Thursday, July 26, 2007

Tour de Farce?

Just a thought, but if everybody is doping, as now appears to be the case in the tour de France, doesn't it then follow that noone is actually cheating? I mean, if everyone is doing it then clearly nobody is gaining any advantage from it. Most of the riders in the current generation are doping because they had to do so to compete from the minute they entered the tour, with everyone else already doing the same. So how is this cheating?

I mean, I *know* it's cheating in the legal sense, but it certainly is not cheating in the more common sense of fairness and fair play. Rules agaisnt cheating are designed to create a level playing field, but if the only way to compete for anyone is to keep up with all the other cheaters by doping, then the playing field is not level until they themselves dope. The toru de France is proving that doping can, in this instance, not be cheating but instead the elimination of cheating.

Oh, I know, but they're cheaters: and your mother always said to you things like "if everybody else jumped off the bridge would you do so too?" Well, if jumping off the bridge was what was necessary for me to keep my livelihood, I might take the chance. There is precedent for this as well. Recent traffic court cases in California have dismissed speeding tickets on the grounds that if a driver was traveling with the flow of trafic--even if trafic was flowing faster than the legal speed limit--that he's not guilty of speeding. All these tour riders are just going with the flow.

But what does this indicate about steroids in baseball?

The Death of Batboy

I am so sad!!

The Weekly World News has folded up shop. If I had the money I'd buy the name and start printing it myself. No, I never read the Weekly World News. I hate tabloids. But there was something quaint about a tabloid that was so outrageous even the most guloble idiots in the checkout line couldn't take it seriously. Let's face it: it is one of two tabloids to spawn a musical comedy, that musical of course being the award winning and critically acclaimed "Bat Boy." (Well, ok, the Chicago Tribune isn't really a tabloid, but tabloid journalism at the Trib did eventually become "Chicago.") I will miss he aliens peering at me as I thumb through the sticks of gum, the worlds fattest woman and, of course, Bat Boy. There was something truly charming about Bat Boy. His like will not pass this way again--at least until the road version comes around.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Dangerous Ideas

Hot on the heels of this morning's post on Ward Churchill, my friend Ken sent me this article from the Chicago Sun Times:,CST-CONT-danger15.article


USA Today ran a big piece in today's sports section about the "Crisis of Faith" pro sports is facing with the three scandals now supposedly rocking sports: Michael Vick's indictment on animal cruelty charges in football, referee Tim Donaghy possibly fixing games in Basketball, and Barry Bonds possibly using steroids in baseball.

First of all, and I'm sure it's because I'm a Giants fan and I love Barry Bonds, I don't see that as a big deal anymore. The media are trying to whip up a frenzy, but fans have long ago made up their minds about Barry and more or less moved on. Just because he gets booed when he comes to the plate on the road doesn't mean anything other than opposing fans don't like him. And Michael Vick's indictment won't register for long either. Even if he's convicted, what Vick is accused of doing has nothing to do with the game of football. People will see him as a monster, but football is doing a pretty good job of isolating him, and while scholars may see the dog fighting charges as indicative of a culture of violence that is ingrained in the NFL, most fans won't care.

The NBA is in deep trouble however.

But what gets me most is how the media, even a relatively staid paper like USA today, is manufacturing and spinning all of this. This so called crisis in sports is not yet real, but it *does* have a chance of becoming real if the media harps on it enough--in the same way that Hearst turned an innocent Fatty Arbuckle into a rapist and murderer in order to sell papers. And that's a real crisis.

