TMQ Nation fires back   

Updated: November 7, 2007, 3:27 PM ET

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International Finance Centre, Dubai

KarimSahib/AFP/Getty Images

"Well chaps, it's November -- what say we nip down to the Ikea and buy some Christmas decorations?"

Eli Rosenbaum of Boston writes, "Knowing I would have to be in India for a conference during Pats-Colts, I made extra sure my Sunday Ticket subscription was active before I left, as this enables one to access the DirecTV Supercast streaming video online. What happened? Pats-Colts was blacked out. In India! At 3:00 in the morning! The Texans-Raiders game, playing at the same time, came through beautifully." Anyone know why DirecTV apparently blacked out the New England-Indianapolis game in India? Meanwhile, Michael Spice of Green Bay reports, "I was in the Dubai Ikea on November 3rd, in the United Arab Emirates, an officially Islamic nation, and it had exclusively Christmas stuff on display covering the last 20 yards before the checkouts." The Dubai Ikea -- which one?

Madden NFL 08 En Espanol

EA Sports

Not even in stores and already he's hurt!

Vince Young -- the "Madden 08" cover boy -- has not been hit by an asteroid, so perhaps the Madden Curse is fading. But, as noted by Diego Pava of Delray Beach, Fla., Luis Castillo of the Chargers was announced as the cover boy for the upcoming all-Spanish version of the game, and immediately got hurt. Pava adds, "The Titans are playing well but Young has not passed for more than 200 yards in a game. Why is Bill Belichick not the next Madden cover?"

Julia Randall of Tacoma, Wash., asks for an update on the predictions derby. My off-price ultra-generic prediction, Home Team Wins, is 74-55 -- 74-56 if you count the London game as a home date for Miami. That's 57 percent correct, not great considering most football predictors hover in the low 60 percent range. (Home Team Wins is besting ESPN's Eric Allen, who is only 72-58 -- Eric, just pick the home team, you don't even need to know who's playing!) The Isaacson-Tarbell Postulate, proposed by readers Eric Isaacson and Catey Tarbell, is kicking tail. Their formula is Best Record Wins; If Records Equal, Home Team Wins. The Isaacson-Tarbell Postulate -- which requires no insider information, no computer analysis, indeed no thought -- is currently 94-36, or 72 percent. The other top predictors I am aware of are Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson of ESPN, Jay Glazer of Fox, and Sean Leahy of USA Today. These four are all 89-41, or 68 percent. But those four are staring at the taillights of the Isaacson-Tarbell Postulate -- a system which requires no thinking!

Charles Woodson

AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann

Get on the ground!

Daniel Beder of Naperville, Ill., notes, "You've written about how smart veteran players know when to go to the ground after making an interception in the final minute. At the end of the Packers at Chiefs game, Green Bay leading 26-22, as Charles Woodson was running back his interception for a touchdown, I was wondering if he should have just taken a knee. The Chiefs had no timeouts and there was about 1 minute left, so 2 kneel-downs would have ended the game." Indeed, Woodson should have dropped to his knee and yelled, "Down!" (This ends a play, a little-known rule.) Had he fumbled during the runback, Kansas City would have been back in business, trailing by less than a touchdown. But like all defensive backs, Woodson knows that his next bonus offer will be sweetened by touchdowns scored.

Blanchett and Young

AP Photo/Heidrun Lohr/Sydney Theater Company

Oh Hedda, you make me want to sing!

TMQ lamented that the Hollywood writers' strike would delay a lot of worthless drivel, imagining an all-singing version of "Hedda Gabler," staring Nicole Kidman. Fred Bartlett of Hamilton Township, N.J., counters, "In 1982, 'A Doll's Life,' a musical adaptation of Ibsen's 'A Doll's House,' appeared on Broadway for five performances. Judging by reviews, it was lucky to make it that far. So a musical Hedda is not as far-fetched as one would like." TMQ threatened to accuse the Patriots of violating the Schengen Convention. Chris Bebeau of Milwaukee writes, "It's a sad day when the Schengen Convention replaces the Smoot-Hawley Act in the lexicon of writers looking to reference an obscure, funny-sounding, yet factual piece of government action."

Last week's column cited this video, which claims to prove yogic flying; I was amused by the pseudo-scientific narrator in the white lab coat. Alex Waller of Overland Park, Kan., reports, "The lab coat guy claims that in 1987, enough flying yogis to represent 'the square root of 1 percent of the population of Israel' gathered, and this lowered violence in Lebanon. The problem is that the square root of 1 percent is 10 percent. Israel's population in 1987 was 4,390,000, so they are claiming approximately 440,000 yogis gathered in one place and hopped around. And it didn't make any news reports?" Many promoters of the yogic worldview wrap themselves in pseudo-science, and for some reason consider "the square root of 1 percent" both a mystic number and very small. But 1 percent is .01, and 0.1 (which is 10 percent) times 0.1 equals .01. The square root of 1 percent is 10 percent.

Small World ride at Disney World

Disney World

The ride may be It's a Small World, but the waistline stats say otherwise.

