Although the opening ceremony isn't until Friday, Taiwanese weightlifter Chen Po-pu has already become the first Olympic athlete in Sydney to do something. What?
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Monday's Question (No. 476)—"Call Me Unacceptable":
"I still believe we had to give him one last chance," said Myles Brand. "He failed to live up to that. … His unacceptable behavior not only continued since then but increased." Who engaged in what bad behavior? What did Mr. Brand do then?
"I'm not sure what Brand was talking about, but I can't stop thinking about the mutant man-sized rats that under Gore's Medicare plan will be used to find and devour the elderly! Sure wish I could remember where I read about this!"—Jay Wise
"Rum Tum Tugger wouldn't stop dry-humping patrons' legs, forcing Mr. Brand to reluctantly put an end to the Broadway run of Cats."—Greg Narver
"Woody Hayes shot Abraham Lincoln. Mr. Brand did nothing, as usual. The bastard."—Chris Gwaltney
"Sting whored out the dregs of his talent to a car company. When Brand complained, Sting retorted, 'Prostituting myself is my only option; how else can I get my musical message to the masses?' He then added, 'Did you notice the semicolon? I used to be an English teacher, you know.' "—Rose White
"Cats closed? And I MISSED it?"—Peter Lerangis
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Here's what I think is bad behavior: writing a wrap-up that has only the most peripheral connection to the question. But here's even worse behavior: baseball, our tedious national pastime. So now that the 721-game baseball season is winding down, and the 85 major-league teams are looking ahead to the playoffs, it's the perfect moment to get on that hobbyhorse and ride it around the outfield.
In a typical game (average length, nine hours and 22 minutes) over half the time nothing whatever happens, nor can it: The ball is simply being held by the pitcher. And even when he throws the damn thing, eight of the nine men on the hitting team are lounging in the dugout doing nothing, while on the defensive side nearly everyone spends nearly all the game doing nearly nothing or, more kindly, in anxious anticipation of eventually doing something. The only person constantly involved in the game is the umpire. It is not a good sign when the officials, or for that matter the hotdog vendors, are more intensely engaged in the action than are the players. In hockey or basketball or soccer, most of the players are actually playing most of the time.
When the pitcher eventually puts the ball in play, the frequent result is a ludicrous injury. This is not surprising in a game where the required level of conditioning allows the professional athlete to have a cigarette. In the dugout. During a game. It is not uncommon to see a big-league ballplayer tear up his innards trotting down to first, unimpeded, on a level, raked path, in daylight.
To embrace baseball is to join a cult of rural idiocy: It is a game where people spit. It promotes an ersatz bucolic ideal, giving rise to debates over grass vs. artificial turf, natural vs. unnatural—a defense of the natural from those who refer to the orange goo siphoned onto their stadium nachos as "cheese."
Baseball is family fun (a true oxymoron), as bland as the food in family restaurants or the drama in G-rated movies. Its governing body regards scandal—lust, avarice, gambling, corruption, temptation—i.e., human desire as bad for the game. Everything that makes a novel exciting, everything that makes life interesting, is officially bad for the game.
And might I add: Mayor Giuliani loves it. As do millions of decent, right-thinking Americans.
Bullying (but Consistently Victorious) Answer
Indiana University basketball coach Bob Knight was on zero-tolerance probation when he did a series of bad things, including:
- Allegedly physically and verbally abused a student.
- Orally abused a high-ranking university official.
- Instead of staying on campus, as requested, to clear up these charges, he went fishing.
- Flouted the athletic department chain of command.
- Made inflammatory remarks about university officials.
- Refused to participate in certain university events.
Mr. Brand, the university's president, offered Knight a chance to resign. When Knight declined, Brand fired him.
Knight denies the first item on this list. "I would have to be an absolute moron—an absolute moron—with the things that have been laid on me to grab a kid in public, or curse at a kid in public, as apparently it's been said that I did." (I have not seen him in a clinical setting and so cannot say if he is an absolute moron.—Ed.)
When just a young high-school coach, Knight used to rant and rave in the halls and, from time to time, throw a kid up against a locker. When he coached at West Point, he grabbed one of his players by the throat and backed him up against a wall. So many memories. The tirades, the chair-throwing. In 1993, he pulled his son from a game and appeared to kick him in the shin. Knight will turn 60 soon. He will receive two years pay at $170,000 per. But that can't take away the sadness.
"We're going to move," Knight told the Sporting News, "and that'll be difficult. I've been here since 1971 and I really like the area. I can play golf, I can catch 50 bluegill in an hour, I can go turkey hunting, and I can slap around the students; I'd like to see some sissy boy in the English department try that. The place has fit my lifestyle."
A late edition of the Sporting News would have included a correction, noting that Knight said nothing about slapping around the students for 20 years, had it actually printed that phrase, which it did not.
Peter Leonard's Punctuation Follow-Up
I have no idea why the biography of Hammarskjöld on the wagingpeace.org site uses the Dano-Norwegian form of the umlauted "o" (diagonal strike), but the proper vowel in the context of a Swede would have two dots.
Youth (and Jon Delfin) Wants To Know Extra
Ignoring that the Bush camp's denial of Gail Sheehy's diagnosis of dyslexia leaves the conclusion that he's simply stupid, can you confirm what I thought I heard on a sound bite this morning? Regarding the RATS image in the TV ad, G.W. (I think) denied the use of "sublimible advertising."
Concern for Greg Diamond's psychic health.