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Exploring the idea of transhumanism with "Bladerunner" Oscar Pistorius, in which technology is used to enhance human ability. Maybe soon we will be holding a third Olympic tournament for enhanced humans.


How can we get some real scientific value from an Olympics governed by rules restricting testosterone levels, surgical improvements and performance-enhancing drugs (11 August, p 4)?

My vision includes an "anything goes" games. Surgery, drugs, whatever - the first across the line wins. Imagine the scientific benefit from finding out which drugs really do give a competitive advantage. Imagine the benefits to disabled people of serious research and testing in sport of possible enhancements to vulnerable knee joints.

Would the athletes expose themselves to possible side effects from unproven drugs? Why not? A few seem pretty keen already, even though the drugs are illegal. Perhaps athletes would compete not for countries, but in the names of drug firms or university research teams. And forget betting - imagine the effects of winning a gold in the 100-metre sprint on the firm's share price.

Where do you draw the line?

Testosterone and prosthetics: the latest attempts to draw the line between legality and cheating in athletics offend both science and natural justice.

EVERY time the summer Olympics comes around, so does the debate over where to draw the line between legal performance enhancement and cheating. This year it is especially relevant because of the presence at the London Olympics of two South African runners, Oscar Pistorius and Caster Semenya.

Pistorius is a double amputee who runs on prosthetic blades. A 2008 ruling found that they do not give him an unfair advantage and he has been cleared to run.

Semenya is an 800-metre runner whose victory at the 2009 world championships led to the reintroduction of a form of gender testing into athletics. Women with naturally high levels of male hormones can now be barred from competing (see "Rip up new Olympic sex test rules").

The International Olympic Committee has thus arrived at the absurd position where carbon-fibre prosthetics are acceptable but naturally high levels of testosterone in women are not.

Drawing the line is difficult and subjective. Decisions should be based on sound science but also appeal to natural justice. By these criteria the Pistorius decision is defensible, but the hormone one is far from being so.


we expressed puzzlement on 14 July that Speedo felt it necessary to warn people only to use a Speedo snorkel in water. Where else would you use one, we asked?

"I have seen my son use a mask and snorkel while chopping up onions," Paul Dudley told us in response - and a surprising number of other readers recommended the same strategy.

Farah Mendlesohn, however, was the only reader to point out: "If you watched either Tiswas [UK children's TV show] or Comic Relief [UK grown-ups' TV show], you would know that the other popular location for snorkels is in baths of custard or baked beans."


my god all the house rules...

House rules ruin monopoly. They're the reasons people hate monopoly.

I never understood house rules, I just played the game by the printed rules. What's an example of a shitty house rule?

Every single person I have ever played it with had the house rule to ignore the rule that "if someone lands on an unowned street and does not wish to buy it, it goes up for auction". Which means the setup phase of the game takes about 3 times as long as it should.

It's been awhile, but I'm almost positive that players can mortgage property to pay their bid, so you likely still wouldn't get it for $201 unless the other players were bad or nearly bankrupt.

I thought you could only mortgage on your own turn, or to pay a debt; I didn't think you could mortgage to pay a bid but I could be mistaken; it has been a long time since I've played monopoly.

"Free Parking makes you win the pot". It prolongs an already slow-paced game for hours.

It's not ALL money that goes to pot, just fines/card-money, all buys and building-money go to the bank.

Or double cash landing on go.

For real. Imagine a game of Monopoly that didn't end. After enough time, the people who are ahead are permanently ahead and the people who are behind owe more and more. But the board never gets reset. Hell, some people didn't even start on time and by the time they showed up, there was no good property left (you know you've walked down a real life Baltic Avenue) and the only options left were the cannon and the wheel barrow. But "ohhhhh, you're still playing my the same rules as everyone else so stop complaining!" Fuck it, it's gonna be easier just to go to jail.

This actually might be a metaphor for poverty that people can understand.