Start of the Winter Olympics

[fiddler competing with shadow]

I spent last night watching the Olympics opening ceremony on
NBC. Then I spent 15 minutes over coffee this morning reading
what the New York Times had to say about the death
of the Georgian luger
and the opening
ceremony.

If I hadn’t watched the show, I wouldn’t have seen the music
and the dancing, but otherwise, I would have been at least as
well-informed about what had actually happened.

In fact, NBC apparently decided for reasons of taste or
something to not keep showing the video of the luge crash.
They spent 10 minutes at the beginning of their show, which I
missed because I was still eating dinner. But I watched it this
morning from the NY
Times link
, and I’m just as glad I didn’t have to see it 6
times the way you always do when a football player gets
injured.

The NBC report did mention that the track was very fast and
other people have crashed. They didn’t mention that it had
already been controversial as too difficult for the
less-experienced lugers who can be expected at the Olympics, or
that the Canadians had been criticized for trying to up their
medal count by providing less access to the course for training
than has been traditional.

So I might go on watching coverage when I have the time, but if
I miss it because of another commitment, I won’t feel bad if I
have to watch the videos on my computer instead of seeing things
live.

Turning space into money

An advantage of the dog park being open again is that I get to
talk to people who do things I wouldn’t normally be involved in. A couple of nights ago,
the owner of a sprightly two-year-old terrier named Demon was
talking about all the good deals in used motorcycles you can get
this time of year.

Apparently, if you don’t have the space to store your
motorcycle for the winter, you sell it in the fall for very little money to
someone who does.

So my friend, who doesn’t personally have any more space than
anyone else who lives in a Cambridge apartment, was salivating
over the deals he’s been seeing in the used motorcycle market, and
wondering how many bikes he can convince his parents to store for him.

Wimbledon

I’ve been watching Wimbledon instead of reading
newspapers and listening to radio news the last couple of weeks,
so I can’t tell you anything about either Michael Jackson’s death or the
situation in Honduras.

But I thought I’d share a few thoughts about the tennis:

  • The women’s singles draw would have looked like less of a
    vast wasteland populated only by the Williams sisters if they
    had shown us some of Elena Dementieva’s matches in the early
    rounds. American TV networks have trouble believing that people
    want to see good tennis, rather than Americans playing tennis.
  • I’ve always liked Tommy Haas, and I’m glad he managed to win
    some difficult matches this year. He’s had a history of playing
    better than his ranking but then losing in 5 sets when he plays
    a higher-ranked player. But this year he won a 5-set match in
    the third round against Marin Cilic and a 4-set match in the
    quarter finals against Novak Djokovic, and played Roger Federer
    almost even on serve for two sets in the semi-finals.
  • Of
    course, one hopes that this is because he has his head together
    better and not because he’s changed his doping regime, but I
    don’t think we should be cynical about that without some
    evidence. This is of course what the tennis association hopes
    we’ll think, and the point of the article is that they’re
    refusing to test so that we won’t have any evidence to think
    with. That is, they’re testing only during the big tournaments,
    and apparently the doping that would be likely to help happens
    during training.
  • There are some good young American players coming up —
    18-year old Melanie Oudin qualified and made it to the fourth
    round, by beating sixth-seeded Jelena Jankovich in the third
    round, and the Men’s junior tournament had 3 Americans in the
    quarter-finals.
  • They really have to look at the computer program that
    determines the rankings. Nobody watching Dinara Safina (seeded first) play
    this year would believe that she should have been ranked above
    any of the next three seeds (Williams, Williams and
    Dementieva). What happens is that if you play lots of
    tournaments and get to the fourth round, it outranks playing
    fewer tournaments and winning them. And the fact that the
    Williams sisters (who play fewer tournaments) are still
    there and most of the people who’ve been ranked above them for
    the past 10 years aren’t should make them think about whether
    the rankings should be giving points for playing too much.