By Patrick Hruby
Page 2

Welcome to another edition of Stump Page 2, where the gun-toting, strip-club patron of ignorance gets run over by the blue Oldsmobile of knowledge…

Dear Stump Page 2:

Police constable Mike Smith
NZPA, Ross Setford/AP Photo
We didn't think we'd actually find a photo of somebody being Tasered.

Police used a Taser on Dale Davis. They pepper-sprayed Virginia Tech wide receiver Josh Morgan. They tried to use a stun gun on Maurice Clarett, but because he was wearing a bulletproof vest, they had to pepper-spray him instead. So which feels worse, getting pepper-sprayed or getting Tasered?
-- Name withheld

Neither is a day at the spa. Pepper spray makes your eyes tear and shut. Your mouth burns -- think about the hottest salsa you've ever tasted, times a million -- while your throat swells up like Jason Giambi's fat face in his BALCO prime.

First you cry, then you gag -- the story of the New York Yankees' postseason.

That said, getting Tasered is worse. Stun guns work by overloading your nervous system, which normally uses small electrical currents for muscle control. When a Taser fires -- sending a short electrical pulse through metal prongs embedded in your skin -- almost all of your muscles contract at once, resulting in temporary paralysis.

Also, it hurts. Like hell.

"You lose control of any other thought other than stopping what is happening to you," says Sgt. Steven Madsen, public relations officer for the Racine Police Department in Racine, Wis. "It consumes your mind. People frequently collapse, probably the majority of the time. The Taser works much better [than pepper spray] for dealing with combative people, people that you need to decentralize and take control of."

No kidding. According to Madsen, otherwise troublesome suspects often give up at the mere sight of a stun gun. Yikes. The same can't be said for pepper spray, which only tops the Taser in duration of discomfort. Pepper spray takes up to 10 minutes to wear off, while a Tasered person regains his or her senses after a few seconds.

"I've seen literally 20 different demonstrations of this," Madsen says. "After a second or two you can get up off the ground under your own power. Within half a minute, you can start running down the street again. But as long as those prongs stay in, we can hit someone again for another five seconds. We usually don't need to."

Conclusion? You're better off getting pepper-sprayed, and better off still avoiding nonlethal police force entirely.

Of course, the latter may not be an option if you play for the Cincinnati Bengals.

Dear Stump Page 2:

Who the [heck] is the old guy with long white hair and the cowboy hat at pretty much every NBA game that's on TV at the game of the week, as well as every playoff game? He's always talking to players, too!
-- John

His name is James Goldstein. He's an independently wealthy 60-something who lives in Los Angeles. His house was in "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle" and has been featured in the Wall Street Journal. He favors wide-brimmed hats and designer snakeskin boots. And he just may be the biggest sports fan on Earth.


Stump Page 2 was unable to get in touch with Goldstein, who is currently in Europe. But rest assured he'll be back before the season starts. According to news reports, Goldstein attends about 120 regular-season NBA contests a year, mostly Lakers and Clippers games. And that's merely a prelude to the postseason, when he tries to catch a different game every night.

Estimated annual cost? Over $100,000. (And get this: Goldstein flies coach.) A former teenage statistician for the Milwaukee Hawks, Goldstein has been doing this for years -- decades, in fact -- and just about everyone in the league knows him, including David Stern, Sam Cassell and Clyde Drexler, the last of whom Goldstein reportedly plays tennis with.

Again, really.

Dear Stump Page 2:

How many blocks could a chop block chop, if a chop block could chop blocks?
-- Larry

More than Chuck Norris, but less than the San Francisco 49ers' offensive line during the Joe Montana era.

Dear Stump Page 2:

Say a football team has the ball on its own 1-yard line, and on the first play the quarterback scrambles out to pass. He is being tackled when he throws out a wild ball that is deemed intentional grounding and ruled a safety.

The team challenges the call and on the review the referee sees that the quarterback was out of the pocket -- therefore, it was not intentional grounding. But the referee also sees that the quarterback's knee touched the ground, meaning he was tackled!

So what happens? Does the other team have to challenge again to get back their safety? Does the call just stand? Does the team win the challenge but still has the safety go against them?
-- Tim

Whatever the replay officials end up deciding, the correct call will be the exact opposite. You watch college football, right?

Dear Stump Page 2:

Warner Bros. Pictures
"Illegal formation ... 5-yard penalty ... still second down."

What would be the best superpower for an athlete to have? Superman's strength? The Flash's speed? He-Man's bottomless utility jockstrap? Please advise.
-- Name withheld

Tough question. Fact is, just about all the traditional superpowers are simply too powerful for sports and are liable to cause problems. Danger-detecting Spider sense? Overloaded every time you play in Philadelphia. Adamantine claws? Good for rock-climbing, bad for hand-checking opposing small forwards.

Human Torch? Mommy, the field is on fire!

Even the powers that would seemingly provide a non-dangerous competitive edge -- like using invisibility to steal bases -- are largely useless. Why? Because they're completely obvious, and obviously unfair. Use X-ray vision to read Andy Reid's lips today, and the NFL's competition committee will approve lead-lined play cards tomorrow -- that is, if they don't just kick you out of the league altogether.

To put things another way: Lew Alcindor was so dominant, the NCAA banned dunking. You think they'll sit on their hands the first time Plastic Man blocks a field goal attempt that's 35 feet above the turf?

