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July 30, 2012

The Official Olympics Watching-and-Kibbitzing Thread
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 04:35 PM * 142 comments

The London Games of 2012.

The only rule: Don’t harsh my squee!

Comments on The Official Olympics Watching-and-Kibbitzing Thread:
#1 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 04:44 PM:

More-or-less continued from Open Thread 175

#2 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 04:53 PM:

For snarky amusement it's hard to beat the Twitter hashtag #nbcfail, which is devoted to giving NBC fits about its delayed showing of events, elimination of the Tribute to the Dead portion of the Opening Ceremonies, and so on.

I should note that the time difference between London and Hawaii is 11 hours. It's nearly 10:00pm there as I type, and my NBC prime time coverage won't start for another eight hours.

#3 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 04:59 PM:

Just for reference, here's what the BBC did to open their coverage: Cumberbatch-narrated opener

#4 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 05:00 PM:

Thank you, Jim.

Linkmeister: I don't like spoilers either, so I never look at results during the day (much as I want to), and everything I mentioned in the other thread is from yesterday or the day before.

#5 ::: Elaine ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 05:01 PM:

My google-fu has failed. Anyone know who was doing technical commentary for the eqestrian cross country on the NBC live feed this morning? British guy who was terrific IMHO.

#6 ::: Rick York ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 05:11 PM:

Xopher, thank you for the BBC and Benedict. I just posted it on Facebook for my fellow Cumberbatch fans. The Brits still know how to do it.

#7 ::: Fred ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 05:55 PM:

Really, they had me at the Tardis noise.

#8 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 06:06 PM:

Is there now anywhere to watch the opening ceremonies? NBC, of course, gives only snatches and bits, all disconnected; all the places I can find are either "removed by the user" or "removed by the IOC."

Have I mentioned that I hate the IOC? I do.

#9 ::: SnorkackCatcher ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 06:16 PM:

If you get the chance to see the women's epee from the semi-finals onwards, do so -- MAJORLY dramatic.

Hmm, hadn't thought the first time I posted here would be about fencing, as practically everything I know about it I picked up from watching this Olympics!

#10 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 06:53 PM:

2 days in and we get the "why are we playing to Rose?" ("Rose, dear. Rows of empty seats!") article. Why anyone is surprised by this eludes me. I'm sure I could have found links between SLC and Calgary to fit two more, but it was getting more frustrating the farther back I went in the early Internet era.

The IOC books lots, and the best seats, for itself, its friends, and its sponsors. And they don't all get used - even at the premier events; and the "Latvia v Kazakhstan preliminary round in Water polo" or the "200m backstroke preliminaries" aren't the premier events. And as a result, people who *want* to see the games; even relatives of athletes who want to see the 200m backstroke preliminaries (maybe because their daughter, we all know, won't qualify; we were amazed she made the team. But this is still the biggest even in her life, and I want to see it!)... But the IOC won't drop their cut, even when they know it will go to waste.

I have to admit I share Xopher's love of the IOC.

#11 ::: Mycroft W: "Hello, again, gnomes" ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 06:55 PM:

Yeah, expected that. Lots-and-Lots-of-URLs.

I still can't cook, but my ultrabook just came back from repair, if you want to watch the Games while you work...

#12 ::: Mycroft W: gnoming report gets gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 06:56 PM:

...I'm guessing my thin, light, metal computer is a seller's delight?

#13 ::: Jimmy Levendia ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 07:22 PM:

#7 Fred:
You beat me to mentioning the Tardis noise! Was it just me, or were they using it as a transition for each decade during the musical history sequence? Fantastic opening ceremony. It's pretty sad that I've gotten more interested in the ceremonies than in the events. With the exception of women's beach volleyball.

#14 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 08:25 PM:

I've been watching men's team gymnastics and the smaller-class weightlifting (58k for women, 62? for men), and enjoying it mightily, though as I'm watching NBC's rough livestreams of the entire event, I get no commentary (except when I can turn the volume loud enough to hear the in-arena commentator, sometimes).

Wikipedia and googling and watching it have taught me some of the rules, but not all. It's kind of like when I got into watching untranslated Korean game shows and trying to intuit what was going on from the visuals ...

It turns out the silver medalist in men's weightlifting that I saw today, whose last name is Figueroa Something, from Colombia, just set a serious Olympic record for most weight clean-and-jerked. And the guy who golded, just set a similarly massive improvement in most weight snatched.

Also, if you dig around on the NBCOlympics site hard enough (and you have a Special-I-have-cable-honest login), you can see videos of the qualifying rounds --- like the qualifying rounds for women's gymnastics.

#15 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 08:28 PM:

A little googling later, his name turns out to be Oscar Figueroa Mosquera. (NBC link to footage; wikipedia page for him).

I am also immoderately pleased that the women's US gymnastics team includes one very dark-skinned African American woman from Virginia (who made it into the all-around individual competition) and one multiracial girl from Honolulu. It's a nice change.

#16 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 09:26 PM:

Elliott Mason @ #15, "one multiracial girl from Honolulu"

What?!? Our media would be going bonkers if one of those girls was local. Who are you thinking of?

http://usagym.org/pages/post.html?PostID=10524&prog=w

#17 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2012, 09:49 PM:

According to her Wikipedia page, "Kyla Ross was born on October 24, 1996 in Honolulu, Hawaii to Jason and Kiana Ross. Her father is black and Japanese and her mother is Filipina and Puerto Rican." She lives in California now, but she's from Honolulu originally.

#18 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 01:29 AM:

In the Opening Ceremony, the "cauldron" was lit by a group of seven young people, nominated by seven of Britain's great living Olympians.

Design Week has a report with photographs here. The Hackney Gazette takes the trouble to name the young people, as any proper newspaper should.

Jordan Duckitt, one of the seven, lives in the next village to me. His account, published in a newspaper whose name can still trigger obscenity filters, can be found here.

I haven't found a good video of the lighting.

Instead of the "why did they pick him!" twittering and blogging the usual lone athlete would have triggered, they followed up on the recurring theme of future athletes, of the next generation. (Oh, and the bookies were taking a lot of bets on who might have been chosen. I wonder how they will handle this?)

Since the ceremony, the Cauldron has been moved. They did the usual miners lamp thing with the flame, and the Cauldron was relit by Austin Playfoot, who carried the torch in both the 1948 and the 2012 relays. After the games the petals, brought into the Stadium by the 204 teams will be dispersed with the teams to their home countries and territories.


#19 ::: Wrye ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 02:26 AM:

I and my partner have a brand-new baby, so my Olympics watching has been pretty non-existent so far. Being in Canada, I am hoping CTV will keep the opening ceremonies up for a little while...the snatches I saw were fantastic! But I have no idea if I'll get a chance to watch anything live.

