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January 26, 2011

Tour De France Colorforms

As a person of a certain age, I've come to learn that when we use leading-edge new solutions to solve modern problems, what we're really doing is kicking the can down the street for about twenty years so that future-folks™ will face an even worse problem.

Given that insight, I really appreciate it when instead of introducing a new-fangled techno-gizmo solution, we reach back into the body of received wisdom and utilize a solution that has stood the test of time. It's particularly gratifying when the chosen solution is something that harkens back to the time of my own youth, because it reinforces my belief that WayBackWhen there were simple answers to complex problems.

I am very happy to see today's new development in professional cycling, straight out of my halcyon days: the introduction of Colorforms Tour De France Edition, 2011.

For the younger reader, Colorforms were paper-thin, die-cut vinyl images that are meant to be applied to a shiny plastic laminated board. The images and the laminated board tend to adhere to each other, and the figures can be posed in different juxtapositions. The tagline was, "It's more fun to play the Colorforms way!"

There were a lot of different types of Colorforms: there was Smurf Colorforms, Weather Girl Colorforms, GI Joe Colorforms, Barbie Colorforms, even Star Trek colorforms - althought I personally always hoped they would develop Star Trek Red Shirt Colorforms, where you could stick a red shirt on any character and they would be killed within four minutes.

Also in today's GoogleNews was the story of pro cyclist Alberto Contador's suspension for a year, retroactive to last August (a pretty cool way to get a one-year suspension in almost February, btw). He is also to be stripped of his victory in the 2010 Tour de France. The problem is that all the photos taken in August 2010 show Alberto Cantador as the winner. Do a Google Image search on "winner 2010 tour de france podium" and you'll see pictures like the one on the right: Alberto Contador winning, Andy Schleck second, Dennis Menchov third.

We've seen the same problem before with Floyd Landis. The winner of the Tour De France is announced, everybody takes pictures, yada yada yada, six months later they announce the results of drug tests to sell more newspapers, Floyd's title is revoked, drama denial sturm-und-drang, and the results are shuffled: the second-place rider moves up to first, the third-place rider moves up to second, and some unknown moves into third place.

The Affair du' Landis introduced the same problem that we now face again with Contador: Google Images is stuffed with pictures of the wrong rider winning the Tour de France, which we now know never really happened. With the corruption of the Google Image dataset, millions of school children will be learning a false history and turning in erroneous term papers - because the modern pedagogic process now consists of, Let Me Google That For You.

The potential effect on the world economy is mind-boggling. When the public's faith in whatever their screen tells them is shaken, when people can no longer trust their iPad app to tell them the absolute iTruth, some people will begin questioning all sorts of information and assertions that they once accepted in blind faith. Osama bin Ladin in Afghanistan Iraq Pakistan Iran? AIG / BoA / Citigroup caring about Main Street? Defined Contributions trumps Defined Benefits? Bipartisan congressional reform? No good can come of that path.

Fortunately, our capitalist economy and Adam Smith's invisible hand have provided a solution: Colorforms Tour de France Edition. This is going to be much more effective than the communistic Soviet technique of photoshopping and revising the historical archive; let's just build in some flexibility from the start, with ColorForms Tour De France Edition! Come on, it'll be fun!

After the initial rollout, we see opportunities for Special Edition versions.
  • Great Masters Accessories: clingy images of Merckx, Patani, and a skinny LeMond.
  • SideKick Accessories: featuring George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer
  • the Lance Retrospective with Postal, Discovery, Astani, and Radio Shack kit
  • the Euro Edition, by ColourFourms
  • Daily Results Package: Colorforms of each days jersey - the Yellow, the Green, the White, and the Polka Dot - so that afficionados can stage their own Podium Ceremony™
It's more fun to ride the colorforms way!


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