Category Archives: Politics

Was Sotherton Lying?

The limits of prediction.

Great Britain’s heptathlete comes fifth.

I am no expert on lie detectors but what if someone genuinely believes something which is wrong?

I am sure many politicians would be found to be telling the ‘truth’ but this is different as we have seen from being ‘right.’

See Sotherton polygraph test here.

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The Glory of Just Showing Up

For many small nations, the Olympic experience lasts only a few minutes

Aishath Reesha, a 19-year-old 800-meter runner, had just finished practice at the Chaoyang Sports Center, a proletarian track sequestered from the Olympic mobs. She sat with her back to a recently whitewashed wall, an ice-pack on her neck, and watched as a French sprinter sped past.

“We can’t compete with people from other worlds,” she said in a whisper. “I’m not scared. My goal is to better my personal best.”

Ms. Reesha is from Maldives, a group of atolls in the Indian Ocean with a population of 379,000, per capita income of $4,600, and a serious worry about being washed away. Her personal best in the 800-meter race is 2:32.97; the Olympic record is more than 38 seconds faster.

“We are not qualified for the Olympics,” said her coach, whose name is Ahmed Faail. He was standing over Ali Shareef, his 100-meter runner, who was on flat on his back with a leg in the air. Mr. Faail was helping him work out a kink. “In the heats there are people with a lot of experience,” he said. “We will not be winning heats.”

Among the 222 countries that have sent athletes to the modern Games since 1896, only 130 have brought a medal home.

What’s billed as a meet for the fittest in truth has a second division of schlumps. Every nation is encouraged with money and training programs to send one man and one woman, even if they don’t have a soul who qualifies. The IOC doesn’t tally how many of the 10,500 athletes here get in that way, but they appear to number at least in the hundreds. Most end up swimming or running, activities where being inept doesn’t automatically result in broken necks.

Olympic universality has bred a line of famous bunglers, from Wym Essajas of Suriname, who missed his 800-meter heat in 1960, to Eric Moussambani of Equatorial Guinea, who took nearly two minutes to swim 100 meters in 2000. Yet for all its promotion of participation, the IOC gives its losers no glory: Its history-packed Web site displays only winning countries and their medal counts.

Asked where to find lists of also-rans, an IOC press officer suggests sending an email to its information center. It’s the sort of reply that’s long griped a small international club of amateur statistics nuts calling themselves the Oly Madmen. Led by Bill Mallon, a shoulder surgeon in Durham, N.C., the Madmen have spent five years building an easy-to-manipulate database that comprises every run, jump, throw, dive and somersault in Olympic history. It folds in Hector Hatch’s ninth-place welterweight boxing tie for Fiji in 1956, and the 51st-place mixed-free-pistol finish Aferdita Tusha racked up for Albania in 1972. The Madmen have compiled the records of 110,000 Olympic athletes and are at work on thumbnail biographies for each one; so far, they’ve done 24,000. WSJ.

Bush and Volleyball Team

Presidential Business…

Olympics Security Is No Game

U.S. companies are supplying high-tech surveillance gear to the Beijing Olympics. The concern is how it might be used after the Games…

China is spending some $6.5 billion on security for the Games, and much of that has gone to foreigners. But given the sensitive nature of those contracts—and a skittishness over being perceived as supporting China’s authoritarian government—these companies are often reluctant to discuss what they’re doing or how much they’re making. “We want to avoid answering sensitive questions,” says a staffer in the Beijing office of Panasonic (MC), which has sold surveillance cameras for use at the Games.

That doesn’t mean these companies haven’t been aggressive in courting business. General Electric (GE), IBM (IBM), Honeywell (HON), Siemens (SI), Panasonic, and LG have all won major contracts providing security technology for the Olympics—one of the biggest security-business opportunities ever, and a shot at lots of ongoing business for those that get in early. The Chinese are laying out more than four times the $1.5 billion that Athens spent on security in 2004, says the Security Industry Assn., a Washington trade group.

Them and US

Who is ahead in the medals table?

The U.S. — actually its media, including The Wall Street Journal — ranks countries by all the medals a team wins. At the end of Tuesday’s competition in Beijing, the U.S. tops that table with 22, versus 20 for China. The rest of the world ranks countries by golds. Silver and bronze are used only as tie-breakers. By that tally, China sat atop the rankings, with 13 gold medals, compared with seven for the U.S. (Wednesday’s medal events will have added to all these numbers.)

“Most of the world wants it as gold, and that’s how we do it,” says Paul Radford, global sports editor of Britain’s Reuters wire service.

Full article and analysis from the WSJ.

Mask Attack

The US team has caused controversy (already) with members of the cycling team arriving in Beijing wearing black masks for protection from the smog.

The six male and female cyclists, one of whom was identified as track rider Mike Friedman, had their nose and mouth protected by the device, providing images for the world’s media that the International Olympic Committee and the Beijing organisers would not have wanted just three days before the Opening Ceremony.

A spokeswoman for the US cycling team denied their action was an organised protest. “I don’t believe there was any statement trying to be made,” she said.

Read more here.

What do you make of this?

It’s not about the ‘games’

For those who say that politics should be kept from the Olympics, they need to understand that it’s not about the games ‘stupid.’

Beijing began political. China is a Communist country. To host an Olympics, a nation must enter. Do you think Beijing did this without permission from the dictatorship? And do you think they agreed because they love their sport? Exactly…

Hence this from the FT:

Fund managers in China have been warned to watch what they say about the country’s stock market, in the latest manifestation of a pre-Olympic Chinese government crackdown on everything from Beijing weather to suspected terrorists.

In a bluntly worded notice distributed to fund managers, including foreign-Chinese joint ventures, China’s securities watchdog warned fund employees not to say anything publicly that could harm the stability of the market.

The China Securities Regulatory Commission, which issued the notice, did not make overt reference to the Olympics, but the message was not lost on local fund managers, who linked the notice to a broader effort to avoid market turmoil in the pre-Olympic period.

The notice warns fund managers of “20 risks” to be avoided in handling the release of information about the market, from protecting data security online, to vetting promotional material carefully, to monitoring public commentary.

“Fund company executives, fund managers and other important staff should be very careful about their speeches and blog content, which may cause market fluctuations,” the notice says, adding that companies should be cautious about holding public forums “which may cause market fluctuations”.