From the monthly archives: "June 2012"

“Travels With Charley in Search of America” will celebrate its 50th birthday on July 27th.

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John Steinbeck’s classic/iconic/beloved travel book  was an instant best-seller and the newspaper and magazine critics of the day generally were kind to it in the late summer of 1962.

Most of them raved blindly. They all accepted it as the true account of Steinbeck’s road trip around the USA and none of them seemed to notice the book’s lineup of cardboard characters.

Time magazine broke from the slobbering mainstream pack, however, ripping Steinbeck in a two-paragraph review:

Here’s what Time wrote in August 1962:

“TRAVELS WITH CHARLEY, by John Steinbeck (246 pp.; Viking; $4.95). Put a famous author behind the wheel of a three-quarter-ton truck called Rocinante (after Don Quixote’s horse), equip him with everything from trenching tools to subzero underwear, send along a pedigreed French poodle named Charley with prostatitis, follow the man and dog on a three-month, 10,000-mile trip through 34 states, and what have you got? One of the dullest travelogues ever to acquire the respectability of a hard cover.

“Vagabond Steinbeck’s motive for making the long, lonely journey is admirable: “To try to rediscover this monster land” after years of easy living in Manhattan and a country place in Sag Harbor. L.I. He meets some interesting people: migrant Canucks picking potatoes in Maine, an itinerant Shakespearean actor in North Dakota, his own literary ghost back home in California’s Monterey Peninsula. But when the trip is done, Steinbeck’s attempt at rediscovery reveals nothing more remarkable than a sure gift for the obvious observation.”

The reading public in 1962 didn’t buy Time’s review. Steinbeck’s last major work stayed on best-seller lists for over a year and has been popular ever since.

Time’s quick hatchet job seemed unnecessarily harsh when I first read it. But given what I/we know now about how Steinbeck actually traveled and how little time he spent alone or spent studying the state of the changing country, it looks sharper than ever.

For half a century, Steinbeck’s last major work masqueraded as a nonfiction book. But as I innocently/accidentally learned in the fall of 2010 by hanging around in university libraries and driving down thousands of miles of two-lane highways, “Travels With Charley” is more fiction and fibs than fact.

I didn’t set out to ruin anyone’s reading fun by fact-checking Steinbeck’s book, and apparently I haven’t.   My discovery of Steinbeck’s literary fraudulence, for all the mainstream media attention it got in the spring of 2011, hasn’t put much of a dent in “Travels With Charley’s” reputation as a true account of Steinbeck’s trip.

If the Google alerts I get are representative of “TWC” readers, most people still think they are reading an honest, factual account of a great writer’s famous road trip.

Most new readers love the book as much as those unquestioning critics of 1962. And when they find out “TWC” is mostly made up, they react pretty much the same way the Steinbeck scholars did when they learned after 50 years that the book was more fiction than nonfiction.  They say “So what?”

 

 

I’ve gotten in trouble for stating my attitude about athletes and steroids. After hearing so many debunked indignant,tearful deniaplayers athletes who turned out to be guilty, I decided to take a guilty until proven innocent when any credible evidence is presented.

Dr. Charles Yesalis, one of the foremost experts on steroid use in sports,said that that he doesn’t see how any human could win the Tour de France without drugs.

For the foresable future,  when it comes to Lance Armstrong, I’m going with guilty.

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Lance Armstrong faces fresh doping charges from USADA

By Wednesday, June 13, 2:56 PM

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency brought formal doping charges against former cyclist Lance Armstrong in an action that could cost him his seven Tour de France titles, according to a letter sent to Armstrong and several others Tuesday.

As a result of the charges, Armstrong has been immediately banned from competition in triathlons, a sport he took up after his retirement from cycling in 2011.

In the 15-page charging letter obtained by The Post, USADA made previously unpublicized allegations against Armstrong, alleging it collected blood samples from Armstrong in 2009 and 2010 that were “fully consistent with blood ma­nipu­la­tion including EPO use and/or blood transfusions.” Armstrong has never tested positive.

