A Slip ‘N Slide for Adults 

Monday, July 14th, 2014

If you remember backyard water slides fondly, and are willing to risk your neck, check out these instructions for an adult-sized Slip ‘N Slide. If you decide to do it in the Boston area, give me a holler, because I’d love to give it a go.

The Wrong Kind of Rally

Friday, July 11th, 2014

Baseball scorekeeping allows fans and analysts to record a game’s details as it progresses, using a detailed system of shorthand. Of particular note for the uninitiated, strikeouts are represented with the letter “K”. A tally of strikeouts is often shown at a ballpark, either on a special scoreboard or via handmade signs from groups of fans like the Boston K-Men.

A Strikeout Sign
A (Swinging) Strikeout Sign1

On Wednesday, July 2nd, the Angels were in Chicago to face off against the White Sox. The game began with White Sox pitcher John Danks striking out Angels Collin Cowgill, Mike Trout, and Albert Pujols in order, all swinging. Something like this may thus have been on display somewhere in the ballpark.

A Strikeout Sign
This is awkward.

Throughout the course of a nearly 2500-game baseball season, this will happen at least a few times. It’s not a big deal, as another strikeout generally occurs soon enough. However, a crucial error in judgement by the White Sox organization made this situation a bit stickier. Somewhere along the line, someone approved a white hooded rain poncho for the team. That may not seem problematic, until you see a cluster of fans behind home plate all decked out in them.

White Ponchos in Action
Hoo boy.
[Image credit: Paul Lukas]

Fortunately for Chicago, the game record shows that Danks had recorded a fourth strikeout in the top of the third inning and another in the top of the fourth, just before the rains came. So though it may have looked like a Ku Klux Klan rally, at least they no longer had the sign to match.


Footnotes:

  1. One of my favorite bits of baseball minutia is that a backwards K is used to denote that the batter struck out without swinging, or “looking”.

    A Strikeout Sign
    A Strikeout Looking

    The same sign can be used, of course, it’s simply flipped.

I Can’t Wait To See This One On Law & Order 

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

A 17-year-old teenager in Virginia is in trouble with the law, after he sent his 15-year-old girlfriend a video of his penis. Naturally, authorities have obtained a warrant to photograph the defendant’s penis. What? Why should that be a problem? It’s not as though America has a constitutional amendment prohibiting unreasonable searches and seizures.

What’s that? Oh? Uh-huh. Uh-huh. I see. Ok, thank you.

I’m sorry, folks. I’m being told we do have a Constitutional amendment prohibiting unreasonable searches and seizures. Strange.

Well, just in case you’re keeping score, here’s how things currently stand:

Illegal

  • Exchanging sexual images to an apparently-willing partner1, if you’re both under 18. This is a felony for “manufacturing and distributing child pornography”.

Legal

  • Forcing a minor to get an erection, then photographing it. This is apparently not an unreasonable search, nor “manufacturing child pornography”.

I don’t have detailed knowledge of the facts here.2 However, even a cursory glance seems to show excessive charges and potential penalties, along with a proposed police procedure that appears at the least to be both invasive and unreasonable.


Update (July 11th, 2014): It appears the police have backed down, following global outcry.


Footnotes:

  1. According to reports, this began when the 15-year-old girl sent photos of herself to the defendant, and the girl’s mother filed the complaint, not the girl herself.

  2. I do note that the 15-year-old girl has not been charged in any way. It’s not clear whether this is due to her age, her gender, or some other factor.

Hip, Hip…Meh 

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Back in 2004, Matt Rutledge started Woot.com with the simple premise of one deal a day. By 2010, Woot had grown into a rather massive empire, one which sold to Amazon for $110 million dollars. Unfortunately, since then, it’s gone quite downhill. It’s not really “deal-a-day” site at all any longer, and the magic has been drained out of it lost. Rutledge recently spoke with D Magazine about Woot and his experience with Amazon, and it’s a great read. This section is particularly bizarre:

At length, after a bit of business talk that maybe resembled a cousin of an actual breakfast meeting, Rutledge blurted out a question that had been troubling him: “Why did you buy Woot?”

So there sat Bezos at the breakfast table, faced with a question for which he was apparently unprepared. Many painful seconds passed without an answer. Rutledge let the pause lengthen as long as he could bear it and was just about to tell his host to forget it, when Bezos finally spoke.

He looked down at his plate. Bezos had ordered a dish called Tom’s Big Breakfast, a preparation of Mediterranean octopus that includes potatoes, bacon, green garlic yogurt, and a poached egg. “You’re the octopus that I’m having for breakfast,” Rutledge remembers Bezos saying. “When I look at the menu, you’re the thing I don’t understand, the thing I’ve never had. I must have the breakfast octopus.”