With that in mind, Stump Page 2 believes that only one superpower would be truly useful in sports: the Jedi Mind Trick. For one, it's subtle, little more than a calm suggestion and an innocuous wave of the hand. Victims don't know they're being duped; use the Mind Trick judiciously, and outside observers won't catch on, either.

Besides, just imagine the possibilities:

• For NBA commissioner David Stern: Relax, everyone. The new ball is hunky-dory.

• In the Dallas Cowboys' huddle: Terrell, you weren't open on the last play.

• At an Indiana Pacers practice: Officer, this is not the marijuana you're looking for.

• For New England coach Bill Belichick: Peyton, throw the ball to Harrison. Rodney Harrison.

Hmmm. Come to think of it, Belichick wears a lot of hooded clothing, same as as Obi-Wan Kenobi. Coincidence?

Dear Stump Page 2:

If an NHL player's helmet comes off during play, he can finish out his shift without a helmet. But what happens if he returns to the bench, his helmet remains on the ice and play continues until his line is due to play again? Can he hop back over the boards without a helmet? I assume he would grab an extra helmet from the bench. But legally, does he have to?
-- Christopher

Yep, he needs a helmet. Who do you think wrote the NHL rulebook, Ben Roethlisberger?

Dear Stump Page 2:

If I leave a glass of water on my dresser for days without touching it, is it still safe to drink? Or are airborne pathogens that I can't see getting into the water? Please respond quickly, as I may be slowly killing myself and not know it!
-- David Marquez

The bad news? If there are lethal airborne pathogens hanging out around your dresser, they'll probably kill you long before you have a chance to gulp down the water. Hello, Anthrax!

The good news? Unless the water already contains rat poison, it's probably safe to drink. Here's how things work: Over time, the liquid in your glass slowly evaporates, leaving behind whatever minerals are dissolved in the water. The less liquid you have, the higher the mineral concentration in the remaining water.

Altered mineral concentrations can change the water's taste, sometimes for the worse.

"If the water comes from a well, for instance, it might include a bit of dissolved hydrogen sulfide gas," says Paul Anderson, a professor of chemical and environmental engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology. "Hydrogen sulfide gas has the characteristic odor of rotten eggs."

Yummy. As for a worst-case scenario, Anderson says that a dirty glass -- one with food on the bottom, or maybe cheese dip smeared on the side -- could become a breeding ground for microorganisms. And those can give you a very upset stomach.

"If the water looks or smells funny," Anderson advises, "I wouldn't drink it."

Nor would we. Nor should you. Which in turn means it's only a matter of time before David Blaine turns drinking from a dirty glass into a two-hour, prime-time special.

Dear Stump Page 2:

In "The Terminator," how is it possible for Reese to be John Connor's father?  Didn't John send Reese back in time to save Sarah so that he (John) could be born? If so, then wouldn't John have had to already exist in order to send Reese on this mission?

Did the filmmakers screw up with this paradox, or am I missing something?
 -- Jon Mayer

In the movies, spaceships make noise, despite the lack of a sufficient medium for pressure waves to travel through. In the movies, Bruce Willis can lose two gallons of blood and still have the strength to dispatch crack German terrorists with a smirk and a "Yippie-ka-ya." In the movies, Leonardo DiCaprio spends 10 minutes making snappy small talk while submerged in the icy waters of the North Atlantic, never once screaming in pain, even though his frozen testicles have probably retracted into his abdominal cavity.

The point? Filmmakers screw up all the time. On the Top 10 list of nonsensical cinematic plot devices, "The Terminator's" time travel paradox probably ranks No. 492.

Denise Richards
Jesse Grant/
But boy, if Denise Richards actually was a nuclear physicist ...

Also, Stump Page 2 would like to point out that Denise Richards is not, in fact, a nuclear physicist. On behalf of the filmmakers, we apologize for any confusion.

Dear Stump Page 2:

Which piece of sports equipment is the most dangerous weapon? I believe the answer would be a hockey stick as it has more reach than a baseball bat.
-- Lloyd

Easy. A hunting rifle. Just ask our vice president.

Actually, let's start by placing sports equipment into two categories: actual weapons (rifles, bows and arrows, javelins, ice-climbing axes), and improvised weapons (football helmets, tennis rackets, everything else). Actual weapons are clearly more dangerous, so long as the person using them knows what the heck they're doing (aiming and reloading a rifle takes skill; tossing a javelin ain't easy).

As for improvised weapons? Opportunity, ingenuity and the situation at hand all play a part in determining the degree of possible harm. A hockey skate can split someone's jugular in a single slash -- but if the other guy has a hockey stick, they might be able to split your skull before you can get close enough to cut them. A well-thrown fastball -- or even a football, if "The Last Boy Scout" is to be believed -- could knock out or kill your opponent. Good luck if you miss.

Baseball bats probably provide the best all-around mix of offense, defense and ease of use -- who doesn't know how to swing a club? That said, a baseball glove can be just as deadly if used to smother a sleeping victim. Even a golf ball is dangerous in the right hands -- assuming the right hands are shoving said dimpled sphere down your windpipe.

All in all, you're better off getting pepper-sprayed. Or just Tasered.

Patrick Hruby is a columnist for Page 2. Sound off to Page 2 here.