Critical Section


Wednesday,  08/20/08  11:32 PM

I am feeling Olympic tonight...  still enjoying it...  I love the uncertainty of the track events.  Sure, Usain Bolt was going to win (or was he?), but you just never know when someone will touch a hurdle, or get a slow start (or drop the baton!), or just get beaten by a virtual unknown, and poof, four years of work are gone in an instant.  Sport and especially track and field is a contrived, distilled microcosm of life.  Maybe that's why we like it?

In this connection I have to ask, how badly do we feel about Beijing's fakeness?  Sports Illustrated has an article about the lengths to which China have gone to hide reality and project a "clean, well-lighted place".  We all know about the coverup, even if we don't know exactly what is being covered up.  But how important is that?  Is the goal of the Olympics to learn the reality of the host city and country?  Or is it to experience something which is essentially artificial, this massive sporting event, given that sports themselves are a contrived, distilled microcosm of life?

Olga Korbut backflipA little more on the Olympics; Jason Kottke thinks "One of the best ways to watch the Olympics is to chase down all the references made by NBC's commentators on YouTube and watch them".  He's right; watching those old routines by Nadia Comanici (age 14), Olga Korbut, etc. is really eye-opening.  (Olga's backflip on the uneven bars [right] remains for me the single most enduring memory of Olympic gymnastics.)  They weren't as athletic as today's competitors, but the style was amazing.

Parenthetically, YouTube is amazing.  Anything you can think of - anything at all - is there.  A perfect extension to the magic of Google.

Robert Weintraub remembers when decathletes were cool.  Some people like me still think they're cool, but I agree it is no longer the marquee sport of the Olympics.  I think that happened when the U.S. athletes no longer dominated :)

You might enjoy this interesting debate between Glenn Loury and John McWhorter discussing McCain and Obama at the Saddleback Forum.  A pretty balanced analysis; that was a pretty valuable showcase for both candidates, I think.  [ via Instapundit ]

Looks like Rudy Giulani will be the keynote speaker at the Republican convention.  So be it.  Meanwhile Arnold might not make it; he's too busy fighting fires metaphorically back in California.  If he doesn't it will be too bad; I really enjoyed his speech at the 2004 convention...

Jason Kottke notes fake restaurant wins wine award.  "I named the restaurant "Osteria L'Intrepido" (a play on the name of a restaurant guide series that I founded, Fearless Critic). I submitted the fee ($250), a cover letter, a copy of the restaurant's menu (a fun amalgamation of somewhat bumbling nouvelle-Italian recipes), and a wine list. Osteria L'Intrepido won the Award of Excellence, as published in print in the August 2008 issue of Wine Spectator."  Given my own experience with the reliability of such reviews (basically, they are useless) this does not surprise me.

 

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