This week is Bike to Work Week in Washington, D.C., which is a perfect opportunity to point out why the vast majority of bikers are huge jerks who ruin the road for the rest of us. I’m not saying they’re jerks all the time; just when they’re on their bikes. Kind of like how someone turns into a Mr Hyde version of himself when he climbs into a Prius.
I’m not even saying all bikers are this awful. Just most of them. Enough of them to give bikers a bad rep, even when some of us actually try to be considerate, safe, and respectful. So this Bike to Work Week, please do bike to work — just don’t be a jerk about it.
5. Biking on the road, without following the rules of the road
You know what I’m talking about — the bikers who use the bike lane or actually drive in the traffic lanes, but breeze through stop signs without pause, creep past red lights, cross lanes when they turn, and generally act like the rest of traffic should bend around them. This is incredibly unsafe — for bikers, drivers, and pedestrians. As someone who walks to work every day here in D.C., I could count on two hands (and a few toes) the number of times I’ve nearly been run down by a bike that had no intention of stopping for a red. Hills are no excuse. If your brakes are too poor to come to a full stop when you’re pointing downhill — or your legs are too weak to stop then start again while climbing uphill — then you shouldn’t be biking on the road. Get in shape, get a tune-up, and come back when you’re ready to bike safely.
The bravest part of Jason Collins’s coming-out feature in Sports Illustrated was not the part where he revealed he is gay. It was this:
I celebrate being an African-American and the hardships of the past that still resonate today. But I don’t let my race define me any more than I want my sexual orientation to. I don’t want to be labeled, and I can’t let someone else’s label define me.
I have a prediction: Collins is going to ruffle a few feathers in the gay world for that comment.
It normalizes gayness, instead of letting one counterculture, ultra-liberal, activist niche own the image of homosexuality. If you can be a gay NBA star, why not a gay conservative? If your sexual orientation is just one part of your life, why does it have to dictate your entire worldview?
You can’t be easily herded if you insist on being yourself.
If you’re skeptical that the gay activist Old Guard would be against lifestyle diversity, read this Slate article about how some of them are reluctantly accepting of the “Gaybro” movement. The subtitle says it all: “They like sports, hunting, and beer. They make the gay community mad.”
Jason Collins: thanks for making them mad. It’s time someone shook this place up a bit. And I don’t mean the hetero-normative sports world. I mean the liberal-normative gay world.
Former President Bill Clinton, who just joined Twitter this month, applauded the decision of NBA player Jason Collins to come out as gay.
Collins, a center for the Washington Wizards, wrote a lengthy piece for the May 6 issue of Sports Illustrated explaining his decision.
“I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn’t the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, ‘I’m different.’ If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand,” Collins wrote.
Many well-known names quickly rallied to his defense on Twitter, including Clinton.
“I’m proud to call Jason Collins a friend,” Clinton tweeted, linking to a longer statement at his foundation’s website.
“I have known Jason Collins since he was Chelsea’s classmate and friend at Stanford. Jason’s announcement today is an important moment for professional sports and in the history of the LGBT community,” Clinton said. “It is also the straightforward statement of a good man who wants no more than what so many of us seek: to be able to be who we are; to do our work; to build families and to contribute to our communities. For so many members of the LGBT community, these simple goals remain elusive. I hope that everyone, particularly Jason’s colleagues in the NBA, the media and his many fans extend to him their support and the respect he has earned.”
Jason Collins quietly paid tribute to Matthew Shephard, a young gay man who was murdered in 1998, when he changed his number to 98 in 2012.
— Michael Skolnik (@MichaelSkolnik) April 29, 2013
It was obvious. Jason Collins is the only guy in the NBA not defending a paternity suit. #gaydar
— David Burge (@iowahawkblog) April 29, 2013
The stirring new movie 42 tells the story of how, in 1947 America, Brooklyn Dodgers president Branch Rickey (played by Harrison Ford) broke the unwritten rule about hiring black players and called up Negro League superstar Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) to join his team. Robinson would go on to win the Rookie of the Year award and later the Most Valuable Player honors on the way to a Hall of Fame career.
What are the conservative lessons about Jackie Robinson’s life to be learned from 42?
1) Merit is colorblind.
Rickey (a lifelong Republican) tells Robinson he is hiring him for one reason: Robinson (who then played for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro League) was a baseball phenom and Rickey wants to win the World Series. This is Moneyball before Moneyball: Finding untapped talent others are ignoring. Rickey had in mind not only Robinson but Roy Campanella, the black catcher who would soon follow Robinson into the big leagues, as players who could help him win the Series and make money in the process. Rickey says there’s no black or white in sports, just green. Manager Leo Durocher (Christopher Meloni) tells the team, “I do not care if the guy is yellow or black, or if he has stripes like a zebra. I’m the manager of this team, and I say he plays.
There was a time when Opening Day of the baseball season was one of the most anticipated annual events in America. For most Americans, the significance of the day transcended sport, marking the welcome change of season, and the arrival of warm weather and an alteration in the landscape from burnt umber to a glorious green. The day also rekindled hope in the breasts of baseball fans everywhere. Everyone had a favorite team whether you lived in a city with a pro franchise or not, and before any wins or losses were tallied, the dream of post-season glory was alive in every beating heart.
For those born after 1970, it is difficult to describe the hold that baseball had on the national consciousness. Today, despite record-setting attendance at ballparks, gigantic television contracts, and four 24-hour sports networks, Major League Baseball has fallen from its perch as the most dominant game in America, replaced by football in the hearts and minds of sports fans.
There are a plethora of reasons why this is so. Overexposure is a big one. When baseball was king, there were only one or two nationally televised games a week. Even if you were lucky enough to live in a city with a pro franchise, roughly half the games would be televised. I have fond memories of taking a transistor radio to bed, hiding under the covers to listen to Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Elson call a West Coast game, or sitting on the back porch on a Sunday afternoon with the game on the radio and the family gathered around.
