Hiltzik: Anti-doping authorities don’t play fair against athletes

Hiltzik: Anti-doping authorities don’t play fair against athletes – latimes.com:

The same people lining up to brand Lance Armstrong a cheater will worship a pitcher who undergoes Tommy John transplant surgery to save his career. The Oakland A’s Bartolo Colon will be missing 50 games for taking testosterone, but what about the batters he’s faced who have had their eyeballs surgically refabricated with Lasik so they can read his pitches better?

Is the rule that it’s OK to enhance your performance by scalpel but not by hypodermic needle? Then let’s discuss that and establish exactly what the grounds are for the distinction. Until we clear that up, along with why caffeine isn’t on the banned list but marijuana is, athletes will try anything they can to beat their records, thrill the masses and make money. And why not?

It’s all well and good to say the goal of the anti-doping system is to ensure that sports stay clean, and it’s certainly true that clean athletes have every reason to resent having to compete against cheaters.

But we’ve created a strange way to uphold these principles — a system that writes its own rule book, moves the goal posts at will, lies and fabricates to get the score it wants and fiercely resists playing before an objective umpire. Whatever you choose to think of Lance Armstrong, his case is just one more indication that the supposed guardians of honesty and integrity in sports are among the filthiest players of all.

[Excellent points all. The only part of these proceedings that make sense is the “don’t cheat” stuff.]



I have too much stuff. Most people in America do. In fact, the poorer people are, the more stuff they seem to have. Hardly anyone is so poor that they can’t afford a front yard full of old cars.

[Brilliant opening, and sadly too true for most of us. I may work on this forever unless some calamity helps me.]

Why Waiting in Line Is Torture

Why Waiting in Line Is Torture:

Fairness also dictates that the length of a line should be commensurate with the value of the product or service for which we’re waiting. The more valuable it is, the longer one is willing to wait for it. Hence the supermarket express line, a rare, socially sanctioned violation of first come first served, based on the assumption that no reasonable person thinks a child buying a candy bar should wait behind an old man stocking up on provisions for the Mayan apocalypse.

[Great article. Not to be missed by folks who deal with any form of waiting time…]

Lisa B, Mrs. S: Heart Trouble

Lisa B, Mrs. S: Heart Trouble:

Today, I sent the baby of my babies to kindergarten. I cried off and on all morning because it’s such a clear moment of transition. You live, work, and grow to prepare for moments like starting school, and when you get there, you can hardly believe you made it. It’s relief and pride and joy and a little bit of loss, because you had a purpose yesterday, and now your purpose isn’t so clear. Transitions require pauses and breaths, and then you begin again.

Then there are all these miracle milestones for kids – like walking, biking, swimming, reading. Once they can do these things, they look like they’ve always been able to, but you know they couldn’t and it just seems miraculous. Often, these miracle milestones coincide with clear transitions – turning one or beginning school – and they just make your heart swell.

[So true.]

NH roads signs are like my friends

As a cyclist, the hills have not always been my friends. Near mortal enemies possibly as they have tried to kill me on many occasions. But mostly we maintain an uneasy truce if I don’t ignore them for too long.

I had a beautiful ride planned for my just completed vacation, but circumstance would not allow me to do it. No complaint, just the facts. But there was one section I wanted to do anyway, down through Crawford Notch to the site of the Willey House and back up through the notch, which was not far from where we were staying. It’s a signature bit of climbing through the history of the place, with beautiful views and cascades along the way. I felt I owed it to myself.

A little ways down the road from where we stayed is a short climb, 7% or so, and after climbing that bit you come to the sign below. You can see the drop off in the picture:

IMG 1989

But note the sign warning truckers. Okay thinks I, no worries about that. What’s ¾ of a mile anyway even at a decently steep grade? As you come to the end of that ¾ of a mile section you continue to fall into the Notch (as they refer to these steep, glacially carved valleys in New Hampshire) at ever increasing speed you see this:

IMG 1996

That’s right. 4 miles of 13%. And my only thought other than a McEnroesque “You cannot be serious!” was “How like my friend Jenni. Not that all my cycling friends haven’t told me the same thing at one point or another… namely “No worries, we’ll go this way, it’s flat.” when flat is the last thing it is. But Jenni especially, either because we’ve done a ton of riding together over the years, or because she has little sense of direction, or something, is the king of “No worries, we’ll go this way, it’s flat.” when it sooo isn’t.

In the past I would have grabbed two fists full of brake and reduced the damage to a minimum. But I live in hilly area, and I now ride those hills all the time. And the hills and I are no longer mortal enemies although they still wear me out. So down I plunged enjoying the crisp air, the beautiful views, and the sunshine. Turned around down the road, as I intended, and rode back up the Notch.

As I climbed I got a fist pump from some nice woman in a car. I had a brief conversation with a vacationing family that runs a bike shop somewhere. Joked, for a few short yards, with a construction manager who was working on the road (and walking up the side of it as he got his day started) and all in all had the most lovely ride.

IMG 1990

Sadly it was my last ride of the vacation as I got a slow leak in the front tubbie I had with me. So six hours after I got back, the front tire was flat and further I had messed up my plans for a spare. But no worries. I’ll be back. And the mountains will still be there. And maybe Jenni and my other cycling friends can join me next time… (Gerry, Barbara, Seth, Jill, Mark etc. etc. you know who you are…)

IMG 1889

That lake you see in the distance, down the road on the left, is where I turned around.