The Lower Quote, As If You Didn't Know, Is By Richard Dawkins, Son.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Friday Double Tap

There is a popular misconception that I'd like to clear up. The misconception is this: people who play Jeopardy on television (and, by extension, the people who play Jeopardy on their couches at home) are smarter than the people who play Wheel of Fortune.

Yes, I know, Wheel is unbearable. As soon as I hear the first chorous of "Wheel!" as part of the opening song, I have to change the channel. Bang - right over to either Discovery, Food, or Comedy. The thing is, I like to watch Jeopardy and usually do fairly well; sometimes well enough to entertain the notion of actually going on the show to shoot the breeze with Trebek. That's right, Mr. Stars on Ice himself.

Jeopardy, however, isnt' for smart people. It's for people who have a large amount of facts stored up in their heads. There is, I think, a big difference between being able to quickly sift through your mental rolodex to find a fact and being able to figure out a problem. There's no figuring on Jeopardy.

On Wheel, you actually have to problem solve. (Yes, I realize that figuring out that R_me_ and J_liet under the category of "literature" isn't the pinnacle of cognitive tasks, but you know what I mean, bastards) There isn't an answer to the question that you can easily access because there's no question - there's a problem.

I remember reading a passage from a Richard Feynman book about how his father took him for a walk in the woods. He explained about the birds and animals and such and when young Richard went to school on Monday, one of the other kids told him the name of a bird he saw, because Richard didn't know it. The kid said that Richard's dad didn't teach him anything. Depressed, young Feynman told his father the story and dad, being great, said that once you knew the name of the bird in 100 languages, you still didn't know anything about the bird. All you have is trivial knowledge.

Welcome to Jeopardy. Human filing cabinets. Oh, and before everyone yells at me; yes, you can be on Jeopardy and be really really smart. That's obvious. My argument is that it doesn't take problem solving to be good on Jeopardy. _uck on t_at.

The number two item for today is competitive eating. I was listening to CBC radio on my way to work and was enthralled by an interview with an...I hesitate to say "athlete", but that's how they view themselves. This guy talked about eating 25 hot dogs and buns in something silly, like 12 minutes, then running the Boston Marathon the next day.

Apparently, the "next generation" of "gustatory gladiators" are fit, young, and able to eat pounds of food in a single sitting. Remember in Cool Hand Luke, possibly one of the greatest movies of all time, when he tries to eat 50 hard boiled eggs in an hour? Yeah, fuck that. Sonya "the Black Widow" Thomas ate 65 in 6 minutes, 40 seconds.

Jon Stewart on The Daily Show had Ryan Nerz, a competitive eating emcee, on the show and asked him how these events could not be seen as everything that's wrong with America, following up with asking if this was just a way to say, "In your face, Ethiopia!" The guy really didn't come across as legit and neither did the "athlete" from today's interview on CBC.

The whole affair seems indulgent in the most flaunting of ways. It's like that scene in The Three Amigos when Martin Short (at his fabulous best as Little Neddy Niedermier) and Steve Martin (always great as Lucky Day) are dying of thirst riding through the desert, Neddy literally pouring sand from his canteen into his mouth, and Chevy Chase (Dusty Bottoms) swigs from a full canteen, gargles, then throws the rest away to drain into the dirt. Then, he notices his partners' despair and, as he pulls it out, he offers, "...lip balm?"

It's lame to flaunt what you've got an excess of in front of the poor folks who don't have it. You don't even have to go to Ethiopia, (although the situation in Darfur shines a bright light on how fucking stupid this "sport" is) for crying out loud. How many homeless people could you feed with the hot dogs, asparagus, sweet potato casserole, and hard boiled eggs that are in one of those contests? All it does is get me annoyed, so think about it before you decide to support these guys. It might be better to just laugh like Jon did and make them feel silly. After all, it's pretty silly to eat 11 pounds of cheesecake in 9 minutes.

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