In February, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles ended a nearly two-year investigation into doping allegations involving Armstrong without bringing criminal charges. Armstrong’s former teammates Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton cooperated with federal agents in that investigation and publicly accused Armstrong of doping.

USADA is the quasi-government agency that oversees anti-doping in Olympic sports in the United States. It is empowered to bring charges that could lead to suspension from competition and the rescinding of awards. It does not have authority to bring criminal charges.

“I have never doped, and, unlike many of my accusers, I have competed as an endurance athlete for 25 years with no spike in performance, passed more than 500 drug tests and never failed one,” Armstrong said in a statement released by his publicist. “That USADA ignores this fundamental distinction and charges me instead of the admitted dopers says far more about USADA, its lack of fairness and this vendetta than it does about my guilt or innocence. Any fair consideration of these allegations has and will continue to vindicate me.”

USADA’s letter, dated June 12, alleges that Armstrong and five former cycling team associates — three doctors including Italian physician Michele Ferrari, one trainer and team manager Johan Bruyneel— engaged in a massive doping conspiracy from 1998 to 2011, and that “the witnesses to the conduct described in this letter include more than ten (10) cyclists . . .”

All of the six, including trainer Jose Pepi Marti of Switzerland and doctors Pedro Celaya of Luxembourg and Luis Garcia del Moral of Spain, face competition bans. USADA put all of the alleged violations in one letter, it stated, because it considers the six defendents part of a “long running doping conspiracy.”

The letter specifically alleges that “multiple riders with firsthand knowledge” will testify that Armstrong used EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone and masking agents, and that he distributed and administered drugs to other cyclists from 1998 to 2005. The letter alleges that numerous witnesses will testify that Armstrong also used human growth hormone before 1996.

“These charges are a product of malice and spite and not evidence,” Robert D. Luskin, Armstrong’s Washington-based attorney, said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “Nothing else explains the fact . . . they allege an overarching doping conspiracy among four teams over 14 years and Lance is the only rider that gets charged.”

Armstrong competed for the U.S. Postal Service team and later the Discovery Channel team from 1998 to 2005. In 2009, he rode for the Astana Cycling Team and on RadioShack’s team in 2010-11.

The letter further claims that Martial Saugy, the director of an anti-doping lab in Switzerland, stated that Armstrong’s urine sample results from the 2001 Tour of Switzerland indicated EPO use.

Saugy told The Post last year that Armstrong’s sample was merely “suspicious,” a designation that meant it could not be called positive. Further analysis with modern methods might bring clarity, Saugy said, but the sample no longer exists.

“We did not do the additional analysis. It will never be sufficient to say, in fact, it was positive,” Saugy said in an interview with The Post. “I will never go in front of a court with that type of thing.”

Luskin said USADA sent Armstrong a letter last week asking him to meet with anti-doping officials. Armstrong declined, believing USADA was not interested in his testimony but rather a confession, Luskin said. In its letter, USADA said “with the exception of Mr. Armstrong, every other U.S. rider contacted by USADA regarding doping in cycling agreed to meet with USADA . . .”

USADA Chief Executive Officer Travis Tygart could not be immediately reached to comment.

Though the World Anti-Doping Agency places an eight-year statute of limitations on doping allegations, USADA argues in its letter that evidence of banned acts outside of the eight-year limit can be losed to corroborate evidence within the limit, and the statute of limitations can be waived when the alleged violations were fraudulently concealed.

He’s more like a fascist.

(The great Thomas Sowell)

It bothers me a little when conservatives call Barack Obama a “socialist.”

He certainly is an enemy of the free market, and wants politicians and bureaucrats to make the fundamental decisions about the economy. But that does not mean that he wants government ownership of the means of production, which has long been a standard definition of socialism.

What President Obama has been pushing for, and moving toward, is more insidious: government control of the economy, while leaving ownership in private hands. That way, politicians get to call the shots, but, when their bright ideas lead to disaster, they can always blame those who own businesses in the private sector.

