January 16, 2013
Lance: Hero AND Disgrace

Lance is a personal hero of mine. My father and brother have both been involved in the sport for 15 years now and I vividly remember watching Lance take it to Marco Pantani on Mount Ventoux in 2000 (before ostensibly letting the pesky Italian take the stage victory). I watched him toy with opponents before breaking them. I watched him dominate in a way that made an almost unwatchable sport enjoyable.

I watched as much as half of each of Lance’s tour victories and all of the important stages (TTs and mountains), often waking up before 7am on summer break to get in as much of the action as possible.

I love the sport and I love Lance for bringing me to it as a spectator.

I’m willing to give him a pass on the doping. Well before it was fashionable to say so, I admitted that Lance doped. But I didn’t care because literally (and not misusing the word there) every other rider was doping (apologies Fernando Escartin*) and Lance still dominated them. Seven. Straight. Times.

*Escartin was the third placed rider in Lance’s first victory in 1999 and the only podium finisher in Lance’s victories to not be implicated in or associated with doping (though he certainly deserves the Bagwell-Piazza Treatment as a member of the era).

I thought cycling missed a golden opportunity to decriminalize the doping and see how far man could push himself against the world’s most difficult elements. Cycling is a race, what matters is equivalence of opportunity and the ONLY way to ensure that, even to this day, is to deregulate the sport (while controlling for the health of the athlete). It isn’t like baseball with hallowed historical records or football with significant concerns for player safety.

Deregulated or not, cycling in the early 2000s was largely a level playing field. Any chemical advantage Lance had came through running a better organization than everyone else. He was a phenomenal manager and planner, all the more evidenced by his status as the last domino to fall in the anti-doping crusade.

But in the end, it all came crumbling down. There were too many witnesses. Too much testimony. Too many enemies.

In the end, Lance’s tyrannical behavior became his downfall and will present the greatest stain on his legacy. And that’s what Lance became, a tyrant. Tyrants maintain their power by justifying their behavior, their cruelty. They use phrases like “the ends justifying the means” and “for the greater good”. Lance became a tyrant in service of his legacy and, by extension, his cause.

He held nothing back in his quest to destroy the whistle-blowers. Betsy and Frankie Andreu. Emma O’Reilly. Tyler Hamilton. All while wrapping himself in the righteous yellow cloak of LIVESTRONG. The paucity of whistle-blowers and the duration of silence from even those that eventually testified against Armstrong in the USADA report are indicative of the lethality of his arsenal and the righteousness of his cause.

And therein lies the rub. Lance will forever be remembered for both his ruthlessness and righteousness. For the greatest comeback and the greatest fraud. For his heroism and disgrace. Lance’s legacy won’t be one thing OR the other. It will always be a case for an “AND”.

November 3, 2012
"

It is with heavy hearts that we share the news that the 2012 ING New York City Marathon has been canceled.

The decision was made after it became increasingly apparent that the people of our city and the surrounding tri-state area were still struggling to recover from the damage wrought by the recent extreme weather conditions. That struggle, fueled by the resulting extensive and growing media coverage antagonistic to the marathon and its participants, created conditions that raised concern for the safety of both those working to produce the event and its participants. While holding the race would not have required diverting resources from the recovery effort, it became clear that the apparent widespread perception to the contrary had become the source of controversy and division.

"

This letter from NYRR is causing — quite rightly — a lot of controversy. Blaming the media, while never using the words “hurricane” or “Sandy” — not smart.

And then the grammarian in me can’t help but point out that if you read this literally, it says that the struggle of New Yorkers to recover from Sandy was “fueled by the resulting extensive and growing media coverage antagonistic to the marathon and its participants” — in other words, that the media coverage wasn’t just hurting the reputation, it was also hurting the New Yorkers most badly hit by the hurricane. I suspect that’s not what NYRR meant, but it’s what they said. And when you’re putting out a letter which is going to be as closely scrutinized as this one, it really does behoove you not to say such things.

NY Road Runners Blames Marathon Cancellation On Media, Not Tragedy: Gothamist

(via felixsalmon)

October 3, 2012
FBers have a decision to make

Recent article I wrote for Seeking Alpha about the impending Facebook lockup expirations.

April 11, 2012
Hoodwinked, FABulously?

Just a few minutes ago, I found myself wondering if Fab (the booming online retailer) pulled a fast one to engender substantial goodwill.

Here’s the story:

About a month ago, I ordered a shower curtain with a roadmap of Texas (#onlyonfab) and an iPhone 4 case with a subway map of NYC (for my homesick New Yorker girlfriend) from Fab.

On Monday, I received the order, but with a subway shower curtain in place of the iPhone case. I immediately took a picture of both curtains and the invoice (which correctly listed the iPhone case) intending to send it to Fab to alert them to the mix up (and get my iPhone case).

Today, before I’d gotten around to sending the picture in, I got a preemptive e-mail from Fab identifying the problem, confirming that the iPhone case was in the mail, and ‘offering’ me to keep the subway curtain (how generous).

I was immediately impressed, it’s the first time in my long history of online shopping that a seller identified a mistake in an order within 48 hours of delivery. It’s amazing, really, and speaks to the quality operation Fab runs… or does it?

My shower curtain was probably not an isolated incident. It is highly unlikely that they’d catch a single mistake among hundreds (or thousands) and, as such, the goodwill this instance earned from me could be multiplied by the same number of orders.

What’s that goodwill worth? Noting Fab’s willingness to offer $25 credits for referring paying customers, it’s clear that they are willing to sacrifice some short-term gains for long-term growth and stickiness. A few hundred (or even thousand) shower curtains (or the like) wouldn’t be out of line with what Fab has spent on goodwill in the past.

I’m not trying to fly the conspiracy balloon here, I can’t say I’m even sure this is what’s going on here. It’s, at least, a compelling and clever technique for building consumer goodwill.

What do you think?

April 7, 2012
Blake Masters: Peter Thiel’s CS183: Startup - Class 2 Notes Essay

blakemasters:

Here are my class notes, typed in essay form, from Class 2 of CS183: Startup. Errors, omissions, and/or poor phrasing are my own. Credit for good substance and wording is Peter’s entirely.

CS183: Startup—Notes Essay—April 4—Party Like It’s 1999?

I. Late to the Party

History is driven…

(Source: blakemasters)

April 3, 2012

parislemon:

Aaron Sorkin does Network meets Bulworth for HBO.

Sold. 

Can’t wait.

April 2, 2012

Atypical. Unexpected. Almost indie. Awesome.

Loved it before I knew who it was, and then immediately sought validation to make sure I’m not crazy.

I’m not.

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