(On the other hand, I live in Vancouver, so while I love the games [and hate the IOC] after 2010 I can't really expect to have that much fun and excitement every time the Olympics roll around...]

#20 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 02:38 AM:

In the right-wing gutter of the British Press, letters have appeared. There is outrage, fury even, over the name of the British team. Team GB it is, in accord with international standards, but, they complain "Great Britain" is not the whole of the United Kingdom, and it should be "Team UK".

They also complained about announcements at the Opening Ceremony being made in French, for long centuries the language of diplomacy in Europe.

There has also been wailing and gnashing of teeth about the false multiculturalism of Danny Boyle's production. You know that they are really complaining about the black faces. There was Danny Boyle showing them the great things about Britain, and they hated it. The show was a great shout of "Fuck the Tories" on the world stage. It celebrated the workers and creators, the engineers and scientists, and gave us a plethora of top-hatted Victorians who did nothing more than look smug. It put the NHS centre-stage, and used the music of the East End.

And then there was the Queen, maybe a tired old lady by the end of the night, but if she hadn't approved, would James Bond have appeared?

#21 ::: Marc Mielke ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 03:50 AM:

Linkmeister @#16: Re: Honolulu: My cousin Clarissa Chun is in the Women's Wrestling competition for the second time. She's from Honolulu. Her mom/my aunt is middle management for Central Pacific Bank, and talked them into doing lots of promo spots on the local feed.

#22 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 09:50 AM:

Dave Bell #20: Danny Boyle made me proud of my native land.

#23 ::: Fragano Ledgister has been Gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 09:51 AM:

Dear gnomes, will a shot of Demerara rum soothe you?


[Demerara rum is some of our very favorite, and we have adjusted the filters. -- Moanogbrot Oriel, Duty Gnome]

#24 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 10:14 AM:

Dave Bell #20: I can't even tell you how happy the music sequence made me! From the very first moment of OMD's "Electricity" through the Jam and the Specials and the Eurythmics and that little flash of the Happy Mondays and OMG the BOWIE MASKS -- SO MUCH that I loved and still love. I wasn't familiar with the live performer the way I was with the old stuff, but my reaction was "hey, not bad."

It was beautiful and joyful and what sort of stony-hearted killjoy could dislike it?

#25 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 10:18 AM:

I'm a bit distressed that one of the local papers here in NYC is blaming the collapse of the US men's gymnastics team on a 19-yo from the Bronx. Uh, no, he wasn't the first to mess up, nor the worst. Is it because he's a local that you're targeting him, or is it because he's dark-skinned? Whichever, it's wrong wrong wrong.

#26 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 10:23 AM:

Turns out my 3.5yo enjoys watching the 'horsie movie', so I got to see quite a few of the competitors in Equestrian Individual Jumping this morning.

She laughed every time they knocked a bar down. :->

I have lots of fond childhood memories of watching various Olympic events; I hope to raise another whole-event-watching (not just the highlights played over and over in primetime) junkie.

#27 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 10:26 AM:

Melissa Singer: the thing is, none of them were particularly BAD, if you'd watched every other competitor that day. France in particular kept screwing up far worse than the US.

But somehow, the sports-journalism machine decided this was OUR YEAR, that the US Men could possibly get a team gold for the first time in a ridiculously long time, so when they didn't stick everything and act perfect, out come the knives.

I'm also fascinated by watching the fallout from the 'expected gold medalist' on the US women's team fail to qualify to compete in the All-Around at all -- she's in ALL the ads and marketing, none of the other girls even appear, and now she can't possibly medal (except maybe on an individual apparatus). Are people congratulating her teammates for pulling it OUT and ROCKING? No, they're whining that the olympics are UNFAAAAAIR for limiting it to 2 competitors per country and CHEAPENING the MEDALS by REFUSING to let the VERY BEST competitors compete.

#28 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 10:31 AM:

Elliott: I am seeing that very discussion (women's gymnastics) on another community site I frequent. Most of the participants don't follow gymnastics at all and think the "only 2" rule is inherently unfair to the "big players." Which it is! But I think it's a great rule because why shouldn't some 17-yo who has worked her ass off get her chance to show off on the world stage, even if she has little chance of winning? If the US women's team sucked (and we have, lord, we have) and there was no "only 2" rule, then there might be no US gymnasts in the event, and then, what complaining you'd hear!

In better news, the Saudi Arabian judoka will be allowed to compete using a particular type of headcovering already in use in other international judo tournaments--something she has worn in the past.

#29 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 10:33 AM:

#27 ::: Elliott Mason :

This is beginning to sound like the stock market, where whether or not expectations are met hugely important compared to what's actually going on.

#30 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 10:44 AM:

Last night, the most intriguing moment was when the Japanese official appealed, in men's gymnastics. The teen turned to me and said, "did he just give that guy money?"

Which, in fact, he had. You have to pay to appeal! If you win the appeal, you get the money back. If you lose, the governing body keeps the cash.

#31 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 11:52 AM:

I'm finding what I get to see fascinating.

But I must admit that the "glamour" sports in the Summer Games are nowhere near as interesting to me as the Winter ones.

For instance, absolutely no interest in football. or tennis. or track (field events, that's a different story). or swimming. Not all that much interest in gymnastics.

Fencing, water polo, non-boxing combatives, those are interesting. Ditto velodrome cycling.

But I can't think of a winter games event I wouldn't stop and watch, if, you know, I was going to get to *see* enough of it without being cut to "an athlete's story" (psst. When athletes are competing, their story is ... now. Before, after, and around, is time for the human interest stuff).

Oops, thought of one. Straight-up cross-country skiing; I'll avoid that.

Colour me Canadian, I guess. I hate winter, but I love winter sports.

None of this, however, changes my first statement.

#32 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 02:17 PM:

Elliott Mason @ #17, fascinating. I've seen no mention of her in our media roundups of "Local Olympic Athletes We Should All Watch and Cheer Like Crazy For Even If We Know Nothing About the Sport in Question."

Honolulu media is very very "local."

Thanks.

#33 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 02:20 PM:

Mark Mielke @ #21, Now your cousin our media has heard of. Good luck to her!

#34 ::: Rymenhild ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 02:24 PM:

I'm surprised at how much I'm enjoying these Olympics. I intended to be skeptical and cynical about them all month. But the opening ceremonies charmed me with Blake and Shakespeare and Glastonbury Tor and Mary Poppins, and I've been watching sports (to my extreme surprise) ever since. I am full of sympathy for all the gymnasts who swing a dozen impossible swings on the high bar and then miss one and fall down. I am also full of jaw-dropped amazement at the synchronized diving. How do human bodies do these things?

