Has the Internet Ruined the Olympics?

I remember as a kid watching with excitement the 1980, 1984, and 1988 Olympic Games.  The 1980 Olympics that I am referring to are the Winter Games in Lake Placid, the Summer Games were held in Moscow and the US team did not attend those games, due to political protest.  Anyway all of those Olympiads have one thing in common, and obviously date me, they happened in the days before the internet.  As such, we, as viewers, were subject to the whims of the television broadcast in order to find out what happened.  This meant that with each event that the network showed we had no idea who won what medal, and how they won it — or lost it, as the case maybe.  The 1980 Winter Olympic Hockey game, between the USSR and USA was not broadcast live in most of the country, it was shown less than an hour after it was over, so that it could be seen during the primetime television slot here in America.  The networks did a pretty darn good job of keeping the score secret, so as not to spoil it for anyone, and because of that most who watched it were on the edge of their seats, despite the fact that the game was taped — and that it was held right here in our country.

The internet has made watching the Olympic Games anticlimactic.  I live in the Pacific Time Zone and I was getting a stream of Facebook messages from friends of mine living in the Eastern Time Zone about the opening ceremony, before it was even broadcast in my neck of the woods.  That of course isn’t the internet’s fault; I understand that NBC wanted to make sure that the opening ceremony was broadcast in primetime for all time zones, but because of the internet’s stellar ability to disseminate information quickly, I was stuck with already knowing what had happened.  Then there are the events themselves.  I already knew Lochte beat Phelps for the Gold Medal in the 400 IM, long before I was able to actually see the event on television.  In fact, because I already knew I didn’t even bother watching it.

I am not advocating an all-out internet blackout during the Olympics, which would be a ridiculous request, as well as essentially advocating censorship of information, which I staunchly oppose.  Basically I am really just lamenting the days gone by when the broadcast of each event was almost must see TV, even if it was shown hours after the event was over.  Today it is like trying to watch the Super Bowl after the fact, there is little suspense.  I guess I am just getting crotchety in my old age, but I don’t let that change who I am rooting for; go for the Gold Team USA!

The Opening Ceremony of the Olympics Was . . . Meh

Last night was the opening ceremony for the Olympic Games in London and it was, umm, interesting to say the least.  Without the narration, by Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira, which wasn’t that great either, I don’t know if I would have totally known what was going on.  I would’ve picked up on the transformation from the agrarian age to the industrial age, but the thing with the kids and the nurses might have left me perplexed.  Then the whole thing with the house and the boy and girl, while I got it — kind of — it just didn’t really seem to work.

That is the thing about this opening ceremony, it was visually stunning at moments, and there did seem to be moments that had a point, but somehow, in my opinion, it seemed disjointed.  It was as if too much was trying to be shown and told through too big a theater for some of those messages to be fully conveyed.  Now, it would be easy for someone to criticize my critique of this opening ceremony by unfairly comparing it to the opening ceremony in Beijing China, of the 2008 Olympic Games.  Unfortunately for me, I did not watch that ceremony; and I realize that I am probably the only human in the world that didn’t.  I heard they were fantastic and immense and exciting and pretty much everything that the London opening ceremony wasn’t.  I hope that those who were in the stadium were given a detailed program of the show, because there were places where I am sure people were wondering, “What is going on, and where am I supposed to be looking?;”unless Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira was somehow guiding them too.  Was it an utter catastrophe?  Of course not, I simply think that there was too much trying to be told on too grand a scale for some of that message to fully come across.  That’s just my opinion, I could be wrong.

Bring on the Games!

Sometimes it seems like the whole world is going to hell in a hand basket.  There was the movie theater shooting by a deranged twenty-something in Aurora Colorado a week ago today, which certainly doesn’t make one feel that all is right with the world.  Before that there were the large forest fires raging in New Mexico and again in Colorado.  There is the ongoing drought that is blanketing damn near the entire country, especially the important food growing states of the Midwest, which is sure to drive our grocery bills up.  And then there are the following two stories.

Going to the beach is supposed to be fun.  Going to the beach is supposed to be where many go to unwind and relax.  For five people in New York though, going to the beach is now synonymous with fear and perhaps future health concerns.  Those five people, one of which is a nine-year-old boy, have been stuck by hypodermic needles that were buried in the sand.  While five people doesn’t count as an epidemic, it is in my opinion five too many, and certainly leaves me shaking my head wondering what is this world coming to?  The second story is pretty disturbing too.

