TMQ Nation fires back   

Updated: October 31, 2007, 1:28 PM ET

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Ronald Reagan

AP Photo

Cold President = Victory.

Jay Kenworthy of Zionsville, Ind., writes, "Your Cold Coach = Victory theory may extend beyond the gridiron. In the book 'Profiles In Presidential Courage,' Chris Wallace insinuates the Cold War was won because Reagan was a cold president! Here's the excerpt: 'At the summit in Geneva, Reagan had greeted Gorbachev on a bitterly cold November morning wearing just his suit jacket. This was a bit of stagecraft. The 74-year-old Reagan wanted to show he could stand up to the Russian leader two decades his junior. As Gorbachev fumbled with his scarf and overcoat, a beaming, confident Reagan towered over him. Cameras flashed and the Russians knew they had lost the skirmish in the war of images.' "

TMQ declared himself unmotivated to listen to motivational speakers. Sharai Pollock of River Falls, Wisc., reports, "My colleagues and I were motivated by this article, in which a researcher claims that swearing at work improves performance. Lots cheaper than hiring a speaker!" Wait: If swearing improves workplace performance, then Bristol, Conn., is the most productive city in America.

Brandi Chastain

AP Photo

Did Brandi ripping off her shirt lead to more women attending college?

TMQ noted that colleges in the United States now are 57 percent female, lamenting that TMQ was born too soon. Abigail Kleinsmith of St. Louis, a college junior, writes, "Today, high school girls are the ones pushing themselves to excel while the boys hold back. As a 'nerd' who scored high on my ACT, I can tell you girls are now very conscious of getting into prestigious schools and groom themselves for these. It was 99 percent female in my AP history and AP lit classes in high school. Boys as a group seem to aim for the state schools with good sports programs and don't feel the need so much to try as hard. Plus, female brains are usually fully developed before guys fully develop their brains, and girls are less likely to have ADD or undiagnosed learning disabilities. Another factor is that since Brandi Chastain ripped off her shirt, my generation has believed that it's awesome to be smart and beautiful -- many movies and television shows now feature smart girls triumphing over the dumb ones and getting the hot guys. How many smart-is-cool popular culture role models are there for high school guys? Anyway, college overall may be 57 percent women, but the science and math departments are still mostly male. I'm the only girl in my lab group, and the testosterone-fest gets tiring after a while." Derek Igarta of Tustin, Calif., adds of the higher-education gender ratios, "This seems to accurately reflect our times, since if you watch any amount of commercial television, it appears to be the American male's lot to be either a complete moron (any sitcom or advertisement) or to suffer from erectile dysfunction. Neither of these require college."

TMQ said it believed it was possible the ancients made incredible journeys, such as by canoe from Polynesia to Hawaii or by foot from Asia to North America, but wondered why they tried. David Sally of Dartmouth College supposes, "The mystery is somewhat solved if we assume that these people were not voluntary adventurers but rather outcasts. Three categories seem likely: felons and criminals expelled for offenses by societies that did not practice the (immediate) death penalty; human offerings cast upon the waters to appease and sate various aqueous deities; lovers deported for disregarding the marriages arranged by their parents or tribal leaders. Certainly, the second and third categories could explain the society's kindness in giving the exiles a nice boat, some provisions and some kind of fighting chance. All three categories together would result in the gender balance necessary for reproduction and colony creation, since the first would tend to be male, the second female and the third would presumably be composed of a majority of traditional couples. So the essences of the New World are crime, sacrifice and love!"

Alexander Chester of Cambridge, Mass., writes, "I have just started Harvard Law School, and I want you to write shorter columns so that I have time to do my school reading." Well, looks like you will have to establish your priorities -- law school or TMQ? Actually, I would be willing to write less, but only if ESPN paid me more. I am like a soybean farmer in that regard.

TMQ denounced the media for adulating lottery winners without mentioning how much is lost by those who play. Martin Richardson of Canberra, Australia, writes, "I have always wanted to see in the headlines, not LOCAL MAN WINS $5 MILLION, but A MILLION LOCAL MEN LOSE $10 EACH." David Bingham of Derby, United Kingdom, reports that a rival fantasy football Web site he attempted to use listed Tom Brady as owned by 105 percent of teams. Bill Belichick is behind this somehow! He haikuizes:

Bill clones star QB.
How long until defense is
Eleven Vrabels?

