Straining At The Leash

The picture below aptly captures Kasey’s approach to walks.  When we leave the house, she promptly trots ahead until the leash scrolls out to its maximum extent.

The leash stays taut as a bowstring throughout the walk, as Kasey pulls relentlessly forward, head swiveling from side to side, looking for anything that might be worth noticing.  And if she sees something interesting, she heads for it at ramming speed.  It’s as if every vista is so exciting that she can’t resist straining to get there as fast as possible, as if every smell is so absorbing that it merits immediate and deep attention.  The world isn’t going to pass Kasey by — she’s going to dive in head first and fully experience every second.

I compare her headlong approach to mine, as I saunter down the path and am barely able to conceal my ennui about walking past things I’ve seen hundreds of times before.  And then I wonder:  what would it be like if you spent every moment of every day straining at the leash and eager to see what might be found around the next corner?

Crime . . . And “Punishment”

Anders Breivik killed 77 people, many of them kids, in carefully planned attacks on government buildings and a youth camp in Norway.  Today he was determined to be sane, was found guilty of the mass murder — deemed “terrorist acts” under Norwegian law — and received the maximum sentence of 21 years in prison.

A man who kills 77 people is found to be legally sane?  Sentenced to a mere 21 years in prison, as the maximum available penalty for the cold-blooded killing of dozens of people?  And, according to the news article linked above, the “guilty verdict comes as welcome relief to victims and their families, who have been looking for closure 13 months after the tragic event”?

It is unimaginable that a disturbed mass murderer like Breivik, who is only 33 years old, could be walking the streets, a free man, in only two decades.  What better indication could there be of the differences between the United States and Norway — their people, their criminal justice systems, and their concepts of just punishment — than this absurdly lenient sentence?

Many Americans applaud the European social model and decry the harshness of punishments meted out by American courts.  Does anyone, however, seriously defend this grossly inadequate penalty and the notion that 21 years in prison is sufficient punishment for an unrepentant fanatic who gunned down 77 innocent people and now plans to write books about his attacks and his crazed political views?

Broken Lance

Lance Armstrong has decided not to pursue arbitration in his ongoing dispute with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.  The USADA will treat Armstrong’s decision as an admission of guilt and will move to strip him of the seven consecutive Tour de France titles that he won from 1999 to 2005.  Armstrong says his rejection of arbitration doesn’t admit anything but rather is a recognition that the arbitration is part of what his coach called an “unjust process.”

Armstrong points to hundreds of different drug tests that he passed as evidence of his innocence.  The USADA, on the other hand, said it had evidence that Armstrong used banned substances and methods and that some of his former teammates from the U.S. Postal Service cycling team were ready to testify against him.  With Armstrong calling a halt to the proceedings while continuing to deny the accusations, citing the toll the investigation has taken on him and his family, the evidence presumably will never be presented.

It’s a sad day for Armstrong’s many fans, for supporters of his foundation and wearers of his “livestrong” bracelet, and for anyone who was inspired by his victory over cancer.  His decision to stop fighting what he contends are unsubstantiated charges also is contrary to Armstrong’s hard-earned image as an indefatigable competitor whose refusal to tire or slow down would crush the will of fellow contestants during the mountain stages of the Tour de France.

And, despite the somewhat triumphal tone of the USADA official quoted in the article linked above, this whole process has been another black eye for the sport of cycling — a sport that apparently has been riddled with cheating and a willingness to explore new frontiers in manipulating human blood and sinew, heart and lung, to gain a fractional competitive advantage.