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.
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:
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.