Some corrections, additions and arguments about things posted during the first six months of this website.
This is my six-month anniversary. It’s been a pretty good run… I’ve published 113 lists (including this one), received a total of about 90,000 reads, done four radio interviews about the site… and gotten absolutely fantastic and almost universally positive feedback. So thank you so very much for reading. I hope that 11 Points is becoming a part of your daily routine (because it’s become quite a large part of mine).
Half a year in, I thought I’d use this as a chance to respond to some e-mails I’ve received, and do some follow-ups to previous entries.
1 | One more accidental pornographic photo
Let’s start the follow-ups off right. My friend Alicia wrote be regarding my October 14th list, 11 Spectacular Accidentally Pornographic Photos. The reason: She knew about a great photo I’d neglected. You can see it to the right.
2 | Is Gene Hackman Jewish?
My friend Will wrote me regarding my August 15th list, 11 Best Jewish Movie Characters Played By Non-Jewish Actors. One of the entries on the list was Gene Hackman’s character in The Royal Tenenbaums. He wondered if that was erroneous, because he was pretty sure Gene Hackman is Jewish.
He’s not. My best confirmation of this, ridiculously enough, is a white supremacist website I found that painstakingly researched which prominent Hollywood actors were “white” (meaning not any trace of any minority group), and Gene Hackman was prominently on that list.
I feel like it matters a lot to them, so I’m going to take their word for it. Frankly, I’m surprised their servers didn’t crash and/or explode after the onslaught of comments that must’ve happened on Election Day.
[Out of principle, I’m not going to link to the site.]
3 | Chipotle rice
Of everything I’ve written on this website in the past six months, there’s one controversy that stands out more than any other. And it stems from my post I made in my very first week, on June 17th: 11 Best Chipotle Ingredients.
More than a dozen people have expressed some mix of shock, disbelief and anger that I left off rice.
So allow me to apologize. Chipotle’s rice may be very good. I just stopped eating white rice (except at sushi restaurants) about five years ago, so, to me, the Chipotle rice is a non-factor.
4 | The truth on obese Olympic athletes
While the Chipotle rice has caused the most widespread anger, the angriest e-mail I’ve received in these six months stemmed from my August 18th list, 11 Olympic Sports That Morbidly Obese People Could Win. Here’s an excerpt (I’ll preface it with a big, overarching [sic]):
[I]n regards to your ASSumption that Obese people would do wellin the olympic throws of the javelin , discus, shotput and hammer throw , i say this your full of crap first off it takes training and technique something most likely above your head, second the discus cannotbe thrown like a frisbee , the damn thing weighs anwhere from 2 kilos -4.4 lbs to 1 kilo 2.2 lbs try it that way you jerk you’ll probably break your arm or wrist in the process, i realize you did this in jest but there are many master track competitorsin the world who really resentyour profiling of something we take very serious , not everyone can compete in these sports, thank you
Well, he was right. I did do it in jest. But I’d also like to clarify that I don’t feel morbid obesity and world-class athleticism are mutually exclusive. Have you seen some of those shotputters? They’re enormous.
And according to our government, if you’re 6-foot-2, any weight over 234 pounds is morbid obesity. These guys weigh more than that. They’re also tremendous athletes accomplishing something that, yes, would make most of us “break [our] arm or wrist.”
If there’s any follow-up I want to do on that list, it’s that I completely neglected judo. A few days after I published it, I was watching CNBC or one of those at two in the morning and saw the most adorable judo match between two HUGE gentlemen. So… sorry. Bad research on my part.
5 | The waterslide on the way to Vegas
Back on September 3rd, I put up a list about the 11 Highlights of the Los Angeles-Las Vegas Drive. One of the highlights I mentioned was the waterslide park off the side of the highway that may or may not be a mirage.
A reader named Nicole wrote me with some insight on that park:
The “waterslide park mirage” or Rock-a-Hoola on the I-15 was actually some kind of shady business set up by a foreign rich guy to get American citizenship or something a long time ago. It won’t be around much longer though because most of the slides were recently purchased to open a small waterpark/fun center in Rancho Cucamonga, CA in what used to be Guasti park. I know the people starting the park and they all actually met while working at Raging Waters in San Dimas. The new park should be open by next summer and will be right off the I-10 and Archibald (a few miles before the 10/15 interchange).
Now that’s some high-quality knowledge.
6 | Gandhi at the Olympics
One of the items on my August 22nd list, 11 Really Strange Olympic Facts, was that Gandhi worked as a reporter at the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
I found that info at a seemingly credible site, but I couldn’t find a second source to corroborate it… and it always felt kinda off to me. Still, I ran with it, because it sounded so cool. (I’m kind of like the New York Post in that way.)