Today, every single game is televised, with the all-sports cable networks broadcasting replays and highlights all day long. Something special went out of the game when baseball became so ubiquitous. It lost some of its mystique, its perception as a special event.
I wrote this back in 2005, while the White Sox were making their magical run to a World Series crown:
While there are many that bemoan the fall of baseball from its preeminent position as the number one sport in America, you cannot escape the fact that the game has fallen victim to what is the essence of America itself: an unalterable and inexorable fact of life in this country that things do not remain the same, that society and culture are in a constant state of motion.
America has changed. Baseball hasn’t.
Baseball couldn’t change. The game itself is draped in tradition, in memory. There is no other game seen through the prism of remembrance quite like baseball. Sitting on the back porch in 1950s and ’60s suburbia listening to the hissing, static filled play-by-play on radio while the fireflies blinked to announce their presence and the sweet smell of Jasmine filled the nostrils with the scent of summer, of family, of a shared passion. Or perhaps in the city you sat on the front stoop with every other house on the block blaring out the call of the game, a broadcast legend conducting a city wide symphony of sound, mothers with babies, fathers with sons, and the young, the old, laughing, talking, arguing, loving. A neighborhood, a community united around a passion so intense that enmities were temporarily forgotten as “the boys” or “the bums” performed extraordinary feats of effortless athleticism with both the workmanlike attitude of the blue collar hero and the pizazz of a circus performer.
Yes, that America existed at one time. And while memory may skew some of the details and gloss over much of the unseemly realities from those times, there is no doubt that baseball for much of the country occupied a privileged position in the hearts and minds of the people. In a time before the total saturation of sports, before ubiquitous replays, before free agency made players into hobos, before steroids turned the players into Frankenstein monsters, before rape trials and murder trials and divorces and scandal after scandal there was the pitcher, the batter, and the lovely dance of strategy and possibility. To bunt or not to bunt. To swing away or hit and run. To pitch out, or put the rotation” play on, or simply to play “straight up.” This was actually part of the national conversation when baseball was king.
There is an age-old question that will probably plague human curiosity (and laboratories) until our race perishes: when it comes to X, are men or women more capable? There have been multitudes of studies on perception, reaction times, pain-thresholds, physical, mental, emotional capabilities, etc. on both sexes to determine who is better equipped to do certain activities. Research conclusions that sought to divide the sexes by suitability have been refuted as both men and women have defied science and stereotypes. Worlds that have been traditionally “male-dominated” or “female-dominated” have collided and our stereotypical thinking has been challenged and overturned. Dangerous sports, such as racing, still seem to be firmly rooted in the “male-dominated” category, but women have slowly begun to infiltrate the paddock walls.
We oooh and ahh over females on the racetrack, but women in fast cars are not new. In fact, in the past few decades, several female racers have set records and taken top honors:
1. Shirley Muldowney was a pioneer in drag racing and the first woman to obtain a license from the National Hot Rod Association. She has a resume of accomplishments and awards that reads like a menu from Bubba Gump Shrimp. She was a real oil-burning lioness.
2. Janet Guthrie was the first female to qualify and compete in both the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500 and to drive in a NASCAR Winston Cup superspeedway race. In 2006, she was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
3. Lyn St. James started in the Indianapolis 500 seven times (Danica Patrick is currently tied with her record). She has two wins at the 24 Hours of Daytona and one at the 12 Hours of Sebring. She also competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans twice.
Hollywood gave the film Argo the Academy Award for best picture. But wait a minute! Did the film industry members who voted for it understand what the film said?
To rescue five Americans trapped in Iran and hiding out from the Islamist revolution, the CIA seeks help from Hollywood. The plan is to pretend to make a movie in Iran and then smuggle out the State Department employees (who have been given refuge in the Canadian embassy) as supposed members of the film crew.
BUT it is clearly explained in the film that the U.S. government knows that nobody in Hollywood will help since they don’t want to take a risk; cooperate with the CIA, which they regard as evil; or lift a finger to save the Americans. Only one man — an independent director — is enough of an outcast and rebel rogue to help. The film is thus not a celebration of Hollywood as hero but a condemnation of the town for its anti-patriotic, narrow selfishness. Naturally, nobody in Hollywood noticed this plot theme.
There’s a good parallel here with the kind of films Hollywood so often makes today which are consistent with this anti-patriotic theme. And, ironically, the Best Picture Oscar was handed out by Michelle Obama, backed by some soldiers in dress uniform. Yet here the irony builds. After all, it was the Obama Administration that did the opposite of Operation Argo: it refused to try to save four Americans, including the ambassador, who were killed in Benghazi.
So an award for a film about saving Americans is given by a representative of a government that did not save Americans in front of a cheering crowd of people who — according to that film — would have refused to help save Americans as both sides congratulate themselves on what great people they are!
Amazing chutzpah along with the assumption — almost totally correct — that no one would notice the hypocrisy.
Fixing a Big NFL Problem:
It has become fashionable of late to complain about the use of Native American names for football teams. One of those teams is the Washington Redskins.
But actually the Washington Redskins, the team of my home town which I still support, were not named originally after Native Americans at all. When the team originated in Boston in the 1930s it was named after one of the proudest moments of that city. Paralleling the theme of today’s Boston Patriots team, the Redskins were named after the Boston Tea Party.
