern, the 3 of you forming a triumvirate of who gives a shit. Dave is droning on & on about a recent family trip to Myrtle Beach. You pick up something something "can you believe that's when my daughter Beth scooped up a dead jellyfish? Ain't that something? A dead jellyfish," and "they even had a Ron Jons!"
You barely hear him, lost as you are in thought: "I wishIhad 2 days of vacation." You stare down ruefully at your tallboy.
From the corner of your eye you spot Milbert, index finger pointed upward, face a look of pure excitement.
"Did I tell you about my OpenWinamp project? It's up on SourceForge", he says as he strides over. It's unsettling how fast this man is.
Dave snickers. The Intern keeps staring wide-eyed. You position yourself somewhat close to the studio's 3 young receptionists, hoping they serve as a kind of ritual circle of protection.
It works... kind of. Milbert is now standing uncomfortably close to The Intern, Dave nowhere to be seen.
From across the room you distinctly hear "Think about it, the 1st-person UI could be Lua-driven Electron."
The Intern clearly understands that words are being spoken to them, but does not comprehend their meaning.
You briefly feel sorry for the sacrificial lamb.
You slide across the wall, putting even more distance between you & boredom made man. That's when you spot him, arrogantly aloof in the corner: Glen Glengerry. Core engineering's most senior developer.
Working his way up from a 16-year old game tester making $4.35 an hour plus free Dr. Shasta, to pulling in a cool $120K just 27-years later, plus benefits & Topo Chicos. His coding style guides catechism, his Slack pronouncements ex cathedra; he might as well be CTO.
You feel lucky your team is embedded with the artists. You may have sat through their meetings wondering why the hell you should care about color theory, artistic consistency, & debates about whether HSL or CMYK was the superior color space (spoiler: it's HSL), you were independent and to them, a fucking code wizard, man.
And there he stands, this pseudo-legend, so close you could throw a stapler at him. Thinning grey-blonde tendrils hanging down from his CodeWarrior hat, white tee with This Guy VIMs on the back, tucked into light blue jeans. He's staring out into the lobby at everything and yet... nothing all at.
Maybe it's the 4.8% ABV. Maybe it's the years of crushing down anger into a singularity, waiting for it to undergo rapid fiery expansion, a Big Bang of righteous fury. Maybe it's those sandals with white socks. Maybe it's all three. But whatever it is, it's as if God himself compels you to march over & give him a piece of your mind, seniority be damned.
"Listen, you big dumb bastard..."
That... is maybe a little too aggressive. But Glen Glengerry barely reacts. Pulling a flask out of his back pocket, he doesn't look over as he passes it to you.
Ugh. Apple Pucker.
"I thought bringing in your own alcohol was against company policy", wiping sticky green sludge from your lips. He turns with a look of pure disdain & snorts.
"You think they're going to tell ME what I can & can't bring in?" He grabs the flask back, taking a big swig.
For what feels like an eternity, you both stand in silence. You swallow, speaking softly. "None of you even looked at my code. I worked very, very hard on that. My performance review for that year simply read 'recommend performance improvement plan." The words need no further context.
"I know", Glen² replies. "That was me."
Now you're not a weak man, and maybe in some other circumstance you would have punched him in the goddamn lip. But you feel nothing, just a hollowness inside. "Why?", you ask, wondering if the answer would even matter.
"Because you don't use Bulgarian notation. Because your method names aren't lower camel case. Because good code doesn't require comments. Because you use classes & records over more performant structs, pointlessly burdening the heapstack. BECAUSE. YOUR CODE. IS. SHIT."
You clinch your fists so tightly the knuckles whiten.
He looks away from you, taking another sip of green goo. "You're not a coder. You're an artist masquerading as one" he speaks, as if it were fact.
The only thing artistic about you is the ability to create user-friendly internal tooling using nothing but a UI framework, broken down garbage nobody wants to touch, & sheer willpower. If your son's life depended on you getting accepted into art instruction school, you couldn't even draw a turtle.
He doesn't pause. "I'll champion ruthless micro-optimization until the day I die. But buddy, I'm going to let you in on a little secret: you aren't here to improve workflow. You're here to LOOK like you're doing something NOBODY else can."
He goes on. "What do you think those artists are going to do when they have to stare at a progress bar for 4, 5 minutes? They're going to complain your tool is slow."
"Sure, it may take them 20, 30 minutes to do it the old way, there'll be an error, and either they'll stare at it for 30 minutes before adding that missing semi-colon or they'll come get you. And you'll fix it. And 1 week later, they won't remember how. And you'll stay employed. And every. Body. Wins."
A little bit of the pride, the caring, wells back up inside from somewhere long forgotten.
"You don't think we should care about rapid application development & KISS, quickly getting things out that help our team, instead devoting ourselves to shaving off ticks here & there? What do you think artists are going to do with those 4 minutes you talk about?
You don't stop. "I'll tell you what they'll do. They'll 9GAG for 20 minutes straight. They'll listen to podcasts about dialectical materialism vis-a-vis the neo-feudalism that is a natural extension of the modern world's capitalist prison. They'll Reddit."
His silence gives you the bravery to push the limits.
"Christ, man. Are you only in it for the $120K..."
He corrects you: "...$123K."
"...only in it for the $123K/year? The free snacks from the microkitchen? The adulation? Have you no sense of comraderie?? No desire to push us to something better?! No integrity?!!!"
His eyes sharply narrow, face creases in anger. You clearly have overstepped your bounds.
"You thinkIdon't have integrity? No sense of teamwork? I'm only in it for the cold cash? You think I don't care about you all?", he roars.
A light volley of small green flecks land on your face.
"Why do you think they made a 16-year old tester the lead developer of a 1993 Doom clone?! Because my code was clean & painless to work with?! Because I made coding look easy?! No! IT WAS BECAUSE I WAS A GOD TO THEM.
And from a God, a PANTHEON. We built monuments to over-engineering! We crafted that of 7 weeks onboarding, that of immortal bugs, demonic hosts spawned by legion from the very loins of a fix. It took 2 years before a developer could BEGIN to feel confident they knew what they were doing. And by that time, they were one of US!
You think the team we laid off November '19 was fired because they were bad at their jobs? NO! It was because they worked themselves out of one. They didn't leave us a broken pipeline. They left an internal Wiki, a wealth of tools & example projects, and a completely transparent code base.
We couldn't have THAT, now could we? No, we couldn't. So we got rid of it. ALL OF IT. Poof. Gone. Just like that. Before anyone even knew a THING."
He leans forward, so close his psoriasis almost touches yours. With an intensity that borders on frightening, he whispers "You think they left us Game.dll? I fucking *MADE** Game.dll."*
The words hit hard like a freight train.
And without another word, he turns & leaves. You're left there, alone, coworkers milling about, with only one thought.
Were one to get a hobby, should it be cocaine?
It's these kinds of situations that make me believe there are far more important considerations than a ruthless dedication to performance, even in the game industry as my real-world scenario so clearly demonstrates.
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[OC] Building an NFL Draft Model using Machine Learning
Happy Sunday nfl. Like most of the users here, I get draft-obsessed every February when the Combine comes around. Well, this year I decided to do something about it by building a draft model. If you're not interested in the details, you can stop right here and click the links below.
To build an NFL draft model capable of producing meaningful player predictions. I had originally planned to do so using a fuzzy Random Forest trained on NFL Combine and Pro Day physical measurements, individual and team college statistics, and engineered features. The model produced superior results when treating physical measurements as crisp rather than fuzzy, which was surprising but nonetheless forced me to change my approach. Random Forest model is appropriate for this dataset because of the relatively small number of observations (roughly 250-300 players per draft class) and the highly non-linear relationship between the input and output variables. Random Forests are fairly robust against overfitting, which is a concern when modelling noisy data. Player performance is impacted by round and team selection in the draft - first-round selections receive more opportunities than seventh-round selections, different schemes fit some players better. Because of this the model performance can be greatly improved by including some regression to draft selection or, in the case of test data, public rankings.
I've decided to take the novel approach of using player ratings from EA Sports' Madden video game franchise as a proxy for player production, skill, and value. This is beneficial for a number of reasons. The first is that these ratings provide continuous output on a consistent scale across both years and positions; a player rated 99 overall is considered to be elite at their position, regardless of the unique responsibilities or challenges in quantifying performance specific to that position. The second reason is that Madden ratings predate modern quantitative evaluative metrics like those provided by Football Outsiders or Pro Football Focus. Madden ratings explained - https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/madden/# Overall ratings are calculated using position-specific formulas that weight individual attributes like speed, strength, and tackling. Ratings are updated each year through a Bayesian-like process of weighing new information to update old. To aggregate ratings for each player, I use a 5-part mean which includes ratings in Years 1-4 and Peak rating. NFL rookie contract length is 4 seasons (along with a fifth year club option for first-round picks), while the average career length in the NFL is less than 4 years. As such, when building a draft model is makes sense to only consider production accrued during the first 4 years of a player's career. Year 1 represents the Madden rating given to each player following their rookie season. For this reason, the final year for which complete data is available is the 2014 draft class (with Madden 19 providing Year 4 ratings). This decision was made to better capture NFL success, as rookie player ratings are highly dependent on draft order. For example, in Madden 2008 rookie #1 overall pick JaMarcus Russell was awarded an overall rating of 82, just 1 point lower than #3 overall pick Joe Thomas. The next year, Russell's rating was 83, while Thomas was a 97 overall. By Madden 2010, Russell was given a rating of 72 overall, while Thomas maintained his 97 overall rating. Year 3 and Year 4 ratings have been given double weight for the same reason, with the added effect of lowering the ratings of players who were not able to stay in the league for at least 4 years. While this metric on the whole does a good job of ranking player talent and production, it is blind to players who peaked later in their careers or those who had short careers. Notable examples of each include Eric Weddle (84.6 rating, eventual 2x All Pro, 6x Pro Bowl) and Jon Beason (95.4 rating, 1x All-Pro, 3x Pro Bowl). Weddle did not reach his peak until after re-signing with the Chargers as an unrestricted free agent prior to the 2011 season, and could have presumably reached his peak while playing for another team. Beason suffered an Achilles injury during the 2011 season and eventually lost his job with the Panthers, starting in only 26 games in the years following his rating window. Beason would have been eligible to sign as a free agent following the 2011 season had the Panthers not offered a contract extension. In the NFL, the drafting team maintains the exclusive right to employ each player for 4 years following their selection, thus it is incumbent upon the team to select and develop players who provide the most value during that period. For that reason I stand by the decision to evaluate draft selections only on a player's first 4 years in the league.
I wrote several web scraping programs to pull data from NFL Draft Scout (an excellent resource for Combine data, and the only source I'm aware of that includes Pro Day data), Pro-Football-Reference, and CFB Reference (both Sports-Reference-operated sites, easily the best sources for football statistics in the NFL or FBS). The dataset covers the 2006-2014 draft classes and includes players who were ranked in NFL Draft Scout's top 300 in their draft year. I have removed all quarterbacks, kickers, punters, long snappers, and fullbacks due to the relatively small sample sizes or extreme specialization that each position requires. It might be valuable to evaluate these positions later – particularly quarterbacks – but for now the model focuses exclusively on 13 "skill" positions, bucketed into 7 position groups. The dataset restrictions exclude some notable players ranked outside of the top 300, both drafted and undrafted, who went on to varying degrees of success in the NFL. At the top extreme are 4-time All Pro Antonio Brown and Super Bowl LIII MVP Julian Edelman. But while many players on this list never played a down in the NFL, it is important to be aware of which players are excluded and it may be worthwhile to expand the dataset in the future. I have removed players from the dataset whose NFL careers were cut prematurely short either voluntarily or involuntarily (due to injury, not ability). These players' ratings (or lack thereof) are not representative of their production and thus only serve to complicate the dataset and confuse any modeling attempts. Examples include Aaron Hernandez, Gaines Adams, and Chris Borland. The list is as long as it is depressing. There is also a subset of players who drastically changed position upon entering the league. This is contrary to less extreme position changes (tackle to guard, cornerback to safety), which occur frequently. These players have been removed because their college statistics create noisy data. Examples: Denard Robinson, Devin Hester, J.R. Sweezy.
