Thursday, June 28, 2012

The most important question

(Courtesy of Steve Lumley)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

No brainer

(Courtesy of CK Chew)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sid's Piano Recital

It was Sid's turn to amaze his Dad this time with his piano recital at school. It's quite amazing to me the level of ability they've achieved, don't forget he's only 6yo. He and Seb have more musical ability in their little fingers than I have achieved in my whole life.

Listen and decide for yourselves but this proud Dad scores straight 10s for Sid's performance.

The Senior Citizen and the Policeman

(Courtesy of CK Chew)
A senior citizen bought a brand new BMW Z4 convertible and drove it out of the salesroom. Taking off down the motorway, he floored it to 120mph; enjoying the wind blowing through what little hair he had left.

"Amazing!" he thought as he flew down the M4, enjoying pushing the pedal to the metal even more.  Looking in his rear view mirror, he saw a police car behind him, blue lights flashing and siren blaring.

"I can get away from him - no problem!" thought the elderly nutcase as he floored it to 140mph, then 150 then 160. Suddenly, he thought, "What on earth am I doing? I'm too old for this nonsense!" So he pulled over to the side of the road and waited for the police car to catch up with him.

Pulling in behind him, the police officer walked up the driver's side of the BMW, looked at his watch and said, "Sir, my shift ends in 10 minutes. Today is Friday and I'm taking off for the weekend. If you can give me a reason why you were speeding that I've never heard before, I'll let you go."

The old man, looked very seriously at the policeman and replied, "Years ago my wife ran off with a policeman. I thought you were bringing her back."

"Have a good day, Sir", said the policeman.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Witch hunt?

(courtesy of Rodney Buike)

Submitted by Tim Dockery on Jun 21, 2012

Imagine walking into a courtroom as the defendant in a lawsuit. The prosecuting attorney reads the charges against you citing nothing more than the testimony of anonymous witnesses as evidence. You object, claiming this is unjust! To your surprise the prosecutor walks to the judge’s bench, puts on a judge’s robe and denies your motion. The prosecutor, still wearing his judge’s robe, then takes out his cell phone and calls three of his friends to serve on your “independent” jury.

This fictitious, but obviously unjust situation is incredibly similar to the case Lance Armstrong currently faces from the United States Anti-doping Agency and its CEO Travis T. Tygart.

A similar investigation led by the United States Department of Justice concluded in February, 2012. After almost two years of investigation, and millions of US tax dollars spent researching Armstrong’s past, the USDOJ decided there wasn’t enough evidence to continue the investigation. So is this just another branch of the Federal government wasting millions of more tax dollars on the same investigation?

No, despite the officially sounding name, it turns out the “United States Anti-doping Agency is not a part of the federal government. Although it receives almost 90 percent of its funding from the federal grants, the USADA is a government program masquerading as a non-profit organization. This non-profit status allows it to investigate and prosecute athletes without affording them the constitutional and due process protections required of other federal agencies. This status also allows it to prosecute athletes with a lower burden of proof than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard that would have been required in the previous investigation by the USDOJ. Finally, it allows a situation where the same man, Mr. Travis T. Tygart is allowed to serve as Prosecutor, Jury and Judge in the investigation of Lance Armstrong.

PROSECUTOR: Tygart initiated the charges.

On June 12, 2012, Travis Tygart and his staff at the USADA sent a letter to Armstrong accusing him of violating anti-doping rules. As evidence of this violation, Mr. Tygart and his staff were only able to cite previous drug tests that Armstrong had passed and the testimony of anonymous witnesses.

In the letter, Mr. Tygart informs Armstrong that he has 10 days to submit evidence to a Review Board that will determine if there is “sufficient evidence of doping” to continue with a full hearing. In his defense, Armstrong can only offer written materials to the Review Board. He will not even be allowed to know the names of the cyclists that have allegedly testified against him.

JURY: Tygart gets to hand pick the Review Board

The “Review Board” will decide whether charges should be brought against Armstrong from the USADA, and whether the case shall go to a full arbitration hearing. Who serves on this review Board? According to USADA protocol 11(b) The independent “review board” shall be appointed by the USADA’s CEO. You read that correctly, Mr. Tygart is allowed to handpick the individuals that serve as the “Jury”, and decide if these charges should move forward. If an athlete had failed a drug test and the board was looking at objective evidence this process might make sense; however, Armstrong has never failed a drug test. All of the evidence in this case is subjective. Mr. Tygart has allegedly caught several other cyclists doping, and offered them immunity in exchange for their testimony against Lance. Shouldn’t the credibility of such a witness be at least considered? Well, let’s assume that Mr. Tygart’s buddies, I mean, the independent “review board” find enough evidence to move the investigation forward, what happens next?

JUDGE: Tygart and USADA staff recommends sanction

Under the Applicable rules, Travis Tygart and his staff at the USADA, will recommend a sanction that will be imposed which may include up to a lifetime of ineligibility from sport. Finally, if Armstrong disagrees with the sanction imposed on him by Mr. Tygart, he can appeal for a full arbitration hearing.

