Sunday, February 21, 2010

Olympic Visions: Photos of Earth from space, the Games, Tale of the Tiger

Here's a truly Olympic vision. As the space background is almost
without light, it's hard to make out the key in the lower-left edge
of the picture. It allows you to see a sequence of sections of the
planet and other options, including ending the series. Kids will
love it, so show it to them and/or pass it on. What a world! -Ed

From: Pat Krommer

Dear everyone: The attachment is absolutely beautiful. Pat

From: Louise McDonald []
Sent: Saturday, February 20, 2010 12:08 PM
Subject: Photos of Earth from space

Dear Forum and Friends and Family,
This was sent to me by a girlfriend who I met when we were in 7th grade.
Just double-click on the attachment. Enjoy!


From: <moderator@PORTSIDE.ORG>

Has The Olympic Movement Outlived its Usefulness?

By Jean Damu
Portside: February 20, 2010

Halfway through the 2010 Winter Olympics it's time for the question,
"Do we really need this?"

There are many who might argue the spirit of the Olympics completely has
been subverted to the spirit of the dollar. We'll get to that.

The primary issue is with all the international competitions that now exist
and which virtually the
entire world watches via satellite television including the World Track and
Field Games, the World Baseball Classic, yearly Toure de France's, tennis
majors, golf majors, world figure skating competitions, Alpine skiing
competitions, the continuing internationalization of the NBA, the European
League's televised games, the World Cup, sports on ESPN 24 hours a day, the
Super Bowl, the NFL channel, the MLB channel, the NBA channel, the Major
League Hockey channel, the tennis channel, the PGA channel, the Big 10
channel, the Notre Dame network, the poker channel, the fishing channel, the
outdoors channel etc., etc., etc, who the hell needs the Olympics? Except
perhaps to divert attention from, God help us, the Tiger Woods apology or
from US sportscasters wondering if Brett Favre is going to retire or not.

The Olympics are now a quaint anachronism that in an earlier age brought a
distant and separated world together but never had any success in promoting
world peace, a goal the games never aspired to. In fact the original goal of
the reconstituted games in late 19th Century was just the opposite. An
original goal was to encourage European youth to better fitness in order to
bolster military bodies there.

The Olympics continue to be wonderful outlets for obscure sports or sports
such as sailing, equestrian events and even rowing that are maintained and
monopolized by the world's elites. It's a nice feather in their caps if they
have the opportunity to ship their horses or boats around the world in the
name of competing in the Olympics, but for everyone else it's a massive

Here is another question. "Where is all this going?"

In it's Jan. 31, 2010 broadcast "60 Minutes," devoted a segment to superstar
snowboarder Saun White.

White took 60 Minutes correspondent Bob Simon to his secret training
facility, a 500 foot pipe, located somewhere high up in the Rocky Mountains.
A pipe is a long, hollowed out beveled gorge, which allows the snowboarder
to skim from side to side making fantastic somersaults in the air. In fact
White's training facility is so remote it can only be reached by helicopter!
It was built and is maintained for him by his corporate sponsor Red Bull, a
so-called "energy drink."

White, the 2004 gold medalist in his sport as well, sits atop a
multi-million dollar empire from endorsements for a sport to which
only a very few of the world's youth have access. How is a kid from
the inner city ever going to challenge White?

Where or when did the Olympic spirit fade into insignificance and the spirit
of the dollars and advertising become uppermost?

Likely we'll never really know though some point to the 1976 Innsbruck,
Austria Winter Olympics. In a moment known as the "ca-ching heard `round the
world," Cindy Nelson, the US bronze medal winner in the downhill, as she was
being interviewed by ABC television, very deliberately and self-consciously
turned her skis around to reveal the name of the manufacturer, her sponsor,
thus indicating to all who might not have known, the real focus of Cindy's
effort was not her skill but the presence of the corporation paying her

This act, and the logic of it, they argue, helped to open the door for Peter
Ueberroth, head of the Olympic Organizing Committee for the 1980 Los Angeles
Games to sell the Olympics to the highest corporate bidders.

Others might point to the Mexico City Olympics when federal police opened
fire on Olympic protesters killing 25 of them and arresting 500 more.

More than half a century ago grade school kids (well some of the boys
anyway) secretly thumbed through their Street &Smith basketball magazines
while in class and dreamed of the distant possibility of pro basketball
players being allowed to play in the Olympics.

Decades later when the dream became a reality, as is often the case in life,
the dream was a huge disappointment. The gods of basketball then, Michael
Jordan and Magic Johnson, proved themselves mere celebrities and dollar sign
anti-dotes to the 1968 courageous Olympic protests of Tommie Smith and Jon

Charles Barkley was icing on the cake when he embarrassed us as he
needlessly humiliated and flattened an Angolan opponent during a game
in which the US won 116-48. The Dream Team proved to be crass and without

It is clear the Olympic ideal, sport for the sake of fair and uplifting
competition for men and women, is dead.

And with sports available to us 24 hours a day, who needs to try and
resuscitate it?


Tiger Woods: Brand Rehabilitation

By Dave Zirin
The Nation Blog: 2/20/2010

Today's Tiger Woods press conference was an exercise in painful
self-abasement that will achieve the opposite of its intended effect. I
haven't seen anything this painfully scripted since the Phantom Menace.

The same George W. Bush media advisers who gave us Mission Accomplished were
hired by Tiger to present the world with Emission Regretted.

There are right now two kinds of people on earth. Those who would die happy
if they never hear the name of Tiger Woods again and those who want their
pound of flesh. The people sick of the Tiger Woods drama could care less
about his marriage, his personal life, and today's awkward, script reading.
Those who want their pound of flesh, are itching for Tiger to do the
stations of the tabloid-cross: Oprah, tears, and "humility." "He owes us an
apology," they say. What they don't say is that an uncomfortable part of
this is as American as apple pie: a prurient obsession with black male
sexuality - particularly those African American men involved with sports.
From boxer Jack Johnson to Tiger Woods, a sex scandal is never so juicy as
when men of color are at the center of it.

Tiger is no Bill Clinton and he tried today, but the day's carefully
scripted message served to satisfy neither those sick of this story nor
people who like their reality television in-the-raw. Tiger spoke repeatedly
and vaguely about "never repeating the mistakes I made" and "running through
the boundaries of acceptable behavior." I'm sure he believes he humbled
himself, but the chum is now officially in the water. This particular chum
stinks to the haters and just makes the fanatics hungrier.

But both sides don't get the central dynamic of today's Seinfeld-like press
conference (it was about nothing). This is about brand rehabilitation for
the first billion dollar athlete. This was about game-planning to get Tiger
back on the course for the Masters in April. Apologies were forthcoming for
Tiger's business partners, as well as the people who "work for me" at Tiger
Woods, inc.

Now he returns to the "sexual addiction clinic in Mississippi" (to help
those wealthy men who get caught with their pants down. Men who aren't
caught need not apply).

The sad truth is that you could feel that Tiger Woods the man clearly wanted
to get up and say, "I publicly apologize to my wife and family who I have
publicly humiliated. To everyone else, it's none of your business." That
might have felt right to the Tiger the man, but today we saw what you do
when you're a brand before a man.

[Dave Zirin is the author of the forthcoming "Bad Sports: How Owners are
Ruining the Games we Love" (Scribner) Receive his column every week by
emailing Contact him at]

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