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Adam has one huge post right here

August 18, 2008

Here are some things you will not hear me blog about this week:

(1) Barack Obama’s VP choice. Every armchair politician knows that Obama will only win if he chooses their man/woman. Count me out.

(2) Michael Phelps’ Olympic record. It’s impressive. End of story.  Babble on about it too much longer and you risk sounding like Andrea Kramer interviewing him.

(3) Cats. Cats are useless. Would a cat guard its master’s body for six weeks after he committed suicide in the forest to keep coyotes from tearing said corpse apart? I think not.

Also, I have been looking for this video to post for about 15 minutes, and I have finally given up.  Apparently no one else except Andy and me heard it, or finds it funny.  Earlier in the Olympics, Alicia Sacramone, a US gymnast, was doing a set of vaults to qualify for the finals.  Compared to most gymnasts, especially the pre-pubescent Chinese team, Sacramone has a relatively large (read: normal-sized) chest.  

Tim Dagget, ever the astute and sensitive commentator, blurts as she is running down the mat to the vault, “Sacramone has two huge ones right here.” He’s talking about her vaults, of course, but given the situation it was funny.  So where is the video?  Idiots of the internet, you have failed me.

Getting your RDA of culture

August 16, 2008

Q: What you get when you mix Michael Jackson and early-90’s Bollywood dancing?

A: This awesome video:

The best Russian import since Stoli

August 15, 2008

I’m not usually super patriotic and I think a lot of things in this country are really shitty…but I was honestly a little choked up last night watching the women’s gymnastics all around final.

I agree entirely with Bela. I wasn’t nearly as expressive but I was just as hooked as him.

Nastia, born in Moscow, trained by her father and coached by a Romanian lady, stuck it to the obnoxious little Chinese girl despite getting unfavorable judging in the first 3 events and all while wearing a fucking neon hot pink leotard. Now that is American domination for you.

America, FUCK YEAH!

There’s likely an onslaught of marketing and endorsement coming for these girls and Michael Phelps (and perhaps Alyson Felix and the track&field people), but I don’t care. I could watch that kind of stuff all day.

Hey I can’t see that portrait of Chairman Mao behind Costas through the smog

August 13, 2008

I hope I’m not the only one who noticed the plumes of smog hovering basically near ground level in the shot of the street behind the NBC studios, which shows up in most of the HD shots of Costas during breaks. And this is in the morning. Cleaned up my ass.

There are a few things I want to touch on this morning.

1) Bela Karolyi sounds like Borat.

2) Karolyi has every right to be pissed at China and the IOC and I am so glad NBC isn’t censoring him for bitching about the age of the Chinese female gymnasts. Every chance he gets he brings this up and he’s right. There is absolutely no way that those girls are all 16. The fact that China’s authoritarian government has “produced” passports for these girls is simply not enough. I doubt there’s a paper trail to follow to disprove these claims, though, since these athletes are more or less abducted at the age of 3 and put in elite training schools. I’m not a forensic (yet) scientist but it seems to me that in the year 2008 there ought to be a relatively simple way of using genetic testing to verify an age (or at least a range, some of those girls don’t look over 13 let alone at least 16).

Regardless, the IOC absolutely has to do something besides whatever non-action they are taking now. Who the fuck just BELIEVES whatever IDs the Chinese Olympic people provide? The gymnasts they put out there are not developed in the slightest. Some of them look like they are still growing adult teeth. It’s so obvious, and China is just flaunting it so brazenly. Kind of makes me sick. It’s not the athletes’ fault, they still deserved the Gold medal, but it’s kind of pathetic that China is so desperate to win that they’d blatantly usurp the rules, and, outside of conjecture like this, nothing is ever going to be done about it.

3) Please tell me I’m not the only one that wants to see a coed swimming relay. Let’s see Kirsty Coventry find the other 3 people in Zimbabwe that know how to swim.

This is one of the best byproducts of Google Street View I have ever seen:

‘I mean, I wouldn’t have been there in the state that I was in, but I wasn’t really thinking there would be someone driving by with a video camera on the roof filming me, either,’ Bill, 36, said from northern Australia, where he is working with a fishing company.

Regarding Bill’s quote there, the strangest part about this whole thing to me is that he seems to have consciously decided to go to sleep there. Likely the first drunk person to ever decide to pass out on the side of the street.

I also have to create an addendum to Adam’s post about cake at the office. Another one of my big pet peeves is the office pizza party. This always gets fucked up. I mean, everyone likes pizza. Almost everyone likes pepperoni pizza, or sausage pizza. As you add more toppings, it’s only natural that less and less people are going to like those combos of toppings. Invariably, you show up in the conference room excited for pizza. You’ve been looking forward to this all day and you saw the delivery guy lug 6 large pies past your cube. What would you expect the 6 pizzas to consist of? Logic seems to say 2 pepperonis, 2 just cheese, and a couple specialties (just some veggies and sausage maybe). But every fucking time, whoever is ordering phones in this brilliant array of pizzas:

1 pepperoni
1 cheese
1 of some kind of stupid ass “white pizza” with no sauce but with sliced tomatoes on it
1 of hamburger, cottage cheese, and spam pizza
2 ice cream, celery, and oatmeal pizzas

And, also invariably, there is a guy there who LOVES him some ice cream/celery/oatmeal pizza. But you see this moron sitting down to eat with a slice of CHEESE and a slice of pepperoni. And he says “oh yeah I love ice cream pizza, I’m going to have some next”. What a fucking asshole.

