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25 July 2006

Floyd and doping

I wanted to believe that Tyler Hamilton hadn’t doped two years ago. I think Lance Armstrong probably doped at some point or another (which I don’t think takes away from his achievement at winning 7 straight Tours). (His achievements as a person, however….) And I hope that the only doping that Floyd did was this sort:

Dopez vous au lait!

Here’s some of the reasoning that I think helps to support the idea that Floyd hasn’t doped:

The numbers on Wednesday, Lim said, showed that Landis’s collapse was not caused by a single factor like lack of food or water. Rather, his bad day was much like what eventually happens to a sleep-deprived student at exam time: his overtaxed body forced him to take a break. After he slowed down and lost the lead, Mr. Landis’s average power output fell by about one-third.

Before cyclists began adopting illicit methods for boosting their levels of oxygen-rich red cells during the 1990’s, such events were so common that French riders called them “jours sans,” or “days without.” During this year’s Tour, which saw several favorites excluded because of doping investigations, jours sans have made something of a comeback.

For Landis, Lim said, the enforced break from the action during his collapse probably gave him an edge on the following, winning day.

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Posted in RmAuNsDiOnMg on 25 July 2006 at 10:32 am by Nate
24 July 2006

DFW on life

I ran across this in a larger transcription of a speech David Foster Wallace gave at Kenyon College over a year ago. Just posting it for my own posterity and for general interestingness.

But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.

Not that that mystical stuff is necessarily true. The only thing that’s capital-T True is that you get to decide how you’re gonna try to see it.

This, I submit, is the freedom of a real education, of learning how to be well-adjusted. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t. You get to decide what to worship.

Because here’s something else that’s weird but true: in the day-to day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship — be it JC or Allah, bet it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles — is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.

Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they’re evil or sinful, it’s that they’re unconscious. They are default settings.

They’re the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that’s what you’re doing.

And the so-called real world will not discourage you from operating on your default settings, because the so-called real world of men and money and power hums merrily along in a pool of fear and anger and frustration and craving and worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom all to be lords of our tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the center of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talk about much in the great outside world of wanting and achieving and [unintelligible — sounds like “displayal”]. The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.

That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.

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Posted in OnTheWeb on 24 July 2006 at 4:14 pm by Nate
15 July 2006

Letter to the Boston Globe

In reaction to today’s front page story:

To the editor:

Oh, boo hoo. Some residents of Provincetown signed a public petition on a vital, highly contested matter of public policy. They went on the public record — in a town known worldwide as a safe haven for gay and lesbian people — as opposing a basic civil right for a substantial portion of the population. And they are surprised when their action bears consequences and public reproval? Please.

Being called a “breeder” doesn’t even begin to compare with the words that gay and lesbian people get called on a regular basis, many of which cannot be printed in this paper. Nor does it compare with the actual physical danger that most gay people would face if they, for example, walked down a street in South or East Boston holding hands. And why does this incident become front page news when similar acts in the opposite direction don’t even rate coverage from the Globe? Worse slurs against gays and racial minorities get uttered here in Harvard Square each day, but the Globe writes nothing about that.

Marriage equality currently constitutes much of the public and political discussion in this state and country. The expression of even an opinion on the matter becomes a public and political act. Signing a petition to ask the state and its citizens to change the constitution is public and political act to an even greater degree.

Political philosophers and statesmen have long recognized that the only anonymous public act in a democracy lies in voting in an election. Everything else is on display, and rightly so. A public politics may make for some uncomfortable (and even regrettable) interactions. But such is the only way to preserve our democracy in spirit and in truth.

If the anti-gay-marriage residents of Provincetown go on the record as such, they should have the courage to accept the consequences of their convictions. And if they do not like the way that their interlocutors bring the matter up, those residents might try getting over it and themselves.


Etc., etc.

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Posted in Politicks on 15 July 2006 at 9:07 am by Nate
13 July 2006

Dixie the tiny dog

I found this on the web, wandering about in the dachshund part of the internet…. Apparently, it’s also a song.  Regardless, it does seem to describe the dachshund attitude quite well, especially the part about not being owned, just fed and bought.

