Saturday, June 17, 2006

Winter Wanderings

"Not everything that can be counted counts,
and not everything that counts can be counted"

-Albert Einstein

It would appear that more than a little of my current "social jet lag" would be due to the myriad of sporting events that taunt me endlessly to witness superb physical prowess in action.

This weekend, one in which the weather seems to all too willing to allow me some indoor time to watch grown men chase balls around. Wassup with that? Well, in no order of particular priority they occur: a) on beautiful tree lined grassy walks by those with corporate logos engraved on their hats and shirts, hitting a small white ball into a cup in the ground, b) on a hardwood floor by giants trying to stuff (with their hands only) a slightly larger ball through a netted hoop 10ft off the ground, and c) In a stadium with a slightly smaller round ball not to be touched by the hands at all, but kicked into a net; dubbed "the beautiful game", it is supported by colourful fans around the globe. This year their month long party is in Germany.

A bit odd I think at times, all this interest; yet sporting contests remain for me one of the most intriguing of all human activities by no other reason than they are still (by most accounts) unpredictable. In almost all other current events, a certain level of predictability creeps in. Terror strikes? Fuel prices? Government policies? (Big) business as usual, really. Not a cynical analysis as much as a pragmatic one given the current environment. But with the athletes on the course, the court or the pitch, I remain optimistic the random outcomes really are a result of effort and synergy as well as preparation. Maybe I am just dreaming. As one who has taken part in the many of the sporting events taking world stage presently, I would only hope the hard work does have as much effect on the results as destiny. It is fun to think it does, anyway.
Perhaps I should just admit to myself that the stirring and emotional national anthems, hakas and sense of culture and place play into my tribal feelings for goodwill on earth. Who knows what language they are speaking with 32 different countries competing, and who cares. If we can play football together, we can surely talk over differences.

The USA, always an underdog at these world tournaments, do have their fair share of fans, even if they are from another country and enjoy just being able to watch the game there. As difficult as that may be at times.

And what a party. Colours, passion, culture. Oh yea, and let'snot forget the "style factor" with these footballers. Worldwide trends hang in the balance depending on the latest hairstyle from Beckham. Or did anyway, he has grown up a bit, and I might say a better player as well.

Meanwhile Bill Gates (nothing to do with sports, oddly enough) plays his part on the stage by stepping off it, and in the process actually doing more than most governments to address chronic problems in health and education worldwide through his philanthropy, always a noble profession. Love him or loathe him, as this article suggests, he is actually getting the mosquito nets to those who need them. A simple thing really, and someone with the resources in doing something about it. I like that.

What I don't like is baseball teams serving as recruitment centres for Christian evangelists, or the President of the U.S. trying to be funny (he is not).

As a former rock fan at numerous memorable (not so much now, but you get the point) concerts, I am always interested in "the best live concert" recording claim, which depending on who you talk to, usually falls somewhere around the Rolling Stones. I have always been partial to the Allman Bros live at the Fillmore East, but as this intrepid reporter claims, and I would have to give some credence to, the Who Live at Leeds, was " total visceral excitement". Guess I shoulda been there. It was hard to be everywhere in the early 70's, though many tried.

As the gadgets appear to manifest rapidly in both number and complexity, the technology to serve them increasingly is found online as well. Why go anywhere, see anything, or have anything tangible when it can all be done online? As far as the digital information and entertainment world goes, that is rapidly becoming the case. Got photos or a video? Edit and show them through online tools. Encyclopedias, libraries, and doctors visits all fit the model. So, not only is the internet become the fastest distributor of content in history, but now the sophicticated production processes can be done there as well. Whatever your needs, it is there online, as this NYTimes article points out.
Just in case you might be tempted to take your eyes away from the sponsors ads for a moment..

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