Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Unnecessary Force - Starring Me!

Some of you will remember the folks at Jib Jab who put together the political animated videos around election time. Well, now they have a way to insert yourself into the fun.

Here's a video of me kicking ass - and raining destruction down on a few of my 'buddies'. They deserve it, I'm sure.

Star in Your Own JibJab! It's Free!

And here's one more - for good measure.

Not that there's anything wrong with that....

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Evolution, Morlocks, and Cold Spring Harbor

We don't often delve into the subject of Genetics and Science here on east coast mark - mostly because I spend all day talking about these subjects. However, this past week, James Watson was basically forced to resign from his job as Head of the renowned Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in NY - following some recent comments he made while on a book tour.

For those of you not familiar with Dr. James Watson, he is half of the duo 'Watson and Crick' - better known as the two British blokes who discovered the structure of the DNA in 1953...ushering in the modern Genetic Age. Double Helix, eh guvna? Watson has been a pioneer and innovator in Genetics ever since.

The comments that caused the uproar were about the evolutionary and genetic differences between Westerners and people of African decent. These are the kind of comments that Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson sit around just waiting to pounce on...and usually blow out of proportion. However, when I read Watson's comments from a scientific point of view - I can't help but see some sense in what he's trying to convey, albeit clumsily. Now, that's not to say I agree with ALL of what Watson had to say...specifically his comment about 'having to deal with black employees...' that is a generalization not based in any sort of scientific reality.

Watson was quoted as saying he was "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours, whereas all the testing says not really."

He also asserted there was no reason to believe different races
separated by geography should have evolved identically, and that while he hoped everyone was equal, "people who have to deal with black employees find this is not true."

Despite the initial knee-jerk reaction to comments like this, what I think Watson clumsily was trying to say was that it's clear that Africans evolved separately from Caucasians. Dalmatians and Golden Retrievers are both canines - but phenotypically different, much like Caucasians and Blacks. Anyone who's ever been in 3rd grade has learned how Man moved out of Africa, into Europe, and eventually across Alaska and into modern day America. This took place over hundreds of thousands of years, and mankind evolved into numerous different races. What Watson is saying is, 'Why should we assume that man who left Africa should have evolved exactly the same as man who stayed in Africa?' Scroll back up and read his comments again - based on what I just tried to clarify for him.

In the dream worlds of the United Nations and Left Wing Think Tanks - they'd have us believe that 'we are all created equal'. But at a genetic level...are we? Why do Kenyans win all the marathons? Am I created the 'same' as Kevin Garnett? Isn't it possible that these same genetic evolutionary differences also relate to intelligence? This is what Watson was saying....clumsily. He is saying that governments make policy assuming that Bill from Boston is the same as Ndulu from Nigeria, and science is telling us this isn't necessarily so - and so we should address it.

Then, I read another article this week that discusses how 10,000 years from now Man will diverge into two different species. (It's worth a read - did you know in just 1,000 years we'll all be nearly 7 feet tall and live 120 years?) However, after that time...you want to make sure you're on the right side of the selective breeding. Remember H.G. Wells' novel The Time Machine? Pretty much the book was right on, and we'll diverge into the 'haves' and the 'have nots'....the Eloi and the Morlocks. I mention this article to make a point: given how Man may diverge in the future, should we also assume that these two groups will be 'the same'? Created equally? In an ever shrinking world economy, we need to make policy, medicine, education...all specifically tailored to the different phenotypes.

The niceties of pretending that we're all created equally and identically is to ignore the differences written in our DNA. To ignore these literal inherent differences between Caucasians and Africans (and other races) prevents us from tackling issues that separate world cultures. Once we acknowledge and study what makes us different, we can create policy and solutions based on scientific fact - and not just politically correct policy that fail to address our differences.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Your Halloween HQ

Every year about this time, groups of young women all over the country come together and try to think of ways to make ordinary Halloween costumes more slutty. God bless them. Women see Halloween as an excuse to dress up slutty and get away with it. The truth is, they don't need an excuse.

The rest of us men sit around and try and come up with something clever. Typically we try and take things ripped from the headlines - to capitalize on current events, and play off our costume as both topical and witty. "Hey, look, he's dressed up like that guy....you know, that Senator guy that tried to have sex in the bathroom."

However, I propose a statute of limitation on how 'current' these costumes are allowed to be, and whether they're funny...or if the joke is already played. Thus, I have assembled a list of costumes that you might try to wear this year....but please, please don't.

This just isn't going to work. Everyone's going to wonder why you dressed as a middle eastern Bollywood actress. Also, you're going to spend $40 bucks on a flowing brunette wig, and you'll have to ask some chick you know how to feather your wig. This can only work if you'll be attending a party with lots of 13 year-olds.

