Friday, May 12, 2006
Why did America boot Chris Daugherty off American Idol? Before the vote, the conventional opinion was he so good and popular, he had to make the final two. After the vote, people concluded: Maybe he wasn't so popular.
Ain't necessarily so. Maybe the voters outsmarted themselves. Thinking Chris and Katharine were safe, maybe many voters focused on the bottom two. The Taylor haters voted for Elliott. The Elliott haters voted for Taylor. Let's make that vote count!
Boom, a backfire effect. Those two got the most votes, and Chris got the boot.
Or, as many mathematicians realize, any time you have more than two candidates in a vote, crazy things can happen.
That's why the adage says a camel's a horse invented by a committee. That's why groups end up going to restaurants nobody in the group really loves. That's why candidates who triumph in the New Hampshire primary with a fraction of the votes can be perceived as big winners -- and flounder when it's one-on-one in the fall. That's why predicting winners of the five-horse Oscar race is often so surprising (like when arty Chariots of Fire triumphed in 1983 over beloved On Golden Pond and Tootsie, which split each other's votes).
It's even mathematically possible that one-on-0ne Chris could have beaten each of the other three, because he was in everybody's top 2. But in a four-horse race he loses to choices voters either love or hate.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Any schlub can make a list. Here's a lousy one from Foxsports.com. I mean, how can you do "Ten Worst Baseball Teams of All Time" (inspired by Kansas City's putrid start) and give the Phillies only an honorable mention? OK, the city does get some due -- but only for mega-loser A's teams. The Phillies -- supposedly approaching nearly 10,000 losses, more than any other franchise -- only get a footnote. And what an amazing footnote it is:
The 1941 Phils were so hideous they not only lost 111 games, but the next year they came back and lost 109? 220 losses in two years! What's this? They also lost 100+ in '39 and '40! And that's not legendary stuff?
Man, we can't get no respect! Not even for losing!
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Wow, could I make philly.com history tonight? I could "live-blog" another "live-blog," one for American Idol! While simultaneously live-blogging an American Idol chatroom! But why stop there? Let's set a world-record for longest simultaneous live-blogging chain. Somebody live-blog me live-blogging them, and somebody else check out that guy, and so on, ad nauseum, etc. Actually, three or four people ought to do be enough to set a record. If I did it. Which seems kind of dumb to do.
Among "outta here" athletes, Terrell Owens is unparalleled as a maker of disruptive remarks. But who's No. 2? Billy Wagner made a strong bid this weekend, whining again about how fans booing when his pitches didn't hit 100 m.p.h. (they were kidding!) and how his teammates didn't like him. Interestingly, the Phillies lead the list in nominees, with such complainers as Ed Wade, Scott Rolen and J.D. Drew. Sixers coach Larry Brown delivered debatable digs when he split, declaring he didn't know who was in charge, and subtly sniping at Allen Iverson. For the Flyers, it's tough to find a candidate, but goalie Roman Cechmanek dissed teammates during before he left. Eagles offensive tackle John Welborne whined his way to Kansas City, and, oh yeah, T.O. wasn't the only disgruntled wideout.
A guy called WIP recently, saying the Phils' 0-4 start already has him breaking stuff and driving his wife nuts. C'mon. Post your stories about sports-induced marital strains here. Or tell on a buddy or relative. I'll pass them along to Dr. Phil, and get us professional help.
Monday, May 08, 2006
Tonight, Houdini-heir wannabe David Blaine will try to set the world record for holding one's breath. Why? Fame, fortune and TV ratings, of course. You can watch his Drowned Alive special from 8 to 10 tonight on ABC. Notice how the title wants us to think: The guy could die. He's been living underwater for a week in a bubble in New York's Lincoln Center, and during his breathless test he'll have to escape all sorts of shackles! Shackled, too? He could really die!
Which raise some questions. First, do drawn-out death flirtations make for must-see TV? (Me, I'll be watching simulated deaths on Fox's 24.) Second, is it legit? Like, uh, the guy's a magician, an accomplished expert in how'd-he-do-that? street magic tricks. Then again, he's tested human limits before, such as apparently being trapped inside a block of ice for a previous ABC special.
Blaine's website says he's been training with "a world class elite free-diving team" that has "multiple free-dive world record holders." The show will try to persuade doubters that h'es never "resorted to the use of body doubles, mirrors or other trickery in completing his past arduous challenges."
An admittedly brief search for research on the subject does suggest the stunt could be real. Apparently, people can train themselves to greatly increase how long they can hold their breath. How? Basically by practicing. That somehow makes the body somehow boost one's lung capacity, some researchers found. Here's a report of another study.
By the way, part of Blaine's practicing brought him here to Camden's Adventure Aquarium, where he swam in the shark tank. For an offbeat spin on that, check out the end of tonight's 6 p.m. news on WPVI (Ch. 6) as funnyman Don Polec doggie-paddles with the man-eaters, too.