Radio, Class and ‘Roids (in no particular order)

While I’m not sure I conveyed my “there’s momentum in baseball, omg Sabean” point all that successfully before, I wanted to add a bit about the steroid discussion. To be fair, this is probably just me being difficult by playing the constant Devil’s Advocate, but I feel like the steroid debate has somewhat stagnated, and not allowed to follow through to any satisfactory conclusion.

I am by no means an expert on the situation, nor am I any sort of scientist that would be able to understand the actual biology of performance enhancing drugs, but even with the limited bit I’ve gotten, it seems like there are still unanswered questions.

My understanding, and please correct me if I’m wrong, is that we’re basically back where we were before the scandal, but with tighter controls for steroids, more testing, etc. But the one message that I got from Game of Shadows, a book by the two SF Chronicle reporters who first uncovered the BALCO scandal, is that the scientists inventing the steroids are geniuses in their own right.

Victor Conte, the founder of BALCO, was able to bypass every safeguard he faced, even when his athletes were tested, simply by fooling the tests. He was smarter than the testers, and nobody had a clue. Maybe the MLB, and other professional sports, think that this just won’t happen again, but that seems like a pretty naive attitude, that hopefully the problem will go away. What seems more likely is that they’ll keep up the testing and the known drugs will stop, but new, more secretive and hidden ones will pop up in their place. The MLB will get to claim that it did everything it could to fight steroid use, and again the players will look like the bad guys, a new era in the players vs. owners struggle that’s been going on since the beginning of time.

The other thing that gets me is the ambiguity in “performance-enhancing drugs.” I, for example, have asthma, which makes it hard to do activities that would make me breathe really hard, which basically covers everything except for chess and golf. Luckily, there are drugs that I can take, as I do, which lets me live the life of a normal person. I couldn’t be any sort of athlete without them. This, to me, enhances my performance, but I doubt you’d find anyone who thinks that asthma meds count as PEDs.

Now this is different, some say, because it’s more like “correcting” asthma, an impairment, rather than “enhancing” something else, like steroids. But that brings in another interesting angle, because Jose Canseco talked extensively in his book Juiced about his own experience with steroids, explaining that he had had such bad back problems his entire life that he basically needed the Human Growth Hormone to do any sort of athleticism in his life.

Maybe it was just that he did the athleticism so so well that it’s become something different entirely. And I admit, taking a daily pill or using an inhaler when you’re wheezing evokes an entirely different attitude from injections and anything that could help you bulk up. I just don’t like the emotional and ethical ambiguity that I feel like they’re just avoiding confronting.

***

I went to my first week of classes today, which on the whole were pretty unsatisfying. Besides the 8:30 in the f-ing morning class that the teacher has yet to show up to, the other classes seem pretty interesting. Or rather, I’m guessing that they would seem interesting if I had any idea what the professors are saying. Remember everything I said about understanding random people in conversation? It seems professors are the worst offenders of all, almost as though they’re thinking so fast that they have to speak equally fast to avoid a taco in their brain.

That’s right, taco, the Chilean word for “traffic jam.” See how confusing that was, not knowing what I was talking about? Now imagine if that were the entire thing for hours at a time, and you didn’t have the luxury of the written word to help you comprehend.

This is also exacerbated by what seems like a terrible standard of classroom decorum from the students. There’s a really odd dynamic between the profs and the students, as it seems that the students feel perfectly fine starting conversations in the middle of class, at normal speaking level, and the professors are just too dignified to tell them to shut up. Every now and then a student will shush the offenders, but often there’s just a dull roar going on, which doesn’t make the already hard task of understanding the prof any easier.

They say it all kind of falls into place after a month or two, and understanding will be much easier, so I’m just hoping my grades won’t be too low by then to catch back up and get something halfway decent.

***

I’m prepping for the radio show tomorrow, which is actually really fun, and should be a good show. Prepping at this point mainly means poring through the most recent news and trying to figure out what to talk to, and then doing due research to have interesting things to say. There are a few really interesting stories in the ST this week that I think would make good discussion points, so tomorrow, I’m going to get them all together and discuss with the team how we’re going to discuss them (or rather get ready to discuss them, as what you’ll hear on the radio really will be fresh discourse.

I’m also trying to pick music to play on the show, in between segments here and there, which is actually really fun. I’ve been trying to pick songs that are reminiscent of the news segments, and I have some pretty funny ones, I think, though I hope none of these fall under the “too soon” category.

The other thing to think about for this show is the context that’s necessary for each news story, because there’s a certain level of background that you can assume for news stories when you’re talking to locals, but a lot of that changes for ex-pats, like myself and most people listening. It’s going to be an interesting job, and I’m just a little worried that it’ll take 20 minutes to explain each short news clip, though that’s something we really have to do for it to make sense. That’s something I’ve certainly experienced, trying to write an article about something that I’m completely new to, but that “everybody” who lives here knows about.

Still, I’m super excited, and will most likely be unabashedly spamming you with reminders to tune in. Each show is available online at http://santiagoradio.cl/podcasts/?cat=14, though sometimes the site is a little slow to update. I’d like to get it available to subscribe through iTunes, but that’s something to work on in the next week or so.

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