USADA lacks internal and external controls

If Mr. Tygart and staff have the power it appears, what are the internal and external controls at USADA? What would restrict an overly ambitious CEO with an “axe to grind?”According to USADA bylaws, the organization has a very small ten member board of directors. The current director’s are apparently impressed with Tygart and his “Tygarthian” prosecution style of accusing first and looking for evidence later. Unless Mr. Tygart received a pay cut last year, he’s been paid a total of over $1.2 million in compensation and $100,000 in bonuses over the past four years. The spokesperson at the USADA did respond to my e-mail, but she declined to comment whether Tygart’s bonuses were tied to finding a certain number of athletes or a particularly high profile athlete guilty of doping.

So, how are the USADA’s directors chosen? Although the Bylaws allow other organizations to nominate potential directors, the USADA Board essentially has the power to elect their own replacements. This could ensure that only directors sympathetic to the Tygart are ever elected, and removes the accountability that a non-profit board should provide.

Finally, there’s the office of National Drug Control Policy. This is the branch of the Federal government that funds the USADA $10 million a year of federal tax dollars to operate. According to legal counsel for the NDCP office, the $10 million grant is an “unsupervised non-competitive” grant. So, Tygart and staff are guaranteed $10 million a year in funding from the Federal government, but must answer to no one.


Do I think Mr. Tygart has some kind of personal vendetta against Lance? My personal opinion is yes, but I also think actions sometime speak louder than words. The 2012 London Olympic Games are a little more than a month away. Mr. Tygart and his staff are responsible for testing all US athletes headed to the games. However, he has chosen to use the majority of his offices resources investigating whether a retired cyclist doped 16 years ago.

The investigation and sanctioning process at the USADA is unconscionable. The partiality of the prosecutor, the lack of due process for the accused, and the lack of an independent fact finder are completely at odds with our American system of justice and fairness.

In the words of Heinlein, “To give a man power without accountability is to establish a tyrant.”

Simon says: -

I don't think I need to say anything do I? Did Lance dope? I don't know, there's a lot of smoke and as they say, there's no smoke without fire. However, I'm passionate in the edict of "Innocent until proven guilty" end of story.

I've also got to say that I'm a bit biased as I, like so many people in the world, want desperately to see Lance at Kona this year. Does such a desire justify letting a guilty man race? No! BUT he hasn't ever been found guilty. Come on WTC do the right thing for once!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Sebastian's Piano Recital

Now this really blows my mind.

I used to complain when the boys were beginning to learn piano, it was like pulling teeth. Then I was let off and Shilpa took them while I was at work. Then a nightmare, Shilpa made us buy the boys a piano for Christmas and a piano teacher started coming home (while I was at work thank goodness).

But then one day I realised that the boys were playing the piano and actually reading the music as they played, it totally blew my mind.

Here's Seb at a little music recital at his school, he is in year one (6 years old) and you can see/hear why I am such a proud daddy.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

All-new Trek Madone 7

(Courtesy of Velo News)
Following hot on the heels its classics-themed Domane endurance frame release, Trek showed a brand new, wholly redesigned Madone at the first road stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné on Monday. Most of the RadioShack-Nissan team started the day aboard the new bike, the Madone 7, including likely Tour de France starters Andy Schleck, Yaroslav Popovich and Haimar Zubeldia.

With an official launch slated for later this month, Trek was tight-lipped about the frame itself, and wouldn’t allow to take a model out of the team’s start-area paddock. Nonetheless, the wholesale redesign includes a number of visually obvious features.

Nods to aerodynamics

While the new Madone isn’t an aero road frame of the traditional Cervélo-esque, narrow tube-profile sort, it does contain a number of visible design features that look to be intended to cut down on aerodynamic drag.

First and foremost is the use of Kamm tail tube shapes throughout the frame. The tubes are significantly wider than those used on Trek’s Speed Concept time trial frame, which also uses Kamm tails, but the theory remains the same: cut the back end off of an aero profile, taper the back edges correctly, and you end up with an aero shape while maintaining tube width (and thus stiffness). The trailing edge of the Madone 7’s wide downtube and head tube are lopped off, as are the trailing sides of the seat stays and seat tube, which curves a bit with the wheel as it enters the bottom bracket.

If there was any doubt as to the aero intentions of these tube shapes (which don’t look particularly aero, much like the Scott Foil tubes), it is erased by the large “KammTail Virtual Foil” logo on the downtube.

The Kamm-tailed fork is set wide, away from the spokes, and the fork blades themselves look rather small relative to the bulky head tube. The head tube juts out in front of the fork crown, neatly integrating the front brake, which Trek team liason Jordan Roessingh said is a Shimano-built brake “of the same generation as the stuff Sky is running.” That means it’s the integrated aero brake announced last week as part of the new Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 component group.

