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Monday, May 05, 2008

 

Olympics Musings

The Olympic torch relay has been a tense and tortuous process as protests against China's human rights record has followed it all along its path. One can expect more political sideshows right through the games, as was easily predictable when the Games were awarded to them, not to mention the Chinese understandably exploiting the games for propaganda purposes as Hitler and other hosts have done historically. It seems that no matter which individuals are in charge of the Games, the interests of the athletes come way down their list of priorities.

Frankly, this was more troubling when more of the athletes were true amateurs. As it is, I don't care. In fact, I have little to no interest in the Games, and doubt I will watch much of them in preference to baseball or simply doing the things I love to do.

When it was our amateurs against their professionals, the Games were of at least passing interest, since David seemed to beat Goliath a lot more often then you would expect (think of the 1960 and 1980 U.S. hockey teams). However, as was pointed out by the ill-fated Steve Prefontaine, our athletes could not really train and prepare properly as true amateurs. So now, except for a few obscure sports, there are no truly amateur Olympians.

So every two years, whether Winter or Summer Olympics, I resolve to watch as little as possible, and though I usually end up seeing more than I intend, the networks would have pretty lousy ratings if my behavior was the rule. After all, the Summer Olympics is basically a track and field meet alongside a swim meet and a gymnastics meet. I don't follow any of those sports the other three years, so why would I suddenly develop an interest just because it's an Olympic year?

As far as the protests are concerned, I think they are a waste of time. China will change its behavior only when it matures as an economically oriented, hopefully non-Communist country, and not as a result of the actions of any protesters. The protests simply give the Games a sense of importance that is totally overblown. Frankly, I don't care what leaders attend or boycott the opening ceremony either. How did that become a command performance for national leaders anyway?

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With the elimination of the Rangers by the Penguins on Sunday, NY's playing arenas have been abandoned to the baseball teams, as again our hockey and basketball teams have crapped out early. This means that the interminable playoffs in those two sports that will drag on until June will barely be observed hereabouts except by dedicated gamblers. Of course, Boston is still alive in B-Ball and Philadelphia in hockey, but you wonder if the people running these sports will ever understand that their seasons are too long to maintain interest. Hockey in June just does not compute.

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The Fed acted as I expected, though their statement lacked sufficient conviction concerning the need to strengthen the dollar. One piece of good news is that the Street seems to have figured it out and now reacts more positively to tightening indications than to inflating ones. Since Chairman Bernanke has evidenced a disturbing propensity to act in accordance with whatever Wall Street wants, maybe he will finally begin to stumble into the correct decisions for a while.

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Last Wednesday, I bought 200 shares of I-Two Technologies (ITWO), a high flyer during the dot com days, but a big loser ever since. I had a nice score with it back in the dot com era, but am now under water on this round by more than I made. This was a zero buy, of course, at 10.65. Today, I bought 400 more shares of Limco Piedmont (LIMC) for my IRA at 5.37.

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