Friday, May 28, 2010

Floyd Landis Has Nothing To Hide

Greg LeMond, the first American to win the Tour de France, issued this statement: "I believe most of Floyd Landis' statements regarding the systemic corruption in professional cycling. I imagine from my own experiences that today he is paying a heavy price for his honesty and I support Floyd in his attempt to free himself from his past. I hope that others -- fans, riders and sponsors embrace this as an opportunity to bring about positive change in the sport."

ESPN:
Nearly four years after he began waging a costly, draining and ultimately losing battle to discredit his positive test for synthetic testosterone at the 2006 Tour de France, Floyd Landis told ESPN.com on Wednesday he used performance-enhancing drugs for most of his career as a professional road cyclist, including the race whose title he briefly held.

In a lengthy telephone interview from California, Landis detailed extensive, consistent use of the red blood cell booster erythropoietin (commonly known as EPO), testosterone, human growth hormone and frequent blood transfusions, along with female hormones and a one-time experiment with insulin, during the years he rode for the U.S. Postal Service and Switzerland-based Phonak teams.

Landis confirmed he sent e-mails to cycling and anti-doping officials over the past few weeks, implicating dozens of other athletes including seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, team management and owners, and officials of the sport's national and international governing bodies. Armstrong has long been dogged by accusations that he used performance-enhancing drugs, but no anti-doping authority has ever confirmed that he tested positive.

"I have nothing to hide ... history speaks for itself here," Armstrong told reporters before the Tour of California on Thursday. "It's his word versus ours ... we like our word, we like our credibility."

The World Anti-Doping Agency said in a statement Thursday that it would open an investigation into Landis' allegations.

In an e-mail to USA Cycling president Steve Johnson dated April 30, Landis related a number of anecdotes he said were representative of his time in the European peloton.

He said Johan Bruyneel, the longtime sports director of the U.S. Postal Service, Discovery Channel, Astana and RadioShack teams who guided Armstrong and Spain's Alberto Contador to a combined nine Tour de France victories, "instructed" Landis on how to use testosterone patches when he was riding for Postal in 2002. Landis added that he first used EPO on Bruyneel's advice the following summer while training for the Tour of Spain, that he obtained the drug directly from Armstrong, and that he started using HGH that he bought from a team trainer in Valencia during that same training period.

In the same e-mail, Landis said he worked with Armstrong's personal trainer, Dr. Michele Ferrari of Italy, who consulted with several riders on the Postal team at the height of Armstrong's career. Ferrari helped Landis with the extraction and re-transfusion of his own blood during one session in St. Moritz, Switzerland, in 2002, according to Landis.

"I paid [Ferrari] $10,000 [that season]," Landis told ESPN.com. "He only accepted cash. His normal fee is 10 percent of your salary."

"I mean, he's one of the best references," Landis said of Ferrari, who worked with numerous top cyclists. In 2004, Ferrari was convicted of sporting fraud and abusing his medical license by an Italian court, but later succeeded in having that judgment reversed on appeal. "I didn't wish to take the risks on my own and especially since it was fairly clear that his advice was endorsed by Lance himself," Landis said in the ESPN.com interview. "And therefore Johan and the other guys that knew of it and were involved -- working with him, they'd understand the risks that I was taking as well and therefore trust me."

Landis also said he and Armstrong discussed the efficacy of the then-newly developed test for EPO in 2002.

In the e-mail to Johnson, Landis said he had blood extracted in 2003 inside the apartment Armstrong owned in the historic center of Girona, Spain, and that it was stored in a refrigerator there along with blood extracted from Armstrong and teammate George Hincapie. Landis said Armstrong asked him to stay in the apartment on one occasion while Armstrong was away in order to make sure the refrigerator did not malfunction.

He also said in the e-mail that a team doctor gave him and Hincapie, who he said was his roommate during the 2003 Tour de France, syringes filled with olive oil in which andriol, a form of testosterone that can be taken orally, had been dissolved.

Landis further described personally seeing other riders receive transfused blood, including once on the team bus after a stage of the 2004 Tour de France. The bus driver stopped on a "remote mountain road" for an hour, pretending the bus had engine trouble while the entire team received transfusions, Landis said in the e-mail.

The timing of the Landis allegations -- right in the middle of the Tour of California -- did not go unnoticed. Bruyneel suggested the reason the dethroned 2006 Tour champion made his allegations now is because his team was not allowed to ride in the Tour of California. "He saw all the doors are closed... His timing is obviously not a coincidence."

