Friday, February 29, 2008

The Olympics as a Political Tool

In 1980, my father and a friend of mine were both Olympic hopefuls who were ready to compete for honor and glory for their countries in the biggest and grandest of the athletic stages.

My father was an archer of some renown and had worked for 4 years of his life to become one of the best in the world. I can remember tournaments where the weather was freezing temperatures and sleet and snow and rain and all he did was shoot.

On the same lines, my friend was one of the best discus and shot putters in the world at the time. He had worked all of his young life towards the goal of the olympic games. It was supposed to be his crowning achievement.

Then, some fat assed politicians in Washington D.C. started screaming up and down about politics and decided that we shouldn't support the Russian olympics. All because they were a communist country and didn't agree with our idea of politics and democracy. Then Jimmy Carter decided the US would not be attending the olympic games. All because of politics. We have had olympic games in the middle of the most obnoxious of political situations but the athletes disassociated themselves from it for the most part.

Everyone seems to forget that it is the athletes who are important here, not the b.s. politicians. It is the crowning glory for those athletes who have dedicated their years, blood and sweat to the goal of being crowned olympic champion.

Now the same fat asses in D.C. are at it again. A campaign to get people to turn off the TV because of Burma is under way ( What these people seem to forget once again is that the Olympic Games is not a political game or a political stage. It is an athletic competition. Of course, these are the same folks who would show up and protest at a children's soccer game or baseball game.

In 1980, when Carter cancelled the Olympics for the US team, my father turned pro. He never watched another minute of olympic sports and he voted for Reagan. Why? Well, he said he was fed up with the Olympics being used for everyones political agenda. He was an athlete and now here I am 27 years later looking at the way people play politics with athletes, and nothing has changed.

As for my friend who was the discus thrower, he competed for a few more years before health issues over took his life. As for 1984, he was retired a year or so by then. But neither were interested in their sports on the amateur level due to the politicians.

I remember all these events like they happened yesterday. They had a profound effect on my life and the way I believe. It also led me to believing that you compete where ever you are and you accept those of other faith's countries, religions and you compete in the name of SPORT!

Thus I say to you who would support groups like that one mentioned above; Leave us athletes out of your agenda's. It s really not cool and while we support many of your causes on a personal level, don't make our sports part of those causes as they are not related. We are athletes first and last and friends and fellow competitors, no matter what country we compete for. Just because we are from that country, it does not make us part of the government of the particular country.

Post Script: Don't misunderstand me here, or even bother questioning my patriotism as I am as red-white-and-blue as they come. Since my family has a 400 year history in the US, I am not inclined to listen to nay-sayers. But I am also not a politician and sure as hell don't want a politician telling me who and where, or against whom I can or cannot compete. As an athlete I want to compete against the best, whoever or wherever they are. That is the creed of most athletes I know.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Microsoft getting slammed left and right

Over the past couple of weeks, Microsoft has gotten slammed from both sides of the water on a variety of topics. But is it all warranted?

Over the years, many people have come to hate those up in Redmond, including most of the Apple world. Anytime there is a problem in the online world, it seems that everyone starts pointing at Microsoft or Bill Gates. Well, Bill gates is gone supposedly now and Microsoft is trying to play nice with the open source world that they have long stepped on with every turn of the hat.

Now the European Union has stepped on them with the largest judgement against any company ever. The EU courts has fined Microsoft 889 million for dragging their feet on changes that were mandated by the same court in 2004. Developers in Europe have long suffered at the hands of Microsoft and now the high fees MS charged the developers is coming back to haunt them again.

Also California courts decided this week that a class action suit against Microsoft could proceed. The case which contend thats the Vista Ready label on machines was misleading. Many of the machines so labeled could run no better than the Vista Basic version of the operating system. Since Microsoft dictates what constitutes Vista Ready, they are now a target.

Now with these high profile cases happening, many of the good things that Microsoft does on a daily basis get over looked. And it is no wonder since the cases are extreme and unfortunately warranted, it will take a while before the good things get looked at again.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The fruits of Star Wars

No, I am not talking about that 1977 movie that is the favorite of every one I knew as a junior high school student back then. It is the big budget extravaganza, paid for by all of us American tax payers during the Reagan years. You remember, first called Star Wars, then the Missile Defense Shield and these days, a budget breaker.

Oh but wait, we can salvage part of it by taking chancy pot shots as a derelict satellite. For a mere 60 million dollars, we get to shoot one missile at one satellite. All of course because the fuel on board is toxic and we dont know where its going to land. Thats right folks, we still cant predict where it will land.