Mycroft W, presuming that your hypothetical example isn't exactly hypothetical, may I offer congratulations and best wishes to your daughter?

#35 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 02:41 PM:

Which Olympic athlete are you most like, in terms of height and weight? Enter your numbers and you see where you are on the scatter-plot; far off to the right is one heck of an outlier. He plays Judo.

(I appear to resemble some swimmers, which is flattering.)

I used to do a bit of Judo 30 years ago; forgotten it all now except for a few moves and names of throws that the commentators on the BBC reminded me of when I was watching it the other day.

#36 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 02:46 PM:

Steve with a book: to my surprise, I am, just barely, on the chart (short and heavy), and am rather pleased that the woman I am most like _throws the Hammer_.

Which makes me Thor, I guess. ;-)

#37 ::: Wendy Bradley ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 02:50 PM:

I loved the opening ceremony, although I'd like to see it again as I clearly missed bits - in particular the Tardis noise passed me by altogether!

#38 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 02:57 PM:

Steve with a book @ 35: I'm apparently most like a woman on the Cameroon women's soccer team, or a British woman competing in the women's 200m.

I now feel motivated to exercise. If my body is like theirs, then maybe my body can also accomplish athletic things!

(Yes, I am aware that height and weight do not mean my body is anything like theirs in terms of muscle mass, cardiovascular conditioning, etc. I'm choosing to focus on the "Yay for bodies" message here.)

#39 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 03:00 PM:

Melissa Singer@36: there's a Canadian swimmer near the bottom of the scatter who clocks in squarely as 'overweight' in terms of BMI, which just goes to show how little use BMI is when it's the only thing you're considering.

I saw the opening ceremony with some Canadians, who were disappointed with the athletes' allegedly dull outfits.

#40 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 03:26 PM:

Rikibeth @24

I think it might be the Frankie and June story in the music sequence. It was, if you like, a modern "Girl Hunt", with mobile phones and tweets and all the easy communication of modern life. And it was a celebration of the music and the people, climaxing with Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who had invented the web and given it to everyone. It was the upbeat boy-meets-girl happy ending. Except the girl was white and the boy was black (the girl was mixed race if you had been paying attention: her parents were white and black) and that is something that will trigger some people.

It's another Danny Boyle romance with music, of course.

And when they finally kissed, the roar of approval from the crowd wasn't something that had been rehearsed.

Sure it was acting and performance and the way the story was told. But the audience that was there, the overwhelmingly sense that they had been told the right story.

Once it would have been "London Pride", or "London Can Take It", or the "Festival of Britain". It was, like all of them, a myth for its time. But you can't make people cheer a myth that is made out of something that people don't want.

Anyway, Irving Berlin said it all (with it little help)

#41 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 03:29 PM:

You told us not to harsh your squee. Trouble is, your squee is my harsh. Because.

#42 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 03:35 PM:

Steve with a Book @39

I found the uniform of the US Team rather disconcerting.

#43 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 03:41 PM:

Steve with a book, @35: At roughly 1.68m and 82kg, I'm most like a particular male Egyptian soccer player, which is interesting. Probably more of his is muscle, and I bet my ass is wider.

I knew that the Japanese gymnast would be the shortest, but the second shortest is the Tuvalu weightlifter Lapua, who I was watching the other day -- I had no idea he was significantly under 5 feet tall, watching him! He picked up the heavy things with conviction and when lifted, they STAYED UP.

Third shortest is another Japanese gymnast, and then a female Japanese weightlifter, and then they start clustering some more.

It would be interesting if you could color-code that graph by gender, sport, country of origin …

I'm clearly a geek, data fascinates me. :->

#44 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 03:45 PM:

Dave Bell @42: Leaving out the Colorful Ethnic Costumery, which really must be graded on an entirely different weight-class, I definitely think the winners of the "wearing a suit jacket and pants with shirt" category have GOT to be the Netherlands. Appropriately flamboyant and yet somehow still elegant.

#45 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 03:50 PM:

Dave 20: Team GB it is, in accord with international standards, but, they complain "Great Britain" is not the whole of the United Kingdom, and it should be "Team UK".

OK, now I totally feel like a stupid American. What part of the UK isn't part of Great Britain?

Steve 35: I'm most like a Russian Shot-putter. A female one.

#46 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 03:53 PM:

Ah, Northern Ireland. Hence "the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland."

As an Irish-American...I'm glad it's called Team GB.

#47 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 03:57 PM:

Xopher@45: The UK is in full the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. NI isn't part of GB. Many of its inhabitants, however, call themselves British. Not quite as many inhabitants very much do not call themselves British. With hilarious consequences!

The scatter plot does show nicely just how diverse 'athletic' bodies are.

#48 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 04:04 PM:

Thanks, Rymenhild, but: not strictly hypothetical; I know of several examples, some personally (given that I do and did in 1988 live in Calgary, and well, Vancouver isn't too far away). I, however, am not one of them.

#49 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 04:07 PM:

Elliott Mason@43: nice article here about a young British lass who can lift incredible amounts of weight.

#50 ::: Rymenhild ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 04:19 PM:

Sorry for the misreading, Mycroft W!

#51 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 04:32 PM:

Loved the opening ceremony. I got to see one of the rehearsals in the stadium a few days before the actual ceremony, and it was even better live.
They didn't show us everything of course - some things were kept back so as not to spoil the surprise. On the night itself, I watched the end concert with Paul McCartney playing beneath the big bell my employer was responsible for, looking at that half-ton clapper and thinking to myself:

"I designed that. God, I hope it doesn't fall out or I'll be responsible for the death of a Beatle!"

#52 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2012, 04:48 PM:

Oh yeah, something else I appreciated was Danny Boyle's montage of iconic UK TV moments. This included the first interracial kiss from 'Emergency Ward 10' in July 1964 (two years before 'Star Trek' did the same for US TV), and also the first pre-watershed lesbian kiss from 1994 (not the *first* lesbian kiss, which was in 1974, but the first one during 'family' viewing times, ie. early evening). The significance of this latter is that thanks to the Olympic ceremony going out across the world it's now also certainly the first lesbian kiss ever seen on TV in several countries. Cool!

http://www.afterellen.com/content/2012/07/london-olympics-opening-ceremony-includes-lesbian-kiss-seen-around-world

#53 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 09:14 AM:

So, what's happening today that you're interested in? For me, it's the weightlifting (men's 77kg and women's 69kg) and the men's all-around gymnastics, but there's a lot more happening ` today, in sports I'm not even competent to spot fascinating impending conflicts.