Well, that’s certainly a creepy answer. Anyhow, Rutledge has learned a little something from his time at Amazon, which he cut short at no small cost. He’s decided that he shouldn’t sell out his idea, nor allow it to be bastardized. Fortunately, he got paid a pretty penny to learn that lesson, and with those earnings he’s decided to try the same idea all over again.

Enter Meh.com, a new daily deal (that’s singular) site in the model of the original Woot, but with a decidedly unexcited twist. It launched to the public today, and it’s off to a strong start. The writing throughout the site is great, the puppet videos are amusing, and as for the deals, well, we’ll see. If you don’t like it, you can always click the “Meh” button.

And lest you fear that Amazon killed Rutledge’s sense of humor or his touch for satire, be sure to get a look at his avatar on Meh.

Snapster's Forum Icon
The forum icon used by Matt Rutledge (a.k.a. “Snapster”) on Meh.com.

Nice.

Pitchforks for Plutocrats 

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Billionaire Nick Hanauer has a message for his fellow plutocrats: It’s time to do better for those less fortunate. It’s a slightly long read, but it’s full of interesting ideas and statements.

The most insidious thing about trickle-down economics isn’t believing that if the rich get richer, it’s good for the economy. It’s believing that if the poor get richer, it’s bad for the economy.

Hanauer is promoting his new book on this same topic, but it’d be rather ridiculous if he didn’t believe what he’s writing. He certainly doesn’t need the money the book will earn.

Fireworks From a Drone 

Monday, July 7th, 2014

If you’re in America, it’s quite likely you saw fireworks this past weekend. It’s less likely, however, that you flew your own drone right into the heart of a fireworks show. Fortunately, someone else has, and they’ve offered up the drone’s-eye video. It’s well worth four minutes.1


Footnotes:

  1. The video is archived here.

The 2014 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest

Friday, July 4th, 2014

With stomachs a-growing, and everyone telling you have a good Fourth, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Yes, it’s time once again for the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, and One Foot Tsunami is pleased to continue its tradition of providing coverage. As fans will know, in recent years, the live hot dog eating contest has been bumped off ESPN in favor of Wimbledon coverage. This year, the contest has been further marginalized, with ESPN 2 opting to show a World Cup quarterfinals game. Soccer, pfft. Sadly, it seems that the beautiful game of competitive eating is just not getting the respect it deserves. We won’t let that ruin our fun, however. To do so would be downright Un-American. Let’s get into it.

The Women’s Contest

While a few women had previously competed alongside the men, in 2011, a separate women’s division was introduced. It features its own Pepto Pink belt, and a $20,000 prize for the winner, which matches the men. Since the introduction of the women’s category, eater Sonya Thomas has dominated, winning three consecutive titles and setting a women’s world record of 45 HDBs (that’s hot dogs and buns for you newcomers) in 2012. Nevertheless, despite putting up numbers that trump many of the men, Ms. Thomas and the rest of the women have always been marginalized. Their contest occurs earlier and is then ignominiously edited down for brief inclusion with the men’s coverage.

This year was perhaps the worst showing yet, with only the results being provided. It was actually quite a competition, one which could be viewed on ESPN 3 at 11:15 AM. Rookie eater Miki Sudo challenged Sonya Thomas to a hard-fought match. While Ms. Thomas’s world record remains, her streak of championships has come to an end. The rookie trumped Thomas, chowing down 34 HDBs to come away victorious. According to Ms. Sudo, though she was thrilled to win, “weather conditions got in the way” of a new world record. Perhaps next year.

Notes and Quotes

With the women out of the way in perfunctory fashion, ESPN was able to focus on the men’s competition. It’s clear this is where they believe the draw lies. They focused their reporting heavily on All-American champion Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, who stated before the event that he’d had “no breakfast today, not much yesterday, I’m empty and loose right now”. “Empty and loose”. Gross.

In addition to the scent of hot dogs, love was in the air today. ESPN showed what might be the absolute worst sporting event-based marriage proposal of all time, as Joey Chestnut proposed to his girlfriend Neslie Ricasa on stage in front of the crowd. Ms. Ricasa must have just been swept off her feet by the romance of it all, because she said yes, after which she stood front and center to watch Joey compete and be showered by his run-off. It’s well-known that 95% of marriages that begin with a ballpark proposal end in divorce, but I believe Joey and Neslie can beat those odds.

After airing the proposal, ESPN had a Sport Science segment entitled “The Science of Competitive Eating” which showed what 69 HDBs look like inside a human being. Even though it used a dummy instead of a real person, the segment somehow managed to be even more vile than seeing the real competitors. Have a look at these images:

An empty stomach
An empty stomach.

