Archive for August, 2012

Olympian activities

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

As the Olympics are currently underway, it’s worth remembering that not all the action and drama takes place on the field (or in the pool, on the court, etc.).

I’d read about the sexual activity at the Games before, but had forgotten sometime in the past several years.

Some of the drama occurs because of cheating or poor judging. Biased judging, if not to the level of actual corruption, has been around for quite some time. I can remember one Winter Olympiad when, during one of the ice skating events, I heard one of the commentators mention that one of the judges had deducted points from one competitor because of their choice of music.

The big scandal so far in these games relates to badminton teams trying to lose in order to better their chances for later in the competition. It got so bad that one match was booed by the spectators. Here’s some video of the game in question, although it’s pretty short and disjointed.

Poor judging can have repercussions beyond the official standings. Even when the athletes accept their medals, they don’t always keep them – although that’s sometimes for altruistic reasons, as noted in the link.

Not everyone likes the Olympics. I’ll usually watch, but not always – there are events I won’t watch, because I don’t believe they belong. That’s a rant for another time, but it boils down to the Olympic motto: Citius, altius, fortius. If you can’t determine victory with a stopwatch, a tape measure, or a scale, I don’t think it belongs. Anything with style points or technique judging is right out. YMMV. Certainly, many of the most popular events wouldn’t be allowed under my rules.

Mike notes that the Olympics are popular with a lot of people who are normally hostile to popular sports, and suggests a reason why. He may have a point. Selwyn Duke notes something that may be supporting evidence, depending on whether the reporters were ignorant about athletics or deliberately trying to mislead the public.

Neo likes the Olympics, but doesn’t appreciate the change that has occurred in women’s gymnastics over the last few decades. I can see and understand her point, and even agree with her conclusion. Women’s gymnastics is a much more vigorous athletic endeavor these days, but the gymnasts I’ve been watching don’t have the grace Tourischeva and others had. However, refresh your memory about my earlier comment above about stop watches, etc.

Slate has an interesting interactive toy that allows you to compare previous Olympic gold-medal performances in some of the events.

Speaking of Usain Bolt, who is mentioned in the headline of the Slate article, he’s a class act.

Finally, NBC has been catching grief concerning their coverage of the Games, particularly their online streaming (which I haven’t tried). This is perhaps the most pointed, yet gentle, commentary I’ve seen on the subject.

I have a new ukulele

Monday, August 6th, 2012

For the past month or so, I’ve been taking a class at the Colorado School of Lutherie, in which I built a tenor ukulele. Class was twice a week for three hours a night, and nominally five weeks in duration. It actually lasted for a couple of extra sessions, and I had a final session on Saturday that wasn’t part of the standard class (I learned how to install a pickup in my instrument).

I’m quite pleased with the way it came out. The sound is a rather more “trebley” than I care for, but Edward, who ran the class, tells me that the lower tones will develop as the instrument is played, and getting the sound “bright enough” when the instrument is built is the hard part.

Here’s the picture of the class with our ukes. I’m in the front row on the left side of the photo. Click for a larger view.

Class photo - ukulele class

Proficiency in English is too much to ask for, apparently

Monday, August 6th, 2012

I get spam comments submitted to this website all the time, even though I’m neither very prolific nor is the blog very popular. However, could they at least try to make it less obvious that they don’t speak English (even if it’s their only language)? I just got the following comment submitted by someone spamming for a real estate firm, and, while its poor grammar is, unfortunately, all too plausible today, it still bothers me:

naturally like your website but you have to check the spelling on several of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling problems and I to find it very troublesome to inform the reality then again I’ll definitely come again again.