Now that we’ve wrapped up yet another Olympics, many people are looking back at the things they loved from London 2012. But the title of this blog isn’t thingskevinloves. So, without further adieu, a collection of things I hated about London 2012.
1. NBC’s coverage. When the Olympics are in Europe, there’s no way for an American network to show live primetime coverage–when it’s primetime here, it’s the wee hours of the morning over there. So all the marquee primetime coverage would be carefully repackaged highlights–all the better for fitting in fluff pieces about athlete’s backgrounds or Mary Carillo’s features with little or no relevance to any sporting events. (Possibly the only good–in a train-wreck sort of way–piece of hers ever: this bizarre rant about backyard badminton.) Thankfully, NBC stepped up and agreed to broadcast everything (even the big-name events) live on its website, an improvement over previous Olympics, when big events were often held back until primetime. Unfortunately, their partnership with YouTube proved ill-equipped to handle the vast amounts of traffic that flooded the site for the most popular events. The stream often lagged or came to a stop, and commercials were incredibly frequent. While it was nice to be able to watch them at all, it was incredibly frustrating to watch a low-quality video stream instead of a high-definition television. Why not broadcast the best events live during the day and then re-air them at night? The cynic in me has to assume that NBC figured it could get better ratings–surely people like me would watch events live, then tune back in during the evening to enjoy the Olympics in the splendor of HDTV. And they may very well be right. But I hope that down the road they’ll provide us with live television (and live streaming) of all the major events. And with Rio just one hour ahead of the East Coast for the 2016 Olympics, things should be better. Continue reading ‘things i hated about the 2012 olympics’
If you live in Louisiana, you’ve probably heard of the movie Beasts of the Southern Wild. The movie focuses on a fictional Louisiana town nicknamed “The Bathtub,” whose inhabitants live in constant danger of being washed away but defiantly cling to their joyous way of life. (Sound familiar?) The indie film has been warmly received by most film critics; at the Cannes Film Festival, it won the Caméra d’Or, awarded to a director making his feature film debut. And for the most part, I have to say I agree with the critics. It’s an unusual film, but a striking, interesting one, especially to anyone who lives in South Louisiana. Unfortunately, the movie made me sick. Not to the point of puking, thank goodness, but to the point where I found myself glancing away from the screen in an attempt to settle my stomach. Continue reading ‘movies with excessively shaky cameras’
Free agency season is upon us in the NFL. It’s the time of year when men with absurdly large bank accounts open up their wallets to sign players with not-quite-as-absurdly large bank accounts. And with that routine, we get the whining from people who call the players “overpaid.” Overpaid? Compared to what?
In case you hadn’t noticed, football is a business. Fans buy tickets (or they watch on TV, which creates a huge advertising market, which creates huge TV contracts). The owners take the money from the tickets and the TV deals, and they pay the players. (Yes, it’s slightly more complicated than that, but you get the picture.) The end result is that people (say, Calvin Johnson) can sign contracts for $132 million. (Of course, keep in mind that the numbers you always hear are really just splotches of ink on paper; NFL contracts aren’t guaranteed and Johnson could very well be cut sometime before his contract expires. Pay attention to the guaranteed number; in Johnson’s case, $60 million. Still pretty good, right.)
To the 99% of us, that sounds like an exorbitant amount of money. And it is. But does he deserve it? Of course he does. The simplest argument is that someone is paying him that money; therefore, he deserves it. His owner and general manager are perfectly happy to pay him that money (well, I’m sure they’d have liked to have given him less, but Calvin Johnson wasn’t holding a gun to their heads and demanding $132 million). Continue reading ‘complaining about overpaid athletes’
I’m a big sports fan. And that includes college sports. I think most American sports fans could list a number of things they love about college sports: the NCAA Tournament’s Cinderella stories, the marching bands at football games, the fierce rivalries, and countless others. But if we look at the big-time college sports, football and men’s basketball, there can be no doubt that these sports are big business. Millions of dollars are at stake based on the performance of young men, most of whom are 18-22 years old. And the rules say that these men cannot be paid (except for tuition, a dorm room, etc.). The problem is, the two preceding sentences are at odds with each other. The most talented of these men are undoubtedly worth millions of dollars–they often turn pro and then receive gigantic salaries. And yet they cannot officially be paid. Obviously that is going to lead to a situation where many of them receive money (or other compensation) through unofficial channels, some shadier than others. Maybe it’s an easy job, maybe it’s an occasional lunch, maybe it’s a few $20s or $100s. Maybe, if you play at Miami, it’s a prostitute. The point is that it’s absurd to think that these sorts of things aren’t going to happen just because the NCAA doesn’t want them to.
