Terra Sigillata

Each summer, the fair City of New York plays host to a cosmic convergence of bloggers within the ScienceBlogs.com corral. It’s a great time to meet all the folks we know very well online, but perhaps not IRL. Moreover, we had a really nice reader meetup last year where – thank you very much – all four of you came to see me, including Dr Val of Better Health and Peter Frishauf, Medscape founder.

The planning for this summer’s gathering has led to the two following posts. One is a throwing-down-of-the-gaunlet by Isis the Scientist to Ed Brayton, challenging him to a duel over the 40 oz porterhouse steak at the century-old Brooklyn landmark, the Peter Luger Steak House (“No other steakhouse serves a porterhouse so breathtaking” Frank Bruni, The New York Times). The second is Ed’s response to the challenge from Isis.

An Open Challenge. . . (Isis)
Picking Up the Gauntlet: It’s On (Ed Brayton)

I kid you not, upon reading Ed’s response in my office yesterday I was doubled-over with laughter, tears streaming down my face (no doubt enhanced by my immune system’s current battle with blooming honeysuckles):

Isis, my dear –

I know that spending so much time with a young child can sometimes reduce one’s faculties a bit. And lord knows that even the most well-crafted high heels can cause a serious delay in blood flow to the brain. But as a physiologist, you know all of that.

What you clearly do not know is that, to quote Vizini, you’ve fallen for one of the classic blunders. The best known never get involved in a land war in Asia and never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line, but only slightly less well-known is this:

Never challenge a fat man to a steak-eating contest.

I am to charred flesh consumption what Lance Armstrong is to bike racing. What Michael Jordan is to basketball. What Cato Kaelin is to couch crashing. What Rush Limbaugh is to pill popping.

This is from an amazingly serious and accomplished gentleman commentator and public speaker experienced in the online, print, and broadcast journalism discourse on matters of science, religion, law, and culture. So the tone and content of Ed’s response is all that more hysterical.

I would never think of calling Ed a fat man until he used the term above. Let me just say that Ed is of greater than average mass and volume of distribution. Here is photographic evidence submitted for your consideration:

i-43c6a3c77e0caf17a15fb2d3a8f96799-With Ed Brayton.jpg

Figure 1. ScienceBlogs GoateeFest Summer 2008. Shown on the left is Ed Brayton of Dispatches From The Culture Wars. For scale, a random science blogger is pictured on the right. The reference science blogger measures 6′ 1″ tall (185.4 cm) and weighs 210 lbs (95.25 kg).

Now, the identity of Isis the Scientist is a closely-held secret so I have no reference for her other than to formulate a hypothesis. Her shoe size and ankle dimensions available from data on her blog lead me to speculate with reasonable certainty that she is 50% or less of the mass represented by Mr Brayton (Fig 1). This is not to say Mr Brayton is not hot and I mean no disrespect to either. In fact, Ed may be twice as hot as Isis for all we know.

The point of this diatribe is that I believe Isis challenged Ed without a complete data set. As a result, I am fearful for her health in attempting to consume a 40 oz porterhouse steak. Come to think of it, though, I am also fearful to watch Ed consumer a 40 oz porterhouse steak. The images that come to mind are a combination of the Monty Python Meaning of Life character, Mr Creosote (YouTube), and Chris Farley’s Saturday Night Live character in the Bill Sweskis SuperFans skits (Hulu video).

However, there is already significant public demand that the challenge between Isis and Ed Brayton, to be held this July at Brooklyn’s Peter Luger Steak House, be liveblogged and streamed to their respective adoring fans. While I’ve gone so far as to liveblog my vasectomy, I submit that being involved in this live broadcast will take my personal blogging sacrifices to a new level.

Therefore, I have offered to webcast via ustream.tv the porterhouse challenge and moderate a live-chat. While Isis will remain off-screen, her voice will be heard while we focus on Ed Brayton and both of their plates.

The things I do.

I am scared. Very scared.

Comments

  1. #1 Dr. Val
    May 8, 2009

    I am SOOO going to be there. You never know, Isis could be like the black widow (one of America’s top hotdog eating contestants!) This will be good prep for Coney Island.

  2. #2 Bob O'H
    May 8, 2009

    I just hope Seed didn’t offer to pick up the tab.

  3. #3 Ed Brayton
    May 8, 2009

    I think I need to negotiate some of the details here. I strongly prefer a ribeye to a portherhouse. Luger’s does have a rib steak, so perhaps we could just go for total ounces of charred flesh consumed.

  4. #4 chezjake
    May 8, 2009

    I submit that being involved in this live broadcast will take my personal blogging sacrifices to a new level.

    What? Are you implying that you’ll be doing the webcast without your own 40 oz. porterhouse? Now that would really be a sacrifice.