Landis' doping conviction cost him his Tour title, his career, his life savings and his marriage. He said he knows his credibility is in tatters and that many people will choose not to believe him now. He added that he has no documentation for many of the claims he is making about other riders or officials, and that it will be his word against theirs.

However, Landis said he decided to come forward because he was suffering psychologically and emotionally from years of deceit and he has become a cycling pariah with little to no chance of ever riding for an elite team again. Prior to speaking with ESPN.com, he said he made his most difficult phone call -- to his mother in Pennsylvania to tell her the truth for the first time.

"I want to clear my conscience," Landis said. "I don't want to be part of the problem anymore."


Landis said he takes full responsibility for having doped on every occasion that he did it, and added he was never forced or threatened.

"I don't feel guilty at all about having doped," Landis told ESPN.com. "I did what I did because that's what we [cyclists] did and it was a choice I had to make after 10 years or 12 years of hard work to get there, and that was a decision I had to make to make the next step. My choices were, do it and see if I can win, or don't do it and I tell people I just don't want to do that, and I decided to do it."

More information:
» Lance and Cycling's Doping Problems

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Glenn Beck & Goldline

Truthout:
House Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY):
"In the past there is always the "product" that is either the next big thing (the dot com boom) or the investment that will never go down in price (the housing market), and in the past much of the media has failed in its duty to conduct due diligence, but never before have they worked so hand in hand to cheat consumers," Weiner said in his prepared report. "Commentators like Glenn Beck who are shilling for Goldline are either the worst financial advisers around or knowingly lying to their loyal viewers."

Weiner held a news conference not only to call out Goldline, Inc. as "a company that uses conservative rhetoric, high pressure sales tactics and tall tales about the future of gold to sell over priced coins that can be bought somewhere else for cheaper," but to ask regulators from the Federal Trade Commission and Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate its tactics.

In addition, he says he will propose legislation requiring full disclosure of hidden fees, the purchase price/Melt value/Resale value, and how much the cost of gold will need to rise in the value for the customers' investment to be profitable.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Beck - Not So Mellow Gold
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party


Update 6/8: If you are interested in gold, at least check a credible news source first.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Inter Milan Wins Champions Title Over Bayern Munich

MSNBC:
Diego Milito
scored a goal in each half to lead Inter over Bayern Munich 2-0 Saturday night, making Inter Milan champion of European soccer for the first time in 45 years.

In the first Champions League final played on a weekend, Milito scored in the 35th and 70th minutes at Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu Stadium to give Inter its third European title, following back-to-back wins in 1964-65. Inter completed an Italian treble following victories in Serie A and the Italian Cup.

"This is a joy I’ve never experienced," said Milito, who finished the season with 30 goals. "Football always gives the chance for redemption. I always fought hard and tried to give my all and learn as much as I could, even though I’m 30."

Bayern also had been trying for a treble after winning the Bundesliga and the German Cup.

"Bayern did not have its day," honorary club president Franz Beckenbauer said. "We had a few moments at the start of the second half but that was not enough. They made fewer mistakes."

The victory makes Jose Mourinho just the third coach to win the European title with two clubs. Mourinho also won the Champions League with FC Porto in 2004 before becoming Chelsea’s manager.

Ernst Happel (Feyenoord 1970 and Hamburg 1983) and Ottmar Hitzfeld (Borussia Dortmund 1997 and Bayern Munich 2001) also accomplished the feat.

Mourinho, the self-proclaimed "Special One," said after the game he is likely to leave to become coach of Real Madrid.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Scotch Distillery Turns Whisky Into Watts

CNN:
Creating renewable energy from whisky might sound like a harebrained scheme conceived at the end of a long evening drinking the amber nectar.

But an independently-owned Scottish distillery is hoping that the installation of a new biogas generator will prove to be a lasting moment of environmental clarity and help solve their energy problems.

This month, Bruichladdich (pronounced "Brook-Laddie") -- one of eight distilleries to be found on the Scottish isle of Islay -- will take delivery of an anaerobic digester which will start turning their whisky waste into electricity.

Mark Reynier, owner of Bruichladdich Distillery, hopes the digester will meet around 80 percent of its electricity needs and save the company up to £120,000 ($175,000) every year.

