August 24, 2008

and don’t get us started on jogging…

Large portions of a proposed bike path that would have originally paralleled a new 18-mile-long six-lane limited access highway cutting across Montgomery County, Maryland may need to be rerouted onto the sides of existing surface streets because:

a)    It would otherwise be too costly.
b)    It would be too dangerous.
c)    Barack Obama might put on a bike helmet again.
d)    It would be damaging to the Environment.

If you chose “d” you are a winner! (“c” would also have been acceptable.)

You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Hey, no one said anything about a pop quiz.”  Also, “I don’t see what additional, measurable harm a narrow bike path could cause adjacent to a noisy six-lane superhighway built to accommodate tens of thousands of cars a day.” 

That’s why no one asked you to write the Intercounty Connector Limited Functional Master Plan Amendment - Bikeways and Interchanges - Public Hearing Draft.  (Not to mention that you probably fell asleep halfway through reading the title.)

While the report doesn’t offer what might be described as “specifics” it does point out that the bike path could cause various bad things to happen to “environmental resources.” And it doesn’t say this just once it says it several times. That’s how you know it’s true.

For the more skeptical among you, we here at Planet Moron have done some of our own research and have come up with additional grave environmental degradations that could result from the bike path:

In fairness, county planners accept that there are ecological positives that result from greater use of bike paths, however, they point out that, “Bikeways, like any land development -- including ballfields and playgrounds -- cause environmental harm at some level."

You might be thinking to yourself, “hey, it almost sounds as if these  environmentalists think there’s nothing a human does that doesn’t damage the environment in some way, ha ha.”

Um, well


August 24, 2008 at 07:37 PM in Sports | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 15, 2008

oddly, the gold medals came with “kids under 12 eat for free” coupons from i-hop

A controversy erupted this week after two members of the Chinese women’s gold-medal-winning gymnastics team were accused of being much younger than the minimum Olympic age requirement that participants celebrate their 16th birthday this year.

Of course, this is nothing more than the “swiftboating” of the Chinese.  The Chinese government clearly proved their gymnasts were 16 by issuing them genuine, 100% authentic, “Chinese-Communist-Party-approved” passports that stated they were 16 (you just had to be careful you didn’t smudge the ink).

After all, the Chinese government would never do anything that could remotely be considered deceptive or in any way try to pull one over on Olympic viewers nor would they ever press an unfair advantage over an opponent.

Yeah, sure, the gymnasts looked a little young, but this is purely a cultural misunderstanding based on long-held Western biases as to what constitutes “young” or “child” or “baby teeth.”

In fact, many Chinese adults appear to look younger than they really are to Western eyes.  Take, for example, this recent photo of 65-year-old Chinese President Hu Jintao,
Sure, he could probably pass for a younger man in the States, and would probably even be carded at many drinking establishments.  (Wouldn’t that be embarrassing!  “I’m so sorry Mr. President, I didn’t recognize you!”) But such unfortunate prejudice is no reason to accuse the Chinese of cheating.

And then there’s China’s 65-year-old premier, Wen Jiabao seen here with 67-year-old Chairman of the Standing Committee, Wu Bangguo. 
While Wu is obviously older, preconceived Western notions regarding facial hair, musculature, and the onset of puberty would probably cause the casual American observer to be surprised to learn that both had already entered their seventh decade of life.  Or even graduated from elementary school.

And this is hardly an unusual phenomenon. Here we have a group photo of the controlling members of the Central Military Commission of the People’s Liberation Army:
And  here the owners of China’s four largest Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises:
So, there’s really nothing to see here.

Now, you'll have to excuse us, Chief  Grand Justice Wang Shengjun is visiting for the weekend and he just knocked over his juicebox. 


August 15, 2008 at 02:08 PM in Sports | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 06, 2006

yellow wasn’t a real good color for him anyway

After a second test conducted by French officials established that Tour de France winner Floyd Landis had elevated levels of testosterone in his body during the competition, and with his lawyer running out of possible explanations, we thought we’d pitch in and help Floyd out by offering alternative reasons for these seemingly incriminating results:

  • Accidentally brushed up against Barry Bonds at fund raiser.
  • Not fair to let the French determine the “base line” for what constitutes normal levels of testosterone.
  • Late-night Google search for Lindsay Lohan pics “hotter than expected.”
  • Presence of synthetic testosterone easily explainable: Synthetic testicles.
  • So THAT’S what’s in a “Conseco Cocktail.”
  • Elevated level of testosterone a natural outcome from outrage over Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s snubbing of musical pioneers, KISS.
  • Everyone else must have artificially lowered their testosterone levels out of jealousy over rugged good looks.
  • It’s the Jews' fault. The Jews started all the doping scandals in the world. You look like a Jew. Are you a Jew?

