Archive for February 11th, 2009


A Shot Right In The Ass-terisk

This whole A-Rod has forced anew the issue of steroid use in professional sports, a debate I personally find as fascinating and multifaceted as it is utterly unresolveable.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I should probably note that I’m a Yankees fan, and maintain it was virtually impossible to live in New York in 1998 without so being. I haven’t followed them since they traded for Clemens, however, which I’m sure has been devastating for them.)

Back to steroids, and now with a clear conscience. Far from being an apologist for steroid users (I hate the idea of anyone doing a drug that’s no fun), I personally darodon’t really know where I stand on this. Granted, there are the facts: (1) Steroids have been banned by MLB for just ever. Anyone who doesn’t know that is an idiot. (2) Even alleged idiot A-Rod knew that when he tested positive. (3) The rules didn’t require the positive test to have any real consequences. Finished, right? Of course not! Were it not for things like this to debate in bars, what would we have? The relative quality of Ol’ Grandad to Kentucky Tavern? (And yes, that was a jab at the crappy economy hitting us where we hurt: what whiskey we can afford)

The letter of the steroid prohibition (as it was chronicled on Wikipedia, at least, so you know it’s true!) lists a metric ton of substances, mandates testing for said substances, and lists the penalties for ignoring the ban.  It’s all pretty clear, and famous enough that all the athletes to whom it applies could probably recite it by heart.

Looking at the spirit of the prohibition is where I think it gets interesting: What actually constitutes cheating? And why do steroids qualify? Anabolic steroid use is linked to quicker healing, increased lean muscle mass, and increased ability to train harder and faster, right? And that’s cheating, since you’re not starting out on a level playing field.

Not to get too Clintonian about this, but it’s the definition of “level” I find interesting. The men in question are already prone to athletic prowess by virtue of their luck in the gene pool. They are already predisposed to be faster, stronger, more competetive, and possessing of more endurance than your average bear. But the miracle of their innate physical talents isn’t cheating, of course, since it was innate and inadvertent, right?

What if there were a gene therapy that could splice in super-healing and super-strong tendencies to a nascent fetus? Would that intentional manipulation of abilities still be considered cheating? What about two athletes who couple in the hopes of producing another athletically-gifted human being? You may think I’m being facile in this argument, but I think it’s a valid question.

Of course the situation gets much trickier when you add in what the punishment should be.  Extrication from the Hall of Fame?  The much-belabored asterisk next to any record under question?  And then do you include asterisks for the records made before MLB was integrated, or before the intentional walk was allowed, or what have you?

I can’t figure it all out tonight.  I’m just gonna hang with my daughter.


And Yet More Awww…

I put it to you: Is there anything cuter than koala bears?  Having pet one in Australia, I can vouch that they’re actually pretty cuddly too. I mean, how can you not fall in love with a creature that sits around eating its own version of pot, only to zonk out in (and sometimes fall out of) the exact spot where it was just sitting? And a fuzzy little peacenik to boot? Really, they are just cute little real-life versions of The Young Ones’ Neil Pye.

It turns out our poor little stoner buddies were up in some of those trees that had been burning out of control until recently. One parched little bugger got rescued by a nice fireman and, after treatment for her burned paws, will be released back into the wild in five months or so.  Here she is, thirsty and grateful.

Just to brighten your day.



It’s finally happened. Fidel Castro’s become so old he’s kind of cute. Maybe doddering is a better word. Whatever, here’s part of his adorable blog on Rahm Emanuel:

What a strange surname! It appears Spanish, easy to pronounce, but it’s not. Never in my life have I heard or read about any student or compatriot with that name, among tens of thousands.

Where does it come from? I wondered. Over and over, the name came to mind of the brilliant German thinker, Immanuel Kant, who together with Aristotle and Plato, formed a trio of philosophers that have most influenced human thinking. Doubtless he was not very far, as I discovered later, from the philosophy of the man closest to the current president of the United States, Barack Obama.

Another recent possibility led me to reflect on the strange surname, the book of Germán Sánchez, the Cuban ambassador in Bolivarian Venezuela: The transparence of Enmanuel, this time without the “I” with which the German philosopher’s name begins.