Reynier told CNN: "Our waste product is basically water left over after you've stripped all the alcohol out. It's called, rather unromantically, pot ale."

Every year, several hundred thousand liters of pot ale waste are taken away by a tanker and poured down a pipeline that feeds it into the Sound of Islay off the eastern coast of the island.

Its disposal is a costly business (in the region of $30,000 annually) and allied to rising energy costs it has forced the distillery to rethink how it sources its energy.

"We've looked at biomass and green energies and dismissed them one by one as being completely impractical and uneconomic for an industrial purpose," Reynier said.

"But one thing we can do is use this proven technology and generate biogas."

Anaerobic digestion occurs when natural food stuffs decompose in the absence of oxygen. The end product of this process creates methane which Reynier says will be fed into the generator and converted into green electricity. The only by-product is water.

If the biogas trial proves a success, the pot ale that was pumped into the sea on a daily basis will instead be continuously fed into the digester creating something of a virtuous production circle.

But Reynier says transforming the distillery isn't about being "some sort of eco-warrior" but rather about just trying to be sensible.

"We are practical people -- you have to be on an island like this," he said.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The End Of Lost

NYTimes:
As the end of “Lost” approaches — an extravaganza that will stretch from Sunday night into Monday morning on ABC — the natural urge is to join in the final frenzy of speculation. Who will live, who will die, and what did it all mean?

Since “Lost” itself favors oracular pronouncements, here’s one more: The show had one good season, its first. It was very, very good — as good as anything on television at the time — but none of the seasons since have approached that level, and the current sixth season, rushed, muddled and dull, has been the weakest.

That’s a typical television trajectory, especially for shows set up as closed-end mysteries. The difference now is that as “Lost” has hit a new creative low, the attention paid to it (if not its ratings) has hit a new high. But that makes sense: there’s an organic connection between the show’s decline and the particular brand of obsessive interest it inspires.

Back in Season 1, as the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 explored the island, “Lost” was a beautifully functioning machine. The mystery was intriguing and had an internal logic (the questions were smart enough that the answers weren’t immediately important); the action was well directed; the actors were attractive; the locations gorgeous; the production values high.

But that model wasn’t sustainable. The elaborate mystery on which the show depended couldn’t be maintained at the same level, and the characters and their relationships had been conceived entirely in terms of that mystery; they had back stories rather than lives. (Television history held some lessons: “The Prisoner” called it quits after 17 episodes; “Twin Peaks” was essentially done after one season. “The X-Files,” an entirely different style of show that in its early years emphasized character development and chemistry in its many free-standing episodes, squeezed out four or five good seasons of its nine.)

To keep the story going, the producers of “Lost” resorted to inflation, adding more plot points and more characters at the cost of coherence. A spooky tale about plane crash survivors on a strange island increasingly became a labored allegory about free will and destiny, individualism and solidarity. Mystery began to give way to mythology.

As “Lost” bogged down and its audience shrank — its ratings in recent weeks have been about two-thirds of what they were in the early seasons — an interesting thing happened: a core of viewers emerged for whom the endless complications, which were ruinous in any traditional dramatic sense, were the basis of a new sort of fandom.

In this sideways universe, making sense of the show became the responsibility, and even the privilege, of the viewers rather than the producers. The compromises and continuity lapses and narrative backing and filling that characterize all broadcast network series became fodder for a kind of populist biblical commentary, and the logical gymnastics performed to read authorial intention into every word and image and in-joke began to feel religious in nature.

And this new proprietary “Lost” obsession grew symbiotically with things like mainstream entertainment blogs (and their comments sections) and Twitter, until now there is a vast body of shared commentary and speculation that often seems to overshadow the show itself. Why bother writing fan fiction when you can feel as if you had a hand in the real thing?

It’s clear that the rise of “Lost” geekdom has encouraged fans, and critics who should know better, to celebrate the mythology — the least important element of the show, from a dramatic standpoint — while glossing over things like pacing, structure, camerawork and acting. (With a few exceptions, notably Terry O’Quinn, as Locke, and Henry Ian Cusick, as Desmond, the performances have been undistinguished since the first season, which may have as much to do with the conception of the characters as with the actors themselves.)

And while we can’t know what’s in the minds of the executive producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, they’ve devoted a lot of screen time in Season 6 to providing the fans with answers (when they haven’t been introducing new questions). Some fans, though, might have been happy to make do with fewer answers if it meant they could have a simpler, easier to follow, more exciting final season.

