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PostPosted: Sat Sep 06, 2008 4:34 pm 
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Nick the Bookman has been composing his Magnum Opus since the end of the Beijing Olympics, emailing it to me in installments. It might take a few more weeks or months to complete, if ever. Here are the first 3 installments, written in his own, unique, inimitable style, I haven't edited them yet.

Enjoy! I'm sure he'd love some feedback in this forum or directly to nick.bookman -at- gmail.com.

The Olympic Games, Beijing 2008

A Meditation On Reality And Perception, or How I Enjoyed the Olympics 2008

Chapter 1

OK, we on? Right, here are the ground rules. This story is being constructed on two levels: Mostly real-time chronology with notes written in hectic haste over a fortnight. Also, reconstruction after the event where I reserve the right to surf the timestream, dipping in and out of the eternal now. It's being written in several sessions, starting 26-8-08. ("You pretentious git! You're just doing it to wank around with the Rules of Writing and justify sloppy research!" "Well, yes, but it's gonna be a wild and fun ride. Hang ten in there dudes and babes!")

It's four days before the start of the Beijing Olympics 2008 and a glitch has occurred, disturbing the even serenity of my countdown to entry into The Realm Of The Couch Potato. The TV and DVD have made some sort of unholy electro-suicide pact and basically, died. Yes, the Ghost has left the Machine. The Micro has cashed in its Chip. They've departed for Silicon Heaven. Bother! Cue, small rant, but I avoid the temptation to kick them to pieces so they'll work again. Time to go shopping...mission accomplished. Everything works, but no spare cash to upgrade to digital. So I'm restricted to lo-def tv reception on ATV World, ATV Home, TVB Pearl and TVB Jade. Plus some babble on the BBC in the morning. Research materials comprise the daily Olympics section in the SCMP and the 2001 Guinness Book of World Records. I've filled 3 notebooks with semi-incoherent gonzo scribbles which I'll now try to cobble together in some sensible manner. I think I know how it will come out...over a fortnight mashed into the couch and a chipper ending.

China has spent seven years preparing for their big Coming Out Party. They've built the Birds Nest Stadium and the adjacent Water Cube. Two stunning examples of 21st century architecture and hi-tech design. They're contained within The Olympic Green, along with the Olympic Village, the main Press Centre, the Fencing Hall, the Indoor Stadium (for handball and gymnastics) and venues for the soccer, water pole and modern pentathlon. The tennis, archery and hockey venues are adjacent to the Village. There's a huge forest area, landscaped and cultivated to perfection. The entire site, which runs down a historic north-south axis, is 1,135 hectares. That's roughly 4 times the size of Monaco, or the Vatican State. The estimated cost of construction and renovation is about 12 billion yuan, or 13.7 billion HK dollars. The land was pretty much commandeered by "divine decree" (tough luck wrinklies and peasants. We've got a nice Potemkin Village for you to move to and don't dare complain). The final few months were plagued by concerns over air pollution. Unrest in Tibet came to the boil, followed by a brutal crackdown. There was a severe late winter which paralysed the southern part of the country, to be followed in May by the disastrous Sichuan Earthquake. In the midst of this, the Burmese Generals showed their kind and caring side as the country was devastated by widespread floods and near-tsunami 2004 death tolls. Protests greeted the Olympic Torch relay in Athens, London, Paris and San Francisco. Another chilly reception awaited on top of Mount Everest, but everything was stage-managed to perfection when the Torch Relay touched down on home soil. Hong Kong did its bit for the Motherland, turning out in huge numbers for the Relay's appearance in HK . Although, the police thought it necessary to arrest a few pro-Tibet supporters for their own good and safety.

Time to jump ahead to the Opening Ceremony. It began at 2008 (ie at 8 minutes past 8 in the evening on August the 8th, 2008. So the figures line up as 2008/8/8/2008. Lucky Chinese number symbolism). It was a stunning affair and I got so caught up in watching it all that I didn't make any notes. June's European Soccer Championships were a pre-taste in hindsight. Those gigs were held in daylight, so no elegant laser displays. The Ceremonies were about one-tenth scale, Performers used cubes and cards to form shapes, designs and logos. Very Busby Berkeley from the awesome aerial shots. The cameras swooping and dipping and flowing above the pitch. The release of several hundred multi-coloured balloons from some hi-tech tepee/traffic cone contraptions. Way to go, Austria and Switzerland! I watched the Olympics Opening Ceremony on ATV World because Kiwi commentator Keith Quinn was doing the talking. He's a veteran of several HK 7's and really knows his stuff. He tells you what you want to know (even if you didn't) when it's important. The TVB Pearl crew seem a bit disorganised and behind the action. Though TVB does have subtitles for President Hu Jintan's speech, which ATV doesn't do. ATV's picture quality is also better for a change. The TVB images are a bit scruffy and washed out. Welcome to Lo-Def TV.

The first part of the show depicted China's history. Tributes to the invention of scrolls, writing and printing. Praise for famous travellers and the invention of the compass. A section depicting the Rise of the Great Wall. A massive firework show to glorify the invention of gunpowder (possibly a bit of a dodgy tribute there, considering the global consequences since). The arts were honoured. Opera and ethnic music. Calligraphy and printing and painting all took a bow. Over 2,000 performers on the field. Drummers, singers, acrobats, high-wire workers (looking like they were auditioning for The Matrix or Crouching Tiger). Lang Lang played a white grand piano, accompanied by a young girl, later reported to be a good-looking ringer, lip-synching to the actual singer who was not deemed pretty enough. Not that this is a unique Milli Vanilli moment. Apparently the Sydney Symphony Orchestra "instrument-synched" to music played by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in 2000.

An enormous globe rises from the field to signify One World, One Dream. Some of the acrobats are tethered upside down. The sounds and lighting effects are jaw dropping. Visuals of past glorys are running on LED panels around the rim of the Bird's Nest. Firework footprints bloom in the night sky, leading to the Stadium. They're later revealed to be computer-enhanced visuals. Displays form the interlinked Olympic rings logo and other geometric shapes. Steven Spielberg is conspicuous by his absence...

The award-winning Chinese Director Zhang Yimou is firmly in charge of this spectacle. He's castigated for his "hubris" a couple of days later by Trevor Lunn of Pokfulam in a letter to the SCMP. Mr. Lunn compares his arrogance to that of "David" Cameron declaring himself "King of the World" at the 1997 Oscars. "David" Cameron has now slipped from those lofty heights to being the mere leader of Britain's opposition Conservative Party. Meanwhile, JAMES Cameron, the Director and self-styled "King of the World" is making a stunning new 3-D sci-fi epic called "The Avatar. I think his interest in filming The Conservatives is lower than sand crab shit on the seabed of the Marianas Trench. Sloppy editing by the SCMP subs or maybe they're making some subtle ironic point that escapes me? A later episode shows a photo of a disabled ball girl (can't find her name) at the US Open. The photo is not reversed. Her right leg is a hi-tech prosthetic, similar to those worn by South African runner Oscar Pretorious, who was ruled out of competing in Beijing, unless it's at the Paralympics. The story says she lost her left leg as an infant. Amputated because of multiple defects. What to believe?

Next is the March of the Athletes. Basically, 205 countries, states, kingdoms, republics and protectorates are taking part. One country (I forget which) fails to muster in time and is left out of the procession. Greece enter first (no doubt as punishment for dreaming up the Games originally. Make them stand the longest in the centrefield!). After that countries enter in any old order, conforming to the Chinese "alphabetical" system. HK is quite early. The USA is near the end with former Sudanese runner/immigrant Lopez Lomong proudly holding the Stars and Stripes. China comes in last - the prerogative of the host nation. Basketball superstar Yao Ming carries the flag. He's accompanied by a young boy - a hero from the Sichuan Earthquake who ignored personal danger to rescue his classmates. I think there are over 9,000 athletes taking part overall.

