Archive for March 3rd, 2004

The Longest Curl in the World

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On
the arid Pacific edge of the South American continent, 500 miles north
of Peru’s Colonial Capital, Lima, and 500 miles south of the Ecuadorian
border, there lies a sleepy fishing village called Puerto Chicama, with
but two claims to fame.

First, it had been, in the 1930’s and 40’s, the #1 producer of fish
meal in the world. Fish meal, which is basically chopped and dried feed
fish (usually anchovies),
is used mainly as fertilizer and animal feed.

Thanks to the chilly Humbolt
current, the waters off of the coast of Peru are among the richest fishing
grounds in the world, and catching anchovies was as easy as hauling
in the nets. At its height, Puerto Chicama had four huge fish meal plants
running 24-hours a day, a dedicated railroad line running to the end
of a 500-foot steel dock, three whore houses and a casino.

Freighters would pull anchor offshore and wait their turn at the dock,
loading fish meal for transport to Malaysia, Morocco, India or Thailand.  There
were huge contracts with the Soviet Union, and rampant rumors that
Peruvian fish meal was the featured ingredient in Gulag fish stew. It
was a company town – housing for thousands of workers was built quickly
and cheaply in a climate where many houses go roofless due to 40 years
between rains.

All that is gone now.  The fish meal factories stand empty and
gutted, stripped of machinery, wiring, anything of value, doors and
windows long gone, the dry desert wind whipping around the cement and
steel ruins. The houses have been abandoned, some destroyed. What fish
meal the region does produce now goes out of the much more modern port
of
Chimbote, which now stinks so bad of the fish meal vats and third-world
commerce that no one but locals can stand the smell.

Chicama’s other claim to fame is the longest wave in the world.  It’s
not the biggest wave, although Peru has some of those too, 15-20 foot
monsters that can eat a surfer alive and bust a board like balsa boat
in a wood chipper. But if you take your board and walk way, way, way
down the beach, past the last of the little houses and beyond the tired
old craft hauled up the sand for jury-rigged repairs, beyond two points
and a rocky promontory, you can catch a ride back to town that literally
lasts 20 minutes.  It is a left-hand curl that goes on for almost
5 kilometers, perfectly formed, 1 and a half to two meters high, breaking
nice and evenly like the foam over Niagara Falls.

Surfers come from all over the world to surf Chicama. Australians and
South Africans seem particularly attracted, but French, Israeli, Brazilian, Californian
and New Jersey surfers are sighted regularly.  There are really
no hotels to speak of, just a rustic cement sprawl
on a dusty bluff on the edge of town, overlooking that impossible, endless
curl, a dive know as La Casa de Amiro.

Amiro is an old psuedo-Shaman who has been putting up Surfers for thirty
years, since he discovered he liked hanging out with them more than busting
his back on a fishing boat 12 hours a day. He has 4 or 5 tables out under
an awning where they catch the breeze off of the bluff and where Amiro
can sit every day drinking beer with the tablistas, if there are any
in town, or with his wife and cronies if not.

The patio doubles as a restaurant, though the menu is short and simple:
fish, rice, beer and soda. If you ask nice, Amiro’s wife will fry up
some french fries, but that’s about as fancy as it gets.

25 years ago the Dowbrigade bought one of those roofless, broken down
houses overlooking the Pacific for approximately $500. Dirt floors, no
electricity, no running water. We still own it, although we haven’t been
there in 20 years.

According
to my son, who is living in Peru fixing up another property we bought
back then, this one in the mountains, the house in Chicama now
has a roof, electricity, cement floors and running water, at least two
or
three
hours
a day. Not
much else has changed in Chicama – fishing is still the only industry,
except when a gang of surfers hits town.

He is wondering if there is enough traffic to start another hotel on
the beach. According to tomorrow’s
New York Times
, things may be looking
up.

LIMA, Peru, Feb. 28 – Hawaii may have the north coast of Oahu. California
may have Malibu. But Peru has Punta Hermosa, south of Lima, the longest
waves in the world at Chicama and, for 62 years, the fabled Waikiki
Club.

"The waves are constant," said Roc

Picky Eater

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WINTER HAVEN – A brawl at the salad bar at Spring Haven
Retirement Community sent three senior citizens to Winter Haven Hospital
Sunday.