And if none of that works, just maintain your innocence no matter what evidence is brought against you.

And pledge to search for the real doper.


August 6, 2006 at 03:53 PM in Sports | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 18, 2006

the early greeks probably didn’t do much ice dancing. well, except maybe for the spartans

If you are like most people, when you turn on the TV and happen upon the Winter Olympics, witnessing the majesty of athleticism, the nobility of competition, and the lyrical quality of the world’s best pushing the very limits of human capacity you can’t help but wonder to yourself, “Wait, are these still on? Where the heck is ‘Deal or No Deal?’”

The problem with the Winter Olympics compared to the Summer Olympics (also known as “the real” Olympics) is that there is very little variety in the sports offered.

Summer Olympics:

Winter Olympics:

And while the Winter Olympics do have one competition that involves some shooting, the Summer Olympics provide enough weaponry to supply a Hamas town meeting, with not only shooting but sword fighting, bows and arrows, and events that involve throwing hammers, spears and iron balls.

We did make an aborted attempt to live blog the Winter Olympics earlier in the week:

8:33:23 PM: Swedish guy is starting down the slopes.
8:33:34 PM:
Look at him go.
8:33:47 PM: You know, I think he might be Norwegian.
8:33:53 PM: No, no, he’s Swedish.
8:34:12 PM: This guy is fast.
8:34:27 PM: Look at him go.
8:34:35 PM: Going faster.
8:34:43 PM: Hey, check it out, the History Channel is showing “Paper Products of the Third Reich: Nazi Napkins.”

Okay, so at a minimum we know that the Olympics are more suited to a visual medium.

And there have been controversies, from Lindsey Jacobellis apparently deciding that silver would complement her eyes better than gold to Bode Miller behaving like he’s more interested in picking up a Jägermeister endorsement than keeping his Nike one .

The Olympics are also curious in that TV networks pay exorbitant amounts of money to televise sports no one cares about, kind of the television equivalent of supporting Dennis Kucinich for President. We don’t have precise data for this, but we’d guess the TV ratings for the luge in non-Olympic years fall somewhere between community access cable programming (“Zoning Setback Abatements and You”) and Martha Stewart’s Apprentice.

This is a shame because while these competitions don’t attract the viewership of baseball or football, they are amazing. Consider the skeleton in which competitors slide down an icy banked course head first on a tiny sled at speeds exceeding 120 mph. On the manliness scale this makes golfing look like, well, okay golfing, but you know what we mean.

Even curling is manly. Think marbles, only you play on a sheet of ice with blocks of granite weighing 42 pounds. It’s like playing tiddlywinks with manhole covers.

And you’ve got to respect that.


February 18, 2006 at 11:47 PM in Sports | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 04, 2006

the 2006 fedex orange bowl

Last night’s FedEx Orange Bowl was truly a celebration of the timeless sport of overnight express package delivery services providing a wall-to-wall extravaganza of commercial messages and promotional announcements. 

Sure, there were the all-too-frequent interruptions for football, but these were mercifully short leaving plenty of room for exciting recitations of the many virtues of using FedEx for all your shipping needs.

And this was at the game. No doubt, the viewers at home were able to enjoy the many instant replays of their favorite commercials and yet still take bathroom breaks whenever the camera happened to stray towards the field of play. For those of you who didn’t get to see the “Wrong” commercial the seven times we did at the stadium, all I can say is, thank God for TiVo.

Of course, it was on the field that we were treated to displays of physical strength, coordination and agility that left us all in awe. Unfortunately, the pre-game show eventually ended and the competitive cheerleading teams had to leave the field and we were left with two teams that apparently had decided to skip practice and spend the week at the Seminole Indian Hard Rock Casino (an exciting joint venture between a powerful profit-driven corporation and the Hard Rock Café).

The stadium crowd consisted of about 80% of my fellow Penn State fans. Penn State fans are very enthusiastic about their football. They are even more enthusiastic about finding a reason to drink and will take part in any such occasion offering the opportunity whether it’s a wedding, a holiday party, or Tuesday.

They also demonstrated the general classiness and good sportsmanship for which all modern sports fans are known by booing the opposing players, booing their band, booing the Florida State game MVP (a truly talented kick returner), and booing the special forces precision parachute jumper who had been tasked with displaying a Florida State flag (another had a Penn State flag).

Sure, he may be serving his country and all, but we have a football game to watch!

Prior to the game, was the Miller Lite Orange Bowl Tailgate Party, where for $15 per person you were able to drink all the Miller Lite you wanted as long as you wanted to pay $5 a cup for it. This would leave you briefly outraged until you got inside the stadium which left you wishing you had downed a few more of those bargain beers outside.