That then leads us to the real story, NSA Decides technology on board is risk to National Security. Thats right, the satellite we are talking about is the most advanced, and top secret satellite that the military has ever launched. We surely dont want that landing in the Chinese back yard intact.

(yeah, right! Who are we kidding. By the time the thing went through the atmosphere at 25,000 miles per hour, it would be more useful to a scrap dealer than a technology stealing scientist).

Oh and wait, there is a show stopper. We have the shuttle Atlantis at the international space station and cant risk losing another shuttle. So we better land it first. (DUH!....You think?)

I wonder who writes this stuff for the guys in the press room at NASA these days. it is funnier than Space Balls. And yet, we are paying for this folks. Do they honestly believe that the fuel will not ignite in 60 miles of 25,000 MPH burn out? Get real. Let it drop, quite trying to one up the Chinese, and let the Atronauts at the ISS do their jobs and come home. Number one, quit wasting or tax payer dollars NASA and get on to Mars and the real science.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Are we there yet?

Over the past several days, I have watched endless hours on CNN of people crunching numbers on the US primary elections. While, I don't mind all of the information overload from a statistical knowledge point, it seems to me that a good bit of news is getting severely left out on a daily basis that has just as much bearing on the world as these elections.

Each day, the idea of who is winning seems to change. I can remember just a couple months back when Fred Thompson was the leading man and he wasn't even in the race. Then he started to run and then faltered in spite of announcing his candidacy on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. All the popularity of that show didn't help him one bit and now he is gone.

Then there was another half dozen candidates that dropped out of the races including Rudy Giuliani and Dennis Kucinich, Joe Biden, probably three of the more popular people in the race and then came our Mormon friend, Mitt Romney, whose faith second campaign didn't deal him any better hand. But did you know that in spite of what the national news would have you believe, there actually are still 7 candidates on the trail for the white house.

On the Democratic side, there is Mike Gravel and on the republican side, we have Ron Paul and also Alan Keyes. But like any popularity contest, these minor candidates dont get the money, the coverage or the votes and eventually their names will be dropped from the hat like yesterday's news.

So we are left with A Freshman Senator, a former First Lady and current Senator, A Preacher and former governor, and of course, John McCain. Well, I guess I just let the cat out of the bag who I am endorsing for president. But does it really matter who I endorse? I see the news making waves about who other people are endorsing but then again, they have money machines that I just don't have as a blogger and web master.

And of course, there is the wow factor. When Florida's governor and California's Governor stood up there and announced their picks, everyone tuned in. Hopefully, no one from the main stream media will give my endorsement much more than a passing glance. If not, then we are in a real hurt for news. Which brings me back to where I started before this road trip got a bit long.

The news being reported is not necessarily the news. it is what the people at CNN and the money folks want you to see. It is not that there are blizzards in India, monsoons in Madagascar, problems with Marines raping local girls in Okinawa, or even the storms hitting the US. These stories all seem to magically disappear anytime that there is the least bit of politics involved in a story that runs counter to what the news outlets want to show. I am sure Oprah supporting Obama is important, but then so is the fact that tornados destroyed towns in the US and our young men and women are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I am glad we do place such importance in our choice of leaders in America. But I will be glad when we are there and we start putting the other stories that are important back where they belong.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Iran tests rocket. West reacts.

Iran tested a rocket today, causing severe concerns among western allied countries. While Iran has said that this type of rocket will be used to launch their first home grown satellite Omid (Hope), The US government has sad that the same technology could be used to build long range ballistic missiles and Nuclear capable missiles.

While this is not the first time that Iran has tried to join the big 5 in the space race, it is the first time that they have built up the ballyhoo to go with the launch. Unfortunately for them, their claims of peaceful science surrounding the launch are being met with sever skepticism due to their involvement in the Iraq war. Also Iranian president Ahmadinejad's public displays of hatred for western countries is not helping their cause.

Back in the 1990's everyone knew Iran was working towards satellite launching capabilities as it was widely reported in the media and they had fairly open reporting on the launches. However with this new government, the country has once again gone back to the style that was prevalent during the tenure of Khomeini. I guess the idea of hating America is fashionable again so everyone is jumping on board as quick as they can.

Only time will tell if they are truly developing this technology for peaceful purposes, however, one would not want to see countries suddenly bombed with nukes just because some despot like Ahmanainejad decides he doesnt like ssomething that was said by a government of another country.