Thursday, May 26, 2011

Lance on Drugs? It Doesn't Matter

At this point, it does not matter whether Lance Armstrong used EPO, testosterone, or any other performance enhancing drugs. The fact that several former teammates have confessed is enough to cast doubt on all of his victories. After all, cycling is a team sport, and Armstrong would not have received the same level of support from his fellow riders had they not been doping.

I know the UCI doesn't work that way. When the grunts of a team get caught doping, they get punished while their leader goes unscathed. But that's probably wrong on their part. If the UCI really wanted to eliminate doping, they would nullify every victory that a doping rider contributed to. Teams already have their own testing regimens in place, so they know damn well when someone isn't following the rules.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Awful Joke of the Day

What do you call someone who is such a douche, it's scary?

A Massenghoul!

The Only Good Thing About Ron Paul

I'm glad kooky Ron Paul is running for president again for one reason (well, two if "more evidence of a pathetically weak Republican field" counts as a reason). In 2008, I told my brother -- and anyone else who would listen -- that I'd sooner vote for RuPaul than Ron Paul. My brother suggested we should deface modify Congressman Paul's campaign signs to show our support for the man woman person who knows how to "work it."

We chickened out in 2008, but now we have another chance! It will be just like "The Adventures of Letterman"* from The Electric Company TV show of my youth (Faster than a rolling 'O', stronger than silent 'E', able to leap capital 'T' in a single bound! It's a word, it’s a's Letterman!). We'll rip 'U's from our varsity sweaters and turn Ron Paul into RuPaul!

What if our editing campaign succeeds, and RuPaul becomes a viable candidate? I'd love to see RuPaul debate Sarah Palin. I think we know who'd have better makeup. You'd never hear RuPaul whining about how that hardball interviewer Katie Couric was trying to trick her, either.

On the subject of Republican presidential candidates, how about Newt? "Mr Gingrich, the nineties just called. They want their angry white male back." Throw in Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney, and the Republicans might have to change their name to the Bad Penny Party.

* OMG, I had no idea that was Joan Rivers narrating those skits. But now that I do, it seems so obvious.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

US Cycling Coverage

I gave up on pro cycling last year, but when a cyclist died yesterday, I saw the AP wire story on a couple of sites. As I read the lead, my sadness was mixed with irritation at US media coverage:
Belgian cyclist Wouter Weylandt died Monday after a high-speed downhill crash at the Giro d'Italia, the first death in a major cycling race in 16 years.
Wait a minute... Didn't Andrei Kivilev die more recently at Paris-Nice? They must have forgotten about him. But as I continued reading, I found that Kivilev was not forgotten:
In 2003, Kazakh rider Andrei Kivilev died after he fell from his bike and fractured his skull while not wearing a helmet during the Paris-Nice stage race.
No, this is just the typical way US media cover pro cycling. In short, if it isn't a three-week Grand Tour, then it isn't a "major race." Paris-Nice may "only" be a week long, but that doesn't mean it isn't a major race. It's part of the UCI WorldTour (formerly ProTour), a collection of two dozen premier events at cycling's highest level, and the race dates back to 1933. Many of the all-time greats have won Paris-Nice, though Lance Armstrong and Greg LeMond never did.* A European news service wouldn't dare deny Paris-Nice's status as a major race, and the AP shouldn't either.

* These are the only bike racers most Americans have ever heard of. The fact that these two men focused their efforts on the Tour de France has done a great deal of damage in shaping the narrow perception of pro cycling for the average American.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Ooh Mommy

I woke up at 4 AM to use the bathroom, and I was suddenly struck with a ridiculous question: What's the name of that fifth flavor that the Japanese have? Who gets up in the middle of the night to answer nature's call and thinks of stuff like that?

After relieving my urge, I had to find the answer before I could go back to sleep. I went to the living room where we keep our unabridged dictionary (that may seem odd, but it's much handier there than in the library at the other end of the house):
I think it starts with a u, or maybe an o. Is it usami? No, that sounds too much like Osama, and I'd remember that. Likewise, it's certainly not osami. Maybe it was unami? Or onami? Damn it, none of those are in the dictionary. Maybe it's umami?
As it turns out, the word is indeed umami, no thanks to the dictionary. I had to go upstairs to look it up online. First I typed "Japanese flavors" into Google and found the Wikipedia page as the second result. There it was:
Umami, popularly referred to as savoriness, is one of the five basic tastes together with sweet, sour, bitter, and salty.
My question answered, I should have stopped there. Alas, I could not. I was being sucked into the Internet. I typed "umami" into Google. The first result was the aforementioned Wikipedia page, but the second was "Umami Burger | The Fifth Taste." As a burger lover, I had to check that out. There's little chance that I'll be sampling their offerings anytime soon because it's a small Los Angeles chain, but that didn't stop me from perusing their menu and picking out what I would order if I could (a "Manly Burger" with beer-cheddar cheese, smoked-salt onion strings, and bacon lardons -- Mmmmmm!). They linked to a glowing review from GQ, and via the comments there I found a negative review for balance at Burgers, Dogs, & Pizza, Oh My!. Since I love burgers, pizza, and the occasional hot dog, I had to investigate that site further as well. At this point, I remembered it was 4:30 AM and I should probably go back to bed since I don't function well on two hours' sleep.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Scientists Spoil Everything

It's no secret that armadillos are carriers of leprosy. I always assumed that was a good reason to leave them alone. But until now, scientists thought armadillos couldn't transmit the disease to humans. It is incredible to me that they never recognized this before, but apparently they hadn't.
[Microbiologist Richard W.] Truman added that [knowing leprosy can be passed from armadillos to humans] might help persuade people living near armadillos — their range extends from Texas to the Carolinas — to avoid contact with the animals. That means refraining from touching, playing with and — yes — eating the critters, which are feted at armadillo festivals, cheered on at armadillo races and chased down during armadillo hunts.
Another killjoy, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health, adds, "You shoot an armadillo and try to skin it — that's the worst thing you could do."

Well, there go my summer vacation plans!

But wait... there's more about leprosy:
The disease has long been misunderstood and those who contracted it were often shunned. Fear of its spread led some countries to quarantine people. False stories about fingers and toes falling off added to the stigma.
Damn, that ruins one of my favorite tasteless jokes.