Astronomers believe there are hundreds of billions of galaxies in the universe, and between 100 and 300 billion stars in our own Milky Way alone. The sheer immensity is both humbling and beyond our modest comprehension. Yet increasingly, people can’t even take in the vast spray of stars cast across the night sky anymore, as that display has been veiled by the light pollution enveloping our cities. Thus, while much has been gained in our relentless technological trek, much too has been lost along the way, too.
With even the majesty of the night sky taken we tend to shrink in the dim light of man’s own making. By that weak light many people remain shaded in the darkness of fact-aversion, beyond the light of acquired knowledge and accepted science. And though all science is amenable to challenge, there is no light strong enough to penetrate blind denial or unquestioning allegiance. Accordingly, many see only right-wrong, light-dark, win-lose, here-there, yes-no, ME-YOU, a very brittle outlook, indeed. Even our political framework has been constructed into cartoonish either-or choices.
The long knives are out, of that there is no doubt. Which is why for President Trump to have any chance at all to fulfill his campaign promises and deliver on his upset election win, he will need to get in front of the nagging Russian election hacking scandal that continues to hobble his administration’s early agenda.
As we know, President Trump is a man sensitive to bad press. But simply complaining about the criticism his administration is receiving – “total witch hunt!” – won’t scabbard the blades he faces. For him there is only one way to put this behind him, and it is that most awful of solutions from his standpoint, the full release of his tax returns.
It has been the pebble in his shoe since that first ‘Rude Descending Escalator’ moment in June 2015 when he announced his candidacy. Yes, he won the Republican nomination and the general election without tax transparency, but as he is finding out running is one thing, governing in a tripartite system quite another – think three-legged race.
Questions of a Russian connection linger due in part to the opacity of his business dealings in conjunction with the rather genteel nature of his Putin pronouncements in the face of the Russian election meddling. And his stubborn non-disclosure will only increase the drag on his administrative goals, even with both houses of congress in hand. Continue reading
While most people take up running to improve their physical well being, perhaps shed a few pounds, the real revelation comes when their mental and psychological state also improves markedly as running releases its warm bath of brain chemicals bringing a deep sense of calm and equanimity.
“The Runners High is one of my favorite parts of this sport,” tweeted U.S. Olympic steeplechase medalist Evan Jager. “Cruising at the end of a long run but feeling effortless…”
The feeling running engenders is another reason runners tend to bond across a wide spectrum of age and speed. It’s not just the camaraderie of effort, but the fact that the sport seems to be about 99% a-hole free. Not sure if that is chicken or egg, whether such people are drawn to the activity, or the activity itself helps create that quality in its practitioners over time.
But for anyone who has gone through the long struggle from first training days to final exultant step of a goal achieved – like the thousands who completed yesterday’s Austin Marathon and Half-Marathon – there is an attendant grace and humility from champion to final finisher, because they know it could have gone off the rails any number of times along the way.
So when we think RUNNER we may think self-control, or self-possession, but we don’t generally think self-centered, much less narcissist, because at its core narcissism reflects a very low self-esteem, and running has been shown to contribute to a healthy, balanced psyche. Continue reading
Campus unrest in Berkeley (Deseret News)
Protests, at times violent, have broken out in recent days against provocative right-wing speakers at U.C. Berkeley and NYU. The initial reaction has been to lay blame on the radical left who remain frustrated with their loss in last November’s election and what they consider the travesty of a Donald Trump presidency. On the other side, left-leaning conspiracy theorists have posited that the real ring-leaders behind the campus unrest are elements of the far right looking to gin up anti-left sentiment.
There are the two America’s we have heard so much about right there. One side revels in the Trump swagger in the face of what they see as America’s reduced standing in the world, while the other is frightened by the new administration’s impetuous unpredictability and lack of experience. But given that these campus protests actually reflect student beliefs, is it possible that what we are seeing isn’t simply a mirror held up to the nation’s political polarity, but more evidence of how overly catered to children now coming of age are, believing any challenge to their sensibilities is beyond the pale, regardless of which side of the political divide they may stand? Continue reading
While the clock tells no lies, neither does it ask any questions. Instead it merely records our passing in cold indifference. And so in athletics’ ongoing fight to rid itself of the scourge of fraudulent performance the question arises, where does the responsibility for actually giving a damn lie? And, is drug testing in and of itself enough to achieve the goal?
I ask because based on the evidence of continued PED use, and the institutional corruption that allowed and benefited from it, one might conclude that the intended deterrence has not been achieved, and that some other stick or carrot may be required.
