Darth Armstrong

Sebastian Shaw as Anakin Skywalker, unmasked i...

Lance after Oprah

With a kid who loves Star Wars, I’ve become too familiar with the story of Aniken Skywalker. I find it striking how similar it is to Lance Armstrong’s story.

Aniken and Lance’s back stories are similar. No father. Humble beginnings. A close relationship with his mother. Caste-changing talent.

Aniken did what he needed to win. Lance, too. When the dark side was their best bet, they went with it and didn’t look back. Aniken murdered a room full of kids and tried to take down his master. Lance shot up and chewed up his friends and spit them out, all the while using his cancer comeback story to pad his hero persona.

I thought those were agonizingly long moments at the end of Return of Jedi as Vader watched the Emperor jolt his son, Luke, (Armstrong has a son named Luke, too). I’m sure Lucas included Vader’s slow deliberation for dramatic effect, but it looked more like Vader was evaluating his options to see which course of action would be better for Vader.

The months from when USADA stripped Armstrong of his titles and banned him from sport for life and Lance v. Oprah reminds me of those moments Vader deliberated.

Lance Armstrong at the team presentation of th...

‘I’m about to cheat, y’all! Anybody got an empty Coke can?’

What’s better for Lance? He lost his rep. He lost his future income (maybe he should lose some of his past income, too). He lost his involvement with LiveStrong. The only thing he has left to look forward to? Competition.

But, wait. He can’t. He’s banned. So, what’s best for Lance? Come clean. Maybe we’ll take pity on him.

Oh…and also, whine that you got a “death penalty” while everyone else got off with slap on the wrist (wait, didn’t they confess when they were given a chance while you tweeted a pic of yourself ‘laying around’ with your fraudulent yellow jerseys?).

Aniken and Lance are easy guys to figure out. They will do what’s best for themselves, always, and they will cross lines to do it. It’s best you not be one of those lines.

When the news of the Oprah interview broke, someone asked me, why is he doing this now? I said, because now is best for Lance. He wants to compete again. It drives him crazy that he can’t. He doesn’t have much else. 

I actually thought I was over playing that, but that was about the only reason Darth Armstrong could muster when asked by Oprah, Why now? I about fell out of my chair. I’m a competitor. I like to win. I want to be able to run the Chicago Marathon when I’m 50. It’s not fair. Waaaaaa…

I don’t think it has sunk in for him yet. YOU DIDN’T WIN. YOU CHEATED. YOU ARE NOT A WINNER. YOU’RE A CHEATER.

As an aside, Oprah played tapes from past interviews where Armstrong defiantly denied doping. I noticed one tell to his lies was saying “absolutely” twice. And I believe he said “absolutely not” twice when Oprah asked if he doped to get his third place finish at the 2009 Tour.

At least Vader’s last selfish act restored freedom to the galaxy (until the next movie comes out in 2015). Armstrong’s cancer survival story has encouraged many cancer victims to fight, which is probably the most heartbreaking for me. What are those people thinking?

Questions I wish Oprah would have asked Lance: Did you discover EPO during your cancer recovery? Was it your discovery of this drug that ignited the EPO generation in cycling?

Lance Armstrong, Johan Bruyneel, 2009

Darth Armstrong, Johan Palpatine, 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Jon Stewart on Oprah

I watched Jon Stewart on the Oprah show recently.  Here are some of my observations.

Stewart is a funny and reasonable guy and beyond that there’s not much there in the way of solving the world’s problems.  To his credit, he seems to know this and he had to keep reminding Oprah about it.

Oprah said once or twice he was “influential.”  He would reply that he makes jokes.

Oprah asked if Stewart would run for office.  The first thing he said is that he knows that he doesn’t have the answers. Oprah then said he’s probably more influential with his show and he said something to the effect that he makes jokes.

Oprah teed up a segment about where he was going to show pictures of people, and wanted Stewart to comment because “he’s one of the sharpest guys we know”.  I believe he responded again, “I’m funny.”

Oprah showed a picture of Glenn Beck.  I felt a pause in the audience as if Stewart was going to lay into him, I expected something like, “this guy is an…”  Yet, exceeding my expectations, I could detect no visible animosity in Stewart’s body language.  Quite the contrary.  There was a glimmer in his eyes.  He said that he considers Beck his moneymaker and his kid’s college fund.

I think Stewart knows he’s tapped an artery.  Many folks who have never listened to Beck beyond his sound bites dislike him enough to illicit strong emotional responses.  Stewart the shrewd joker and businessman sees a money-making opportunity.   He’s cashing in on those emotions.  In other words, very much like Beck, he’s riding the emotional waves for cash.

Stewart’s wife said “he’s not like this at home, he doesn’t talk about politics or anything like that”.  That’s not surprising.

Overall I got that sense that Stewart is grounded and he knows he’s thankful that he has a good act.  It was refreshing to see that  Stewart seems to know his strengths and limitations. Which is good because when he talked about some real issues, he was awful.  He threw out straw men (e.g. “those on the right say there are school shootings because we don’t read the bible in school”) and weak, caricatured arguments that include just enough of the buzz of the issue delivered in a well-honed comedic/authoritative manner to get head nods and applause for folks that don’t often think beyond the surface of the issues.

