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Apparently the IOC is considering a number of “sports” for inclusion in future summer Olympics, including golf, bowling, billiards, ballroom dancing, chess and bridge. You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. I can see them letting golf in, only because it’s very high profile and pro golf has a ton of money to throw around, but still…it’s not a sport! It’s a game! As far as I’m concerned I’d like to see only pure sports (the definition of which I’ll get to in a minute) included in the Olympics, as they’re supposed to be a purely athletic event.

Look, to be considered a pure sport, you have to meet two criteria: 1) physical prowess, and 2) clear, unbiased scoring. The first criteria eliminates most of the above events (golf included); physical prowess doesn’t mean you can hit a ball far, or throw a dart with exquisite precision. Golfers, while they may have wonderful ability to hit a ball with distance and accuracy, by and large look as if they’ve just stepped out of a bar after a few mint juleps looking for a ball to hit. The only event listed above that would meet this criteria would be (believe it or not) ballroom dancing. I’ve seen these people. It’s frigging nuts, and they must lose half a litre of sweat. However, they don’t pass the next criteria.

Unbiased scoring means that you don’t have judges. It means that any referees you have nearby are there only to enforce existing rules, not to decide the value of your performance. This obviously eliminates gymnastics, synchronized swimming, etc. Now…don’t get me wrong, gymnastics might be the hardest event in the Olympics, and gymnasts are some of the most physically impressive athletes in the world. But the fact that some shmoe sitting off to the side, who many have an agenda or bad eyesight or insomnia, assigns a number at the end of a performance just ruins the whole thing. Look at these past Olympics for examples (Paul Hamm winning gold and Kyle Shewfelt losing bronze, because of judging screwups).

So, to recap:
no physical prowess + clear scoring = game
physical prowess + unclear scoring = competition
physical prowess + clear scoring = sport

This formula would, of course, be very contentious. Baseball would likely be eliminated (too many tubby people who don’t have to run, an umpire calling a very wonky strike zone, etc.), and discus might be as well (currently a judge runs up and points to the spot where they think the discus landed). Diving, skeet shooting, boxing…all gone. But practically all track and field events remain, as do things like rowing, kayaking, soccer, hockey, downhill skiing (but nothing involving jump style points), bobsled, weightlifting, etc.

I could even accept competitions (you know, physical prowess + unclear scoring) because of the physical exertion, but I can’t stand the thought of billiards or bridge being Olympic sports. I do believe I would boycott.

25,793?

From The Guardian: Lost in music.

Some 25,793 CDs were released last year – and there will be as many, if not more, this year. We made Alexis Petridis listen to every single one out this month. What did it tell him about the state of the music industry? And just who are Infected Mushroom?

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Went to G & C’s place last night for some scotch tastin’. All I could think of, as we sipped Glen Parker & Glenkinchie & Bruichladdich, ate sausage & cheese, listened to Muddy Waters & Blind Willie McTell and discussed every topic under the sun, was that my brother would love this.

But he’s in Australia, and might well have been thinking exactly the same thing.

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Let’s see…in his latest ad Bush says that electing Kerry will put America in danger of a terrorist attack because “weakness attracts those who are waiting to do America harm.” (from the NY Times)

OK, let’s recap. In 228 years there’ve been 2 terrorist attacks on the United States, both at the world trade center. There’ve been 43 presidents, including this one, and two of those have been in office during a terrorist attack. To me, this means that Bush is, at best, tied for last. Hardly something to be proud of.

Also, many have argued that it’s only through Bush’s leadership and determination that the United States hasn’t been attacked by terrorists again in the last 3 years. For another example of this kind of logic, I offer you the following Simpsons script:

Homer: “Not a bear in sight. The Bear Patrol must be working like a charm.”
Lisa: “That’s specious reasoning, Dad.”
Homer: “Thank you, dear.”
Lisa: “By your logic I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away.”
Homer: “Oh, how does it work?”
Lisa: “It doesn’t work.”
Homer: “Uh-huh.”
Lisa: “It’s just a stupid rock.”
Homer: “Uh-huh.”
Lisa: “But I don’t see any tigers around, do you?”
Homer: “Lisa, I want to buy your rock.”

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Podcasting…I second the sentiments in this LockerGnome post. They need to stop calling it “podcasting”; 1) this isn’t something that Apple invented or that only works on an iPod, and 2) I’ll give up music altogether before I use one of those fucking hipster fashion-piece must-have-of-the-season trend boxes. I mean, it’s not often I find myself agreeing with Warren Kinsella, but…

I wish the dude who reserved ipodsucks.com would get on with it.

Should politicians be allowed to say whatever they want?

Being so sick and tired of electioneering (first a Canadian election in the summer, and now the eye- and mind-numbing American process), I’ve grown equally tired of how we — all of us: the media, the public, everyone — let them off the hook when they lie. I know, I know, ’twas always thus. Politicians have always lied to us during campaigns, told half truths (or outright lies) about their opponents, etc. But now…now we have the technology to fight it. What if, say during the debates between Kerry and Bush, every time one of them quoted a number or stated a “fact”, there were a team of researchers (a la FactCheck) at every news channel covering the event who, within seconds, validated the statement and put the analysis up on the screen. Granted, there’d be a few seconds of delay, but how hard could that be? It’s not as if these guys don’t tout the same numbers day after day on the campaign trail, and in debate after debate. These guys aren’t bringing out new material (except catchphrases like “wrong war, wrong place, wrong time!” or “his rhetoric doesn’t match his record!”…David Frum, where are you when we need you?!?) so it should be easy to have 90% of the material on hand and be a few keyword searches and big brains away from the other 10%.

While we’re on the topic, I think TV networks should be forced to verify facts put out in advertisements for one politician or another (which, for local politics, are usually attack ads) through an independant factchecker (like, oh, say, FactCheck) before being allowed to run them.

This is related to a point that Dan Gillmor makes, but he’s pushing for letting the candidates use technology to check their own facts. I don’t think we should give them the opportunity; I say we find the truth ourselves and make them live up to it.