Among the best evidence that something new is happening with “Lost” is the fact that so many people, if their online comments are true, will be willing to change their judgment of the entire series based solely on how well the final two-and-a-half-hour episode satisfies their need for answers. Forget the first 119 hours — if you don’t tell me what happened to Walt, none of it will have mattered.

“Lost” has turned fans into critics and critics, including this one, into semiprofessional fans, and in both cases you can sense that some exhaustion has set in. The mood among many of the show’s followers as they confront Sunday’s finale seems to be a mixture of regret and relief. Whatever happens to Jack and Kate and Sawyer on Sunday night, we’re getting off the island.


More information:
The Men Who Made 'Lost' Last
Most Crucial Lead-Up Episodes
The Producers Answer Questions
Lost Still Airing in Parallel Dimension

Monday, May 17, 2010

Big Banks!

NYTimes:
It is the Wall Street equivalent of a perfect game of baseball — 27 up, 27 down, the final score measured in millions of dollars a day.

Despite the running unease in world markets, four giants of American finance managed to make money from trading every single day during the first three months of the year.

Their remarkable 61-day streak is one for the record books. Perfect trading quarters on Wall Street are about as rare as perfect games in Major League Baseball. On Sunday, Dallas Braden of the Oakland Athletics pitched what was only the 19th perfect game in baseball history.

But Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase & Company produced the equivalent of four perfect games during the first quarter. Each one finished the period without losing money for even one day.

Their showing, disclosed in quarterly financial filings, underscored the outsize — and controversial — role that trading has assumed at major financial institutions. It also drives home the widening lead that a handful of big banks are enjoying over lesser rivals on post-bailout Wall Street.

Risk management experts said the four banks, as well as other Wall Street players, reaped big rewards without necessarily placing big bets that stocks or bonds would go up or down. Instead, they mostly played matchmaker, profiting from the difference between the prices at which clients were willing to buy and sell. Banks said that customer order flows were particularly strong during the period.

Still, the quarterly showing was highly unusual. Bank of America said that its trading revenue surpassed $100 million on 26 days, or almost 43 percent of the 61 trading days in the first quarter. It was the first time Bank of America had a perfect quarter since acquiring Merrill Lynch in early 2009.

JPMorgan said that its trading revenue hit $90 million on 39 days during the first quarter, and exceeded $180 million on nine days, or about 14 percent of the time.

Goldman Sachs — which is fighting an S.E.C. suit claiming the bank defrauded customers on a complex mortgage investment — posted its first perfect quarter ever. Goldman made at least $100 million on 35 days during the quarter, and at least $25 million on the remaining trading days.

In the wake of the S.E.C. suit, Goldman's role as a market maker has come under scrutiny on Capitol Hill. It has staunchly defended its business practices and said it had done nothing wrong.

Gary D. Cohn, Goldman's president, said Tuesday that the standout quarter highlighted the strength of the trading that Goldman executed for its customers, particularly its fixed income, currency and commodities unit, known as FICC. "Our FICC and equities businesses are largely global market-making businesses where we intermediate flows and commit capital and liquidity and in the process generate revenue including bid-offer spreads," Mr. Cohn said at a UBS conference in New York. "These franchises create numerous opportunities for the firm."

Friday, May 14, 2010

Pearl Jam at Nissan Pavilion

May 13, 2010
WashingtonPost:
Eddie Vedder roared for more than two heroic hours on Thursday evening as Pearl Jam kicked off the summer concert season at Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow - the mega-concert venue formerly known as Nissan Pavilion.

Vedder's performance reaffirmed the claim made by the band's most recent album, "Backspacer": that the Seattle statesmen are ready to seethe and snarl and stomp like it's the Clinton years all over again.

But first, Pearl Jam began the evening with what felt like a big group-hug: the strummy 1993 ballad "Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town." The 25,000-plus audience began singing along almost instantly. When Vedder reached the song's apogee - "I just want to scream, 'Hello!' " - the house lights flared. It felt like a big finish, but Pearl Jam's sprawling 29-song set was just getting started.


Warm fuzzies out of the way, the band barreled into a scorching "World Wide Suicide" and a lean "Got Some." Sporting picnic-tablecloth plaid, a leonine beard and a bramble of brown hair, Vedder gained momentum with each song, reaching full gale force with "Present Tense." When he unleashed the song's most walloping "whoa," fans threw their hands toward the sky, as if trying to grab the sound as it flew past.

