Sunday, August 21, 2016

Why is the British Olympic Team Named Team Great Britain Instead of Team United Kingdom?

     I do not pay much attention to the Olympics these days. Since the Cold War ended, much of the drama of competition has been lost. The 2016 games were particularly uninteresting, and would be even if not plagued by Brazil's political, economic, and public health issues. This doe not count the various scandals of Ryan Lochte's false claim of robbery, whether Gabby Douglas should have placed her hand over her heart during the national anthem, and he Egyptian wrestler who refused to shake his Israeli opponent's hand. The games inspired little enthusiasm.
       The games inspired little enthusiasm for me as an American, at any rate. If one is British, there was quite a bit to celebrate. The British enjoyed their bet Olympic performance in history, finishing second in the medal count behind the United States and ahead of China. Considering the country's tough transition out of the European Union after June's successful Brexit referendum, the accomplishment is a source of national. But placing the country in the international spotlight brings up a burning question that may matter only to political scientists: why is the British Olympic team called Team Great Britain and not Team United Kingdom?
      The problem succinctly put is United Kingdom refers to the union of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Britain excludes Northern Ireland. One might assume it is a political matter. Irish unification is a touchy, historically violent issue. Similar occurred at the 2015 Olympics. Taiwan was forced to compete as Chinese Taipei. But athletes from Northern Ireland were part of Team Great Britain, so that is not the case.
       The answer is less dramatic, but no less baffling: inclusivenes. The name Team Great Britain was chosen by the British Olympics Committee in 1999 just ahead of the 2000 games in Sydney, Australia. Elected officials in Northern Ireland objected to the exclusion of its athletic contributions in the abbreviated team name. The British Olympics Committee issues a statement in response declaring Team Great Britain includes Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, Channel Islands, Gibraltar, and the Falklands, among other overseas territories.
       But would Team United Kingdom not include of those as well? One would assume the name would be even more inclusive than Team Great Britain. Truth be told, it may all boil down to the uncooperative International Olympics Committee. The IOC has listed the United Kingdom as GBR since the modern inception of the Olympics, so the name Team Great Britain may a resignation to the country's Olympic designation fate.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Why No Daily Politics?

       The question remains unanswered—why do I not cover politics like I once did on my previous, long-running blog? The simplest answer is the other, extremely important issue on my mind way back in spring 2014 when I began writing again. Suffering an existential crisis compels one to search inward rather than wxx poetic on the day's events. While I have improved spiritually and emotionally, the fire in my belly for politics was extinguished and has yet to be re-lit. Well, except for my little excursion into the Darlington County sheriff' race.  But that was personal.  I can explain why daily politics holds no interest for me with the following three points.
       One, politics these day is absurd. I started paying attention to politics again when the primaries began in January. I had all intentions of blogging regularly on the subject, but found myself to make snarky comments via Twitter while live tweeting debates or after examining news items. I could not muter the will to produce any serious content because there was no serious content to find. Seriously...the Republican party could not stop a loose cannon, political novice from winning it nomination even though it put up sixteen other candidate in the effort. Meanwhile, the Democrats colluded to defeat an elderly socialist so their seizure prone favorite could earn the nomination—assuming she stayed out of federal prison. Try writing intellectual content that source material.
       Two, day-to-day politics is all about quickly forgotten sound bytes and quickly irrelevant, often contradictory, polls. No news lasts more than a day or two in the rapid mass media these days before being overshadowed by the next big thing. It I simply a waste of time to write about daily issue. The bigger picture lasts far longer. As for polls, I till feel burnt from 2012 when Mitt Romney was s far ahead, the blogosphere ran victory laps around Nate Silver's August prediction Barack Obama would win big. I reported on the accuracy of polls back then, but no more. Even Silver blew it earlier this summer when he predicted an 86% chance the United Kingdom would remain in the European Union as late as the morning of the referendum. Oops. I would not touch poll numbers with a ten foot poll these days.
       Finally, politics is a pageant. The government is a giant monster that gets a new head every four to eight years, but virtually nothing changes beyond which set of Wall Street banks benefit. If you looked at policy over the last sixteen year, could you tell which party was in charge when if they were not readily identified? I doubt it. I do not believe I could, at any rate. Rooting for a particular political persuasion feels more like a fruitless task by the day. Mercilessly mocking the process on Twitter ha its merit, even if just entertainment value, but I do not feel like going any deeper.
       Yet I still possess a strange affection for the academic discipline of political science. Useless though political science may be. History will teach you more about political science than actual political science. The subject is all about the big picture. The big picture is generally worth examining. So maybe some long, boring treaties on political issues may appear. You are all looking forward to those, right?             

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Saudi Arabia Jinn Hoax

       The above video has been circulating the internet for about a year and a half now. Various uploads offer differing accounts of what it actually is. The video has supposedly originated from Saudi Arabia, India, or Mexico. The hunched over figure is a witch, ghost, or just a creepy old woman. I will run through the possibilities debunking what I can below. One thing is for certain—the video is incredibly disturbing.
       Starting wit the most obvious...the figure is not a ghost, witch, or jinn. (Jinn is an Arabic word for demon.) I do not believe While I cannot change your mind if you are open to he possibility since I have no proof against, a natural explanation is a presupposition as far as I am concerned. Take it for what it is worth to you.
       What may not be so obvious is the terrified men panicking off camera are speaking in Arabic. So that rules out India and Mexico. That leaves us with the two most popular theories: Saudi border patrol video or Kuwaiti film students.
       The internet appears to prefer the Saudi border patrol theory. The story goes two border patrol officers, a veteran and a rookie, are driving near the Saudi-Kuwaiti border when they encounter this hunched over figure. It is the rookie you hear screaming to back up the vehicle as the figure chases them. The veteran remains calm throughout. Because the veteran remains so calm, it is presumed the encounter is a prank played on the rookie as hazing the new guy. 
       The only problem with this is the strict religious law in Saudi Arabia. Witchcraft and mysticism are capital offenses. I doubt anyone, particularly government employees, would risk being accused of witchcraft for the sake of pranking the newbie. Certainly they would not upload such evidence online.
       In every discussion thread I saw while researching this pot, someone inevitably popped up to say this video was made by two Kuwaiti film students who wanted to make a “found footage” movie like The Blair Witch project. This sounds like a far more reasonable explanation for the video's origin. The hunched over figure is clearly fake. Kuwait has a more modern sensibility, Film students would have more leeway playing with the horror genre there than in Saudi Arabia.
       While I lean towards the film students theory, the internet consensus says Saudi border patrol prank. You will have to make up your own mind. If it is a Saudi border patrol prank, they had better hope ISIS never get a hold of this video. They will learn the bet way to invade is to deres up like a Scooby Doo villain.

Friday, August 12, 2016

One Measly Pound

        One measly pound.
      All I have managed to gain in the last month is one measly pound. After all the pizza, burgers, donuts, and assorted cookies and candy bars, I only managed to add a pound. Sure, I weigh in at the second highest weight I have ever been besides the day the feeding tube was removed, but still. My metabolism is burning it off about as fast as I can shovel it in. Perhaps I need to become lazy.
       Here is a selfie to go along with the weight update. It is not my usual holiday selfie, but vanity require no special day. Yes, I need a haircut. I will try to get one before the end of next week. When my hair gets to a certain length, I can only style it with a part down the middle. Right now, it is so long and thick, I might lose that pound simply in lopped off hair.
      The picture is my new Facebook profile photo. But I am not sure it will remain in such a lofty position. As noted, the shaggy hair looks awful. The upward angle posses a certain Charles Foster Kane sense of self-importance, as well. Considering all the egocentric naval gazing frequently going on here, I do not need a similarly themed photo making things wore.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Getting My Blogging Groove Back

        It is the start of a new month. Every time the first of the month roll around, I say I am going to press full speed ahead into developing my blog into something worth reading. But every month so fr, I have faltered. It is largely because I like to focus, and I imply have not don that yet. Until now, that is. Yes, really. The following is the battle plan for the near future.
       First, I changed the name from Sine Qua Non to Gods & Monsters. Latin phrases are interesting and usually pointed, but they come across as awfully pretentious. It is not wise to make a blog inaccessible from the title on down. Hardly anyone will make it to the posts if they cannot draw some assumptions from the title. The title is from a toast offered by Dr. Victor Frankenstein in The Bride of Frankenstein to "A new world of gods and monsters!” It will probably still be off putting to some—especially the skeleton wearing a crown in the banner—but I like it. The feeling evoked fits in with the theme.
       Speaking of theme, coming up with a workable one has been the tougher challenge for lifting what is now gods & monsters off the ground. I have written this explanation before, but for the sake of thoroughfare, I will do so again. I wrote a blog called Eye of Polyphemus for the decade 2003-2-13. It began as a personal blog to cover my law school days and morphed into a place to vent over my nearly overwhelming health issue when they began piling on. It later settled into a groove of political blogging before devolving into some directions I never really cared about for the sake of visitor number. If you were around during the last days of The Eye, you could tell it was fading for more reasons than just the lack of attention because of my convalescence from my last abdominal surgery. I call this the Macular Degeneration Era of the Eye.
       By the way, I am irked to use the word devolving above. It is a valid word to describe a thing which I regressing. But whether a thing is regressing or progressing, it is still evolving. For some reason, the word evolution is synonymous with changes for the better, so we invent an unnecessary word for the sole purpose of accentuating the negative aspect. Language is a peculiar creature. But I digress.
       I ended The Eye in spring 2014 after a year off the grid because of some “unpleasant' circumstance. I needed to cope with thee new circumstances, and I felt writing about being dumped into a nursing home and all the lovely issues going along with it would not fit as a con continuation of a blog I had already lost interest. So I started up this blog in its original form. There were many dark emotions to purge and a twisted story to tell, as with all things, they passed. As such, the blog has meandered since leaving the nursing home a year and a half ago to settle in a more normal living arrangement. Sp what was next?
       Which leads to the second point. The last year and a half has been the first peaceful time I have enjoyed in over a decade, so I have used it to immerse myself in various interest. I went through a philosophy phase inspired by both recent intersection and long ago apologetic s. I soon became hooked on history podcasts. All the while, I experienced the usual daily encounters that make cause one to stop and think. Yet, I possessed little of my old discipline to park it at the keyboard and write the thoughts down like I used to do. Now I want to make a better effort to do so.
       My final point establishes what Gods & Monsters will be. For one, it is still a personal bog. Blogging is an act of vanity, so one might as well embrace the fact. Not all my experience of recent year have bean written down yet. I plan to complete them all. Because some things imply need to be preserved. Two, while I have steered away from politics, I have been bitten by the bug in recent weeks. You might have noticed a few personal touches in recent weeks. Day to day politics like poll watching and sound bites still does not interest me. They are the main reason I drifted away from politics during the latter days of The Eye. But political science issues still intrigue me. Does that mean my political coverage will be boring. Depends on how much you like dry analysis mixed with sarcasm, because that I how I roll. Finally, we will have interesting points of philosophy and history as I run across them.
       So basically, whatever pique my interest is likely to show up. Hopefully on a more regular basis. The new title some the possibilities up pretty well, does it not? Also hopefully with more outside interest. I was once part of a blogging community. The landscape has certainly changed, but I aim to rejoin the ranks. I remember those old days of launching a blog when you were pretty much performing a concert to an empty theater. In some ways, they were a lot of fun. Maybe steady blogging can bring it all back.