  5. #5 Scicurious
    May 8, 2009

    Abel, I think that you underestimate the power of a hot science goddess. I can estimate (from the above photo), and I am about 50% of Ed’s weight (or maybe a little more), but I can also attest to my own ability to eat an entire large pepperoni pizza in one sitting. I do it at least once a month. Though I am not worthy to compare my little ol’ self to the goddess, I would venture to say that her powers, being goddess-like, probably far out-perform Sci on a daily basis. My money’s on Isis.

  6. #6 Isis the Scientist
    May 8, 2009

    This is not to say Mr Brayton is not hot and I mean no disrespect to either. In fact, Ed may be twice as hot as Isis for all we know.

    You had better watch your shit, Pharmboy.

  7. #7 BikeMonkey
    May 8, 2009

    He had me at “Lance Armstrong”. HAHHAHAHAHAHAAHA!

    Ed…Ed…Ed..EDEDEDEDEDEDEDED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. #8 Comrade PhysioProf
    May 8, 2009

    I can also attest to my own ability to eat an entire large pepperoni pizza in one sitting. I do it at least once a month.

    HURL!

  9. #9 drdrA
    May 8, 2009

    Oh Abel- Like you I laughed my lungs out when I read Ed’s response. Seriously Hilarious. (and yeah- the ribeye is better than the porterhouse…)

    But I laughed pretty hard at your post as well!

  10. #10 estraven
    May 8, 2009

    The reference blogger is 1854 mm tall, not cm. No wonder you guys crash stuff all over the solar system due to your inability with the metric system.
    Plus, I’ve seen thin males and females eat surprising amount of food.
    BTW, although it didn’t get translated into metric units, I do know how much 40oz is. I would normally assume that it serves four.

  11. #11 leigh
    May 9, 2009

    i don’t think you understand, Abel… Isis is the definition of hot. no offense meant to the bloggers pictured above, of course!

    i also suspect that Isis has greater power than you estimate.

  12. #12 Isis the Scientist
    May 9, 2009

    Isis the Scientist totally <3s Leigh!!!!!

  13. #13 Abel Pharmboy
    May 9, 2009

    @Dr Val – it would be a pleasure to see you again! I know, I may be foolish to underestimate Isis.

    @Bob – If Seed *doesn’t* pick up the tab, I’ll be extremely disappointed!

    @Ed Brayton – What a pleasure to meet you last year, Sir! I’m not much of a porterhouse fan myself but, then again, I’ve never been to Luger’s

    @chezjake – The only 40 ouncer you’ll see me with are these.

    @scicurious @Comrade PhysioProf – I am speechless. This I have to see.

    @Isis – uh-oh, uh, er, I didn’t think you’d be reading. Of course I think you can beat Ed. Absolutely.

    @bikemonkey – I like the Cato Kaelin comparison.

    @drdrA – Even having met Ed and knowing how funny and personable he is IRL, I was still in stitches reading his post. Yes, ribeye or, if Seed is buying, filet for me.

    @estraven – ow, my decimal point is showing. This is a pet peeve about which I often post so I am doubly embarrassed. Good thing I don’t work for NASA. Since you asked, 40 oz is 1.136 kg; yes, usually four servings even by our gluttonous American standards.

    @leigh @Isis – Okay, leigh, I’m going to have to take your word for it. I just like to see the original data before drawing any inferences!

  14. #14 Isis the Scientist
    May 10, 2009

    There will be no original data for you, young man, if you keep up with the cracking wise.

  15. #15 Danimal
    May 11, 2009

    Dr. Isis is so going to get her hot ass kicked.

  16. #16 Isis the Scientist
    May 11, 2009

    Watch it, Danimal. I’ll kick your ass after I wipe the floor with all of those other posers.

  17. #17 leigh
    May 11, 2009

    sorry. due to strict contractual and intellectual property agreements, some data is not to be published.

  18. #18 Isis the Scientist
    May 12, 2009

    Good girl, leigh!

  19. #19 Danimal
    May 12, 2009

    Dr. Isis: “I’ll kick your ass after I wipe the floor with all of those other posers.” You and what army? I’ll have you know I am perfectly capable of looking fear in the eyes (pause) then running like hell.

  20. #20 becca
    May 13, 2009

    “In fact, Ed may be twice as hot as Isis for all we know.” If that were true, then this contest, or indeed any event in which they are in a one mile radius of each other, would result in such massive density of hotness that a supernova would result, destroying the world.

    Luckily, we can tell from the picture this is low-risk. Not that Ed’s not hot. Just… It’s Isis. There is no comparison. Not even if you transform the data and plot it on a log scale.

    ” I can also attest to my own ability to eat an entire large pepperoni pizza in one sitting. I do it at least once a month. “
    Wait, this is not normal? I do this too. I even did it before I was extra-round. Well, except for the pepperoni part… bleck.
    Once or twice I think I’ve gone for the extra-large. This is from PapaJohn’s, if that’s a handy reference point for anyone. I think it does depend on the pizza- Edwardo’s deep dish large would be highly impressive.

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