A minor quibble is there is no split screen to show the progress of the Torch towards the Bird's Nest. Only the last 5 runners are shown within the stadium. The surprise final bearer is veteran gymnast Li Ning - now a resident of Hong Kong. He's been practising his part in secret for weeks and at night. He gets lifted aloft with the Torch bravely flickering to near-extinction and runs about 500 metres around the lip of the Bird's Nest to light a huge torch. Neo in The Matrix couldn't have done it any better, but it's hard maintaining the illusion of running in space while tipped sideways, and hanging about 70 metres high. Some people think it's the biggest torch to date. I think the Cauldron in Seoul 1988 was vaster. It certainly flashfried a lot of doves of peace! Muhammad Ali's ravaged appearance from Parkinson's Disease in Atlanta 1996 was the most emotional torch-lighting of recent Olympiads, although Australia would plump for aboriginal 400 metres runner Cathy Freeman as their fave-rave.

Chapter 2

Meanwhile, things aren't going too well in the real world. The American and Russian Presidents are in Beijing and have already had a brief chat. "Mad Vlad the Bad Cad" Putin has unveiled his new rad fad to the future former Most Powerful Man in the World. I think it went something like this..."Hey Dipshit. We're invading Georgia tomorrow. FUCK YOU! And your Missile Defence System"... Putin is quite a piece of work isn't he? Let's see. A former KGB head thug. The poisonous spawn of Yuri Andropov, "Put-On" claims he never got his hands "wet", but was only an administrator. He's turned off Ukraine because they didn't want to pay an inflated power bill. He's jailed the top bankers/oil men on possible trumped up corruption charges. He's let the Maffiya run the black market economy unimpeded. He was responsible for gassing the hostages and terrorists in the Moscow Opera House, without having the antidote handy. He screwed up the Belsen School Hostage Crisis by delaying 3 days before sending in the troops. He's fostered an inferior identi-clone on the country, taking a page out of Poodle the Bliar's handbook. He's a man whose soul is clearly visible to the American Lame Duckya leader.

Now, he's invaded Georgia, possibly as some demented tribute to "Kindly Uncle Joe" Stalin, who remains forever as Georgia's most infamous native son. A ruthless sociopath with approximately 18 million deaths, not pricking his conscience. (The late Great Helmsman Mao Tsetung remains Top of the Chops with an estimated 20 million plus. Mostly from his experiments in Social Upheaval. He also helped re-introduce "long pig" into Chinese cuisine during the worst excesses of the Cultural Revolution). Meanwhile, Putin's still talking. "...Defence System. And don't send "Timeshare" Condo(leeza) here or I'll get my good pal, the President of Bezerkistan to boil her head in oil!"

Does this woman have a world class pedigree in pissing off other VIPs or what? Can you hear them saying "Who is this hectoring, jumped-up, over-promoted Teacher? Who is this Uppity Tar-Baby lecturing us with the Forked Tongue of Breath-taking Hypocrisy? Who is this malign Omarosa with a thwarted passion for Moronya, beating vapidly in her callow breast?" She's Bush Reich in a nutshell: DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO. Poor Madelaine Allbright must be appalled at what this classic example of Upward Failure has done to the prestige of the post of Secretary of State. Meanwhile, the news seems to have upset the US Lunatic-in-Chief so much that when offered an opportunity to caress the creamy, pert buttocks of American beach volleyball player Misty May-Treanor, he can only fumble gracelessly at her lower back. And this takes place while "Treasonous" Dick Cheney is (quietly) in charge of the country.

Time to go surfing. As I write this, "Treasonous" is visiting Georgia with promises of support and massive aid. If Sakaashvili was wily and ruthless enough, he'd have Cheney assassinated. ("Wasn't me. Why would I bump off some guy who's gonna give me a billion bucks in arms and aid? It's all Putin's fault. Don't believe his denials"). Imagine watching that on live primetime. Can you feel a tidal wave of undiluted joy encircling the world? ("Fuck! Fucking fucker's fucked!" "What?, who?" "Cheney! He just got "splashed" in Georgia". "Well, when you're involved in "wet work" with scumbags"). Aaarghh! Enough! Let's get into the sports now.

The first week of the Olympics comprises the swimming and some of the team gymnastics. I've had a soft spot for the swimmers for a long time. I was on the fringes of the HK Olympic Swimming Squad in 1968. Trained alongside some other swimmers who made the Mexico Games. I wasn't quite good enough. My best time for the 100 metres freestyle was about 64 seconds - about 3 seconds or so outside the qualifying time. I did swim for HK in a meet against the Philippines once. Managed not to drown. When working for ATV (1974-1980) I had the privilege of interviewing Mark Spitz, the superstar of the Munich Olympics of 1972. I also interviewed Jim Montgomery, the American swimmer who set a world record of 49.99 secs for the 100 metres freestyle in Montreal 1976. Jim was a guest of honour at the soon-to-be-ended Cross-Harbour Swim from Tsim Sha Tsui to Central. What golden and innocent days they were. Imagine being able to swim in the harbour. Now, it's so built-up, you could probably cross it with a triple jump. Or a pole vault. Obviously, this is poetic license. You'd most likely bounce off all the crap in the water. Mark Spitz is the Memory Man of the Beijing Olympics. His record of 7 Gold Medals and 7 World Records is considered under serious threat by American sensation Michael Phelps. Young Michael's job has been made easier by the premature retirement of Aussie fishman, Ian "Thorpedo" Thorpe because of dubious and unproved allegations of drug cheating. Phelps is trying for an unprecedented 8 Gold Medals, possibly with 8 World Records to boot. His first race is scheduled for Sunday,10-8-08 - the second day of competition and third overall.

After a bright start watching the OC on ATV World, it's TVB Pearl who are taking the Olympics seriously. Their crack team of commentators are Don Bozarth (DB), Andrew Sams (AS), Kiki Stensgaard (KS), and Brendan Telfer (BT). They interchange a lot, which helps to keep things fresh and lively. They also blow ATV World out of the water. To put it frankly, ATV's coverage is a joke. And near non-existent at that. They do quite a good review with former HK soccer player Tim Bredbury on the Main News. They also have a 30 minute round up late at night, which features way too much, fencing, rowing, shooting, judo and weightlifting for my taste. Not enough glamour, but it's these sports in which China excels. They head the medal table after Day One with 2 Golds only - one in Women's 48 kg weightlifting and the other for Men's 10 metre air pistol The USA is in overall lead with 3 medals, one of each. China was expected to snatch a third Gold, but favourite Du Li could only finish fifth in the Women's 10 metre air rifle The Gold went to Katerina Emmons of the Czech Republic. Her American husband Matt achieved notoriety in Athens 2004 by shooting at the wrong target and screwing up his gold medal chances. Hope he doesn't melt-down again this time.

The shocking news of Day One (by which I mean the FIRST day of competition, following the preceding evening's Opening Ceremony) is the fatal knifing of American tourist Todd Bachman by deranged Chinaman Tang Yongming. Tang, who also severely injured Mrs. Barbara Bachman and a Chinese tour guide, leapt to his death from the 13th Century Drum Tower in the heart of Beijing. His motives remain unclear. Todd Bachman was the father-in-law of Hugh McCutcheon the Kiwi head coach of the US Men's volleyball team. A tragedy, invoking unwelcome flashbacks to the bomb blast at the Olympic Park at Atlanta 1996, which killed two people and wounded dozens of others. A lot of Bad Stuff has impinged on the Olympics over the decades.

Chapter 3

In 2004, it was the ongoing saga of drug cheats. Greek athletes were prominent in getting kicked out for cheating or not attending mandatory tests. Whole weightlifting teams used to vanish overnight after testing positive. Same in 2000 when Marian Jones strutted her funky stuff in a "high" state of excitement. Denied it for years, got caught in the Balco scam, confessed, had her 5 medals seized, did six months slam time for perjury, (released today as I write) and her records were erased from the books. Her ex-husband,Tim Montgomery is facing serious jail time for dealing in smack. There are numerous unknown others as well. 1992 wasn't so bad. I think the Basque Separatists, ETA, called a truce for the Barcelona Games so as not to scare away the tourists and their money.