But this isn’t a diatribe against sleazy boosters or rule-bending coaches or corrupt governing bodies. This is about the absurdity of the very notion of amateurism and its roots in the snootiness of 19th century England. The lazy landed gentry with their public school educations (in England, “public school” means “school where the really rich people go”) were playing cricket or various forms of football and didn’t want to compete against the working-class rabble. The people who had actual jobs couldn’t afford to take the time off work needed to compete at the highest level, so sports were, at first, exclusively for “amateurs” (i.e. the elites). In some cases, not only was getting paid to play outlawed, but in the case of rowing, anyone who was a “mechanic, artisan, or labourer” was not allowed to compete. Heaven forbid the factory workers with their big muscles should compete against the upper class. However, in the late 19th century sports such as soccer and rugby started to attract spectators (i.e. money). This led to a desire for better players, and in 1885 soccer’s governing body in England, the Football Association, officially allowed professionalism. Rugby didn’t handle things so well, leading to the 1895 split that still exists today: rugby league (which allowed professionalism) and rugby union (which, shockingly, didn’t officially become professional until 1995). Continue reading ‘the concept of amateurism and its role in American college sports’
As I write this, Space Shuttle Atlantis sits on its launch pad awaiting its takeoff. Its mission will be the last of the 135 in the program’s history. The United States has spent billions and billions of dollars on the Space Shuttle, and what do we have to show for it? Not much. Along with its fellow boondoggle, the International Space Station, the Space Shuttle program has been a colossal waste of money.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I want my spaceflight tax dollars going toward kick-ass stuff, the sort of stuff that would make a seven-year-old boy’s jaw drop. Going to the moon? That was cool. Going to Mars? That would be even better. A giant telescope that gives us amazing pictures of deep space? Pretty damn impressive. But most of the Space Shuttle’s and ISS’s science experiments did little to live up to the gigantic price tag of each mission. Head over to NASA’s website and take a look for yourself. There’s some great stuff there. One of the first ones I saw listed was about “Skeletal Development in Embryonic Quail.” Okay, I understand that people’s bones weaken in space and that animal studies about bones in microgravity could be useful, but do we really need to spend the money to send quail eggs into space? Continue reading ‘the space shuttle program and the ISS’
Now, let’s get one thing straight right of the bat. Jonathan Bornstein is an amazingly talented soccer player. In a nation of 310 million, he’s one of the best 30 or 40 players. And he’s probably a perfectly nice guy and decent human being.
But he still sucks. He’s a left back, but he can’t defend, which is a pretty important skill to have if you’re a left back. He was terrible in the World Cup last year, and he was terrible today against Mexico in the Gold Cup. I realize we’re thin at left back, but is that really the best we can do? When Steve Cherundolo went down with an injury, not only did we have to bring Bornstein on, we had to switch Lichaj over to the right. Lichaj has looked pretty good on the left, but he didn’t seem comfortable on the left. So we got worse at two positions. In a perfect world we’d have had Timmy Chandler come on at right back, but he wasn’t called up, presumably because we wanted to keep his German club team happy, as he would’ve had no offseason had he played in the Gold Cup. (Some thought that it might have to do with him wanting to play for Germany, but that’s not happening, according to interviews with him and his agent.)
Again, I realize our lack of depth and experience along the back, but couldn’t we have brought on Spector? Or Ream, even if it meant shuffling some players around, which we did anyway? As soon as Bornstein came on, it’s like the entire Internet said, “Oh, shit!” (Well, the American parts of it, anyway. The Mexican parts we’re saying, “Hell yes! Look at this crappy half-Mexican defender the gringos just brought on!”) Everybody knows he sucks, except for Bob Bradley. Sometimes Bradley gets attached to players and those guys pan out. (Exhibit A: coach’s son Michael Bradley, who is an absolute beast in the midfield.) Other times, it just doesn’t—for example, Ricardo Clark get inexplicable minutes in WC 2010. It’s the same thing with Bornstein. He just sucks, and needs to be booted from the national team.