“Dixie The Tiny Dog” by Peter Himmelman

I’m a tiny dog named Dixie
I have small feet which pitter patter on the linoleum floor, you can hear my toenails in the middle of the night
My tag says I belong to the Johnsons, but they don’t own me, they just feed me, they just bought me one day
No one owns me, I’m Dixie the tiny dog
And in the middle of the day I sit in the sun and I hear young children call me a weiner dog, perhaps that’s what I am
The Germanic term is dachshund, and I like that
I’m thin and I’m proud and no one can make fun of me
I can slip through the bars of a prison if I were ever incarcerated, but I don’t know what I would do wrong
My body yields no evil inclination, I’m a pure weiner dog
My name is Dixie, and I go dancing ‘cross the floor in the evening of the Johnsons when everyone is sleeping
Sometimes I look for a morsel of food, but they’re so clean they’re almost anal-retentive in their cleanliness habits and there’s nothing for me
But I don’t despair
Because I know tomorrow my Gaines Burgers will be there, and they will unwrap the plastic from them and then feed me this succulent dish, and I will eat
And oh, I’ve watched the German Shepherds with their long necks, their graceful necks, dipping into the toilet to drink whenever they want to have a drink of cool water in that well
But I must plead, I must beg, I must whine for Mr. Johnson to put out my bowl, or one of the Johnson boys to refill it after I drink it, because I’m Dixie the dog and I like water
And in the middle of the night you can see me dancing a small Fred Astaire tap dance, with my little toenails
They go click click click against the linoleum, and I run down the hall and I slide
And the back of my goes in front of me…slowly
I’m long and I’m thin, I’m Dixie the tiny dog and I like it.

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Posted in OnTheWeb on 13 July 2006 at 8:51 am by Nate

Breath of sensible air

Rowan Williams puts it nicely:

We may be in a thorough mess, but at least we shall not mislead anyone into supposing that the power and wisdom of God depend on the smooth coherence of the Church of England’s workings.

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Posted in Rayleejun on 13 July 2006 at 8:41 am by Nate
4 July 2006

Independence Day

I listen to Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac most mornings after I’ve gotten up, walked the dog, and made some coffee.

Today’s poem was the last stanza of what we know as “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Read it carefully, for it’s not as martial as you may remember, and it may even be an indictment of certain tendencies in American life.

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand

Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!

Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land

Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,

And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And, in a funny note, Keillor points out the following:

On this day in 1931, James Joyce married Nora Barnacle at the Kensington Registry Office in London. They had been living together for twenty-six years. She once complained about Joyce’s late hours, “I can’t sleep anymore … I go to bed and then that man sits in the next room and continues laughing about his own writing. And then I knock at the door, and I say, now Jim, stop writing or stop laughing!”

On a completely different note, we’re fascinated by Portuguese Man O’ Wars this morning, because there have been a number in Massachusetts Bay of late. Did you know that they’re actually not jellyfish? They’re actually made of four animals living in symbiosis.

Posted in Books on 4 July 2006 at 9:10 am by Nate

Eric Rofes

I’ve been holding back a bit on this, because it was a week of various deaths out there. The mother of a friend of BF died last week. And an acquaintance of mine from San Francisco, Eric Rofes, died in Provincetown last week.

I knew Eric through a fairly unusual group, especially for me. He was the organizer and primus inter pares of SexPols, a discussion group on sexual politics in San Francisco. We were a disparate lot, comprised of authors, academics, activists, journalists, teachers, and administrators of various sorts and political persuasions. No topics were verboten, no puzzles too knotty, all thoughts were welcomed, but no holds were barred.

I spent lots of time disagreeing in the group: I was one of the younger members, I was the only professed Christian (and religious person, I think), I am not necessarily a fan of Judith Butler (although, not everyone was), and I’m just contrary, liking a good argument. SexPols was great because it was a place in which my natural tendency to learn through contention was one of the natural ways of going about our business. And no one seemed to go away angry. Eric’s natural joviality and easy-going manner showed us the simultaneously silly and serious natures of all that we talked about.

The topics didn’t matter as much as the creation of kinship, and the finding of people who shared the love of ideas for their own sake, who loved discussion and contention as a means of learning and growing.

And the potluck each month at our meeting was delicious, too….

I’ve missed that here in Boston. I haven’t seemed to plug into that part of the queer community here — where smart people interested in serious and even “forbidden” ideas sit around and tried to teach and learn from each other, without it feeling like a classroom.

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Posted in Politicks on 4 July 2006 at 9:02 am by Nate
3 July 2006

How to kill someone…

with an iPod nano.

This one probably only works on Brits, Anglicans, and other Commonwealth people:

6. Carefully unstaple a tea bag and pour the contents on a plate. Break into the lithium-ion battery pack and saturate the tea with the battery’s poison, then dry the tea in the sun (or with a hair dryer if you are in a hurry). Put tea back in tea bag and bend the staple back to its original position. Put the tea bag back where you got it.

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Posted in OnTheWeb on 3 July 2006 at 10:26 am by Nate