#54 ::: Elliott Mason is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 09:15 AM:

I have some newly-made product my daughter has dubbed 'fruit bacon', if the gnomes are interested. My husband tasted it and said, "Yeah, it's fruit leather, but which fruit?" and I said, "Most of the ones we had on hand ... why, is it bad?" He's very nonplussed by the mixedness, but my sister likes it, at least. :->

#55 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 11:53 AM:

Dave Bell @40: I'm bad at spotting when people are mixed-race; both Frankie and June read as black to my American eyes. Also as adorable. I thought it was very cool that Danny Boyle chose two brown faces to represent a British love story, but that was a fleeting thought, and then I got caught up in HAPPY HAPPY MUSIC! And cuteness! I still think that disliking that sequence marks a person as a mean ol' meanypants.

Just got done watching women's saber on NBC. I love watching fencing. I also find the clear-visaged helmets (new since my ex-husband fenced epee in college, but that was longer ago than I usually think of it as being) an interesting development.

And, wow, the synchro diving. I became interested in it four years ago, to the point where I followed it in the interim, getting up at ungodly hours to watch webcasts, even. At first it started out as an Appreciation Of Bodies sport - if television sports channels would like to broaden their market & draw in more (heterosexual) female viewers than they already have, men's diving would be an awesome choice, just sayin' - but then I started appreciating the technical aspects, too, which is what drove me to the "webcasts at ungodly hours" level.

It is very nice to be able to watch so much coverage of synchro diving, because it is amazing.

According to the chart, my body is most like those of a pentathalon competitor, a football (soccer) player, and a hockey player. (All women. Most adult men are taller than I am.) I would not do well at any of those. If I worked on it I might get the cardiovascular conditioning of the football player, but the kicking-the-ball part is beyond me.

#56 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 12:14 PM:

After catching the wonderfully dramatic women's foil gold match on Saturday I've been trying to find air-time of other sword-wielding women to no avail. My cable account gets me access to the web-based broadcasts (both live and taped) but I quickly discovered that the jerkiness of the stream makes it essentially useless for appreciating any sport involving nuanced movement.

#57 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 12:24 PM:

Heather Rose Jones: Did you try turning down the resolution? Because of bandwidth, I'm watching everything at 240, which doesn't look appreciably pixely, and if it's not live video (like watching yesterday's epee stuff today) you can pause it to let it queue up, which smooths a lot.

#58 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 12:30 PM:

Heather Rose Jones: If you haven't already got an adblocker installed, you might want one -- my housemate and I discovered early that it was in part the continuous ad loops that were eating up our bandwidth and making the livestream stutter and reload.

#59 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 12:30 PM:

Enjoyed women's gymnastics last night (except for watching the Russian women in meltdown mode). I wish they had shown the more of the other teams, I got the impression the Chinese self-destructed, no idea what happened with the rest.

Got to watch some of the equestrian events yesterday. I'm wondering how much of the dressage they'll cover tomorrow.

#60 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 12:39 PM:

That men's IM relay last night was AMAZING.

Not 'cause the US won. 'Cause I know that Agnel is one fast guy and the French team is no slouch in the pool, and neither are the Australians, and then ZOMG the US lead just kept getting bigger. It was like watching Secretariat win the Belmont. Wow wow wow wow, jaw on the floor, wow.

Ditto on the women's gymnastics--wish they'd shown more of the other teams. The teen got bored around 10--she's not a big gymnastics fan--and wandered off onto the internet, but I was up till nearly midnight.

#61 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 12:41 PM:

Rikibeth @55

I don't know the we Brits are more subtle about such things, but the US labeling of "black" does sometimes seem crudely done. Which means that sometimes the language used here to describe such things can seem quite confusing.

In the end, a lot of people labelled "black" in America just wouldn't get that label here. And the ethnicity wouldn't be automatically African.

Now, the dancer who played the character of "June" is Jasmine Breinburg, and her skin tone varies quite a bit in photographs. All it needs is a slightly different lighting. But the family of the character was definitely mixed race, and her looks didn't stand out as wrong. But how much was hair-style?

It's not her ancestry that would make me look twice. And I wouldn't automatically think of an African ancestry.

#62 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 12:44 PM:

Lori Coulson: I used to be seriously Into Horses, and I watched some of the dressage (part of the eventing team stuff) the other day to discover I no longer had any idea what was going on. I spotted a couple of changes of lead, but other than that, it was a horse trotting-ish in circles very quietly. :-> That's definitely a 'need to know it to like it' sport.

Melissa Singer @60: It's not for nothing that NBC is often called "Nothing By Canadians" and "No Boxing Coverage". If there's not an American with a good chance of winning, the main NBC coverage will never mention it except perhaps in a brief text line. And of events with Americans in them, they will ignore almost everything exCEPT the Americans, even if the American is unlikely to come in higher than tenth! Last time, there were several swimming events where they never showed the gold-medal race at all, because there were no Americans involved.

I am so, so grateful to be able to access the livestreams on NBCOlympics this year. They're not perfect but they actually make a lot of sports WATCHABLE that you could never see otherwise.

#63 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 12:46 PM:

Dave Bell: She has a flamboyant 'natural' kinky hairstyle, which instantly makes her flag as black to Americans.

#64 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 12:47 PM:

Watching women's saber, and feeling mildly jealous (when I was young and fencing saber, it wasn't an Olympic sport).

#65 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 12:49 PM:

That said, "Asian" also means VERY different automatic visuals to Americans or Brits. Brits, I've heard, often visualize someone subcontinental (Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi/etc), whereas Americans will almost invariably go with a classically Japanese/Chinese face.

In the US, "Asian" almost always colloquially means light-skinned, epicanthic, straight black hair. People from the subcontinent are referred to as "Indian", and the archipelagos + Vietnam/Burma/etc are "Southeast Asia".

#66 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 12:51 PM:

I've also been loving the German gymnast, Brian Nguyen, perform, partly for his last name. Partly because he's really good. :->

#67 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 01:32 PM:

Twitter reacts to the Olympic Piñata in Abi's sidebar. There's a semi-serious theory going round that Boris will somehow dislodge Cameron as PM in the near future by a mechanism yet to be determined. There's little love lost between them; they were at Eton together but not really together as Boris was in College and Cameron was an Oppidian (it says something about the way British toff society operates that this is apparently a perfectly reasonable partial explanation for their not liking one another; way up there, it's a Harry Potter universe.)

#68 ::: Fox ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 02:19 PM:

Elliot Mason @ 66 - it's Marcel Nguyen, isn't it? Not to make a fuss about Correcting Someone On The Internet, but because I remember noticing and thinking that German dude has *two* names that seem to me to be not German at all.

#69 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 08:30 PM:

Argh, Marcel, yes. And I am particularly excited for him today because SPOILERS. Also he's hot. And very competent. And that uniform is srsly badass and nicely understated.

