Boing Boing 

Nobody wants to host the 2022 Olympics


The only bids remaining are Almaty, Kazakhstan and Beijing (which has no mountains) -- all the other states that had bid have pulled out following devastating popular opposition (the remaining cities are in countries where the public doesn't get a vote).

Read the rest

London may host 2016 games

Rio isn't ready. It wouldn't be the first time London took over for other cities.

The Russian Olympics: Observations of a Perplexed Spectator

My friend Dale Dougherty, founder of MAKE Magazine and creator of Maker Faire, went to Sochi with his wife, Nancy. He wrote a long, fascinating account of their stay in Russia for Medium. He included lots of pictures.

“You are such a sports fan,” Nancy said to me, as though she just noticed it after 30+ years. I do love and hate being a sports fan. I’m conflicted. I’m not always sure why I like to watch sports — and it is as a spectator that I’m most intensely involved.

The conflict for me is that I really don’t care anymore who wins or loses. This is true in the Super Bowl, World Series and the Olympics. I don’t have a team I’m rooting for. I’m looking for something else and I think I realized what it is at the Russian Olympics.

It’s hard to watch the Olympics on TV in America because of the way they package it for Americans, trying to develop a sense that we are rooting for our country and making a connection to American athletes. So much is fabricated, and I wanted to see beyond that. I didn’t come to root for TeamUSA, although I do care what Americans are doing and how American athletes are competing. But it is not why I came to Sochi.

The Russian Olympics: Observations of a Perplexed Spectator

Pussy Riot use footage of cossack horsewhipping in new music video

One day after a video of Pussy Riot being horsewhipped by cossacks in Sochi went viral, the band had released a new music video in which the footage is heavily featured, amid anti-Putin rhetoric.

Read the rest

Cossacks horsewhip Pussy Riot at Sochi

Members of Pussy Riot, including the recently freed women Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, were brutally whipped, sprayed and beaten by cossacks representing Russian authorities at the Sochi Olympic Games. The women call the Olympics a political event, and report that they have been harrassed and detained continuously since arriving in Sochi to protest them.

Some other members of Pussy Riot have repudiated Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina and do not consider them to be representatives of Pussy Riot any longer.

Read the rest

Winter Olympics wipeout GIFs

The Winter Olympics offer us a great lesson in GIFs--specifically, the power of a well-made GIF to condense much longer-form content into its highest-impact few seconds. Where you've got weeks of serious content and coverage, the GIF has to focus on what brings you the most oomph. Wipeouts.

4chan's worksafe GIF section has been collecting the best of the wipeouts from the 2014 Winter Olympics for the last week. It's an impressive thread. Not only is it emotionally wrenching to see these athletes try so hard and fail, but the wipeouts highlight the magnitude of what they're trying to do. One big crash puts all the perfect runs and tenths-of-a-second into perspective. Here are some of my favorites.

Read the rest

Sochi's black-market Starbucks, courtesy of NBC


NBC's Sochi headquarters includes a secret, prohibited Starbucks with a crew of 15 imported baristas that keeps the NBC crew fuelled and in good spirits.

NBC and Starbucks say that having drinks dispensed by a non-sponsoring organization (Starbucks) doesn't violate the Olympics' corporate lickspittlery rules because the Starbucks, being located inside the private NBC pavilion, is a "personal item." The Starbucks presence at the Olympics is larger than 57 of the national delegations, and there's a whole elaborate supply-chain of beans being specially imported.

For me, the bewildering thing about this whole deal is that they went to all this trouble to import what is ultimately pretty shitty coffee. I mean, go big or go home -- bring in some beans from Tonx or Intelligentsia or Square Mile, get some of those badass baristas from Melbourne or Wellington, and really go to town. It'd probably be cheaper, and it'd taste about ten million times better. (via Super Punch)

(Image: Starbucks: Breeds Like Rats, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from hillaryandanna's photostream)

AT-ATs versus the Olympics

This is the only footage from Sochi that you really need to watch: when the AT-ATs of Russia attacked the skiers, it was sheer, Olympian magic. Watch it now before the IOC exercises its right to humorlessly obliterate anything that interferes with the corporate integrity of its celebration of human potential and indifference to human rights.

Star Wars OL (via Kottke)

Russian Olympic official to reporters: stop complaining about hotels or we'll release CCTV footage of you in the bathroom


Dmitry Kozak, Russia's Olympian deputy prime minister warned a Wall Street Journal reporter that he would release hidden-camera footage of journalists in their hotel bathrooms if they continued to complain about the substandard hotels in Sochi.

Just a reminder for anyone thinking of travelling to Sochi after the Olympics for a spot of tourism: according to Russia's deputy prime-minister, the hotel bathrooms have surveillance cameras that watch you in the shower.