The band was plenty kinetic onstage, too - Vedder and bassist Jeff Ament punctuated the big crescendos with leaping scissor kicks while guitarist Stone Gossard shook his hair like a wet dog.


Lead guitarist Mike McCready, however, was a major distraction. He often marched around in little circles, executed ill-timed jumping jacks and twirled his fingers in the air as if playing an entirely separate concert inside his head - only returning to earth in time for a gratuitous guitar solo.

"The Fixer" stood out. In the band's two-decade trajectory, Pearl Jam has gone from angsty rumination about paternal strife to lashing out at the powers that be (first ticketing-behemoth Ticketmaster, later the Bush administration). Today, the band seems to have taken a new tack, embracing a bristling sense of optimism. "When something's lost," Vedder sang, "I wanna fight to get it back again." He sounded like a convincingly righteous do-gooder - and not one who's ready to give up without a fight.

The band brought out its best-loved songs during two extended encores. "Alive," "Spin the Black Circle," "Garden," "Why Go," "Better Man" - fans seemed more elated with each passing chorus.

As the clock struck 11, the group ripped through the Dead Boys classic "Sonic Reducer" - and on came the house lights. Time to wrap it up, gentlemen. They eked out requisite closer "Yellow Ledbetter," and McCready fell into a moment of Hendrix-worship, offering a rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" on his Fender Stratocaster.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Spotlight: John Sinclair

Wikipedia:
John Sinclair (born October 2, 1941 in Flint, Michigan) is a Detroit poet, one-time manager of the band MC5, and leader of the White Panther Party — a militantly anti-racist countercultural group of white socialists seeking to assist the Black Panthers in the Civil Rights movement — from November 1968 to July 1969. John attended the Flint College of the University of Michigan, now the University of Michigan-Flint. During his time at UM-Flint John served on the university's Publications Board, school newspaper "the word", and was the president of the Cinema Guild.

Sinclair was involved in the reorganization of the Detroit underground newspaper, Fifth Estate, during the paper's growth in the late 1960s. Fifth Estate continues to publish to this day, making it one of the longest continuously published alternative periodicals in the United States. Sinclair also contributed to the formation of Detroit Artists Workshop Press, which published five issues of Work magazine. John worked as a jazz writer for Downbeat Magazine from 1964 to 1965 being an outspoken advocate for the newly emerging Free Jazz Avant Garde movement.

After a series of convictions for possession of marijuana, Sinclair was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 1969 after giving two joints of marijuana to an undercover narcotics officer. This sentence inspired Abbie Hoffman to jump on the stage during The Who's performance at Woodstock to protest. It also sparked the landmark "Free John Now Rally" at Michigan University's Crisler Arena in December 1971.

The event brought together 15,000 young people, including a who's who of left-wing luminaries, like pop musicians John Lennon (who recorded the song, "John Sinclair" on his Some Time in New York City album), Yoko Ono, David Peel, Stevie Wonder, Phil Ochs and Bob Seger, jazz artists Archie Shepp and Roswell Rudd, and speakers Allen Ginsberg, Abbie Hoffman, Rennie Davis, David Dellinger, Jerry Rubin, and Bobby Seale. Three days after the rally, Sinclair was released from prison when the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the state's marijuana statutes were unconstitutional. These events inspired the creation of Ann Arbor’s annual pro-legalization Hash Bash rally, which continues to be held as of 2010, and contributed to the drive for decriminalization of marijuana under the Ann Arbor city charter.


As of late November 2009, John is serving as "High Priest" at the 22nd Annual Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Gil The Prankster

WashingtonPost:
"What we did that day was stupid, irresponsible," said Gilbert Arenas, 28, referring to the Dec. 21 locker-room confrontation in which he displayed four handguns and Javaris Crittenton, 22, took out a semiautomatic pistol of his own. Authorities said they found no evidence that the guns were loaded. In deals with the U.S. attorney's office, each player pleaded guilty to illegal gun possession, a felony count in Arenas's case. Crittenton, sentenced to a year of probation in January, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.

Rather than send him to jail for three months, as a prosecutor wanted, Judge Robert Morin imposed an 18-month suspended sentence and ordered Arenas to serve two years of probation, starting with a month in a halfway house.