Is it just me, or did the Japanese have the very best leotards in the women's team competition? The American ones were weirdly bland and not even patriotic.

#70 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 09:55 PM:

Unexpectedly(*) got to see most of the women's cycling time trial (TT) today. It was quite exciting, at least to me, as the standings turned over at the end (as they often do in TT, because the start order is roughly in the reverse of expected placement.)

I've read that one of the British women cyclists has a hair product endorsement, and a TV ad showing the usual cascade of ad-groomed hair as she removes her helmet. Kristin Armstrong, US, won, and was very close to last in. As she removed her helmet, the reality was, of course, that her hair was pretty thoroughly sweat-soaked. I'm hope someone gets the two images together for a side-by-side comparison sometime.

(*) I went to a city rec center for the 8 am "spin" class - but there isn't one this summer. But they do have ordinary stationary bicycles and there are TVs there. So I cranked away, and watched the TT, on TV with the sound off and the closed captioning on.

#71 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 10:17 PM:

I was delighted to see the Olympics on the TVs in the two different clinical waiting rooms I was in at Tripler Army Medical Center today. It's often Fox at waiting rooms up there, so sports was a welcome change.

(I was there for PET/CT scans which will hopefully confirm there are no Big C cells floating around after surgery three weeks ago.)

#72 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2012, 01:54 AM:

It's the custom at Time Trials for the current leaders to get a bit of flattery, but the Olympic Time Trials went a bit further than usual. They might be sitting out there on plastic garden chairs, gradually displaced as the faster riders come in, but not this time.

I doubt the three gilded thrones came out of Hampton Court Palace, my guess is some sort of theatrical props company. But that's what they used.

Incidentally, the soldiers raising the national flags at the medal ceremony were Ghurkas.

#73 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2012, 09:46 AM:

Yay -- dressage when I turned the TV on this morn!

Elliot Mason @62: I have unfair advantage, I was exposed to dressage at an early age, via Disney's "The Miracle of the White Stallions" and Marguerite Henry's "The White Stallion of Lipizza."

The eventing dressage is practically "baby steps" -- the horses are doing very basic moves: half-pass, single flying changes, extended trot and canter.

If you watch today, you'll see the more elaborate moves, piaffe, collected trot and canter as well as extended versions of the same. Here, flying changes done every stride (the horse appears to be skipping) and every two strides; half-passes at every gait; and pirrouettes. The most fun to watch is the freestyle, I'll have to check when that will be shown.

The only thing you won't see in Olympic and other dressage competitions is the Lipizzan "airs above the ground" which are battle maneuvers.

#74 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2012, 10:12 AM:

See, Lori, I have similar background, I'm just really, really, really rusty. :-> I have no earthly idea how many horsey novels I read as a kid, good and bad, with every plot imaginable.

I hope someday to be able to afford to see the Lippizans that live outside Chicago perform in person (they were looted by an American military guy during WWII to 'keep them safe' and then never given back; reputedly, the main gene-pool-keepers are still bitter). They even have a brown stallion!

#75 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2012, 10:26 AM:

Oh,and the freestyle individual equestrian dressage competition airs August 9th.

#76 ::: Elliott Mason got gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2012, 10:26 AM:

For whatever reason. Probably mispunctuation.

#77 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2012, 10:54 AM:

At the heart of what makes me all ragey about beach volleyball:

What if every olympic sport was photographed like beach volleyball?

#78 ::: pericat is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2012, 10:55 AM:

Just sittin' here, on the Group W bench, makin' coffee and brioche for the gnomes.

#79 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2012, 11:16 AM:

Elliot -- save your pennies, The Spanish Riding School often comes to the USA on the anniversary of their rescue by the US Army. The last time was 2005, so I'd expect another visit in 2015.

Sometimes they only do DC, but last time they did several cities, including Columbus, Ohio. I finally got to see them...and got front row seats. Due to quarantine restrictions, we weren't allowed to visit the stables.

#80 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2012, 12:10 PM:

Elliott, I assume you've seen the Schweppes bull?

#81 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2012, 04:04 PM:

I saw a team of Lippizan horses at an arena in Honolulu in the 1990s. I don't know whether it was from the Chicago-based group Elliott Mason mentions in #74 or whether it was from the Austrian school itself.

My first exposure to them was Mary Stewart's novel "Airs Above the Ground."

#82 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2012, 04:38 PM:

I don't get the reference, Teresa @80?

#83 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2012, 09:50 PM:

So, what's up tomorrow (or in 6-8 hours) that you're excited about?

One of America's three weightlifters (the only guy) lifts tomorrow in Group B, which is the early one and will be waiting for me to stream it when I get up. And then later, Trampoline! I've never seen more than bare highlights of Trampoline before, so I'm looking forward to it.

#84 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2012, 02:00 AM:

100,000 to Die at the London Olympics? (video)

The Illuminati are planning an outrage, and are warning their members to stay away via clues cleverly hidden in popular media! The only way to stop them is to make sure enough people watch the video revealing their fiendish plan.

(Thus: If something happens, this guy predicted it. If nothing happens, this guy prevented it. Either way, he wins....)

#85 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2012, 03:39 AM:

Re. Lippizanas and dressage: I've been fortunate enough to see the Spanish Riding School perform on several occasions as they come to the UK every few years. Watching Chief Rider Kottas (and horse) performing the pas seul was an absolute delight and is a treasured memory of horse and rider working together in harmony and joy*. As for the brown stallion - traditionally, they always have at least one brown/black stallion in the School at any time.

Unfortunately in dressage competitions Lippizanas tend to be marked down because judges are used to Thoroughbreds and similar and make stupid statements like "not extending properly" (rubbish; they extend perfectly well, but their body shape is not the same as that of a Thoroughbred).

*Herr Kottas was so good that he almost unbalanced the quadrille - you could close your eyes for a few seconds, open them again and pick out his horse instantly - a difference in movement/stillness/quality of energy/joy.

#87 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2012, 09:40 AM:

!!!Sputter...cough...gasp...giggle maniacally --

Oh, my that was lovely.

#88 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2012, 05:13 PM:

The UK is now at fourth place in the medals table. Much will happen in the next week.

Sunday will see the Olympic Men's Tennis Final at Wimbledon. It will look very familiar.

There have been some spectacular races in the track cycling. I saw one which was decided by a 70 ms difference. That's more than you think, a couple of yards at the speeds they can ride. One final, it was less than half a wheel diameter between gold and silver. Under 20ms...

You can buy a bike of the type used by the British riders for about GBP 20,000. It's one of the rules that the parts have to be commercially available.

