It’s hard to get away from any mention of Lance Armstrong these days. He’s a polarizing figure. I think his track record is admirable–whatever way you hack it, he’s a cancer survivor and he excelled at his sport. Sure, he may not have won the titles he did without performance enhancing drugs (though we will never know, will we?) but he was no couch potato. He possesses an extraordinary level of fitness that most of us will never attain.
He embodies humanity’s endless pursuit of excellence, of perfection.
The issue of performance enhancing drugs is an interesting one. Several questions immediately come to mind. What is the performance differential attributed to the drug? Was it more than 10%? Was it less than 1%? Was it entirely psychological? (After all, we should never underestimate the power of placebos.) Or does it even matter? When a 2,000 mile race comes down to minutes, fractions of a percentage point count. Any psychological advantage counts. The real point is that performance enhancing drugs are considered an unfair advantage.
What happens in a future where excellence or perfection can be attained not by drugs but by genetic selection? Right now, the natural born athletes succeed at the expenses of the klutzy majority (I’m part of the klutzy majority, just in case you were wondering.) But what if the klutzy genes were identified, and klutzy embryos were selectively eliminated? What happens when you pit a natural born athlete who wasn’t screened for klutziness against someone who was screened as a tiny embryo and who was allowed to live because his combination of genes promised a superior physical aptitude?
No drugs are involved, but is it still a fair competition?
More to the point, if you could select between a klutzy embryo and a non-klutzy embryo, which would you choose?
A few weekends ago, my family visited Legoland (Orlando, Florida). A section of Legoland features cities built out of Legos, and as remarkable as the exhibits are, nothing beats Legoland’s special Star Wars exhibit, consisting of some life-sized Star Wars characters built out of Legos, as well as remarkably detailed miniatures of famous Star Wars scenes. Music and moving parts add charm and animation to many pictures.
In this miniature, the Naboo starfighter spins to fire into the hanger.
The shield generator and Darth Vader’s waiting shuttle on Endor.
In this battle scene on Naboo, you can see the many elements of the Trade Federation army.
The iconic arena battle scene featuring Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, and Padme Amidala against a variety of nasty creatures.
The Battle of Kashyyyk features a battle tank that was built of 10,800 Lego pieces and took 168 hours to assemble…
The desert world of Tattoine is featured in this miniature…
…that includes a cantina, complete with swaying musicians and piped music. In the scene you can see Han Solo in the bottom right, and Greedo in the center. (BTW, Han Solo shoots first…)
The sight of the Millennium Falcon lifting off the ground is awesome. I love how Lego combines electronics to make these miniatures come to life.
In this scene from the ice planet, Hoth, Luke Skywalker ascends into the belly of the AT-AT.
Darth Maul is superbly life-sized…
…and attacks little boys who try to take it on. (My son was trying to do some kind of daddy-powered force kick, but poor camera timing results in a photograph of Darth Maul bullying the kid, instead of the other way around…)
Darth Vader is impressive, even when made out of Legos…
And finally, the true hero of Star Wars, R2-D2. How many times would the story have ended in defeat if the intrepid little droid did not save the day?
My husband and I are Star Wars fans, and the Star Wars exhibit at Legoland made our day in a theme park that is otherwise tailored for a much younger crowd (ages 2-12.) Oh, I have to share one last thing, the culinary delight that is Granny Fries. Cut Granny Smith apples into french-fry strips, deep fry them, sprinkle them with sugar and cinnamon power, and then add a huge dollop of whipped cream on the size for dipping. It’s guaranteed to wipe out any nutritional value found in the apple itself, but wow, it is delicious!