The Iraq Exposure Meter

Over at Kevin Drum’s, he’s welcoming the changing of the guard at The New Republic, complimenting them while trying to articulate what he thinks they are missing:

Like a lot of people, I find TNR to be a maddening magazine. At the same time, I also find it indispensable. …just take a look at their masthead. I’m not a fan of every single one of TNR’s senior editors (a title that’s essentially code for “staff writer,” not someone who actually does any editing) but 80% of them are top notch. It’s hard to think of any other political magazine that can match that collection of talent, and they consistently churn out a remarkable amount of top notch political journalism.

So what’s their problem? … Their writing is better than most of their competitors. Do they need to cut down on what sometimes seems like knee jerk contrarianism? Maybe. One Michael Kinsley is enough.

[ellipses mine – A.L.]

No, Kevin, explains, there’s just one problem.

Do they need to finally figure out — plainly and unambiguously — that the Iraq war was a mistake?

Bingo. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem likely to happen, and as long as they decline to learn the obvious lesson from our current adventure in Mesopotamia they’re just not going to find a very big liberal audience. And that’s too bad, because an awful lot of good stuff is being held hostage.

[emphasis mine – A.L.]

It’s been interesting, in the week of my blogging hiatus (taking two hours every day to watch TV just blows your at-home productivity all to hell), to watch the CW solidify as Bush’s popularity declines, and right wing idols Buckley and Fukayama step onto the train and declare the war a catastrophe.

I’m wrestling with it myself.

What I’m wrestling with as a first step is my belief in the power of groupthink. In the power of the innate human desire to go along with the group, and the effect it has on people.

When I was in college, I was a pretty serious photographer. I made some money doing it; I sold some pictures (journalism to local and regional papers and sports photos to some calendars) as well as took some fairly serious classes. I took a class from a photographer named Joe Czarnecki – I’ve remembered his name because of what he did.

He told us that he wanted to calibrate our meters, and walked up to a wall held up his expensive light meter, and announced that it was an EV of – I don’t remember – and that it would thus be an exposure at 1/250 at, say F 2.8 (I’m making up the values).

One by one, we walked up to the wall, looked through our SLR’s or at our meters, and announces that yes, the right exposure for ASA200 film was F2.8 @ 1/250.

I walked up to the wall, held up my camera (I had a meter stuck to the top of a rangefinder Leica) and it read something completely different. I remember looking at it, and in what even then felt like an act of complete, if minor, cowardice, announcing that I agreed with the group within a 1/4 stop.

Several others came by, agreed, and then once we were all in, Joe walked back to the wall.

“Oops,” he said. “I must have made a mistake. It’s really F1.4 at 1/60.” And he looked at us with what I can only describe as contempt.

The room was full of mortified silence. Everyone else had done what I did.

Czarnecki explained that his point was simple. When our eyes disagreed with what other people were telling us, we should trust our eyes.

He had a larger point, about artistic vision, which he went on to make. But his basic point – believe your eyes and don’t give in to the pressure of the group is a memory that’s pretty well rooted in me; and as I see sensible people like Kevin Drum explain that the only thing that keeps The New Republic from being the anchor point of modern liberalism is this one issue where they just won’t go along, the image I keep having is of my professor leaning into the wall, holding his light meter, and going “Oops”.

Kevin Drum In Jeopardy

I’m supposed to be writing about e-Voting – which I think is the most important issue – the port issues, the horrible bombing of the al-Askari shrine in Iraq, or something else momentous and weighty.

Instead I want to blog about Jeopardy.

Kevin Drum just went and took (and I presume, passed) the test to get onto the show.

And sitting here watching the Winter Olympics I had a major flash of deja-vu, and thought I’d take a moment and write about it. You see, it’s time to start panning for our annual Arbor Day party.

Eight years ago, almost exactly, we got cable TV installed so we could watch the Winter Olympics. I’m not sure why I have such a jones for the Winter Olympics; I took a couple of years off to see if I could get good enough at something (cycling track sprints) to go (the answer was no – actually, HELL no). We got it taken out the week after it ended – and we’ll probably do that again now.

This was the Nagano Olympics.

You may recall the TV coverage of that Olympiad. It – kindly – sucked.

So our family sat around the TV and did what normal Americans do. We watched Jeopardy. And I got engaged in the all-American enterprise of abusing the contestants.

How the %$@@! can you not know the answer to that question!

What are you doing on national television! You’re an idiot!

My sons, who worship and respect me in all things, gently suggested that if I was so smart, perhaps I ought to try out and go on the show.

I explained to them that no real people go on game shows; I believed that everyone involved was an unemployed actor.

Six weeks later, I was driving to the Sony lot in Culver City to take my test. I’ll skip over the details of how I wound up there, except to note that my sons have always been good at forging my signature, and that the father of multiple sons is always walking a fine line, risking losing his status as the alpha primate in the household.

I’d crammed an encyclopedia of television, and one of sports, and walked in confident I’d pass the test and take home bragging rights to my sons.

I did pass, and I not only bragged but abused the boys. My chores? Theirs now. After all, I’d passed the Jeopardy test.

My confidence lasted two months.

My office phone rang. “Hi, Marc! This is Greg from Jeopardy! We’d like you to come down on Thursday and tape with us. Does that work for you?

Abada-abada-abada – I told him I’d have to see if I could clear my calendar and get back to him.

When I can’t make up my mind, I tend to do impromptu focus groups. So I called several friends.

After the third one suggested that he’d come to the office and drag my sorry butt to the studio, I called Greg and got my instructions.

I drove onto the lot with my four changes of clothes, parked, and walked to the studio, where I checked in.

They had a covey of unemployed comedians (actually, if they were working, they weren’t unemployed, I guess) who acted as our handlers. They were funny, engaging, helpful, and full of lore.

Don’t eat the pink donut! If someone eats the pink donut, the show will have technical problems.

I ate the pink donut.

So we went out on the set, and played some practice games.

What you can’t see on TV is the bank of lights recessed around the question screens; a producer hits a button when Alex is done asking the question, and then and only then can the button you have in your hand buzz you in. There’s a certain amount of anticipation – kind of like a drag racer – and the lights are activated by someone listening to Alex like you are. So you can’t key off the lights…

If you buzz too soon, your buzzer locks out for about half a second. Every time you hit the buzzer, it locks for a moment (less than half a second, I think); so the key here is to hit it once, and then with the right rhythm.

We got our pictures taken with Alex; here’s mine – note the somewhat sour look on his face; I’d just given him rabbit ears in our first picture. I’d expected a dry – oh, no one’s ever done that before – and got a bolt of pure rage. He was furious with me.

Jeopardy.JPG

I’ll note that I got the call the day after I got the first – and only – buzz cut of my adult life.

So I assumed – between the pink donut and pissing the host off – that I was going to be in the pool of people who didn’t get on – they film five shows a day; there is one returning winner, and so they need ten new contestants a day, and they bring fourteen.

I didn’t mind not getting on – it meant I got props for going, and didn’t actually have to go on – and just rolled with it.

There was a young guy – one of the straightest people I’ve ever met (he made Kevin Drum look like Mike Ness) – who went into the first game, and blew everyone out. He was great!

I kind of became his handler. He was so stressed when he came off that he’d sweated through his shirt and his jacket; I’d help him get new clothes out, get a drink, and remind him to breathe.

Game two, he blew everyone out again.

Game three, the audio system failed, so we had lunch early. The handlers glared at me. They got it fixed, and he blew everyone out.

Game four, they called him, and then, surprisingly, they turned to me…

…and I was on Jeopardy!

The game itself was a kind of a blur; it’s funny that today I still clearly remember hanging out in the green room and eating the pink donut, and that I only have four memories of the game itself.

I was ahead early, and there was a moment when I went “whew! this isn’t so hard!” On the tape, you can see me visibly exhale and relax.

When we did our stories – the little self-revelatory anecdotes – mine ran wayyy too long. I frantically tried to wrap it up while Trebek glared at me some more.

The third contestant with us was a nice woman from Oregon who answered maybe three questions the whole show. When she buzzed in the first time, I rember looking at her in amazement. the tape shows me looking at her with a “where did you come from?” look.

And at the very end, when I realized that I didn’t know the answer to Final Jeopardy, I started to write a smartass answer until I realized that they’d been very clear – if we did anything political, or obscene, or obviously stupid, our taping would be ended and we’d be gone. I frantically rewrote my answer to something lame but plausible.

The question?

“What holiday is celebrated on March 7 in California, April 23 in Nebraska, and March 26 in Spain?”

I’ve hated Arbor Day ever since then…

The winner wasn’t me – and he went on to win all five games that day.

It was huge fun. I won a cool trip to the Caribbean and got to take the boys for a week, and I’ve got this picture of me and Alex Trebeck.

My advice for Kevin? Practice buzzing with a ball-point pen. And eat the pink donut.
-

Standing Alongside Kos

OK, imagine an issue where this site closely aligned with a Daily Kos diary.

Right now, if you live in California, there’s something you need to do. Here’s what’s on Kos:

The Plan:  CALL 5 SENATORS on CA Senate Rules Committee (see #s below)

You will be requesting Subpoenas on KEY WITNESSES — on election industry and certification insiders who did not come forth on the 16th to testify under oath.

The Goal:  Subpoena-induced sworn testimony from voting machine vendors and errant testing labs, voting machine examiners.

  THIS IS EASY.  YOU CAN DO IT.  YOU MUST DO IT.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

FIRST

Here is your contact list for the Rules Committee, you need not be Californian:  Urge support for subpoenas of election industry and certification insiders who didn’t testify on the 16th.

IT’S ONLY 5 CALLS/ EMAILS

Senator Don Perata (Chair) D

(916) 651-4009  
District office (510) 286-1333
Senator.Perata@sen.ca.gov

Senator Jim Battin (Vice-Chair) R
(916) 651-4037
Jim.Battin@sen.ca.gov

Senator Roy Ashburn R
(916) 651-4018
senator.ashburn@sen.ca.gov

Senator Debra Bowen D
EMAIL ONLY Debra@debrabowen.com
– (Ms. Bowen is mounting this case and will be busy preparing, emails are welcomed– See below*)

Senator Gilbert Cedillo D
(916) 651-4022

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

SECOND-  What to say:

Be concise, be polite, be professional. Here’s your message: ask for “Rules Committee support for subpoenas of election industry and certification insiders who won’t otherwise inform the Elections Committee as to what’s going on”.

The key people:  Diebold head programmers, federal testing labs (Ciber, Wyle) that repeatedly certified these flawed systems, voting system examiners who took taxpayer money, spent hours on  so-called “security exams” on systems your 12-year old sister can hack, then repeatedly recommended for certification.

This is about volume of calls logged, emails sent.  Not only should YOU make calls, but this needs to go out to your list.

Polite, professional, short clear message, FIRM is what works. Your passion and conviction will speak volumes.

Once subpoenas go out, that will have nationwide impact. Never before have the key witnesses had to answer questions under oath in public.  That will unravel the garment, and we are so close.  Demonstrate that the citizenry of America wants those guys compelled to testify, with subpoena power, under oath.  Per Bev Harris…”Perjury will follow”.  It’s our best shot that is achievable before the critical Nov. elections.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

THIRD – if you want to do more:

Suggestions from Bev Harris of BlackBoxVoting.org-

Next comes gathering evidence in the form of public records.  I’ll work with any who volunteer to send customized public records request letters, will help
you learn the ropes, will suggest some really juicy stuff to ask for.  This year, it is all about mentoring individuals to regain their power as citizens. Just one
person can make a difference.

But you need evidence, and records requests are the best way to get it. For the power of a single records request by a single individual, look at what Joan Quinn achieved in the article called “Voting machine examiners chickening out” on our home page, I think it’s the third article down on www.blackboxvoting.org.

* UPDATE:  State Senator Debra Bowen, working feverishly on the forefront of election integrity, wrote me last night to request that we email her offices rather than call. Her words:

“Email is great because it is easy for us to log and report — and we can actually prove how many emails we’ve received!”

“We are going to need an enormous amount of people power in the next couple of weeks.   Together we can change this whole pathetic mess.  Let’s stand up for our democracy RIGHT NOW.”

“Please email me in support of issuing subpoenas rather than calling  — you will save my staff a great deal of time logging calls, and you know what kind work we have
to do right now.  You can always call and fax later!”

Use this address:  

Debra@debrabowen.com

“Anyone cross-posting, please include the contact info — www.debrabowen.com  and the email address.  My team will strategize
about this in the next 24 hours.  There is so much happening at once.”

“I have a stack of documents to read, so I’m going to log off.  We’ll get our  contact plan out before offices open on Tuesday, but email doesn’t have to wait for the end of a holiday weekend.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

THANKS EVERYONE, IN ADVANCE, FOR MAKING FIVE EXTREMELY IMPORTANT PHONE CALLS FOR DEMOCRACY.

For more information on election issues, see my website: Who’s Counting? Recommend the Chapters on “Technology” and “The Companies” as a Primer.

Tags: Diebold, McPherson, California elections, Election fraud, Action Alert, Election reform, 2006 elections, Debra Bowen (all tags)

Reform And Chaff

WHY MY OSTENSIBLE PARTY, THE DEMOCRATS, WILL NOT BE ABLE TO USE BUSH’S CORPORATE HISTORY AGAINST HIM

From today’s NY Times

The bill, which has been vigorously opposed by consumer-rights groups, had long been the top legislative priority of credit card companies and some banks, which insist that many debtors abuse the bankruptcy laws to escape debts they should be able to pay. The companies sharply stepped up campaign contributions to members of Congress in recent years as they promoted the legislation.

Among the biggest beneficiaries would be the MBNA Corporation of Delaware, which describes itself as the world’s biggest independent credit card company. Ranked by employee donations, MBNA was the largest corporate contributor to President Bush’s 2000 campaign.

The company has also recently acknowledged that it gave a $447,000 debt-consolidation loan on what critics viewed as highly favorable terms to a crucial House supporter of the bill only four days before he signed on as a lead sponsor of the legislation in 1998. Both MBNA and the lawmaker, Representative James P. Moran Jr., Democrat of Virginia, have denied that there was anything improper about the loan.

I’m too disgusted to comment.

Posted by Armed Liberal at July 26, 2002 09:27 AM

I posted this four years ago, and it presents two problems that Democrats will have to deal with in this election cycle, as the culture of corruption in Washington begins to be an issue.

First, the moral issue, which is simply that we won’t solve the problem by solving only the Republican half of it.

Next the instrumental/political one which simply is that the Democrats can’t make a strong stand on the specifics of corruption – even though their proxies at TAP are hammering Rick Santorum right now – because they themselves are too vulnerable.

As I’ve said, I think there’s an opportunity for the Democrats to use this and make both moral and political progress – but it will require cleaning their own house first. I think that’s a smart political move, not a dumb one, because it iwll show the American people that they are serious about changing the culture in Washington.

Until then, it’s just chaff.

John Boyd And Torture

The New Yorker article everyone is citing on the genesis of Administration policies on prisoner treatment – I think that the term ‘torture’ is one that tends to stop thinking – has me continuing to wrestle with the issues involved.

I’ll start with the statement that this isn’t something that will drive my overall view of the war. In total, our treatment of prisoners can be compared favorably to what we did in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, and is worlds ahead of the ways that prisoners are treated by anyone else.

What’s at issue is the way we’re treating a population of partisans – combatants who are technically not entitled to Geneva protections – and who stand somewhere on a continuum between terrorists and troops.

I want here to make a case to my fellow supporters of the war that overly-harsh – and I’m honestly not sure where the exact line is – treatment of really bad, or suspected really bad, people is a really bad idea.

It’s not a really bad idea because they don’t deserve it, or because the inevitable case where something horrible happens to an innocent means we should put down our guns and come home because the whole effort is morally compromised.

It’s a really bad idea because it throws away the most effective weapon we have in dealing with the larger Iraqi and Afghan population, the people we have to win over to win the war. It throws away the clear difference between us and them. But don’t take it from me, take it from John Boyd (in ‘Patterns of Conflict‘)

From Slide 108:

Action:

Undermine guerilla cause and destroy their cohesion by demonstrating integrity and competence of government to represent and serve needs of the people – rather than exploit and impoverish them for the benefit of a greedy elite.*

Take political initiative to root out and visibly punish corruption. Select new leaders with recognized competence as well as popular appeal. Ensure that they deliver justice, eliminate grievances and connect government with grass roots.*

Infiltrate guerilla movement as well as employ population for intelligence about guerilla plans, operations, and organization.

Seal-off guerilla regions from outside world by diplomatic, psychological, and various other activities that strip-away potential allies as well as by disrupting or straddling communications that connect these regions with the outside world.

Deploy administrative talent, police, and counter-guerilla teams into affected localities and regions to inhibit guerilla communication, coordination, and movement; minimize guerilla contact with local inhabitants; isolate their ruling cadres; and destroy their infrastructure.

Exploit presence of above teams to build-up local government as well as recruit militia for local and regional security in order to protect people from the persuasion and coercion efforts of guerilla cadres and their fighting units.

Use special teams in a complementary effort to penetrate guerilla controlled regions. Employ (guerillas own) tactics of reconnaissance, infiltration, surprise hit-and-run, and sudden ambush to: keep roving bands off-balance, make base areas untenable, and disrupt communication with the outside world.

Expand these complementary security/penetration efforts into affected region after affected region in order to undermine, collapse, and replace guerilla influence with government influence and control.

Visible link these efforts with local political/economic/social reform in order to connect central government with hopes and needs of people, thereby gain their support and confirm government legitimacy.

Idea:

Break guerillas’ moral-mental-physical hold over the population, destroy their cohesion, and bring about their collapse via political initiative that demonstrates moral legitimacy and vitality of government and by relentless military operations that emphasize stealth/fast-temp/fluidity-of-action and cohesion of overall effort.

*If you cannot realize such a political program, you might consider changing sides.

(emphasis and footnote his)

(slide 118):

Observations Related To Moral Conflict

No fixed recipes for organization, communications, tactics, leadership, etc.

Wide freedom for subordinates to exercise imagination and initiative – yet harmonize within intent of superior commanders.

Heavy reliance upon moral (human values) instead of material superiority as basis for cohesion and ultimate success.

Commanders must create a bond and breadth of experience based upon trust – not mistrust – for cohesion.

I’ll also wag a finger at the antiwar media; their decision to oppose any real moral position supporting the war – not just to make either-or assumptions, but to clearly suggest that there is no moral side in favor – is more damaging than we understand.

Tolerance and Cluelessness

TG caught this in the paper today, and I decided something in it made it eminently bloggable:

Dear Amy: My husband and I have lived in our quiet suburban Denver neighborhood for six years.

About two years ago two young gay men moved in across the street. They’ve taken the ugliest, most run-down property in the neighborhood and remodeled and transformed it into the pride of the street.

When it snows, they shovel out my car and are friendly, yet they mostly keep to themselves.

Last month I went out to retrieve my newspaper and watched them kiss each other goodbye and embrace as they each left for work.

I was appalled that they would do something like that in plain view of everyone.

I was so disturbed that I spoke to my pastor. He encouraged me to draft a letter telling them how much we appreciate their help but asking them to refrain from that behavior in our neighborhood.

I did so and asked a few of our neighbors to sign it.

Since I delivered it, I’ve not been able to get them to even engage me in conversation.

I offer greetings but they’ve chosen to ignore me.

They have made it so uncomfortable for the other neighbors and me by not even acknowledging our presence.

How would you suggest we open communications with them and explain to them that we value their contributions to the neighborhood but will not tolerate watching unnatural and disturbing behavior. – Wondering

Dear Wondering: You’re lucky that these gentlemen merely choose to ignore you.

Your neighbors could respond to your hospitality by hosting weekly outdoor “gay pride” barbecues and inviting all of their friends to enjoy life on our quiet suburban street.

I can hold out hope that they will choose to do this, but I’m spiteful in that way. Your neighbors sound much more kind.

In your original petition to these men, you basically stated that while you value them when they are raising the standard on your street and shoveling your driveway, you loathe them for being who they are.

The only way to open communication with your neighbors would be to start by apologizing to them for engaging your other neighbors in your campaign. Because you don’t sound likely to apologize, you are just going to have to tolerate being ignored.

And embarassed in print as well…somehow I keep thinking of the classic line in Blazing Saddles, where the elderly woman brings an apple pie to Bart, the black sheriff, after he’s saved the town from Mongo and then comes back to remind him to have the decency not to tell anyone she’s talked to him.

A Tough Question About Thoughtcrimes

[Update: Irving has been sentenced to three years.]

As you can probably imagine, I don’t have a lot of love for Nazi apologists, or Nazis themselves, especially Illinois Nazis (see here).

But reading the London Times about the trial of right-wing Holocaust denier David Irving, I felt a twinge.

He’s on trial for what is – essentially – a thoughtcrime. I haven’t read his stuff directly, but from all reports, he denies the existence of the Holocaust.

He’s now on trial for that.

Mr Irving faces a maximum sentence of ten years in jail under Austria’s 1946 Banning Law which makes it an offence to publicly diminish, deny or justify the Holocaust. He has been held without bail since November on charges stemming from two speeches he made to Austrian rightwingers in 1989.

And having pled guilty, and facing the issue of sentencing, the issue isn’t his actions but his thoughts.

“Irving walked in with a swagger but soon ended pushed up against the wall in cross-questioning by the judge that forced him to apologise or express regret for almost every utterance he had made over the past 20 years.

“He admitted saying in 1989 that there were no gas chambers in Auschwitz. But he is saying that since he saw various documents in 1992 he has changed his mind and now accepts that Jews were killed.

“It’s a jury trial and Irving keeps on making references to his daughter, hoping that he will get a suspended sentence so he can leave Austria tonight. But the judge is pushing him all the time, demanding apologies – he’s being even tougher than the prosecutor.

Now I don’t know about you, but there’s something deeply creepy about this to me. I accept that we’re in an ideological battle more than a military one – it’s about the War on bad Philosophy, after all. But having spent the weekend reading reviews of the latest movie Sophie School: the Final Days about the White Rose, a short-lived student protest group in Nazi Germany, I’m just damn uncomfortable to be reading about a judge demanding to know that in his heart, David Irving has changed his mind.

An Issue That Should Unite Us All

I’ve followed and written for a long time about issues with the mechanics of voting – the concern that in a highly polarized polity like ours, the legitimacy of elections is going to be tested, and to the extent there are valid grounds to doubt them, the outcomes will not be accepted.

It’s the old “it’s not the voting, it’s the counting” issue.

Bloggers to the left of me (Brad Friedman at Bradblog is all over this issue), and to the right of me (Instapundit) are all equally concerned about this.

We ought to be more concerned. A lot more concerned.Right now is a four-month window before the June elections when many states are trying to decide how they will comply with the federal HAVA act. Here in California, we are about to be locked in a battle to decide if our votes will be processed – I won’t say counted – by poorly designed voting machines and systems.

Friday, the California Secretary of State conditionally approved (pdf) the use of the fatally-flawed Diebold voting machines, subject to some rather sketchy conditions. Take a look at the attached report (pdf) for the testing he commissioned.

This independent testing that the SoS commissioned found still more flaws – but suggests that it’s OK to use these machines anyway while we cross our fingers and hope.

I don’t think so, and I’ll be working hard to get as much attention paid to this as possible. Over the next few days, I’ll post some specific suggestions about what can be done.

Here are some of my earlier posts on this:

* Whose Vote Is It, Anyway?

* The #1 Priority

* Electronic Voting: Truly, Deeply Stupid

* e-Voting: One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others

* Stalin: “It is not the votes that count, but who counts the votes.”

Joy In Sports

The normally-sensible Kevin Drum gets all Wimbleton on the ass of what he calls the ‘Pseudo-Sports’ we’re seeing in the Olympics – halfpipe, snowboardcross, etc.

By coincidence, we’re sitting and watching the prelims on women’s snowboardcross – an event where four competitors on snowboards race down a narrow track – at the same time – jostling, passing, falling, all kinds of crazy stuff.

It’s the opposite of elegant, it’s wild and wooly. And the competitors – unlike the programmed athletic cyborgs we see at the highest levels of most sports – are pretty out of control as well.

The top American woman, Lindsey Jacobellis, lost her gold when, leading at the final jump, she stunted and fell – a showboat move which infuriated Kevin.

I loved it.

It’s the Olympic Games, not the Olympic Job.Look, I spent two years racing bicycles full-time. I know how hard people work to get to the level where they can seriously try and get to the Olympics. I know what it’s like to get up at 5:30 every morning and train for three hours, and then go to the gym at night. I feel a pang whenever the camera tightens in on the fallen athlete – a closeup on the realization that twelve years of pain and effort was wasted in one slip of a ski or skate.

But it’s still supposed to be fun; the moments I connect most closely with are those where the sheer pleasure of performance comes through.

In the women’s halfpipe, Hannah Teter the gold medalist had won the event before her final run. She could have sideslipped down the whole pipe and walked up to the podium. Instead, she threw down a brilliant performance – out of the sheer joy of doing it.

Let’s have more of that, please.

[Update: I just caught this editorial in the NYT:

Meanwhile, the potential champions in sports like figure skating grimly go about their business, trying to pretend that it’s all for the love of the sport, that the whole world isn’t watching, that a king’s ransom in endorsements doesn’t hang in the balance.

At times, the atmosphere gets downright gloomy. When the American figure skater Johnny Weir missed the bus to the rink, he got upset and skated badly, and finished without a medal. “I didn’t feel my aura,” he said. “Inside I was black.” Meanwhile, the Russian skater Yevgeni Plushenko accepted his gold medal with a stone-faced stare, “looking completely unamused,” as The Times’s Juliet Macur reported. “I tell the truth, this is my dream, yeah, and I am so happy,” Mr. Plushenko said unconvincingly. “Believe me, I am so happy.”

Meanwhile, Ms. Jacobellis had an amazing race, built a huge lead, got exuberant and went splat. What did she think these were — Games?

]