The Death of Tenure

Well, I see that the University of Colorado has finally gone ahead and fired Ward Churchill. They claim not to have fired him for what he said about 9/11 (calling the victims in the WTC "little Eichmanns") but instead for misrepresentations and plagiarism. Bullshit. They freely admitted that they launched their investigation of Churchill because of the uproar caused by his 9/11 essay, and the whole thing had the flavor of a witch hunt. I've already said I think Churchill's essay was despicable but was free speech (the regents of Colorado said the same), but somebody other than the one regent who voted not to fire him should stand up and say this is bullshit. The things they did fire Churchill for seem as interpretive as his 9/11 comments. They claim he fabricated evidence that the US Army intentionally spread small pox among American Indians, and that he misrepresented the Indian's plight. But both of these are conclusions he came to: there are not indisputable facts either way. The third thing they claim, that he claimed credit for the work of a Canadian environmental group, is also pretty trumped up. Let's face it: they wanted to get rid of him because of what he said about 9/11, and they found a way. Make no mistake: this is the death of freedom of speech for scholars. It is the end of academic independence. It is the death of tenure.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The You Tube Election

So dig it: there was a debat last night for the democratic presidential candidtates that was jointly sponsored by You Tube and CNN. It's a great fusion of old media and new media, as You Tube users posted video questions to the candidates, who had to answer in normal speech, not candidate-speak, because of how most of the questions were phrased. But here is the thing I loved most: in an AOL poll this morning the person polled as having done the worst job in the debate was Hilary Clinton, with a 27% negative vote. And the person polled as hiving done the best job in the debate? Hilary Clinton! Here positive rating of 37% bodes fairly well for her primary chances.

But as I've been saying all along: while I think the ticket will be her and Obama, my guy is still Bill Richardson, the only pro-gun/pro environment democrat with chief executive and foreign policy experience in the race. Go Bill!

Thursday, July 19, 2007


The New York Times reports that Murdoch's arival wories longtime writers at the Wall Street Journal. Jsut for the record it worries readers too. Having the worlds most pernicious and provocative media mogul in charge of the worlds most prestigious financial newspaper is cause for concern throughout the industry. Page Six, anyone?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


As God is my witness: I thought Lady Bird Johnson was already dead.

Bad Medicine

I’ve long ago given up hope that the revelations of a top Bush administration official will somehow force he administration to change the way it does business. But if anything can it’s got to be the testimony yesterday of former Surgeon General Rishard Carmona, who was Surgeon General from 2002 to 2006. C. Everet Coop and David Satcher, Surgeons General under Regan and Clinton also testified, and all three of them told of political pressures from administration officials to alter or suppress their scientific findings. That the Regan administration tried to stifle debate about AIDS was well known, while the revelation that the Clinton administration tried to suppress a report that needle exchange was effective in fighting disease presents yet more evidence that, despite what the talking heads on Fox might say, Clinton was in no way a liberal.

But Carmona’s testimony was incredibly damning. In case after case—stem cells, cancer, sex education, global warming—Carmona was directed by administration officials not to talk about the issues, not to conduct research, to suppress findings, and to tow the administration line catering to its conservative base. The message was clear: the Surgeon General’s positions were to be based on conservative political positions and not on science.

Play politics with the war is one thing. Many people will let the president get away with that. But most people outside the “God is our science” crowd will not tolerate playing politics with the health of America.

Of course if any of this surprises you you haven’t been paying attention.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

God Dammit!

I've said it a million times: the most dangerous thing Race Car drivers do isn't drive around a track at 200 miles and hour, it's flying from track to track in small jets. Yet again a plane with a NASCAR connection has gone down. This one was carrying the husband of Leesa France Kennedy,a member of the France family that founded NASCAR, and daughter of NASCAR president Bill France Junior, who died just last month. That's a lot of sorrow to endue in one summer.

The plane was owned by a France family company. There hasn't been an on track death in NCACAR's three major series since Dale Earnhardt Sr. died in the Daytona 500 in 2001, but there have been three NASCAR plane crashes (counting the one that almost took Jack Roush's life) and fifteen NASCAR deaths (more once the victims on the ground in to days crash are counted).

Of course it's not just NASCAR. Payne Stewart, Bill Graham, Corey Lidle, Thurmon Munson, Billy Ray Cyrus, Roberto Clemente, going all the way back to Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper: the need to hop around in a small airplane or helicopter to get from one performance venue to another creates an amazing amount of risk. And this week at the track there will once again be a moment of silence, there will be tears for yet five more members of the NASCAR community gone down, and there will be sorrow. And there is really little we can do about any of it. Dammit!