They put all four British riders for the Team Pursuit into a wind tunnel, so as to figure out how to minimise the aerodynamic drag.

The helmets use aluminium honeycomb to absorb impacts. It's lighter than the same volume of foam, and it needs less volume to absorb the same impact. This means the helmet can be smaller which means less drag.

They use the same sort of computer modelling of aerodynamics to shape the bike components as Rolls Royce uses to get the most efficient shape for turbine blades in jet engines.

Some bike components have a maximum air speed in excess of 120mph

#89 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 05:48 AM:

I am now wondering, how does anyone learn hurdling. You know, running very fast and leaping those little fences on the track.

I know that horses start with very low fences.

I remember helping set out the hurdles at school, but I don't really remember anyone using them, and I can't think of any of the staff who could have taught any of us. Maybe they didn't care about kids at my level, and just assumed we could run. They never seemed to teach anything about how to do sport.

Oh, and somebody got a Gold medal yesterday, because they could do hurdling, and they're very good at it.

I just can't see how they could get started...

#90 ::: Phil Knight ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 08:20 AM:

@Dave Bell #89

Yeah, me too - at my (British) schools, we had precisely zero coaching in any sport - just "here's the equipment, there's the field, now off you all go". With one exception - a particular geography teacher used to give out detentions which consisted of bowling practice at the nets (cricket). When the man who's keeping you from going home is standing there exhorting you to throw a heavy leather ball at them, it produces rather good bodyline bowlers.

We had hurdles and were made to smash our legs up against them but nobody ever told us how to do it better.

re:fencing masks - my mask had a yellow/black smiley face sprayed on it, Watchmen style. Spoilsport referees banned it from competitions.

re:opening ceremony - yet again the UK sent it's message to the world: "We are far, far madder than you could possibly imagine". And as someone tweeted: "Daily Mail: You do not get to define Britain".

I'm no fan of televised sport - about the only sensible thing Gadhafi said was "Sport is for doing, not watching" - and for the cost I'd much prefer 600 Glastonbury Festivals. I'm with Charlie Stross that the management etc is not a Public Good. However, the Olympics do seem to have cheered up a lot of people. And anything that gets Blur back on a stage is okay with me.

#91 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 09:30 AM:

Finally saw a bit of show jumping, yay!

Women's marathon this morning--got up too late to see most of it but watched the end. No surprise to see so many African women there.

I'm always struck by the ends of the long races and how runners deal with having to stop.

The US women's swim team in the relay last night--three of them so tall and one so tiny.

What struck me yesterday, watching Serena win her gold, was how much it meant to her on a personal level. That surprised me, given how many things she's won over the years. Yet this was clearly a Very Big Deal to her.

#92 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 12:15 PM:

Wow! Jessica Ennis winning the Heptathlon in style then Mo Farah in the 10,000. Amazing!

I particularly liked the shear guts Jessiec Ennis showed when, having led from the start of the 800m, then being overtaken and slightly boxed in, she swerved out and took the lead back to finish in fine style, winning both the race and the competition decisively.

And Mo Farah kicking off for the last lap or so - the others were looking tired and he was just glancing left and right, calculating who was where, then going for it.

Fantastic running, and hopefully really inspiring a new generation of UK runners/athletes.

#93 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 12:39 PM:

Just had the Men's Singles.

Victory in straight sets.

Phil @90

We've had, on Making Light, most of the talk of jock culture and inept handling of sport in school.

Thinking back, so much of the sport at school seemed pointless. I could, with good shoes, walk three or four miles, for a reason. Two miles in plimsolls, and calling it cross-country running? If God had meant us to do cross-country running, Maurice Wilks wouldn't have invented the Land Rover
(Launched in 1948, Amsterdam Motor Show, and did anyone see a Land Rover in the Opening Ceremony?)

#94 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 01:18 PM:

Jim @84 -- one of the big clues is that the author of a TV show had the All Seeing Eye meme on two of his book covers as a clue: implying that the author had cover control on a mass-market paperback. This is someone who doesn't understand publishing, clearly....

#95 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 01:27 PM:

Dave Bell and Phil Knight (## 89 & 90) It's that way at some US high schools too. The "coaches" select the kids who are already good at some athletic skill and kind of ignore the rest.

It's pretty much the opposite of classroom teaching, where if you don't already know it, they will try to teach you. I found it particularly annoying in the case of my adopted foreign children who could have done much better in sports if they had gotten a little more instruction. Fortunately, there was soccer, which is played in every country (so far as I can tell) and every child in the world (it seems) knows the rules and has had some experience of playing.

#96 ::: Dave Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 04:32 PM:

In re Hurdles: We (again, UK) were taught how to do it from a "theoretical" standpoint, but there was no actual coaching, and it was (to the best of my recollection) only one lesson in five years of high school.

Of course, I avoided all sporting activities that I wasn't required to do like the plague (combination of social anxiety and sheer ineptness). It's possible that people who were actually interested and/or good got better instruction.

#97 ::: Dave Crisp has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 04:34 PM:

No links, so must have been a word of power.

I have home-brewed ale, if the Gnomes would care to partake.

[Anything containing a http://www.twitter.com/ link is examined by the gnomes before posting. Entirely too many of them are spam. -- Aurilin Prosto, Duty Gnome]

#98 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 08:02 PM:

I was one of the avoiders, too. I was fine with running around outside, climbing trees, and other things things ... but I never really saw the connection with Physical Education.

However, my girls were game for the whole thing, and, especially at the high school level (approximately 13 to 18 years of age), that means sports. They wanted the instruction, especially to become familiar with sports not played where they came from, but they found that instead they were shunted onto teams for the inept, which they were not. Unfortunately, they got almost the same treatment in their "academic" classes. Pushed into classes for the "slow" students and subjected to endless pep-talks about how "You're smart! You can do this!" They were indignant on their own behalf and they also saw how poorly it served their "slow" classmates. By dint of humongous screaming and carrying on, we finally got them tutoring sessions.

Education is one of those fields of endeavor that I wish they'd hurry up and invent, along with psychology. I think some other countries may have a better grasp of education, but of course, we are Exceptional, so we don't pay any attention to how they do it Somewhere Else.

#99 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 08:17 PM:

One way our trans-Tasman cousins have responded to New Zealand currently sitting above Australia on the medal table has been to pretend we don't exist. I'm sure that by the end of the games, normality will have reasserted itself and Australia will have won more gold medals than New Zealand, so I'm enjoying it while it lasts.

We do well in events sitting down (three day eventing) or sitting down and going backwards (rowing).

#100 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2012, 09:39 PM:

Soon Lee, I'm amused by the complaints against the Aussie broadcaster that it's showing nothing but ""swimming, repeats of swimming, interviews of swimming, analysis of swimming, previews of swimming."