The three Olympics in the Eighties saw the blurring of politics and sports. In 1988, Ben Johnson ran a then world record 9.79 seconds for the Men's 100 metres. He was ripped to the tits on Stanazopol. Cocky Carl Lewis was promoted from silver. Recently revealed confidential reports say Carl had unexplainable (in the sense that the authorities didn't try. They covered it up) traces of Bad Stuff in his system, but "Hey, he's our Great Black Hope, you know..." Moscow 1980 and Los Angeles 1984 were tit-for-tat boycotts. Jimmy Carter pulled The Free World out because the USSR invaded Afghanistan in 1979. You'd think by now the message would have sunk in. Afghanistan. Bad and primitive place. Very macho. Lots of torture. Stay the fuck away. It's the lure of all those poppies I guess. All those narcobucks and control of a strategic region. But, hey world, you weren't invited over to trash the place. You're worse than Leatherface and his Sawyer kin going head to head with Animal House. We only want to live in peace. To raise our children in a risible religion to blow themselves up. To have sexual congress with our farm animals. To emulate America.

Anyway, in 1984 the SovBloc decided to retaliate against the West's decision to let them win almost everything in Moscow. They cited security as the reason for pulling out, but in truth, they couldn't beat the drug tests. Hell, they probably couldn't pass the gender tests in most cases. So they stayed home and sulked and probably created three or four new sexes in the interim. Black African nations pulled out of Montreal 1976 because New Zealand had sent a rugby union team to tour South Africa, thus breaking the Cultural/Sports embargo. Rugby Union wasn't even an Olympic sport anymore. It was kicked into touch after 1928. Amusingly enough, the United States are the reigning Olympic Rugby champs,beating France (check score) in the last final to date. Then of course, there was Munich 1972...

Munich is probably the most notorious Olympiad since Berlin 1936. A rap I'm sure the Germans would love to expunge from history. Eleven dead Israeli athletes and officials, killed by the Arab terrorist group, Black September. Some died early in the hostage drama, the rest in a bungled rescue by West German security forces. The autocratic Avery Brumbage (usually nicknamed Avery Umbrage for his hostility towards deviation from the Olympic Spirit and Charter) decreed 24 hours of mourning and then, hey, the show must go on. He was an early role model for Juan Savaranch and the other Lords of the Rings. Corrupt to the cores of their cellular structure.

Hong Kong has an interesting sidebar to the story. The famous photo of the balaclava-wearing terrorist on the balcony was shot by an ATV cameraman. The HK delegation was in the same building as the Israelis. The HK Olympic head, A de O "Sonny" Sales persuaded the terrorists to let the HK athletes and officials exit unscathed. They agreed, possibly thinking why cause more shit than we can handle. Of course, this was the Dawn of Terror, where hijackers would negotiate and blow up empty airplanes as a sign of good faith. Hostage and prisoner swaps were common. I remember flying back to London from HK in September 1970 and being told upon safe arrival that the only other BOAC flight from the Asian/Mid-east region had been hijacked. That was the Leila Khalid incident. We knew less about the drama than the rest of the world. I was on my way to boarding school (Milton Abbey in Dorset) and it was my first trip to England since 1963 when all the family, except Dad, lived in Liverpool through the worst snowstorms of my life. I found out much later I was less than 3 miles away from The Cavern where the Beatles were refining/tidying up their act after raunchy excesses on the Reeperbahn. So near and yet so young... (Hey, Nick, this is all fucking fantastic, you know, but when do we get to the sports shit?)

Mexico, 1968 began with the army massacring over 400 students and workers in the main square of Mexico City. Top that for a prelude. John Carlos and Tommy Smith electrified the world with their Black Power salutes on the winner's dais. On the field, Dick Fosbury pioneered the Fosbury Flop in the high jump while Bob Beamon still holds the Olympic Record for the long jump. 8.90 metres or 29 feet, 2.5 inches. An extraordinary feat. He broke the world record by more than two feet. It was his first and only jump in the final. It wasn't until 1995 that fellow-American Mike Powell leapt 8.95 metres or 29 feet, 4.5 inches to take this most coveted of records. Cue much bad feeling and plain rudeness from Cocky Carl Lewis who intimated that Powell must have flying on something. There's something rather mean-spirited about Carl Lewis. His prissy hissing fits. His tight-arsed petulance and thin lipped annoying pouts. His egotism. Is he worried that everyone thinks he's gay and repressed and a sore loser? Is that a faint echo of yes-yes-yes circling the globe?

There were other Olympics. Melbourne 1956, shortly after those pesky Commies invaded Hungary, nominally a Soviet satrap. Retribution came swiftly when Hungary and Russia met in the men's water polo. I think Hungary won, but it's certain both sides lost...a lot of blood in the pool. And then there was Berlin. 1936. Adolf Hitler's deluded plan to convince the world that Germany was fun-loving and peaceful and with a Wagnerian adoration of outsize architecture. The concentration camps were already up and running. The Olympic sites were almost like VVIP Suites where the great and good could mingle, oblivious to the Fascist backdrop permeating the rest of Berlin and its environs. It took a poor black American athlete, less than an hour to stick a fork into Hitler's myth of Aryan Superiority. Jesse Owens was the star of the Games and the human face behind the pomp and glory. He set four world records in the 100 metres, long jump, the 4 x 100 metre relay and (check it later). His closest friend at the Games and most competitive rival was Hans Lutz (check name again) - the pin-up boy for blond, blue-eyed Aryans. Hans didn't give a shit for Hitler's theories. His friendship was real, warm, based on mutual respect and lasted until his death in World War Two.

Goodness me. This has been rather a long and meandering rant-cum-ramble. Excuse me folks. I seem to have drifted off in a haze of platitudes and hyperwaffle from the Opening Orators. It's time to get down and dirty and dish up the sports factoids you've all been patiently waiting for. At Beijing 2008, there are 28 different sports. A total of 302 Gold Medals will be awarded. Probably 302 Silver and 302 Bronze as well. I'm sure they make more in case there's a tie on time or points and no sudden death allowed, Except in Georgia. Apparently a Gold Medal contains 6 grams of gold, Not sure of the equivalent ratios in the Silver and Bronze Medals. The Equestrian events, which are being held here in Hong Kong, are the only ones with a dress code of "white tie and tails" (so to speak). They're the only events in which men and women compete together. Princess Anne is the ONLY competitor in history who has NEVER been subject to a sex test. Probably because it might have proved her to be a centaur. Her father once famously said that she wasn't interested in anything unless it ate hay or she could ride it. That didn't dissuade her first husband, Mark "Fog" Phillips though. Their daughter, Zara, withdrew from this Olympics at a late stage, due to injury. And that's about all the Equestrian coverage that I intend to have.

to be cont'd...

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Last edited by Lamma-Gung on Fri Oct 17, 2008 10:28 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2008 5:03 pm 
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Chapter 4

Met Lamma-Gung in town (Sep 6, 2008) and asked if he got the latest extract. He said, it's up on the Forum. That jacks up the pressure now. This gig started as a story in serial form. Cut because of time constraints and not due to dramatic suspense. A work-in-progress, getting longer and being tweaked as well. Now, it's a blog-a-thon. And it's mutating rather like one of my more oddball NixNipperMixes. Thanks for your help, Nipper. We did the work at his (Danger! Invasion of Privacy Alert! Do Not Proceed Fuurther!) So, I'm looking at this ever-unfurling epic in musical storage terms. The first section can be likened to a 7 inch single with a running time of between two and eight minutes per side. The second section is a 12 inch LP or dance mix single. Running time of between 10 - 35 minutes. The third section is a CD with a total playing time of up to 79 minutes and 59 seconds. Or 80 minutes and 1 second in the case of an old Mission Of Burma release which proudly stated it broke 80 minutes. Not sure how as I haven't heard it. Later sections will move into DVD territory with running times of one hour to five/six hours depending on the special features. By the time this tale is told, I'm sure we'll be up to gigabytes, terabytes and possibly petabytes of information storage. Way to go, electronic future flow!

