THE BLOG

Tiger Woods--Leave My Brain Alone!

12/10/2009 12:21 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

There is only so much room in my brain, and too much of it is being taken up by Tiger Woods.

Do I really need to know that one of the golfer's chippies is a porn star whose oeuvre includes "Girl on Girl Tickle Wards," and "OMG Stop Tickling Me!"? OK, maybe I did need to know that. But now I also know much more than necessary about Tiger's sex life. Will he soon update the "it was only a blowjob" adultery defense to "it was only tickling?"

Also a bundle of laughs is the claim that Tiger's prowls were partly due to his use of the powerful sleep medication Ambien. According to Rachel "I am not a tramp" Uchitel, the couple had "crazy Ambien sex," a contradiction in terms if I've ever heard one.

I've taken Ambien and woken up the next morning to find my light on, my book open on the bed and my glasses somewhere on the floor. Others, as has been widely reported, get in car crashes at the U.S. Capitol or wake up to find telltale clues: mouthfuls of peanut butter and Tostitos in their beds. But most Incidents of Ambien's role in sexual encounters usually involve one sleepwalker (or driver, eater or fornicator) and one more alert participant.

While the cascading inanity of the Tiger Woods story is amusing, that fact that rich men like to hang around what S. J. Perelman called "pneumatic blondes" is hardly surprising. I'm starting to miss the brain cells I've squandered on this story, or for that matter, similar scandals that involve a group of newsmakers I find inherently more interesting than athletes--politicians.

I admit it--I freely and lasciviously gobbled up the initial news accounts of the Missouri politician whose S&M encounter went awry because he drugged his partner so heavily she couldn't say the "safe word" he'd thought up--"green balloons." And I've similarly drooled over the Mark Sanford, David Vitter, John Ensign, or for that matter, Wilbur Mills stories.

But I know it's not good for me. If I could install a filter in my brain to block stupid news (with a nightly half-hour timeout for Jon Stewart) I'd do so--probably. I mean, would I really rather read more mind-numbing detail about health reform, financial regulation or Afghanistan?

Yes, I think I would. Apart from it being an obligation of good citizenship to stay reasonably informed (and as I've previously noted, ideally with the aid of a daily dose of newspapers), according to an article in the Atlantic called "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" the rush of high-bandwith information is shortening attention spans and eroding literacy.

Bruce Friedman, who blogs regularly about the use of computers in medicine, also has described how the Internet has altered his mental habits. "I now have almost totally lost the ability to read and absorb a longish article on the web or in print," he wrote earlier this year. A pathologist who has long been on the faculty of the University of Michigan Medical School, Friedman elaborated on his comment in a telephone conversation with me. His thinking, he said, has taken on a "staccato" quality, reflecting the way he quickly scans short passages of text from many sources online. "I can't read War and Peace anymore," he admitted. "I've lost the ability to do that. Even a blog post of more than three or four paragraphs is too much to absorb. I skim it."

The Atlantic story goes on to prove this thesis in chilling detail--at least, I think it does. I stopped reading the 4,000 word article after the third screen.

What's that? Tiger Woods is announcing on Larry King he's going into rehab? This I gotta see...