Administrators say a 62-year-old resident who threw the first punch will leave
the senior residence. All participants waived criminal action in the incident.
No serious injuries were reported.

According to police, the battle erupted after fellow diners accused
the man of foraging among the lettuce leaves on the salad bar. Words
were exchanged leading
to the ballroom boxing match. Witnesses say the man punched an 86-year-old
accuser in the face and bit a 78-year-old resident on the right arm.

The man’s 80-plus-year-old mother told police that her son, "only likes
a certain kind of lettuce." Others accused him of playing with the salad
greens while inspecting the crop. His mom conceded, "that it did appear
that he was playing with the food."

from Polk Online

Coming Soon to a Mickey D Near You

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Sayuri
Higa smiles as she samples "Fish McDippers," a new deep-fried
fish dish, that McDonald’s Corp.’s Japanese unit McDonald’s Holdings Co. plans
to unveil at stores nationwide March 8, at its outlet in Tokyo Monday, March
1, 2004.

Similar to Chicken McNuggets, the Japanese company plans to add the
fish menu to its mainline menu in a bid to build on the momentum of stronger
sales of burgers amid consumer concerns about meat products, such as beef and
chicken, following the discovery of mad cow disease and the spread of bird
flu in Japan.

(AP
Photo
/Chiaki Tsukumo)

 

 

Harvard Sq. PETA Protest Ends With Six Arrests

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"Wearing
nothing but colorful underwear and strategically placed tape, one Harvard
undergraduate joined five similarly clad representatives
from the People for the Ethical Treatment for Animals (PETA) in a protest
in Harvard Square that ended in the arrest of all six participants on
misdemeanor charges.

According to Cambridge Police Department spokesperson Frank D. Pasquarello,
the five PETA affiliates and the undergraduate, Kristin M. Waller ’05,
were charged with disorderly conduct and indecent exposure. They were released
last night on $40 bail and will be arraigned today.

How come the Dowbrigade never hears about these things until they
are over? Wish we could have been there to cheer these youngsters on.
One
of our hopes for Exploit Boston! is
that it can be a sirt of pre-event clearing house to post stuff like
this before it happens…

from the Harvard
Crimson

Tiger Woods Says “The Desert Is Also Mine”

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"Dubai
is my territory. Back off," said Ernie Els.

"I don’t think so," replied Tiger woods.

The "King" of golf, Woods (29,USA) and "Prince" Els (35, USA) clashed in the
middle of the desert. The stage was is the EPGA Dubai Desert classic, which is
kicking off on March 4 in the United Arab Emirates GC (par 72 7264 yards), with
prize money amounting up to $3.5 million.

In the photo Tiger Woods is seen warming up for the Desert Classic with
a few 5,000 yard drives off an improvised driving tee on the helipad of the Burj Al Arab Hotel.

from the Dong-A Illbo Sports

Its Not About the Steroids

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Anyone who knows the Dowbrigade or is a regular reader
of this space is aware that he has been a life-long fan of sports, both as a
spectator and as a participant. We confess to an almost complete lack of athletic
ability. Nevertheless, a keen sense of competition. a desire to feel
in touch and comfortable with our body, and a love of being outdoors
have led to recreational and competitive participation in a wide variety
of physical activities including but not limited to tennis, skiing, sledding,
baseball, sharp shooting, biking, surfing, yoga, canoeing, camping and
curling. We spent 10 years coaching in Cambridge Youth Soccer, until
a recruiting scandal and rabid parents convinced us to hang it up.

Actually, its a damn good thing we like all those actual physical
activities or otherwise it would be nigh on impossible to pry us away
from watching Football, Basketball, Baseball, Soccer, track and field,
tennis, volleyball, hockey, billiards, poker and the World’s Strongest
Men competition on the tube. As Norma Yvonne will testify, we would watch
a flower arranging competition if they could figure out a quantifiable scoring
system, as we can’t stand "sports" which depend on "style
points" like
figure skating.

Furthermore, we believe in Sports as an abstract principle, as something
innately good, like Democracy or Diversity. Despite, or perhaps because
of Sports origins in mock warfare and combat training, we believe in
its power to bring people together, to bridge cultural gaps and to foster
the growth of all that is good in the human spirit.  The Olympics
represent the highest ideals of using Sports to bring peoples together
on the playing field rather than the battlefield.

