Monday, July 31, 2006

This Just In

By Hadleyblogger Steve

Rider Stripped of Title After Having Failed to Fail Drug Test

PARIS, France - Norwegian rider Pers Häavsrud was stripped of his Tour de France title today after having failed to fail a routine test for performance-enhancing drugs, Tour officials announced.

“Häavsrud has brought shame and disgrace to professional cycling through his actions,” Tour director Jean-Marie Frommage said in an emotional press conference announcing the decision. “By refusing to join other elite cyclists who have used blood doping, testosterone, and other performance-enhancing drugs to great advantage, he has not only cast confusion and suspicion on the rest of the Tour, he has shown how selfish he really is.”

Häavsrud's GlaxcoSmithKline team expressed disappointment in the test results. “If true, Pers will be dismissed from the team immediately,” team manager Raoul Dunleavy said. “Rampant individualism and self-centeredness are threatening to destroy professional sports at all levels. He has let not only his teammates but his sponsor down as well. When athletes put themselves ahead of their sport everyone loses. They must remember there is no ‘I’ in ‘team.’ Or in testosterone, for that matter."

Häavsrud was not immediately available for comment, but said through a spokesman that he planned to bring in Barry Bonds’ former personal trainer to assist him in fighting the charges. “I will not take this lying down,” Haavsrud was quoted as saying. “My involvement in blood doping has been well known amongst my teammates. I am tired of always having to be the, how you say, needle of suspicion.”

Häavsrud also expressed surprise at the negative testing result.

"My body must process these illegal substances differently," he said with a shrug. "What am I to do?"

Thirteen riders were banned from the start of this year's tour for failing to fail their tests, but this was the first time a winner had actually been accused of testing clean since the introduction of stringent new drug confirmation tests. Austrian Hans Hans spoke for many riders in his blistering criticism of Häavsrud. “It’s not easy timing our injections just right to make sure they match up with the unscheduled tests. We have to work hard at it. And now this Swede comes along and passes his test. What’s he accomplished, besides besmirching the hard-earned reputations of so many who dedicate their lives to the Tour?” When reminded that Häavsrud was actually Norwegian, he replied, “Whatever. Piss on him.”

Other cyclists were quick to join the discussion. Elco Advarian, who was suspended from the Tour two years ago for a similar violation but has since completed a Tour-sponsored counseling session and subsequently failed seven consecutive tests, was more sympathetic and suggested that Häavsrud might have been naïve. “When you get into something as big as the Tour, sometimes you’re overwhelmed. You don’t know what you’re doing, you listen to the wrong people, you make mistakes. Failing to fail that test was a mistake I’ll never make again,” the Team BALCO rider added. “Hopefully Pers will learn from his as well.”

Former two-time Tour champion Renaldo Maria Jiminez attempted to explain why the charges against Haavsrud were so damaging. “Sports is about winning, true, but it’s about much more. The world of professional cycling is more like a fellowship. You know, the camaraderie that is built up when riders travel through the circuit together, all of us struggling against the elements, carrying out our secret steroid use, working together to reach the finish line. A great element of trust is required in this sport, and it’s threatened when a rider thinks only of himself.”

Frommage was more blunt in his comments. “We’re trying to run an honest sport here, but when athletes persist in trying to play by the rules they only succeed in making others look bad,” he said. “We’re trying to do something here to rehabilitate the image of this sport, and Häavsrud won’t cooperate. There is no room on the Tour for his ilk."

Norwegian fan and cycling enthusiast Lars Bersvich spoke for many in the tiny country when he asked for his opinion. “I’m not angry,” he insisted. “Just disappointed. But we must look to the future, to the next generation of young Norwegian cyclists who will enthusiastically join in the use of illegal, even toxic substances, and will put the sport of cycling back on its normal course."

Friday, July 28, 2006

Good Words on Poets

By Judith

In his Anthology of Catholic Poets, the poet Joyce Kilmer had this to say on writing poetry:

"There are in this book poems religious in theme; there are also love-songs and war-songs. But I think that it may be called a book of Catholic poems. For a Catholic is not a Catholic only when he prays; he is a Catholic in all the thoughts and actions of his life. And when a Catholic attempts to reflect in words some of the Beauty of which as a poet he is conscious, he cannot be far from prayer and adoration."

Saying it much better than I could, Mr. Kilmer reflects what I strive to do - often not as successfully as I'd like - in my life and in my poetry. Not all of my poems are of a religious nature, but I hope that my faith comes through in all of them.

This, by the way, explains why this blog isn't as active as it has been in the past. While Mitchell works on his novels, I've been working on writing poems, something I used to do in droves, but have let lapse in the past fifteen or twenty years. However, if writing is a gift, and if it is important, then writing poetry is even more so. We'll let you know if we get published, but check back before that for other commentary. There's a much better chance you'll see our thoughts on a blog than in print. But keep a good thought.

Friday, July 21, 2006

For Once, They Got It Right

By Judith

I have my troubles with both President Bush and Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), but in the last couple of days, they both have done something right.