I'm jacking the pressure right back at you LG. What else is missing from this piece? How about Video-Links (ta, da!, trumpet fanfare etc). Yeah, let's provide hyperlinks to everything of interest in this story. Watch the specific races as I write about them. Reduce this story to a silent commentary or "Chinglish" sub-titles. Let's light this sucker up like an Xmas e-tree. (Do you think we can copyright this idea?. What an advance.... You say, it's been done all over the Interweb already?... Been going longer than a Dubya drug binge?... Since before he stopped telling the truth?. Oh well. As they say in Spacetime real estate, it's all about location and opportunity...) Yes, technology is improving. We're getting better at putting More into Less, The Holy Grail is in sight. Everything into Nothing. And The Big Bang in reverse occurs! !srucco esrever ni gnaB giB ehT daA . Welcome to Typewriter Universe. It's a closed set with six variables. I can write Words and Sentences backward, but I can't write the Letters backward. I can write Letters, Words and Sentences forward. Assign - to Backward. + to Forward. Here's what we get in Typewriter Universe:

-W/ -S/ -L/ An impossible sub set.
-W/ -S/ +L/ A possible sub set
-W/ +S/ +L/ A possible sub set
+W/ +S/ +L/ A possible sub set
+W/ +S/ -L/ An impossible sub set
+W/ -S/ -L/ An impossible sub set

So, I cannot access any of the sub sets which contain -L/. The other two symbol sets mean I can write Words and Sentences backwards and backwards. Or backwards and forwards. Slightly different realities I'm sure you would agree.. What does all this mean? I've no fucking idea. It's a dream doodle. Elegant in its construction of assymetrical triplicities that devolve into a duality And what is within the impossible subsets? Nothing? No. Everything? Perhaps. Somethings? Yes. For example, the square root of minus one dwells there. The world's second largest number is contained herein. The Oddities, Grotesqueries and Deformities of Maths are present. Seven-sided parallelograms. Triangles that form more than 180 degrees. Hyper-cubes in six, nine or 27 Dimensions. The terminal point of parallel lines. The end of Pi.

Let's consider the rhetorical question: How High Is Up? It's indeterminate in its vagueness isn't it?. Yet, mathematically there are TRILLIONS of correct answers. One for every body of matter in the Totality of the STC in fact. How High Is Up? Up Stops Where Out Starts! That's the boundary between gravitational attraction and freefall. There's an exact, yet blurry point where surface escape velocity is achieved from Earth. Ditto, the Moon, Jupiter, Sol, the supergiant stars like Antares, Betelgeuse and Rigel. That's the lower limit. The upper limit is where lightspeed meets a Singularity. Where the gravity is so strong not even light can escape. There's also the possibility of more... What's within a Singularity? Maybe a tachyonic Universe/Existence/Dimension where light speed is the lowest level of acceleration. And for another twist in the tale, consider this: The Speed Of Light Is Not Constant. It travels at 186,282 miles per second in a vacuum. It goes about 80,000 miles per second through a diamond. A Harvard Science team slowed light down to about 38 miles per hour after passing it through sodium at -272 degrees Centigrade. In the year 2000, the same team STOPPED light by shining it into a "bec" (a Bose-Einstein Condensate) of the element rubidium.

A "bec" occurs when an element is cooled down to within a fraction of a degree of Absolute Zero (-273 Centigrade) and weird shit starts happening. Einstein predicted its existence in 1925 after studying the work of Satyendra Nath Bose. The first "bec" wasn't manufactured until 1995. Einstein's original manuscript was rediscovered in 2005. And you can forget about simple things like the Three States of Matter (i.e. solid, liquid and air.) The latest research indicates at least 15 different states: Solid. Amorphous solid. Liquid. Gas. Plasma. Superfluid. Supersolid. Degenerate Matter. Neutronium. Strong Symmetric Matter. Weak Symmetric Matter. Quark-Gluon Plasma. Fermionic Condensate. Bose-Einstein Condensate and Strange Matter. I guess that once CERN's Large Hadronic Collider is up and running, more states of "Being and Division" will be found in the attempt to recreate The Big Bang.

Thanks to The Book of General Ignorance by John Lloyd and John Mitchison for those snippets of trivia....

gotta go now so this is t.b.c.

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Last edited by Lamma-Gung on Fri Oct 17, 2008 10:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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don't they mean the speed of light in a vacuum is a constant unlike a bus etc

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I don't know nobby; what is the speed of light in your head?


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What an utter load of tripe! Has a drunk spider crawled over Nick's keyboard, or something? How did this guy ever appear on HK TV?


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I'll forward your comments to Nick. I'm sure he'll be flattered.
If you'd actually LIKE what he writes then he'd probably be deeply worried...

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 Post subject: Errr...
PostPosted: Thu Sep 25, 2008 11:43 am 
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Why would we weant to read the muddled ramblings of some bloke who spent the Olympics thousands of miles from Beijing when we can read in the newspapers the accounts of good writers who were actually there?

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Definitely psychedelic. The question is - what induced it?


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2008 8:22 pm 
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Quote:
The question is - what induced it?

And where can we get some?

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2008 10:34 pm 
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Basically, our Space Time Continuum came into existence about 13.7 billion years ago. It is expanding faster than indicated, but no one is sure why. My theory is that our STC is one of umpteen that have formed over a a near infinite time span. There's this big ball of black nothing or so it appears. Down on the quantum level it's divided into a seething mass of "superstrings" and "membranes" forming different dimensions of existence and reality. The 'membranes" are the boundaries, rubbing against each other, causing friction and heat and rifts in the "nothing". Sort of like bubbles fomenting and popping in and out of existence like boiling water in a pot. Our STC began with a single ejaculatory drip and gradually increased in output. Our little solar system came into existence about 5 billion years ago, or about 8.7 billion years after the Primal Drip. Newer proto-stars and other forms of matter are still being made. They're younger than we are which means the Big Bang Is Continuing. The static you see on your television, if it's tuned between channels, is the non stop background whisper of creation. I don't know how you envisage the shape of our STC. I tend to think of it as a teardrop. The rift that occurred runs vertically and the Primal Drip came out horizontally. At a right angle ( 90 degrees), expanding and spreading between 45 degrees and 135 degrees. Like a man standing upright and firing a shot gun at waist height directly in front of him. Doesn't have to happen like that of course. It could be a man who's upside down and tilted to 227 degrees. The Primal Drip can be coming left-to-right. Front-to-back. Diagonally top-to-bottom. Or mirror images. Any direction within the 360 degrees of a circle. The only constant is that the ejection flow will move away from the rift. So, why can't we have another STC about 100 billion years away from us, but moving on an intersection course with us? Or one million years ahead of us and exerting a gravitational pull on our STC, increasing red shift among the most distant stars, galaxies etc.? This process has been going on for Infinity Minus One. So. basically, there are countless STC's, pre-dating and post-dating the existence of our local STC. Our STC might be likened to a single droplet falling into a crater. There are other droplets which form a small puddle. The puddle gets larger and overflows into other puddles/pools. They merge into a stream branching into a river which becomes a delta leading to an ocean. That's where we are. Of course, you can carry this further with evaporation and moisture rising into the clouds which lead to rain which leads to the single droplet.... And so on, so on, so on.

There's apparently trouble brewing on a smaller scale than the Universe. Russian geophysicists have reported that our Solar System (possibly extending out to the Oort Clouds and including the recently discovered Planet X or 10) has entered an interstellar energy cloud which is destabilizing "Ole Sol" and the planets' atmospheres. Catastrophic results are expected to occur between 2010 - 2020. Meanwhile the Sun has been throwing some of its biggest tantrums in twelve millennia. That's when the last Big Ice Age ended, allowing mankind to flourish. As the late humorist Will Rogers once pointed out: "Civilization is what we call the period between Ice Ages". Some of the worst solar activity on record fell in early 2005 when sunspot activity was meant to be at the lowest end of the 11-year cycle. This of course led to Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Wilma and several others. Better get out the Sunblock 5000 when the solar cycle peaks in 2012, folks.