College statistics have been collected and cleaned at the FBS level from Sports Reference. Using college statistics is important because they provide information on a player's in-game performance. However, college football styles vary greatly among teams and have changed over time. Therefore we must control for differences in pace and style of play when considering college numbers. Rather than attempt to fit a model on raw season total statistics, I've decided to use neutralized per game statistics under the following parameters:
Receiving statistics have been normalized to 30 team pass attempts per game
Rushing statistics have been normalized to 35 team rush attempts per game
Sacks/Interceptions/Passes Defended normalized to 30 opponent pass attempts per game
Tackles/TFL/Fumbles normalized to 65 opponent offensive plays per game
Regression to position-specific mean as function of percentage of team games played
To illustrate this point let's look at Calvin Johnson and Michael Crabtree, who were both highly productive college wide receivers selected early in the first round.
The two statlines appear very similar without context. It's easy to make this distinction empirically, but little effort has been made to translate college statistics into more informative data. Johnson and Crabtree put up similar overall numbers, but Crabtree did it in an air raid style offense that relied heavily on passing while Johnson played on a more balanced offense.
Georgia Tech (2006): 368 total team pass attempts (26 per game)
Texas Tech (2008): 662 total team pass attempts (51 per game)
When we neutralize both players' statistics, we can better compare each player's level of production.
Calvin Johnson (neutralized): 6.2 catches, 97.6 yards, 1.2 TD
Michael Crabtree (neutralized): 4.4 catches, 52.8 yards, 0.9 TD
Compare those numbers to each player's NFL career statistics:
Calvin Johnson (NFL per game): 5.4 catches, 86.1 yards, 0.6 TD
Michael Crabtree (NFL per game): 4.5 catches, 53.0 yards, 0.4 TD
This is a cherry-picked example but it does well to show that while raw statistics are not to be trusted, college data when put into the proper context can be made more predictive. On a larger scale, we can compare RMSE of the model when including raw college statistics compared to pace- and schedule-neutralized statistics. Controlling for strength of schedule does not improve the predictiveness of the model, but controlling for pace and style of play does have a significant effect.
Raw per Game
Pace-Neutralized per Game
Pace- and Schedule-Neutralized per Game
Here's the full stat list, with a few notable performers:
Rushing Attempts (Andre Williams, Kevin Smith)
Rushing Yards (Matt Forte, Ray Rice)
Rushing TD (Toby Gerhart, Ahmad Bradshaw)
Receptions (Greg Jennings, Zach Ertz)
Receiving Yards (Hakeem Nicks, Jarvis Landry)
Receiving TD (Demaryius Thomas, DeAndre Hopkins)
Total Offensive TD
Non-Offensive TD (C.J. Spiller, Maurice Jones-Drew)
Tackles (Luke Kuechly, Patrick Willis)
Run Stuffs (Navorro Bowman, Aaron Donald)
Sacks (Elvis Dumervil, Whitney Mercilus)
Total TFL (Ryan Kerrigan, Brandon Graham)
INT (Eric Weddle, Earl Thomas)
Passes Defended (Dee Milliner, J.J. Watt)
Non-Offensive TD (Tyrann Mathieu, Darrelle Revis)
NFL Combine and Pro Day Measurements
The final major inputs of the draft model are the physical measurements taken at the NFL Combine and university Pro Days. Pro Day measurements are harder to come by due to their decentralized and often scarcely reported nature. Fortunately, NFL Draft Scout has maintained a database of reported Pro Day measurements spanning the years in our dataset. There is an enormous benefit in using Pro Day measurements in a model like this. It allows for a larger training set by including data on players who were not invited to the NFL Combine, but also provides much more complete data because not all players who attend the combine perform the full slate of workouts. This lessens the need for imputation and reduces uncertainty. However, there is bias observed in Pro Day measurements. Pro Days are typically scheduled in the weeks following the NFL Combine, giving players more time to train for the specific physical events. Furthermore, they often take place at the players' home campuses in environments in which the players feel more comfortable. Lastly, many events (most notably the 40-yard dash) are hand-timed at Pro Days, leading to better reported times than the electronic times at the Combine. Each of these factors contributes to improvement in every event among the population of players who participated both at the NFL Combine and at their university Pro Day.
Players who participated in both NFL Combine and Pro Day
40 Yard Dash
20 Yard Split
10 Yard Split
20 Yard Shuttle
3 Cone Drill
In order to correct for this bias, I've (somewhat arbitrarily) chosen to shift recorded Pro Day measurements by 70% of the mean delta. Even when we correct for some of the systematic bias observed in Pro Day measurements, we must also recognize that most physical measurements aren't static. Some players aren't performing at maximum physical capacity on the day of the Combine, occasionally players injure themselves during their workout, and the measurements aren't always recorded with perfect accuracy or consistency. A dataset with this much uncertainty lends itself well to fuzzy set theory. In simple terms, this will allow us to consider not only a player's recorded 40 yard time of 4.40, but will also consider some probability that their "true" speed is 4.39 or 4.43. So when the model attempts to predict NFL success given a player's 40 yard dash time, it's not based on a singular number but rather a distribution of times centered around that number. Fuzzy Set Theory explanation - https://www.doc.ic.ac.uk/~nd/surprise_96/journal/vol4/sbaa/report.fuzzysets.html My approach is to generate a random forest model on the discrete data, then fit n iterations on randomly shuffled data to generate a distribution of outcomes for each player. This "shuffling" will occur randomly for each measurement using a normal distribution centered around the discrete number, with sigma equal to half of the standard deviations recorded above. In a single random forest, data is crisply split by decision trees based on discrete information. But with enough randomly shuffled iterations, the trees are no longer binary decisions but rather probabilistic ones centered on each measurement's distribution. This is particularly relevant for players who may have measurements near decision tree boundaries. Two players with sprint times separated by mere hundredths of a second are not appreciably different in speed, but a random forest might classify them as such. The purpose of shuffling is not to fundamentally change each player's physical characteristics, rather to acknowledge measurement uncertainty. My belief is that this will improve the model outputs over a large enough number of trials. We have a wealth of NFL Combine and Pro Day data but not every player has participated in every drill, so we'll need to fill in missing values. Because many of these physical measurements are correlated and most football positions require some degree physical specialization (size, speed, etc.), I've chosen a k nearest neighbor imputation method. The belief is that if Players A and B are similar in terms of position, size, speed, and quickness, then the two players will also have similar strength or jumping ability. The exceptions are draft age and wingspan, which can be reasonably predicted using population means.
Perhaps the most essential component of a machine learning model is feature engineering. Modern feeling toward physical measurements taken at the Combine is highly dubious, and I agree that each measurement taken in isolation cannot alone adequately define athleticism, much less predict success. However, there exist more complex metrics which can better perform both tasks across a large enough sample.
Body Mass Index (BMI)
Body weight (kg) divided by squared height (meters); an attempt to measure the relative amount of mass in an individual
An attempt to measure lower body force generation using Sayers Power formula
Top performers: Mario Williams, Ndamukong Suh
Broad Jump Power
Same as Vertical Jump power, using Broad Jump
Top performers: Jamie Collins, Calvin Johnson
Same as Speed Score, replacing 40-Yard Dash time with mean of 10-Yard Split, 20-Yard Shuttle, and 3 Cone Drill
Top performers: J.J. Watt, A.J. Hawk
225 * bench press reps, divided by body weight, then adjusted by arm length; rewards player with longer arms, all else equal
Top performers: Stephen Paea, Chris Houston
3-dimensional space occupied by the player. Dimension 1: height, vertical jump, arm length. Dimension 2: broad jump, distance covered at top speed. Dimension 3: wingspan, lateral quickness
Top performers: Julio Jones, Antonio Cromartie
The models also include several features designed to summarize the collection of college statistics being used.
Rushing attempts plus receptions. On a neutralized scale, this captures the same information as market share. An attempt to quantify how involved a player was in their college offense
Top performers: Percy Harvin, Matt Forte
Defensive equivalent to usage, an attempt to quantify how active each defensive player was. The thought is that better players will make more plays
Top performers: Aaron Donald, Luke Kuechly
S&P Market Share
Combines defensive disruption with team defensive S&P+. Simply accruing defensive statistics doesn't tell whether the player was effective, so this is an attempt to link activity with effectiveness. Rewards players who played on better teams, all else equal
Top performers: Ndamukong Suh, Dont'a Hightower
Cross-Validation and Tuning
I've tuned the model using stratified k-fold cross validation, leaving out each draft class as OOB observations. As a result, every player has been included in both the training and validation sets. Each position group has been fit with its own unique hyperparameters to optimize predictions.
Hyperparameters by Position Group
Number of Trees
Min Leaf Samples
Additionally, the model performed best when aggregating predictions from 3 randomized sets, as shown in the plot below. However, this fuzzy approach failed to outperform discrete features during cross-validation. I expected the opposite, but it seems treating each measurement as precise leads to the best fit.
RMSE Using Various Methods
1 Random set
2 Random sets
3 Random sets
5 Random sets
10 Random sets
Results and Further Research
By and large the model does surprisingly well considering the lack of more traditional evaluative inputs. NFL teams have the resources of scouting departments providing more detailed player evaluation, experienced coaching staffs evaluating personnel fits, and front offices to balance financial considerations and positional value. Each of these factor into draft decisions and improve ranking methods beyond the scope of this model.
Model results by position
Most Important Features
Underclassman, Usage, Age, Srimmage Yards, Total TD, Receiving Yards
When properly optimized, the model can achieve RMSE below 8 during cross-validation. Unsurprisingly, it struggles most with offensive linemen, who lack individual statistics. In particular it struggles with centers, whose responsibilities in the NFL are as much mental as physical. Interestingly, NFL teams have had great success evaluating centers, as 4 of the 5 first rounders were named to All-Pro teams in their careers, and all made the Pro Bowl at some point. As mentioned in the introduction, the model could be improved substantially by including draft selection or consensus rankings. Furthermore, team-specific random effects could likely explain some of the residuals. I may eventually explore these research questions, but my short-term priorities are on visualization and presentation of data.
If you've made it this far, check out my github for the source code: https://github.com/walt-king/NFL-draft-research This was created using Python for web scraping, data collection, modelling, and visuals. I used R to create the player dashboards. Comments, thoughts, and feedback all greatly appreciated.
2019 Offseason Review Series: Day 18 - The Carolina Panthers
Team: The Carolina Panthers
Division: The NFC South
It’s that time of year again! After a season that could best be described as “a hangover you don’t deserve”, we watched the Panthers soar to a 6-2 record. After a beatdown of eventual playoff caliber Baltimore, It finally looked like we were poised to shrug off our non-consecutive winning streak habit. But it was not meant to be. A combination of shallow defensive depth and a lingering shoulder issue for Cam Newton saw us collapse down the stretch, and we ended 7-9 winning only a single game. After watching the sharp downturn of our fortunes, questions surrounding our QB’s health and a major exodus of our most tenured veteran talent, one could be forgiven for a glum outlook on the franchise’s future going into this offseason. But despite the spirit in which we entered it, this offseason has been a resounding success. And one that leaves little doubt that we’re an improved team despite our more prominent losses. What follows is a point for point breakdown in how we made the transition from collapsed contender to potential comeback story.