Politically, it is heads-I-win when things go right, and tails-you-lose when things go wrong. This is far preferable, from Obama’s point of view, since it gives him a variety of scapegoats for all his failed policies, so that he no longer has to use President Bush as a scapegoat all the time.

Government ownership of the means of production means that politicians also own the consequences of their policies, and have to face responsibility when those consequences are disastrous — something that Barack Obama avoids like the plague.

Thus the Obama administration can arbitrarily force insurance companies to cover the children of their customers until the children are 26 years old. Obviously, this creates favorable publicity for President Obama. But if this and other government edicts cause insurance premiums to rise, then that is something that can be

blamed on the “greed” of the insurance companies.The same principle, or lack of principle, applies to many other privately owned businesses. It is a very successful political ploy that can be adapted to all sorts of situations.

One of the reasons why both pro-Obama and anti-Obama observers may be reluctant to see him as fascist is that both tend to accept the prevailing notion that fascism is on the political right, while it is obvious that Obama is on the political left.

Back in the 1920s, however, when fascism was a new political development, it was widely — and correctly — regarded as being on the political left. Jonah Goldberg’s great book Liberal Fascism cites overwhelming evidence of the fascists’ consistent pursuit of the goals of the Left, and of the Left’s embrace of the fascists during the 1920s.

Mussolini, the originator of fascism, was lionized by the Left, both in Europe and in America, during the 1920s. Even Hitler, who adopted fascist ideas in the 1920s, was seen by some, including W. E. B. Du Bois, as a man of the Left.

It was in the 1930s, when ugly internal and international actions by Hitler and Mussolini repelled the world, that the Left distanced itself from fascism and its Nazi offshoot — and verbally transferred these totalitarian dictatorships to the Right, saddling their opponents with these pariahs.

What socialism, fascism, and other ideologies of the Left have in common is an assumption that some very wise people — like themselves — need to take decisions out of the hands of lesser people, i.e., the rest of us, and impose those decisions by government fiat.

The vision of those of the Left is not only a vision of the world, but also a vision of themselves as superior beings pursuing superior ends. In the United States, however, this vision conflicts with a Constitution that begins, “We, the People . . . ”

That is why the Left has for more than a century been trying to get the Constitution’s limitations on government loosened or evaded by judges’ new interpretations, based on notions of “a living Constitution” that will take decisions out of the hands of “We, the People,” and transfer those decisions to our betters.

The self-flattery of the vision of the Left also gives its true believers a huge ego stake in that vision, which means that mere facts are unlikely to make them reconsider — regardless of what evidence piles up against the vision of the Left, and regardless of its disastrous consequences.

Only our own awareness of the huge stakes involved can save us from the rampaging presumptions of our betters, whether they are called socialists or fascists. So long as we buy their heady rhetoric, we are selling our birthright of freedom.

— Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. © 2012 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

It was only a matter of time before someone in government called for the banning of high school football.

And it was inevitable that it would be a woman or an effeminate man.

“Comparing high school football to the gladiator fights of ancient times, Council Rock school board member Patty Sexton has called for banning the sport at the high school level.

Sexton, also a Philadelphia public school teacher, made her comments late at Thursday night’s Council Rock board meeting.

She said continuing the sport at schools funded by the general taxpayer base is inappropriate. It has become too dangerous and carries too much of a risk of lasting effects from injuries, especially concussions, Sexton said.

“It’s no longer appropriate for public institutions to fund gladiators,” she said. “I am very, very concerned about putting these student-athletes in the position of getting a concussion. Football has gotten faster, harder and more dangerous with each passing year. I’m extremely scared we will eventually be sued over injuries suffered in sports.”

It doesn’t make sense for publicly funded educational institutions to continue offering a sport that by its very nature includes physical and often violent contact on every play, Sexton said.”

Not surprising at all that we would get this kind of hysterical response, but it’s another signal to the NFL  that it’s time to seriously address the causes of concussions. Shrinking the players by seriously going after PED users would be the best place to start.