Read the rest

Reporters document Sochi's Potemkin hotels

As journalists descend on Sochi for the most corrupt Olympics in history, they're discovering the region's Potemkin hospitality industry. The hotels that were meant to billet them while they reported on the games are half-built, unbuilt, falling to bits: but at least they've had their portraits of Vladimir Putin installed. Slave labor just isn't what it used to be.

Read the rest

Sochi: the most corrupt Olympic Games in history


Russian opposition member Alexei Navalny created a website to document the rampant corruption at the Sochi Olympics. The site is a map with clickable regions showing how illegal dumping, graft, inside dealing, and general sleaze caused billions of dollars to disappear into the pockets of Russian political elites and their mafiyeh buddies. The site was translated to English by the Interpreter, which notes:

Read the rest

Pussy Riot in Putin's gulag: daily forced gynecological exams


When Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova walked out of the Siberian prison camp IK-50, they were defiant. The Pussy Riot members said they wanted acquittal, not amnesty, and an affirmation of the right to protest in Russia. Tolokonnikova gave the press a V-for-victory and shouted "Russia without Putin!"

But afterwards, in a phone interview with the Guardian, Alyokhina described the horrific conditions inside, where women were put to slave labor, and where Tolokonnikova faced daily, punitive forced gynecological exams for three weeks.

Pussy Riot has called on western countries to boycott eh Sochi Games in February.

Read the rest

Stephen Fry to David Cameron and IOC: a Russian 2014 Olympics would be a repeat of the 1936 Berlin games


Comedian and national treasure Stephen Fry has written an open letter to UK Prime Minister David Cameron and the International Olympic Committee calling on them to move the upcoming Winter Olympics from Russia to another country, specifically, any country in which homosexuality is not criminalized and LGBT people are not violently scapegoated as they are in Russia. Vladimir Putin recently rammed through legislation that bans being gay, talking about being gay, or advocating for the rights of LGBT people, and violent gangs routinely and savagely attack LGBT people, with impunity. Vicious practices like "corrective rape" and murder are ignored by the police. Fry compares bringing the Olympics to Russia in 2014 to cowardice that led to the 1936 Berlin Olympics, which legitimized Hitler and the Nazis on the global stage.

Read the rest

Major sporting events are corrupt and corrupting

AirShowFan sez, "Insightful article about the protests in Brazil, which make clear that it's absurd for a government to spend billions in public funds for sports tournaments that (a) bring no clear benefits to the country and (b) violate citizens' rights. Boing Boing readers will be familiar with the many unreasonable demands made by the International Olympic Committee to their hosts, from restricted use of the word 'Olympic' to disallowing political speech. (The article recaps these issues by describing the trials of people who violated such rules during the recent World Cup in South Africa). Key take-away: If current trends continue, these games will soon only agree to be hosted by the (hopefully decreasing) number of nations with overly authoritative regimes."

Why does nobody think Usain Bolt cheated?

Covariation theory is a psychological idea that helps explain why we instantly suspect some record-breaking athletes of doping, while giving others the benefit of the doubt. (Via Melanie Tannenbaum)

WARNING: STREET ART TOURS ARE ILLEGAL!


My neighbourhood in East London has a lot of very nice street art, and a fair number of hipster entrepreneurs who lead tourist parties on "Street Art Tours." Artist Dr D combined the Olympic police-state with the Street Art Tour phenomenon to make this great prank notice, which I snapped on the way to our weekly Sunday brunch.

The Daily Duff: *STREET ART TOURS- ILLEGAL!*

Why do Olympic records keep getting broken?

Over at Discovery News, Emily Sohn asks the question I've been wondering for the last two weeks. Why are Olympians today better at their sports than Olympians of the past? Why do speed records keep getting broken? Why can gymnasts do more elaborate routines?

I mean, I have plenty of reasonable, speculative answers for those questions. But I hadn't seen them addressed in a factual way. This is great. And fascinating.

The answer, experts say, involves a combination of incremental technological improvements, as well as a growing population of people attempting a larger variety of sports that they start earlier and stick with longer. The mind plays a big role, too, especially when it comes to toppling seemingly insurmountable barriers, like the four-minute mile of the past or the two-hour marathon of the future.

"There is almost certainly a species limit in terms of physical capabilities, and I suspect we might be in the range of that," said Carl Foster, an exercise physiologist at the University of Wisconsin, Lacrosse. "But every time scientists say humans are not going to go any faster, they've been shown to be wrong. You can take that one to the bank."

Through calculations of maximum power output, oxygen use, heart function and other factors, some researchers have attempted to predict what the absolute limits of human ability will be. Much-debated estimates include 1:58 for the marathon (a five-minute improvement over the current men's record of 2:03.38), and 9.48 for the men's 100m.