Today’s PJ Lifestyle Bookshelf selection comes From Ed Driscoll’s “Far from Complete: Great Books Missing in the Kindle Format” article:
God’s Coach: The Hymns, Hype, and Hypocrisy of Tom Landry’s Cowboys, by Skip Bayless: In the last 15 years, sportswriter Skip Bayless tarnished his reputation by making an unsubstantiated claim that 90s-era Cowboy QB Troy Aikman was playing for the other team (IYKWIMAITYD) only to reemerge after years in the journalistic wilderness as a talking head on ESPN. But at the start of the 1990s, he wrote a pretty decent summation of the first three decades of the team that helped transform the NFL into America’s most popular professional sport. Bayless, then a Cowboys beat writer, wrote his first book in the immediate aftermath of new owner Jerry Jones acquiring the Cowboys and unceremoniously showing Landry, the Cowboys’ legendary founding coach, the door. God’s Coach ends up actually casting most of the blame for the Cowboys’ woes in the 1980s with the eroding skills of draftmaster Gil Brandt, but the revered Landry shouldn’t emerge unscathed for looking the other way while so much corruption tore his team apart. And Bayless’s prose makes this book an endlessly enjoyable guilty pleasure for NFL fans. I suspect it would get plenty of rereads if it ever appears in Kindle format.
Related at PJ Lifestyle on football:
I still lived in Austin, Texas in 1999. That summer, against all odds, Lance Armstrong, cancer survivor, new husband, father-to-be, won his first Tour de France in an impressive display of athleticism.
He was a hero, an inspiration. When he returned to Austin, the city held a victory rally, in which park I can’t recall as Austin is loaded with large and picturesque gathering spots. A couple of friends and I went to the rally early to grab a patch of ground close enough to see Armstrong and his miracle-pregnant wife. It wasn’t all about Lance. Austinites need only the flimsiest of reasons to gather outside for a couple of beers. But we did love him. We were so proud of him. Even now, when the whole truth has outed, I can still remember the energy and joy at that rally. And the yellow. Everyone wore yellow.
A few months later, his wife gave birth to their son. The following summer he repeated his Tour victory. Soon, he welcomed twin daughters and claimed another Tour de France victory. Our pride in Armstrong overflowed. He could have done anything.
But then Lance Armstrong took off his hero mask. Sometime after his twins arrived, he left his family. I can’t remember if he already had Sheryl Crow waiting for him. It doesn’t matter really. His marriage didn’t have high conflict, at least not on her part. He might have been cheating or she might have left him due to his doping habit. But in hindsight-enhanced scenarios, he was the culpable party.
My shock at the truth about Lance Armstrong came with the split. I have a few girlfriends who spilled tears over the news. The kind of guy who can abruptly walk away from his wife and his children is capable of almost anything in service of self. So current shock at the truth surprises me. We learned that Lance Armstrong lacked honor back in 2003. The doping simply provides more details and removes any pretense for keeping that scar in the heart of Austin.
OSCAR PISTORIUS IS SLOW OUT OF THE starting blocks. He lacks the propulsive leg strength of his competitors, and it’s not hard to understand why: He doesn’t have legs. A double amputee since he was 11 months old, Pistorius wears a pair of J-shaped prostheses when he’s on the track. They keep him upright, but his speed comes from elsewhere. Atop the spindly artificial legs, his upper body and thighs are a powerful mass. He rounds the first turn, barely distinguishable from his competitors, except that his hips seem to be turning more broadly from side to side and his shoulders seem to be working harder than theirs. It’s as if he’s been shot through the air, and the parts of him that touch the ground are charged with keeping up.
It doesn’t look effortless. Rather, it looks like a body under intense pressure. He approaches the final turn and you are afraid his carbon fiber blades will slip out from under him, but he drives his body into the bend. “Pacing is the greatest challenge,” he says. “Too slow and you never catch up. Too fast and you risk fatigue. You need to be both relaxed and aggressive.” Now he is exploding toward the finish. He is graceful but exists in that realm of total control that verges, thrillingly, on loss of control. “I push my limits when I race,” he says. “I’ve had short-term hearing loss and blurred vision after I finish.”
Related at PJ Lifestlye:
Recently a blogging friend inspired by my Marathon race contacted me asking for advice on how to train for a 5K. Oh yeah, I love, love, love welcoming new runners into the fold! Making the decision to train and run a 5K is one that pays back amazing dividends. You will discover the delight of exceeding what you thought you were capable of accomplishing and understanding that your best is always yet to come.
When I decided to train and run a 5K, I consulted friends who have extensive running experience before I started my training. However, I didn’t know what I didn’t know about running and had crucial knowledge gaps when I first started training, leading to numerous mild injuries. Whether you join a running group or use a Couch to 5K program, there are a few things that you need to know before beginning any 5K training program. I’ve put together a list to help you avoid some of the pitfalls I experienced as you progress in your running journey. I base these recommendations on my personal experience; you should always consult a running professional for more detailed information.
1. Make sure you are healthy enough to run. This would be a good time to schedule the yearly physical you’ve been putting off all year.
2. Invest in running shoes. This does not mean walking into a sporting goods store and picking out running shoes that match your athletic gear. Find a local running store where the employees are runners themselves. Tell them you are beginning to train for a 5K and need help picking out an appropriate shoe. Also inquire if the store performs gait analysis as part of the decision process in helping you find appropriate shoes. If you want to read up on the bio-mechanics of running shoes – REI has a great summary of what you need to know when choosing running shoes. See also Cool Running - Running shoes for Dummies, Part 1. In summary, having the right shoe goes along way in preventing injury as you progress in your running journey.
3. After you have selected your running shoes, purchase running socks to wear with your shoes. Running socks are typically made of synthetic fibers that wick away moisture to help prevent blisters. Always wear your running socks with your running shoes. Believe me, you want to prevent blisters! Mizuno, an awesome running shoe, has a great post on why running socks matter.
4. Inquire at the running store if they organize group runs or do a google search for running groups in your area. Running in a group is a great way to meet runners of all levels and have fun at the same time. For example: Philly Runners is a great group that organizes runs in Philly all year long.
5. Invest in technology that will track your pace, distance and time. Nike+ for your iPhone or RunKeeper are free applications that will track your pace and distance. In time, you may want to invest in a sports watch such as Nike+ Sport Watch or Garmin Forerunner 910XT GPS -Enabled Sport Watch. As a beginner runner, save your dollars and work with the free applications until you gain more experience as a runner i.e. many moons from now. At that time, I would strongly suggest the two watches mentioned above.
