Archive for the ‘Social Norms’ Category

The Sports Revolution: And-One Penalties

PI's just like a bench press for Ed.Let me set the scene for you: A quarterback launches a long pass down the sideline toward an emergingly open receiver. The defensive back, sensing what is about to occur, prevents a completion through less than legal means. And yet, even while a flag is being thrown, the receiver makes a tremendous catch anyway. The penalty is declined.

Let me reset the scene for you: After the flag is thrown and the catch is made, our referee announces the penalty while his assistants march off additional yardage. How much exactly? Why, the amount gained on the play, to be precise.

That’s right: Football needs its and-one. A catch made in spite of pass interference shouldn’t render the interference irrelevant. The same penalty should be meted out regardless of the completion of the pass, and thus a 20-yard pass despite PI should become a 40-yard gain.

Pierre has argued this point before, in regards to that officiating shambles of an indoor winter sport. While watching my beloved Ligue canadienne de football this autumn, it has struck me that North American football does an even more piteous job acknowledging degree of difficulty than its indoor companion. Penalties that do not alter the final result of a play are simply declined—overlooked, ignored, erased from the annals of the postgame almanacs.

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The Drawing Board: Astrology

The idea that someone can tell you something about yourself or somehow predict your future just by looking at the movements of the stars is ridiculous. But the idea that I could do that is an interesting one, and it’s an idea I happened to have several weeks ago after I saw a full moon and then correctly predicted the attacks of September 11th. If that’s not enough to convince you, find your horoscope below (listed in the traditional order) and see for yourself if it comes true…

Aries (Mar 21-Apr 19):
You are a person who thinks of others. Not always, just sometimes. Nobody can think about other people all the time, so in a way we’re not so different, you and I. In your job, if you have one, there will be some type of transaction in the near future.

Taurus (Apr 20-May 20):
You often stand out among others as a person whose sign is Taurus. You eat food on a fairly regular basis, but often in different locations, as you tend to move about during the day. Beware of holidays—you never know what could happen. Yes, that’s true all the time, I’m just saying don’t forget about holidays. Continue reading

This Day in Revisionist History

February 2:

“Clearly I have some more work to do…” – a rather embarrassed Leonarde Keeler to his sophomoric colleagues during a test of the first ever polygraph machine, after the wavering needle cast doubt on Keeler’s insistence that he did not, in fact, enjoy making out with other dudes.

Life is already hard when your name is Leonarde. It’s even harder when you have to live in the shadow of a father like Charles Keeler. And that’s why it was particularly irksome for Leonarde Keeler when his own invention, which would later win him fame, fortune, and a place in history, would so quickly malfunction in so juvenile a context. Continue reading

The Drawing Board: Sarah Palin

What is everybody’s problem with this lady? I’m not saying I like her, but she’s kinda hot so I definitely don’t hate her. I mean, hey, if she’s been living in Alaska, no wonder we have global warming because she is hot! (Hot things raise the ambient temperature, which is symptomatic of global warming, if you follow me.) Now all you girls reading this, don’t give me that “Oh my God, ew, Sarah Palin is not hot!” First of all, I said kinda hot. Second of all, relative to her position in life, yes, Sarah Palin is quite hot and probably hotter than you’ll be at that age. Do you really want to take that wager? Because I will follow through on it and call you out in front of your FIVE kids. Okay then, shut up about me calling her “kinda hot”.*

*This point is purely academic as there are no girls who read this column. Continue reading

The Drawing Board: UFOs

Let me set the scene for you: It’s a clear, balmy night in the small town of Roswell, N.M., and the stars are shining as brightly and crisply as I’ve ever seen them—and no, it’s not the first time I’ve ever looked. I’ve made the decision to spend the night here as I make my way to Phoenix. As of this moment, it’s been an ordinary night quite like any other, only for some reason I feel like it’s not taking as long for me to sober up, and I’m not happy about it.

A screaming comes across the sky.

As is always the case when I travel, I’ve got my copy of Gravity’s Rainbow, and I’ve cracked it open for a little reading before bedtime. Strange as it may sound, I’ve never made it past that first sentence, usually due to drunkenness, but as I’ve said, I’m not feeling so drunk tonight. And again I will fail to read on, for as I make my way toward that elusive second sentence I’m suddenly interrupted. An eerie light floods the clouded window pane of the cheap motel room I booked on expedia.com. The light draws closer, and I tremble as the rational part of me recedes as quickly as what little shadow persists beneath the window sill. Continue reading

The Drawing Board: Dividing By Zero

If there’s one experience universal to American boyhood, it’s the untraversable chasm between sports and math. Yeah, that is a word. Math and sports have never really seen eye-to-eye, in part because of confusing mixed messages from the disciplines. For example, your coach says, “Give 110% out there,” and your math teacher says “Basketball practice is not an excuse for not doing your homework.” Or your coach says “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,” and your math teacher says “Raise your hand if you want to ask a question.” What the hell? If you were anything like me in school, you were a sports guy. So it probably came as a pretty big shock when a 30-something pointdexter who used to go to college tells you that you can’t divide by zero. Yeah, maybe you can’t, nerd, but I know that right now, this is anyone’s game.

Want to see me divide 5 by 0? Talk to any math teacher and he’ll tell you it’s impossible because you can’t take 5 of something and divide it into zero equal groups. Oh really? Check this out: 5 divided by zero is 5. Why? Because I divided it into zero groups, meaning it’s still all there. If you want to get all technical about it, I didn’t really divide at all, so bam—still 5. Does that mean that I can’t divide it? No, it just means that I obviously wouldn’t divide it because it’s already done. That’s like saying you can’t give a bald guy a haircut–although that is true–but it still applies because they’re both unsportsmanlike attitudes. Think of it as a word problem. Divide 5 into zero parts might as well read Don’t divide 5 into any parts. Naturally, then, the answer is five. Now you try telling your sixth grade math teacher Ms. Covington that, and she’ll tell you the same thing she told me: “Raise your hand if you want to ask a question.” Sigh. So you raise your hand, and she calls on you, and then you give her this look like Are you serious? Do I really have to repeat the question? And she just gives you that smug look, so you decide it’s all-out war. “I can divide five by zero, it’s five.” And she goes “No, five divided by one is five.” And you say, “So what? 2 plus 2 is four, that doesn’t mean 3 plus 1 can’t be.” Now she’s a little irritated because you caught her in a lie.

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This Day in Revisionist History

January 5

“Obviously I wouldn’t have done it, but dude, how the f*ck was I supposed to know what drawing and quartering meant?” – a panicked Robert-Francois Damiens replying to his friend Pierre, after being asked why he had tried to kill the king at the risk of so cruel a punishment.

Regicide had always been a very serious crime, and Louis XV a very petty king. And so, in the age in which our unfortunate subject lived, it had been affirmed that the penalty for killing or even attempting to kill the king would be more than a simple hanging. The French parliament had decided that anyone who threatened the king’s life would be killed by “drawing and quartering.” Though parliament did not invent the method, it revived it in a manner of sorts, as no one had committed regicide in nearly 150 years and therefore such a punishment was neither commonly practiced nor widely known throughout France. Several historians attribute the longevity of this punishment to the greater lack of knowledge, positing that the people of France would have almost assuredly opposed the disemboweling and dismemberment of their fellow countrymen. Continue reading