Read the rest at Discovery News

Russian synchronized swimmers performed to the theme from Suspiria to the delight of Olympic horror nerds

The Russian synchronized swimming team performed their routine at the Olympics today. I won't spoil the results if you're waiting to watch the performance at another time, but you can check out the results here. Why is this noteworthy? Because their routine was set to Goblin's theme from Dario Argento's classic 1977 horror movie Suspiria. Suspiria. (And Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow, but Suspiria!) The video above is not from today's performance, but from their qualifying routine that took place back in April that used the same music, so it's probably the same routine (or close). Watch and listen as Natalia Ischenko and Svetlana Romashina turn dainty, graceful water dancing into a horrific painted-doll opera of limbs. Synchronized, twisty, demented limbs. (via Trailers From Hell)

Caturday

Boing Boing reader Nicholas Longtin of Minneapolis has carefully 'shooped a series of photos from the 2012 Olympics to include his cats. I'll consider it complete when this shot's included. (via BB Flickr Pool)

A be-mulletted Eric Bana has some very useful advice for aspiring Olympic athletes

Before he played Nero the evil Romulan, the Hulk, and other dramatic roles in gut-wrenching movies like Munich and Black Hawk Down, Eric Bana put on silly wigs and did impressions as part of his actual, full-fledged comedy career. The only time he's come close to doing a comedy film was Funny People, which is only about comedy. We have yet to see Bana show off his chops, but in the meantime, we have this sketch from the Australian show he was on in the '90s, Full Frontal. It's even Olympic-themed! "Horsey!"

Happy Banaversary [The Hairpin]

The Unbearable Lightness Of Being British

Photo: Shimelle (cc)

The epithets attached to the Olympic opening ceremony piled up: eclectic, spectacular, monumental, shambolic, parochial, world-beating, hideous, embarrassing, filmic, and even inspiring. In its parts, the spectacle was all of these things because of the whole, which formed a gush of free-floating anxiety, a confession on a therapist’s couch.

Many commented on the ceremony’s focus on times past, in what viewers outside of Britain took as a flamboyant history lesson or, less charitably, as a statement of a country with no future. This was, however, no simple portrayal of past events, but a raid conducted to shore up a particular view that exists at this time; a malaise suffered here and now.

Read the rest

Divers making weird faces in midflight

TheFW has gathered together a gallery of striking photos of Olympic divers' faces, captured in midflight by various photographers working for Getty Images. It turns out that divers make some pretty weird faces.

This Is How Olympic Divers Really Look While Diving (via Making Light)

(Image: downsized, cropped thumbnail of a photo by Matt King for Getty Images)

Twitter apologizes for part of the Guy Adams/NBC/Olympics affair

Here's a followup on the earlier story about Twitter suspending a journalist's account after he tweeted the work email address of an NBC exec and asked people to write in complaining about NBC's broadcasts of the Olympics.

Twitter has confirmed that their own employees alerted NBC -- who are working in partnership with Twitter on the Olympics -- that the Independent's Guy Adams had tweeted the email address of an NBC executive, and encouraged NBC to fill in a form officially complaining about this.

Twitter's general counsel Alex Macgillivray -- whom I like and respect -- has apologized on behalf of Twitter for this, saying that it was a violation of company policy to "proactively" police users' communications.

However, Macgillivray defends the suspension of Adams's account (which has now been lifted), saying that Twitter can't be expected to know, a priori, whether complaints about private email addresses being published are legitimate. The suspension here turns on whether the NBC address Adams tweeted was "public" or "private." When Twitter receives a complaint saying that a private email has been posted, it suspends the user in question and then entertains the user's side of the story.

I can see the rationale for this: if you stipulate that disclosing a user's personal information can sometimes cause serious harm, there's an argument to be made for erring on the side of caution at the start of the process, and then investigating further. However, this has to be weighed against the fact that Adams's own correspondence with Twitter's accounts team show that he quickly made a good case that what he had done did not violate Twitter's policy -- that the address he'd published was already public -- and yet the company didn't rescind his ban until much later. If you're going to shoot first and ask questions later, later had best be sooner.

That said, we want to apologize for the part of this story that we did mess up. The team working closely with NBC around our Olympics partnership did proactively identify a Tweet that was in violation of the Twitter Rules and encouraged them to file a support ticket with our Trust and Safety team to report the violation, as has now been reported publicly. Our Trust and Safety team did not know that part of the story and acted on the report as they would any other.

As I stated earlier, we do not proactively report or remove content on behalf of other users no matter who they are. This behavior is not acceptable and undermines the trust our users have in us. We should not and cannot be in the business of proactively monitoring and flagging content, no matter who the user is — whether a business partner, celebrity or friend. As of earlier today, the account has been unsuspended, and we will actively work to ensure this does not happen again.

