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Monday, August 8, 2005

Little Milton

grits ain’t groceries

posted by roj at 7:38 am  

Sunday, August 7, 2005

a modest proposal: cyclical olympics

once upon a time, the olympics were about sport. now the olmypics are about money, and that’s a problem, because talent is distributed more equitably than money.

the short version: break up the olympic games into multiple events with multiple hosts, and distribute the economics and attention to countries that otherwise can’t even hope to participate.

the long version:

i’ve seen estimates that with all the post-9/11 security fear built into the package, the 2004 Athens games cost something on the order of US$10 billion dollars (or more). i also watched, occasionally, the bid process for the 2012 London bid. that bid includes 5 billion and 13 billion in infrastructure, plus operating costs.

a billion here and there, and suddenly, it’s real money. and one of the problems i see with this ever-escalating cost-of-production for the ever-more-extravagant olympic games is that fewer and fewer countries can afford to even play in that league. looking at a list of nations arranged by gdp, and picking an arbitrary threshhold that no country can afford to spend more than 10% of their GDP on something like the olympic games (which i think is pretty generous), and an arbitrary cost-of-production of US$15 billion, that means only 36 nations qualify to host an olympic games by that [again, completely arbitrary] measure. looking at 2016 winter bids, the field is even thinner – just eight. then there’s the impact of geography. some sports require specific natural (as in not-man-made) infrastructure – for example, sailing requires… water. enough water to… sail on. skiing requires mountains. so that eliminates a number countries from the olympic bidding as well, just because they are land-locked or flat.

no problem, you might think. 8 bidders for one show is plenty to pick from… but, i’m thinking the olympics are about sports.

so here’s my proposal. multiple hosts over the four-year olympic cycle. break the games up by the sort of infrastructure they require, and let smaller countries capture some of that attention. bidding is closed for the 2014 winter olympics, so let’s start with the 2016 summer games.

using the current list of sports (which changes – softball getting dropped a such) we have 28 categories for the summer games and 7 for the winter games. the infrastructure requirements vary considerably. baseball, football – these are stadium-sized venues. gymnastics, judo, taekwondo, weightlifting, wrestling – these are arena-sized venues. aquatics requires pools. sailing requires oceans (or big lakes, i guess). skiing requires mountains.

what i’m proposing is that the games be split up into manageable chunks, grouped by common infrastructure, and that those groups be held periodically during the 2-year cycle for each of the games. you’d end up with something vaguely like this:

summer sports opening ceremony with football, pentathalon, triathalon and hockey (host country #1, august, 2016)
baseball and softball (host country #2, october, 2016 – yes, bring it back)
archery and shooting (host country #3, january, 2017)
aquatics (host country #4, april 2017)
badminton, basketball, handball, table tennis, tennis and volleyball (host country #5, july 2017)
cycling and equestrian (host country #6, october 2017)
boxing, fencing, judo, taekwondo and wrestling (host country #7, january 2018)
canoe/kayak, rowing and sailing (host country #8, april 2018)
and bring it home with
athletics, gymnastics, weightlifting and closing ceremony (host country #9, july 2018)

winter sports opening ceremony and hockey (host country #10, august, 2018 – yes, this means the southern hemisphere has an advantage)
biathalon (host country #11, january 2019)
skiing (host country #12, june 2019)
bobsleigh and luge (host country #13, december 2019)
curling (host country #14, may 2019)
and bring it home with skating (host country #15, july 2020)

obviously, this means that some “groups” (i.e., archery and shooting) require signficantly less expensive infrastructure than others (i.e., aquatics). and that means that some small, otherwise forgotten, country can step up and reach for a bit of olympic glory. i’d love to see even minimal coverage of a global-class sporting event brought to us via our 500-channel satellites and internet from haiti.

