Tag Archives: competition

The straight dope – performance enhancement drugs and the Olympics

syringe and ampoulesThe Beijing Olympic games are seeing a record-breaking achievement of a different kind – a round-the-clock lab team performing a greater number of tests for performance enhancing drugs, and more different types of tests, than ever before. And even so, the International Olympic Committee expect up to forty athletes to test positive for illicit substances. [image by happysnappr]

So – as suggested in the New York Times but originally proposed by bioethicists and other scientistswhy don’t we just do away with the restrictions entirely?

“… what we have now is not a level playing field. The system punishes some innocent athletes and rewards others with the savvy and the connections not to get caught. The more that the authorities crack down on known forms of enhancement, the more incentive athletes have to experiment with new ones — and to get their advice from black-market dealers instead of doctors.


If elite adult athletes were allowed to push the limits of human performance in return for glory, they might point the way for lesser mortals to coax more out of their bodies. If a 50-year-old sprinter could figure out how to run as fast as her 25-year-old self, that could be useful to aging weekend warriors — or any aging couch potato.”

As I’ve suggested many times before to anyone foolish enough to ask my opinion about sports, the thing to do is create a separate league for athletes who enhance themselves, run it in parallel, and sit back to watch the viewing ratings. The noble myth of the natural athlete would die off pretty quick in the hard glare of economics, I’m thinking.

But I suspect that – as with the case of Oscar “Bladerunner” Pistoriuseconomics is the one big force keeping things the way they are. After all, Nike and Adidas and their ilk like to be able to claim that their clothing or footwear is what separates first place from first loser, rather than chemical [x] or prosthesis [y]… and they’ve got a lot of money to throw around in the process.

But would they have enough to hold out against Big Pharma, if they were allowed to join the contest?

Get your space opera poetry on at the SpaceWesterns.com Senryū competition

I don’t know how many budding (or even accomplished) science fiction poets we have in the audience here at Futurismic – but if there are any, they should take heed to this announcement from Nathan Lilly: ?

SpaceWesterns.com is holding another poetry contest. This time we’re looking for your Space Western Senryū! All submissions must be sent electronically via our contest form by July 15th, 2008. The winners will be published on August 6th, 2008.

Our judges will be:

  • Alana Joli Abbott—comic-writer, Cowboys and Aliens 2; game-writer Steampunk Musha, Serenity Adventures
  • Mark L. Van Name—author, One Jump Ahead, Slanted Jack
  • Seamus Kevin Fahey—screen-writer, Battlestar Galactica; comic-writer, Battlestar Galactica: Origins

More details on the contest page at the site.”

In case (like myself) you’ve never heard of senryū before, here’s the definition from Wikipedia:

“Senryū is a Japanese form of short poetry similar to haiku in construction: three lines with 17 or fewer “on” (not syllables) in total. However, senryū tend to be about human foibles while haiku tend to be about nature, and senryū are often cynical or darkly humorous while haiku are more serious. Unlike haiku, senryū do not include a kireji (cutting word), and do not generally include a kigo, or season word.”

I tend to stick to iambic pentameter myself … but then my poetry’s never won anything or been published! Good luck, if you choose to enter.

Why Oscar ‘Bladerunner’ Pistorius shouldn’t compete in the Olympics

Oscar \'Bladerunner\' Pistorius - amputee athleteIn a landmark ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, South African athlete Oscar Pistorius – nicknamed ‘Bladerunner’ after the carbon-fibre prosthetics he uses in place of his amputated lower legs – has won the right to compete against able-bodied athletes, and plans to represent his country at either the Beijing Olympics or the later London event. [image taken from linked article]

From a purely technological perspective, it’s fantastic that we can replace a man’s missing limbs and allow him to run at all, let alone run at record-breaking speeds.

But here’s George Dvorsky explaining why he believes Pistorius shouldn’t be permitted to compete against regular non-enhanced athletes:

“The short answer is that it’s not fair to the able-bodied athletes who don’t want to get into the enhancement game.

Moving forward, it sets up a situation where:

  1. able-bodied athletes will increasingly be set at a disadvantage relative to the cyber-athletes, particularly as prostheses improve, and
  2. able-bodied athletes will have no choice but to seek enhancement measures of their own, legal or otherwise, to remain competitive.”

Read the whole piece before making your mind up; it won’t take you long.

I’m not sure where I stand on this issue, because our species-wide fascination with competitive sports has always baffled me completely; I guess I don’t care who runs in a race, enhanced or otherwise. As long as it isn’t me. 😉

But bearing in mind how financially lucrative the sports industry is, I can see Dvorsky having a point. After all, it’s not as if his second point doesn’t describe a situation that already exists in the present with regards to drugs and dietary supplements, without any pressure from cyborg athletes in the same leagues.

The Future Fire e-zine’s Second Life short fiction contest

Wow! Here’s a bit of news that combines two of my favourite things – short-form speculative fiction and Second Life.

Cover art for issue 9 of The Future Fire

The Future Fire is a UK-based speculative fiction e-zine, and they’ve just released their ninth issue as a free-to-download PDF file. Normally that would just be a prime candidate for a Friday Free Fiction mention, but there’s a little extra involved this time round.

The Future Fire is running a short fiction writing competition … but with a twist. Take it away, editor Djibril:

"… in this issue, we launch the The Future Fire / Black Swan writing competition with a first prize of $500.

"There’s a small technical barrier to entry, but no cost involved: the contest requires you to register and enter the Second Life virtual world and visit the Black Swan sim, which is a spooky, atmospheric island with a raised pathway, sculptures, events, and inhabitants.

"Visit for as long and as often as you like, and then write a story of up to 2,000 words inspired by your experience and submit it to The Future Fire by midnight on December 10th 2007."

Full details (and the SLURL for The Black Swan) can be found on The Future Fire‘s website.

So, all you writers who have yet to investigate Second Life, now you have a great excuse! Drop me an email if you’d like some guidance from someone who knows the lay of the land.

Thanks to Ariel at UK SF Book News Network for the heads-up.

[tags]writing, competition, short, story, Second Life[/tags]

Space Elevator Games 2007

University of Saskatchewan's space elevator climber This week sees the 2007 Space Elevator Games taking place near Salt Lake City, Utah; contestants from all over the world will be attempting to break records with their climber, tether and power transmission system designs in an attempt to win the $1million prize. Think what you like about the feasibility of space elevators, but you can’t deny the almost Quixotic glory of such an event – a testament to the human ability to dream big. Follow the progress of the event at the aptly-named Space Elevator Blog, which has been posting vigorously on the preliminary rounds. [Image from SpaceElevatorBlog]

[tags]space elevator, competition, space station, technology[/tags]