The existence of countless STC's is all fun speculation. Unprovable at present, but not impossible. It's a level more coherent and plausible than religious belief which is irrational and illogical. Which part of the Pantheon of Gods do you hanker to follow? Off the top of my head there are Norse, German, Greco-Roman, Egyptian, Indian, Chinese and other Asians, Australian, Polynesian and Micronesian and Native American. All possibly more fun than the Big Two. Christianity versus Islam. Both responsible for millenia of misery for the human race. The First Commandment in each case is designed solely to perpetuate the authority/heirarchy of the ruling establishment. Basically, you pray to who we tell you to. Some of the Ten Commandments are good pointers to moral behaviour, but you don't have to be religious to be moral. But you can be a fundamental fuckwit and lose all morality. BushReich springs to mind. So does Tony Bliar. A man who has redefined Samuel Johnson's aphorism that "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel". In his case, substitute "religion" for "patriotism" and well, he's on his second team now. Playing for the Catholics. I wonder if the Pope received his confession ("Yes, I'm a liar and a war criminal among other things"). Private Eye has neatly skewered TB during his imperial reign on earth. They called him The Vicar of St. Albion's Parish. This man got Britain into FIVE wars during his decade of misrule. There were airstrikes against Iraq in 1998. Kosovo in 1999. A brief skirmish in Sierra Leone in 2000. Afghanistan in 2001 (in response to 9-11) and Iraq (again) in 2003 How many were justified? Up to you to decide. Why did he do it? John Kampfner discusses the matter in his excellent book "Blair's Wars". He says it was due to a "combination of self-confidence and fear. A mixture of Atlanticism (the US/UK Special Relationship), Evangelism and Gladstonian idealism. These policies were pursued through murky means leading to a damaging combination of naivety and hubris", The Poodle's downfall can be traced back to the death of Princess Diana when he took on the Royal Family and embarassed them into responding to the grief of the country. But, let's not get into the Royal Family now. The Queen is the best of the lot. The rest are inbred Germans, with a dash of Greek. Hypocrites all of them and possibly the worst case for primogeniture since Christ was a carpenter.

OK, the Silver Surfer has wiped out now. Time to leave the subject of stars and superstars in the STC and return to the subject of stars and superstars in the swimming pool. Let's talk about water - the strangest substance in the world. Dihydrogen Monoxide covers about 70% of the Gaia biosphere. It forms about 70% of all living things as well. Co-incidence? Probably not. It expands when cooled, rather than shrinking. It's less dense as a solid than a liquid (ice floats). It requires ten times the energy to heat as solid iron. It dissolves almost anything. It causes severe burns in a gaseous state. It's a major component of acid rain. It contributes to erosion, Accidental inhalation can kill you. It's cooled to about 26-27 degrees in the Water Cube where Michael Phelps is about to begin his Quest for Olympic Immortality...
<HR>
Chapter 5

10/8/08: MP has qualified for the final of his first event. He swam an Olympic Record (OR) time of 4:07.82 for the Men's 400M Individual Medley. He was obviously saving energy because he blitzes the rest of the swimmers in the final. He teases them by letting them stay with him during the opening butterfly and backstroke legs. Then he turns a slight lead from the breastroke leg into a rout, cruising home by more than a body length in the final freestyle leg. His time is a new World Record and Olympic Record (for brevity, I'll use WR and OR from now on. Actually, when it comes to the finals, I'll just mention WR. The OR is obvious) He wins in 4:03.84. Laszlo Cseh of Hungary collects a silver in 4:06.16, while American teammate Ryan Lochte grabs the bronze medal in 4:08.09. Present among the crowd is the Great Dubyahoo and his felonious family. For some reason, Henry Kissinger is with them. Why the heck is Hank here? Maybe he was hoping to meet a real live Cambodian after doing his bit to help bomb them back to the Stone Age in the early 1970's. Maybe he was in charge of procuring black market tickets. Maybe he just likes to swagger around with other more morally deficient morons. Hang with the First Family and you're bound to get Bush-whacked. As a bonus, the US national anthem cuts out during the medal ceremony. No explanation is offered. Andrew Sams reports that "it's a bit of a faux pas there". Australian swimstar and pin-up girl, Stephanie Rice, matches MP's achievement by winning the Women's 400 Individual Medley. She faces stiff competition from Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe. Super Stephanie romps home in a new WR of 4:29.45. Kirsty comes second in 4:29.89, which is still faster than the former WR of 4:31.12. That record was held by American Katie Hoff who takes the bronze medal in a time of 4:31.71. The other two finals to be settled see Park Tae Hwan of South Korea win the Men's 400 Freestyle. His time of 3:41.86 is not a record. Meanwhile, the Dutch win the Women's 4 by 100 Freestyle in a new OR of 3:33.76. The USA are second in 3:324.33 with 41-year old Dara Torres rolling back the years in the final leg. Australia take the bronze in 3:35.05. Libby Trickett swims a fine anchor leg to pip host nation China into fourth place.

Meanwhile, the classiest moment of the Games so far has taken place. Although Russia and Georgia are at war, two of their competitors have won medals in the Women's 10 metres air pistol. The 32-year old Russian Natalia Paderina wins the silver. Her close friend is 39-year old Georgian Nino Salukvadze who wins the bronze. The two of them share a quick kiss and an embrace on the medal podium. The pictures are flashed around the world. The two were friends before "Mad Vlad's" insane posturing occurred. They remain friends, despite the carnage and death. Bravo Ladies! True Olympic Spirit on display. In other titbits, Nicole Cooke wins Great Britain's first gold medal of the Games in the Women's team cycling. The distance is 47.6 kilometres over a two lap circuit. It's the first Olympic gold for the 25-year old Welsh lass and makes up for her disappointing fifth place in Athens 2004. Cooke is an eight-time UK champion and two-time winner of the Women's Tour de France. Her time of 3 hours 32 minutes and 24 seconds is matched by silver medalist Emma Johansson of Sweden and bronze medalist Tatiana Guderzo of Italy. A photo of the finish eventually sorts out the placings. In preliminary soccer action, Argentina beat Australia 1-0 with a goal by Lavezzi after 76 minutes. Ronaldinho scores twice for Brazil in a 5-0 romp over minnows New Zealand. China underachieve again, losing 2-0 to Belgium and having two players sent off. They must beat Brazil in their next match if they want to progress any further in the competition. In the women's gymnastics, a nervous China lead the qualifiers over an equally error-strewn USA. Questions about the age of the Chinese gymnasts are starting to be asked. Despite this, China top the medal count with 8. They comprise 6 gold and 2 silver. South Korea are second with 3 gold and 2 silver and the USA are third with 2 gold, 2 silver and 4 bronze for an overall tally of 8 as well. ATV's live coverage is still worse than useless while TVB Pearl are becoming more irritating. They keep breaking for UNPAID ads for station promos and forthcoming programs...
<HR>
11/8/08: This is the Day of Reckoning for Michael Phelps. His hardest race is coming up. It's the Men's 4 by 100 freestyle and 75 percent of this race is not under his control. The race turns out to be the greatest I have ever seen. Let's take it slowly. The USA are the favourites. They set a new WR of 3:12.23 for the event less than 24 hours earlier. Australia and France are dangerous rivals. Come the final and Eamon Sullivan of Australia starts by smashing the WR for 100 metres in the opening leg. He touches the wall first, ahead of MP, in a time of 47.24 seconds. The former WR of 47.50 was set by Frenchman Alain Bernard in the European Championships in Eindhoven in March. All clear so far? American Garret Weber-Gale slowly makes up ground in the second leg and touches first for team-mate Cullen Jones to try and extend the US advantage. Jones is overhauled by Frenchman Frederick Bousquet in the third leg and the USA trail by 0.82 seconds going into the anchor leg. The French are confident because Alain Bernard is swimming the last leg. The Australians have slipped back into third place. All three teams are all under WR pace Still with me? Jason Lezak is off the blocks with an extraordinary reaction time of 0.40 seconds - the fastest time of all the swimmers in this relay. He still has a lot to do though. At the final turn, Jason is half a body length behind Alain. His turn is well-judged and aggressive and he begins to slipstream off the Frenchman. It's neck and neck, stroke and stroke for the final 25 metres. Jason times his final stroke perfectly and touches the wall first, less than one-tenth of a second in front of Alain. The USA's winning time is an astonishing 3:08.24. That's 3.99 seconds faster than their 24-hour old WR. The French are second in 3:08.32. Australia take bronze in 3:09.91. Italy are fourth in 3:11.48. Sweden come fifth in 3:11.92. All 5 teams break the existing WR set one day earlier by the USA. Jason Levak's time for the anchor split is an incredible 46.06 seconds - the fastest time in history. Look at that time again. 46.06 seconds!!! Remember that Eamon Sullivan set the new WR for the 100 metres about two minutes earlier - a mere 47.24 seconds. For some incredibly stupid reason, only the FIRST swimmer in a relay can set a new WR/OR. Why? It's not like Jason did a running jump start or anything. His swim is comparable to the excitement generated when Bob Beamon shattered the Men's long jump WR in Mexico 1968. Or Michael Johnson running 19.32 seconds for the Men's 200 metres at Atlanta in 1996. And the fucking IOC don't even acknowledge it. Other world class swimmers know all about it though. Jason Levak is the ONLY man in swimming history to break the 47 second barrier and he almost broke the 46 second barrier as well. And the fucking IOC don't give a shit. Michael Phelps is now 2-for-2. Two gold medals and two WRs. Mark Spitz is in his sights and his 1972 triumph of 7 gold medals and 7 WRs is under serious threat. As for the TVB commentary crew, they don't seem to give a shit either. No one makes a mention of Jason Levak's time of 46.06 seconds. Except me. Jason Levak, I salute you. Michael Phelps later says it was "Unbelievable! I lost my voice and was pretty emotional after that."

The rest of the swimming events are exciting, but not in the same exceptional league. Kosuke Kitajima of Japan defended his Athens title in the Men's 100 metres Breastroke. His winning time of 58.91 seconds broke the old WR of 59.13 seconds, set by American Brendan Hansen in 2006. Alexander Dale Oen of Norway took silver in 59.20 seconds. Frenchman Hugues Duboscq came third in 59.37 seconds. Brendan Hansen was an unlucky fourth in 59.57 seconds. In the Women's 100 metres Butterfly, Libby Trickett of Australia won the gold in a personal best time of 56.73 seconds. The silver medal went to American Christine Magnuson in 57.10 seconds. Fellow Australian Jessica Schipper came third in 57.25 seconds. The WR/OR is still held by the retired Dutch swimmer Inga de Bruijn. Her time of 56.61 seconds was set in Sydney 2000. In the Women's 400 metres Freestyle, Rebecca Adlington swam the race of her life to give Great Britain a first-ever gold medal in the event. She trailed American Katie Hoff by 1.5 seconds coming into the final turn, but wore her rival down over the last 50 metres for a stunning upset. Her winning time was 4:03.22 with Katie taking silver in 4:03.29 seconds. Fellow Brit Joanna Jackson scooped up the bronze medal in 4:03.52. Italy's WR holder Federico Pellegrini could only manage fifth place in 4:04.56 seconds. Rebecca's gold medal was the first by a British woman swimmer since 1960. The 19-year old was competing in her first Olympics.

In other news, Abhinav Bindra won India's first individual gold medal in the Men's10-metre air rifle shooting event. He came from behind in the final round to beat China's defending champion Zhu Qinan, thus ending his country's 108 year wait for an individual gold medal. Good news for my wife, Marilena. Finland's Satu Makela-Nummela wins the Women's trap shooting with a score of 91 points. That's two points clear of silver medalist Zuzana Stefecekova from Slovakia. American Corey Cogdell secures the bronze medal with 86 points after a shoot-off against three other competitors. Meanwhile, the first positive drugs test is announced. Spanish cyclist Maria Isobel Moreno failed an out-of-competition test for EPO in July and unexpectedly leaves Beijing without waiting for the results. She says that she's suffering a "crisis of anxiety". The host nation China remains top of the medal table with nine gold, three silver and two bronze. South Korea have eight medals - four gold and four silver - and remain in second place. The USA is third with a tally of 12 medals - three gold, four silver and five bronze. Australia and Britain have announced a friendly wager to see who finishes highest in the table. The Aussies are fifth with two gold and three bronze. The Brits have three - two gold and one bronze. Let the bickering and one upmanship commence.

to be continued....

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 Post subject: Narrative riffs
PostPosted: Sat Oct 18, 2008 12:56 pm 
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It's difficult to know whether the objections (Reservoir Dog in particular) to Nick's Olympian writing spree are for real or simply parodies of how an average Hong Kong Standard reader might react.

To me, this is interesting stuff that uses the Olympics as the basis for a set of jazz-like riffs on the interplay of memory and fact, politics and games (the Olympics are both, obviously, complete with their own share of lying and sleaze). In the process, Nick both subverts and celebrates the narratives by which the world's athletes live, whether they are for real, swindling drug takers, or simply in armchairs in front of the TV with their only exercise reaching for another beer.

The take on Condoleeza Rice is particularly interesting and timely, as the good doctor heads out on an ebb-tide of obedient and well remunerated non-achievement, but to try to nail Putin with a caricature of incompetence doesn't quite get it. To nail Putin, I think you'd have to say more about the mix of cynicism and cleverness with which he's managed to shape-shift his way along a careerist path to the top, no matter the regime or ideology.

Georgia's Saakashvili, BTW, once goaded Putin with his lack of height (he's a relatively short guy), calling him a "Lily Putin" (Lilliputian). No wonder Georgia was invaded.

Who comes to mind in Nick's case, more of a comparison than contrast, is of course Hunter S. Thompson. But for all his carefully self-constructed facade of drunken drugged-out madness, Hunter lived by his "gonzo" work, and in fact, unlike many writers, made money and lived quite well. This is the irony that has long been turned into almost a critique of Hunter, that while he lampooned what had become of the American Dream, he was, in his own curious way, its embodiment, oh, and also a gun collector to rival anyone in the NRA (so much for the casual assumption that he was left wing). The Hell's Angels, of course, beat or "stomped" Hunter to within an inch of his life after they finally discovered he was making money by writing about the time he spent with them.

Does Nick do this, live off his writing? I don't know, but my guess is that if he did, he would be relentlessly editing this stuff into something half the length and twice as effective. Maybe that will come later.

Maybe there's still time, after this Olympic turn of the pen, for Nick to write Fear and Loathing on Lamma Island, or at least An Olympic Lovefest in a Time of Loathing. No, please, don't all contribute chapters at once.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 18, 2008 3:14 pm 
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An oft asked question...
Which one is Spinoza?

And how come this ain't on the front page LG?

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 18, 2008 4:39 pm 
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None of them...

Nick's story was already on the front page a few weeks back. I might do another story soon...

But you've been on the front page quite a few times, even though you've never written exclusively for the Lamma-zine yet. When can we get your next "creative writing exercise" to publish it to a wider readership on the front page?

Maybe after the Fun Day, about the Fun Day?