Early in the segment he said that 70% to 80% of the people in the country are “reasonable”  and that 15% – 20% are not and the problem is that we are run by the latter.  He went on to attempt to discuss a real issue.  He talked about the mosque at Ground Zero.  He presented several straw men of the opposing positions and presented the supporting position as the reasonable one.  Yet, according to this poll from Time magazine, 70% of Americans polled agreed that “continuing with the plan would be an insult to the victims of the attacks of the World Trade Center,” which doesn’t match up with his belief that he falls into the reasonable 70% crowd.

Stewart seems to know his strength is in making fun and I enjoy his comedy.  He’s good at it.  But, I think some of his viewers, including Oprah, mistake his act for reality and accept his commentary as well reasoned positions on par with folks such as Thomas Sowell, Charles Krauthammer, George Will and Walter Williams, when he’s probably not quite on part with Glenn Beck.

Stewart also gave great career advice.  Talking about his stand-up comedian days, he said some nights you bomb and some nights you crush, with the same material.  The audience response isn’t necessarily an accurate gauge on the quality of the content.  He drops the high and low scores and thinks his actual performance is somewhere in between and doesn’t let it get him down.

Those years as a stand-up, he developed a skill set.  Telling jokes, commanding an audience, developing a breadth of material to draw on while he’s in his act.  He’s experimented with several different things and happened upon a black swan in the form of a news parody show.  He’s happened along another in the form of tapping into the Glenn Beck opposition.

He’s participating in capitalism and doing quite well.  Others should recognize that and root for the system that allows his success.

Is DDT Bad?

On her Earth Day show, Oprah mentioned the banning of DDT as one of the successes of the Earth Day movement.

The banning of DDT is another example where our reflexes have been trained and our brains have been disengaged.  To question the validity of the DDT ban has been conditioned to be a bad thing.  We nod our heads in agreement that the ban is a good thing and go on with living our lives.

But, this Wall Street Journal editorial, DDT and Population Control, from today presents a different perspective.

Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, was a leading opponent of the insecticide DDT, which remains the cheapest and most effective way to combat malarial mosquitoes. Rachel Carson’s 1962 book, “Silent Spring,” misleadingly linked pesticides to cancer and is generally credited with popularizing environmental awareness.

Today, malaria still claims about one million lives every year—mostly women and children in sub-Saharan Africa. There’s no evidence that spraying the chemical inside homes in the amounts needed to combat the disease harms humans, animals or the environment. Yet DDT remains severely underutilized in the fight against malaria because the intellectual descendants of Senator Nelson continue to hold sway at the World Health Organization and other United Nations agencies.

So, to put this in terms that the Left may better understand, why is Oprah against something that can save 1 million lives a year?  If it is true that DDT can save 1 million lives a year without causing harm, then why are we so closed minded to this?  Perhaps its because we don’t see the faces of the those 1 million people a year that die from malaria.

Reflexes

Our reflexes have been trained.  We no longer question or think about things.  We avoid disagreements and conflicts.

For Earth Day, Oprah had the mother of a green family switch places with the mother of a non-green family.

In one clip the father of the non-green family showed how he left the kitchen faucet running in the background because he “likes the sound” it makes and it relaxes him and helps him focus.

That was met with a reflexive gasp from the audience and from the people in my living room.  I even caught myself dropping my jaw in horror.  Then I started to think.

Why is that such a big deal?  Why did it seem like a big deal to me?

Then I remembered.  When I was in elementary school, I remember the campaign to “save water”.  I had been lectured many times to “not let the faucet run.”

But, as I got to thinking about it I wasn’t clear at all why it was so bad for this guy to let his faucet run.  Clearly, it violated a standard of etiquette that has been brainwashed into our heads.

But Oprah’s show was about how our actions can effect others and I’m not clear on how this man’s action of leaving the faucet running will effect others.

We have plenty of water in most places.  There is no shortage of it.  The guy pays for what he uses.  It’s cheap.  Sure, it takes some energy to clean the water and get it to his house.  The waste of that energy might be a valid argument, but the waste of the water itself?  Water isn’t wasted.  It’s recycled over and over again.

To those in the room that continued to exercise their brainwashed reflex by chastising me for my uncaring attitude, I pointed out to them they also had wasteful habits like leaving lights on rooms that were not in use, taking long showers sometimes more than once a day, watering their lawns, filling their backyard swimming pools, running their Slip-n-Slides in the summer time, visiting water parks, drinking only bottled water, using dishwashers and so forth.

I’m a big environmentalist.  I don’t like to waste resources and I’m frugal so I see no need to create unnecessary expense.  But, who am I to judge this guy for leaving his faucet on?

I’m open to considering why this is bad if anyone has a valid argument.  It might be.  But, none of the people who gasped, including myself, could come up with a reasonable argument for how his habit was any worse than our wasteful habits.