The three-time NBA all-star, who must give $5,000 to a fund for crime victims, will be required to spend his nights in the halfway house but can leave daily to perform the 400 hours of community service.

The sentencing climaxed a tumultuous winter for Arenas, one of Washington's best-paid and most recognizable athletes -- during the second season of his six-year, $111 million contract. The guard was trying to regain his all-star form after missing the last two seasons following knee surgery. His future is now uncertain after a dispute over a few hundred dollars in a poker game escalated into the chest-thumping display of handguns with Crittenton, a third-year NBA journeyman who was making $1.4 million this season to Arenas's $16.2 million. The two have been suspended without pay for the remainder of the season by the league.


DC Sports Bog:
This whole issue of a Gilbert practical joke gone wrong? It seems fairly predictable in retrospect, though obviously not to this degree. Some of his jokes have always veered a bit too close to the edge. See the pranks and jokes and japes and escapades certainly became part of the Agent Zero allure. Let's review.

From an old Sports Illustrated profile of Gilbert:
To say Arenas enjoys a good practical joke is like saying Timothy Leary enjoyed the occasional recreational drug. He responded to the veterans' orders to bring doughnuts to practice by buying plain ones and sprinkling baby powder on them--that is, when he wasn't buying frosted ones, licking each one and putting it back in the box. He also took great joy in stealing his teammates' keys and hiding them in, say, a bottle of water. Then there was the time Arenas showed up on the team charter wearing a Fran Tarkenton jersey--make that forward Chris Mills's Fran Tarkenton jersey, a specially ordered throwback that Mills had been talking about for months. Arenas had sneaked into Mills's house the night before and pilfered the prized shirt. Once on the charter, he opened his jacket to unveil what he loudly proclaimed "the best jersey in the world!" and proceeded to attack the lunch spread, making sure to wipe his hands all over Fran. "Talk about someone getting choked. I got choked for like five minutes," Arenas says, then nods appreciatively as if remembering a particularly good Merlot. "It was funny, though."

Despite his antics, teammates say they love playing with Arenas because, like the puppy who pees all over the couch and then wags his tail furiously, he's consistently good-spirited. "You can't get mad at him," says Warriors guard Jason Richardson. "You just have to laugh."

Thing is, there have been so many pranks and jokes I can't even remember all of them. I know there was one where he filled Andray Blatche's bathtub with coffee during a road trip. And one where he would dump coffee on teammates' mattresses. And one where he had a friend pretend to steal Nick Young's Land Rover. And one where he would cut up his teammates' suits. The Oklahoman once wrote that he used "players' cell phones to send inappropriate text messages."

Then there was this passage from the San Jose Mercury News in 2003:
The craziest thing Arenas has done? His teammates roll their eyes.

"We can only choose one?" asks Adonal Foyle, before casting his vote for Arenas' tendency to break clipboards when angry.

Mills goes with Arenas' habit of ripping up cards for no reason when the guys are playing on the team plane. Antawn Jamison chooses Arenas' recent prank in Chicago, where he threw all the towels in the shower so that rookies Mike Dunleavy and Jiri Welsch had none to dry off. Then he started a snowball fight on the team bus.

"He's definitely 21 going on 12," Mills said. "His mind hasn't caught up to the number on his birth certificate."

There were the countless tales of his locker room wrestling matches with Awvee Storey, including this tale of pranking:
"It drives some guys crazy, but I love it. One of my favorites was sneaking up on my teammate Awvee Storey. He has a bad attitude, and I just have to try and get him to smile. One day he was on the toilet reading the paper, and I snuck in with a water hose, turned it on him and sprayed him for, like, three minutes. He had all his clothes on, and he got soaked. It was hilarious. But for some reason he still wasn't laughing."

More information:
Update: Gilbert Released from Halfway House
Arenas Made One Bad Move After Another

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Chakra

Wikipedia:
Chakra is a concept referring to wheel-like vortices which, according to traditional Indian medicine, are believed to exist in the surface of the etheric double of man. The Chakras are said to be "force centers" or whorls of energy permeating, from a point on the physical body, the layers of the subtle bodies in an ever-increasing fan-shaped formation (the fans make the shape of a love heart). Rotating vortices of subtle matter, they are considered the focal points for the reception and transmission of energies. Seven major chakras or energy centers (also understood as wheels of light) are generally believed to exist, located within the subtle body.

