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Babe Didrikson Zaharias (2) vs. Adam Schiff; Sid Caesar advances

And our noontime competition continues . . .

We had some good arguments on both sides yesterday.

Jonathan writes:

In my experience, comedians are great when they’re on-stage and morose and unappealing off-stage. Sullivan, on the other hand, was morose and unappealing on-stage, and witty and charming off-stage, or so I’ve heard. This comes down, then, to deciding whether the speaker treats the seminar as a stage or not. I don’t think Sullivan would, because it’s not a “rilly big shew.”

That’s some fancy counterintuitive reasoning: Go with Sullivan because he won’t take it seriously so his pleasant off-stage personality will show up.

On the other hand, Zbicyclist goes with the quip:

Your Show of Shows -> Your Seminar of Seminars.

Render unto Caesar.

I like it. Sid advances.

For our next contest, things get more interesting. In one corner, the greatest female athlete of all time, an all-sport trailblazer. In the other, the chairman of the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, who’s been in the news lately for his investigation of Russian involvement in the U.S. election. He knows all sorts of secrets.

If the seminar’s in the statistics department, Babe, no question. For the political science department, it would have to be Adam. But this is a university-wide seminar (inspired by this Latour-fest, remember?), so I think they both have a shot.


  1. Martha (Smith) says:

    Looks like the several comments from yesterday got lost.

  2. Martha (Smith) says:

    OK, that was a test. Now I’ll try to recap at least part of the comments that were posted here yesterday.
    The consensus seemed to be in favor of Babe — especially to give the chance of a later “matchup” with her and Thorne, which I called something like “the ultimate Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better” competition, suggesting not only feats of athletic prowess, but also sewing and singing (two of Babe’s talents). Maybe, to test the claim that Thorne could do anything he saw, have Babe do something, then it would be Thorne’s turn to do it.

  3. zbicyclist says:

    If all goes well, Babe would go against Jim Thorpe in the third round. Thereʼs a matchup! But that only works if Babe advances here.

    Schiff is more likely to share interesting stuff if questioned by a good press interviewer, rather than by the typical academic seminar audience. As a practiced politician, the amateur questioners at an academic seminar will just get pablum cliche answers.

    Babeʼs dealt with sportswriters, so thereʼs a risk of getting sports cliches as answers, but theyʼd be sports cliches of two generations ago, so they might seem new to us.

    • gec says:

      > If all goes well, Babe would go against Jim Thorpe in the third round

      Agreed, reason enough for me!

      As for Schiff knowing any secrets: I saw an interview with him last night in which he said that neither he nor anyone else on his committee were aware of the material in the (poorly) redacted Manafort filing from the other day, so Iʼm not so sure.

      Iʼd love to hear more from Babe, though, especially since she died young. Iʼd like to hear from her about being a woman GOAT in a time that was even more hostile to women (and to gay women) in a setting where she would feel free to speak openly. She also spent time doing stage shows, so even if she spouted cliches, I imagine theyʼd be engaging in a vaudevillian kind of way.

  4. Jonathan (another one) says:

    How is this even close? No politicians. No way, no how. And even if I had to have a politician, it would have to be at least a modestly interesting one. Schiff wonʼt say anything that heʼs planning to put in his book, and his book wonʼt contain anything beyond speculation anyway.

    But the simplest argument for Babe is that when youʼre good at absolutely everything (donʼt forget sewing) youʼre probably good at seminars. Sure, we have to regularize her seminar skill towards normal, but weʼd have to push Schiffʼs expectation up towards normal.

  5. Martha (Smith) says:

    Iʼm with zbicyclist, gec, and Jonathan (another one). Who would want to hear from a politician, when Babe could provide the opportunity for the ultimate “Anything you can do …” contest? She and Thorpe could compete in sewing and singing, as well as athletic skills. Maybe let her go first in each skill, and see how well Thorpe can match it. (And just for the fun of it, let them compete at mimicking baby goats:

  6. Diana Senechal says:

    It looks like this is heading toward a bye. Barring any unforeseen blizzards, Schiff will buy the drinks in the 19th hole, I bet.

    From an existential standpoint, If Schiff won this match, life would be absurd. Perhaps it is, but I still look for interludes of logic and meaning: for instance, right here. Let this battle be such an interlude, and let Babe claim the victory she deserves.

  7. Martha (Smith) says:

    Glad to see comments have been restored/resubmitted.

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