Enmanuel is the name of the child conceived and born in the dense guerrilla jungle, where his extremely honorable mother, Colombian vice presidential candidate Clara Rojas González, was taken prisoner on February 23, 2002, together with Ingrid Betancourt, who was a presidential candidate in that sister country’s elections that year.

Wanna bet he whipped out a butterscotch from his pocket to proffer to the nearest child, before tying them down and showing them slides of “the good old days” before the “talkies” ruined the world?


Oh, Awright, About The Octuplets’ Mom

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to blog about this, mostly because I think this crazy bitch has been talked about to death, but, hell, isn’t the whole point of blogging that you get to talk about things you find interesting, to the exclusion of what anyone else thinks?  (unless you’re working for Arianna Huffington, of course)

So, I’ve been following this ethical debate, not because I’m a mom myself, but rather as it reflects a belief inherent in our society. More on that later, as I just want to get this out of the way:

She’s nuts. Really. Did you see the interview? She wants to have her own child army because she felt out of control of her surroundings as a child? And she admits that this is the reason she now wants to control the lives of as many children as possible? So, it’s revenge for having to have been a child once herself? Jesus Christ, could she be any more cuckoo en la cabeza???

Attention whores aside, this raises the questions of what is important to us as Americans. Make no mistake, this woman’s situation is uniquely American. There is absolutely no way that, in any other country, a licensed physician would have consented to do this for an unemployed woman living at home with her parents (and, might I add, without said parents’ approval). And by “this” I mean implant sooooo many fetuses in her. And not just the exorbitant amount done at the same time, I’m talking the whole shebang. 14 kids. No job, no prospects (that’s right, lady, in spite of your adorable view that people out there are clamoring to pay social workers a ton of money, it just ain’t the case), no father, and a great big case of crazy. And why? Because the rest of the world tends to look at cases in context.

While my furren friends really seem to be impressed (to the point of near obsession) with our system of government, I tend to get shocked stares when I mention what “individual freedom” actually implies, when taken as far as we do. Talking with my Brazilian friends about the seriously tough question of how best to institute their own form of affirmative action (given that over 90% of the population boasts some African blood, it’s a really interesting question of what defines race), we started talking about freedom in general and its implications. When I brought up the question of female circumcision and whether it should be allowed, or of whether or not it’s Constitutional to force a Christian Scientist to seek medical help for their dying child, they seemed so certain about the answer. They were universally wrong, in the eyes of the Supreme Court, though.

If you’d rather, and who wouldn’t, let’s make fun of the French for a while. When they recently banned the wearing of any religious wear in schools, I was appalled. Debating this over lunch a while back with one of my French friends (who, incidentally, even I consider a bed-wetting liberal hippie type), I began to sympathize with the plight of that government. Dealing with multiple reports of the gang-raping of women who were walking into Muslim neighborhoods with skirts above their knees or their arms bared (meaning, of course, that they are whores), among other forms of race rioting, the government felt it had to act in the interest of the majority of its people and try to forcibly assimilate a culture that didn’t want to be assimilated. When I shot back that this ban on headscarves and the like would only mean more home-schooling for the children in question, which would alienate them further, he asked what we would do (at which point I shut up, partially because I was upset that he’d responded at all to what I had perceived to be a pretty damned good argument, but mostly because I was stymied and hungry). Anyway, the point is that, when looked at as an individual case, the good of the whole was deemed more imperiled than the rights of the few. (Whew!)

I have to say, though, that what makes me angrier at this dumb broad than anything is her timing.  Right when our country deperately needs to pull together and get our economy moving, along comes this chick and her admission that she and her poor kids are taking disability and food stamps from the government. Well, that’s just great. Never mind that the most efficient way to stimulate the economy (according to real economists, even!) is food stamps.  Now all the GOP has to do in order to divide our nation once again on the wisdom of said economists is trot out this Willie-Horton-with-a-litter-o-chilluns and point.   The conspiracy theorist in me would like to think she’s a right-wing plant (what better poster child to use against welfare and food stamps?), but I think the truth is, like Joe the Plumber, she’s just an ignorant tool.  Which is why we should revamp education, right?

Rant over. Back to fart jokes.

February 2009