Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Time to Watch

Remember a few weeks ago when I made a nasty prediction about the U.S. Supreme Court? Actually, they have made a good ruling or two in the meantime. That was not the case, however, last month. The Court decided against 32,000 or so plaintiffs still trying to collect damages from Exxon Mobile for losses from the "Exxon Valdez" oil spill in Alaska almost twenty years ago. The Court decided that Exxon Mobile has suffered enough (even though they haven't actually PAID anyone as originally ordered) and proceeded to cut the $5 billion fine by a whopping 90%! And no, this does not mean that the victims will be paid soon, because the company is also refusing to pay interest, no doubt until all the plaintiffs have died of old age.

Who, you might ask, was this Russian fellow Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who died last week? The short answer is that he was the novelist who helped the world understand the breadth and depth of the Stalinist terror that put perhaps millions of innocents in prisoner slave labor camps all over Siberia following WW II. Let's hope we don't get to the point anytime soon when we're asking: Who's Stalin? or even: What's a novel?

I have a suggestion you are free to ignore, but shouldn't. That advice is to watch the Olympic Games to be broadcast by NBC from Beijijng, China which begin this weekend. Of course, you may be thinking: "Eeeuuuwwww. The Olympics. Too many drugs, too much nationalism and too much commercialization." You are correct about all three, but the Games STILL deserve to be watched because you just won't see better-trained, higher-skilled or more thouroughly-prepared human specimens on the planet.
Sure, you watch the Major Leagues to get the best baseball, the NBA for basketball and the World Cup for soccer. The same people who play pro tennis week to week are doing itagain in Beijing, and hardcore pigskin fans don't need to be told that the Olympis don't have American football. So why not skip skip them AND the sometimes boring shows that open and close the Games?
Amazing, surprising and dramatic things happen at the Games from Day One: wrestlers, volleyball players, boxers, fencers, rowers, gymnasts and my personal favorite, track and field athletes, all know that this really IS the moment to leave it all on the field/mat/ring/track. And yes, they know it isn't too likely that they will earn a medal, but this is one place where no one sneers when someone says "I'm just happy to be here to compete for my country." Nothing wrong with that, as long as you don't mind a few commercials and the odd flunked drug test. I think of it as reflecting the world to us as it is - complex, competitive, sometimes unfair, but giving everyone a chance to be seen at their BEST. You have my permission to skip the rhythmic gymnastics and the synchronized swimming since it's just natural to be suspicious of sports that include makeup. Just remember - this moment, whatever it is, is SOMEBODY's dream.


Blogger Herman Jara Droguett said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:40 PM  
Blogger Herman Jara Droguett said...

Great blog, Mark. I guess I hadn't thought about the makeup presence at the Olympics; hillarious. After being in Spain for 5 weeks I can tell you how excited the entire country is about the Olympics, since Spain is pretty much at the top of the world in quite a few sports. I watched several of the Tour de France stages while I was there, and the commentators kept mentioning how much momentum Spain has now to bring home more medals than ever before, even more than when they hosted the games in Barcelona some years ago.

1:42 PM  

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