6. BEDROCK RULE OF RUNNING: Warm up before each run regardless of the distance and stretch after every run. These two activities are non-negotiable, you will stretch before and after a run or suffer preventable injuries. I suggest dynamic stretching/warm-ups before running. Why? Here is good study on the impact of dynamic stretching and running. I also incorporate Pilate and yoga stretching in my post run stretching.
Midfielder and former England captain David Beckham has announced that the MLS cup final on Dec. 1 will be his last match with the LA Galaxy.
The 37-year-old Beckham isn’t retiring, but the superstar he gave no hint of his next move.
”I’ve had an incredibly special time playing for the L.A. Galaxy,” Beckham said in a statement. ”However, I wanted to experience one last challenge before the end of my playing career. I don’t see this as the end of my relationship with the league, as my ambition is to be part of the ownership structure in the future.”
Beckham has played in Los Angeles for six seasons since his groundbreaking move from Real Madrid, reaching three league finals and winning one MLS title last year during his best stateside campaign.
He agreed to a two-year contract extension with the Galaxy in January after playing out his initial five-year deal, turning down potential moves to wealthy Paris Saint-Germain and other clubs – including at least one Premiership team, according to Beckham.
Beckham hadn’t given any overt indications he was planning to leave the Galaxy after this season with a year left on his deal. Last week, the longtime England captain pointedly denied rumors linking him to a short-term stint in Australia.
Beckham has been among the chief reasons to watch MLS action during his years in Los Angeles. At 37 he is not the player who dominated both the Premiere League and Spain’s La Liga, but he has remained one of the most consistently threatening players in the league. He has been plagued by injuries but his vision is as sharp as ever and his precision has only barely dimished. At just about any moment and from just about any position, Beckham can lob one of his trademark overhead passes to a forward for a one-touch shot or bend a free kick or corner into the net.
The question now is, where does Beckham go from LA? Rumors have him returning to Europe, going to South America or even Australia to play in that country’s A-League. One intriguing rumor has him remaining in the MLS, where he does have an interest in ownership eventually, and moving to New York to join the Red Bulls. The Red Bulls have one of the league’s highest salaries but have underachieved for years. In New York, Beckham would play alongside former Arsenal and Barcelona striker Thierry Henry, who is one of the finalists for MLS MVP this year. The Red Bulls were dumped out of the playoffs this year by DC United. Beckham could be the leader and threat that the Red Bulls have needed. A team featuring Henry’s guile and power and Beckham’s leadership and precision would be an instant threat for the title, provided both could stay healthy for enough of the season to lead the line. Beckham and Henry played for arch rivals Manchester United and the Gunners respectively during their time in the English Premiere League. Having both on the same side in the twilight of their careers could be expected to knock ticket sales up a bit for the Red Bulls and any team they play against on the road. It would be good for Red Bulls and for MLS itself.
Beckham has enjoyed two seasons with similar talent around him in Los Angeles, playing alongside US international Landon Donovan and Irish international Robbie Keane. The Galaxy reached this year’s MLS Cup final by beating Western Conference rival Seattle Sounders 3-0 in the first leg at home and losing 2-1 in the second at Seattle on Sunday. They will host the Houston Dynamo in a rematch of last season’s final, which the Galaxy won 1-0.
During Beckham’s years in Major League Soccer, MLS has gone from relative obscurity to become the world’s seventh most watch soccer league.
Today, October 27, is National Pit Bull Awareness Day. Whether you are for pits or against them, it’s important to remember, in this election season, that these dogs were once a proud symbol of American virtue and valor, appearing in World War I propaganda posters as an emblem of our country’s courage.
All month long, dog advocates have been working hard to get the word out that at many animal shelters across this country, as many as 90 percent of the deserving dogs awaiting adoption are all-American pit bulls or pit mixes. And yet too often these dogs are overlooked or given a wide berth because potential adopters are so terrified by horror stories about pit bulls they’ve heard in the mainstream media — which, as we’ve seen before, doesn’t spill much ink on, or give much air time to, pits who perform heroic deeds or spread cheer at hospitals and nursing homes; sensational stories about dog attacks are deemed more “newsworthy.”
Surprisingly, one major mainstream media player has taken a huge step to help raise awareness of pit bulls: Hugely popular, handsomely compensated Sirius XM talk-show host Howard Stern, one of the MSM’s most powerful players (if not its MVP), leveled criticism at Philadelphia Eagles quarterback and convicted animal abuser Michael Vick over Vick’s decision to acquire a pet dog (the type and gender of which has not been revealed).
Here are some choice excerpts from Stern’s rant:
“Well, when I saw the news I was dumbfounded. It baffles the mind, really. Here’s what you gotta think: Everything has calmed down for this guy, he’s got his career back on track … things are quiet. So, instead of keeping things quiet, the way he should, he decides he’s going to get a dog. I mean, what the [expletive] is that all about? It’s like if somebody is convicted for being a child molester then moves next door to a playground — you don’t do it…. Michael Vick should never own a pet.”
“This is no different than Rihanna getting back together with Chris Brown. You sit there and go, What kind of crazy move is this?”
“Get the dog away from him. There should have been something written where he could never own a dog. You know, it’s like if I was convicted of taking five Koreans and locking them in my basement and making them sex slaves, then I get out and the first thing I do is move a Korean in with me.”
“Isn’t there someone in his life that says, ‘Listen, Michael, You’re a dopey guy, you’re a big, dumb [expletive] jock. You’re a football player. Let me think for you. You cannot have a dog. You can’t have a cat. You can’t have a hamster, you [expletive]! You blew it. If you really want a pet, it’s not in this lifetime. And your kids when they get older can get one.’”