It's not quite as broad a complaint as some Americans have with our NBC, but it's not bad.

It was sort of gratifying that NBC did show us the women's marathon despite the fact that two Americans finished back in 10th and 11th (which is still pretty darned good from where I sit).

#101 ::: Tamlyn ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 04:57 AM:

Now that the swimming is over, we are getting more stuff. They actually broadcast something that had no Australians in it at all last night! It did have a USAian. I'm pretty sure the commentator at the openeing ceremony was more excited for the USA coming out than Australia :)

I'm getting very irritated by posts by Facebook friends that are NZers taking digs at Australia (or Australians responding). Why can't you just celebrate your medals without needed to laugh at someone else to do it? I think that makes me a 'bad' Australian. But then, my favourite event so far has been the one where GB, Aus and NZ all placed. Seeing the flags together just made me happy.

#102 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 03:38 PM:

I did hurdles for a while. Really enjoyed them, actually, for some reason. I don't recall being taught how to do them, but I suspect I was, because one doesn't spontaneously figure out the way to get over one of those things.

I had to give up all the running-type sports, though, because I damaged my ankle in my freshman year in high school. It was my usual thing: my tendons were loose enough that the joint got out of place, then something tore, and then I couldn't walk for a good while. I still reinjure both ankles from time to time.

So I switched to shot put and discus, and did it with enough enthusiasm to join the track team. We didn't have a throw coach—we coached each other, basically—and since the discus field was the baseball outfield, our practices were frequently interrupted and unsatisfactory. I never learned the spin throw for either shot or disc, and I mostly earned my varsity letter by competing against schools without women throwers at all. (They'd usually draft in a sprinter or two, because shot and disc are quadricep-heavy skills, but the girls wouldn't grunt so they got very little distance.)

Along with physics, chemistry and Chaucer, I had to give up track in my senior year of high school as part of studying Latin at UC Berkeley. I don't regret it.

Watching these Olympics, I noted with interest that the Americans were pretty much the only throwers to use a spin throw on the shot put. Everyone else used the same backwards-skipping technique that I know.

#104 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 08:41 PM:

Watching the men's 100 metres I was awed by the power and ease with which the lad from Sherwood Content outpaced everyone else. I was equally impressed today as I watched him singing the national anthem at the medal ceremony. Appropriately enough, on the 50th anniversary of Jamaican independence.

In the years just after Jamaican independence, the social critic Rex Nettleford noted a signal lack of national self-confidence as a major characteristic of Jamaican society. In the 1970s, Michael Manley set out to promote national self-confidence. My friend, the blogger Annie Paul, noted recently that Bolt, Yohan Blake and other young athletes have an unshakable air of self-confidence about them (http://anniepaul.net/2012/07/29/profiling-usain-bolt/). I can only think that Michael Manley, dead these fifteen years, would rejoice.

#105 ::: Fragano Ledgister has been Gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 08:43 PM:

... for a post mentioning Usain Bolt and Jamaican independence. Sadly, I have no lamb's bread to give their Gnomish Lownesses. I do have some Appleton V/X somewhere.

#106 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2012, 09:38 PM:

Abi, hurdles always scared the stuffin' out of me. I am coordinated (thank ghu because soon I will be learning how to use a prosthetic left foot) enough, but something about hurdles just made me uneasy and clumsy.

And I jumped them that way, if I cleared them at all.

I was never fast enough or good enough at anything to go out for a team.

#107 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 01:25 AM:

Paula Helm Murray @106:
I was never fast enough or good enough at anything to go out for a team.

You might be overestimating the standards of my high school's track team. We were a small high school, and we were competing with the baseball and softball teams for the springtime attentions of the athletes. The practical upshot of that is that no one who wanted to be on the team was knocked back.

Really, seriously, no one. I could tell stories, but that would be unkind, even anonymously and after all this time.

#108 ::: Wendy Bradley ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 09:17 AM:

After Jessica Ennis won the heptathlon there was a brief flurry on twitter of people saying that, if Yorkshire were an independent country, we'd currently be 10th in the medal table (usually accompanied by a note saying "preparing declaration of independence.")

Yesterday Mayor of London Boris Johnson was on the Today programme explaining the lesson of the Olympics was that you get out what you put in: the athletes' success is explained by their individual efforts.

In the UK this time around that's totally untrue. The British athletes' success is explained by the amount of public money that was put into their training, equipment and development, via their lottery funding.

Don't get me wrong, it's absolutely brilliant to see the Union Jack fly over the medal ceremonies. But it's not an Ayn Rand superman moment; it's a collective effort.

#109 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 10:02 AM:

Wendy Bradley: The US is the best proof of this. The sports that get massive corporate sponsorship money, the US does very well in. The sports that Wheaties and Target and McDonalds and Coca-Cola ignore, have to scramble for training money, and the US does badly (sometimes so badly it doesn't qualify to send anyone to the Olympics in them at all).

Why? Because the US has no public funding for Olympians, or for sport at all. Sports that can raise their own funds can do decently well, but for the rest? Bupkis.

#110 ::: Howard Bannister ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 11:21 AM:

Tom@94: you mean the way for an author to get control of cover art is to join the illuminati?

Sign me up!!

#111 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 11:21 AM:

Wendy Bradley #108: It's been a long, long time since I've heard any advocacy of home rule for Yorkshire.

#112 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 02:12 PM:

Why? Because the US has no public funding for Olympians, or for sport at all.

Well, unless you count building gajillion-dollar stadia and ballparks. Personally, I think that counts.

#113 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 03:05 PM:

Xopher: You're right, I was overly sloppy. But that's still only for a very few sports, and only at a very high level -- not for the broad range of all the things you can do in the Olympics, and especially not at the "helping a broad base of kids learn to do it so we can figure out who's good" level.

#114 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 04:04 PM:

My father has just asked me when the Olympics are going to finish.

#115 ::: Wendy Bradley ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 06:42 PM:

Fragano Ledgister #111 You think we *tell* people????

#116 ::: Wendy Bradley ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2012, 06:42 PM:

Fragano Ledgister #111 You think we *tell* people????

#117 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2012, 03:34 AM:

Tamlyn #101:

It's classic sibling rivalry; and we so rarely get the chance to get in a spot of ribbing.

Annnd, normal service resumes with Australia now with more gold than New Zealand.

#118 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2012, 03:28 PM:

This is a few weeks old, but apparently confirms what we've all been assuming about what goes on in the Olympic Village after (and sometimes before) the events are done. All those highly-in-shape young people together in one place...one athlete said "it's like a high school cafeteria, only everyone is beautiful." (Link mildly NSFW.)