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12/8/08: It's deja voodoo as Michael Phelps bewitches, bewilders and bothers the other swimmers as his seemingly inexorable dominance in the pool continues. No fuss, no stress as he powers his way to his second individual Gold Medal and third overall. This event is the Men's 200M Freestyle. He posts a new WR of 1:42.96 in the final where he never looks like being challenged. South Korean Park Tae-Hwan takes the Silver in 1:44.85 and fellow American Peter Vanderkaay is third in 1:45.14. This is momentous. MP has erased the memory of his Bronze Medal in this event in Athens, 2004. He's matched Mark Spitz with nine Golds over two Olympiads. A fact that seems to elude the TVB commentators entirely. Young Michael has joined a rare group comprising Spitz, cocky fellow-American athlete Carl Lewis, the Flying Finn Paavo Nurmi and female Russian gymnast Larysa Latynina. One more Gold Medal and MP will rub shoulders with American athlete Raymond Ewry. There's some controversy over Ray Ewry's tally though. He won ten Gold Medals over four Olympiads: 1900, 1904, 1906 and 1908. He competed only in the standing high jump, long jump and triple jump. The kicker is the 1906 Intercalated Games, meant to be held quadrennially between the Olympiads. Some people recognise it as an official Olympics. Some don't. Ray Ewry won two of his ten Gold Medals in 1906. So he has either eight Gold Medals or ten Gold medals depending on who you talk to. The 1906 Intercalated Games was the only one to take place. I think he deserves his ten medals. He won them fair and square and only political bickering in later decades has cheapened his achievement. All of this information is readily available in my Guinness Book of World Records. It should be up on the IOC Records website as well, but Andrew Sams and Don Bozarth on TVB Pearl aren't doing their research.

In the other swimming finals American Aaron Piersol wins the Men's 100M Backstroke in a WR of 52.54 seconds Compatriot Matt Grevers is second in 53.11 while there's a tie for the Bronze Medal. Both Arkady Vyatchanin of Russia and Australian Hayden Stoeckel touch the wall in 53.18 and share the honours. This is where the Olympics can get confusing. An earlier swimming final (in the 70's I think) was decided by taking the clock down to thousandths of a second. I'm guilty here of sloppy research, but I can't find the details anywhere in the books I have at home and I'm a complete neophyte when it comes to surfing for information. All I remember is that the medal placings in this event (possibly also Men's Backstroke?) were decided by a time of two-thousandths of a second. It is the only time this has occurred in swimming or track and field events. Now, a difference of one-hundredth of a second suffices to award medals and places in those disciplines. Points can be split down to thousandths in events such as the Heptathlon and Decathlon and in the Men's/Women's Gymnastics. Team sports such as soccer, hockey, basketball, softball etc. are decided by extra time, penalties or occasionally results from an earlier round. It's all very confusing and is going to lead to some controversies later in Beijing. Especially in the Women's Gymnastics between the USA and China where there is some simmering unrest about the age of the younger Chinese competitors.

Two other swimming finals are decided today. American Natalie Coughlin retains her Women's 100M Backstroke title, holding off Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe. The 25-year old sets a new American record of 58.96 seconds while Kirsty takes the Silver Medal in 59.19 seconds. It's a bittersweet moment for the white Zimbabwean. She set a WR/OR of 58.77 seconds in the semi-finals, but fell to a late surge from Natalie in the Final. Fellow American Margaret Hoelzer is third in 59.34 seconds. Meanwhile, Leisel Jones wins the Women's 100M Breast-stroke event. The Australian, who is the WR holder and World Champion, sets a new OR of 1:05.17 seconds. American Rebecca Soni is second in 1:06.73 while fellow Australian Mirna Jukic is third in 1:07.34. Leisel later tells reporters that "...the time, the race, none of it matters. It's all about the Gold."

In other events, China nearly upset Spain in the Men's Basketball. The hosts push the Spaniards into overtime before losing 85-75 in a preliminary game. Spanish and NBA star Pau Gasol chips in 29 points to secure the result. With the war in Georgia still capturing headlines, Russia and Georgian athletes meet for a second time in the Women's beach volleyball. Reporters refer to it as "bikini diplomacy". I'll give you more details later. The USA are sweeping all before them in the Women's Softball. They're heading for a fourth straight title in lopsided fashion after crushing Venezuela 11-0. In the opening match, Canada defeated Taiwan 6-1. China are firmly top of the Medals Table with 13 Golds, three Silver and four Bronze. The USA are second - thanks to MP and the other swimmers - with seven Golds, seven Silvers and eight Bronzes, Overall, they have the most medals. 22 to China's 20, The Australia=Great Britain rivalry appears to be going Australia's way. They have ten medals, including three Golds to Great Britain's six medals, including two Golds.

to be continued...

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Lamma-Gung, was that you writing about the STC stuff? I'm impressed.

The priorities of scientific endevour are all wrong though - we need to discover how to preserve knowledge first. I mean brain dumps.

I also totally agree with the Dawkin's outlook extolled in the ramble.

EDITED - Oh I see, this stuff is from the hairy fella who doesn't wear a shirt.


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Finally, another chapter in Nick the Bookman's Magnum Opus about the last Olympic games. Still hoping that it might be completed well before the next Olympics. Below, an alternate, rewritten, extended account of 12-08-08, already covered above:

12-08-08: Did you miss me while I was away? Probably not, as this is the very next paragraph. But, in the multiple fractured time lines that this story is set, it's quite a bit longer in the future. On Olympics time, I've just covered 11-8-08, but at the time of writing, it's 23-4-09.

Briefly, this means The End Of Bush Reich. It's an evil, oily stain in the Black Book of History. President Barack Obama is now in charge of clearing up all the problems caused by the unchecked spread of Mad Cowboy Disease. So far, outbreaks include the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and hostile rogue states like North Korea and Iran with alarming nuclear fantasies. There are fundamental, religious and irrational bigots and terrorists operating throughout the world, mostly based out of Pakistan, the Middle East and northern Africa. There is a massive global recession-cum-pending depression. Worst of all, there's not even the street humour and justice of seeing those political and fiscal fuckwits who caused it to happen, being locked up in stocks and pelted with rancid fruit. Or having their heads put on (s)pikes. Instead, they're all bitching about not getting their guaranteed bonuses. The environment is still going to hell in so many different ways... (pause for contemplation of our terrabiocide.) As a wise unknown once said. "We must save the earth. It's the only planet with chocolate".

And so to more sweet stuff in the swimming pool. It's 12-8-08 and Michael Phelps edges closer to swimming immortality by collecting his third GM in the Men's 200 M Freestyle. Complete with a new WR of 1:42.96 seconds. As a partial consequence, he removes Ian Thorpe from the record book. The "Thorpedo" held the previous OR of 1:44.41. The American isn't troubled and leads from start to finish. No one else breaks 1:43 seconds. The SM goes to South Korea's Park Tae Hwan in 1:44.85 while fellow American Peter Vanderkaay takes Bronze in 1:45.14. So, its 3 of 3 GM (plus WR's) for Michael Phelps. Add the six he won in Athens and he's in some pretty illustrious company. There's fellow American swimmer (and standard setter) Mark Spitz. Paavo Nurmi, the legendary "Flying Finn" has 9 GM in middle distance running plus. Carl Lewis has 9 GM as well, but if only Ben Johnson hadn't been caught in 1988, I wouldn't be mentioning the egregious Mr Lewis. And the list also includes the fabulous Russian lady gymnast Larisa Latynina.

The Men's 100 M Backstroke throws up a surprise. Four medalists. American Aaron Piersol breaks the 53 second barrier to win in a WR 52.54 seconds. Compatriot Matt Grevers is second in 53.11 seconds. The big drama comes in the fight for the BM. Russian Arkady Vyatchanin and Hayden Stoeckel of Australia hit the wall in the identical time of 53.18 seconds. The times are only split to one-hundredth of a second these days. Seems fair and uncontroversial, unlike the squabbles that erupted over the scoring procedure in the gymnastic events. Another American Natalie Coughlin takes the Women's 100 M Backstroke in 58.96 seconds. She became the first woman to retain the Olympic title as well as the first to swim the race in less than one minute. The result is an upset for Zimbabwe's Kirsty Coventry who finishes second in 59.19 seconds. A bitter blow as she set a new WR of 58.77 seconds in the semi-final. Margart Hoelzer of the USA is third in 59.34 seconds.