Michael Vick
Too soon? This is last year's Steve Irwin costume. This could almost work - but unless you already own a Michael Vick jersey, you're gonna have to get it off eBay because they're not in stores anywhere. And how do you make this a 'costume'? Embed dog teeth into your bloody makeup? I'll bet you $100 there will be someone dressed like this at every party you go to - especially if you live in Atlanta, or if all your homies are down with dogfighting.

"Oh, you came dressed as....wait, what? I thought this was a costume party?" Nobody will get this costume either, because this costume is just a guy dressed like a guy. Granted, calling yourself 'McLovin' might pay off nicely around 2am in the basement of some Frat House.

Dead Anna Nicole Smith
This one's for the ladies. Too soon? Never too soon - but remember, there will be 100 slutty nurses and slutty Snow White's all around you....and you're going to have pills glued to your face and fake vomit on your chest. Topical, but also nasty - you freak.

Junk in a Box Guy
We all had a good laugh about this, EIGHT months ago. This will be huge with the typical college male - mostly because...well, you can imagine. About as unoriginal as you can get this year. You can carpool to the party with 'Michael Vick Guy'.

Anyone from The Office
Part of the point of Halloween is to actually wear a costume - and if you dress up as characters from The Office, you'll be wearing the same thing you do every day. Millions of cutesy couples around the country are going to go as 'Pam and Jim'. As these couples are getting dressed to go out to the party, they'll realize that they look nothing like the characters on the show. Then they'll resort to wearing name tags that say "Jim" and "Pam" - and then spend the rest of the night explaining to people why they didn't wear a costume. The Jim guy gets an extra bonus point because he gets to make that goofy face and act like he's looking into the camera.

Now - as I mentioned, for the ladies - Halloween is much simpler. Simply put the word 'Slutty' in front of any Noun....and Presto! Instant costume. Let's give it a try:

-Slutty Roomba
-Slutty Cardboard Box
-Slutty Clown
-Slutty Soccer Hooligan
-Slutty Spatula
.................It's all deadly.

Lastly, here's a little inspiration for the ladies:

Gold Digger
Notice the details with the miner's hat and gold shovel on the waist. Dare I say, Bling Bling?

Border Patrol
There are about 400 come-ons that I can think of right off the top of my head.

Sexy Ghostbuster
Nothing special here - just great taste in movies.

Now let's get hopped up and make some bad decisions.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Great Pizza Con

I can't find a decent Pizza anywhere in New York or New Jersey. There, I've said it.

Every 3 months or so the Food Network comes out with a different special that pits New York Style Pizza against Chicago Style Pizza. If you ever watch Food Network - you know this is true; it's like their go-to show when they can't think of anything else. Thin crust vs. thick crust. Usually they have an 'expert' panel of overweight firemen as the judges.

So, when I moved to the East Coast, I was looking forward to sampling some of this delicious thin crust pizza I'd heard so much about. In fact, the very first night I was in New York I ordered a 'pie' to sample the goods. Over the past 9 months I've been sampling different pizza joints - trying to find a decent pizza...and for the friggin' love of pepperoni I can't find a good one! It's like living at Blockbuster and not being able to find a decent movie.

These pizza places all seem to use the cheapest possible cheese they can find, cardboard crusts, and pepperoni that's on par with pencil erasers. And then there's the grease factor...

Now, from time to time we're all prone to a little mouth watering over a greasy cheeseburger or a greasy pile of french fries. But out here when you get a pizza delivered and open it up - it's swimming in a good 1/4th of and inch of orange pizza grease...just waiting to drip all over your shirt. The pizza is so thin and floppy, that you pick up a slice and it immediately drapes down your wrist, so now both your shirt and forearm are soaked in grease. After the meal I have to take a bath in Windex just to clean up.

Furthermore, every pizza place has basically the exact same name - so it's getting tough to keep straight which one's I've tried. "Nino's", "Napoli's", "Vinny's", "Big Vinny's", "Pizza by Alfredo", "Alfredo's Pizza"....

I hadn't been eating pizza for the past several months due to marathon training, and quite frankly a body can only take so much salmon and fresh vegetables. So now I'm back on the quest to find a decent pizza; feeling determined. Some people search for meaning in life, some search for their soul mate....I search for bliss in mozzarella and red sauce.

If I don't find something soon - I'm going to start a job search in Italy or something. But then again, every pizza place there is probably named Vinny's as well - so basically I'm screwed.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I am a marathoner.

Sun. Oct. 7, 7:59am: Downtown Minneapolis
"Should we be sweating before the marathon even starts?" -I say to my running partner Josh.