None whatsoever. From both the commentator sphere and other fanbases, the Panthers were pretty roundly rebuked for hiring offensive coordinator Norv Turner. Despite alarms being raised over 7 step drops and an over reliance on deep shot, Turner was a revelation for our offense. He apparently meant every word of emphasizing high completion throws and taking pressure off of Cam, and we began to see looks for our QB that were totally absent in the Mike Shula era. He’s now had a chance to throw dump offs, and to have reliable comeback options. Cam, prior to breaking down, was enjoying one of the best seasons of his career and despite the shoulder injury, still finished with a career high completion percentage. Christian McCaffery, our other offensive mainstay, saw his rushing efficiency go from 3.7 YPC his rookie season to 5.0 yards in year two, with his total scrimmage yardage upticking from 1,086 to 1,965 in Norv’s new passing and blocking system. Turner’s tenure thus far has been an unmitigated success and a refreshing change of pace from the stale, dull system we fell into under Shula. The other transition, from Steve Wilkes to Eric Washington at defensive coordinator, yielded decidedly more mixed results. Washington, simply put, was not good in his transition from the DL coach. In over his depth. He struggled all year, culminating in Rivera assuming defensive playcalling down the stretch. The turnaround in our defense once he did was remarkable, though by that point, Cam was falling apart so visibly that what happened on that side of the ball no longer mattered. Washington has been retained for the upcoming season, but Rivera’s going to keep the playcalling duties. And captaining the ship is Rivera himself. Despite a call for his head among our fanbase’s more frustrated elements, Rivera was kept for 2019. And I’m glad for it. All or Nothing (though I’ve not had a chance to see it) provided a window into his management style, vindicating some like me who pushed back against narratives that he was a dispassionate robot. And while I’m a bit higher on Ron than many, I don’t think it’s unsafe at all to say that none of the coaching hires would have represented an obvious upgrade. At the end of the day, Rivera lead a squad to 6-2 before his QB’s season derailed, which is not really on him. He could maybe be criticized for letting Washington fail for too long, but at the end of the day, few of our woes from last year can be solely attributed to him. While this is certainly a put up or get out year for Rivera, I have little doubt that he’ll be leading the gang come 2020 as well.
Thomas Davis, LB - Now we get into the stuff that hurts. And this one really, really hurts. I understand it. We needed to figure out whether Thompson could stand on his own like, yesterday so we can decide his long term potential. Davis, while still playing at a high level, is an old man for the position he plays. Letting him walk was a logical decision. But none of it changes the fact that Davis has been the soul of this defense for over a decade, and was easily one of the most beloved players and leaders over the 14 years he spent with us. He will be missed, both for his play and his spirit. Julius Peppers, DE - Speaking of franchise staples, long time DE and future Hall of Fame inductee Julius Peppers’ watch has ended. Unlike Davis, who we simply allowed to leave, Pep has called it a career. And what a career it was. Though almost every single article about our defensive adjustments leads off with “With Peppers retiring, the Panthers no longer have anyone who can rush the passer”, the reality is that Pep did far less than his opposite in Mario Addison to that effect. Though he came back to us in 2017 with a monster 11 sack season, that number was always misleading given how few pressures he accomplished it on. Last year, he came back down to earth. It was time, and while I wish we could have given Pep one last, Super Bowl winning hurrah, a new direction was needed. Ryan Kalil, C - Ryan Kalil rounds out our list of beloved departing veterans. The anchor of our offensive line for 12 years has hung up his cleats. Of all the offseason changes, this was by far the scariest, as the difference between Cam with and without a good center of the course of his career has been stark and terrifying. Kalil was a damn good player right up to the end, though the rash of injuries he suffered between 2016 and 2018 clearly took their toll on his performance. And while we have replaced him (and debatably upgraded), Kalil was both a locker room leader and a damn good contributor that will be missed by all. Devin Funchess, WR - We now get into the departures who will be less missed. Funchess, admittedly, gets a bit of a bad wrap from our fanbase who often talk about him as though he were trash. While not trash, he is at least very replaceable. In fact, Funchess replacement began well before the expiration of his contract, as he had been fully supplanted by rookie DJ Moore and sophomore Curtis Samuel down the stretch last year. By the end, he was a healthy scratch. While I’m sure he’s going to put up numbers in Andrew Luck’s offense, Funchess is no sort of elite talent. He’s a big body who fails to gain separation and who inconsistently leverages his size to his advantage. I view his upside as a Brandon LaFell type of guy. And that type of guy is no longer a fit for what we’re trying to do. Matt Kalil, OT - If the Carolina fandom is ambivalent about Funyun’s departure, we’re positively giddy about this one. Cut with a June 1st designation, Kalil saved us the money that allowed other moves to be possible. Though the shine has come off the diamond that was Gettleman’s tenure with us, the man often doesn’t get the credit he should. He did do a great deal for us, particularly his completely unheralded building of our OL (No less than 3 of our 5 starters this coming season will have been Gettleman acquisitions). But by far the biggest mistake in his tenure was the massive albatros of a contract he doled out to Matt Kalil, who could not have failed more spectacularly (or predictably) to live up to it. Mike Adams, FS - I speak on behalf of the fanbase when I say that we have nothing but respect for Adams. He was a solid player and a veteran leader who spent his last two years giving lift to a secondary that hasn’t seen a great safety tandem since the Clinton Administration. But your eyes don’t deceive. We really were running his 37 year old ass out there as a free safety. And that simply could not be allowed to continue. I wish Adams the best, but it was time to move on.
Matt Paradis, C - Here’s the fun stuff. After losing Kalil to retirement, we signed former Broncos safety Matt Paradis to replace him. At only 29, Paradis represents a significant youthening at the position, and for a guy whose upside is top 5 at the position, we got him at a significant discount. Obviously that discount was due to medical risks, which prompted his release by the Broncos in the first place. But Paradis’ has been fully cleared from day 1 and avoided the PUP list. By all accounts, he’s in tip top shape. We’ll obviously see how that holds up as the season gets underway, but Paradis is definitely one of the steals of the 2019 free agency period and I could not be happier to have him. His arrival is enormous for our prospects, and has turned our biggest positional question mark into an area of strength. Daryl Williams, OT - It’s a bit disingenuous to call Williams an arrival, as he never actually left. But that he never left is nothing short of remarkable. After a 2017 All Pro season, Williams suffered a major setback of an injury in 2018 training camp that eventually turned into a season ending injury after he tried to rush back. Still though, the League is constantly hungry for All Pro level OT talent and I was sure Williams was going to get scooped up. Instead, he signed a 1 year, $6 million deal to come back to us, and short of black magic I’m not entirely sure how Marty Hurney pulled it off. Williams is a terrific player who can play many parts of the OL. He can slot in at LG if rookie OT Greg Little can win the LT job, but also provides insurance at LT if he can’t. He and Moton playing opposite one another represents the best OT tandem that Cam Newton has ever enjoyed. Gerald McCoy, DT - Awwwww yeah! My all time favorite Tampa Bay Buccaneer is now a Carolina Panther. McCoy is a rock solid DT who truly needs no introduction from me. How we plan to use him is a bit murkier, but use him we definitely will. I suspect to see McCoy playing DT opposite Kawaan Short in our 3-4 looks (more on that in a minute), to line up next to him in our 5-2 looks, and to work with him on pass rushing 4-3 sets. He adds more juice to a pass rush that already saw a healthy injection of talent this year, and is more consistent in the run game than some of the other DL on the roster, which was a notable area of weakness last season. He fits the versatility first mold that’s going to allow Rivera to mix up our defensive looks as transition fully to a hybrid, and is a terrific leader in the locker room besides. Our beat writers have described him as “joined at the hip” with Kawaan Short, and I fully expect the pair to make one another better. Bruce Irvin, OLB - Perhaps the first real signal that this wasn’t going to be the Carolina defense of yesteryear, Irvin is a vet leadership, change of pace signing. In moving to a hybrid defense, we acquired a number of rookie talents to complement OLBs like Marquis Hayes. Irvin rounds out that group, and provides us with a valuable cog in pass rushing sets and a good leader for the younguns. Though he’s not as disruptive as he once was, Irvin is a rock solid player who provides us with quality depth and leadership. Chris Hogan, WR - A graduate of the Patriots Random White Guy Academy, Hogan flashed serious potential for his first couple of years in New England before getting gradually phased out of the offense. I’m not expecting much, but he has the potential to help us on deep balls and it’s generally never a bad thing to have more talent at WR. Aldrick Robinson, WR - Robinson does one thing and one thing only, which is catch touchdowns. Conveniently, that’s one thing we struggled with last season. But with Greg Olsen now fully healthy and a sudden wealth of other options at WR, I would give Robinson long odds of making the roster.
Pick 1.16: Brian Burns, DE/OLB - I am still in shock that Brian Burns was available at pick #16. I wanted him very badly, but I was certain he’d be an Atlanta Falcon. Instead, people allowed him to fall all the way to us and I couldn’t be happier. Burns is the apotheosis of what we’re trying to accomplish with our defensive transition. He’s a guy as comfortable upright as he is with his hand in the dirt. While he lacks strength as a run defender, he has incredible burst off the edge and a ludicrously high ceiling as a pass rusher. I think he landed on a terrific team to turn that potential into reality and I’m extremely excited about what he can do with us. Pick 2.37 Greg Little, OT - Every description I’ve ever read of Little has described him as “Pro Ready”, and the team clearly drafted him with an eye on starting at LT. Luckily, we’ve hedged that bet a bit with the Daryl Williams signing, but Little still projects as a talented young player with a high floor and a well rounded skillset. If not the LT starter this year, he’ll almost certainly have the job to himself next season. PIck 3.100 Will Grier, QB - Boy did this piss people off at the time. Though cooler heads have since prevailed, this pick was seen by one group of reactionaries as an indictment on Cam’s health, and another as a wasted pick on a player who will never produce for us. The reality is neither. While Cam’s health is in good shape (put a pin it), we were put in a position last year in which he needed to rest a clearly deteriorating shoulder, but we had no faith in the men behind him to win games. If that’s the state of your backup, you need a better backup. This is a team that has seen playoff runs hinge on a game or two that Derek Anderson filled in for. So even as high as pick 100, Grier was a worthy investment. In terms of his playstyle, Grier slots as an accurate QB with a good deep ball and a cerebral style, but average arm strength and mediocre release. Pick 4.115 Christian Miller, OLB - Like Burns, Miller projects as a do-all DE/OLB who can play either upright or down low. He’s an athletic prospect whose game is a bit raw, but who checks all the measurable boxes. Likely a top 50 player before injuries kept him out of the pre-draft process, Miller represents a hell of a value at 115. I suspect we’ll see he and Burns as long term staples of the pass rush. Pick 5.114 Jordan Scarlett, RB - This was a bit of an odd one, but I’ve warmed to it over time. Scarlett is a bruising, violent running back who I’m almost certain was drafted to lend a hand in the red zone. As a change of pace to CMC, the two could not be more different. But coaches thus far have raved about his conditioning and power, so the pick may not have been as crazy as it looked at the time. Having said that, while I don’t think anyone should ever get upset over a 5th round pick, I do think we could have found better value at this position. Scarlett wasn’t likely to be gone by the time we selected our next player. Pick 6.212 Denis Daley, OT - I like this pick quite a bit. Daley had a rough statline in terms of sacks allowed when facing a veritable who’s who of elite college pass rushers (Jachari Polite, Josh Allan, Clelin Ferrell among them). But in spite of that, scouting reports consistently cite both his physical gifts and his improvement as the season went on. If he can cut down on his most egregious habits (most notably his overeager lunging at edge rushers), he has legit starting potential. Pick 7.237 Terry Godwin, WR - Godwin’s whole game is predicated on speed and football IQ. At 5’11, it’s certainly not coming from his physical measurables. But he was by all accounts a high work ethic, smart players who contributed admirably in his four years as Georgia starter. Godwin’s ceiling is likely a Curtis Samuel backup, but his early rapport with Cam makes me think he’ll stick on the roster despite his late draft spot.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Offense - With Cam’s health reportedly looking good (particularly his ability to throw deep; something he was never capable of throughout Camp) and the team adapting so well to Norv Turner’s system, I think offense as a whole is a good place to start. Though I said it last year, only to be hilariously wrong, Greg Olsen is operating at 100% as well, which provides a boost to our red zone effectiveness that is difficult to measure. By the end of last year, both DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel appeared to be on the cusp of a major breakout, both proving themselves so reliable that Devin Funchess was a healthy scratch by week 17. Those two should continue to grow, and Jarius Wright has proven to be a valuable slot receiver. And, of course, there’s CMC, who will continue to be our best offensive weapon not named Cam Newton. With good health and plenty of diverse options, I suspect the good times to continue to roll as we enter year two of Turner’s stewardship. Offensive Line - I can’t emphasize this enough, but our offensive line is nasty. With Williams’ return, we now have an All Pro OT to pair with breakout sensation Taylor Moton, which makes for an excellent tandem. Matt Paradis replaces, and if we’re being honest, provides an upgrade over Ryan Kalil, and Trai Turner is as effective a RG as ever. LG will likely be manned by whichever of Williams or Little doesn’t win LT, and Greg Van Roten (who’s performed admirably at the position) is still in the building as well. This is a very solid group of players, and a massive upgrade over what we had to work with last year. Pass Rush - This was a major area of concern last year, but I’m happy with where we’re at now. The transition to a hybrid defense was the right call for our personnel set, and between the draft and free agency, we’ve upgraded across the board. McCoy is a huge boost to our interior pressure and Brian Burns should contribute immediately. Efe Obada will likely continue to grow, and the new system is a much better fit for talented sophomore Marquis Hayes. Irvin is solid rotational addition as well, and Mario Addison is as stalwart a pass rusher as ever. All in all, we’ve gone from an extremely one dimensional pass rush to one that is versatile and capable of throwing multiple looks at our opponents. We will be hard to predict and hard to stop when we come at the QB next year. Weaknesses Run Defense - Though I’ve seen little attention paid to it, I’m very concerned about our run defense this year. Although we’ve beefed the hell out of the defensive front, few of these pieces excel in run defense. McCoy has mostly staked his reputation on being a 3 tech. Hayes, Miller and Burns were all flagged as prospect that lacked run support talent. Poe was miserable in defending the run last year, and it’s never really been Short’s bag. In terms of yards per carry, we finished 8th overall which sounds good. But this was mostly on the strength of changes when Rivera took over the playcalling, as backs tended to run over us consistently early in the year. As long as we have Luke, our run defense will be solid. But I do worry that with so much (needed, mind you) emphasis put on rushing the passer, we’ve left off this part of the game. The Secondary: As always with us, the secondary is a concern. It is, to be fair, less a concern than in previous years. Donte Jackson and James Bradberry both enjoyed very solid campaigns last year, and the former has allegedly done a lot of growing over the previous season. Eric Reid represents a good, solid strong safety. But free safety is, as ever, a mess. The job is going to sophomore player Rashaan Gaulden, but I think his capturing the position unopposed has less to do with what coaches see in him, and running out of money after doling out contracts to Paradis, McCoy and Williams. Our secondary, while improved, was inconsistent last season and was the primary reason we finished in the middle of the pack. And honestly, that’s about it. This is one of the strongest rosters Carolina has fielded in the Riv-Era, at least on paper.
