Who is watching the Miami Grand Prix Formula 1 race this weekend?

For those who disagree with Michel Houellebecq (see If the dark days don’t have you in a suicidal mood…

Are you from Brittany?” he asked. “Yes—from Saint-Brieuc!” she replied happily. “But I really like Brazilian dance,” she added, obviously trying to absolve herself for her disinterest in African dance. Much more of this and Bruno would really get irritated. He was starting to get pissed off about the world’s stupid obsession with Brazil. What was so great about Brazil? As far as he knew, Brazil was a shithole full of morons obsessed with soccer and Formula One. It was the ne plus ultra of violence, corruption and misery. If ever a country were loathsome, that country, specifically, was Brazil. Sophie,” announced Bruno, “I could go on vacation to Brazil tomorrow. I’d look around a favela. The minibus would be armor-plated; so in the morning, safe, unafraid, I’d go sightseeing, check out eight-year-old murderers who dream of growing up to be gangsters; thirteen-year-old prostitutes dying of AIDS. I’d spend the afternoon at the beach surrounded by filthy-rich drug barons and pimps. I’m sure that in such a passionate, not to mention liberal, society I could shake off the malaise of Western civilization. You’re right, Sophie: I’ll go straight to a travel agent as soon as I get home.”

) the Miami Grand Prix is this weekend. ESPN will cover the qualifying at 3:55 pm ET today. The actual race is tomorrow. A rich friend got free tickets and took his young son to yesterday’s practice. Our text message exchange:

  • Me: What about parking?
  • Rich dad (there is no “poor dad” in any tale regarding Formula 1): Traffic nightmare. 90 minutes [from Miami Beach]. Took an Uber
  • Me: And that was for practice! A whole race is about 90 minutes. If horse racing is the sport of kings, this is the sport of people who love to sit in traffic jams. Now that you’ve seen it up close how much would you be willing to pay for a high quality grandstand seat [$4,000+ per ticket] for the race itself.
  • Rich dad: Zero. Would rather watch at home.

(His 4-year-old was smiling in the video snippet that he sent.) The good news is that it wasn’t as loud as the earlier generation of F1. Earplugs were not required except in the pits. My friend’s seats, about 3 stories above the track, were not plagued by ear-splitting noise.

European readers: Please sell us on the magic of Formula One!


(note that the tennis courts you see are used for the annual Miami Open; maybe they could space out the traffic and make the horrific logistics worth it by holding a tennis event at the same time as the F1 race? Go there in the morning to watch tennis and then stay for the car race)

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A $1.4 billion stadium for Afghans, Iraqis, and Somalis to watch American football

“After decades of decline, Buffalo boasts a ‘Refugee Renaissance.’ Can it last?” (Democrat and Chronicle, January 2022):

After reinventing itself as a haven for refugees, Buffalo seems poised for renewal. But with success comes higher rents.

Across the nation, the results of the 2020 census were the source of hand-wringing and political debate. But in Western New York, they were cause for unbridled celebration.

For the first time in 70 years, the city of Buffalo had grown.

The city’s modest 6% growth was trumpeted by officials as a pivotal triumph for a Rust Belt city that had become synonymous with loss. Hollowed out first by suburban flight and then the loss of manufacturing jobs, the onetime steel and iron powerhouse had hemorrhaged more than 50% of its population in the half-century since 1950. By the turn of the millennium, it also ranked among the most poverty-stricken in the nation.

The city’s turnaround came from a perhaps unlikely source: refugees from some of the most conflict-riven places in the world. After welcoming fewer immigrants than any city its size in the 2000 census, Buffalo has since re-imagined itself as a haven for new Americans from countries such as Myanmar (Burma), Somalia and Iraq.

Over the past two decades, more than a quarter of the refugees who came to the state of New York arrived in Buffalo’s Erie County, even as native Buffalonians continued to flee to greener economic pastures. Since 2002, more than 16,000 refugees have resettled in Buffalo.

Higher rents as the price of prosperity

West Side homes that used to sell for $40,000 might now go for hundreds of thousands, said Beehag at the International Institute, straining the resources of agencies trying to find housing for refugees who may need months to find jobs. To house the around 500 incoming Afghan evacuees, agencies are relying in part on churches and universities for short-term housing.

Poverty rates in Buffalo have barely budged even as other economic indicators trend upward — leaving both refugees and longtime residents alike in danger of displacement, according to a 2019 analysis led by Adelman.

What do impoverished refugees “from countries such as Myanmar (Burma), Somalia and Iraq [and Afghanistan]” need from taxpayers? “Buffalo Bills Strike Deal for Taxpayer-Funded $1.4 Billion Stadium” (New York Times, March 28, 2022):

New York State officials have reached a deal with the Buffalo Bills to use $850 million in public funds to help the team build a $1.4 billion stadium — the largest taxpayer contribution ever for a pro football facility.

Under the deal, the state would finance $600 million of the construction costs, while Erie County, where the stadium will be built adjacent to its current home, would cover $250 million. The remainder would be financed through a $200 million loan from the N.F.L. that was approved on Monday, plus $350 million from the team’s owners.

“Taxpayers To Be Billed a Billion Dollars for Buffalo Bills’ New Stadium” (reason.com):

as Field of Schemes blogger Neil deMause parses in his detailed rundown of the stadium deal, the actual public subsidies probably exceed $1 billion—and that doesn’t account for things like interest payments on the borrowing that the state and county will likely have to do to finance the agreement. The fine print of Monday’s announcement, deMause notes, puts the public on the hook for $6 million annually for the next 30 years to fund upgrades to the stadium and another $6.6 million for the next 15 years to fund “maintenance and repair.” All told, that’s an extra $160 million in taxpayer funds pledged to the project beyond the $850 million price tag.


  • “Sports, Jobs, & Taxes: Are New Stadiums Worth the Cost?” (classic 1997 paper from Brookings)
  • “Sacking Taxpayers: How NFL Stadium Subsidies Waste Money And Fall Short On Their Promises Of Economic Development” (Heartland 2015): “Taxpayers funded more than half the construction cost of 12 stadiums from 1995-2013,” TPA says. “During that time, national median household income rose 0.3 percent across the United States, adjusted for inflation. In the dozen counties in which an NFL stadium was built using more than 50 percent public funds, however, median household income plummeted 5.7 percent during the same time. Twenty-six counties in America are home to an NFL stadium that received tax dollars between 1995 and 2013. In an astonishing 17 of those 26 counties, the median household income actually decreased in constant dollars after the stadium received public money for construction or renovation. Taxpayer-financed NFL stadiums didn’t just appear to decrease median income, they also apparently contributed to increasing the number of people living in poverty.”
  • “NFL owners approve sale of Bills to Pegulas” (2014): That payment would be for $1.4 billion. (i.e., if we don’t adjust for inflation, the cost to taxpayers, who will get nothing in return, will in the same ballpark (so to speak), as the cost to the owners)
  • “Celebrating Women’s History Month” (BuffaloBills.com), from a team that refuses to hire anyone identifying as a “woman” to be a player
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Eileen Gu plus affirmative action = path for billionaires to ski in the 2026 Olympics?

Originally-American Eileen Gu has been criticized by Americans for getting a Chinese passport and choosing to compete on China’s team at the 2022 Olympics. Let’s look at the BBC as a neutral source:

A San Francisco native who learned to ski on the pristine slopes of California’s Lake Tahoe, she is representing China, not the USA, in the Olympics – a move that has come at a sensitive time for Sino-American relations, and has inevitably placed Ms Gu at the centre of a global debate on geopolitics and representation.

Ms Gu has expressed support for movements Black Lives Matter and spoken out against anti-Asian violence in the US, but remained silent on issues like the mass internment of ethnic Uyghurs in Xinjiang and the arrests of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

“There’s no need to be divisive,” she told news site The New York Times.

Why would Eileen Gu prefer to represent China? Here’s what New York-based The Guardian US adds to every article displayed in Apple News:

An erosion of democratic norms. An escalating climate emergency. Corrosive racial inequality. A crackdown on the right to vote. Rampant pay inequality. America is in the fight of its life.

Given a choice, what rational person would want to be associated with a country that is packed with enough haters to create so many problems? Gu has personally experienced the Asian Hate that my former neighbors in Maskachusetts bravely put up lawn signs to #Stop: “Eileen Gu calls out ‘domestic terrorism’ of Asian-Americans amid spike in coronavirus-related violence – ‘killing more Asian people isn’t going to kill the virus’” (South China Morning Post):

“This was in San Francisco – supposed to be the liberal bubble within California, which is the most liberal state, in the most liberal country in the world. This was supposed to be the safest place and I felt physically in danger. I grabbed my grandma and we ran out. I was so scared. That moment was definitely a reset because I realised how close to home it hit. That anybody can be affected just because of the way they look or their culture and heritage.”

The superstar athlete’s response to the carping of her inferiors (NBC):

At a press conference after her victory, Gu said she’s trying to be an example for young women and has no interest in the politics or social media debates.

“If people don’t believe me and if people don’t like me, then that’s their loss,” she said. “They’re never going to win the Olympics.”

(Side note: What is the “example for young women”? That their lives too can have value if they win Olympic gold? Also, how does Eileen Gu define the term “women”?)

Let’s look at another recent story and see if it can be combined with the above inspiring tale of a young person who escaped “corrosive racial inequality”, “rampant pay inequality”, and “a crackdown on the right to vote.” “Competing in the Winter Games, Without a Snowball’s Chance” (NYT):

One by one they zigzagged down the mountain, near the end of a line of nearly 90 racers in a snowy giant slalom, looking more like ski hobbyists on a weekend jaunt than world-class competitors.

Many of the skiers were first-time Olympians, brought together by one very pertinent thing they have in common: a shortage of snow in the countries they are representing in Beijing, including Jamaica, Ghana, India, East Timor and Morocco.

“I always say, ‘There is a first league, and there is a second league. We are, for sure, the second league,’” said Carlos Maeder, 43, who is representing Ghana and is the oldest skier at this year’s Games. “Maybe even the third league,” he added, chuckling.

Keenly aware that skiing has been dominated by athletes from richer, colder countries, the International Olympic Committee and skiing’s world governing body have tried to make the sport more inclusive through a quota system that lowers the threshold of qualification.

“I was never going to be competitive,” said Benjamin Alexander, a 38-year-old Jamaican skier and former D.J. He finished last in the giant slalom in a race on Sunday. “The people I was competing against started skiing at 2 and had their first race training at 4 or 5,” he said.

Mr. Alexander started skiing when he was 32.

The typical rich American is a reasonably good skier. The U.S. allows dual passports. East Timor might be happy to give an American billionaire a passport and a place on its Olympic team in exchange for a small (by billionaire standards) cash payment. If not the billionaire then the athletic child of the billionaire. What better way to experience the Olympics than as an athlete? (and, in fact, this year it was the only way for an American to experience the Olympics)

Readers: What could go wrong with the above scheme?


NYT reader comments on the New York Times article regarding affirmative action for athletes who are not good at winter sports:

I think we should add meat packing and fruit picking in summer heat to the Summer Olympics. Perhaps it will show the world the horrors the migrants are treated in this country.

I don’t think Americans fully grasp what it means to some of these countries see themselves represented in the games. Seriously, the privilege of the comments in this article drives me nuts. Travel the world and you’ll learn that yes, being American is itself a privilege in more ways than you thought you’d be able to comprehend.

(Norwegians have even more privilege, therefore, since they win way more medals?)

A better way to diversify the winter games would be to include more sports that can be learned without fancy facilities. How about snowshoe racing? It’s really just running (in snowshoes) and there are many poor countries with great runners.

This is same thing as space voyeurism at this point except Olympic voyeurism.

I was fortunate enough to watch the bottom tier skaters the other day, stumbling or falling, getting up and finishing with grace and gratitude. Pure joy to be there…and the greatest lesson from the Simones and the Mikealas of the world is that a champions bad day can be someone else’s lifetime achievement. Nothing makes someone more weak and vulnerable than to be crushed because of lack of perfection, it is they who are without hope or faith.

(Paul, Bay Area) How about we simply stop Winter Olympics until we fix the climate ? I love the Olympic Games, winter sports, but it is so incongruous with the climate trends that my heart is not in it.

Nobody is getting into Harvard who can barely read. Penn, maybe. At least back in the day.

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Should there be more than three medals per Olympic event?

The first modern Olympics were in 1896 when the world population was roughly 1.5 billion and only 14 countries were wealthy and organized enough to send teams (241 athletes total). There were two medals in each event. The three-medal system was introduced at the 1904 Olympics, in which 651 athletes from 16 nations competed.

World population today is nearly 8 billion. Of those 8 billion, 2,900 are athletes at the Beijing Winter Olympics. Shouldn’t there be more than three medals per event, in recognition that the number of superb athletes has grown since 1904? Why set things up like Harvard and Yale (minus the discrimination against Asians) where the number of slots for elite status is fixed while the population expands, thus leading to ever-more-cutthroat competition?

I feel sad when I see the amazing 4th place athletes get no recognition. Their performances would have earned them gold medals just a decade or two ago, right?

If we just scale the medals by population growth since 1904, there should be 15 medals per event. If there are only 20 or 30 teams competing in an event, that seems like too many. But why not 5 medals? Gold, Platinum, Silver, Bronze, Stainless Steel. It could be 3 medals if there are fewer than 25 athletes/teams in an event (hockey and curling!) and 5 if there are 25 or more competitors (for reference, there are 74 slots for men and 74 for women in figure skating this year and 119 snowboarders in each of the two gender IDs that the hate-filled IOC recognizes (I hope that one day the Olympics will be truly gender-neutral)).

I’m sure that this idea will never be implemented, but would a five-medal system be an improvement over what we have now?

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Is skating to Elton John the best way to establish heterosexuality?

Watching figure skating is nearly impossible in our household due to shouted “Boring!” objections from the 6- and 8-year-olds (What do they love? Luge crashes, bobsled flip-overs, skiing yard sales, etc.). Eventually they go to sleep, however, and it is time for 15 minutes of replays from the rink. American sensation Nathan Chen was in the news even before the Olympics. “Straight figure skater offers sincere apology after saying it’s a ‘homosexual-dominated sport’” (Pink News, July 31, 2021):

Olympic figure skater Nathan Chen has apologised after giving an “ignorant” remark about the sport being “homosexual-dominated”.

In a video statement released on Tuesday (27 July), he acknowledged that he gave an “ignorant” response on a podcast in answer to a question about patriarchal stereotypes in skating.

Asked whether he’s ever been advised to play hockey because it’s more “masculine,” Chen replied: “Yes, certainly. Especially as a male athlete… as a straight male athlete in a fairly homosexual-dominated sport, or LGBTQ-dominated sport.

“I think that there is that connotation and there is that ‘Well we don’t really wanna watch guys skate around’, and we’d rather watch hockey or we’d rather watch females do that, which I think is pretty messed up in itself,” he continued.

“It’s a genuine sport, we spend our whole lives trying to hone this craft, and to just sort of be belittled like that is not something that is generally taken lightly.”

The clumsy comment saw Chen accused of perpetuating standards of toxic masculinity and homophobia.

“Basically Nathan Chen had the opportunity to use his in-sport privilege to: support queer athletes as an ally, talk about how figure skating is for everyone, discuss the types of expression rewarded at competition,” commented the non-binary figure skater Racheline Maltese.

“Instead he: told us he was straight, equated feminine with queer and implied they were both negative, implied he is oppressed by queerness in the sport.

So… the tabloids follow this famous person around and haven’t seen him with one or more girlfriends. He describes himself as “straight”. What music does he select for his program? I was expecting perhaps Ice Cube, Kanye West, or DaBaby. Instead it was… Elton John.


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Super Bowl Covid variant?

As noted in California Karen hosts a 200,000-person mass gathering (Super Bowl in Los Angeles), the vaccinated will soon be huddled together in California, land of the closed public school and open marijuana store. They’re be wearing their cloth masks, unless they’re eating or drinking (which will be the entire game?) or holding their breath like Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. From an evolutionary point of view, will this be the perfect place to breed a vaccine-immune mask-immune variant of SARS-CoV-2?

If so, what do we call the variant? “Ramgals”?

Separately, what are readers’ predictions about the final score at this superspreader event? Combining the home field advantage (a whole stadium full of Science-following Californians cheering discreetly through their Science-verified cloth masks) with my total ignorance of football, I expect the Rams to win and predict 28-25 Rams-Bengals.


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Unmasked Vladimir Putin braves a stadium packed with the infected

There is a high demand for pageantry in our household, but we don’t have a TV, so I signed up for the “ad-free” “Peacock Premium Plus” streaming service and used an iPad to show the Olympics opening ceremony (which arrived… with ads, disrespectfully side-by-side with athletes from countries that NBC deems unimportant; the Chinese refused to insert commercial breaks, apparently, so the righteous American boycotters (see below) added commercials to the event itself).

Science tells us that only N95 masks stand any chance of blocking Omicron, yet the athletes paraded out using various forms of non-N95 masks. Other than some performers, Vladimir Putin seemed to be the only person at the event who wasn’t wearing a mask.

