aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Lance Armstrong announced his retirement last night, and then took off today on the Tour de Georgia, which passed by campus this afternoon (photo). He placed 15th at the end of day 1 of the six day race. Here is a very cool map that tells you precisely where the race is throughout the day.
Lance has been dogged by accusations of performance enhancing drug use:
Almost immediately after Armstrong’s announcement, the scoffers pounced. In the cycling chat rooms, as gossipy as you will find in any sport, there are constant debates about whether Armstrong has received artificial help to dominate a sport that has been rife with doping scandals. And now, the debate has begun about this latest move.
Seems odd timing, doesn’t it? Last month, one of Armstrong’s former personal assistants basically accused Armstrong of cheating. In court papers filed over a financial dispute between the two men, the former assistant claims he discovered a banned performance-enhancing substance in Armstrong’s apartment early in 2004.
The theory goes this way: Armstrong is trying to deflect attention from that case by making the rest of this year all about his retirement, not the alleged drug violations. A brilliant diversionary move.
I like to think that these accusations will be proven false, but I find the concept of enhancement fuzzy. And I’m not real clear on why “natural abilities” are more worthy than those you work for. It’s not like they take the drug then head to the beach. This is the reasonable result of a system of coaches, trainers, scientists and businesses creating new drugs, and fans applauding the results of their use.
On Sunday William Saletan asked, if steroids are cheating, why isn’t Lasik?
A month ago, Mark McGwire was hauled before a congressional hearing and lambasted as a cheater for using a legal, performance-enhancing steroid precursor when he broke baseball’s single-season home run record.
A week ago, Tiger Woods was celebrated for winning golf’s biggest tournament, the Masters, with the help of superior vision he acquired through laser surgery.
What’s the difference?
Good point. Saletan looks at the three objections (it’s illegal, unhealthy and cheating) handily dismissing the first two (illegality doesn’t explain why a drug should be illegal and human growth hormone is “generally considered to be safe” by the NIH) then takes on cheating:
Wait a minute. If the andro that helped McGwire hit 70 home runs in 1998 was an unnatural, game-altering enhancement, what about his high-powered contact lenses? “Natural” vision is 20/20. McGwire’s custom-designed lenses improved his vision to 20/10, which means he could see at a distance of 20 feet what a person with normal, healthy vision could see at 10 feet. Think what a difference that makes in hitting a fastball. Imagine how many games those lenses altered.
You could confiscate McGwire’s lenses, but good luck confiscating Woods’ lenses. They’ve been burned into his head. In the late 1990s, both guys wanted stronger muscles and better eyesight. Woods chose weight training and laser surgery on his eyes. McGwire decided eye surgery was too risky and went for andro instead. McGwire ended up with 70 homers and a rebuke from Congress for promoting risky behavior. Woods, who had lost 16 straight tournaments before his surgery, ended up with 20/15 vision and won seven of his next 10 events.
Since then, scores of pro athletes have had laser eye surgery, known as LASIK (Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis). Many, like Woods, have upgraded their vision to 20/15 or better. Golfers Scott Hoch, Hale Irwin, Tom Kite, and Mike Weir have hit the 20/15 mark. So have baseball players Jeff Bagwell, Jeff Cirillo, Jeff Conine, Jose Cruz Jr., Wally Joyner, Greg Maddux, Mark Redman, and Larry Walker. Amare Stoudemire and Rip Hamilton of the NBA have done it, along with NFL players Troy Aikman, Ray Buchanan, Tiki Barber, Wayne Chrebet, and Danny Kanell...Does the upgrade help? Looks that way. Maddux, a pitcher for the Atlanta Braves, was 0-3 in six starts before his surgery. He won nine of his next 10 games. Kite had LASIK in 1998 and won six events on the Champions Tour over the next five years. Three months after his surgery, Irwin captured the Senior PGA Tour Nationwide Championship.
Sounds like performance enhancement to me.
