Rugby, lab monkeys and learning the language
I have some disturbing news and no it's got nothing to do with the Category 1 howler currently circling St. Anthony.
Sometime this year, scientists are expecting to create the first fully laboratory grown sausage.
Scandalous I know.
Next year they expect to have done the same with a hamburger patty and they aren't ruling have panda burgers on menus around the world, grown only in petri dishes and with no harm to pandas.
And not just panda, we’re talking a variety of rare and exotic meats. I'm thinking probably elephant or rhino but I for one would love to try some condor if that becomes available. Could you imagine the wings they'd sell at Don Cherry's? Although it must be said that scientists really should think these things through a lot more, I mean the last thing you want to do is encourage the consumption of something so deliciously looking as a panda.
Anyway, I discovered all this while reading the latest issue of New Scientist in which it says that those crazy kids over at PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) have jumped on board the synthetic meat gravy train offering $1 million for the first commercially grown synthetic meat. I'm sure there must be some PETA vegans with dietary dilemmas over that decision. In fact how did that one slip through without me hearing about it earlier?
Why am I telling you this other than the fact it's interesting? Well the synthetically created meat products ties in perfectly with South Africa versus Fiji match because as soon as Frans Steyn lined up a 60 metre penalty kick 10 minutes into a match the Springboks were supposed to win handsomely, I picked up my New Scientist magazine.
When clearly the better side of the day – they are the defending champions and ranked three in the world – takes a penalty shot from within their own half against a team ranked 15th in the world, it's time to turn to your favourite magazine.
Despite an undying love of rugby and the Rugby World Cup there are times during this tournament it feels like your interest is manufactured by a lab monkey (think USA v Russia or Romania v Georgia).
Come to think of it there are some parallels between the Springboks and this whole synthesized meat thing. Not in a bad way, but you've got to admit that some of the 'Boks players do look like they have been created in a laboratory with a certain air of manufactured perfection.
That's not to say the game didn't become interesting with a scoring blitz in the final 15 minutes.
A score line of 49-3 is indicative of an entertaining game but truth be told I preferred watching the 1am match between Argentina and Romania because at least the Argentines let it all hang out from the outset beating the 17th ranked team 43-8.
The 'Boks did look good with ball in hand, far better than they did against Wales in their tournament opener, a game they should have lost if truth be told.
This morning's blow outs (you can take or leave the hurricane pun) make just three matches thus far that have looked lopsided which is a good sign of just how the fringe teams have come from 2007. The other big score line came in Friday's blow out between New Zealand and Japan in which the hosts romped away with the game 83-7.
At least the Australia v Ireland match later on this morning offers what should be a closer game.
You can't help but laugh when here English commentators pronouncing the names of Pacific Island players.
Take Dominiko Maiwiriwiri Waqaniburotu or Talemaitoga Dautu Tuapati.
I imagine the polished English lads on ITV practicing the names in front of a mirror, their produces standing behind them with a cattle prod or taser as the talent roll their tongues on all the Rs, goldfishing all the Os and stumbling over the Ws. (NOTE: we don't have cable so I'm watching all the matches on a laptop named Wilbur hooked up to my television. The only reason we got the internet connected at our dungeon was to ensure we could stream the rugby.)
South African players are no better though. Gurthrö Steenkamp isn't your run of the mill name, nor is Jannie Du Plessis.
Unfortunately the delightfully named Joost van der Westhuizen, who won almost every trophy available in rugby union including a World Cup in 1999, no long plays because it was always fantastic to hear commentators sing that name during a match. Joost ranks in my top two favourite names of sportspeople; the other is Dutch swimmer Peter van den Hoogenband. I don't know what it is. It's like people who deserve hyphens in their names threw their hands up in the air and "No. I'm not pretentious. Just throw all the letters in there man, it'll make sense."
Still on names, I've never been able to muster the ubiquitous Newfoundland greeting of "yes b'y". My tongue goes one way, my mouth the other and I end up sounding like a drunken crow or a polar bear giving birth but thanks to the ITV commentators and a certain Fijian player, I have just discovered a way of mastering the phrase.
Seremaia Bai, the nation's inside-centre-cum-fly-half has a last name that I can pronounce and which, when said by a non-Newfoundlander actually makes you sound like a Newfoundlander.