Our approach to Trust & Safety and private information (Thanks, Xeni!)

UPDATED: 17-y-o arrested in England for sending nasty tweet to losing Olympian

Update: I misread the article -- the same 17-y-o later sent some pretty dreadful threats to the Olympian in question: "i'm going to find you and i'm going to drown you in the pool you cocky twat your a nobody people like you make me sick," etc. My initial reading was that these were other peoples' harrassing tweets. #readingcomprehensionfail

Police in Weymouth, Dorset, England came to the home of a 17-year-old boy and arrested him, because he had retweeted an unpleasant sentiment to an Olympic athlete. The offending tweet? "You let your dad down i hope you know that." (This was a pretty dickish thing to tweet, as the athlete in question had previously dedicated his performance to his recently deceased father). The charge is "malicious communication." The law in question is the Communications Act 2003, Section 127(1)(a) ("a message that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character"). It's great to see that the spirit of the Olympics is alive and well: athleticism and international cooperation means that people are only allowed to say nice things or they go to jail. Just about the only thing worse than being a dick on Twitter? Being a loony authoritarian cop who arrests people for being a dick on Twitter. (via /.)

Twitter does something really, really, really stupid - will they fix it?

Update: Twitter has officially apologized for part of its actions in this story.

You've heard by now that Twitter suspended Guy Adams, a journalist from the UK paper The Independent after Adams posted the email address of an NBC exec and urged his followers to send in email complaining about the network's (shamefully bad) handling of its Olympics broadcasts. Dan Gillmor in the Guardian has some context about how totally, boneheadedly stupid Twitter is being here, and what they need to do to fix it.

Adams has posted his correspondence with Twitter, which claims he published a private email address. It was nothing of the kind, as many, including the Deadspin sports blog, have pointed out. (Here's the policy, which Adams plainly did not violate, since the NBC executive's email address was already easily discernible on the web — NBC has a firstname.lastname@ system for its email, and it's a corporate address, not a personal one — and was published online over a year ago.)

What makes this a serious issue is that Twitter has partnered with NBC during the Olympics. And it was NBC's complaint about Adams that led to the suspension. That alone raises reasonable suspicions about Twitter's motives.

Now, Twitter has been exemplary in its handling of many issues over the past several years, including its (for a social network) brave stance in protecting user privacy; for example, it has contested warrantless government fishing expeditions. So I'm giving the service the benefit of the doubt for the moment, and hoping that this is just a foolish — if possibly well-meaning — mistake by a single quick-triggered Twitter employee. If so, Twitter should apologize and reinstate Adams' account immediately. If it does so, there's little harm done — and the company will have learned a lesson.

If Twitter doesn't reinstate Guy Adams, it's a defining moment

Guardian reconstructs Olympics basketball match in LEGO

If NBC's Olympics coverage were this adorable, I would not only watch it, I would forgive them for delaying it and pretending like it were live. Video: "Brick-by-brick men's basketball: USA v France" (Guardian.co.uk)

Sick of the Olympics already? Olwimpics browser blocker is your new best friend.

Greg Leuch at fffffat unveils the Olwimpics content blocker for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. Sweet Jesus, thank you. (via @gautamramdurai)

Olympics chief rings in the games

UK Olympics secretary Jeremy Hunt rang a bell Friday morning to herald the beginning of the summer games. The bell disintegrated, parts spinning into nearby bystanders.

The middle of nowhere

Mitt's international tour, day 1: "Say something so undiplomatic that your host sees no reason not to publicly insult you."

Olympic gold medals contain only 1% gold; would cost $25,000 if pure

The amount of gold in an Olympic gold medal has fallen to 1.34 percent, thanks to gold prices that recently peaked at $1,895 an ounce. At current prices, a pure 400g medal would cost about $25,000 to make, with a total bill of about $50m for the games.

"The last time the Olympic Games handed out solid gold medals was a hundred years ago at the 1912 Summer Games in Stockholm, Sweden," writes gold brokers Dillon Gage. "Gold medals were in fact only gold for eight years. The 1904 Olympics in St. Louis introduced the gold medal as the prize for first place."

The 2012 gold is 92.5 percent silver, 1.34 percent gold, and 6.16 copper, with IOC rules specifying that it must contain 550 grams of high-quality silver and 6 grams of gold. The resulting medallion is worth about $500. For the silver medal, the gold is replaced with more copper, for a $260 bill of materials.

The bronze medal is 97 percent copper, 2.5 percent zinc and 0.5 percent tin. Valued at about $3, you might be able to trade one for a bag of chips in Olympic park if you skip the fish.