July 20, 2004

get me away from here, I'm dying, play me a song to set me free

* Why the athletes really want to get to the Olympics. excerpt:

"At the Albertville winter Olympics, condom machines in the athletes’ village had to be refilled every two hours. And in Sydney the organisers’ original order of 70,000 condoms went so fast that they had to order 20,000 more. Even with the replenishment, the supply was exhausted three days before the end of the competition schedule. (For the record, athletes who were in Sydney report that the Cuban delegation was the first to use up its allocation.) Salt Lake City in 2002 went even bigger: 250,000 condoms were handed out, despite the objections of the city’s Mormon leadership.

"'There’s a lot of sex going on. You get a lot of people who are in shape, and, you know, testosterone’s up and everybody’s attracted to everybody,' says Breaux Greer, a shaggy-blond Californian who competed in the javelin at the Sydney Games.

"'It’s not an orgy,' says one alpine skiing champion, Carrie Sheinberg, 'but it is socially vigorous.'"
"The idea that sex can hinder performance is hardly a new one. Researchers have long suggested that abstaining before competition enhances performance. Prior to the Barcelona Games, however, doctors at a Jerusalem sex clinic advised women on the Israeli team to have sex before their events. 'Women compete better after orgasm, especially high-jumpers and runners,' one of the doctors claimed. The German team physician endorses sex for male and female athletes, saying: 'Sex does not cause any loss of strength.'

"He may be right. This year, a Russian psychologist told a German newspaper that neither gender should abstain. 'It’s simple,' she said. 'More sex means more gold.'

"Dick Roth remembers Tokyo in the 1960s, a time before sex studies and internet hook-ups - and yet still very much alive. 'It was a lot more innocent back then,' he says, 'but not only did I see it, I participated in it. You’ve been working so hard, and everybody is so in the absolute prime of life, and everyone looks so good. This was before the sexual revolution, and it was discreet. But it was happening.'"

"Then he pauses for a moment. 'I know I have to be careful when I talk to a journalist, but I can say this: It wasn’t the fuck-fest it is now.'"

* Krugman concludes:

"President Bush isn't actually an Al Qaeda mole, with Dick Cheney his controller. Mr. Bush's 'war on terror' has, however, played with eerie perfection into Osama bin Laden's hands - while Mr. Bush's supporters, impressed by his tough talk, see him as America's champion against the evildoers.

"Last week, Republican officials in Kentucky applauded bumper stickers distributed at G.O.P. offices that read, 'Kerry is bin Laden's man/Bush is mine.' Administration officials haven't gone that far, but when Tom Ridge offered a specifics-free warning about a terrorist attack timed to 'disrupt our democratic process,' many people thought he was implying that Al Qaeda wants George Bush to lose. In reality, all infidels probably look alike to the terrorists, but if they do have a preference, nothing in Mr. Bush's record would make them unhappy at the prospect of four more years."

* Jonathan Yardley on John Cheever. excerpt:

"Cheever himself lived a suburban life, though he was more observer of than participant in suburbia's cozy, charged rituals. Born in 1912 in Massachusetts into an old New England family, he suffered lasting pain when his father left his mother after his business was destroyed by the stock market calamity of 1929. He began a literary career in the 1930s, served in the Army in World War II, then resumed that career at war's end. He married, had children, acknowledged convention but resisted it; he was eaten away by alcohol and late in life accepted (and practiced) his bisexuality. In his journals (published in 1991) he described his desire 'to write well, to write passionately, to be less inhibited, to be warmer,' and:

"'To disguise nothing, to conceal nothing, to write about those things that are closest to our pain, our happiness; to write about my sexual clumsiness, the agonies of Tantalus, the depth of my discouragement -- I seem to glimpse it in my dreams -- my despair. To write about the foolish agonies of anxiety, the refreshment of our strength when these are ended: to write about our painful search for self, jeopardized by a stranger in the post office, a half-seen face in a train window; to write about the continents and populations of our dreams, about love and death, good and evil, the end of the world.'"


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