First, President Bush exercised his veto power for the first time by vetoing the bill that would have supplied federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, in essence, having our tax dollars used for more murdering of innocent human life. Good one, Mr. President. At the same time, Sen. Santorum's bill supporting adult stem cell research (in which the stem cell donor does not die and which has had more promising results) never made it to the President's desk, being defeated in Congress. Good try, Senator.

But really, what Sen. Santorum said in a speech to the National Press Club on Thursday about Islamic Fascism is as interesting - and courageous. (Although I question the wisdom of his support of the Patriot Act.) Here's a snippet.

There is a bigger problem: our fear of speaking clearly, publicly, and consistently about the enemy. It is unfashionable in some quarters to speak about the Islamo fascists, because of the misguided cultural reflex that condemns anyone who speaks critically about others' practices or beliefs. Therefore, we can’t say or do anything that might offend Muslims. But that's backwards. The real offense to Muslims is to remain silent about an ideology that produces the systemic murder of innocents. Mostly, Muslim innocents. They are the first victims of Islamic fascism, and the enemy directly targets them, as we have heard once again in the most recent audiotape from Osama bin Laden. Those who refuse to criticize Islamic fascism undermine the cause of freedom of religion because if the Islamic fascists win this war, no other religion will be permitted to flourish. Paradoxically, when we refuse to criticize anybody, we end up patronizing everyone, which is offensive to everyone and self-defeating.

For the entire text of his speech, click here.

GKC Strikes Again

By Judith

G. K. Chesterton shows up in some strange places. This time he was quoted in an article about copywriting by Herschell Gordon Lewis called "Synonyms Ain't Synonymous" (Direct magazine, June 15, 2006). Here's the quote:

"As I recall, it was Gilbert K. Chesterton who said,'When two words have the same meaning, one of them quickly disappears.' (To be fair, he also said, 'The only way to be sure of catching a train is to miss the one before it.')"

When in doubt as to where a quote comes from, guess first the Bible, Shakespeare or Don Quixote. If that doesn't do it, it's probably Chesterton.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Wish I'd Written That...

By Judith

A poem by Christina Rossetti (1830-94)

The wise do send their hearts before them to
Dear blessed Heaven, despite the veil between;
The foolish nurse their hearts within the screen
Of this familiar world, where all we do
Or have is old, for there is nothing new:
Yet elder far that world we have not seen;
God's Presence antedates what else hath been:
Many the foolish seem, the wise seem few.
Oh foolishest fond folly of a heart
Divided, neither here nor there at rest!
That hankers after Heaven, but clings to earth;
That neither here nor there knows thorough mirth,
Half-choosing, wholly missing, the good part: -
Oh fool among the foolish, in thy quest.

Monday, July 10, 2006

For What It's Worth

By Judith

"There's something happening here,
What it is ain't exactly clear."

It seemed clear back then. The young were right, the old were wrong. War was bad, peace was good. Conservatives had no feelings and liberals felt everyone's pain. For some of us it's not so much that we've sold out, but that we're buying a different line. For others, well, you'll be going to see Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young this weekend.

In an interview in Sunday's (7/9/06) Star Tribune, Stephen Stills is singing the same old tune. Literally. Along with "For What It's Worth" the group will also be playing all their old protest songs, whether or not the cause is relevant any more. ("Ohio" - about the shooting of four Kent State students.)

And yet, Stills, the self-titled "political centrist" of the group has some valid points. Regarding the war he says, "Putting on a uniform and serving your country is noble, but it is ignoble to throw [soldiers] away the same way as the last four years of Vietnam." Right on, brother. But for Stills and company the solution is to bring all the troops home and never fight a war again. Would that this were possible. The problem with Vietnam and with Korea and the first and second Gulf Wars, and whatever other mess we find ourselves in is that we have lost the drive for victory. It is a waste of human life on all sides if we approach a war without the will to win. Think how it might have been different if George Washington and his men hadn't given their all for six long, grueling years to win our freedom. Sort of makes CSN&Y's "Freedom of Speech '06" tour ignoble.

Stills has another point to ponder. As for the administration, he says, "It's the same kind of disconnect today. In the face of all reason, they're just spouting this blather. And our blather is a lot more accurate, I think. But it's still blather." Amen again. Where I disagree is that his (liberal and/or Democrat) blather is any better than any other blather. There is so little difference between political parties these days; both want to spend your money at an alarming rate, it's just that what they want to spend it on might differ. The Republicans can't even be counted on to support a pro-life agenda.

What the "aging children" don't realize is that nothing will ever change because of the protest songs they write or the picket signs they carry. The only thing that will change the world is our own conversion of heart and our affect on the people around us, one by one. Don't pick up a protest sign, pick up the Cross daily and follow Jesus Christ.

Saturday, July 8, 2006

Competitve Eating

By Hadleyblogger Bobby

Changing the dial around tonight [Monday, 7/3] as I was having dinner, I couldn't believe ESPN2 ran a series of shows based on the past few Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contests.
Paul Page is the play-by-play announcer for that contest! Sheesh! What's next? John Madden calling one?

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