So it pains us mightily to admit and aver that Sports is today a sick and
twisted endeavor in America, and a glaring symptom
of what has gone horribly wrong in this great country of ours.  Even
worse, it has become a subtle and seductive mechanism by which an entire
segment of our society is being held in economic and developmental bondage.

We are not referring to the current scandal involving rampant use of
illegal performance-enhancing drugs in professional sports, although
that belongs in a separate screed on the perversion of modern medicine
and traditional drug addiction by these pernicious substances.  We
are not writing about the mercenary attitudes, pampered lifestyles and
absolute lack of moral fibre evinced by players, managers and owners
alike. No, what we are talking about is nothing less than a cruel and
cynical shell game designed to disenfranchise and divorce from power
an entire generation of young minority Americans.

Today, as we write and you read, all over America there are millions
of kids shooting free throws, practicing penalty kicks, downing nutritional
supplements and spending endless hours in weight rooms, chasing the impossible
dream of joining the enchanted elite of our society – professional athletes.

The numbers are depressingly sobering, but hey, most teenagers care
less about statistics than about reality in general, unless they have
to do with on-base or shooting percentages. Of the over three million
high school student-athletes, depressingly few will ever even go on to
play competitively in college.

According to the NCAA,
less than one in 35, or approximately 2.9 percent, of high school senior
boys playing interscholastic basketball will go on to play men’s basketball
at a NCAA member institution. Considering that approximately 1.3 percent,
of NCAA male senior basketball players will get drafted by a National
Basketball Association (NBA) team, that means that approximately 0.03
percent of high school senior boys playing interscholastic basketball
will eventually
be drafted by
an NBA team. The numbers are similar for football, baseball and hockey.

Yet the adulation and media attention given to these lucky few lottery
winners has skewed the values and aspirations of an entire generation
of impressionable youths, who represent our hopes and chances for a healthy
America in the future, squandering their talents and energies in a ridiculous
dead-ended quest.

The secret shame and sin of this system is that it is not affecting
all strata of our society equally. It is largely MINORITY kids who are
out there on the blacktop for hundreds of hours a week.  While kids
from sensible suburban schools and families with a history of higher
education bust the books and prepare for the SAT exams, minority kids,
barrio kids, broken-home kids are dreaming of signing bonuses and bling-bling
contracts. 

Needless to say, the odds of getting into a good college and graduate
school are a LOT better than the odds of making the NBA, even for a poor
black kid. To dangle and glorify such a precarious and unattainable goal
before a generation of impressionable kids without viable alternatives
is a mockery of equal opportunity and a moral if not a legal crime.

Some argue that the chance for a college athletic scholarship represents
a possible path out of the ghetto for a lot of these kids, but the reality
shows this to be a lie.  Even the elite few who make it to scholarship
colleges are used, abused and discarded, in most cases without even the
utility of a fake university degree.  As Derrick
Z. Jackson of the Boston Globe
repeatedly points out, major college athletic programs graduate
far less than 50% of their players, and graduation rates for minority
players lag far behind those for all athletes or all students.

He mentions several major basketball programs with African-American
graduation rates of zero. Most of the teams competing for national titles
are graduating 35-50% of their players, and lower percentages for minority
athletes.

This is criminal, and is quickly killing any enthusiasm we can still
muster for major college sports, having long ago lost faith in the integrity of the pro variety. It makes us ashamed to call ourself a Sports Fan. We need to seriously rethink the whole
role and rule of sports in our society, in our schools, and in our lives.
We have some ideas for ways the moral morass can be cleaned up, but will
save them for a future post

Why Dog is God Backwards

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Rhymes with Orange by Hilary Price

buddaa

Mars Rover Blog

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This image, taken by the microscopic imager on the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, shows a geological region of the rock outcrop at Meridiani Planum, Mars dubbed “El Capitan.” Light from the top is illuminating the region. Several images, each showing a different part of this region in good focus, were merged to produce this view. The area in this image, taken on Sol 28 of the Opportunity mission, is 1.3 centimeters (half an inch) across.