There’s an upside to Ratzinger
...there are encouraging signs on other issues of global justice from Ratzinger’s history. Take the issue of the Iraq War, Ratzinger opposed “preventive war” and spoke out in support of the US working through the United Nations. And on social justice, while Ratzinger is well-known as “the Enforcer” who attacked Libertation Theology advocates throughout the developing world, his major statement against the trend, Instruction on Certain Aspects of the “Theology of Liberation” is actually a very strong statement of his view of the Catholic Church’s commitment to economic justice, even as he attacks church leaders for not emphasizing spirituality during such campaigns and for endorsing ideologies that he sees as based on violence. But the commitment to justice is clear.
In the latter, Mitch Albom added color to his story:
To most people he’s a novelist, and they don’t hold him to the same journalistic standard as they would others. This is not as if Bob Woodward got caught manufacturing quotes from the president.”
In a column April 3, Albom described two former Michigan State basketball players, both now in the NBA, attending an NCAA Final Four semifinal game on Saturday. The players told Albom they planned to attend, and Albom, filing Friday before the game, wrote as if the players were there, including that they wore Michigan State green. But the players’ plans changed and they never attended.
But in the former:
In the “Today” segment, Mr. Oppenheim talked about products made or sold by 15 companies. Nine were former clients and eight of those had paid him for product placement on local TV during the preceding year.
Mr. Oppenheim is part of a little-known network that connects product experts with advertisers and TV shows. The experts pitch themselves to companies willing to pay for a mention. Next, they approach local-TV stations and offer themselves up to be interviewed. Appearances frequently coincide with trade shows, such as the Consumer Electronics Show, or holidays including Christmas or Valentine’s Day.
The segments are often broadcast live via satellite from a trade event and typically air during regular news programming in a way that’s indistinguishable from the rest of the show. One reviewer may conduct dozens of interviews with local stations over the course of a day in what the industry calls a “satellite media tour.” While this circuit is predominantly focused on the local television market, the big prize for marketers is a mention on national television shows, which carry far more clout with viewers.
Mr. Oppenheim offers no apology, only explanations.
Who needs pharmacists?
Have you noticed that what pharmacists have become in our modern era is nothing more than computer jockeys who look up the med, phone the insurance company for approval, then pull the bottle from the shelf, stick it in a bag and send you off to be rung up? Who needs ‘em! Give me mail order from Canada any day. Especially with this nonsense.
Inside today’s NYTimes story is this:
Some of the bills could become moot if the Food and Drug Administration approves the morning-after pill for over-the-counter sale by pharmacists, something advocates for women’s reproductive rights and several Democratic senators have pressured the agency to do.
If over-the-counter sales are allowed, experts on the issue say, pharmacists who do not want to provide the pill on moral grounds could simply decide not to stock it, which current state laws already allow them to do. If a large drugstore chain decided to stock it, but an individual pharmacist in the chain objected, such a dispute might be governed by the employment agreements between the chain and the pharmacist.
But the bills may also lay the groundwork for pharmacists’ actions regarding future controversial medications. And both sides in the debate may consider the publicity generated by any proposed legislation to be beneficial to their cause.
Let’s go for it! Get rid of the middleman. The folks from the spooky Constitution in Exile Movement would likely agree with the elimination of pharmacists. (Rosen’s article moves me even more towards Nathan Newman’s anti-filibuster and anti-court views.) “They challenged state licensing laws that made it hard for small-business entrepreneurs to break into highly regulated professions” so maybe they’ll help me because hey, I want to be a pharmacist too! (And I’ll get my pill bottles at Target.)
While on the topic of the “right of conscience” do they and their lawmaker friends respect the ethical rights of a conscientious objector to refuse to serve in the military? Opportunistic hypocrites who cherry pick their morality from a politically conservative menu, all of them!
RELATED: Crooks and Liars helpfully posts on the Plan B Pill. For more on pharmacists see The Carpetbagger Report, Majikthise and me. And for a laugh, God knows we need one, here’s the video of Bill Maher going after these ridiculous pharmacists.