This year’s Mississippi River flood is the worst in decades, with record flood stages set in many places throughout the system. There are two main ways to deal with the threat of river flooding:
1) Build huge levees to contain the water.
2) Create outlets where water can be released from the river.
There are a few other possible solutions, but those are the two major ones. Unfortunately, each has its drawbacks. Levees force a river through a narrower path; the only place for the water to go is up, causing the river to get higher, so that the levees must be built taller, and so on. Along the Mississippi, the building of levees has historically been combined with a practice of shutting off almost all of the natural distributaries of the river. It doesn’t take an expert hydrologist to figure out that closing off places where water flows out means more water downriver.
Using outlets of some sort—diversions into other rivers, spillways, or simply flooding large areas of low-lying land—can damage the property or livelihood of whoever owns the land that is deliberately flooded. In some cases—for example, the Bonnet Carré Spillway—only a small amount of land is used. The Bonnet Carré is roughly six miles long and two miles wide; it empties into Lake Pontchartrain. Though the spillway is used for recreation purposes when not in use for flood control, there are no land owners to appease. Thus, it is fairly low-risk (from a political standpoint) to open it up. Sending dirty river water into the lake does annoy the environmentalists and the fishermen, but all things considered it’s not going to piss anyone off too much. Continue reading ‘saying that the morganza shouldn’t have been opened’
As you may have heard, President Barack Obama just decided to release his birth certificate. It looks like this:
Hopefully that finally settles the years of idiocy coming from the “birther” movement, a group of buffoons who have steadfastly insisted that Obama is somehow not a citizen, with most of them suggesting he was born somewhere outside of the United States. Part of this skepticism came from the fact that the previously released version of Obama’s birth certificate was this one:
That, of course, is obviously a printout of an electronic version. It did not satisfy the birthers, even though this was the standard document released when people needed a copy of their birth certificates. Also, there were birth announcements published in the local Hawaii papers, so any conspiracy would have to be as old as Obama himself.
The birther movement had its ebbs and flows. It was an issue during the presidential campaign, even though the McCain camp didn’t choose to make an issue of it. But somehow it gained steam to the point where huge numbers of Republican and conservative voters either thought Obama wasn’t born in the US or were unsure. In 2010, a lieutenant colonel in the US military refused orders to deploy to Afghanistan out of his conviction that Obama was not eligible to be president and thus was not legally entitled to act as Commander-in-Chief. And most recently, possible presidential candidate Donald Trump has been stirring the birther pot. Continue reading ‘the birther movement’
It’s April. That means spring, baseball, and the deadline for federal taxes. Usually, it’s April 15th, but this year, thanks to some quirks of the calendar, the deadline is the 18th. The local news channels always seem to have a reporter on location at a post office staying open for the convenience of the procrastinators.
Many people, however, are eager to get their taxes done long before the deadline. Why? Because they’re getting a refund. People get so excited when they get a refund. It’s as if this just happened:
But a tax refund isn’t some magic money out of nowhere. It’s money that you earned, then paid to the government. As you’ve probably realized when you’ve looked at your paycheck, the government withholds money from every paycheck you make. Then you fill out a bunch of forms (1040, etc.) and you either get a certain amount back or have to send the government more money. Continue reading ‘people who celebrate tax refunds’
There’s a lot of stuff on the internet. Apparently Google CEO (soon-to-be ex-CEO) Eric Schmidt once said 5 million terabytes. I have no idea how old that estimate is. And really, it doesn’t matter. Whatever the number is, it’s too big for any of us to really comprehend. The bottom line is that the internet is a very, very, very big place. And much of the information on it is fascinating, entertaining, informative, or just plain time-suckingly captivating.
Now, how do we find the good stuff on the internet? By and large, we rely (in some form or another) upon other people to point us in the direction of stuff worth looking at. A friend posts a link on twitter or Facebook. A user posts a video response to a youtube video. Writers (everyone from big-name newspaper columnists to lowly bloggers) mention blogs or articles. Even Google is basically just an algorithm spitting out results based on what people are linking to.
The great thing about the internet is that just about any intelligent creative output a human being can create ends up there in some form or another. Music, movies, essays, stories, whatever—almost all of it is out there somewhere online, free or not, legal or not. The bad thing about the internet is that most people are stupid. So they point you to crap like Rebecca Black’s “Friday” video, which has blown up twitter and youtube and everything else for the past week or so. Continue reading ‘when crap goes viral’