A stomach with 69 HDBs
A stomach with 69 HDBs.

In a word, Barvd 🙊. After that sickening display, it was time to introduce the contestants and start the match. As always, MC George Shea and his brother and commentator Rich Shea were in fine form. Here are some of their best quotes.

Describing how competitor Yasir Salem’s won a world burping championship:

  • …with a 16 second burp described by judges as ‘both mournful and optimistic’.

From the introduction for anti-health food eater Brian Dudzinski:

  • If you believe in science, than you have to believe processed food is superior to something someone dug out of the dirt. He has spent ten years maintaining a boycott against any healthy food…The closest he has ever been to a goji berry is a Cheeto.

On up-and-coming eater Matt Stonie:

  • Youth is a hunter. It hunts us all. And this young man, only 22 years of age, is hunting the greatest prize in all of history: Joey Chestnut, and the coveted mustard yellow belt.

Joey Chestnut’s pitch-perfect introduction, in its entirety, including an incongruous portion of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” wherein Roger Daltry sings that he has “fought for [his] meals”:1:

  • Only moments from her womb, and before she even placed him to her breast, his mother held him close, and whispered in his ear. She said ‘You are of my flesh, but you are not mine own. Fate is your father [sic] and you belong to the people, for you shall lead the army of the free.’ And she held him high and the finger of power that destroys the unworthy descended, and it touched him on the forehead, and it anointed him the champion of the world, of now, and of always, of the fourth of July of the nation, of the free, under god!

Referring to Stonie’s chewing method, in topical fashion:

  • He’s got this Luis Suarez-type bite, which has no place in the game of fútbol, but it is welcome here at Coney Island.

Inappropriately describing Chestnut’s rhythm for eating:

  • Two meats, one bun.

Explaining the difficulty of eating the buns:

  • The buns are weighty, they’re like the hills of the Pyrenees for a Tour De France rider.

And finally, explaining the significance of Chestnut potentially winning his eighth-straight title:

  • I am not given to hyperbole, but if this happens, it’d be the greatest achievement in the history of man.

The Men’s Results

The men’s battle came down to the wire, and was one of the most dramatic in some time. Youngster Matt “Megatoad” Stonie defeated Joey Chestnut in several recent eating contests, and he was pitched as the challenger coming in. Sure enough, Stonie matched Chestnut throughout the contest, with the two battling back and forth for the lead in exciting and grotesque fashion. As Joey said in his post-contest interview, “it was just a dog fight the entire time”. Ba-dum ching.

Ultimately, while the kid had a whole lot in him, he didn’t have quite enough. Though Matt managed to down 56 HDBs, Joey powered through 61 HDBs to capture his eighth title. Megatoad is an exciting contender who just might end the champion’s run next year, but 2014 belonged to Joey Chestnut.

See For Yourself

If you want to see the full contest on TV, it’s airing at 2 PM on ESPN 2, and again at 6. Following that first TV broadcast, you could watch the Yankees take on the Twins at 3 PM. Alternately, you could do the right thing and flip to ESPN Classic. There, you’ll get a chance to see the 2007 Hot Dog Eating Contest, where Jaws put America on his back, and took down Takeru Kobayashi of Japan.

The Future

While British tennis and foreign “football” have ruled the airwaves today, there is hope for the future, as ESPN recently signed a 10-year deal to continue televising the hot dog eating contest. We can only hope they’ll afford it its due respect in future years. For now, this site will carry the torch.


Footnotes:

  1. Here’s an archive of the full introduction:

Take That, Hitler 

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Back in 1934, Hessy Taft’s photograph was chosen to represent the “ideal Aryan baby”. The only catch? Ms. Taft is Jewish.

The Making of “The Writing’s on the Wall” 

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Indie rock band OK Go has become quite famous for their music videos, which have garnered hundreds of millions of views, and legions of fans. Their newest, for their single “The Writing’s on the Wall”, may be their most ambitious yet.1 It features a warehouse full of optical illusions and a single tracking shot.

OK Go's Video

If you haven’t yet seen the video, give it a watch. But after you’ve seen it, check out the sure-to-delight behind-the-scenes look over at NPR.

Previously in videos from OK Go: OK Go With Friends


Footnotes:

  1. The Rube Goldberg machine seen in the “This Too Shall Pass” video (well, one of the two videos for that song) is also a strong contender for that title.

License Plates of the Past 

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

License plates in America were once things of beauty, or at the very least, simplicity. Over at Slate, William Morgan takes a look back.

MA License Plate with Tiny Fish
A rather guppy-looking cod.