The rear brake has been moved from the seat stays to under the bottom bracket, like many time trial bikes. Again, Trek is using the new Dura-Ace 9000 integrated brake model. The internal cabling exits just in front the bottom bracket shell, with about four inches of housing exposed before entering the brake itself. It’s all extremely tidy, and a quick glance shows all the necessary bolts are easy to access, which should make wrenching a bit easier.

This isn’t the first time brakes have been integrated into a standard road frame — Ridley’s NOAH Fast is still the finest example, technically, with its carbon brake arms part of the frame mold itself — but it is a harbinger of a growing trend. As with time trial frames, which rarely had integrated brakes just a few years ago but now rarely launch without them, we expect to see increasing use of under-BB brake mounts and increased integration of front and rear brakes into frames and forks.

The industry now appears to be moving towards this integration as a whole, wich is a requirement since bikes need to be designed with these brakes in mind from the start. They use a two-bolt mount rather than the traditional single bolt; the Madone 7, at least as far as we could see, will only be compatible with these two-bolt front brakes, unless Trek has hidden a traditional single-bolt caliper mount in there. That makes the debut of Shimano’s 9000-series two-bolt integrated brake pivotal for the continuation of this trend. Though companies like TRP were the pioneers, and have offered similar models for some time (which are widely used on TT bikes), the backing of the biggest name in the sport and its relationships with frame manufacturers will likely result in a bloom in road frame brake integration over the next few years.

The more standard aero design cues are present as well. As with the Madone 6, all cables and housing are run internally. The Di2 cables on the RadioShack bikes exited the back end of the right chainstay, as they did before. The Di2 exit port for the front derailleur has been moved to the back of the seat tube to better integrate with the new, rear-facing plug on Dura-Ace Di2 9070. Both brake and derailleur cables enter at the headtube/downtube junction on the left side of the frame, as with the Domane.

The trend continues towards a balance between more traditional, wide tube shapes with some concessions made for aerodynamics, rather than a wholesale jump onto the anti-drag wagon. As anyone who read the May issue of Velo Magazine, and the aero road frame review within, will know, we dig this compromise, appreciating the free speed while treasuring true race-frame ride quality. Check back as the Tour de France approaches, when we should have an opportunity to get on the Madone 7 and find out if it checks all those boxes.

Simon says: -
I'm not sure how pretty this bike is but it's Kamm Tail all the way and quite radical. I must say I'm surprised they didn't go the whole hog with the front brakes built into the forks like they did with the Speed Concept and there's still an awful lot of cable and wires floating around at the front which surely can be buried internally somehow. Looks exciting and different though so we shall see. Check out this article with 25 pictures here.

The Corkscrew Open Water Turn

(Courtesy of Swim Smooth
If you are looking to excel in open water races or triathlon swim legs then you need to regularly practise your turns. Every open water turn gives you the opportunity to save a few seconds and the possibility of dropping other swimmers who may be drafting off you.

In this post we're going to look at an advanced way of turning called a corkscrew turn. It's a fast and tight way to cut round a buoy and a very useful skill to have in your locker. Even if you are not an advanced swimmer give this a try in training, it's a lot of fun and makes turns a lot easier when you need to cut a tight line at a turn buoy.

The Corkscrew Turn

Take a look at the following image sequence of Paul Newsome demonstrating this turn:

Paul approaches at full speed (1) and slides his arm closest to the buoy (2) past it, note at this point he has his back to the buoy and can't see it. He then flips onto his back (3) and his recovering arm comes over the top as in backstroke, enters the water at the front (4) and continues the body rotation back onto his front again (5). Setting off on his new heading he quickly gets back up to speed using good stroke rhythm and a healthy burst of leg kick (6).

Turning left (as shown above) you slide your left hand past the buoy to rotate onto your back, whilst turning right you slide your right arm past. Make sure you practise both! In a particularly tight turn you might not be able to turn sufficiently in a single corkscrew, in which case perform two in a row, one immediately followed by another.

If you are relatively new to swimming then this may look like an advanced skill but it is not actually that hard when you get the feel and timing of it.

Turns And Strategy

A conventional turn bends you through a wide arc as you stay on your front and you gradually stroke around the turn (blue line below) :

That's fine but if the wider path is blocked by slow swimmers you are going to be held up without the ability to perform a corkscrew turn which is much tighter (red). In relation to other swimmers drafting you, if they can't perform a tight turn themselves then you have a golden opportunity to shake them off your toes.

Practise In Training

There's very little chance of turning up on race day and performing a good corkscrew turn without practising them beforehand. Get together with some friends in open water, or in an open area of your pool, and work on getting the feel and rhythm of them. It's a lot of fun and like all open water skills can make a huge difference to your performance on race day, so much so that you should practise these skills all year round either in open water or in the pool.

Swim Smooth!

Simon says: -
This is a skill I haven't learnt or used yet but one I'm going to start incorporating in the coming months. Lots of practise is on the cards - it's all free time!