Chakras are energy centers along the spine located at major branchings of the human nervous system, beginning at the base of the spinal column and moving upward to the top of the skull. Chakras are considered to be a point or nexus of biophysical energy, or prana, of the human body. Susan Shumsky states that "prana is the basic component of your subtle body, your energy field, and the entire chakra system...the key to life and source of energy in the universe."

The study of the Chakras is central to many different therapies and disciplines. Subtle energy is explored through practices such as aromatherapy, mantras, Reiki, hands-on healing, flower essences, radionics, sound therapy, color/light therapy, and crystal/gem therapy, to name a few. Acupuncture, shiatsu, tai chi and chi kung focus on balancing the energetic meridians that are an integral part of the chakra system, according to Vajrayana and Tantric Shakta theories.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Medical Marijuana in D.C.


WashingtonPost:
The D.C. Council is set to vote Tuesday on legalizing medical marijuana, thereby allowing the chronically ill -- including those with HIV, glaucoma or cancer -- to buy pot from dispensaries in Washington.

Yet marijuana is already ubiquitous in many parts of the city, as demonstrated by federal surveys showing that Washingtonians' fondness for weed is among the strongest in the country -- and growing.

The popular image of the nation's capital leans toward the straight and narrow, a town of over-achieving, button-down bureaucrats, lawyers and lobbyists. But meander through any neighborhood from Congress Heights to Friendship Heights, and Washingtonians across race and class lines can be found lighting up.

Federal surveys put the District among the nation's leaders in pot consumption. More than 11 percent of Washingtonians older than 26 reported smoking marijuana in the past year -- the highest percentage of any state in the nation, according to a 2007 survey by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Vermont and Rhode Island were second and third, each with more than 10 percent of respondents reporting marijuana use.

In the District, penalties for possession and distribution are strong enough to encourage discretion but too weak to be much of a deterrent. Those caught with small quantities could face up to a year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. Dealers risk a year in prison and up to $10,000 in fines -- penalties that can double if sales take place within 1,000 feet of a school, playground, library or public housing.

The District's arrest rate for marijuana possession, 677 per 100,000 residents in 2007, is among the nation's highest. Police say pot accounts for so many arrests not only because it is so commonly used but also because it's often easier to detect than crack cocaine or heroin, with a distinctive odor that has a way of wafting out car windows during traffic stops.

D.C. police seized about 840 pounds of pot last year, Newsham said. "People don't feel marijuana is dangerous, but it is, because of the way it is sold," he said. "We frequently recover weapons when serving search warrants associated with the sale of marijuana."

The bill before the D.C. Council would allow physicians to recommend -- but not prescribe -- up to two ounces of pot in a 30-day period for patients with chronic, debilitating conditions. Fourteen states have legalized medical marijuana.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Calvin Borel Dominates The Derby

ESPN:
The crowd of 155,804 sought shelter early on from the rain, which had stopped by post time, with sun breaking through the clouds.

The starting gate sprung open in the Kentucky Derby, with 19 horses scrambling for position. One jockey knew exactly where he was headed.

Calvin Borel deftly tucked Super Saver along the rail Saturday on a track turned into creamy peanut butter by heavy rain. Once again, he was in his favorite spot, getting a clear path all the way through.

That's why they call him "Bo-rail" and, for the third time in four years, he took the shortest path to the winner's circle.

Borel found only one horse in his way, and once he steered Super Saver around front-running Conveyance, another Run for the Roses was his.


The most wide-open Derby in years ended with a sure thing -- Borel crossing the finish line and punching the air with this right fist, this time raising it toward a leaden sky.

"I knew nothing was going to run him down," he said, referring to his bay colt.

The jockey's magic touch on his home track gave trainer Todd Pletcher his first Derby victory after 24 failures with a 2½-length victory over Ice Box.

"Calvin Borel is a great rider anywhere he goes, but at Churchill Downs he's even five lengths better," Pletcher said. "He knows how to ride this track and gets along with his colt beautifully."

Borel's ride at his home track nearly duplicated the one he turned in last year aboard 50-1 shot Mine That Bird, except he and Super Saver went off at lower odds and were never in last place.

Now the trio heads to Baltimore for the Preakness on May 15.

"Calvin already said he's going to win the Triple Crown," Pletcher said, "so I guess we'd better go there."

The Triple Crown was last won 32 years ago by Affirmed. The last Derby winner to break from Super Saver's No. 4 post was 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew.