Thursday Sep 04, 2008

Bunchloads of Money

Here's a comparison of what 40 billion dollars will get you in today's market:

  • Transformation of Beijing into a modern world-class city, not to mention the most watched television event in history. (And, that was only the first run... seems like it is looping pretty regularly on some of the TV channels.) [more info]
  • Twice as much as needed for the tallest building in the world and a revitalization of Downtown Dubai [more info]
  • Four months of the Iraq War. [more info]

Speaking of the Burj Dubai, wouldn't it be nice to have something like it in ol' NYC? I mean this thing was started on September 21st, 2004, and is expected to be finished next year.

Tuesday Aug 26, 2008

The Harding Scale

In light of the misdeeds of a few of the athletes of these past Olympic Games, and no method for journalists to keep them in their proper historical prospective, I'm introducing the Harding Scale of Olympic Disobedience or HSOD.

The scale, named after former Olympic competitor Tonya Harding, ranges from one to ten and is meant to gauge disobedience by these elite athletes against other athletes, coaches, referees, and assorted non-athletes. It is not meant to gauge offenses by the latter against the former (such as Munich, 1972) or self-abuse such as doping.

Here are some examples:

  1.Boasting or celebrating before your event is actually completed (Bolt).
3.Doing a McEnroe.
5.Putting down or refusing a medal because you felt you deserved a higher one.
7.Impulsive lashing-out at a referee, coach, or athlete (Matos)
9.Premeditated harm to a referee, coach, or athlete (Harding).

I'm reserving ten for if an athlete actually kills another athlete, referee, or coach. Of course, I'm hoping this never occurs...

Sunday Aug 24, 2008

A Day of Taekwondo

Well, I finally made it to an Olympic event. I spent from 3 pm until 9 pm yesterday at the Beijing Science and Technology University Gymnasium watching the semi-finals and finals for the +80 kg men and +67 kg women weight classes in Taekwondo. I dabbled a bit in Taekwondo about a decade ago, had a basic understanding of the sport, and thought it'd be cool to watch as an Olympic competition... it was indeed.

Ole! Ole!

It seemed that Mexico's Maria del Rosario Espinoza, who eventually took the gold, brought her own cheering squad straight from a Mexican football match. They were at least 50 strong, and they were certainly a presence to be dealt with. Mexican flags, Sombreros, Red, Green and White wigs, cheering in unison, the works.

Here's a photo of some of them during an uncharacteristically relaxed moment:

DSC_2857.jpg

I kinda expected to hear a loud "Goooooooaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllllllll" when Ms. Espinoza scored a point.

And, here's a shot of Ms. Espinoza doing just that against Norway's Nina Solheim:

DSC_3169.jpg

Six Pictures

I want to add more commentary, but am watching the closing ceremonies right now. In the meantime, here are six shots which I hope you'll like:

DSC_2853.jpg DSC_2914.jpg

DSC_3055.jpg DSC_2938.jpg

DSC_2972.jpg

DSC_2978.jpg

The rest of the photos from the day are here.

Ugliness

btw, I did see it when Angel Matos kicked the referee in the face following his disqualification:

Both stories are a bit off. For example, there was no "day of confusion on the mats"... there were two challenges which were dealt with what appeared to be a professional manner. And, it was both the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) which were set to institute bans on Mr. Matos... who was just plain out of control.

My immediate reaction was that he was going to lifetime bans, as well as possibly facing criminal charges. I read an account which said those are being investigated. In any event, I don't think he's on a "Friends of Raul" list at the moment.

Tuesday Aug 19, 2008

China jumps Olympics air hurdle

Oh, man, you just gotta read this story:

China jumps Olympics air hurdle

China has confirmed something that most people in Beijing for the Olympics already suspected - the city's air quality has been good.

Environmental officials say pollution levels have met expected standards on every day of the Olympics so far.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7569876.stm

What I really love is the photo caption:

Pollution has not been the nuisance that some feared

"Feared"? Huh? How about "hyped"? Or, maybe, "wished for"?

And, you gotta love the quote attributed to an "independent" air pollution expert who just happens to work for the Italian National Research Council... I mean, there couldn't be a hint cultural of bias. Nope. None.

"Here in Beijing, we had favourable meteorological conditions coupled with some reduction of emissions."

Some reductions of emissions? How about a massive and multi-year effort that's included the shutdown and/or relocation of factories... let alone the current campaign of vehicles with alternate license plates not being allowed to operate in the city?

Fair and balanced reporting indeed. Wait, umh, nevermind.

Tuesday Aug 12, 2008

Fab's Love-Child Sang at Opening Ceremony!

Beijing, August 12th, 2008 In an ironic and startling twist, it was revealed today that the love-child of former Milli Vanilli front-man Fab Morvan and Hong Kong singer Yeung Chin-Wah actually provided the vocals to Lin Miaoke's Olympic performace of “Ode to the Motherland”. It seems that officials didn't think that the world was quite ready to accept Mei-xie Morvan, age 8.

"Rob, here's to you," said Mr. Morvan when revealing the hoax, referring to ex-partner Rob Pilatus, who died of an overdose in 1998.

Saturday Aug 09, 2008

The Fireworks Without

I took a late nap yesterday, and woke at precisely 8:08 pm. I rushed to my television set and turned it on... the last thing I would want to have happen is be living in Beijing during this incredible time and not have watched the Opening Ceremony live!

I shook my head constantly throughout the three-hour broadcast... as in, I cannot believe that I just saw that... no, that's not possible... the synergy of technology, machinery, and pure manpower was just overwhelming. It was a event that will stand the test of time when compared to other great events... and not just the opening ceremonies of other Olympic Games.

I also had the pleasure of watching the fireworks out my livingroom window. Not quite the same as actually being there (as were a couple of friends), but gratifying nonetheless.

The parade of athletes were in stark contrast to the precision of the rest of the event. These kids (at the age of 43 I guess I can now use this term in describing them) displayed the unbridled joy of having made it to this sporting event. They took pictures with cameras, described the surroundings to friends and family on cellphones, and generally rejoiced.

Some observations... the Bermudan team wore Bermuda shorts. The flag bearer for Denmark must've been a weightlifter or something like that... he straight-armed the damn thing, grinning, through the entire walk. Great Dane, indeed. The Aussies seemed to be having the most fun. Some of the outfits worn by the teams would've had Joan Rivers screaming. One team looked like they were dressed in a red cowskin pattern... don't know how else to describe it.

It was so, so nice to see our friends Rudd, Karzai and Sarkozy in the stands to wave at the athletes... not sure where Musharraf was, however.

btw, I think I might better understand why some folks at the BBC have been so critical of China as of late... I would hate to have to follow such an occurrence, as London will have to do in 2012. It'd be like a trio of accordion players taking the stage after, well, The Rolling Stones.

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