Well… a reader named Brian wrote to confirm my underlying fear: He was pretty sure it was a myth. Here’s why:
You are correct in your … assessment suggesting that Gandhi had bigger issues to deal with: On January 4th, 1932, at 3:00 am Gandhi was arrested and interred at Yeravda Central Prison where he remained until May 8, 1933.
It is therefore quite unlikely that the Gandhi who we associate with Civil noncompliance and nonviolence was attending those Olympics in any capacity. Perhaps your source was mistaken, or perhaps Gandhi isn’t such a rare name?
Too good to be true. Damn. Sorry.
7 | Ross Perot was very short
On September 25th, I published my list of the 11 Shortest Presidential Candidates in American History. Unfortunately, when I was researching, I was only looking at a list of major party candidates.
So, as my Mom pointed out, I forgot Ross Perot. He checked in at 5-foot-5-and-a-half, which would make him the second-shortest candidate in history, behind only James Madison.
8 | You ran out of what?
On October 2nd, I put up my list of the 11 Best Photos of Spelling Mistakes. And my friend Justin sent me one that I egregiously overlooked. You can see it to the right.
9 | The Merchant Marines
On October 27th, I put up a list of 11 Defunct College Bowls That Sound Awesome. On that list, I made light of the Boardwalk Bowl in Atlantic City for inviting the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy for seven straight years, using a variety of Monopoly allusions to suggest that they should’ve paid more to lure better schools to the game.
A reader named Christopher wrote me to let me know the error of my ways…
The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy … is one of the 5 federal service academies and there are a ton of other cool facts about it (spend a year at sea in college, only service academy that commissions into every armed force). Also most of its alums are pretty rich (sailing is good biz), so they prob could have popped for the tickets at $75. I am a recent grad and I always get excited when I see my largely unknown Alma Mater mentioned anywhere.
My apologies, Christopher. Looks like I do not deserve to pass Go or collect $200. That was a seriously low class, Baltic Avenue-style move on my part. I could go on.
10 | Things the Bible bans (a follow-up)
I feel like the most inflammatory list in the first six months of this site was my September 24th list, 11 Things the Bible Bans, But You Do Anyway.
I did get a few e-mails about it. Here’s an excerpt of one from a reader named Dave:
[I]n reading your above list I realized it’s creating mis-impressions. If you pick up any Jewish bible … you’ll see that these quotes have been mistranslated and/or misinterpreted from what’s actually written. In addition, Jewish law is based on both the written and oral Torah which goes well beyond the texts that you quoted from the Old Testament.
In brief: Round haircuts refers to length of sideburns only for Jews, football is fine, believing in fortune telling is akin to idol worship, the sin of Onan wasn’t pulling out – it was refusing to impregnate his brother’s wife, tattoos are a no-go for Jews, polyester is fine (it refers to linen/wool mixtures which have a priestly connotation for Jews), divorce is fine, the testicle thing refers to priests only, shellfish is a no-go for Jews, the grabbing-testicles thing is about embarrassment and the penalty is financial only.
When I was researching this list (and I did a ton of research on this one), I came across almost all of the arguments that Dave mentions. But… on the deeper level, ignoring them was exactly the point of my list.
My underlying argument — and reason for writing the list — was to point out the way that people aggressively misquote and misinterpret the Biblical text for their own self-serving purposes, to impose their beliefs on others, and to promote their own, self-centered agenda.
In this case, my self-serving agenda was to write a list that made that point while being funny. So, yeah, it’s funnier for me to write that the Bible bans pulling out than to write that the Bible bans pulling out to avoid impregnating your brother’s childless widow… and, based on the mere letter of the text, my way is the way it should be interpreted.
My other main purpose was to point out the hypocrisy of picking and choosing which Old Testament laws are for Jews only and which ones aren’t. I wanted to point out that the ones that are hard or restrictive to follow (like keeping Kosher or not getting tattoos) always get brushed off as “Jesus negated those”… while laws that sit right next to them, like the anti-homosexuality ones, somehow get quoted by bigots as the unbreakable word of God.
So really, any spread of misinformation was by design, either for humor, social commentary or some mix of both.
11 | The banner ads
And finally, my friend Ilana asked me why the ads in the top right of this site sometimes were for Yes on Prop 8 (in other words, for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in California) but also for Gay Latino Dating. Sadly, I have no control over what Google chooses to run there. However, based on my demographic, I feel like they’re really barking up the wrong tree… somehow I found a reader base that both supports gay marriage and aren’t gay Latinos.