“I mean, no one sits this guy down, from a p.r. standpoint? This [expletive] guy should not be around dogs. He’s got a hostility to these dogs. I don’t know what happened in his life, but he shouldn’t be allowed to be near a … it’s crazy.”
“I mean, why would he stir this up? He’s insane. This guy’s insane, that’s all. Of course he’s insane. Who could look at a little dog and kill it? That [expletive] maniac.”
Stern was, of course, responding to the outrage felt by many of this country’s animal lovers, who were appalled to learn — via a Twitter photo of Vick’s young daughter doing her homework at the family kitchen table, an image that was quickly photoshopped to redact a telltale box of Milkbone biscuits in the background — that Vick is now a dog owner again, despite having pleaded guilty, in 2007, to the federal felony of dogfighting. Among Vick’s more heinous acts during his stewardship (if such it may be called) of Bad Newz Kennels was — by his own admission — hanging, electrocuting, drowning, and savagely beating dogs to death.
I’m no fan of Michael Vick, as I’ve made clear before. Quite the opposite, in fact. But I distinctly recall Howard Stern singing a distinctly different dog tune back in 1988 or 1989, long before he signed his famously lucrative 2006 satellite deal, back when his base was the radio station WXRK.
Izhar Gafni, 50, is an expert in designing automated mass-production lines. He is an amateur cycling enthusiast who for years toyed with an idea of making a bicycle from cardboard.
He told Reuters during a recent demonstration that after much trial and error, his latest prototype has now proven itself and mass production will begin in a few months.
“I was always fascinated by applying unconventional technologies to materials and I did this on several occasions. But this was the culmination of a few things that came together. I worked for four years to cancel out the corrugated cardboard’s weak structural points,” Gafni said.
“Making a cardboard box is easy and it can be very strong and durable, but to make a bicycle was extremely difficult and I had to find the right way to fold the cardboard in several different directions. It took a year and a half, with lots of testing and failure until I got it right,” he said.
Cardboard, made of wood pulp, was invented in the 19th century as sturdy packaging for carrying other more valuable objects, it has rarely been considered as raw material for things usually made of much stronger materials, such as metal.
Hat tip: Kurzweil AI
More on technological innovations at PJ Lifestyle:
USADA released the findings of a two-year investigation yesterday accusing Armstrong of using a cocktail of banned substances and blood transfusions. They built up a picture of an elaborate doping ring which alleged the involvement of support staff, fellow riders and even his former wife. The doping programme was the brainchild of disgraced Italian doctor, Michele Ferrari, and Armstrong would travel across Europe during and before races to have blood transfusions.
The report also accused Armstrong of administering testosterone to a team-mate, threatening fellow riders with the sack if they did not follow Dr Ferrari’s EPO programme and of surrounding himself with drug runners “so that he could achieve his goal of winning the Tour de France year after year”. The report says there was a “code of silence” in cycling as Armstrong intimidated whistle-blowers and the 200 pages of evidence referenced financial records, email traffic, and laboratory test results which the agency believes proved he was doping for years.
Related at PJ Media:
The National Football League issued a statement today confirming what anyone who’s not a Seattle Seahawks fan and who wasn’t masquerading as a professional football official already knew; Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate committed blatant, obvious, and criminal interference on the last play of the game that cost the Green Bay Packers the contest.
As for the other egregious error by the Pop Warner officials — the sure interception by Green Bay cornerback M.D. Jennings — the league stood behind the decision of the referee who decided that one hand by Tate on the ball constituted “simultaneous possession,” despite the fact that Jennings was clutching the ball to his chest and clearly had sole possession of the rock.
For those who missed it, a brief summary:
On the final play of “Monday Night Football,” Russell Wilson heaved a 24-yard pass into a scrum in the end zone with Seattle trailing 12-7. Tate shoved away a defender with both hands, and the NFL acknowledged Tuesday he should have been penalized, which would have clinched a Packers victory. But that lack of a call cannot be reviewed by instant replay.
Tate and Green Bay safety M.D. Jennings then both got their hands on the ball, though the Packers insisted Jennings had clear possession for a game-ending interception.
“It was pinned to my chest the whole time,” Jennings said.
Instead, the officials ruled on the field that the two had simultaneous possession, which counts as a reception. Once that happened, the NFL said, the referee was correct that no indisputable visual evidence existed on review to overturn the touchdown call.
That’s nonsense. Replays clearly showed Jennings in possession of the ball before Tate managed to get a hand on it. By the time the referee sauntered over to take a look-see, Tate had wrapped both hands around the ball — while it was still glued to Jenning’s chest.
In a perfect metaphor for the abysmal officiating that has plauged the games this season, the referee raised both arms to signal a touchdown for Seattle while the line judge, who was actually closer to the play, waved his arms to stop the clock — a signal for a change of possession. Here’s the pic:
Steve Sabol, the scion of the founder of NFL Films, passed away yesterday at 69 of a brain tumor, an age that’s far too young to die these days. I grew up about 20 minutes from the NFL Films offices in Mt. Laurel, NJ* and in 2003, took a tour of their ultra high-tech facilities — which make the Bridge of the Starship Enterprise seem laughably antediluvian in comparison — as part of the research that wound-up doing double-duty at the start of the following year for articles in Videomaker magazine and Tech Central Station. The other half of my prep work for those two articles involved interviewing Sabol on the phone. As he told me at the start of our conversation:
Steve Sabol: There’s an old Indian proverb that I’ve always believed in, and that’s ‘tell me a fact, and I’ll learn. Tell me a truth, and I’ll believe. Tell me a story, and it will live in my heart forever’.
And that’s been one of our mottos, is telling a story. And the story telling is basically done through the editing. It’s the cameraman’s job to come back with as much material—story telling shots, action shots—as he possibly can. Then it’s up to the editor to tame and to shape the raw vision of the cameraman.
