Tuesday, February 3, 2009
But today's big news...
The world's greatest athlete smokes the herb.
Right now in statistics class, I'm discussing the idea of outlying data for the first time, and I've explained to my students that the idea of an outlier is somewhat arbitrary, but usually, you know one when you see one.
Wandering by the Huffington Post this morning, here were the most popular stories and the number of people who have read them, rounded to the nearest 10,000.
Michael Phelps with a bong: 690,000 viewers
Best Super Bowl ads: 140,000 viewers
Porn clip on Tuscon Super Bowl feed: 140,000 viewers
Michael Steele new RNC chairman: 130,000 viewers
McCain defends Limbaugh: 130,000 viewers
One of these things is not like the others.
Unlike most pictures of celebrities doing goofy stuff, this picture of Phelps was taken of him hanging out at a friend's house, not at some club or about to get in a car and drive after a night of getting wasted. As for bad behavior, it ranks up there with Hugh Grant under a dog pile of cute co-eds from about 18 months ago. That is to say, I feel absolutely no outrage nor do I worry about the path this kid is taking.
Phelps has had to make a public apology, but none of his sponsors are dumping him. It does beg a question, though. Exactly what is the next career move of an Olympic star? Americans care about most Olympic sports for a total of three weeks every four years, and after all the hard work and dedication, the only Olympians who have an actual career path in their sport are the ice skaters.
The best of the irony surrounding the outrage over Phelps is the idea put forward in the government sponsored anti-marijuana ads that pot smokers sit around and do nothing all day, completely lacking in motivation. I guess the moral here is this. First, win the unprecedented eight Olympic gold medals and after that, you can suck on a bong with your shiftless, no account friends.