#119 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2012, 02:03 PM:

Xopher @118

Apparently, there is an official condom supplier to the Olympics. And there is now a great official fuss being made about the discovery of unauthorised condoms.

Ansell Ltd is an Australian company, and the rumour is going round that the unauthorised condoms were specially labelled "Small".

#120 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2012, 04:16 PM:

Thanks to Ex Urbe, I am now totally watching the Modern Pentathlon on Saturday/Sunday.

And I was squeeing and happy and thought of abi when I saw the gold medal routine for the men's high bar in gymnastics.

#121 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2012, 07:06 PM:

Elliott #120:

More years ago than I really should admit to in public, a bunch of us college fencers would pile into a car of a Tuesday evening, and head down I-35 to the Pentathlon training facility at Ft Sam Houston for some really high-end epee practice. (We'd also do foil, just as a change of pace for the pentathletes.) The fencing coach was French and quite a character; his favorite line if he was really disgusted was, "Have you ever considered taking up ... bowling?"

Alas, I never got to see them doing the other parts of the competition.

#122 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2012, 11:57 PM:

Just saw the Men's BMX semi-finals. Holy--are they CRAZY? I haven't seen so many nasty crashes since I was regularly driving the Dan Ryan Expressway!

That's just wild.

#123 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2012, 01:22 AM:

Chen Ruolin in the women's 10 meter platform diving. I'd admired her since the 2008 Olympics. I hadn't realized she was so young; she's only 19 now.

Glorious form. SO far beyond the other divers. No surprise at all that she took gold. Her smile after her final dive was amazing.

It was almost as gratifying to watch Pandelela Rinong Pamg, from Malaysia, who won the bronze. She wasn't a favorite, initially. But she dove beautifully. It was easy to see it.

First medal for a woman from Malaysia in this year's games, and I think the commentators said first ever.

I'm glad the commentary focused on being happy for the women who won, instead of blathering about the Americans who didn't.

#124 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2012, 07:41 AM:

One of the more interesting aspect's of the Beeb's coverage has been the attention they give to the underdogs (a Nigerian rower, for example) who have received much support from the home crowd.

#125 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2012, 02:18 PM:

HLN: toddler fun with sports.

We were on vacation the first week of the Olympics, and thus watched a fair amount of the games at odd hours. My toddler daughter (17 months old) is at the stage of imitating many things she sees, and was delighted at the many new actions available to her. Her new sports activities include:

Pommel Horse: spinning around twice and then laying down on her back on the floor with her legs up in the air.

Diving: Bending over to place her forehead on the floor and attempting to perform a somersault.

Soccer: "Kick Ball!" and a remarkably good kicking style given that she only started walking 3 months ago.

Volleyball: "Hit Ball!" which actually involves throwing the ball at anyone around.

Basketball: "I see ball!" and placing the ball in a paper bag.

Track and Field: running around the table. And around, and around.

We've been trying to avoid having her see any boxing, wrestling, fencing, or javelin throwing!

#126 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2012, 02:06 AM:

Mary Frances @ #122, I saw those semi-finals too, and immediately thought it was the Summer Games equivalent to short track speed skating, that sport Apolo Anton Ohno excelled in.

#127 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2012, 12:50 PM:

It looks as though the politicians are recovering from being stunned by the Opening Ceremony. They're getting back to their usual tricks: have a centrally-planned curriculum, and then sneer at the teachers for poor sports performance in schools.

The closing ceremony is on Sunday night. We're expecting something spectacular from Rio de Janeiro--everybody samba!--and then everything goes back to normal.

Normal TV, normal news coverage, the normal half-hidden racism of the ruling class. If only they would swing, swing, together.

Why this is hell, nor am I out of it. Even if the Doctor is coming back: think of what he has seen, and lost for ever.

#128 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2012, 02:38 PM:

oliviacw @125: A length of ribbon on a stick makes a great kiddy rhythmic-gymnastics prop.

#129 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2012, 02:53 AM:

Not everyone at the Olympics is representing a country. Not everyone runs under a national flag. This guy, in the marathon, will be running under the Olympic flag. He has a country, but it hasn't been around long enough to have a national Olympic committee. It doesn't have the sports infrastructure, and he has been a refugee for decades.

Today, he's running. It's not likely that he will be on the podium, but, if past events are any guide, he'll be cheered home by the crowd.

#130 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2012, 10:30 AM:

Dave Bell@129: Guor Marial will also have a New Hampshire contingent cheering for him . . . he went to high school (and competed in track&field) in Concord.

#131 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2012, 05:23 PM:

Currently the live feed for the Olympics Closing Ceremonies is showing rather too much George Michael. That is, any.

#132 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2012, 05:34 PM:

I'm too old to remember some of this stuff they're using. I wonder if they will use Pinball Wizard at the Paralympics?

#133 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2012, 06:00 PM:

OK, who else would prefer Spice Girls of Dune?

#134 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2012, 06:12 PM:

Roller-skating nuns, of course...

And you thought the opening was confusing.


#135 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2012, 07:04 PM:

Who's On Stage

(Somebody had to do it, right...)

#136 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2012, 08:28 AM:

I was in Amsterdam Saturday night and can report that the Dutch were very, very excited about the lady's hockey, to the extent of showing the entire (50 minute) medal ceremony, on every screen in the city so far as I could tell. And more power to them.

#137 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2012, 12:54 PM:

Dave Bell #133: Spice Girls of Dune is a mash-up I'd love to see.

#138 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2012, 01:28 PM:

Fragano @137

It was an entry at an Eastercon masquerade, I thought Confabulation in 1995, but the timing doesn't fit. Must have been Intervention in 1997, then. Why I got the two mixed up, I don't know.

Apparently SMS was involved.

There were doing a Spice Girls coming-onto-stage routine which got a lot of people going. I hadn't seen it, so I only "got" the gag with the punch-line.

#139 ::: Lillian ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2012, 03:26 PM:

joann at #121, was that coach Jerard Poujardeau? Pooj was a mainstay of fencing coaching for years in the San Antonio area...

#140 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2012, 11:41 AM:

Lillian #139:

Sure was. Didn't he eventually get succeeded by his son?

I note that Bob and Tracy Hurley's daughters made up two of the three members of the women's bronze epee team!

#141 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2012, 01:45 PM:

* A really neat article on Carl Lewis and the history of the long jump

* A bunch of neat animated gifs of Olympic rhythmic gymnasts being utterly awesome

* A side-by-side visual comparison of how Olympic vaulting in 2012 is radically different than the sport of the same name in 1956.

#142 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2012, 10:09 PM:

I don't know about all of you folk, but for me, the Eric Idle bit at the closing ceremony seems like a perfect way to get rid of a bad mood.

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