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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Camille Muffat, RIP

Camille Muffat, the 2012 Olympic champion in the 400 meter freestyle, was killed (along with nine others) on Tuesday in a two helicopter crash in Northwest Argentina while filming a reality show there.

All of the swimming websites ran her obituary. I made the following comment (as "Swimhistorian") on the Swimswam article:

I think I can speak for most swimming fans when I say I was really jolted — and saddened — by the news of Camille Muffat’s death this morning. Most of us, when we read of some celebrity dying, find it interesting, but not necessarily moving. But this was different: Muffat was one of us, and the memory of her swimming in London was fresh and vivid, not some long ago memory of a memory.

My view, like that of many who read this site, is simply the view from the bleachers. I had no personal connection with her, her teammates, or even any of her countrymen. But even from the bleachers, you could tell that Muffat seemed like a good and honorable person. She conducted herself in a — to use an old-fashioned term — ladylike fashion. She exhibited quiet good sportsmanship, both in victory and defeat. She was obviously clean; nothing about her performances or physique even remotely hinted at doping. And she was evidently shy, which often goes hand in hand with inner decency.

When an old person dies, as sad as it is, it’s not tragic. But when a young person dies, most of their life is stolen from them, and it’s a tragedy. And when it’s a fine, upstanding young person, that makes it even worse. Which probably has something to do with why so many of us were jolted by this news.

Condolences to all who knew her, especially her family. She must have made you very proud.

I'd like to expand on this. Generally, if I have no personal connection to someone, I feel pretty much nothing other than a mild -- and occasionally morbid -- curiosity when they die. I've never understood those who start sobbing about people they never even met. Those large crowds of mourners who stood outside the chapel during Princess Diana's funeral stuck me as, well, a little insane.

But, I can honestly say I felt a little sad hearing about Muffat.

When Muffat won her gold medal, she didn't pump her fist, or slap the water, or give a war cry. (Look at the 7:45 mark of this Youtube video.) She merely looked happy and hugged her teammate, in a much more restrained reaction. (I get the impression the Europeans generally disapprove of the histrionic celebrations of Americans.)

As an avid follower of the sport -- and a cynic -- I have a long list of swimmers I suspect of juicing. These days they tend to cluster mostly in China, Russia, and South America, though there are also a handful of Europeans and Americans who appear suspicious. But Muffat was never on that list.

Muffat was by all reports shy. I wasn't about to expound on this on a swimming website, but shyness is something sociopaths are generally completely immune to. And when someone is shy, it often means that they are the opposite of sociopaths in other ways as well.

The bit about young people vs. old people dying is something I usually say to people my age whose parents die, as a form of mild consolation. But the converse is definitely true. Muffat was just beginning her life, and had everything -- other than her swimming career -- to look forward to.

Anyway, Muffat's death won't mean much to non-swimming fans, but for some reason it came as a shock to me. 


Anonymous said...

Touching comment, gave me goosebumps, I actually read the post too fast the first time and didn't realize it was you who made the comment.

Shyness , blushing are traits which you wont see from a sociopath.


John Craig said...

Andrew --
Thank you.

Yes, exactly, sociopaths are immune to embarrassment and shyness.

Anonymous said...

She is/was a beautiful young woman. May she rest in peace.


Anonymous said...

it takes something to look attractive and fresh faced just coming out of a swimming pool. very superficial, but she just looks modest and very freshly scrubbed. sometimes looks tell a lot.

John Craig said...

Anon --
You're right, she does have a wholesome and serene look. That's easier to manage when you're 22, but in her case, it did seem to be indicative.

Remnant said...

John Craig,

This was a tragic loss, and you penned a very moving tribute to her.

In this context, it may be insensitive of me to change to the topic to the issue of "juicing" that you mentioned in passing the post, but I'm going to do so anyway.

I have generally been very opposed to performance enhancing drugs, actually in a very binary fashion: clean and natural is good, anything else is bad.

Recently, some reading I have done on TRT (testosterone replacement therapy) for average chumps (not athletes) has made the issue more complex in my mind. Separately, I have also come across some interesting articles by Anthony Colpo, a training and diet guy, that have given me a lot of food for thought. In case you are interested, here are the links. Let me also state upfront that the question of Armstrong's usage is separate from the question of his sociopathy. Colpo does not address the latter all, and I think lets him off too easily for his abhorrent behavior. But again, focusing purely on the question of PEDs, Colpo puts the issue in an interesting light and makes very provocative and convincing points.

Warning: Colpo never says in ten words what can be said in a thousand, so these are pretty long posts.

On the question of TRT generally, check out the sites "Danger and Play" and "fabfitover40".

John Craig said...

Remnant --
Thank you, and bringing this up isn't insensitive at all.

Just read both of those posts, and Colpo makes a lot of good points. There's no question that Lance-mania was out of control, and a lot of the hatred directed at him now does feel like, in Colpo's words, the anger of a "spurned Sheila." Yes, cycling is a very dirty spot, and you have to take drugs just to keep up with everyone else. (I've said myself in the past that I hold it less against dopers in cycling than I do against dopers in relatively clean sports like swimming). And Colpo is certainly right that more people should get up off their couches, and be more participant than spectator.

