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Posts Tagged ‘Catherine the Great

“Every time you learn you can do something, you can go a little bit faster next time”*…


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Joey Chestnut set a new world record by eating 75 hotdogs in 10 minutes at Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest on July 4


… at least, up to a point.  Readers will know that (Roughly) Daily has checked in on the competitive eating circuit before (e.g., here), with special attention to the the event hosted by the iconic Nathan’s.  So imagine your correspondent’s surprise to learn that the era of dramatic new records year after year might be coming to a close…

The four-minute mile and the two-hour marathon were once believed impossible: now a new gauntlet has been thrown down for the world of elite competition. A scientific analysis suggests competitive eaters have come within nine hotdogs of the limits of human performance.

The theoretical ceiling has been set at 84 hotdogs in 10 minutes. The current world record, set by Joey “Jaws” Chestnut earlier this month, stands at 75.

James Smoliga, a sports medicine specialist at High Point University in North Carolina who authored the research, described 84 hotdogs as “the maximum possible limit for a Usain Bolt-type performance”.

The analysis is based on 39 years of historical data from Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, an annual spectacle of gluttony held on Coney Island, New York, combined with the latest sports science theory, which uses mathematical modelling to project trends in performance.

Hotdog composition and size have, reportedly, remained unchanged at Nathan’s Famous in the fast food company’s 104-year history, allowing for valid comparison between competitors across years.

Improvement curves in elite sports ranging from sprinting to pole vaulting tend to follow a so-called sigmoidal curve, featuring an initial slow and steady rise, followed by an era of rapid improvement and finally a levelling off. “Hotdog eating has definitely reached that second plateau,” said Smoliga…

The limit of progress? The end of history? “Competitive hotdog eaters nearing limit of human performance.”  See also “Scientists Have Finally Calculated How Many Hot Dogs a Person Can Eat at Once.”

* Joey Chestnut, competitive eating champion [pictured above]


As we chow down, we might recall that it was on this date in 1762 that Catherine II– better known as Catherine the Great– became the Empress of Russia after the murder of her husband (in a coup that she’d helped arrange).  While her personal habits (largely her love life) tend to dominate popular memories of her, scholars note that her reign (through 1792) was a “Golden Age,” during which she revitalized Russia, which grew larger and stronger, and became one of the great powers of Europe and Asia.

Catherine enthusiastically supported the ideals of the Enlightenment; and as a patron of the arts, presided over the age of the Russian Enlightenment, including the establishment of the Smolny Institute for Noble Maidens, the first state-financed higher education institution for women in Europe.

503px-Catherine_II_by_J.B.Lampi_(1780s,_Kunsthistorisches_Museum) source


What might have been…

From New Yorker art editor Françoise Mouly and and her daughter,  Nadja Spiegelman, Blown Covers: “New Yorker covers you were never meant to see.”

The themes on the Blown Covers website closely mirror what I suggest to the New Yorker artists I already work with. This blog and contest are informal and not affiliated with the magazine but I’m always on the lookout for ideas…

More at Blown Covers.


As we say “eek, a Maus!, “we might recall that it was on this date in 1762 that Catherine II (‘Catherine the Great’; 1729 – 1796), became Empress of Russia upon the assassination of her husband, the unpopular Peter III of Russia, eight days after he had been ousted by forces loyal to his wife.  Les than six months earlier that year, after moving into the new Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg, Peter had succeeded to the throne as Tsar; but his eccentricities and policies alienated the very groups that Catherine had cultivated.  Grigori Orlov, Catherine’s lover at the time, led a conspiracy that murdered Peter and proclaimed Catherine ruler.  It is often speculated that Catherine was somehow involved in Peter’s death, but her complicity has never been proved.

Ekaterina (her name in Russian) exemplified an “enlightened monarch,” reforming State administration, extending the rights of both nobles and serfs, and championing education for women.   At the same time, she is famous for her sexual appetites.  She entertained many lovers in a secret room filled with paintings and sculptures depicting the full range of carnal possibility, in which the furniture incorporated depictions of giant sexual organs.  But there is no historical basis for the often-told tale that she was crushed to death when attendants lost their grip on ropes supporting a horse that was being lowered on her for sexual pleasure.


Written by (Roughly) Daily

July 17, 2012 at 1:01 am

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