That thought was brought to mind yesterday while watching Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions appear at his confirmation hearing before Congress as Attorney General designate. During one exchange Senator Sessions said the following in response to whether fraudulent speech is protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution:
“Fraudulent speech, if it amounts to an attempt to obtain a thing of value for the person making the fraudulent speech, is absolutely fraud, and can be prosecuted.”
In the case of performance-enhancing drug use the intent is specifically ‘to obtain a thing of value’, i.e. race prize money. Therefore, when a WADA doping control officer goes over the doping control official record at time of testing, a negative declaration by the tested athlete becomes, in fact, a form of speech, and therefore should be considered a prosecutable offense if subsequent testing produces a positive finding of drug use. The same ask-and-answer should be required of appropriate coaches, managers, and federation officials, as each category has been found complicit in past PED distribution. No accusations, mind you, simply covering bases. Continue reading
The Blogger in an analog state
As the interesting, arresting year of 2016 comes to a close I thought I’d go back through this year’s blog offerings and see which ones captured the reader’s imagination or piqued your interest most.
Here then the Top 10 most read posts on this site from the now fading year. Topics range from Olympic performances, to State of the Sport issues, to presidential politics, and beyond. Many thanks to all who stopped by for a read and maybe even a reply. Happy 2017 to all!
- RUPP IS IN!!! – Galen announces his debut marathon will be the U.S. Oly Trials in Los Angeles. Kinda thought he might do well. Now, it’s on to Boston 2017!
- THEORY OF PERVERSE INCENTIVES IN RUNNING – Foot-racing, which used to be the focus of running events, is now just a supporting element.
- IN THE WAKE OF THE WOMEN’S 800 – A crash, tears and histrionics in the women’s 800m final at the Olympic Trials.
- DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC? – Almaz Ayana smashes the women’s world record in the 10,000 meters by 14 seconds without as much as a furrowed brow.
- CHICAGO 2016 – For the second year in a row the Bank of America Chicago Marathon staged a no-pacesetters competition with a slow winning time.
- COE ATTEMPTS TO WALK IAAF OFF THE LEDGE – New IAAF prez tries to draw his sport back from the cliff of doom.
- SUB2 PACK FORMS UP – Like the murmur of far off hooves, the Sub – Two Hour marathon quest became a lot more audible in December.
- IN TRUMP WE TRUST – And we thought the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series was historic!
- THE HEAT WILL BE ON IN L.A. – Conditions for the Oly Trials Marathon in L.A. were forecast from the low-70sF (21C) to 80F (27C) at noon. Not ideal, by any measure.
- BACK TO PACING AS USUAL – Pure racing for high stakes is what grabs the attention of the common man.
That’s the Top 10 from 2016. Safe New Year’s celebrating, and we will get together again in 2017!
Today, in Orlando, Florida Coach Vin Lananna was elected president of USATF, the governing body of athletics in the USA, when the other candidate for the office, three-time Olympic champion Jackie Joyner-Kersee of East St. Louis, Illinois, withdrew her candidacy. Both were among the finest candidates for the office the organization has ever had. Both had risen to the top in their respective fields, she in athletics, he in coaching. Both are honorable people, and both have a deep and abiding love for the sport. Yet, even as the USATF family met in Orlando for its annual meeting to vote on a new leader, the question should at least be asked, is this election simply a myopic whistling past the graveyard given all the deeply cynical drug and corruption charges coming out of so many other brother and sister federations in sport worldwide?
The question of existential relevance is hardly inappropriate. Today, former Chicago Tribune writer Phil Hersh suggested a similar notion: Rot at the Core Threatens Future of Olympics. And with the release of yet another damning investigative film by Germany’s ARD TV in conjunction with French newspaper Le Monde, Doping – Top Secret: The Protection Racket that uncovered corruption at the very highest levels of governance of the sport, it seems that for many in positions of authority the corridors of power are only greased avenues for bribery and extortion schemes. How can simply replacing the head person at USATF or even in IAAF home office really matter anymore?
There are 200+ federations that make up the IAAF. These are political fiefdoms that are run by fiat, and exist with all but no oversight, nationally or internationally. If Washington, Jefferson, or Adams were around and involved in this sport, one might assume a Declaration of some sort might well be in preparation. And it isn’t even that people believe in the system. Instead they have absorbed it and learned to use it to their best interests. I have no doubt that Jackie and Vin have the best interest of the sport as their animating mission. But that makes them the outlier in this international cabal, if inquiry and evidence be any judge. Continue reading