Food was also expensive but this had no practical effect since you never actually got a chance to buy any as all the servers appeared to dwell in a space-time dimension much different from our own. It was a place where any kind of physical movement was considered in very poor taste and the ability to remember things, such as a person’s order, or where the sodas were, or how to scoop cheese into a cup, remained a deep mystery.

The game itself was an ugly affair of penalties, turnovers and missed field goals. The triple overtime that resulted (the intricacies of which were already well addressed by a commenter on the previous piece), may sound exciting at first but like meeting a Kennedy, it just turned out to be an exercise in frustration and disappointment.

In the airport on the way home this morning I overheard someone (who was, if not a big muckety-muck, then at least a medium muck) on his cell phone describing how he had been invited to sit in the FedEx skybox where he met Senator Bill Frist who no doubt was there specifically to not be influenced by corporate money.

Which was a nice transition for my return to Washington DC and our regularly scheduled programming.


January 4, 2006 at 08:02 PM in Sports | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 16, 2005

putting the hell back in helmets

Massachusetts lawmakers are considering a proposal that would make it a requirement statewide for children to wear helmets when they play soccer.

If you are like us, you are no doubt wondering why this would be the concern of the state legislature. Clearly this falls under the purview of the federal government as spelled out in the penumbra of our Constitution (“penumbra” is Latin for “anything we say it is”).

Opponents considered pointing out that children are probably at greater risk of head injury during the drive to the soccer game, but were afraid that the legislature would move to require minivan helmets as well (integrated juice box holders included of course).

Keep in mind that we are talking about an age group that engages in such activities as seeing who can break the largest plank of wood over their head. The winner wins the respect of his peers, a complimentary trip to the trauma ward, and a future in the Constitution Party.

Proponents of the legislation cite studies such as the one conducted in 1992 in Norway which found that 35% of active soccer players had abnormal brain scans. While not conclusive, this does strongly suggest that people who enjoy soccer are abnormal. (We always suspected.)

An early version of the legislation had banned “heading” completely. Heading is such an integral part of soccer it would be like banning bats in baseball or bouts of unspeakable boredom at javelin meets.

If the proposal passes it could open the door to additional measures designed to protect the vulnerable brains of young children, including bans on wrestling and prohibitions against watching President Bush attempt to speak without a script.

Or Senator John Kerry with one.


December 16, 2005 at 07:05 PM in Sports | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

December 03, 2005

bowl fever syndrome

Whenever a college football fan finds that his team may be heading to a major bowl game certain changes in thought processes seem to take hold of his brain. For example, witness the subtle changes in reasoning that can take place:

Before: $250 for a single ticket?  What kind of an idiot would pay that?
After: I'll take ten.

In addition to diminishing the ability to accurately assess relative value propositions, Bowl Fever Syndrome (BFS) manifests itself in the early stages of the season as an odd desire to flee the comfort and warmth of home to drive hours for the pleasure of sitting in a cold stadium on narrow bleacher seats.  For those of you familiar only with professional football stadiums, sitting in those is to an average college stadium what sitting in a Barcalounger is to water-boarding.  We want information out of captured illegal combatants?  Buy them season tickets.

One must be sure to manage their BFS carefully.  For instance, in one particular game this year my team lost in the last second against a hated division rival.  I found this outcome to be largely dissatisfying, and so after careful consideration I determined that the best course of action would be to put my fist through the ceiling.  As I told my wife, who was taking the dogs out for a walk with unusual urgency, had I been one of those truly "crazy" fans I would have taken a sledge hammer to the TV.  Also, had I been one of those fans whose fist was not stuck in the ceiling and who could think beyond the searing pain and remember where the sledge hammer was.

Because the outcome of other games has a direct effect on your own team's bowl prospects, BFS can also create a fervor not previously witnessed over the fate of games involving unfamiliar teams on the other side of the country.  This is usually harmless but can result in awkward moments such as when you jump up to scream, "Ya gotta love those Oregon... um, Whatevers! Whoo!"

If you know someone suffering from BFS you'll want to be careful what you say around them:

"Calm down, it's only a game."
"You graduated when?"
"Don't you think you've had enough beer?"

"The very fate of civilization rests on the outcome of this single game."
"Don't worry, we can always buy another end table.  And lamp.  And china set."
"Here, drink up, you look thirsty."

Rest assured that the symptoms will begin to diminish on or before January 5.  The only lingering problem may be a strong desire to purchase brightly colored apparel heralding the accomplishments of the victor.

Or a hefty TV repair bill.


December 3, 2005 at 04:31 PM in Sports | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 14, 2005

meet our new mascot, "hazmat man"

While we all recognize the importance of placing compassion over a pedantic adherence to regulations in times of disaster, there are of course some principles that transcend the momentary concerns of the present and must be upheld at all costs.

We refer of course to NCAA rules prohibiting Division I football, basketball and hockey players from being eligible for play in the first year of a transfer to another school.