How many times have you been out and about in a multi-level public building and come to the escalators only to find that at least one of the directions is not working?  Probably more times than you can remember, of course many of us will simply use the stairs, or some other way to get up or down.  All of those broken escalators often makes me think that they must be the most unreliable thing ever devised — until now.  Maintenance crews in San Francisco were left with a rather unpleasant surprise when they were called in to fix a broken escalator in one of the subway stops for the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART).  The culprit for the malfunction was none other than an over accumulation of human feces — yes you read that right.  There was so much of it that a hazardous waste removal team had to be called in to clean it up.

And those are just the domestic things going on.  Internationally we have the looming insolvency of Europe, the ongoing civil war in Syria, deadly floods in China, drug lords on a blood thirsty killing spree in Mexico, and more.  Thank God we have the Olympics here to at least bring us all together for two weeks of spirited, but friendly competition between the world’s best athletes; and I don’t think that it has come a moment too soon.

Everything has its Season — Even Pornography

I am a believer that pretty much everything is cyclical.  I think that maybe the cyclical nature of things should be considered a natural law.  Of course we already know that nature itself runs in cycles, spring begets summer, summer to fall, and fall rolls into winter (unless you live in Southern California, there you just get “nice” year round).  With those seasons come other things that are important to humankind, like farming.  Planting begets the harvest, calving begets the slaughter and so on and so forth.  The phases of the moon are cyclical.  Solar storms are cyclical.  The planets’ orbits are cyclical (or “circular” if you prefer).  Life itself is cyclical; birth begets death.  However the cyclical nature of things can be applied to other things that are, well, less natural.  There is the business cycle where periods of growth are followed by periods of decline.  Fashion trends tend to follow a similar cycle; though the styles may not be identical there are definite similarities.  Music and movie trends tend to follow a similar cycle too.  Almost everywhere we look we can find a cycle that lies somewhere behind it.

To further illustrate the cyclical nature of things researchers at Villanova took it upon themselves to see if there is a trend behind internet search results for umm, “Adult” material; better known as porn.  Well, lo and behold they discovered that there is a cycle to the “popularity” of pornographic searches on the internet.  Using Google Trends they found that there are consistent spikes in searches for common adult themed terms and phrase that occur twice a year.  In order to see if this was just an anomaly they then looked to find if there were spikes in decidedly less “exciting” terms and phrase and found no such cyclical rhythm.  As a result of their tireless research we now know that the late summer and winter months appear to be prime porn seasons, and to think if it weren’t for the internet we may never have been able to uncover such information . . .

The Anaheim Riots Leave Me Wondering

There are several things about human nature that I don’t understand, and that includes me; I am, after all, human — at least the last time I checked.  What makes a person want to lash out in an ultraviolent manner?  What makes a person attracted to a particular type of other person?  Those are just a couple of things about individual human nature that are perplexing, but there are group behaviors that are just as mysterious.  Have you ever noticed that it always seems like everyone wants to checkout of the grocery store at the same time; or what about how everyone seems to want the same thing, thus making it the “it” thing to have?  These are just a couple of examples of what has been called the herding instinct and there are many other examples too, like the formation of financial bubbles, sporting events, religious gatherings, and mob violence.  It is the last one that has always left me wondering, I guess it is because I am not a particularly violent person.  This isn’t to say that I do not have a temper, because I do, I just try not to let it get the best of me where I act out in an irrational way; which is almost a hallmark of mob violence, anger directed in an irrational fashion.

Take for example the recent riots (mob violence) that have occurred in Anaheim California.  The spark of the violence was the shooting death of an unarmed gang member, by police, on Saturday and another Police shooting on Sunday, though that one appears to have been done in self-defense.  Well, many of the residents of Anaheim didn’t take too kindly to the Police killing an unarmed member of their city so they decided to take to the street in protest.  Protests are fine, they happen all of the time — maybe too often lately – because they typically don’t devolve into violence, maybe a few arrests, but not outright, nonsensical violence.  Well, in Anaheim the protest quickly degenerated into a riot resulting in the destruction of the private property of local businesses.  Why break the store front window of your local Starbucks?  What role did that business play in whatever you are protesting/rioting over?  It makes absolutely no sense to me.  Why would you, as a herd, want to make your community look like a war zone, by setting fires and destroying property that has no connection to the thing that has made you, as a mob, angry?  Like I said, there are some things about human nature that leaves me utterly baffled.  Remember what your parents used to ask you, “If all of your friends jumped off a cliff does that mean you should do it too?”  The answer is of course not.