in addition to spreading the wealth (as it were – there is some debate on the economic return from hosting the olympics) and attention (i think more important) for the olympic games, this also allows expansion of both the number of participants and the types of sports. right now, participation in some sports is limited specifically because it takes too long to squeeze enough games into the “olympic period” of just a couple weeks. under this proposal, that’s just not a constraint. and there’s no reason someone can’t propose hosting the olympic yo-yo competition someday…

we can still have the grand-scale ceremonies and events, and should, but i don’t think there’s any reason not to give some nation in africa a decent chance to host something that fits in their national economy – even if it’s “just curling” or “just archery.”

it’s supposed to be global sport. make it global sport.

this is a modest proposal only in that it will completely upset a multi-billion-dollar institution and rock it to its core, and annoy many individuals and industries in the process.

this half-baked proposal brought to you by the business model of the hour. you may now shoot it full of holes (at 25 meters).

posted by roj at 8:12 am  

Saturday, August 6, 2005

make a bad situation a little better

you won’t find much about sport here, but this is about stepping up. this story will be everywhere, if it’s not already, but i thought i’d give up a little of my space to tip my hat (metaphorically) anyway.

Reds Comfort Stricken Man’s Grandson [ap via la times, 2005.08.05]

Cincinnati Reds players rallied around a 6-year-old boy after his grandfather collapsed in the stands this week.

“We just tried to make a bad situation a little better,” outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. told the Cincinnati Enquirer.

While paramedics were working on the grandfather, a security officer took the boy to the Reds’ bullpen. The Reds did not release the name of the grandfather, who died Wednesday night of an apparent heart attack.

The boy, identified as Antonio Perez, sat with players for the last two innings of the game, and Griffey went and got him when the game ended. The boy participated in the Reds’ high-fives celebrating their 8-5 victory over Atlanta, and he then joined the players in the clubhouse.

Clubhouse manager Rick Stowe said the Reds showered the boy with bats, wristbands and autographed baseballs. Shortstop Felipe Lopez gave him the batting helmet that he wore in this year’s All-Star game.

The players entertained the boy until his parents arrived.

posted by roj at 8:08 am  

Saturday, August 6, 2005

defending the constitution

perhaps there is hope for this experiment of america.

Judge John C. Coughenour on the sentencing of Ahmed Ressam

Okay. Let me say a few things. First of all, it will come as no surprise to anybody that this sentencing is one that I have struggled with a great deal, more than any other sentencing that I’ve had in the 24 years I’ve been on the bench.

I’ve done my very best to arrive at a period of confinement that appropriately recognizes the severity of the intended offense, but also recognizes the practicalities of the parties’ positions before trial and the cooperation of Mr. Ressam, even though it did terminate prematurely.

The message I would hope to convey in today’s sentencing is twofold:

First, that we have the resolve in this country to deal with the subject of terrorism and people who engage in it should be prepared to sacrifice a major portion of their life in confinement.

Secondly, though, I would like to convey the message that our system works. We did not need to use a secret military tribunal, or detain the defendant indefinitely as an enemy combatant, or deny him the right to counsel, or invoke any proceedings beyond those guaranteed by or contrary to the United States Constitution.

I would suggest that the message to the world from today’s sentencing is that our courts have not abandoned our commitment to the ideals that set our nation apart. We can deal with the threats to our national security without denying the accused fundamental constitutional protections.

Despite the fact that Mr. Ressam is not an American citizen and despite the fact that he entered this country intent upon killing American citizens, he received an effective, vigorous defense, and the opportunity to have his guilt or innocence determined by a jury of 12 ordinary citizens.

Most importantly, all of this occurred in the sunlight of a public trial. There were no secret proceedings, no indefinite detention, no denial of counsel.

The tragedy of September 11th shook our sense of security and made us realize that we, too, are vulnerable to acts of terrorism.

Unfortunately, some believe that this threat renders our Constitution obsolete. This is a Constitution for which men and women have died and continue to die and which has made us a model among nations. If that view is allowed to prevail, the terrorists will have won.

It is my sworn duty, and as long as there is breath in my body I’ll perform it, to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. We will be in recess.

posted by roj at 12:44 am  

Friday, August 5, 2005

Abed Hamed Mowhoush

by american hands

posted by roj at 7:05 am  

Monday, August 1, 2005



posted by roj at 7:14 am  
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