Judy Stenberg of San Diego asks, "What is up with those goofy armbands football players are wearing around their upper arms? I noticed them on some college players last year and, lo and behold, it has spread all over college ball and to some pro players. Is it some sort of fashion statement?" Under Armour makes them, they are sold as wristbands but are being worn as fashion statements on the elbow or bicep -- and Judy, I don't get it either. When my oldest son, now in college, was playing high school football last fall, he sent me out in search of some the night before a game. Mike Styczen of Calgary, Alberta, writes, "You mentioned that more and more people have trouble going through the Disney World turnstiles built in the late 1960s. Here it is reported that Disney, as part of its renovation of the Small World ride, is completely rebuilding the flume so that the boats are no longer bottomed out by oversized guests."

Hamilton Falk of Philadelphia highlights this story of a high school which won a game 83-0, yet did not run up the score! It was 72-0 at the end of the first quarter, and after that, the coach did everything possible to avoid further scoring. Falk adds, "My only concern comes from the fact that the Patriots now know it's possible to score 72 points in a quarter, and will probably be shooting for a 250-point game at some point this year." On the flip side of the coin, Jeffrey Pollard notes this Arizona case of two Pee-Wee football coaches who got into a fistfight over the outcome of a game. And going through an old file I found an e-mail from Brian Regan of Rockaway, N.J., from mid-September, predicting LSU would be punished by the football gods for throwing deep to run up the score with three minutes remaining and a 41-7 lead over Virginia Tech. Yea, verily, it came to pass when LSU met Kentucky.

New Horizons


The New Horizons probe is the fastest object ever built by humanity -- and would require more than 100,000 years to reach the nearest star beyond our sun.

William Beck writes, "I do mission analysis for the fastest spacecraft ever launched, and it's not Pioneer 10 as you said. It's another NASA spacecraft, New Horizons, currently on its way to Pluto. The New Horizons probe has a current heliocentric velocity of 12.3 miles/sec. It hit a max of just over 14 miles/sec during the Jupiter gravity assist -- still nowhere near fast enough to reach other solar systems in a human lifespan, but a little faster than Pioneer 10. Anyway you're right, building a base on the moon would be a complete waste of finite resources."

TMQ noted that colleges are now 57 percent female and 43 percent male -- and on the way to being 60-40 -- lamenting I was born too soon. Shannon Sue of Seattle writes, "Speaking of the 60-40 trend, have you thought [about] what this will do to marriages? Studies suggest that most women want to 'marry up' in education and salary. With less and less men going to college, women will be competing for the male college graduates as marriage partners. In addition, with the huge boom of divorced women entering the playing field, many of whom have few qualms about dating younger men (hence the term 'cougar'), I think there will be a big swing in dating dynamics favoring younger, educated men. Sorry -- you really were born too soon!"

San Diego Chargers Cheerleaders

San Diego Chargers

The Chargers won at home backed by cheerleader professionalism -- then had to go on the road against Adrian Peterson.

San Diego blew its game at Minnesota on Sunday, but many California readers, including Rob Evans of Encinitas, pointed out I missed the fact that cheerleader professionalism -- specifically racy Halloween costumes -- helped the Bolts win their previous game. Lots of photos are here.

TMQ wrote that Worcester Polytechnic Institute's name is locally pronounced "Wooster," and in another part of the column asked why the MSM (mainstream media) don't report that the real mission of the new Littoral Combat Ship is the protection of oil tankers in coastal waters. Matt Boyle of Bath, Maine, was up to speed on both points: "Even if you forget about the '-ah' pronunciation of the letter' R' in New England, Worcester in WPI is pronounced 'wuss-ter.' Worcester is not to be confused with the College of Wooster, which is locally pronounced 'whoo-ster.' And about the Littoral Combat Ship -- I work at the Bath Iron Works shipyard, which is basically running the General Dynamics version of the vessel, to compete against the Lockheed Martin version in 2009. You hit the nail on the head as for the real purpose of the LCS. But you failed to mention that the U.S. government also plans to sell the ships to friendly, oil-producing countries so that they can protect their own oil coasts."

TMQ urged drivers' ed teachers to teach young people not to drive in caravans, which cause distractions and crashes. Daniel Barbour of Richmond, Va., notes in a comment that could apply to the laws of many states, "Virginia's new laws regarding the number of passengers new drivers are allowed to have in their cars actually promote caravan driving by young drivers. Virginia's laws state that: 'If you are under 18 and hold a learner's permit or a driver's license, Virginia law says you may only carry one passenger who is under age 18 while you hold a permit and during the first year that you drive. After that, you may only carry three passengers who are under age 18, until you reach age 18.' While the obvious intent of this law is to help prevent the new driver from becoming distracted by passengers, my personal experience with this a few years ago while I was that age is that this law indirectly promotes caravan driving, which as you pointed out is a very big distraction, especially for the lead driver. For example, if a group of six friends under the age of roughly 18 -- it depends on how old they were when they obtained their licenses, otherwise the three-passenger rule might be in effect -- want to drive somewhere, they are essentially legally required to take three separate cars, all of which will inevitably follow each other around town, caravan-style. By trying to remove one distraction from teen drivers, state legislatures have practically mandated another."

In addition to writing Tuesday Morning Quarterback, Gregg Easterbrook is the author of "The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse" and other books. He also is a contributing editor for The New Republic, The Atlantic Monthly and The Washington Monthly.



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