The fourth and final final sees Australian Leisel Jones claim the Women's 100 M Breaststroke. She's the world champion and WR holder with a time of 1:05.09 seconds, set outside the Olympics. Her winning time is a very close OR of 1:05.17 seconds. Later she tells reporters she "couldn't care less about the time. An Olympic Gold is an Olympic Gold...". American Rebecca Soni is second in 1:06.73 seconds and Mirna Jukic of Austria grabs the BM in 1:07.34 seconds. Meanwhile, the Olympic dreams of English diver Tom Daley belly-flopped out of existence in the diving arena. The 14-year old prodigy and his partner Blake Aldridge finished in last place in the Men's synchronised 10 M platform event. Earlier, they were fancied to collect at least a BM, but the pressure was too much for them. The teenager has at least 2 more Olympiads to seek success, but his partner is retiring.

In other odds and sods, the defending champion in the Women's Marathon, Mizuki Noguchi, has withdrawn with an injured left thigh. It makes things easier for Paula Radcliffe, the English WR holder, who has yet to win an Olympic title. But Paula has her own injury problems - a stubborn stress fracture of her lower left leg which could hamper her chances of success. Other favourites include double world champion Catherine Ndereba of Kenya and Chinese runner Zhou Chunxiu. The race takes place on Sunday 17-8-09 or five days away... The Chinese Women's soccer team beat their Argentine counterparts 2-0. The Steel Roses are now in the quarter-finals.

China lived up to their overwhelming reputation as GM favourites by winning the Men's team event in convincing style. The sextet romped home with 286.125 points (getting down to the one-thousandth level of accuracy as compared to one-hundredth of a second time split for swimming, rowing, riding, sailing and the track and field events). That was more than seven points ahead of Japan on 278.875 points. The injury-ravaged Americans bravely came in third with 275.850 points. It was redemption for the Chinese after their failure in Athens 2004. But the rice pressure cooker is bubbling over in advance of what's shaping up to be a bitterly contested battle between the American and Chinese women gymnasts. A senior Chinese gymnastics official, Gao Jian, claims the Americans are playing "mind games" by complaining about "age falsification" for some of the younger Chinese gymnasts. The legal minimum age is 16. The USA believes that some of the Chinese girls are 14 or so while the hosts are either trying to find the birth certificates or wait for the ink to dry on them. The USA has been dominant in recent years, but two squad members are carrying slight injuries. The Chinese meanwhile are performing at about "70%" according to their coach. The fun starts now...

On the medal table, China are nearly twice as dominant as the USA. They have 13 GM's compared to 7 GM's for the Americans. This is where the concept of "The Parallel Games" begins. The Americans have placed heavy emphasis on the more traditional sports. The Chinese are sweeping up the table with their dominance of less traditional Western pastimes. They're cleaning up in the martial arts and rhythmic gymnastics, badminton, table tennis etc. The swimming, track and field, baseball, basketball, boxing etc tend to have more American victors. The USA has more medals overall - 22 to 20 by China. South Korea has 5 GMs. Germany has 4 GMs. Italy, Australia and Japan on 3 GMs each. Russia, Britain and the Czech Republic on 2 GMs each. The Aussies are ahead in their "friendly" bet with Great Britain over who gains the greatest gold harvest.

It's back to the future of men's swimming as Michael Phelps continues his watery quest for immortality. When we left, he was 3GM + 3WR towards his target of 8GM + 8WR (possibly). Mark Spitz at Munich 1972 set the bar with his tally of 7GM + 7WR. MP's got the Men's 200M Butterfly and the Men's 4 x 200M Freestyle relay finals to compete in today. Would it surprise you at all if I said he ended his work day with 5GM and 5WR? Well, he did. In the Butterfly, he clocked 1:52.03, despite his goggles filling up with water and blurring his vision. "I got to the point where I was counting strokes and hoping I would hit the wall just right. It was a malfunction". Laszlo Cseh of Hungary came second in 1:52.70 and Takeshi Matsuda was third in 1:52.97. Phelps put the mishap behind him (or got new goggles) and swam a stunning first leg of the 4 x 200 M Freestyle. His split-time of 1:43.31 helped Ryan Lochte, Richard Berens and Peter Vanderkaay smash the seven minute barrier. The USA won in 6:58.56. Russia trailed in some five seconds behind, in a time of 7:03.70 to claim the SM. The Russians also broke the old OR of 7:04.66 to boot, which just makes them the number one loser. Australia grabbed the BM in a time of 7:04.98. It's about this time that Don Bozarth and Andrew Sams realise that Michael Phelps has won 9 GM and some hero worship is due. They discuss the matter on TVB Pearl. They waffle well, but the lack of research shows and you're a day late, guys.

Not to be outdone, the women chipped in with two WR performances in the 200 M Freestyle and the 200M Individual Medley. The six medals up for grabs were won by swimmers from six countries. Italian Federico Pellegrini overcame a 'wardrobe malfunction" (remember? Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake at the "Nipplebowl" and the mass outbreaks of pious hypocrisy that followed. Plus savage fines on everyone who didn't get their heads down fast enough). Anyway, Federico and her TWO swimsuits got up and down the pool faster than anyone else. In 1:54.82 seconds to be precise. Sara Isakovic of Slovenia sputtered her way to a SM in 1:54.97 and China's Peng Jiaying took the BM in 1:55.05. Meanwhile, Stephanie Rice of Australia did the medley double and again in WR time. She lowered her own WR to 2:08.45 seconds and made Kirsty Coventry a bridesmaid again. The Zimbabwean set an African record of 2:08.59, which actually broke the former WR of 2:08.92 seconds. I wonder if madman Mugabe is thinking of eating her for only coming second or giving her some loot for making the rest of the world think positive thoughts about Zimbabwe. Lucky, she's resident in the USA most of the time. And lest we forget while wishing a fate worse than a fate worse than death on "Syphilitic Bob" there's one more medal to be awarded. The BM went to Natalie Coughlin with a time of 2:10.68 seconds. Michael and she are doing their part to haul the USA up the medal table.

It's also a day of drama in the Women's team gymnastics. Small, but costly, mistakes by the Americans turned a nail-biting showdown into a hootenanny for the Chinese hosts. The Americans fell off one beam, stumbled on the floor and stepped out of bounds twice. That as enough to give the hosts a comfortable and patriotically applauded victory. China's six stars collected 188.900 points on the way to the GM. The Americans finished on 186.525 points while Romania upset the Russians by taking the BM. Romania was awarded 181.525 points while Russia could only manage 180.625. It's the first time Russia has finished outside the medals in over 40 years. So, China have taken the Men's and Women's team events and set the stage for some exciting single duels of dominance.

Russia's day didn't get much better in the Women's beach volleyball. They were dumped out by Georgia in a match riddled with tension by the Russian invasion of Georgia a few days ago. A little bit of payback perhaps? Georgia won 2-1 thanks to the skills of two Brazilian-born players who were fast-tracked into citizenship and thus able to be selected. Way to go Cristine Santanna and Andrezza Chagas. Yah, boo, sucks to Natalia Uryadove and Alexandra Shiryaeva for being sore losers.

In other snippets, Brazil scored three goals without reply against China to dump the host nation out of the Soccer tournament before the quarter final stage. It ended a woeful run of games by the Chinese. Meanwhile, Australia, the Men's Hockey champions had a brisk workout against South Africa. The 10-0 rout kept Australia on course for the semi-finals. Aussie captain Bevan George said "we were satisfied with some of the things we set out to do".

As for the standings, China are still top of the table with 17 GM to 10 GM by the second-placed USA. The Americans have 29 in total, two more than China. South Korea and Germany have advanced to 6GM each and a total of 13 and nine respectively. Australia are 4-2 up in GM against Britain and 12-7 up in total. Gotta keep my strength up as the blue riband event of the men;s swimming takes place tomorrow.

to be continued.

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