I started out as an editor, and then became a cameraman. But that’s really job of the editor. It’s so critical, and it’s one of the most overlooked artforms or disciplines in filmmaking. Most people don’t understand about editing; they understand writing, they understand music, they understand cinematography. But when it comes to editing and the selection and order of the shots, that’s the key to storytelling.
Driscoll: Did being an editor first influence you when you became a cameraman?
Sabol: When I started out as an editor, and tried to tell stories, I realized that there were certain gaps; that you couldn’t tell a story with just action shots. You needed shots that showed the passage of time, the sun shining through the portals of the stadium. You needed close-ups to show the reaction of the players to the game. You needed shots of the audience and the fans. You needed locator shots as well call them, that set the scene. What’s the stadium look like? Is it a full stadium? Is it an empty stadium? And you need shots that can move the story along. It might be a pair of bloody hands. It could be cleat marks in the mud. It could be a crushed water bottle on the sidelines. It could be a flag whipping in the wind. These were all things that were in important.
I was an art major in college, and Paul Cézanne, the famous French impressionistic painter, once said that “all art is selected detail.” And I felt that that was one thing that was missing in sports films were the details. And when I began as a cameraman, that was all I shot, was the details. I filmed the first 15 Super Bowls, and never saw a play. But I could tell you what kind of hat Tom Landry was wearing, how Vince Lombardi was standing in the fourth quarter, if Bob Lilly had a cut on the bridge of his nose. Those were the things that I remember in the Super Bowl. I don’t remember any of the plays. I was just what we call a weasel.
Driscoll: What is a weasel?
Sabol: Well, we have three types of cameramen: we have a tree, a mole, and a weasel. A tree is the top camera. He’s on a tripod rooted into a position on the 50 yard line, and he doesn’t move. A mole is a handheld, mobile, ground cameraman, with a 12 to 240 lens, and he moves all around the field, and he gives you the eyeball-to-eyeball perspective. A weasel is the cameraman who pops up in unexpected places, to get you the telling storytelling shot—the bench, the crowd, all the details.
So those are the three elements. When you blend them together you get the NFL Films visual signature—when you blend together a mole, a tree and a weasel.
You have infinitely more than that of course – NFL Films revolutionized how sports are covered by film and television, and transformed the National Football League in America’s leading sport. And as Sabol told AP when his father was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame, “We see the game as art as much as sport. That helped us nurture not only the game’s traditions but to develop its mythology: America’s Team, The Catch, The Frozen Tundra:”
When Ed Sabol founded NFL Films, his son was there working beside him as a cinematographer right from the start in 1964. They introduced a series of innovations taken for granted today, from super slow-motion replays to blooper reels to sticking microphones on coaches and players. And they hired the ”Voice of God,” John Facenda, to read lyrical descriptions in solemn tones.
Until he landed the rights to chronicle the 1962 NFL championship game, Ed Sabol’s only experience filming sports was recording the action at Steve’s high school football games in Philadelphia.
* * * * *
He was the perfect fit for the job: an all-Rocky Mountain Conference running back at Colorado College majoring in art history. It was Sabol who later wrote of the Raiders, ”The autumn wind is a pirate, blustering in from sea,” words immortalized by Facenda.
The Sabols’ advances included everything from reverse angle replays to filming pregame locker room speeches to setting highlights to pop music.
”Today of course those techniques are so common it’s hard to imagine just how radical they once were,” Steve told the AP last year. ”Believe me, it wasn’t always easy getting people to accept them, but I think it was worth the effort.”
Indeed it was. RIP, Steve Sabol.
* But then, all of South Jersey is 20 minutes away from the rest of South Jersey.
(Cross-posted at Ed Driscoll.com.)
American anti-doping officials plan to strip Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and impose a lifelong ban from cycling — the sport that made him an American hero and a sports icon, it was revealed on Thursday.
The announcement from the US Anti-Doping Agency effectively destroys his legacy as one of the greatest cyclists in history and rubs a black smudge on a story that inspired millions of fans, drawn to his story of returning to glory after recovering from horrific cancer.
The USADA acted within an hour of Armstrong’s announcement that he would stop fighting charges that he used blood doping to illegitimately enhance his performance.
Despite the action, Armstrong maintains his innocence and called the USADA’s case a ‘witch hunt.’
The battle over his Tour de France wins is likely not over. USADA chief executive Travis Tygart said the agency has the authority to remove the titles from the 40-year-old athlete — and would act promptly to do so.Armstrong says only the International Cycling Union, which oversees the Tour de France, has that power.
‘USADA cannot assert control of a professional international sport and attempt to strip my seven Tour de France titles,’ he said in a statement. ‘I know who won those seven Tours, my teammates know who won those seven Tours, and everyone I competed against knows who won those seven Tours.’
USADA maintains that Armstrong has used banned substances as far back as 1996, including the blood-booster EPO and steroids as well as blood transfusions — all to boost his performance.
‘It is a sad day for all of us who love sport and athletes,’ Mr Tygart said. ‘It’s a heartbreaking example of win at all costs overtaking the fair and safe option. There’s no success in cheating to win.’
Armstrong, who retired last year, declined to enter arbitration — his last option — because he said he was weary of fighting accusations that have dogged him for years. He has consistently pointed to the hundreds of drug tests that he has passed as proof he was clean.
More Biking at PJ Lifestyle:
The new thriller Premium Rush isn’t a great movie, and its story has more than a few bumps, but it has one thing going for it: It’s a charged-up, full-on, Red-Bull-chugging sample of what life is like for a New York City bike messenger. These are the fearless souls who make FedEx look like the Pony Express.
The messenger is played by one of today’s more capable young actors, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (a favorite director Christopher Nolan featured in Inception and The Dark Knight Rises). Gordon-Levitt, who prepared for the role so extensively he crashed into a cab and gashed his arm (an accident referred to in a blooper clip after the credits roll) races through the movie as Wilee (named for Wile E. Coyote), a pumped-up Ivy Leaguer who could have been a lawyer but chose the life of adrenaline junkie instead. He’s got girl problems (sexy Vanessa, played by Dania Ramirez, is also pursued by fellow messenger Manny, played by Wolé Parks), he’s got occupational problems (the best parts of Premium Rush are when he’s mentally mapping out a path through the labyrinth of cars, trucks, buses, and pedestrians), and now he’s got a problem with an extra-special package.
