Almanac Weekend Reading

Hello February! ALREADY!

It seems like just a couple of days ago that we were wishing each other a happy new year and a merry christmas.

If you’ve ever wondered aloud if too much sport is barely enough and are yet to feel sated by the sporting smorgasbord that we’ve been treated to this January, then you’re a pretty hard person to please.

This weekend, we have mens and womens singles finals at the Australian Open, the Socceroos meet South Korea in the finals of the Asian Cup and if you’re like some of us at the Almanac, you’ll be preparing your excuse for taking a day off to watch the NFL Superbowl on Monday morning.*

Once again, we offer the following reads for your consideration across what should be a pretty good weekend’s sport. Whether you find yourself at a cafe, or you’ve sorted the gardening out or you find yourself with a quiet moment, we hope you enjoy what we believe are some thought-provoking and engrossing stories that have surfaced in recent times in the world of sport.



Between Lance Armstrong, Barry Bonds, Marion Jones, the Cronulla Sharks and Essendon, performance enhancing drugs in sport has obviously been a huge issue in recent years. It’s no surprise that WADA is coming down heavy on perpetrators, but the case of Italian figure skater,Carolina Kostner  is an interesting one. While we’re yet to see what – if any – penalties the AFL tribunal comes up with in the case against the Bombers, Kostner’s punishment is in marked contrast contrast to the penalties given out to Cronulla players by ASADA late last year.

“If Alex’s mother had answered the door, we wouldn’t be speaking about this now,”




You have no doubt noticed that the Almanac has ramped up its music content in recent weeks. Whether you’re fan of Jazz or not, Billie Holliday remains a larger-than-life figure in the world of music. While her issues with substance abuse have been well documented, a new book by author Johann Hari on the ‘war on drugs’; Chasing the Scream, paints a portrait of how Lady Day was targeted by the fledgling Federal Bureau of Narcotics – desperate for a high-profile scalp to justify their existence. As usual, the racial overtones can’t be ignored in his excerpt; The Hunting of Billie Holliday for Politico.

Harry Anslinger did not create these underlying trends. His genius wasn’t for invention: it was for presenting his agents as the hand that would steady all these cultural tremblings. He knew that to secure his bureau’s future, he needed a high-profile victory, over intoxication and over black people, and so he turned back to Billie Holiday.



You’re damn right we’re not adverse to including ourselves in the odd recommended reading list. Through January we brought you Louise Currie’s tale of when a Himalayan trek goes horribly wrong. We’ve had such a good response to Louise’s words, that we’ve presented her tale in a single post for you to consume. The Accident at Tashi Lapsa Pass is a tale of perseverance and mental strength in the face of numerous challenges that would test the best of us.


We were in a very difficult situation. At close to 5,300 meters in altitude, there would be no possibility of a helicopter evacuation from here as there was simply no safe place for one to land. There was no mobile phone network in the area and being the winter off-season, we would be unlikely to meet any other people coming over the Pass. Ngole was remote. Ngole was cold. And we were completely alone…



The NFL Super Bowl is a showcase of excess with some football played in between gasps of ‘what-the?’ On Monday morning, the New England Patriots take on the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX (that’s Super Bowl 49 for those of you playing at home), for the ultimate prize in American football.


For the Patriots fans…


The spotlight has well and truly been on Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Deflategate (clink the link if you need a background to ‘what-it-all-means’), New England cornerback Darrelle Revis is an integral key to the Patriots chances of winning.  CBS Sportswriter Jason LaCanfora profiles the intriguing path taken by Revis in becoming a New England player – master-class in ‘the art of the deal’.

Dealing for Revis and paying $16 million wasn’t nearly as attractive to New England as doing a new deal. The Patriots gambled, correctly, that all things being equal, and with the Jets out of the mix, that they would be tops on Revis’ list when he hit the open market.


And for the Seahawks fans…


As important as Darrelle Revis is to the Patriots chances of winning the Super Bowl, the same applies to Seattle runningback; Marshawn Lynch – A.K.A ‘The Beast’. Lynch is notoriously media-shy, to the point that he faced a $500,000 fine if he failed to make himself available for three days of NFL-sanctioned media ‘all-ins’ in Scottsdale, Arizona. So what did Lynch do? Click here to see what happened next. [While this isn’t necessaarily a long read, there’s enough links in this story to give you an insight to the pros and cons of Lynch actions and provides some good food-for-thought on the relationship between sportspeople and the media pack. – Ed]


When it became clear that he was going to not-answer each question with the same phrase, the questions themselves shifted towards tough-guy provocation, with one swinging-dick knight of the Order Of The One-Sentence Paragraph after another taking turns baiting the unresponsive star.


Enjoy your weekend, and feel free to post your thoughts about any of the pieces you’ve read in the comments section below.




*We tend to adhere to the Ferris Bueller school of thought when it comes to manufacturing illness: “the key to faking out  [colleagues] is the clammy hands. It’s a good non-specific symptom. I’m a big believer in it. A lot of people will tell you that a phoney fever is a dead lock, but you get a [suspiscious employer] and you could wind up in a doctor’s office and that’s worse than [work]. You fake a stomach cramp and when you’re bent over, moaning and wailing, you lick your palms. It’s a little childish and stupid, but then, so is [the office].”

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