Academy Awards, Spring Training

This is a Sunday Ramblings post in which I will just talk about news of the week. First, this is Oscar night. I was recently told that I have to submit a ballot for the party tonight. This ballot will detail my personal views that I try to enhance with what I think may be the political views of the actual voters. So my pure list, just my thoughts for best picture is Zero, Dark 30, Argo, Lincoln, Django. Zero is a great movie including captivating scenes of a real killing. The characters are wonderful, the action intense, and the same can be said of Argo.  Then Lincoln and Django deal with mid 19th century action, some real as in Lincoln and some totally improbable as in Django. Lincoln focused on our greatest presidents efforts to get the 13th Amendment passed. The characters were very well done and Thaddeus Stevens was brilliantly depicted. Django I liked for the action and it’s absurdity was its appeal. Come on, a Dentist/Bounty Hunter does all this stuff with whom? I pick Argo to win just because it is a cleaner story and does not involve torture and guns, which will numb the already numbed brains of the Academy.  Lewis wins best actor and Jennifer Lawrence wins best actress. Those are the awards that count, let’s see what happens. Politically, Lincoln, for reasons described before, may win everything.
This is also the time of Spring Training and the NFL Combine. For those of you who believe Spring Training is important, it is for the opportunity to get players in shape to play, but 90% of the team rosters are already set so don’t get excited when a fellow who played in the minors hits. 380 in the Spring. If he is not on the roster now, he won’t be in April. There are numerous reasons for this, the first is that Spring Training is the worst possible time to evaluate a player’s talent. First, he may be hot, in shape etc. and his opponents are minor leaguers or major leaguers not playing seriously. The games don’t count and the pitchers he faces are more concerned with throwing their sliders over the outside corner than they are with getting him out. Don’t get excited, in other words, with Spring success.
The NFL Combine is hard to figure out other than an effort by that league to take some headlines from baseball. If the teams haven’t decided who to draft by now, they don’t deserve their jobs. The same rules that apply to baseball spring training evaluation extends to combine evaluations. It is merely another NFL show to fill time after the Super Bowl.
On the political front, we are argung about this sequester issue. The sequester is being pumped up as the worst event in the history of the republic by the administrationn (who proposed it anyway). This is simply not true. It is a reduction of future exependitures that is a very small fraction of the total to be spent. The media, and I am starting to think there are no great intellects there anymore, simply repeats absurdities. This is lamentable, and it won’t change soon. The issue is how much damage will be done before the deal turns, as it surely will.
Finally, from Argo, is the famous quote, “If I am going to make a phoney movie, It will be a phoney hit.” I just love that attitude. Cheers, Clark

Drug Use and the Distance Runner

This may or may not be my first blog posting as I tried it last week and the post has not appeared anywhere, although I thought I had done all the appropriate steps to do so. So here we go again.
The most memorable item from the last week was an interview I did with the BBC on drug use among distance runners. The topic is relevant, said the interviewer, due to new interest in the subject. He didn’t say more. I mentioned that distance runners have the same needs cyclists have. These needs are stamina and lean body strength. So EPO, HGH, testosterone, some steroids and high altitude testing or use of high altitude tents would be the order of the day. I also mentioned that Jose Canseco said “that drugs are popular because they work.” 
Without getting into the many drug penalties assessed by USADA etc. over the decades, the most interesting aspect of this is that drug use has a very positive psychological benefit as well. The runner in a marathon goes through the “wall” better if he/she knows they are befitting from drugs. This also has an effect on the oppositon who feels unable to compete against a doper. This was the reason given for pitchers to use steroids when facing hitters who used the drugs. The pitchers needed to be enhanced as well.
This asks the question if drug use has a psychological benefit, wouldn’t placebo do the same? A trainer could give a player a tablet of milk sugar, tell them to use only one, never before sleeping, only four hours before competing, etc. and the runner/player would have all the benefits of placebo without the danger of being tested positive.
This is an interesting thought, and it is appropriate for a first blog because this is a subject that I enjoy writing about.