 

One Woman’s Work to Make Sure Your Caribbean Vacation Has Something Worth Looking at

I think there is little doubt that there are things going on in the environment that cannot be considered good.  I mean even the most ardent doubter of climate change, or “global warming” as it is more widely known should have a pretty hard time explaining away many of the things happening with Mother Nature.  I should also say that that should not be a wholesale acceptance of, and endorsement for all of the tenants of those who fully subscribe to “global warming.”  I guess I am one who accepts that mankind can and does have an impact on the environment, but also believes that the world’s climate does tend to operate in a cyclical fashion.  So, in my opinion we need to find feasible things that can maybe roll back some of the damage that can be attributed to us humans, and the implementation of things that could actually have positive impacts for the environment.  What those things are I have no idea and will leave them up to far smarter people than myself.

One of those far smarter individuals is Dr. Mary Hagedorn, a marine biologist, and she is taking steps that could serve as both a roll back of potential human damage and a positive impact for the environment.  What is it that Dr. Hagedorn doing?  Well she is collecting sperm.  The sperm of coral reefs that is.  See, the thing is that coral reefs all over the globe are dying out due to increased ocean water temps.  The oceans are warming faster than these ecologically important habitats can adapt, and thus they are simply dying.  Well, Dr. Hagedorn is hoping her collecting the sperm of several, if not all, of the various types of coral that are still alive, then perhaps those samples can be used to repopulated the world’s coral reefs — I’m guessing once we humans have figured out to bring global and ocean temperatures back down to where the corals can survive.  This technique of collecting sperm samples from endangered species has worked in the past, with Dr. JoGayle Howard’s work to save the black-footed ferret from extinction.  I say kudos to Dr. Hagedorn, because I rather enjoy snorkeling over coral reefs and seeing all of the colors and diverse animal life, if they were to all die then we all might as well be snorkeling in the swimming pool, where there is absolutely nothing to look at.

Science Proves that Men Cannot Help Falling Asleep After Sex

Well ladies it appears that we men now have a note from the doctors, excusing us for our tendency to doze off after engaging in romantic interludes with you.  According to the latest scientific research, conducted by the oh so amorous French, has revealed that there is an actual physiological reason that explains why men are prone to falling asleep after they have sex.  It isn’t us just being rude, insensitive brutes; we really just can’t help it.

According to the results of, what I am sure was an arduous study; there are several neurological reactions, as well as the release of several chemicals that actually tell men that it is time to rest.  First of all the researchers discovered that the part of the brain that is responsible for sexual desire is literally shut down after men orgasm, so that could explain why many men aren’t too affectionate following intercourse.  Then there is a flood of sleep inducing chemicals, such as serotonin which obviously makes men drowsy.  Earlier studies show that sex depletes glycogen in the muscles, which is apparently an energy producing chemical.

According other studies some 80% of men feel that they are able to drift to sleep with no problem following a vigorous roll in the hay; while only 46% of women say the same thing.  The weird statistic of that same study shows that nearly 50% of men responded that they have fallen asleep DURING the act of making love — though there probably wasn’t and isn’t much love following a debacle like that.

So, there you have it ladies, we just cannot help ourselves from falling asleep following a those tender moments spent in your arms.  You can’t expect us to fight nature and ourselves, can you?  So, the next time that it happens just please show some compassion and understanding — it kind of lends new meaning to the old saying, “It’s not you; it’s me” doesn’t it.

 

Legal Marijuana Would be Dirt Cheap

Prohibition made a few people incredibly wealthy, so wealthy in fact that one of those families was able to become a dynastic political powerhouse.  That family was the exception though and not the rule; most of those who made their fortunes through bootlegging were more closely tied to organized crime.  Through their new found fortunes they were able to strong arm some through extortion and simply murder others that were perceived to be threats.  Prohibition also drove the price of booze up, and yet despite all of the hurdles imposed by prohibition, people still were willing to try and get their hooch.  In short, even though the motives behind making liquor illegal were good, the results of those intentions weren’t so good; prohibition simply didn’t work.

It took 14 years before congress eventually repealed prohibition, shortly before that though another substance was made illegal.  In 1927 all of the US had criminalized marijuana, despite the fact that it had served as one of the country’s cash crops from before the American Revolution.  So began another underground market and again despite all of the risks and hurdles associated with buying, possessing, and using marijuana, many, many people still use it.  So, what does that mean?