Thus the tone was set for the Twin Cities Marathon - a fairly grueling, seemingly all uphill, sweltering jaunt through neighborhoods that would probably be lovely - if only you weren't dragging your tired ass through the streets on foot.

To cut to the chase - I finished my first marathon, and feel very accomplished and satisfied for having done so. Lots of people asked me what I was raising money for, or whom I was running in memory of - neither. Someone once asked Sir Edmund Hillary, "Why did you climb Mt. Everest?" His answer: "Because it was there." There's something cathartic about doing battle with your body, the pavement, and your mind.

Even though I'd done some training runs of 16 and 18 miles, the 26.2 miles of the marathon was a completely different animal. To start with, this was the warmest temperature ever for this marathon - pushing 80 degrees. The last 5 weeks or so I'd been training in temperatures around 62-72 degrees...and expecting the race to be even cooler. Mother nature went medieval on us....

People were dropping left and right. Looking back on it, I think watching a marathon must be a fairly gruesome thing to witness as a spectator. Runners limping, bleeding, dripping in sweat, pained looks etched into their faces. I had to slow up from my regular pace, but kept plodding along....downing the Powerade and Gel packs. As I hit mile 23, I was feeling really good mentally - sure I would finish...and then bam - my hamstring cramped and knotted up; stopping me dead in my tracks. I pulled up like Barbaro with a broken leg at the Kentucky Derby. A few of the spectators that were nearby watched it happen and had that, 'oh, dude, you're screwed' look on their faces. Luckily, I was able to massage it out, do some light stretching - and I was back on my way....albeit gingerly at first.

As I passed the 26 mile marker, I dropped into a dead sprint for the final .2 miles - and finished to a roaring crowd of several hundred lining the final straightaway. When I crossed the finish line, I threw both my arms in the air and thought 2 things: 'I finally get to stop' and 'Did all that just happen?' My finishing time was 5:52 - about a half hour slower than I was shooting for. I'll chalk it up to the heat, and the fact that until about a year ago I'd never run more than 3 miles.

I'll definitely run another one. Maybe the NYC Marathon or Grandma's Marathon next. I'm always competing with myself and trying to push things further, and now I just want to run another one to beat my time and improve.

In the meantime, I'm catching up on all the desserts and drinks I passed up over the past few months.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

1 Day Until the Assault

Sunday morning at 8am I'll be running 26.2 miles in my first marathon - The Twin Cities Marathon, defying all logic and common sense. The race starts at the Metrodome, winds its way around the Minneapolis lakes, finishing at the State Capitol in St. Paul. They bill it as 'the most beautiful urban marathon in the country' - and it's typically a runners favorite because of the cool temperatures and beautiful scenery of turning leaves and fall colors. However, tomorrow they're saying it might be a little steamy - 73 degrees or so, and a chance of rain showers on and off. Running with an umbrella tends to slow you down, so I'm hoping for just a light drizzle.

My main goal is just to finish the marathon with all my limbs and joints intact. Time wise - I'm thinking I'll finish somewhere between 4:30 and 5:30...but anything could happen. Considering my longest 'race' up till now has been a 5k (3.1 miles), finishing 26.2 is accomplishment enough in itself. I'm thinking the crowds of other runners should help pull me along and serve as semi pace-setters, plus the adrenaline rush of race day will give a boost. My old roommate Josh is also running the race with me, but we decided not to run together - because we go at slightly different paces.

I got my pre-race meal in today at Chipotle. Lots of marathoners go for the pasta dinner to carbo-load, but my dad used to run marathons - and he said the spaghetti would sit kind of heavy in his stomach on race day. Thus, I went for the burrito carbo-load at lunch today.

Live Race Tracking - Mark Roberts

If you want to track my progress between 8am CDT and 1pm CDT - you can click the link above, and it'll give you a tracking of my progress. All runners wear a little microchip attached to their shoe so they can track your time.

A bunch of my relatives are in town this weekend to watch the race, and they all want to go out for dinner tonight - pizza. I'll be ordering a glass of water and a toothpick.
When the race is over, results should be posted on this site.

Monday, October 1, 2007

You can blame the Jews, I can be your Jim Caviezel

In my quest to keep you all on top of pop culture and comedic happenings; SNL had it's season debut Saturday night, and once again the Digital Short was the highlight. After Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg scored an Emmy for their Junk in a Box short last year - everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. Here's an ode to a love that knows no boundaries - love for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I'm a sucker for a ballad.

And Iran, I Ran so far away....

I'd put this song on my iPod. And the cameo at the end by Gyllenhaal? - I always thought he was kind of a Streisand, but he earns some street cred with this one. I'm now thinking of growing a beard and maybe oppressing some people - we'll see how my week shapes up.