Cam’s Health - Those of your who frequent nfl have likely seen my refrain on this many a time, but Cam’s health is not as dire as last season made it look, and the Andrew Luck comparisons have always been, frankly, crazy. In 2016, Cam tore his rotator cuff. He rushed his recovery in order to play in 2017. This created a buildup of scar tissue which, when coupled with a minor bone spur, caused a great deal of swelling this year that put Netwon in pain and limited his range of motion. It’s one of those injuries that, while not terrible by any means, does require either surgery or a great deal of rest. Cam, by virtue of being alpha and omega to this team, had the luxury of neither. The swelling persisted until he could barely throw. While that looks scary, the actual diagnosis was not that grim, and a simple shoulder scope as cleared the damage. By all accounts, he’s 100% and even making throws that he was incapable of these last two years. Bill Voth, who was the first (and for a long time, only) writer sounding the alarm on Cam’s strength as far back as 2017, has said that he’s making throws that look like his old self routinely. However, we are putting him on a pitch count. This like likely vet maintenance rather than a source of genuine alarm. But after the last couple of years, he does make you sweat a little. OL Health - The major fly in the ointment when it comes to Carolina’s optimism over its OL is that big if healthy caveat. If healthy, Paradis is a top 5 Center. If healthy, Williams has All Pro talent. 4 days into camp, however, neither is participating in serious pass rush drills and only today suited up in pads. It is possible that they’re just being eased along. They did avoid the PUP list, which we were almost sure was going to get Paradis at the very least. So they appear to be alright. But if they’re not, or they reinjure again, we go from being an extremely strong team to a fatally flawed one. A great deal is riding on the health of those two players, and the entire house of cards could fall apart quickly if they’re unable to deliver. Greg Olsen - The one health flag that I do have complete confidence in is tight end Greg Olsen. Suffering a series of foot breaks, he is now moving around at 100% capacity and has been medically cleared for all activity for months. Bone breaks are, when all is written, temporary injuries that often heal stronger when they actually get a chance to heal. Our most trusted beat writers, Voth and Rodrigue, have both been crystal clear that he looks like his old self and that his connection with Newton is as faithful as ever. What I’m less clear on is his role in the offense. For years, Greg Olsen was the pivotal piece of our passing game. But with his largely being sidelined with foot injuries over the last two years, the game has moved on. Curtis Samuel and DJ Moore are both going to receive plenty of targets, and McCaffery will be a critical element to the passing game. Greg will undoubtedly be our principle red zone threat, but the growth of other options has downgraded his loss from catastrophic to merely unfortunate. What role he carves out, and what boost he’s able to give our offense, will be very interesting to watch. 4-3 No More: Much has been made of the Carolina's transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4 this offseason. And most of it is crap. We aren't exactly moving in a direction that binary. IN the past, we have strictly been a 4-3 team throughout the Riv-Era. That is about to change, but not to a 3-4. What Rivera showed last year is a willingness to mix and match personnel sets. There were 3-4 looks, 4-3 looks and even 5-2 looks. What we're moving toward is thus not a single, codified base, but a hybrid defense that can throw out a number of formations and switch between them quickly. We want players who can play OLB and DE. DTs who can play DE. LBs who can drop into coverage and rush the passer. A modern defense is one that doesn't limit itself, which is why such a premium has been put on players with positional versatility. On paper, our personnel set is very well built for this. How it pans out in practice remains to be seen. It's a very radical transitioning happening over a short period of time, and while I think our defense has the potential to be excellent, there will doubtless be some growing pains as we navigate the transition.
Very little to speak of. The premier battle is going to be between Greg Little and Daryl Williams at LT. Apart from that, the timeshare that forms in different defensive sets will be intriguing. But for the most part, the roster is set.
Win Loss Predictions
I hate this part, particularly since the NFCS is a murderers row at present. The Panthers have a shot at a serious playoff run if all the chips fall right, but the Falcons are likely going to be resurgent (god you have no idea how much it hurts me to type that) and the Saints aren’t going anywhere. The Buccs I’m sure will do their best. That alone makes pinpointing what our season looks like in terms of Ws and Ls difficult. But this year, we’re also playing the equally enigmatic AFCS, whose teams look like contenders or middlers in turns. Even our other divisional draw, the NFCW, is difficult to find the pulse of. So rather than pretend that I know what each game is going to look like, I’m going to do what I always do; Likely wins, likely losses, toss ups. Likely Wins: TB, @AZ, JAX, @TB, @SF, TEN, WAS Likely Losses: LAR, @NO, @IND Toss Ups: @HOU, @GB, ATL, NO, @ATL, SEA So that’s 7 likely wins, 3 likely losses and 6 toss ups. If that seems like an unusually high degree of uncertainty, that’s because it is. Last year started off strong and fell apart for reasons that are both obvious and cautiously behind us. We’ve only improved over the offseason and should be formidable. But the schedule is grueling and many questions are yet unanswered. I said in my last offseason review that last year was likely going to be a tough season, and should be viewed mainly as a proof of concept for the new ideas we were incorporating via Turner’s offense and our gradual move away from a 4-3 defense. Well, it was a tough year for reasons of which I had no inkling at the time, and it was a proof of concept. And for the most part? The concept was proven sound. So this offseason, we’ve built on it and patched over the holes that developed in it. I know that “This offseason is a major turning point” is one of those things that gets thrown around a lot. It’s like how every Presidential election gets described as historic, as though choosing the leader of the free world could ever be anything but. But in a very real sense, this franchise has hit a turning point. Cam has to bounce back this year or he’ll face major doubts about his future contract. Rivera has to bounce back this year, or he’ll be out of a job. GM Marty Hurney has done an excellent job restocking the cupboards, but we’ve been down this road of defensive transition and an offense that eases things on the quarterback before. Last year, both ideas mostly worked, but this is the season where we must commit to them and see them through if we want to succeed with the parts we have. Thus the Panthers find themselves where we always seem to. We are a team that is as capable of going on a deep playoff run as we are forcing a total rebuild in the next two years. But for what it’s worth, I think it’s going to be a strong, “Eureka!” type season where everything finally comes together. For the sake of Rivera and company, I hope it does.
So to update you all on things, my hernia surgery went well and my intestines are back where they belong. Sadly I didn't have as much time to write as I would have liked, (pain meds will do that), but I managed to finally get chapter twelve done in time to give you all an extra dose of JVerse once you have finished our lord and savior's most recent chapter. (Story is continued in the comments) -------------------------------------------------------- <First><Previous><Next> -------------------------------------------------------- Date Point: 3 months, 2 weeks, 5 days A.V. Unnamed system Planet 4 ring system Requiem Michael Kepler "God damn I missed this," Michael said, flipping the Requiem around another asteroid, testing the limits of the inertial compensators. They had gotten lucky and found the perfect system to test out the newly retrofitted Requiem. The system in question turned out to be a binary system with some rocky bodies and a truly gorgeous blue gas giant that sported a system of ice rings that were just perfect for running the old girl through her paces. Michael gave the main thrusters all they could take, slipping through two asteroids seconds before they collided. There was a muffled cheer through the comms from the rest of the crew back onboard the Dawn. He had set up cameras all over the Requiem so his crew could watch. Right now only himself and Hephaestus were crazy enough to fly a ship built from scrap through one of the densest ring systems on record. Even Ralthin wasn't that crazy, having said that he'd rather shoot the rocks instead. They dodged, dived, and weaved their way through the belt for another half an hour before Michael got a comms ping. He angled the ship "up" and rocketed out of the belt so he could answer without having to dodge rocks. "What's up," Michael asked, angling the ship so he was cruising parallel to the rings. Goralin's face showed up on the screen, "We just synced with Haven's network, and you've got a message from Gabby." Before they had left Haven Michael had signed them up as Gabby's new security force. To keep in touch in case of an emergency Michael had purchased an FTL comms array and had set it up to sync with the local network on Haven every week. Of course, if there was an actual emergency he had spent a small fortune on a pair of quantum entangled arrays for instantaneous recall. The fact that Goralin's ears had a mischievous tilt meant that this wasn't an emergency. Meaning that it was probably the favor he had asked before they left. "Alright, prep the hangar bay. I'm gonna test the emergency recall drive," Michael said, cutting the thrusters and letting the ship coast. "Copy that Michael. Wait to jump until we give you the signal," Goralin said, closing the channel. Michael switched over to the intercom, "Sorry Hephaestus, looks like we're gonna have to cut this short." "It isss fine," Hephaestus said with the barest hint of a chuckle, "If the messsage isss from Gabby I can only think of one reassson. We are going hunting!" "Cool your jets, we still haven't heard it yet," Michael said, running the ship through the pre-jump sequence, "All set to jump?" One other little upgrade they did was to configure a jump drive onboard the Requiem so they could get back to the Dawn in a hurry. The only downside was that the hangar bay had to be depressurized so the sudden appearance of the Requiem didn't create a hull rupturing pressure wave. "All sssyssstemsss are green," Hephaestus said back through the comms, "Ready for jump." It was only a few more seconds until Michael got the comms ping signaling that the hangar bay was ready. Michael's finger hovered over the button, "Jumping in three...two...one." He pushed the button and the ship was inside the Dawn, perfectly centered in the hangar bay. The docking clamps engaged and the bay was pressurized in minutes. Michael ran through the shutdown sequence, unstrapped himself from the pilot seat and met Hephaestus in the airlock. They double-checked the atmospheric readout on the panel before opening the outer door. Even though Michael was wearing his armor and had no fear of stepping into hard vacuum, Hephaestus was basically naked, so it paid to be careful. They made their way up to the bridge, stopping by the mess to apologize for cutting the show short and so Michael could grab a quick snack. One downside of his new armor was that he burned a lot more calories than he ever did wearing his old suit. He walked the rest of the way up to the bridge with Hephaestus in tow. When he opened the door to the bridge Goralin turned around in the copilot's seat, "You enjoy yourselves," he asked with a slightly mischievous tilt to his ears. "Yeah!" Michael said enthusiastically, "and I gotta say, yinz missed a hell of a ride." "I'll have to take your word on that one," Goralin said with a chitter, "Anyway, while we were waiting, I went through the files that were attached to the message and it looks like she sent us a good one." "Oh," Michael asked, interested, "she send anything else?" "Just a few video files," Goralin trailed off. Michael looked around to see the rest of the bridge crew barely able to hold back their chittering. So they were those kinds of videos… Michael sighed, "Put the important one up on the main screen. I'll take a look at the rest later." Goralin