Following this, there is always some of the nasty pizza left over, which nobody wants to take with them. Jesus Christ. This happens so often. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this happen. And the person ordering will always make some asinine comment like “Oh! I didn’t know how popular cheese and pepperoni were going to be.”

Who doesn’t know that? Who? I want to meet this person who is so out of touch with American culture that they’re not aware that pepperoni is the de facto pizza that [most] everyone likes, and that cheese is a great option for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. Would you ever have a cookout and buy 1 package of hamburgers, 1 package of hot dogs, and 6 packages of fucking RAM’S COCK? It would be one thing if the person in charge got a pepp, a couple cheese, a sausage, and then some deluxe/supreme/whatever choices, but it’s always some ridiculous combination adorning 2 of the pizzas that nobody wants anything to do with.

Free pizza is a huge deal. It needs to be taken seriously.

Michael Phelps: World record for most world records broken in one week

August 13, 2008

Remember back in the day, when Sosa and McGuire were chasing Roger Maris’ home run record? It was kind of exciting, but everyone was quick to point out that Sosa and McGuire had better training and facilities, better equipment, better nutritional information (and possibly performance enhancing drugs).

So when Maris’ record was inevitably broken, it was almost anti-climatic. Big deal, we said; it took today’s athletes this long to achieve what Maris could do in 1961.

Why, then, is it such a big deal that Michael Phelps (and others) keep breaking world records?

William Saletan gives a whole list of advantages athletes in the 2008 Olympics have over athletes who competed even as recently as four years ago. Some, such as new suits and training methods, are “technological” advances while some, such as the depth of the pool, are environmental differences.

It is entirely possible that there are some environmental differences that make it harder to compete in Beijing (the crushing smog, if you compete outdoors, for example). But given what seems to be a favorable combination of technical and environmental factors this time around, the swimmers should be doing significantly better in Beijing.

Saletan proposes using an inflationary factor when judging whether existing records are broken, to account for the differences in technology and environment. He explains:

Olympic inflation indexing wouldn’t devalue new records. It would isolate and elevate records that truly stand out. Scores of media reports have boasted that every team in this year’s 4 x 100 men’s swimming relay beat the time that won that event four years ago. But that’s true only in what might be called “constant time,” a measurement similar to constant dollars. By inflationary standards, the British, who beat the 2004 winning time by three-tenths of a second in constant time, actually failed to keep pace with it. The Americans, who beat it by five seconds, produced a genuine achievement.

The trick becomes, how do you quantify the specific benefit provided by each technological advance? How much better could Phelps, or the Thorpedo, have done if they were wearing a LZR in Athens? How many home runs would Maris have hit using today’s baseball bats?

I like the concept but it would require some thought in its application. But if I were Phelps I would want to see something like this used, because I bet many of his records would still stand, and it validate the claim that he is the best swimmer ever.

To answer my original question though, I think people just like Phelps better than McGuire or Sosa. He seems like a nice guy in comparison. And probably seeing an American beating the rest of the world so soundly makes us feel good inside.

Cake Expectations

August 12, 2008

What is it about grocery store sheet cake that allows it to be such a great motivational tool in the workplace? Thanks to Milton, everyone knows the stereotypes:

But what is sad is that in my experience, cake stereotypes are largely true. Cake motivates. It used to be that cakes were only brought in on birthdays. Then we started having one when people left for a new position. Then when people had a work-related anniversary. Then today, we truly took cake eating to the next level. We had a cake for no reason at all. It was ostensibly a “meeting” but it was very transparent that the sole purpose of the meeting was to make the birthday cake eating more socially acceptable.

The even more critical issue to me is: why is it such a big deal when I don’t fully parktake in the cake festivities? If I say I only want a small piece or cake, or if I take a piece and don’t finish it in the meeting, or god forbid I outright decline the cake offering, people stare at me like I just turned down a winning Superball ticket. “What do you mean ‘no cake?'” My new strategy is to wait til everyone has some, then very conspicuously take a piece and have a bite of it, then go back to my desk where I will leave it sitting on display for a few hours. Then when no one is looking I will throw it away.

Sorry I don’t want to ingest 300 calories of sugar and corn syrup, only to feel like crap from the sweetness then crash and be totally worthless an hour later. I eat enough other junk food in the course of a week; I don’t 3 pieces of cake on top of it all.

The things I have to deal with at work… I definitely don’t get paid enough.

Epic win for India

August 11, 2008

As noted in my previous post, more people should generally mean more Olympic medals for a country, since it means more potential athletes.  Why, then, did India, a country of 1.1 billion people, have less than 60 Olympians?  Shouldn’t the size of their country be keeping them from performing so miserably?

Well Indians finally have someone to cheer for.  Today they won their first gold medal since 1980 and their first individual gold medal ever.  Abhinav Bindra won a men’s air rifle shooting competition and instantly became a national hero in a country not accustomed to Olympic success, and will be treated as such:

The Minister of Railways awarded him and a companion a free, lifetime rail pass to travel in a first-class, air-conditioned compartment. The Board of Control for Cricket in India, cricket’s governing body and the most powerful sporting institution in the country, said it would give Mr. Bindra a cash award of about $62,500.

One young Indian was quoted as saying,

“By next Olympics, India will be among the U.S. and China, on the top of the medal tally.”

Lets not get ahead of ourselves here.  One gold medal does not an Olympic juggernaut make.  But it’s a start.