Marc Mayntz of Provo, Utah, offers a nominee for high school bad-sport of the year: "Earlier this year, the head coach at Timpview High School was suspended for one game by the Utah state athletic association because he allegedly recruited players from outside the school's boundaries. The coach at Provo High School was the one primarily responsible for bringing evidence to light to show the violations. Recently, Timpview, a perennial power, played Provo, which is, well, usually 'rebuilding.' By the half, Timpview led 42 -0; nevertheless, the Timpview coach kept his starters in until it was 56-0. Timpview's other scores in their region have been: 49-0, 49-17, 54-0, 49-7 and 51-7. This is sportsmanship?" Maybe Utah needs the Department of Defense mercy rule. Dallas Powell, an Army major serving at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, reports Pentagon-affiliate high schools in Europe not only use the NFHS-recommended running clock whenever a 35-point lead is achieved, but also limit the final score to a 39-point margin: "So a team can run up the score all it wants, but the official score will be recorded as only 39 points ahead. See this article." Daniel Harding of Chester, Mass., reports that goal differential is the first tiebreaker in FIFA soccer, resulting in a huge incentive to run up the score, such as in the September match that ended Germany 11, Argentina 0.

On Beli-Cheat, Dave Decker in Houston asks a question posed by many readers: Why hasn't a single one of the other 31 NFL owners [actually, 30, plus the shareholders of the Packers] said a thing about the league's mysterious late-night destruction of the Belichick files? Could it be, he wonders, that in the files there was evidence of teams other than the Patriots cheating -- maybe many other teams -- so the rest of the clubs decided to lie low, hoping the press would forget about this? If so, it does seem to be working.

Homer and Bart Simpson

AP Photo

Pudgy, oafish Homer has a slender, charming wife -- the standard Hollywood fantasy.

TMQ asserted that movies and television shows are replete with gorgeous women in love with homely guys -- because this is the fantasy of the homely guys who write, direct and produce movies and television. Jamie Flibott of Pompano Beach, Fla., adds that this holds even in cartoons: Homer Simpson, the fat, obnoxious guy, gets Marge, the slende, always-understanding girl. Craig Dunkin of Los Angeles adds, "Movies and television shows about high school rarely portray the attractive, popular kids in a favorable way, instead portraying them as shallow, witless and mean-spirited. The hero or heroine of those stories is always the reclusive artsy-type who doesn't fit in. And why is that? The writers of these pieces were not the attractive, popular kids in high school, they were the unpopular, artsy types." Obviously popular, attractive high school kids who have grown up to be rich need to hire some screenwriters!

OC Cast

Warner Brothers

None of this show's writers were cool kids in high school.

TMQ crusades not only against the penny, but also against the nickel and dime. All these denominations of coins have no meaning in modern commerce; the quarter is the smallest unit of exchange that should clog our national pockets. Yet we waste money minting pennies, nickels and dimes, plus we must carry them around and count them out. Entire machines in supermarkets now are devoted to helping people dispose of low-denomination coins! Dan Riha of Sausalito, Calif., writes, "Australia has already gotten rid of the penny. All the cash registers just round up or down. We are a country stubbornly resistant to change, it seems, even when progress seems so easy and beneficial. Not to blow Australia's horn too much, but they are helping solve their water crisis by having two buttons on toilets: one for flushing No. 1, one for flushing No. 2, with the No. 1 button using half the water. Ingenious, simple, inexpensive to install." Australia also will ban the incandescent light bulb in 2009; only compact fluorescents or similar energy-saving light sources will be sold. Incandescent bulbs were a great idea in the 19th century, but time has passed them by -- they waste about 90 percent of the electricity they consume. Hey, Congress, wake up and pay attention to Australia!

Lincoln Penny

AP Photo

Ban them! Melt them into an enormous lump and throw the lump into the Marianas Trench!

Perennially, TMQ complains that the Pro Bowl, the Hall of Fame and all kinds of awards and "best of" football lists dramatically over-represent quarterbacks and running backs while under-representing linemen. Brian Young of Bel Air, Md., notes that the Steelers recently released a list of their 70 best players to celebrate their 70th anniversary, and it's evenly balanced between glory boys and line guys.

TMQ asserted that by the strangest and most amazing coincidence, yogic flying cannot be captured on film. Many readers, including Bob Brigante of San Bernardino, Calif., countered by sending this YouTube clip, in which yogis "fly," although it sure looks like hopping to me. Love the scientific white lab coat of the narrator.

And finally, for anyone depressed by the bad karma the Patriots have brought to the NFL, Sharon Bower of Charlottesville, Va., suggests the hilarious clip of the 15-lateral play that enabled Division III Trinity of Texas to defeat Millsaps on the final snap. It's hard enough to count the laterals; just try counting the missed tackles! Don't watch the ball, watch the Millsaps players -- many are just standing around doing nothing, even when in position for the tackle that would have ended the contest.

In addition to writing Tuesday Morning Quarterback, Gregg Easterbrook is the author of "The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse" and other books. He also is a contributing editor for The New Republic, The Atlantic Monthly and The Washington Monthly.



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