Video of the day

Okay, I may have one more Olympics post to squeeze in, so no promises, but I thought this video of how the uneven bars has evolved in Women’s gynastics was really cool.  Upon seeing it, I remembered some of those cool moves spinning around the bar at the waist.  Amazing how much closer together the bars used to be.  (via Kottke):


I meant to write this post a while ago, but since it’s the last night of the Olympics, I better get around to it.

First, I really enjoyed Nate Silver’s analysis of what the easiest and hardest sports to medal in are.  The basic principles: it should be cheap, not dominated already dominated by a few nations, and offer a lot of medals.  The winners: wrestling, tae-kwon-do, weightlifting

Interestingly, a recent post in the NY Review of Books basically finds that’s pretty much the exact approach East Germany took in their days of sporting dominance:

Most people think the Eastern Bloc’s success was simply a question of massive doping—women with Adam’s apples and beards. But smart countries realized there were other explanations for the success. Warsaw Pact governments spent a huge amount of money on sports, true, but the key was that they ruthlessly targeted only likely medal winners. East Germany, for example, never bothered with ice hockey because it realized it would have to train at least two dozen elite athletes just to field a team and even then would have a tough time against established powerhouses. Instead, it focused on sports where one athlete could win multiple medals—speed skating and cycling for example. It also avoided sports that depended on having leagues (ice hockey, basketball, baseball and so on); better to support athletes who trained alone because they required less infrastructure. And of course athletes like Katarina Witt got enough money—and national prominence—to make it a profession. Amateurism was for losers.

On a related note, interesting time to revisit this Wall Street Journal piece predicting Olympic medals (it did pretty good):

Instead, London should vindicate America’s decentralized and entrepreneurial approach to developing the world’s best athletes. The Wall Street Journal’s projections show Team U.S.A.’s 530 athletes should leave London with 40 gold medals and 108 overall, topping the Chinese, who are projected to collect 38 gold medals and 92 overall.

Actual results: 104 total and 46 gold for US; 87 total and 38 gold for China.



Read lots of good stuff about Paul Ryan today worth mentioning.

1)First, Chait made the right call before it actually happened:

In any case, the conservative drumbeat for Ryan has grown so overwhelming that it’s no longer even clear that Romney could turn Ryan down for anIncredibly Boring White Guy, even if he wants to. The Republican Party belongs to Ryan.

2) Ryan Lizza, who just wrote the great profile of Ryan:

Romney’s choice of Ryan will undoubtedly be criticized as capitulation to the right, and this pick does seem to demonstrate that Romney is not able or willing to distance himself from the base of his party. But the good thing about the Ryan pick is that the Presidential campaign will instantly turn into a very clear choice between two distinct ideologies that genuinely reflect the core beliefs of the two parties. And in that sense, Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan is good news for voters.

3) A lot of interesting thoughts from Nate Cohn, who discusses the matter as a Romney rebranding:

After suffering relentless attacks on Bain Capital, outsourcing, and taxes, the Romney campaign needed a vice presidential selection capable of jumpstarting a thorough rebranding effort heading into the convention. There is no question that Ryan is a bold enough pick to give Romney the theme his candidacy needs, but it is far from clear whether the Ryan brand will serve Romney well. It is probably telling that both Democrats and Republicans think that Ryan was a great pick for their chances, but history suggests that it’s not wise to stand on the side of fundamental reforms to entitlement programs. It’s possible to envision how Ryan could ultimately prove an asset, but my presumption is that the Ryan plan hinders Romney’s chances until proven otherwise.

4) Great piece by Jon Cohn on 5 things you should know about Ryan.  If you are a committed Democrat, you should definitely read it.  One of em:

5. Ryan really does want the biggest transfer of wealth, from poor and middle class to rich, in modern U.S. history.

5) And, oh my, Michael Grunwald wrote this over a year ago (and re-linked to it today), but its pretty much the best thing on Paul Ryan and the media’s love for him that I’ve ever read:

I just don’t understand what’s so brave about fuzzy math in the service of Tea Party ideology. Ryan’s plan certainly could become unpopular, but only if people realize what’s actually in it. And he certainly isn’t bragging about the elements that could alienate the public. For example, his plan would presumably require tax hikes on the middle class in order to achieve its stated goals of keeping revenue levels steady while slashing rates for high earners and corporations. But Ryan doesn’t get into those details. To the extent that identifying specific and immediate cuts is politically courageous, House Republicans deserve far more credit for their insistence on slicing $61 billion in spending out of the current budget — at the risk of a government shutdown — than for Ryan’s vague pledges about the distant future.

More to come, I’m sure.  These are a great start.

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