Learning from the Olympics

Here is what I learned from the Olympics that just finished, in no particular order:

If you think you can “smash” another team, keep that fact quiet until the deed is done.

Field hockey is a sport designed to train young girls in skirts to bend over, work sticks, and take occasional balls to the face.

Eight really is a lucky number.

Sixteen looks a whole lot younger than it used to.

All pole-vaulters are hot.

You don’t need media furor and praise to be a champion.

If you are loathed by your competitors, teammates and the audience, winning the gold medal doesn’t make you a champion. It just makes you someone loathed by your competitors, teammates and the audience, who won a gold medal.

NBA players become slightly more tolerable when they shut the hell up.

By the time you read this, those responsible for maintaining the soccer field have probably been liquidated.

Election advertisements are exponentially more irritating when they interrupt the Olympics.

The bronze medal sucks.

You don’t need to be an athlete to be an Olympic hero.

40 is not old.

You learn to hold things when you are six months old. For some people, it doesn’t take.

China knows an awful lot about fireworks.

In 2012, even if there is a 5k race where perfectly healthy people have to limp in a specified way or be disqualified, it still wouldn’t be the most ridiculous “sport” in the events.

Events that award medals entirely based on judging are fun to watch, but aren’t sports and shouldn’t be treated as such.

Photos from NBC, who gathered them from various sources (mostly Getty, AP and Reuters).

Number one

According to some useless rankings just released, Harvard is once again the top university in the US. It’s apparently been twelve years since they could make this dubious claim and, prior to that, they could make it only sporadically. I’m not sure what the administration thinks of such accolades, but having been enrolled as a student during one such year, I know the students don’t particularly care.

This particular year was early into the Clinton era, when grunge was trying to stomp out the memory of Big Hair and the last remnants of Nancy Regan-style anti-drug messages were getting more desperate. (Example: all of the phone books that year featured an ad on the back with a sign saying in thick, black, hand-painted letters “Mom and Dad, I do drugs”, with a kicker line below it saying something like “Real signs of drug use are not so easy to spot”.) Few students in that environment could have cared less what the U.S. News and World Report had to say about them.

Well, except the Harvard Lampoon, who staged a “we’re #1”-style rally on the grand steps of Harvard’s main library. A good number of the Harvard Band had been involved, so it was pretty festive, especially after the champagne started flowing. Like most Lampoon humor, it went way over the top, with speeches, massive posters and guys in mascot like costumes (one of them, for some reason, the “Mac Tonight” guy). The only reason I remember any of this, though, is that almost lost among a sea of huge banners with big “#1″s on them and messages like “Harvard: the Harvard of the U.S.”, was a small sign in thick, black, hand-painted letters saying “Mom and Dad, I do drugs”.

Spam gets three times funnier

Spam filters are now good enough that they suck away the evil crap without me noticing. It’s been a long time since I cared enough to look to see what it was filtering out. On a whim, I did so today and noticed that subject lines have graduated from spelling out the names of erection medicine in fifty million different ways to using provocative “headlines”, which look like over the top news/gossip events. The idea being, I suppose, that if the headline is compelling enough, you take the time to read (or, at least, render) the spam.

I still haven’t read any of the actual mails, but some of these headlines are hilarious. I’m guessing they have some sort of random context-free grammar thing generating them. Sort of like they fight crime, but more obsessed with media whores. Some examples of what I got today:

  • Britney Spears Ditches Music Career, Enters Car Racing
  • Britney Spears Admits “My Vagina Made Me Shave My Head Bald”
  • Angelina Jolie’s Lips Explode
  • Britney Spears’ New Hair Extensions Are Lindsay Lohan’s Pubes (that one’s for you, Rob)
  • Britney Spears Shoots Down American Spy Satellite With Her Vagina
  • Britney Spears Not Bipolar – New World Order Conspiracy Afoot
  • Britney Spears: “Yes, I tried to suck the shine off a bumper”
  • Paris Hilton denies screwing Ron Paul
  • Britney heartbroken as Diana’s Butler beds Winehouse
  • Paris Hilton To Poses For Playboy, followed immediately by another mail claiming Paris Hilton Becomes Nun. Your call on which would be more shocking.
  • Paris Hilton’s Vagina Bites Penguin

The Weekly World News wishes they could make these headlines. I can almost see the “photo” they would use for that last one.


My Sprint cell phone just got a call from Sprint itself. The woman on the line was offering me some sort of perk for being a “loyal customer”. This is ironic, first because I’m about to dump Sprint, but even more so because just as she was telling me what this perk was, the call dropped.

The new DivNull Productions

On my to-do list for far too long, a revamp of the main DivNull Software web site has been completed. The original intention of the main divnull.com site (and of DivNull in general) was to be a shareware development company. The site was sort of my “professional face”, while blogs like this one are more personal. Unfortunately, the “professional face” hasn’t really done much of late, and never really did much in the way of producing shareware anyway.

So, with this site redesign comes a big shift in what the site was for. Renamed “DivNull Productions”, the site will now feature news about whatever it is that I am producing in my spare time for public consumption, be it software, artwork or text. For example, I spend quite a bit of time (way too much) making stuff for roleplaying games. Previously, this kind of stuff wouldn’t have been listed on the main DivNull site, because it didn’t have anything to do with shareware. Likewise, this blog isn’t really the proper venue (though I have made a couple of announcements of this kind here). So, that changes now.

Going forward, if you want to see what I’m thinking or ranting about, this blog remains the place. But, if you want to see what I am making, regardless of medium, then head on over to DivNull Productions.

Twenty places in the U.S. I’d recommend over Los Angeles

Having made the mistake of mentioning on a forum that “on my list of top 20 U.S. cities, L.A. wouldn’t even be on it”, I’m now being called to task to produce such a list. So be it. Note that this is all done in the context of tourism. For example, since I have family in LA that would be good reason why I would want to go there, but such considerations would be irrelevant to a random tourist.

If I had to order this list tomorrow, I’m sure the ordering would be different. Also, I’m stretching the concept of “city” a lot here to mean more like “region a tourist might visit”. To increase the degree of difficulty, I’ve tried to capture a wide range of places.

  1. Chicago, IL
  2. Sedonda, AZ
  3. Las Vegas, NV
  4. Washington, DC
  5. Vail, CO (summer only)
  6. Memphis, TN
  7. Flagstaff, AZ (or, rather, the Grand Canyon)
  8. New York, NY
  9. Cedar City, UT (or, rather, Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks)
  10. New Orleans, LA
  11. Portland, OR
  12. Seattle, WA
  13. Bozeman, MT (and nearby Yellowstone National Park)
  14. Farmington, NM (or, rather, Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon)
  15. San Fransisco, CA
  16. Kihei, HI (Maui)
  17. Boston, MA
  18. Captiva, FL
  19. Taos, NM
  20. San Diego, CA