July 28, 2009

One Giant Leap Backward For Mankind

No, this isn't about the moon. It's about the man. Specifically, it's about all the words that now begin with the prefix "Man." Here's a partial list:




"Mangina" a/k/a "Manwhore"



"Man cave"

New words beginning with the prefix "man" are seemingly cropping up every week. I'm sure that the journalists, screenwriters, and bloggers who invent them think they're so hip and clever. But are all these extra words necessary? Don't we have enough words in the English language already? Men have been wearing sandals since "Spartacus." Hell, since "Ben Hur." Wasn't the word "sandals" descriptive enough? And if there's no gender-specific term for female body grooming, why do we need one for men?

Next time you're standing by the fireplace womantle, drinking a Womanhattan, and thinking about whether President Obama received a womandate from the voters, you can ponder this one.

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July 26, 2009

Who is the Greatest Athlete of All Time?

Right now, my vote is for cyclist Lance Armstrong. Here is what Lance has done: Today, he came in third place in the 2009 Tour de France, arguably the most challenging sports event on the planet. Armstrong did this at age 37, nearly twice as old as some of his competitors. Armstrong's Tour de France podium finish comes less than four months after breaking his collarbone in a race in Spain. Moreover, Armstrong had just come out of a nearly four-year retirement from pro cycling. Before his retirement, Armstrong won the Tour de France seven times in a row, a feat that no one else has accomplished.

But more importantly, Armstrong did all of this after having survived cancer which had begun in his testicles and had spread to his brain, abdomen, and lungs. To be able merely to return to the top echelons of professional cycling after surviving this nearly deadly illness is itself wondrous. To win the Tour de France seven times in a row, retire for four years, and come back in third place at age 37 is absurdly improbable. Incredibly, Armstrong is already planning to race in the Tour de France next year, and some analysts say that, with a bit better conditioning, Armstrong has a very good chance to win it again.

Now, sports fans are among the most argumentative and passionate people, and I'm sure some fans have other ideas as to who is the greatest athlete of all time. Obviously, athletes besides Lance Armstrong have achieved extraordinary success in their respective sports: Tiger Woods in golf, Roger Federer in tennis, Muhammad Ali in boxing, Joe DiMaggio in baseball, Michael Jordan in basketball, Jim Thorpe in football and Olympic track and field, just to name a few. Indeed, some bike racing fans say that Eddie Merckx, who won the Tour de France five times, was a more dominant cycling champion than Lance Armstrong. But I cannot think of an athlete who has both overcome such severe illness and then reached and repeated such greatness in such a grueling sport as has Lance Armstrong.

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July 23, 2009

Don't Call it "Health Care"

The hottest domestic issue this month goes by the term "health care." For example, yesterday's headlines included "Obama Seeks to Rally Support For Health Care Bill" and "Obama Moves to Reclaim the Debate on Health Care." However, the term "health care" in this context is a misnomer. "Health care" is what you get from your doctor, if you are lucky. What is being debated in Washington this month is "health insurance," not "health care."

The difference is important, because insurance companies do not provide "care," nor, as we know, do they "care" about us. They would love for us to call them "health care" companies, as many people do, and to make the subconscious association of what they do with the warm fuzzy word "care." We shouldn't let them. Even "insurance" and "coverage" are euphemisms, since we know that these companies often don't "ensure" or "cover" anything.

Maybe the most accurate term for what these companies do on a regular basis is "insurance fraud." That's supposed to be illegal, isn't it?

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July 17, 2009

"Couple Texts While Having Sex!"

I haven't seen that headline yet, but I expect to within a year. People are texting everywhere else, so why not in bed? A girl fell into a manhole while texting. A guy I know was disturbed by the large number of people texting during a recent Hollywood Bowl concert. California joined seven other states by actually having to pass a law prohibiting texting while driving, as if common sense wasn't enough to prevent this act of colossal stupidity.

So, what's going on here? Is all this texting while doing other activities just an adaptation of the latest mass communications technology that has been taking place since the first men and women drew on caves? Or it the latest example of rudeness and inattention that one can commit with a cell phone or PDA?

I'm not sure. I think it may be a good sign of people's desperate need to connect with each other any way they can.

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July 07, 2009

I Watched It Today, Did You?

It was everything I hoped it would be. A formal ceremony in the round, complete with kind words, applause, hugs, and an outpouring of emotion directed at one man and his achievements. I'm referring, of course, to Senator Al Franken's swearing in at the U.S. Senate. Oh, you thought I was talking about something else?


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July 03, 2009

Michael Jackson Funeral: the Circus Comes to Los Angeles

Michael Jackson's memorial service will be held this Tuesday at the Staples Center sports arena in Los Angeles. Although I know some folks who will be covering this event, the Michael Jackson Memorial is now second on my list, after the Superdome during Hurricane Katrina, of Things I Never Want To See Inside A Sports Arena.

People are already camping out to get one of 11,000 free tickets to Jackson's memorial inside the 20,000 seat Staples Center. Vendors outside plan to hawk the same Michael Jackson t-shirts that were to be sold on Jackson's planned concert tour. The media mob inside and outside the Staples Center, and the area-wide traffic tie-up, will be legendary. I don't know how anyone will stop the news helicopters, which will probably number over a dozen, from crashing into each other. You think you've seen a lot of coverage of Jackson's death so far on the cable news networks? Just wait: the Michael Jackson Memorial will make Princess Diana's over-the-top funeral seem downright quaint in comparison.

Then again, I suppose this this combination of zoo and amusement park that will occur during the Michael Jackson memorial will be fitting for the former resident of a combination zoo and amusement park known as Neverland.

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