Sure, many of these athletes have had their schools destroyed and potential athletic careers derailed but we can’t let petty concerns about the welfare of the students divert our attention from what is really important: Athletic administrators.

Apparently, coaches at schools around New Orleans have complained that universities elsewhere in the country are offering their athletes opportunities to continue playing while also receiving a quality education in classrooms that are for the most part not piles of rubble and where the risk of contracting infectious diseases is less than 50-50. This is known as “raiding.”

Some teams were even considering transferring as a group which would provide at least some measure of continuity to lives that have otherwise been turned upside down. This also will not be tolerated. As NCAA president Myles Brand said, “Let me call that athletic looting, to be provocative.” (Unless it was a hockey team in which case it would be called athletic “finding.”)

While the NCAA won’t allow students affected by the hurricane to transfer to another school where they could play sports and get an education, they do have a heart and so will allow them to play sports for their current school where they can’t get an education because of the damage.  That way, if nothing else,  they at least retain the chance of getting a career-ending injury.


September 14, 2005 at 12:15 PM in Sports | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 06, 2005

you, in the headdress, put the tomahawk down and come with us

The Florida Seminole Tribe is insufficiently offended. This, according to the non-Native American NCAA Executive Committee which has decided to ban the Florida State University Seminoles mascot, and many others, from appearances in post-season tournament play because they have been deemed to be “hostile or abusive.”

Explaining the logic of banning a mascot expressly permitted by the Native American tribe it portrays, Charlotte Westerhaus, the NCAA vice president for diversity and inclusion said “Other Seminole tribes are not supportive.” This would include the Oklahoma Seminoles who are noted for being passionately and overwhelmingly not based in Florida.

Some don’t believe the NCAA went far enough. Vernon Bellecourt, a member of the Anishinabe-Ojibwe Nation felt the measure only went halfway. (A quick Google didn’t find any university “Fighting Anishinabe-Ojibwes.”)

And not all Indian mascots are banned. The North Carolina-Pembroke Braves are exempted because over 20% of the student body is American Indian suggesting that mascots can only be culturally hostile and abusive from a distance but are okay up close. Also, some schools using the “Warriors” nickname would be excused since they do not use Indian imagery as part of their logo. (It is not known however whether a school could get away with naming themselves, “The Fighting Casino Owners.”)

The controversy creates the potential that other aggrieved groups might call for the banning of additional mascots. There are, for instance, the Barry University Buccaneers. Unless the school can demonstrate a sufficiently large pirate population this strikes us as being culturally insensitive to our swashbuckling friends.

In fact those of us here at Planet Moron being of partly Greek ancestry just realized we are highly offended that Michigan State has raided our proud culture by using a clearly racist caricature of a Spartan as their mascot. 

Not only that, but we lay claim to even greater amounts of Irish ancestry which brings up the issue of Notre Dame’s “Fighting Irish” mascot that suggests we’re just a bunch of drunken fools.

And if we weren’t so hung over we’d do something about it, too.


August 6, 2005 at 02:31 PM in Sports | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

July 14, 2005

oral surgeons specializing in dental reconstruction are shopping for mercedes again

Yesterday’s announcement of a tentative labor agreement that would return professional hockey to the country’s ice rinks this fall caused jubilant fans across the nation to break out in spontaneous celebrations consisting mostly of staying home and watching Law & Order reruns.

Don’t remember hockey? Think figure skating with weapons. Two teams meet on the ice and beat the hell out of each other for a couple of hours. The mayhem is broken up only by the occasional running of a “Zamboni” (Italian for “period of ceaseless boredom”) the purpose of which is to give fans time to come up with creative pejoratives for the opposing team such as “you suck” and “you really suck.” On occasion an object known as a “puck” will randomly enter one of the goals and this appears to have something to do with which 28 of the 30 teams will qualify for the playoffs.

The labor dispute goes back over a year and forced the cancellation of an entire season. This caused a great deal of economic hardship that stretched far beyond the empty hockey arenas themselves and reached as far as a block-and-a-half down the street.

Hockey still has some details to iron out, including securing a cable TV contract. League officials note that they have some promising prospects including several community access channels although fierce competition is expected from local school boards and junior high theater classes.

For hockey fans it has been a difficult year. Not wanting to give in to the “big three” of professional team sports, baseball, football and basketball, many turned to watching such unconventional spectator sports as Jarts, arena croquet and Canadian-rules trampoline. 

Aside from the fans, no one is happier to see hockey return than the players themselves. It was after all their determined and steadfast resistance to the owners’ demand for salary caps and pay reductions that in the end yielded an agreement that includes salary caps and pay reductions.

“That kind of makes it all worth it,” commented one veteran player.


July 14, 2005 at 06:00 PM in Sports | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack