olympic attitudes

August 20, 2008 · 0 comments

in the sporadic viewing and news reading on the olympics (can i write that? do i have the rights to?), it's become pretty clear to me the differences in the national pride exhibited by the nemesis nations of america and china that have emerged. it's subtle, but important.

china is a country on the brink. they've been shrouded in mystery for centuries and
they are trying to shed the negative images of communism, being a backward nation, oppression, poverty, and human rights abuses.

the u.s.a. is a nation built on pride. how they became a country, their unique democracy, their fight for autonomy, their treatsies on what it means to be an american and even a human, their personalities, and so much more has instilled within the country, and all it's citizenry, a national pride that is currently unmatched.

specifically on the olympics, it's pretty clear to me both nations approach.

china is trying to show the world up. they seem to be doing it less for the purity and power of sport and the excellence of themselves, but rather to show everyone that they are a power. to show that they can do everything any other country can, and better. that it isn't the athletes competing, it's china competing. the athletes are secondary to china exerting a kind of dominance, proving that the country belongs on every world stage.

the americans aren't doing it to establish their nation, they've already arrived. but even before they arrived, it wasn't about that. it was about themselves. not showing the world their greatness, but reinforcing in themselves they are great. american athletes do it for their country, and the people to bolster their own sense of pride. natuarlly this comes off as egotistical, but it's unintentional outward boastfulness. they do it for themselves, and sometimes that comes across as conceited to the world.

respect plays a large part in it. china appears to be demanding the respect while the u.s. is, and has always gone the route of earning it. athletes in both countries work just as hard but the impetus and goals are different. to china, it is a tool for them to exhibit perfection as one example of the country's ability to be THE world power. to the u.s., it harkens back to their roots. they wanted respect and fought hard for it, proved they deserved it (ie. american revolution).

i've definitely gotten the sense that to china, losing is not an option. imperfection is not an option. no one likes to lose or fail, but we are human and as alexander pope said "to err is human." although the athletes are the focus, but it's also everything else surrounding the olympics which china has controlled and contrived as a way of telling the world they belong. for me, having the mentality of using the olympics as an outlet for a superiority complex is a little misguided. in a way it's saber rattling. i'd go so far as to say they are like a baby throwing a tantrum in a pay-attention-to-me way.

how long is a piece of string?

August 3, 2008 · 2 comments

i'm reminded about a quote a college instructor of mine used with some regularity. she would say "how long is a piece of string?" when discussing research and information gathering. it's stuck with me through the years. lately it's come to mind with regularity as i've been reading a lot of blogs and other site feeds (around 50 or so regularly) these days.

what i've found with blog reading is just how long that piece of string can be. the goal of this post is encourage you to follow that piece of string. wherever it leads, and however far off the original topic you were reading.

blogs are inherently social (duh) and in having that quality creates a richer experience for readers. social not only in the sense of who reads, shares, and contributes (formally or commenting) but also in how it incorporates other locales and information sources on the internet, and points to them.

traditional media sources, web 1.0 sites included, don't have this quality. with them, it's generally read article and you're done. it goes against their models to include links, that would only take people away from their site. besides, they are the only news source for you, right? you don't need to go anywhere else. it's not in their interest to send you away and it robs you of a deeper understanding of the information you seek.

so what's following the piece of string? well, here's a typical saturday morning where i set out to do some reading online. i open up my google reader and pick one of the blogs, and an article i want to read. then i click on all the links in that article that i want to go deeper in and open them as new tabs in the browser. then on each of those pages, i open up links found there. wash, rinse, repeat for as long as i want to follow that piece of string.

in the end, you end up with not just a deeper understanding of your original interest, but likely quite a bit more on many related topics. not to sound corny, but it can be an interesting and rewarding journey. your eyes could be opened to something new.



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