flicked his ears in amusement and brought up the message file. Gabby appeared on the main screen, thankfully wearing her work outfit, with a cqcq cigarette in her hand, "Long time no see," she said, taking a hit and blowing the smoke off-screen, "I had my contacts do some digging and they found a good one. There's no bounty, sadly, but I don't think you'll have a problem with that. Everything you'll need should be in the files I sent along with some...other things I know you'll like," she winked at the camera, "Hoping to hear back from you soon." "Did she send a location," Michael asked, turning toward Goralin. "Already punched in," Goralin said with a pant-grin. "Good man," Michael said with a gentle clap on Goralin's shoulder, "Prep the ship for warp, I'm gonna head to my quarters to uhh…review the other files she sent and get a reply together to send over during the next sync." Michael left the bridge to sound of barely contained chittering from the crew and made his way back to his quarters. When he reached the mess heard raised voices coming from inside. So he stopped to eavesdrop just outside the door. "For the last time Jilink," Guln said, "I have absolutely no interest in your insane delusions. No matter how...impressive you may find the humans in their mating practices!" "Oh come now," Jilink said dismissively, "You seriously cannot believe that the way our species handles reproduction is good for our long term survival can you?" "What other choice do we have," Guln asked, "we have long since passed the point of being biologically able to reproduce, but that is beside the point," he lowered his voice, "it was simply proposing the idea of reverting back to biological reproduction that made you one of the few Corti that had their banner status stripped all the way down to yellow." "That was just because those in the Directorate are too narrow-minded to see past their own hubris," Jilink said angrily, "it was only when I started unlocking and splicing genes that had been previously bred out that I started to question their rhetoric. If you would just let me-" "No! I will not hear of it. Mess with your own genetic code all you want, but I will not have you turning myself and Kilnq into genetic freaks," Guln said, moments before storming out of the mess. He ignored Michael and headed off toward the med bay. Michael poked his head into the mess and saw Jilink sitting alone, forlornly picking at a plate of steamed mushrooms and cqcq. She looked up as he walked over, "If you are going to play at eavesdropping you might want to consider that we can feel your every step through the deck plating," she said with a shrewd look. "So what was your banner status," Michael asked bringing over a chair that could support the weight of himself and his armor. He sat down and took off his helmet, placing it on the table in front of him. "No remorse and straight to the point I see," she let out a deep sigh, "Before I began...experimenting...on myself, I was a silver banner." From what Michael knew about Corti social structure, Jilink had been next to royalty. To give all that up... "Fuck," Michael said, recovering from his jaw practically denting the table, "Why the hell did you give that up?" "To advance my species of course," she said, her eyes boring into Michael's, "we may be the most technologically advanced in the galaxy, but as a species we Corti have fallen behind tremendously. I may be too brazen in saying this, but we are on the brink." "On the brink," Michael asked, "the brink of what?" Jilink's expression hardened, "The brink of terminal decline, and unless something is done my species will fade into obscurity." "And that something was playing with your own genetics," Michael asked, confused. "Not playing," Jilink said, waving one finger back and forth, "Improving. As we are, the Corti are far from ideal. Intelligent and quick-witted yes, but we lack the physicality to endure as a species for much longer." "And that has to do with what Guln said about the way yinz reproduce," Michael asked, even more confused, "you mean yinz don't have kids naturally?" "As a matter of fact, we do not. Every Corti is grown in a birthing tank," Jilink said matter of factly, "there hasn't been a natural birth for millennia." "Well that's all kinds of fucked up," Michael said, shaking his head, "and they kicked you out for wanting to go back to the way things are supposed to be?" "Precisely. You see, reverting back to biological reproduction would necessitate drastic changes to our biology. It is also the reason why I am so fascinated with how other species reproduce. I have been able to get a wealth of medical data on the subject, but the one thing that most species lack is information on how to make the act more enjoyable. Your species, however," she pointed at Michael's chest, "seems to excel in that regard." "I can see your point," Michael said with a chuckle. "Needless to say there are some practices that simply watching recordings cannot fully explain. You do not mind answering some questions do you," Jilink asked excitedly. Michael shrugged, "I got time. Ask away." Jilink pulled a small tablet from her set of pouches and tapped in a few commands, "I'll start with something that has perplexed me for some time now. Tell me, what is the exact purpose of a bukkake?" ---------- Ten thousand kilometers astern of the Radiant Dawn Whispering Breeze Agent One Six Two Something was wrong. He had been trying to link to the infrared module that was hidden next to the engine cluster on that accursed human's ship for over [an hour] only to receive no response. He double and triple checked that his ship was aligned correctly and found not the barest hint of any discrepancy. This left two possibilities, either the module had malfunctioned, or it had been taken offline. Given the extremely stable nature of current solid-state electronics, the latter of the two options seemed the most probable. He was now forced to consider alternative plans to get the information he needed. One option was to take over one of the human's crew, but the chances of finding one of them alone long enough for him to adjust to the new sensory input were astronomical at best. There was always the option of simply biodroning all the implanted crew, but with the proven combat capabilities of the human and his pet abomination, there was no guarantee of successfully taking over the ship. That left only one option that had any probability of success. Once the human's ship was out of the system and had no hope of detecting him, One Six Two punched in the codes for the only jump beacon that the human had deployed. ---------- Date point: 4 months, 2 weeks, 5 days AV Sol system Earth Allegheny National Park Daniel Mackovich After the Vancouver incident life had gone on pretty much the same as always. As much as he hated to admit it, Daniel wished the aliens had caused more damage. As it was now, people had already moved on. Of course, every news outlet on the planet had milked the story dry within a week, but since nobody other than the aliens had died the story that humanity was no longer alone in the universe had been replaced by the same old shit. Shootings, trouble in the Middle East, China violating human rights, the usual stuff. Both he and David were sick of it. So they had planned a little something to get away. That little something happened to be a camping trip out in Allegheny National Park. Not the biggest excursion by a long shot, but it seemed a couple of days out in the woods was just what the doctor ordered. The first night was just perfect. No rain or swarms of mosquitos, just hours of watching caveman TV with a good meal cooked over the fire to finish out the night. They had been watching the weather and had made sure that there wasn't the barest hint of rain, but it looked like the curse of his old Boy Scout troop had followed him. It had started raining shortly after lunch on the second day. Thanks to a few tricks he'd learned in said cursed Boy Scout troop, Daniel was able to get the fire going, even though all their wood was soaked, so they were at least able to cook their dinner under the tarp David had rigged up over the fire pit. "Well, it wasn't what we were expecting," David said, looking out of the tent, "but I can think of worse ways to spend the evening." "My old scout troop was called the Rain Makers after all," Daniel said with a chuckle, snuggling a little closer to David, "At least the company's better this time around." They sat and watched for a while, listening to the gentle sound of the rain on their tent. David turned around and rummaged around in his bag for a few moments before turning back and locking eyes with Daniel. "Well...I was hoping for a better opportunity but," David trailed off. Daniel looked down at what David was holding in his hand and his breath caught in his throat. "Daniel, will you marry me?" ---------- Date point: 9 months, 1 week, 2 days AV Far Reaches Cimbrean Radiant Dawn Michael Kepler They had made the trip out in astonishingly good time thanks to the black box drive on the Radiant Dawn. Fast as their ship was it had still taken them around six months to reach this little speck of nowhere. However, the extra time gave Michael the chance to work out some armor for his Gaoian crewmates. They had to stop and resupply before they could manufacture any of it though. It seemed that they had burned through most of their supplies for the nanofac with the Requiem's retrofit. The armor they had worked out was much like Hephaestus' in the way that it relied heavily on lightweight composite plates instead of heavy alloys like Michael's. The plus side was that Hephaestus had worked out a composite that could take multiple hits from a heavy pulse cannon before failing. Not that the Gaoians would be taking much fire though, each one had a portable cloaking generator to make the best use of their natural talent for sneaking. There was one problem with the suits though, they had to be kept loose to accommodate the Gaoians' fur. Which meant that they would have to rely on shield harnesses for protection against the vacuum of space. Not the best prospect in Michael's mind, but they didn't seem to have the aversion to relying on forcefield tch like he did. And since Michael wanted some semblance of a uniform for his new band of mercs, the chest plate and helmet had kept as much of the standard Mandalorian looks as possible. The helmet was kinda tricky, considering that the Gaoians had much longer noses than humans, as well as ears that came out of the top of their heads. In the end, Gaoians had to deal with the minor discomfort of having their ears squished down, but it was worth it if they wanted to have their heads protected. As for the stereotypical "T" shaped visor, Michael settled on a shortened version, ending just above the Gaoians' snouts with a protrusion to cover their nose and mouth. It also had the benefit of allowing the Gaoians to personalize the lower portion, and once one of them had painted fangs on his, the rest had followed suit. Michael had to admit, it looked totally badass. The extra time also gave them the chance to develop their arsenal. The standard pulse guns were ditched in favor of coilguns. Most of the Gaoians went with something like an AR-15. They were lightweight, with a variable power setting so they didn't over-penetrate their targets if they were inside a ship or station. The real treat was what the brownies came up with though. The crazy fuckers had amped up their coilguns to a heavy machine gun type thing that could send a withering hailstorm of slugs at whatever unfortunate thing that happened to be on the receiving end. However, it seemed that all of the Gaoians took a liking to Hephaestus' fusion claws and had added their own to finish out their already terrifying array of weapons. They had spent three of the local days cloaked in a high polar orbit mapping the planet and trying to find the location of the palace that was supposed to be here. The only reason it took that long was that they were using passive scans to prevent the discovery of their ship. Since they were stuck in orbit Michael had left it up to the bridge crew to notify him when they found anything. To pass the time and get a better feel on things he had been going through the files on their target. After cross-referencing them with the data from the Twisted Suns it seemed that this particular fucknut had an affinity for ordering Rickytics and Vizkiticks among a smattering of a dozen other species. It couldn't be...could it? Michael dug deeper into the records until he found the right entry. Shit. "Ship," Michael said as he got up from his desk and stretched, still marveling at just how flexible his new armor was. He got a response ping. "Where is Irk?" "Irk is in hydroponics," the ship said through his room's intercom in a perfect replica of Cortana’s voice. Michael didn't know why, but using Cortana's voice for the ship just felt right. Michael grabbed his helmet and locked it in place. "Send him a message that I'm on my way. There's something I need to talk to him about." Michael went to hydroponics and found Irk in his personal corner behind their crop of cqcq minding his bonsai garden. He had originally got the idea from watching Karate Kid of all things. When they had stopped at Haven Irk had purchased a bunch of seedlings from all over the galaxy. As it turned out most of them had the same reaction as Earth trees when they were root-bound inside a small pot. With a little help from some space magic in the form of time acceleration fields, he had more than a dozen perfectly healthy miniature trees. With careful management, Irk had produced some truly fantastical shapes. Hell, he even had one "pot" that was levitating with trees growing out of both the top and bottom. When Michael walked over Irk turned around, "Ah, Michael. You have something you wanted to speak to me about?" "Yeah," Michael said, taking off his helmet and setting it down on the table next to the levitating bonsai trees, "It's about our target." Irk gave him a quizzical look, tilting his head slightly to the side. Michael took a deep breath, "There was a bit of a mix up on the part of the Twisted Suns. Your lifemate and child were actually supposed to be shipped here." "But...the Hunters," Irk trailed off. "That's not all," Michael said, shaking his head, "I really don't have a good way to say this...but it looks like the scumbag we're after wanted you and your family specifically." Irk slumped to the deck, lost for words. "I did some digging into the data we got from the Twisted Suns," Michael said, bringing up the file and sending it to Irk's tablet. It pinged and Irk pulled it out of its pouch with shaking hands. He hesitated for a moment before opening it. Delicately, he tapped the icon and read the file. Irk put the tablet back into its pouch and was silent for a few moments before he gathered his legs under himself and stood up to his full height. He looked directly at Michael, "I have only one request." "Name it," Michael said, locking eyes with Irk. "Bring the bastard to me alive," Irk said with enough bile dripping off the borrowed human curse word to make Michael flinch. No sooner had Irk walked out of hydroponics did Michael receive a notification from the bridge crew. He put his helmet back on and answered the comms. "Yinz found something," he asked, exiting hydroponics and making his way up to the bridge. "Yeah," Goralin said through the comms, "and you're gonna want to see this." "On my way," Michael said, breaking into a run for the hundred-ish meters to the bridge. He exploded into the bridge and skidded to a halt right next to Goralin. Michael was a little out of breath, but it wasn't too bad considering the weight of his armor. Practically living in the suit had its benefits sometimes. Goralin eyed Michael with a hint of amusement "Excited?" "Damn right," Michael said with a chuckle, "we've only been orbiting this dirtball for three days. What'd you find?" "See for yourself," Goralin said with a pant-grin, bringing up what looked like a palace on the main screen. Michael let out a long whistle, "Damn that had to cost a pretty penny." What was on screen was possibly the most egregious display of wealth that Michael had ever seen, aside from his own ship of course. Camera tech was really something else out here, they had to be at least a hundred and fifty kilometers up, but the pictures were clear enough that Michael could see the contents of the gardens surrounding the enormous palace complex. He'd read the specs when he had the sensor suite overhauled, but the fact that their ground facing camera was in the hundred gigapixel range never quite hit home until he had actually used it. "Cost a what," Goralin asked, tilting his head slightly. "Oh, sorry," Michael said, a little embarrassed, "it's an expression for a fuckton of money." Goralin chittered, "Well the palace isn't the only thing that cost a pretty penny. We found something else too." The next thing that came up on the screen left Michael totally speechless. Not too far off the coast was a yacht so big it was practically a floating island. Hell, it even had football-field sized space in the middle that was containing a miniature forest. "Well if they're anywhere, our target's probably on that yacht," Michael said, gesturing to the screen. Goralin zoomed in on it, "It looks like there's a landing pad big enough to land the Requiem near the back." "Well, it's our lucky day then," Michael said, turning back toward the door, "get an assault team ready. We're dropping in an hour." "An assault team," Goralin asked, his ears going slightly back. Michael stopped and turned back around, "Rich fucker like that's gotta be able to afford some really good security, and not the average Chennash mercs either." "Right," Goralin said, "I know Ralthin's gonna be damn happy to finally get a good fight for once," he finished with a slight chitter. The next hour flew by in a flurry of activity as the assault team got the message and scrambled to get into their armor. Thankfully they didn't need to load any cargo into the Requiem, and they already had all their extra weapons stored onboard. Michael made a stop by his quarters to grab his coilgun and its barrel attachments. On a whim, he dug out his antique revolver and strapped it to his hip. He had to stop and laugh at the absurdity of carrying a black powder revolver that was made in eighteen seventy-six, but something just felt right about bringing the old girl along. He made it to the hangar bay just as everyone was getting situated. Hephaestus was already onboard the Requiem running through the preflight checks from his station near the quantum stacks so all Michael had to do was wait for the rest of the assault team to show up. When everyone was strapped in and had their gear stowed for the drop he stepped out to the open space in the middle of the Requiem's cargo area. "Alright," Michael said, running his eyes over the seated Gaoians, "it's our first mission and from the looks of things, it's not gonna be an easy one. We're going in blind and this fucker's probably paranoid enough to have hired some decent security. They won't be like the pirate scum yinz are probably used to. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if there's a company of Allebenellin mercs waiting for us." Michael paused and let that sink in for a moment, "The main problem is that the yacht we're gonna be landing on is fucking huge. So the plan's pretty simple myself, Hephaestus, Ralthin, and the brownies are gonna raise hell so all the rest of yinz can use your cloaking fields to the best advantage. Sweeping the ship for any other hostiles while looking for our target." That got some chittering out of them. "As for our target," Michael said, starting to pace back and forth in front of the seated Gaoians, "he's a Robalin with some… strong opinions on other sentient life. Apparently, this guy acquired his fortune thanks to some kind of breakthrough in medical tech and bought the palace at an auction when the previous owner's trading company went under thanks to some very poor business deals and Hunter raids on their ships. Ever since, he's lived a comfortable life on Cimbrean buying slaves from the Twisted Suns for God knows what reason," Michael let out a long sigh, "And as much as I'd like to end this guy the second we find him, Irk wants him alive. It seems that this fucker is the one that got Irk's family captured by the Twisted Suns." "An that's why we're not just gonna blast the boat," Yeg asked. "Exactly," Michael said, pausing to congratulate him, "there also might be slaves still on board, so any we find get to come back with us. Any questions?" "Yeah," one of the other brownies spoke up, "when are ya gonna quit talkin' so we can have some fun?" Michael laughed, "Alright alright, I get it," he said, vaulting up the ramp to the cockpit, "hold on to your tails, it's gonna be a bumpy ride." Michael entered the cockpit and closed the door behind him, and once he was in the pilot seat he opened the intercom, "We ready to go?" "The ssship isss ready to depart Michael," Hephaestus said back eagerly. Michael gave the signal to the hangar crew and waited while they depressurized the hangar bay and opened the outer door. Michael opened a channel to the bridge, "Yinz keep an eye out while we're planetside, we might need to come back in a hurry." "Just make sure you don't die down there," Goralin said with a slight chitter, "We'll be waiting for you." "We'll make sure to come back in one piece," Michael said with a chuckle, quickly running through the preflight checks. Hephaestus had already done them so all he had to do was to glance at the display and be sure that all systems were green, "but if yinz are that worried, I'll broadcast the view from my helmet cam." "You know," Goralin said, "I was gonna suggest the same thing. It'll make for good entertainment." "You got that right," Michael said entering the command to release the docking clamps, "Undocking now," Michael said closing the channel and backing the ship out of the hangar bay. Once he was clear of the ship Michael angled the Requiem toward the planet and threw the throttle all the way forward. "Uunngfhhh...Fyu's balls," Ralthin growled through the comms, "I forgot about that." "Yinz okay back there," Michael asked, pulling the throttle slightly back. "Other than bein' crushed inta our seats we're fine," Ralthin said back with a forced chitter. "Hey, I said it was gonna bumpy ride," Michael said with a smirk. They made the rest of the trip down in silence and before long they were punching a hole through the atmosphere leaving a flaming trail of plasma behind them. The yacht appeared on the radar when they were still twenty kilometers up, not that Michael needed sensors to find the thing, he could already see it. Floating island was right, the damned thing had to be nearly as big as the Dawn. When they were about ten kilometers out the comms panel lit up. Out of curiosity, Michael opened the channel. "Unidentified vessel you are appro-" Michael closed the channel, his curiosity stated for the moment. No use talking with them anyway. He closed the rest of the distance gradually slowing down so they wouldn't overshoot. When they got within a kilometer Michael had to admit that the yacht was a truly beautiful ship. It had three hulls connected together by an expansive main deck that swept into a sharp point at the bow where the main hull was cutting through the waves. The most prominent feature being the forest in the middle of the ship protected from the elements by the telltale shimmer of a forcefield. The landing pad near the stern was suspiciously empty, but when Michael brought the Requiem closer he noticed that it had some kind of door in the middle. No doubt it was used for bringing whatever landed down into some kind of hangar. There was no way the Requiem would fit into said hangar, but it looked like the pad was just large enough to set the ship down. Strangely, the yacht seemed to be holding course, almost inviting him to land. He activated the inter-ship comms, "Looks like they're actually gonna let us land. The second we touch down I want the brownies out first. Shoot first, ask questions later." Michael flipped the ship around so she was hovering just above the deck and matched speed with the yacht. He lined it up using the docking camera and set her down with a gentle thump. The very next thing he did was take control of the nose turrets, aiming them at the only door in the aft section of the yacht. He set the ship in low power mode instead of completely shutting down just in case they needed to make a quick getaway, and watched through the turret camera feed as the brownies stormed out of the ship and took their positions. Sloppy by any kind of military standards, but it didn't seem like there was anyone to greet them. Michael unstrapped himself and grabbed his coilgun from the rack next to the door. Walking down the ramp was always tricky thanks to the gravity weirdness, but thankfully he didn't stumble when he stepped off into the planet's own gravity. "No one to meet us," he said, stepping out into the sunlight. Ralthin glanced back at Michael over his shoulder, "I don't like this at all. Even through this helmet, it smells all kindsa wrong." Hephaestus came up behind Michael, "Thisss feelsss like a trap." "Couldn't agree with you more buddy," Michael said, walking forward to the door. "What'd ya wanna do," Ralthin said following close behind. Michael glanced at Ralthinand smirked, "Spring the trap."