Well, according to a new book, “Marijuana Legalization:  What Everyone Needs to Know” it means a great many things, chiefly the loss of potential government revenue.  However they do make another point and that is should marijuana be made legal it would be so cheap that it could be almost given away.  How?  Well, the writers hypothesize that due to America’s advanced farming techniques and the fact that marijuana is essentially a nonperishable good, would drive the costs down to ridiculously low prices.  My first inclination was to think that advocating how cheap it would be is not exactly a good argument to be making if you are trying to make marijuana legal, however I then thought of the fact that most people don’t like cheap things, so should marijuana become as cheap as the writers theorize then maybe fewer people would be inclined towards using it?  Considering that marijuana was called the poor man’s rum back in the 16th and 17th centuries shows that there was a certain elitist stigma associated towards it as the substance that only those who can’t afford alcohol use.  And now we come back to alcohol, which isn’t exactly the safest drug, is it?

Young Adults Would Choose Isolation if Social Media Were to Disappear

I have written several times about my love/annoyance with the now ubiquitous use of social media.  I have social media accounts, I use them — though barely compared to some — and I often times roll my eyes at some of the posts that I read, and I even, at times, post things that could induce an eye roll in others.

Speaking of the rolling of one’s eyes, a recent study has revealed that nearly 20% of American high school and college aged students say that they would simply cease all communication altogether, if social media were to disappear . . . oh really?  I think that it would be safe to say that is a typical over reaction by those young adults.  I mean seriously, I find it hard to believe that those who responded in this fashion would prefer, and follow through, with simply becoming an isolated hermit.  In fact, I am willing to bet that if social media, as well as the internet itself, were to vanish we would see the exact opposite happen.  I think you would see an actual increase in the socialness of not just young adults, but everyone.  Of course neither of those things is about to happen anytime soon, if ever, so I doubt I will be able to collect on my bet.

Other respondents of this study reveal that 6% would choose to pick-up the old decrepit land line to reach out and touch someone and another 6% would rediscover the decidedly archaic pen and paper.  Here’s an interesting thing that may seem downright Precambrian, what about simply talking to another person, you know face to face?  Does all communication in the 21st century have to be from a distance?  Again, I guess we will never know, because just as all other “older” forms of communication, social media is here to stay.

Princeton Review’s List of the Top Party Schools of 2012

Ah, the college life.  I love the atmosphere of a college campus, particularly whenever I set foot on the campus of my alma mater.  I can feel the energy, and general optimism in the air.  It shouldn’t be too surprising though, because college is both the first place many people experience freedom from their parents’ ever watchful eyes and the responsibilities that come with that too.  College is where we start to lay the foundations of our dreams, and our futures and I don’t think there is too many who would argue that those are exactly depressing things.  So it is with wide-eyed enthusiasm many college students enter into this phase of their lives and for some they may do this with a little extra gusto.  Well, as it turns out there are schools out there that appear to have more of their fair share of those in attendance who have that little extra gusto than others, and the folks at The Princeton Review has released their 2012 rankings of those institutions of, umm, higher learning.  The top 20 are listed below:

1.   Ohio University, Athens, Ohio
2. University of Georgia, Athens, Ga.
3. University of Mississippi, Oxford, Miss.
4. University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
5. University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, Calif.
6. West Virginia University, Morgantown, W. Va.
7. Penn State University, University Park, Pa.
8. Florida State University, Tallahassee, Fla.
9. University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla.
10. University of Texas, Austin, Texas
11. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
12. Syracuse University, Syracuse, N.Y.
13. Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, La.
14. University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wis.
15. DePauw University, Greencastle, Ind.
16. Indiana University, Bloomington, Ind.
17. Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz.
18. University of Maryland, College Park, Md.
19. University of Vermont, Burlington, Vt.
20. University of South Carolina, Columbia, S.C.

I think it is rather interesting to note that many of the schools on that list are also places with highly competitive college athletic teams, particularly in the so called revenue sports of college football and basketball.  Is there a correlation?  Well, I will leave that for you to decide.  I am also, uh, “glad” to see my alma mater on this list, though when I was there we were number one, according to Rolling Stone; but at the time our football team was much better too . . . (maybe there is a correlation).  While I am not necessarily proud that my university made this list, nor was I all that enthused that my university was considered the number one party school when I was attending classes there (yes I actually went to class), but I will say that those were some of the most fun years of my life and wouldn’t trade them for anything.