I have nothing against non-athletes who do testosterone replacement therapy for nonathletic reasons (i.e., to have more energy, replace muscle loss, and improve their sex lives). But cheating at sports is a different matter; it's cheating, pure and simple.

I'm guessing that Colpo himself is on some form of TRT. He's older, he's active he's into fitness, he's energetic, and he's quite horny (according to him). So, good for him. And he doesn't compete (as far as I know) against other athletes in organized fashion, so as far as i'm concerned, there's nothing wrong with him doing so.

He also writes with a strong, vigorous, witty style, which I can't help but think is correlated with his testosterone levels as well.

Steven said...

Hey John, have you seen the movie 'nightcrawler'?

This is my mini-review on Facebook:

'This is the best portrayal of a sociopath I've ever seen in a film. He doesn't do anything obvious like become a serial killer; he just goes about his business with a sinister disregard for others that is so well depicted, it is both unsettling and compelling. The film gradually reveals the lengths he will go to to serve his own agenda and his ability to disregard the lives and feelings of others. It is also a satirical take on the nature of American news. If I can count it as a new release, its one of the best new releases I've seen in years. I'm tempted to give it 9 out of 10.'

At first I felt he had some weird combination of aspergers and psychopathy...I'm not sure if they can be comorbid, plus in the end I start to think he's just a psychopath...'what if its not that I don't understand people but that I don''t like them'.

John Craig said...

Steven --
Haven't seen the movie, but I'll put it on my list. He does sound like a sociopath. (I prefer that word to "psychopath" because a lot of people mistake "psychopath" with "psychotic," which means something else entirely.)

Good review. Personally, I have a hard time reconciling Aspergers and sociopathy, it's hard to think of most Aspies as being successfully manipulative, though the existence of an Adam Lanza makes one wonder.

Anonymous said...

john, i have another sociopath for you.

Ellen pao, suing kleiner perkins.

John Craig said...

Anon --
I've actually been following the Ellen Pao case. She certainly could be a sociopath, but it's hard to tell how much she's being encouraged/pressured into this by her husband, who seems as if he might be a sociopath (he appears to be a financial fraudster as well as having a long history of litigation behind him). it's occurred to me that Pao seems so incredibly tone deaf when it comes to social functioning that she might actually be an Aspie, which sort of precludes sociopathy.

For instance, she expressed dismay that after she filed the lawsuit, the partners at Kleiner Perkins seemed nervous around her. What exactly did she expect? I think most sociopaths would be too savvy to complain about that.

Remnant said...

Thanks for your views, John Craig. Very reasonable.

I'm not sure about Colpo and TRT. Wouldn't discount it but not certain. Also I think he may not be as old as you think. I listened to a podcast where he said (I think) that he was 21 in 1999 which would make him just 37 or so.

I totally agree with you on his style. He is actually very funny and sharp: not someone who I would like to be on the wrong side of.

He has done some very good work particularly on the importance of reducing one's blood iron levels. I am looking into getting my blood checked based on reading him.

Remnant said...

Feminists use examples such as the Ellen Pao case to argue that women are discriminated against in, e.g, Silicon Valley. I tend to think these cases show the exact opposite: The unvarnished truth is that, were someone like Ellen Pao NOT a woman, she would never have been hired and promoted the way she was.

Feminists tend to point at lower wages, or slower rate of promotion as evidence of discrimination against women. What it actually tends to point to is the fact that they did not belong there in the first place and the lower wages and so forth are, in effect, post facto evidence of their original lack of fitness.

The truth of Silicon Valley is that there is no "inside" other than the one the successful people themselves create. Who exactly was it that "let in" Michael Dell, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg etc etc ad nauseum. The position of the feminists and other SJWs that they are being "excluded" is put to the lie by every major success story, which almost inevitably involves a lone wolf college drop-out who from the margins created his own world of success. Once successful, he is immediately an "insider" who is keeping other people out. lol.

And then of course there is the economic efficiency argument: if there were this incredible, untapped well of potential, then some more enlightened, unbigoted person (maybe even a woman!) could be making a killing by hiring all of these brilliant but neglected female entrepreneurs and engineers.

Steve Sailer has brilliantly noted that the journalists are so eager to follow these narrative that they even highlight highly successful transgender CEOs and the like as evidence of female capability and success, despite the fact that these are exceptions that prove the rule (and if you are someone like me, you would say they aren't even exceptions).

John Craig said...

Remnant --
I couldn't agree with you more. For the most part, feminism is lies, and lies based on previous lies. The 77 cent myth has long since been demolished, but they continue to use it, and subscribe to the disparate impact model of thinking, which is erroneous at its core.

I like your characterization of Gates et al:
'lone wolf college drop-out who from the margins created his own world of success." Perfect.

And yes, "boycotting talent" (as Jesse Jackson recently characterized Silicon Valley's low percentage of black employees) would go against all rational laws of self-interest.