Simply: I have only two interests in this story - one is the weird sort of inequity in how technological advancements in sports are viewed by the media and fans, versus biological advancements. In other words, it's totally cool that a really expensive swimsuit can shave swimming times by 2%, but pumping extra oxygen into your blood, which should have a similar effect on times, is considered "cheating". The second interest I had in the story is that it just seemed to remind me a bit of the situation in the late 90's in baseball, where excuses were being offered up for why home runs were being hit at a record-shattering pace.
Secondly, we were working on a post which you can view over here at The Big Lead, on the Olympics. We are honored to be covering the Olympics, as needed, for TBL. Make sure to check out The Big Lead. We did a Olympic Country Preview, a few sentence long, for each country participating in the 2008 Summer Olympics. Rather than to reprint the entire thing here, we will add in some of the lost links (TBL wasn't able to include our links in his post, apparently):
Afghanistan - Has a chance to medal this year, because the
US will be too focused on beating Iraq.
Albania - Albanians really hate two things: Serbs, and SML.
Algeria - They have lost actual wars to France; nuff said.
American Samoa - Just won gold over Thinmintistan.
Andorra - The highest life expectancy in the world, at 85.5 years. Too bad there is nothing to do there.
Angola - Note: a country, not a lovely, lovely sweater.
Antigua and Barbuda - The Hall & Oates of Islands, this duo has been putting out hits since teaming up in ‘81. Also possesses one of the coolest flags in the world. We can’t decide if it the flag is a picture of the sun setting on a white sand beach, as viewed through a parting in a pair of sun-tanned legs, or the Don’t Walk signal giving birth to Maggie Simpson.
Argentina - Won the World Cup in ‘78 and the Falklands War in ‘82, and not much else since then. (SML note: actually, they won a WC in 1986, and lost the Falklands War, so ignore this).
Armenia - Popcorn at theatres comes in medium, large, and geno-sized!
Aruba - Bobby Brown to the Netherlands Antilles’ New Edition, breaking off to go solo about 20 years ago. Does that make the islands of Curacao and Bonaire the equivalent of Bell Biv Devoe? Answer: No.
Australia - The only country in the world that’s also its own continent. Until we formally announce our takeover of Mexico.
Austria - Well then: G’day, mate! Let’s put another shrimp on the barbee!
Azerbaijan - The finest country in the NE of Eurasia. Or the SW of Africa. Admit it: you have no idea.
Bahamas - A sheep terrorist group.
Bahrain - One of two countries in the world with no income tax. Probably because they have no income.
Bangladesh -Hey, Bangladesh: justify your flag. I don’t mean “explain its reason for being” I mean “center that shit.” Come on. That slight right lean is just… unsettling.
Barbados - Barbados always wins silver medals. They inevitably lose to Barbaduno, but just beat out Barbatres.
Belarus - Their country name means “Beautiful Russia” in Italian, unless it doesn’t, in which case never mind.
Belgium - Will eventually peacefully split into a Dutch North (Flemish), a French South (Walloon), and Brussels. Belgium is the new Yugoslavia. We wonder which side will hate our website.
Belize - Home to the town of San Pedro, a.k.a. Madonna’s “Isla Bonita”, or “Your Spanish Lullaby”. Oddly enough, San Pedro is neither an island nor Spanish (it’s a former British colony), though. Thus proving Madonna is, in fact, not very bright.
Benin - In text language, this country is B9. LOL!
Bermuda - They have tried to send a team to the Olympics before, but every time the team plane disappears upon leaving the island.
Bhutan - The Bhutan flag has a scary-type dragon on it. We want the Bhutan flag to fight the Albanian flag in a scary dragon match. And we want Albania to lose because FUCK ALBANIA. Just kidding, Albania. You know we love you.
Bolivia - Favorite Bolivian Mark joke: SML: “What’s up with these empanadas? They have no meat inside them! They’re like emptynadas!” Bolivian Mark: “Well, then they are just nadas, aren’t they?”
Bosnia-Herzegovina - As is the case with all former Yugoslavian republics, it will eventually split into Bosnia, Herze, and Govina. The Former Yugoslavia: 7 billion independent molecules.
Botswana - You know how Liberia was founded by freed slaves? Well, Botswana was founded by freed robots.
Brazil - In the 2004 Olympics, there was the sad case of Brazilian windsurfer Ricardo Winicki, whose 17th place finish in the last leg of the race caused him to drop from 1st place all the way to fourth, missing a medal by just one point. After that he changed his name to Ricardo Defeaticki. He’ll be trying again this year in windsurfing.
British Virgin Islands - Yep, their teeth are that bad.
Brunei Darussalam - We made up one fictional country on this list, but shockingly, it’s not this one. Hint: it’s Canada.
Bulgaria - Jordan Jovtchev has won four Olympic medals, plus 12 World Championship medals. He has not, however, succeeded in his various attempts to pass Stage One of the Ninja Warrior tournament. Pussy.
Burkina Faso - The only country whose name could be preceded by “Ms.”.
Burundi - Venuste Niyongabo won the only medal in Burundi’s history in 1996, when he took the gold in the 5000 meter race, an event he had competed in only twice before. He was a 1500 meter runner, but decided to forfeit his place so his coach could be an Olympian for the first time in his life. In doing so he instead decided to give the 5000 meter race a shot, and unexpectedly won. He’s now King. Maybe. Possibly. Probably not.
Cambodia - Will be represented by marathon runner Hem Bunting (also a popular sewing technique). The BBC describes him as “so poor he lives in the crumbling athletics stadium where he trains”. He has so little funding that he can’t even afford to buy running shoes. His training involves running in the pollution-filled air of Phnom Penh, so Beijing’s smog won’t bother him too much. You can watch him in action on August 24th. Unless his lungs collapse before then.
Cameroon - Coconut cookies! Delicious!
Canada - Despite what you’ve heard, DJM is NOT actually Canadian. He just over-enunciates and is suspiciously polite. Expect Canada to win some medals, and then excuse themselves for showing off.
Cape Verde - The name is Spanish for “Cabo Green”.
Cayman Islands - Consists of the islands of Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, and Cayman Brac (”The Littlest Cayman”).
Central Africa Republic - Good country name. Just describes where and what it is. We should rename the United States “Central North American Federalist Republic and Waffle House.” People love waffles.
Chad - Gets teased by almost all the other African countries for having “such a white name”. The African countries of Jordan and Bradleyburg empathize.
Chile - It’s where beans come from.
China Republic - Is also the name of a restaurant with very speedy delivery.
Chinese Taipei - The Republic of China strongly opposes the use of the name “Taiwan”, which implies that it is an independent country. So the rest of the world has taken to using the name “Chinese Taipei”. Therefore Taipei has taken to calling China “The Happy People’s Republic of Dumb Dumb Stupid Land”. We’ll see if it sticks.
Colombia - For some strange reason, they always get invited to all the Olympic Village parties.
Comoros - Small group of four island located near Madagascar. Since its independence from France in 1975, it has had over 20 coups d’etat. On the bright side, it hasn’t had a coup since March 25th, though August is coup season in Comoros.
Congo - Please see “DR Congo.”
DR Congo - Please see “Congo.”
Cook Islands - The islands were “discovered” by Captain James Cook, who named them “the Harvey Islands”, after the six foot bunnies that inhabited the island. They were later renamed by Adam Johann von Krusenstern, an Estonia-German explorer for Russia. If they work hard enough, one day they might become “The Chef Islands.”
Costa Rica - In Spanish, their name means “costs a lot”.
Cote-d´lvoire - The only country in the world made entirely out of tusks. Note: Tuscany is not a country. Trick question.
Croatia - In 2004 they finished fourth in Men’s Team Albanian Toss. They were able to toss an Albanian 14.2 meters, but were bested by Macedonia, Slovenia, and Herzegovina (which spent that year separated from Bosnia).
Cuba - Has won 170 Olympic medals - one for every year Castro has been in power.
Cyprus - Has not won a medal yet in Olympic history. If they did, they would divide it into two pieces, with the northeastern third splitting off from the southwestern portion.
Czech Republic - Not on the Euro, so it’s the one nice European country that still somewhat affordable to visit. Also, DJM is moving there in September. Send money.
Denmark - Men in Denmark are the latest to get married in the EU, at an average of 32 years. Oh, and this is also the happiest country in the world, according to studies. Hmm.
Djibouti - Q: Where was the Greek soldier when the German army attacked? A: In Djibouti!
Dominica - Wait, is this a country or a club in Washington Heights? Hey ya’ll, it’s ladies night at Dominica! [Ed. TBL relatives are pissed!]
Dominican Republic - Their president, and their only-ever Olympic medalist, are both from New York. Sort of sums things up.
Ecuador - Has won one medal, in 1996, when Jefferson Perez got the gold in, ahem, the RACEWALK (20 km). He finished fourth in 2000 and 2004, and will be trying hard (but not too hard) to win a second medal in 2008. He was born in a poor neighborhood, and now he has become the first person in history to ever walk his way out of the poverty.
Arab Rep. of Egypt - Egypt has won a lot of medals, all of which are on display at the British Museum in London.
El Salvador - Involved in a 100-hour war against El Honduras after a soccer game loss in 1969. Absolutely true.
Equatorial Guinea - Sir Mark Thatcher, son of former British PM Margaret Thatcher, is wanted here for participating in a 2004 plot to overthrow the government that involved hiring mercenaries and soldiers of fortune, arms smuggled in from Zimbabwe, and shady oil money. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio!
Eritrea - Country? Heart medication? Transformer? Why can’t it be all three?
Estonia - Estonia Aleksander Tammert won a bronze in the Men’s Discus Throw in 2004. He finished 4th originally. He got bumped up after the original gold medal winner (Robert Fazekas of Hungary) was disqualified. Not for doing drugs, but for failing to provide a drug sample, or as it turned out, failing to submit a large enough urine sample. That’s right, he suffered from Parusesis, or pee shyness. That’s the social anxiety disorder in which a sufferer is unable to urinate in the real or imagined presence of others! Also known as shy kidney, bashful bladder, stage fright, and urinophobia.
Ethiopia - They have won 31 medals overall. Come on, I’ll give you one guess in what events they do well in. That’s right, goat herding.
Fiji - The two most famous Fijians in the world are Vijay Singh (generally considered Indian), and Jimmy Snuka (generally considered Superfly). Their best hope for a first ever medal is female Judo-ist Sisilia Nasiga, who also competed at the 2004 Olympics. There is also Carl Probert, a 33-year old swimmer competing in his fifth Olympic games. He will probably lose to Carl Antibert, his sworn nemesis.
Finland - The most sparsely inhabited country in EU. It has the third-highest suicide rate in the world. Coincidence?
France - French women have the highest age expectancy in the EU. This is because, as Joan of Arc proved, French women are indestructable.
Gabon - Gabon, Gaboff, the Gabber. Sorry, we’ve got nothing.
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