Friday, April 19, 2013

We've Moved to

It's official, The Straight Dope's new home is at:

This will be the last post on Blogger. New posts will appear on the new site, starting today. Come on over!

Thursday, April 04, 2013

When Size Matters

Here's an interesting article in Sports Illustrated about the size of NFL linemen, which is a nice reminder that everyone's goal should not be to look like a fitness cover model. Not that linemen will ever be the ideal for the next Michelangelo, unless the sculptor is an NFL quarterback, but it's a great look at how those who use their body as a tool for employment have vastly different goals than most of us.

Society tends to look at these guys at fat--which anyone starting in the NFL trenches' BMI would confirm--but can a fat guy do this?

"Johnson, a high school QB who played tight end and defensive end for the Sooners before moving to tackle two years ago. Johnson made a pile of money at the combine, deflecting attention from his lack of experience with a series of jaw-dropping efforts, recounted here by Mayock: "He ran 4.72 in the 40 -- at 303 pounds. That's as fast as [49ers wideout] Anquan Boldin ran. He jumped 34 inches, which is [a half inch less than Bengals wide receiver] A.J. Green jumped. And he broad-jumped 9-10, which is what [Patriots running back] Stevan Ridley jumped. That's the freakiest combine ever."

If those of you with power meters start running numbers and see the explosive force required to propel a 300-pound person 34 inches high or 40 years in 4.7 seconds you'll probably think your watch is broken. Exceptional results for a human being of any weight, adding that mass to gravity will yield stats that are off-the-charts.

They are, of course, tools of the trade. When your job is to move (or keep from being moved) a wall of massive humanity in a very small space your livelihood depends on four things: mass, strength, balance, and explosive power.

Warmack freely admits that his February and March weight -- 319 -- is temporary. He dipped into the teens to perform such tasks as the 40-yard dash, three-cone drill and shuttle runs. (About that vertical leap then. ...) By training camp in July he'll be crowding 330. "Right now," he said at pro day, "if I had to block a 370-pound nosetackle, I couldn't do it as efficiently as if I was 328."

There's not really much of a point of today's post, other than there should be more than one ideal of what the perfect human body looks like. Let's face it, those guys in the movie 300 might look good on Men's Health but if I could choose a team to lead me through an army of men I'm picking the "fat" guys with 30 inch verticals.

pic: not only is he big, he's probably faster than you. Michael J. LeBrecht II/1Deuce3 Photography/SI 

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Attack of the Killer Chair

Quick, get out of that chair!

An article on the evils of sitting appeared recently in the NY Times that begins with the line “the chair is your enemy.” It goes on to state how sitting can lead to diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and a premature death before concluding, “irrespective of whether you exercise vigorously, sitting for long periods is bad for you.”

With such a strong into I was left a little disappointed by the piece. I was hoping for, perhaps, a biomechanical analysis of how sitting shut down a critical function or put strain on something we hadn’t previously considered. But, alas, the findings were a bit more logical. The meat of the article simply showed the relationship between those who sat a lot compared to those who didn’t, which found that the former group was far less healthy. This was almost “duh files” stuff.

It finally bothered with some science, right near the end, by citing an example using lipoprotein lipase. The implication being that sitting shut down a large part of your metabolic processes that could, over time, lead to weight gain. And while this wasn’t the zinger I was hoping for it was still a nice reminder to take breaks at work and stop vegging out for hours in front of a TV or computer.

So while the chair might not be the demonic villain we were hoping for, it also shouldn’t be lionized in Al Bundyian fashion as the pinnacle of hedonism. The human body was designed for movement and use it or lose it is not just a cliché. But you knew that already, right?