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Sunday, July 24, 2016

One Month of Free Netflix Trial:

Netflix has an offer to try out its services for one month for free.  Watching western television online is getting to be more and more of a pain these days, so this trial option looks more and more inviting as time goes by.  But if you want to maximize the benefit of this one month of freedom, when exactly should such a trial be activated?

The answer is pretty clear -- after all the announced seasons of superhero shows have ended and you can marathon them all at once.

So when Supergirl season 2, Flash season 3, Legends of Tomorrow season 2, Arrow season 5, the Defenders, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones season 2, Daredevil season 3, Punisher and Iron Fist are all completed, that's the time to activate your netflix free trial and watch them all in a row.  Ten television seasons in a month shouldn't be too hard.  That gives you three days to complete each season. All these shows should be done sometime in 2017-2018, so basically, for ease and cheapness of viewing purposes, all western television should be relegated to the far future.  In the mean time, there's always anime, light novels, visual novels and video games.  World of Warcraft Legion starts right after the Olympics end.

Speaking of the Olympics, the IOC today did the right thing and did not ban Russia from Rio.  Instead it let each independent sports federation decide whether they thought their Russian athletes had done enough to prove they weren't doping and they could ban or not ban them accordingly.  Since no Russian gymnast was caught doping, this should mean that Russian gymnastics is safe, which is the high point of the Olympics anyway.  The rest I don't really care about, so long as they keep the gymnasts.

I would like more proof than the testimony of one defector that the entire Russian apparatus is involved in doping.  But given Russia's reputation of state-sanctioned doping throughout the cold war, I certainly wouldn't be surprised if they were up to their old tricks again.  The problem is suddenly doing a blanket ban of Russia now, when they and their Warsaw Pact allies went unpunished for decades of known doping in the past, proves that this has nothing to do with enforcing doping regulations and nothing to do with sport.  They were out for blood because they hate Russia, because Russia's geopolitics don't align with the USA's, and that's it.  If they wanted to be crusaders for clean sports justice, they wouldn't be singling out Russia, and they wouldn't have only started now, doping has been a fixture of sports for eons and it happens everywhere, both individual and the state-sponsored kind.

Instead of targeting geopolitical foes for worldwide humiliation and ostracism, how about actually solving the doping problem?  Keep an assigned independent official from the IOC with a video camera trained on an athlete at all times of their life, such that they are incapable of imbibing a drug without the IOC knowing about it, and voila, problem solved.  If doping truly is such a threat that it needs radical measures like for the first time ever kicking out one of the largest contributors to the Olympics, a simple measure like this should be no problem in comparison.  I'm sure athletes would much rather have their privacy invaded than be banned from the sport they trained for all their lives for no reason even though they were totally innocent of any wrongdoing.

I take back what I said about Rio being the best Olympics ever, though.  Part of Rio's charm was that for the first time the whole world had been invited to participate, there isn't a single tiny island in the pacific ocean which isn't competing.  But now that Russia's been neutered to such an extant, to the point that probably the majority of her athletes won't be allowed to participate, this can no longer be called the world games.  This is more like the 1984 games than the world games.  Rio will end up a dark chapter in the Olympic legacy for leaving out in the cold one of her most essential pillars to any successful games.  One can only hope that this whole doping crap will be solved by the time the 2020 Olympics comes along, at which point Tokyo can be the best Olympics ever.

One problem the Olympics really needs to solve is how few athletes from a single nation are allowed to compete per event.  A few days ago a USA woman's hurdler broke the world record in the 100m hurdles, a record that had stood for 28 years.  This woman, the fastest hurdler in history, will not be participating in the Olympic games because she was behind too many other USA qualifiers in the recent Olympic trials.  Why should athletes like this be punished just because the depth of competition in the USA is so high?  She's obviously worthy to compete on the world stage, she's the world record holder.  Kick out some no name who has never even approached a time like hers, and make the Olympics be actually about the best competing for the title of the world's best.  These strangulation regulations of only two competitors per country is really diminishing what it even means to be an Olympic champion.  It doesn't mean you've actually beaten all the best athletes of the world.  It means you've beaten a couple good athletes and a dozen affirmative action nobodies.  In all likelihood, the actual best competitors won't even be at the Olympics for one dumb reason or another.  The gold medal should mean something, but right now, with Russians banned from competing and the USA only allowed two entrants (or 3, or however many not based on actual merit but just a strict ceiling), they should just rename it the pyrite medal and be done with it.

Meanwhile, the Big 12 took my advice and have decided to expand to 12 teams again.  This way their size matches their name, and they can have a championship game like everyone else.  They should take my advice again and choose Houston and BYU as their two new teams.  Houston and BYU are good football teams now and across history.  They would be competitive in the conference.  Houston has close ties to other Big 12 teams via the Southwest Conference.  BYU is sitting around as an independent and would benefit greatly from belonging somewhere.  It just makes infinitely more sense than your other choices.

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