Master List Of Left-Wing Youtube AND Podcast Channels - REVISED
Master List Of Left-Wing Youtube AND Podcast Channels ***NOTE: after a discussion with the mods I’ve taken out the original note here. Suffice to say the reason I put together this revised list was to add a number of channels I felt had been unfairly excluded. I’ve taken out a few controversial channels to comply with the mods request that i do so, as well as link to OP at his request. I thank the mods for allowing me to keep the rest of the channels I’ve added to the list. Newly Added channels not on OP: Tovarich Endymion, BrendanMccooney, Red Star Video, Claudia Brown, SJW101, azureScapegoat, Benji Adam Wiskettes, DemocraticSocialist01, Comrade Hakim, FinnishBolshevik, Bat’ko The Manarchist, ProSocialism, Flea Market Socialist, KnowingBetter, and a few others! As a socialist I don't believe masterlists should constitute any kind of intellectual property that should be protected, especially in context of a masterlist that is being shared to spread awareness of leftist channels shared with the leftist community. I believe the channels I added deserve recognition. I don’t mind sharing editing with the community — let me know what you’d like to add and I’ll try my best to accommodate within the word limit here. I’ve had to take out a few of the film related channels to make room for more directly politically related podcasts. I included the Podcast section in post and just removed the NEWS section of the original post, so that can be found in the OP (link in title). Also please note that to accommodate more podcasts and other more directly related leftist channels, I’ve had to remove some more film focused channels. Those can be found on the OP. Thanks comrades. ---------- please give these channels as much help as you can by subscribing and watching their content. We need these things to expand as much as possible if we don't want to entirely lose YouTube to the far-right. ContraPoints: Explains political and social justice issues in funny and accessible way, utilising atmospheric lighting, lavish sets and costumes and memorable characters to illustrate her points. Recommended video: Does The Left Hate Free Speech? Hbomberguy: Debunks and mocks the views of right-wing YouTube commentators. Combines silly sketch comedy with well-researched critiques. Also reviews media like TV and video games. Recommended video: Soy Boys: A Measured Response Shaun: Creates longform, extremely thorough and straightforward rebuttals of right-wing videos. His content is also very researched and relies on some very sly, dry humour. Has also begun making videos explaining left-wing positions on issues such as 'How Privatisation Fails: Railways'. Recommended video: The Great Replacement Isn't Real ft. Lauren Southern Innuendo Studios: Brought to my attention through the comments here. Has done some very interesting series of videos including 'Why Are You So Angry?', which analysed the mindset of the young men behind Gamergate. Recommended videos: The Alt-Right Playbook: Introduction Peter Coffin: Creates deep dives from a socialist perspective into topical political and social issues. Also does regular livestreams on these subjects with his wife Ashleigh. Recommended video: What Jordan B. Peterson Is Doing Philosophy Tube: Analyses current affairs through a philosophical lens and creates explainers on well-known and important moral and political philosophers and philosophical concepts. Recommended video: The Philosophy of Antifa Potholer54: A journalist and former geologist debunks climate change denial and other science myths ranging from that of right-wing YouTubers like Steven Crowder and Stefan Molyneux to major denier figures like Lord Christopher Monkton and Patrick Moore. Makes an enormous point of referencing scientific papers and consensus on these issues, but addresses these subjects in a very easy to understand way. Perhaps my favourite of all the YouTubers on this list. Recomended video: Top 10 climate change myths Three Arrows: Debunks inaccurate takes on history by the right wing. Uses a similar longform format to Shaun's videos, and is also very well-sourced with some of the mods of the Ask Historians subreddit acting as researchers. Recommended video: Guns in the Third Reich - A Response to Ben Shapiro And Others Anactualjoke: Refutes poor understandings and misrepresentations of Marxism from YouTubers like Sargon of Akkad and PragerU while defending socially liberal ideas like intersectionality. Recommended video: The Youtube Red Scare: Episode 1 - Does Sargon Understand the left? Benji Adam Whiskettes: Excellent marxist channel featuring videos on how Communism has improved womens rights, why the profit motive is not good, wealth gaps, and how capitalism has not created jobs. Noteworthy for video of Professor G.A. Cohen debunking the myth of incentive under capitalism Recommended video: G.A. Cohen debunks the myth of incentive under Capitalism Red Star Video: Featuring marxist film reviews, analysis of the origin of the alt right, reaction videos on political charts, history of the second international, cuban socialism, and an overview of different tendencies, Red Star is an overall great marxist channel. Noteworthy for video “Why The RIght Is Wrong On Free Speech” Recommended Video: Why The Right Is Wrong On “Free Speech” Claudia Brown: Feminist and socialist channel featuring a variety of videos on a wide variety of subjects. Everything from Islam and Feminism to response videos, to women’s participation in the workplace, to examinations of the use of buzzwords. Noteworthy for unique perspectives on feminism and capitalism. Recommended Video: Capitalism DOESNT enhance innovation SJW 101 The Political Gamer: A channel that does effective leftist critique on a variety of issues, including on anti-feminism, the youtube right, the “skeptic” movement, Milo, Laci Green with wry wit and careful analysis. Recommended video: Sargon, collectivism and the Skeptic Community Brendan Mccooney: Hands down the most comprehensive channel on Marxian Economics. Covers topics like the law of value, overdeterminism, etc. in depth with well edited videos featuring videos, graphics. An absolute must for understanding economics, not too dry either. Recommended Video: Law Of Value: Introduction DemocraticSocialist01: With well edited, carefully argued videos on Hayek, Pinochet, Mao, Capitalisms Death Toll, Coach Red Pill, Brazil and Venezuela, this channel is excellent in debunking a lot of bad reactionary arguments while teaching quite a lot. Recommended Video: Mao Did More Good Than Harm (Note: This video is mirrored, the video was taken down from his channel for some reason). BadMouseProductions: Similarly primarily debunks bad understands of socialism from the right, but also does videos explaining socialist concepts and debunking bad right wing takes on other topics like climate change. Recommended video: Argument ad Venezuelum (debunks the idea that Venezuela is a socialist country) C0nc0rdance: Only uploads infrequently, but does very educated videos explaining scientific concepts such as gender and the genetics of ethnicity from a left-wing perspective. Also does videos addressing social topics from this same political viewpoint. Recommended video: The Science of Human Races, Part 1 CreationistCat: The Mr. Plinkett of the YouTube Left. Using absurdist humour, bizarre editing and yet surprisingly great insight and research, the character of Creationist Cat (a magical housecat who was 'zapped through da internet' by God) mocks and exposes the bullshit of the right wing and online skeptic community. Recommended video: MILO YIANNOPOULOS: EXPOSED! Comrade Hakim: Noteworthy for a variety of videos discussing everything from the problem with worker co-ops, healthcare, how socialism gives a better quality of life, and one must watch video in particular on the subject of capitalism lifting people out of poverty. As an addendum to that video, I also recommend the Guardian Article “Aid In Reverse: How poor countries develop rich ones” Recommended Video: Capitalism HASNT Lifted People Out Of Poverty Cuck Philosophy: Explains topics in moral and political philosophy, does Marxist analyses of popular culture, but has perhaps best contributed to left-wing YouTube by doing long, in-depth deconstructions of the way figures like Jordan Peterson, Sam Harris and Steven Hicks misunderstand philosophy. Recommended video: A Critique of Sam Harris' 'The Moral Landscape' EssenceOfThought: Left-wing atheist channel that goes against what has become typically expected from the 'skeptic' community and actually critiques not only arguments from religious apologists, but also those who argue against non-binary gender, trans identities and other LGBT rights. Recommended video: Jordan Peterson Lies About The Science On Same Gender Parenting For Harriet: An intersectional black feminist channel which, aside from responding to current events pertaining to women's rights, takes a fairly uncompromising look at the perceived flaws in the movement to effectively analyse how it can be made better. Recommended video: Candace Owens Is A Bad Actor Tovarisch Endymion: An overall excellent marxist channel featuring videos on topics about Capitalism, how socialism HAS worked, replies to prager U and other reactionary channels, as well as a number of explainer videos. Noteworthy for video on an analysis of countries with deregulated market economies which feature atrocious wealth gaps. Recommended Video: A Look at the Freest Markets In The World Libertarian Socialist Rants: An anarchist who debunks bad capitalist arguments and anti-social liberalism views. Also does videos explaining anarchist principles and refuting common critiques of this ideology. Recommended video: Anarchist Commentaries Episode 6: Paul Joseph Watson and the Dunning-Kruger Effect RichardDWolff: The channel of well-known Marxist economist Prof. Richard D. Wolff. This channel is home to exclusive lectures where Professor Wolff explains current American and global economic problems and how Marxian economics can be both a prism to analyse how these problems effect people, and also be a solution to these systemic economic flaws. The channel Democracy At Work(which actually currently sits at 60k subscribers) features other lectures on the same subjects regarding contemporary failures of capitalism, and is based on a book of Wolff's with the same name. Recommended video: Crisis and Openings: Introduction to Marxism - Richard D Wolff The Messianic Manic: Another left-wing atheist channel. Does short but clever videos rebutting bad arguments from religious apologists and social conservatives. Recommended video: Ben Shapiro Is Wrong About: Raising Children Zero Books: A promotional channel for the Marxist literary publishing imprint of the same name. Uses the books available from their line as a starting point for videos exploring concepts in political and social philosophy and interpreting current political events and figures through a Marxist lens. Recommended video: The Intellectual Dark Web Is Afraid Of Marx AngieSpeaks: Produces anarchist critiques of current political events and explorations of anarchist/socialist history. Recommended video: Conspiracy Culture: A Leftist Analysis BlackGoat 666: Debunks online right-wing heroes like Ben Shapiro, Jordan Peterson and Christina Hoff-Sommers. Recommended video: Jordan Peterson Is A Fraud. Part 1: Bill C-16 Eric Taxxon: Known for doing Hbomberguy's music, but between original music videos does left-wing response videos to people like Paul Joseph Watson. Recommended video: The Kunst Saga | How The Right Wing Views Modern Art In Otter Words: Hasn't uploaded in a year but hopefully will again soon since his output has been very underrated. Debunks bad right-wing criticisms of feminism and the trans rights movement. I'm shocked no bigger YouTubers have seized on his discovery that Ben Shapiro has been lying about the trans suicide rate. Recommended video: Ben Shapiro and the Transgender Suicide Rate José: Very similar to the style of Potholer54, but addressing similar subjects to channels like those like Hbomb, Shaun and Contra. He debunks right-wingers like Dave Rubin, Steven Crowder and Roaming Millennial with very eloquent, long-form responses. Recommended video: Steven Crowder Is A Fraud | Change My Mind Kristi Winters: Feminist social scientist famous for pummelling Sargon of Akkad when they debated. Does discussion livestreams addressing events and arguments of the anti-feminist 'Skeptic' community. Recommended video: Reasonable Questions For Anti-SJWS and Formal Debate: Sargon of Akkad vs Kristi Winters Maria the Witch: Covers feminist and LGBT topics. Similarly to Contra (whom she has recently done a video criticising) Maria often rebuts anti-SJW points against socially progressive ideals, having done videos addressing fat shaming, the placement of asexuality on the LGBT spectrum, and the commodification of female beauty. Recommended video: Roaming Millennial: Hates Women. Hates Facts. Messy Elliott: Has done rebuttals to Dave Rubin and InfoWars as well as a video defending non-binary gender from the uneducated criticism of major YouTubers (see below). Recommended video: YouTubers Don't Understand: Non-Binary People | Messy Elliott Mexie: Creates very polished socialist critiques and explorations of economic topics Recommended video: Why People Who Need Redistribution Hate It: The Free Market & You Mia Mulder: Self-proclaimed ‘angry trans woman’. Addresses political topics such as the Syria conflict, debating with white supremacists and the relationship of left-wing ideology with trans women in an entertaining way. Recommended video: Syria: Many Of These Options Are Bad Never Speak In Absolutes: Creates videos that draw on a knowledge of philosophy to critique members of the Intellectual Dark Web like Jordan Peterson and Sam Harris, as well as addressing other big issues like peak oil. Occasionally livestreams with Douglas Lain of Zero Books. Recommended video: What Jordan Peterson Gets Wrong About Marx, Postmodernism and The Left. NonCompete: The channel's description sums it up best, "Non-Compete is a leftist blog and video series dedicates to the principles of intersectionalist liberation, anarchism, communism, and puppet shows." Does videos similar to the style of Peter Coffin addressing specific leftist issues alongside a podcast with other leftists mentioned on this list like AngieSpeaks and RadicalReviewer. Recommended video: The Red Pill is a CULT PoliDice: Creates ‘debunking’ videos similar to the Potholer54 format José uses, and addressing similar topics. He’s done videos responding to Matt Christiansen, Steven Crowder, Ben Shapiro and PragerU. Recommended video: Ten Horrible Ben Shapiro Arguments Debunked Radical Reviewer: Previously focused on reviewing leftist books and other media, but as of about a day ago has branched out into response videos to right-wing lunatics. Recommended video: Stefan Molyneux Doesn't Understand Anarchism Rational Disconnect: Creates very Hbomberguy-esque videos responding to shitty arguments and videos from the skeptic community and alt-right. Like Hbomb he talks to the camera and includes performative comedy bits. Recommended video: South Africa & The Far Right | PART 1 (placed in limited state by YouTube because the alt-right reported it for the clips from other people he includes who themselves were not flagged) KnowingBetter: Debunking channel featuring videos exposing Gandhi, defending Christopher Columbus, and going after the likes of Winston Churchill. “Now you know better” Recommended Video: Going After Gandhi: A Perverted Purity Sarcasmitron: Another ‘debunker’ in the Potholer format. Has responded to Paul Joseph Watson, Ben Shapiro, No Bullshit and Stefan