The package (really just an envelope) has to be taken from Columbia University’s campus to some questionable characters in Chinatown within an hour and a half, but after picking it up, Wilee finds himself menaced by a guy (Michael Shannon) who claims he’s the head of campus security and demands to be given the envelope. It turns out Shannon’s character is really a cop, Bobby Monday, who owes some Chinatown underworld thugs a lot of money in gambling debts. And the envelope Wilee carries? It’s a kind of deposit slip for an underground Chinese bank with a value of $50,000.
The Olympics have long been to me an almost repellent spectacle, one that is tailor-made for the very worst of dictatorships to proclaim to the world their success and moral superiority. If such dictatorships’ athletes win a greater proportion of the medals than their proportion of the world population, then they, the dictatorships, are in some way healthy, efficient, and successful.
An editorial about the relationship between medicine and the Olympics in the New England Journal of Medicine points out that it is not, alas, only in dictatorships that such thinking is done. In 1912, after the Stockholm Olympics, the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal rejoiced in “American Supremacy,” and remarked that the “overwhelming success of the American athletes at the current Olympic games in Stockholm is as interesting physiologically as it is nationally gratifying.”
Actually, this was not quite accurate, since what the medal table showed, and very clearly, was Swedish supremacy: with only a fraction of America’s population, Sweden won more medals overall, though one gold fewer. This did not prevent the Journal from theorising about the reasons for the American supremacy, relating it to the mixture of races that allowed Americans to benefit from the various biological superiorities of each race. This is interesting, because it shows that not all racist thinking is necessarily supremacist.
Medicine has from the first had the kind of relationship with Olympic sports that non-Roman auxiliaries had to the Roman legions. When the games were resuscitated, doctors had little compunction in prescribing drugs to athletes that made them perform better, or (what is almost the same thing) made them think that they would; nowadays, of course, the full scientific panoply of toxicology is employed to detect such “cheating” and to bring down upon the heads of the athletes who employ such drugs a veritable downpour of moral outrage. Interestingly, a recent opinion piece in the British Medical Journal suggested that attempts to stop doping among athletes should be given up, first because the dopers will always be one step ahead of the dope police, and second because the distinction between the “natural” and ‘unnatural’ has so far been dissolved that it is now virtually meaningless.
Thank you, NBC and Tom Brokaw. The 2012 Olympics are history, and near the end you provided an important amendment to the opening ceremonies. But questions remain. Did you long ago plan to devote half an hour of prime time to the Battle of Britain or did you scurry around for the footage and the interviews after sitting through the pageantry and politics of that first night? No matter the answer, you did the right thing.
There we were last Saturday evening, settling in for one last round of Olympic competition and what did NBC give us but a history lesson — and one that had nothing to do with Olympics past, not even the historic 1936 Berlin Games of Jesse Owens fame or the previous London Games of 1948. Well then, how about the games of 1940 and 1944? Oops, no games were held in either Olympic year. It seems as though something else of some importance was going on at the time. And that something else would certainly have eliminated London as the host city, unless dodging Hitler’s bombs would have suddenly qualified as an Olympic event.
So thanks, NBC and Mr. Brokaw. You reminded us that life — and death — sometimes do get in the way of fun and games. Had you not taken a good chunk of time away from this year’s Olympic fun and games we might have been left thinking that those opening night organizers were right. We might have walked away from it all thinking that the greatest accomplishments of the English people over the course of the last century really were their contributions to children’s literature and the creation of their National Health Service.
Now, who wants to downplay what any number of great English authors have given to the children — and adults — of the world? I certainly don’t. But the National Health Service? Of course, the organizers went to Olympian efforts to portray the employees of the NHS positively. Sweet-faced nurses were everywhere in sight, tending tenderly to their patients. A few even had time to read bed time stories to children, thereby combining in one touching scene what those same organizers decided were England’s two great contributions to modern life.
Were those same Olympic organizers also going for a three-fer in one fell swoop? Were they trying to stick it to the Yanks, too? No doubt. The United States is in the midst of a national election and a great uproar over something called ObamaCare. And what are the Brits doing but telling us to calm down, look at us, and accept progress.
Of course, that same opening night extravaganza could have been portrayed a little differently. Instead of efficient nurses kindly performing their duties, the massive tableau could have featured long lines and longer waiting lists, blizzards of paper work, rejectees for hip replacements and the like. But that wouldn’t have played quite as well. Nor would it have been consistent with sticking it to the country that is paying most of the freight for NBC to cover these games and the country that hasn’t been all that anxious to adopt a national health care system.
Two young pitchers with nearly unlimited talent are facing the prospect of their seasons ending prematurely because their teams don’t want to take a chance of injury to their arms.
Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox and Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals are so valuable to the future of their respective franchises that ownership for the Sox and Nats are seriously considering severely limiting the number of innings each will pitch this year. With both youngsters on pace to pitch more than 200 innings — a feat neither has come close to in their amateur or pro careers — the concern over whether the wear and tear of throwing a ball close to 100 MPH, 100-120 times a game over 25-30 starts will cause permanent injury to the shoulder/elbow/wrist has forced the front offices of both teams to consider radical options.
Those arms are worth at least a combined half a billion dollars when one considers that Sale, at 23, and Strasburg, at 24, have a good 15 years each of productive work ahead of them — barring major injury. It is not unreasonable to imagine at least two $100 million plus contracts for each during that time. Both players will be free agents in 2017.
