Olympics day 14

August 22, 2008

Michael Phelps has left the building Beijing. He is flying to London to check out the scene for his next Olympic appearance. Then he will chill and figure out if he wants an Aston-Martin or a Maserati to replace his pedestrian BMW. I’m sure than unlike our presidential candidates, he really isn’t an elitist. An no dating fellow swimmers.

Reading any of the athletes’ blogs? Here’s some postings for today.

Have to mention in the medals race that South Korea has slightly more medals than Japan. Japan has double South Korea’s population, so go figure. Once upon a time Korea (North and South) was occupied by Japan for some 40 years. Japan made Korean athletes compete under the rising sun and only recently transferred credit of national origin for some of those medalists.

Futility in sport matters to some patriots.

Russia is doing better than the USA USA in overall medal count. The big red one has slightly more than half of the US’s medals, with a population somewhat under half of the US. Russia is shrinking, a sort of a population neutron bomb. America is getting bigger and bigger thanks to illegal immigrants and other sorts of huddled masses. Native (US citizens not talking about actual Native Americans exclusively) women aren’t responsible for the first-world’s healthiest population growth.

I was just reading, John Edwards may have had yet another affair, this time with a ‘mysterious’ Duke graduate. Sorry, that has nothing to do with the Olympics.

America is still trailing in the gold count. An Italian Olympic official had predicted last month that the US gold medal count would rise and beat out the Chinese by 11 medals. Time is running out. The same web page also has an article about an Aussie scientists who predicts the increased use of Viagra at these games. Gold medal count rise indeed.

PriceWaterhouse Coopers predicted a one medal win for China. It’s about the GDP of the country that determines its medal count, not my theories of athletic prowess and other national character traits. It’s the economy, stupid. The GDP trend is your friend for medals.

Meanwhile the former head of the IOC predicts that China will indeed be #1 in gold at the end of the day. With the current lead, kind of an easy prediction to make. Makes his hosts happy though.

I’m into data visualization, so if you haven’t seen this Flash representation of Olympic medals counts from the NYT, check it out. The medals counts of all Olympics are there for you on a slider. Countries are shown in geographic location as circles sized by the relative number of medals they won. You can watch the ebb and tide of national fortunes from the end of the 19th century to the 21st, just by moving the slider back and forth with your mouse.

Take the 1908 Games. Man, 100 years ago the Brits totally dominated the planet. The UK controlled 1/4 of the Earth’s surface back then, and they was da bomb in those Games, which they graciously hosted. The Brits had 3x the medals of the #2 country, their former colonies the United States. Sweden was third, and then the French, Canada and Germany. If athletic dominance could have been transmogrified into battlefield dominance, then the Brits would have been able to kick the Kaiser’s ass in no time.  I am sure though in 1908 that no one was thinking that way since King George V was Kaiser Wilhelm II’s cousin. Admittedly, the Brits dominated in 1908 because hey hosted the games. Transport and corporate sponsors were a wee more hard to come by back then. The US dominated their games in 1904 where the Olympics were merely a side show to the St. Louis World’s Fair (times have changed unimaginably, St. Louis hosting the Olympics!!???), the Greeks in 1896, Even the Swedes in 1912.

Check out this blog from the WaPost on NBC’s coverage of the games on TV. He has my kind of attitude.

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