Molyneux in between video game and politics related shitposts. Recommended video: The Truth About Paul Joseph Watson (For Real) Thom Avella: Similar to hbomberguy's style but more vlog-based. Rebuts right-wing videos but also has a series called 'Buzzwords from the Right' where he specifically debunks misused terms and slurs used by that side like to chastise us. Recommended video: What "Questions for SJWs" Taught Me About YouTube Antifeminism Thought Slime: Anarchist who explains the tenents of his ideology and occasionally responds to right-wing dipshits. Recommended video: We don't talk about She-Ra (sorry to have two She-Ra related videos in a row, but this truly is my favourite thing this guy’s done) Xexizy: Marxist who both promotes socialist ideology and critiques those who misrepresent and slander it such as PragerU, Ben Shapiro and Jordan Peterson. Recommended video: Different Kinds of Marxism Explained Bat’ko The Manarchist: Bat’ko is a leftist prominent on leftypol. He makes hilarious and clever songs about IDPOL and Stalin using classic Russian choir songs Recommended Video: Best Of Leftypol Choir [Nyx:](www.youtube.com/watch?v=sd_YNMEZndA) She covers movies/films, often utilizes a leftist frame, and sometimes dives into topics related to being trans. azureScapegoat: Marxist who promotes socialist ideology; one of the most prominent features of this channel is an explainer series of videos on Cuba’s economic and political system. Noteworthy also for a video where he carefully clarifies the distinctions between socialism, communism, and modern communism. Recommended video: How Democracy Works In Cuba YUGOPNIK: Very new anti-capitalist channel. Critiques capitalist arguments ('Capitalist Philanthropy and Charity, why it doesn't work'), defends criticism of the left (Re: PragerUniversity on LEFTISTS and TOLERANCE) and promotes a Marxist praxis through everyday needs (see below). Recommended video: Why Gamers Should be against Capitalism Flea Market Socialist: Creates long and short videos on how to survive capitalism, make propaganda fun, subvert the system, and gives us that pure pure crystalline ideology we so desperately desire; straight to the jugular. Recommended Video:Surviving Capitalism ProSocialism: Small Trotskyist channel with videos on the bolsheviks, Lenin, and the Russian Revolution. Recommended Video: The Russian Revolution Of 1905 Aphreditto:A leftist channel devoted to anarchist and anti-capitalist alternative education that pairs EDM with lectures and audiobooks by historical and contemporary thinkers. [Recommended Video:]Murray Bookchin (1975) "The New Harmony" - Liquid Drum & Bass Mix Anarchopac:: A philosophy channel that discusses Anarchism, Feminism, and Marxism. Recommended Video: Ben Shapiro doesn’t understand intersectionality - Media essayists and critics: Big Joel: Does video essays on film, TV and video games with a very political slant. Analysing the Christian propaganda of the God’s Not Dead series, the preachy style of 1950s propaganda shorts, and what he believed to be the shallow politics of Black Mirror (as well as other less political analyses of movies like The Room and Disney films). He has recently branched out into much more overtly political content, creating videos which refuted arguments in Cassie Jaye’s men’s rights film ‘The Red Pill’ and the videos of Prager University. Recommended video: The Red Pill: The Strange Art of Men's Rights Activism (Part 1) donoteat01: Brought to my attention through comments. A fascinating channel using the game Cities: Skylines to illustrate the socioeconomic impacts the urban planning of cities can have on people's lives, both through the development in cities in history and in their redevelopment today. If you're interested in class analysis this series will be perfect for you. Recommended video: Cities: Skylines | Power, Politics, & Planning: Episode 3: Gentrification Folding Ideas: While not too overtly political, a leftist sense of justice and morality is pervasive in all Dan Olson’s work on this channel. He creates very lengthy analyses of movies and cultural events like last year’s weird YouTube kids video algorithm. Perhaps his most politically potent work though is the video I’ll link down below. Recommended video: Triumph of the Will and the Cinematic Language of Propaganda Kyle Kallgren: Film critic specialising in art cinema, but always from a socially left-wing perspective. While this political aspect is clear in all his reviews, often he does do videos exploring politics a lot more overtly such as below. Recommended video: From Caligari to Hitler: Imagining the Tyrant - Between the Lines Lindsay Ellis: Like Olson and Kallgren, Ellis started back in the day on That Guy With The Glasses, but has since transcended that prison into a phenomenal film critic. She uses dry humour and widely recognisable pop culture (her favourite subjects being Disney and Transformers) to look at intersecting social and political trends. While she’s often spoken from a feminist perspective, her recent work has begun delving into Marxist analysis in a way she’s very accessibly explained to the wide audience who watch her. Recommended video: Marxism! | The Whole Plate Episode 9 Jack Saint / LackingSaint: Formerly did animations, now does video essays with political themes like in the link below. Also interesting is his parody of anti-SJW film reviews 'Rational Big Boy DEMOLISHES SJW Propaganda: 12 Angry Men'. Recommended video: Sky High: Disney's Fascist Eugenics Movie Pop Culture Detective: Despite the current cultural backlash to social justice, this guy has somehow gotten away with making video essay after video essay with millions of views criticising the portrayal of toxic masculinity in film and television, while celebrating the non-normative gender archetypes in media like Steven Universe. Recommended video: The Adorkable Misogyny of The Big Bang Theory Renegade Cut: Another long-form video essayist, but has a particular emphasis on analysing social justice in film. His work includes critical readings of the white privilege themes of ‘Get Out’, the perhaps accidental Ayn Randian/Objectivist themes of ‘The Incredibles’, and as seen below, the contentious approach to racism of ‘Three BillBoards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’. Recommended video: How (Not) to Discuss Racism in Film - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri | Renegade Cut Step Back History: A history channel exploring important events from a progressive perspective. Has done videos addressing topics the right tends to obscure or ignore the truth of like, the pre-Columbian Americans (see below), 20th century communism, the rise of ISIS, anarchism during the Spanish Civil War and many others. Recommended video: The Truth About Native Americans before Europeans Arrived PODCASTS (Find On Podcast App) Chapo Trap House: Leftist comedy podcast featuring interviews with a wide variety of writers and other prominent leftist figures. Along with film reviews, they also read and make fun of right wing and liberal media figures. They are very popular and do tours. Look up their clips on YouTube and obviously check this one out. The Michael Brooks Show: Michael Brooks of the majority report’s show which features guests, analysis of politics and culture from a socialist perspective. Entertaining, funny, and overall wonderful podcast. Best Of The Left: Aggregation of clips from a variety of mostly progressive and socialist radio and other leftist sources covering one important topic each episode. The Majority Report: Mentioned in the youtube list, this is the actual podcast that the youtube clips come from. I listen every day. Simply excellent. This one I consider a must listen. The Other Washington: Policy analysis from a progressive perspective. Noteworthy for analysis of minimum wage arguments. Antifada: Jamie Peck of the Majority Reports podcast. Socialist with interviews and discussion of a variety of intriguing subject matter. Jacobin Radio: Podcast of Jacobin Magazine -- analysis and discussion of issues from a socialist perspective Current Affairs: Mentioned in the youtube list; the podcast features unique discussion of a variety of relevant policy and other topics from the magazine editors relevant to the socialist left News From Nowhere: Corey Pein’s (Live, Work Work Work Die Author) unique podcast from a socialist perspective. The Breunigs: Matt And Elizabeth Breunig of the Peoples Policy Project carefully and holistically analyze and discuss a diverse range of economic and policy issues. This Is Hell!: Socialist analysis and interviews on a wide variety of topics relevant to the socialist left. Zero Books: Mentioned in the youtube list; this is the podcast. Dissent Magazine: Podcast of the Magazine Citations Needed: Carefully policy and discussion of a variety of issues from a socialist perspective. Intercepted: podcast of intercept magazine hosted by the brilliant and highly well regarded Jeremy Scahill, author of Blackwater and dirty wars. Pod Damn America: the anti liberal pod save America. Features interviews with dsa members, organizers and other leftist activists and workers. Vegan Vanguard (Mexie) Mexies youtube channel is charming, with well researched leftist subject matter and effective, well communicated presentation. Her podcast follows this trend. Dead Pundits Society: severely underrated podcast featuring interviews with leftists as diverse and important as Adolph reed jr (the anti Tahnahisi Coates (materialist over idealist analysis), economics, unions, and a socialist foreign policy. Supreme Leap Forward, Mic Dicta, (Socialist legal analysis) Revolutionary Left Radio: Great pod from an ML on a variety of topics with lots of guests; did a great cross-over with The Antifada which would serve as a great introduction if you already listen to them Media Roots: hosted by Abby Martin and her brother. This is Media Roots self described website description: "Media Roots is a citizen journalism project that reports the news from outside of party lines while providing a collaborative forum for conscious citizens, artists and activists to unite." The Guillotine: hosted by Brett from Rev Left Radio and Dr. Bones, it is a self-described "podcast covering global current events from a revolutionary communist and anarchist perspective." Street Fight: based out of Ohio, Street Fight Radio, or Street Fight is an American politics and humor radio show and podcast founded in June 2011 and hosted by Brett Payne and Bryan Quinby with anarchist leanings. Gritty and down to earth Congressional Dish: podcast which is basically one woman going on a deep dive on recently passed bills, Senate hearings, that kind of thing. Lots of good episodes about US imperialism. Very detail focussed. Cumtown: baconshark316: “not like really leftist but they're good friends with Chapo and guest on each other podcast before. Cumtown is comedy but their politics are pretty left. They just don't talk politics as much as Chapo.” very “dirtbag left” Ashes, Ashes: David Torcivia and Daniel Forkner discuss systemic issues, cracks in civilization, collapse of the environment, and the end of the world." Criminal (In)justice: as you can guess from the name, this podcast focuses on injustice in the criminal justice system... a lot of the critiques are quite leftist. Your Kickstarter Sucks: a unique podcast with a humorous leftist analysis of a wide range of topics as diverse as gun violence apps, bus people, and cultural topics. I’ve heard it’s funny, still gotta get around to it Season of the Bitch: Very well-informed feminist/Marxist show Economic Update.: The podcast version of Richard Wolff's weekly show found on Democracy @ Work's YT channel The Dig: Podcast from Jacobin Magazine Deconstructed: Another pod from The Intercept Eyes Left: Anti-war pod from two lefty army vets The Bernie Sanders Show: Bernie will occasionally drop a half-hour commentary on big headlines Working Class History: Exactly what it says on the box Even More News: From the "Some More News" YT channel team Socialist Rifle Association: A leftist podcast commenting on recent news, with focus on guns and gun laws, commenting on a variety of topics including new legislation, minorities and police. Also they regularly bash Musk, with is always fun. And they are official podcast of SRA, but that's obvious. The Magnificast: A Christian, Marxist podcast Chuck Boonta Vista Socialist Club:”It's the Australian rip off of Chapo Trap House” Neighbor Science: Post-Scarcity Anarchism authors and profit sector business executives Pieter de Beer and Ryan Salisbury focused on political economy, ecology, and billionaires Radio War Nerd: Excellent leftist foreign policy analysis Novara Media: Aaron Bastani and Ash Sankar (of “I’m literally a communist”) have an excellent podcast AND YouTube channel featuring videos on subjects as diverse as islamophobia/Sam Harris, Homo-Nationalism and British Politics. Highly recommended Media democracy pod: like the uk version of citations needed. very good analysis of the media by tom mills & dan hind, who have both written books on the subject for verso. also putting forward pretty concrete plans to democratise the media over here. Discourse Collective:: leftist podcast analyzing culture and current events from a left perspective with various guests from the left activist and media sphere, as well as an ongoing reading series of of the works of important leftist authors (Prohoun, Kropotkin, Bakunin, etc). The Black Podcast: Red Scare: socialist feminist takes on current events and patriarchal norms, with film analysis as well Swampside chats: the topics can be pretty niche ("here's this left-wing party that split in 1976," "here's this ultra-reactionary who wrote a manifesto") but it pulls off a combination of entertaining and intellectually serious that's p rare IME. Behind the News: more current-events-driven and less entertaining, but is still probably one of the best Serious Interview shows out there. No Cartridge Audio: leftist critiques of video games through a literary lens. They hosted the Texas-Christman Video Game Debate. Struggle Session: reviews a lot of nerd/pop culture media, and often features very insightful views into the world of entertainment industry labor issues. One of their hosts, Leslie Lee, has been on Chapo. District Sentinel: a podcast co-op (based in DC so you don’t have to be) on daily news, haikus, and analysis from the left. Trillbilly Workers Party :Leftist podcast based in coal country, USA. Mostly a lot of local stuff about the small town they live in, but they have some good takes, and they need the exposure. BitchFace Podcast:CRITIQUES OF POWER + WE GOT JOKES" Minion Dead Cult: “They talk about news stories through the lens of insane right wing Facebook comments. It's a fun time.” Delete Your Account - Analysis on current issues, e.g.healthcare, gaming industry unionization, evil landlords Scumbag - Chapo's Felix and some guy that works in PR talk about internet weirdos (no longer active, but has a few good eps) The Dig- another dead podcast - it's all a bit about Carl Diggler - a dril/journalist character played by Felix, and Virgil Texas as his millenial sidekick Left Out:: podcast by Paul Sliker, Michael Palmieri, and Dante Dallavalle with in-depth conversations with leftist economists/organizers/thinkers. Left Anchor: new podcast started in fall 2018 from Ryan Cooper & Alexi the Greek. Discussions between the hosts looking at historical leftist thinkers and applying to current events. SWOTI (Someone's Wrong on the Internet): Hosted by Briahna Gray Joy and Joe Kunhilee, two leftist millennial POC. Entertaining and upbeat show that ranges from pop-culture to current events to dunking on centrist libs.
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