The dilemma facing the White Sox and Nationals is historical in nature; pitchers, no matter how good or how durable, are frequently hurt. There are very few major league hurlers who have gone through a career avoiding major injury. Trips to the disabled list are common, as is surgery. The tremendous strain placed on a pitcher’s shoulder by the unnatural motion of throwing the ball overhand threatens the delicate and complex construction of the joint. Rotator cuffs, labrums, muscle tears, and severe inflammation can make it impossible for a pitcher to work effectively and result in long stints on the disabled list or reconstructive surgery.
To avoid that, the Washington Nationals are seriously considering ending Stephen Strasburg’s season after only about 170 innings:
When we signed Stephen I made a promise to him and to his parents that I would take care of him and that’s what we are going to do,” Rizzo said. “I told them we would always do what’s best for him. This is a kid who has never pitched more than 123 innings in a year.
We are looking at not only competing for the playoffs this season, but also in ’13, ’14, ’15 and beyond. Stephen is a big part of those plans and I will not do anything that could potentially harm him down the road.
As for those thinking Strasburg could be given a few weeks or a month off, then return, Rizzo says don’t count on that happening.
“When it happens, Stephen will not pitch again until spring training (in 2013),” he said. “We tried something similar with Zimmermann last year and he just could not get going again. We won’t make the same mistake.
Last year, the Nats shut down their other prized young pitcher, Jordan Zimmermann, but at the time, they were out of the playoff hunt. This year, the Nationals are in first place with a legitimate shot at the playoffs. It would be unheard of if the team were to sit Strasburg in September when the stretch run for the playoffs is underway — or have him on the bench if the team makes the postseason.
It was extraordinarily painful to watch. Adam Scott, the 13th ranked player in the world, had a 4 shot lead at the Open Championship being played at Royal Lytham and St. Annes with 4 holes to play. His closest pursuer was Ernie Els who last won a major tournament a decade ago.
In a matter of half an hour, Scott had bogied 4 straight holes while Els, who birdied the 18th to finish the day at 7 under par for the tournament, could only marvel at his good fortune — while feeling for Scott and his historic collapse.
“I’m a little numb at the moment,” said Els, who was on the practice green behind the clubhouse when he won. “First of all, I feel for Adam Scott. He’s a great friend of mine. Obviously, we both wanted to win very badly. But you know, that’s the nature of the beast. That’s why we’re out here. You win, you lose.
“It was my time for some reason.”
The wind finally arrived off the Irish Sea and ushered in pure chaos — a mental blunder by Tiger Woods that led to triple bogey on the sixth hole, a lost ball by Brandt Snedeker that took him out of contention and a topped shot that made former U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell look like an amateur.
Nothing was more stunning that what happened to Scott.
He failed to get up-and-down from a bunker on the 15th. With a wedge in his hand in the 16th fairway, he went 30 feet long and missed a 3-foot par putt. From the fairway on the 17th, he pulled his approach into thick grass left of the green. And on the final hole, he hit 3-wood near the face of a pot bunker.
Scott still had a chance to force extra holes with a strong shot into 7 feet on the 18th for par. The putt stayed left the entire way. His chin buckled, and it looked as if he might start crying on the green. He composed himself and mouthed one word: “Wow.”
“Wow,” indeed. Scott is one of those players that golf pundits have dubbed “Best Player Never to Win a Major.” There is no doubting the young man’s talent or work ethic. But when a young golfer who has never won a major tournament is in the lead during the final round, and makes that last turn on the 9th hole toward glory and immortality, the gut tightens, the muscles twitch, and it becomes difficult to breathe. Golf, a game that demands control and patience, can become a nightmare when you lose both.
Scott lived that nightmare, and will probably continue to do so for a very long time.
For Ernie Els, most observers believed that at age 42, his best golf was behind him. Injury and inconsistency had haunted his game the last 5 years, but the man they call “The Big Easy” because of his tall frame and graceful, effortless swing, proved many doubters wrong. He played a masterful final round, shooting a 2 under par 68 when most of the rest of the field struggled. His course management was superb, taking what Royal Latham was giving while his solid putting got him out of trouble several times.
In 1999, Frenchman Jean Van de Velde went into the final hole of The Open with a 3 shot lead. He scored a triple bogey 7 which forced a playoff that he eventually lost. “Maybe it was asking too much for me,” Van de Velde said.
Scott won’t admit it, but the same could be said of him.
Tiger Woods once called Roger Federer the greatest athlete in the world.
But that was several years ago, before Federer eased out of his friendship with the scandal-ridden Woods.
More importantly, it was also before Federer won his seventh Wimbledon today (tying Pete Sampras’ record), his seventeenth grand slam victory overall (already record-breaking), elevating him once more to number one in the tennis rankings, a position he has now held for 286 weeks and counting (again breaking Sampras’ record). All this at the age of thirty, almost thirty-one, when most tennis players are supposed to be heading out to the country club farm or learning how to do TV commentary à la Joh McEnroe (non pareil in the area).
The match he played today against the unfortunate Andy Murray was one of Federer’s best. Several shots and rallies, including one deft net approach curveball to win the second set, will be replayed by tennis aficionados into the future.
At the moment, Federer again looks unstoppable. Of course, that could change. He has terrific competition, some of the best in the history of the sport, from Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
But even if it does, what Federer has accomplished over his career, from the initial victory over the waning Sampras back at Wimbledon in 2001 until today, is quite remarkable. It’s easy to agree with Woods that since 2001 he has been the greatest athlete alive. There is, however, a yet greater claim to be made.
He is the greatest of all time — not just in tennis, but in all sports.
What? Greater than Michael Jordan and Rafer Johnson and whoever else you might want to put on the list? Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb? Jesse Owens? Roger Bannister? Pheidippides?
Well, we all know it’s impossible to assess the comparative greatness of athletes in different sports across different eras and that this is the ultimate in biased assertions (and, yes, I admit to pro-tennis bias — a sport I have been playing since the age of six and still play, three times a week, in my sixties), but I will try to make the case.