Sewing for soldiers, a new direction in treating mental illness, tax-free gold for Olympians, the bad grammar debate, and the happiness experiment.
China diver Wu Minxia got what she wanted -- a gold medal. What she doesn't have is a grandmother. Hers died a year ago but her parents and others never told her until after she won her medal this week. They wanted her to stay focused on her athletics and not be distracted by family matters.
"We accepted a long time ago that she doesn't belong entirely to us, I don't even dare to think about things like enjoying family happiness," her father told the Shanghai Morning Post, a testament to the win-at-all-costs mentality of some Olympians, their countries, and their families.
That's something to remember as the TV coverage continues to show as many parents in the crowd as the Olympians in the pool.
Meanwhile, New Zealand rower Peter Taylor revealed his grandmother died on the eve of the Olympics.
"I had an open chat with her before I left and we knew she may not be around when I got back and if that happened she said keep going and do your thing," he said.
Who's the more impressive Olympian: the one who won a gold but is too fragile to be distracted by life, or the one who faces the realities of life head-on and competes anyway?
(Photo: Al Belo/Getty Images)(8 Comments)
Here's an airliner's track on approach to an airport you don't see everyday...
It's believed to be the ground track for one of the three planes involved in a near miss at Washington's Reagan airport this week (courtesy Flightaware.com)
On Tuesday afternoon, an incoming flight cleared to land was flying head-on at two planes that had just taken off. It appears it was the fault of an air traffic controller or two, according to the Washington Post.
"Are you with me?" the tower controller asked the inbound pilot, checking to see whether he was tuned to her radio frequency. When the pilot acknowledged her, she ordered him to make an abrupt turn to the south to avoid the other two planes.
"We were cleared [for landing] at the river there," the pilot said after breaking off the approach northwest of the airport. "What happened?"
You know when the Olympics are at their best? When the games teach a little science.
There's a bunch more here.
The good news from London is this is the first Olympics I can recall in which the phone/email system isn't jammed with people who are upset because we mentioned who won medals, spoiling their evening TV.
Maybe people have been successful avoiding all forms of media and the titterings of colleagues. More likely, however, is people have realized their fun isn't really spoiled by knowing who's going to win.
Sometimes suspense ruins good viewing. I often taped sporting events, for instance, fully intending to watch it as if it were live. More often, though, I'd zip to the end, see if my team won, and then fully enjoyed the "how" part of it more than I otherwise would have (assuming my team won; otherwise I'd just hit delete).
NBC apparently realized this phenomenon too, according to the Associated Press.
NBC chief researcher Alan Wurtzel says that two-thirds of people who said they knew the results ahead of NBC's tape-delayed telecast said they would watch the events anyway. People who watched the events earlier in the day via computer stream watched the tape-delayed broadcast for a longer time than those who hadn't.
Wurtzel and NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus, were on a conference call today that sought to defend criticism of NBC for tape-delaying broadcasts.
Lazarus said the London Games -- tape-delayed as they are -- have higher ratings than the prime-time live broadcasts from China four years ago.
Tuesday's broadcast of the U.S. women's gymnastics team winning gold, and Michael Phelps winning two races, garnered a 21.8 rating. Game 5 of the NBA Finals, got a 12.6 rating on ABC. Only one of those was live.
Bottom line? Sometimes what people say they want, isn't really what they want. NBC knew that.
Update 2:25 p.m. -- I spoke too soon. This just in:
Why are you putting this on the front page of the MPR website? The event has not yet been broadcast and I was looking forward to this event more than any other in the Olympics. Is it so hard to publish a headline to the affect of "Female Gymnast Claims All Around Gold", so that a viewer can click on the story and you don't ruin the surprise for people who have to work all day, like me? I am so disappointed and I expected so much more from MPR. Shame on you. Please take this headline down so you don't ruin it for more people.
Let me take this one:
Dear audience member:
It' s not the job of the news media to set your agenda for your TV viewing. It's the job of the news media to tell those people who want to be informed of the day's events, what those events were. We write headlines the same way we would for any other news story.
This is not the last scene of The Dark Knight Rises we're talking about here. This is an event widely considered to be current news.
I understand that while others may want to be informed as events occur, you would not want to have the event spoiled. That's why the responsibility for avoiding the news rests primarily with you.
To do otherwise is an utter failure of a news organization. And, by the way, it would also require staff to rewrite headlines for archival purposes after a suitable time has passed. That's an expense that distracts from what we do -- tell people what happened today.
Personally, I've never felt any shame for doing so.
Update 2:32 p.m. - My colleague, Paul Tosto, has reminded me of a 2004 study involving a Minnesota researcher who determined that humans swim just as fast through syrup as they do through water.(13 Comments)