Given that nearly everyone in the stadium is vaccinated, was in quarantine before and after international flights, and has been tested multiple times for COVID-19, what’s the chance that SARS-CoV-2 got through to the stadium? The official stats page shows that 308 people involved in the Olympics have thus far tested positive:

See also “A COVID-Free Pacific Nation Opened Its Border a Crack. The Virus Came Rushing In” (TIME):

On Jan. 14, the first passenger plane for 10 months landed in the country, which is located about 2,500 miles southwest of Hawaii. It may also be the last for the foreseeable future. The plane brought the first cases of COVID-19 to the country; more than two-thirds of the passengers tested positive. The flight subsequently set off a wave of COVID-19 cases in the archipelagos, where 120,000 people live across 33 islands with land area smaller than Rhode Island.

Thirty-six out of 54 passengers on the flight to Kiribati tested positive on arrival. Six others tested positive in quarantine. That’s despite the travelers spending two weeks in pre-departure quarantine, and only being allowed on the flight after testing negative for COVID-19.

The border closures also bought Kiribati and others time to roll out vaccinations. Over 93% of Kiribati’s eligible population has received one COVID-19 vaccine shot, but just over 50% are fully vaccinated.

A few times NBC’s commentators (sports experts?) mentioned “human rights abuses” in China, but their own coverage of the event contradicted their statements. The NBC reporters sounded relaxed. The people in the stadium looked happy and relaxed, including Chinese ethnic minorities such as the Uyghurs who are purportedly victims of “genocide” (we throw this word around and then show up en masse with $1 billion in TV rights cash?). See this statement from the Chinese embassy for another perspective:

The so-called allegations of “forced labor” and “genocide” in Xinjiang are nothing but vicious lies concocted by anti-China forces. Xinjiang’s economic development and social stability is recognized by the whole world. The fact that residents of all ethnic groups there enjoy happy and fulfilling lives is witnessed by all. The US side keeps using Xinjiang-related issues to create rumors and make trouble. Essentially it is engaging in political manipulation and economic coercion, and seeking to undermine Xinjiang’s prosperity and stability and contain China’s development under the pretext of human rights.

It is preposterous for the US, a country with a deplorable track record of human rights issues, to accuse and smear China. The US has serious problems of human trafficking and forced labor. Up to 100,000 people were trafficked into the US for forced labor annually over the past five years. Crimes against humanity against Native Americans in the past constitute de facto genocide. The US should save the labels of “forced labor” and “genocide” for itself.

Xinjiang-related issues are not human rights issues at all, but in essence about countering violent terrorism and separatism.

Who else watched the opening ceremony? What did you notice?


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Avoid travel to Australia now that Novak Djokovic is on the loose?

“Novak Djokovic Can Remain in Australia, Judge Rules” (NYT):

Novak Djokovic, the Serbian tennis star, moved one step closer to competing for his record 21st Grand Slam title after an Australian judge ordered his release from immigration detention on Monday, the latest turn in a five-day saga over his refusal to be vaccinated for Covid-19.

Restoring the visa does not, however, guarantee that Djokovic will be able to vie for his 10th Open title when the tournament begins next Monday. In court, the government’s lawyers warned that the immigration minister could still cancel his visa, which would lead to an automatic three-year ban on his entering the country.

Hosting international sports events now involves navigating ever-evolving public health and border security rules, including the management of vaccine mandates on athletes who see themselves as high priests of their own bodies and their sports.

Australians have rushed to meet vaccine mandates, and endured lockdowns and closed borders. Many have little tolerance for a star who is notorious for preaching junk science and who, in the view of some, gained special treatment by receiving a vaccination exemption in the middle of Australia’s worst bout with the virus.

(Notice that it is not the Covidcrats dispensing the Science-informed rules who are “high priests”. Similarly, the folks who told the general public to wear bandanas as PPE are not guilty of “preaching junk science.”)

I wonder if we should avoid travel to Australia now that Djokovic is free. The country had only 587,971 active cases, according to its government. With Novak Djokovic in the stadium, there is now a real possibility of 587,972 cases.

Also from the NYT, “At an Australian Hotel, Djokovic Is Not the Only Cause of Controversy”:

A separate group of protesters held signs proclaiming “refugees welcome” and “nine years too long.” They were drawing attention to a very different cause: the well-being of about 30 asylum seekers who have been held at the Park Hotel much longer than Mr. Djokovic, the Australian Open champion.

Since December 2020, the Australian Border Force has used the hotel to house refugees who had been held for years on remote Pacific islands, under Australia’s much-criticized offshore detention policy for asylum seekers who try to reach the country by boat. Those at the Park Hotel were brought to Australia for medical treatment, but they cannot leave the hotel for any other reason, and they do not know how long they will be kept there.

Several asylum seekers said the windows of their rooms had been screwed shut, denying them access to fresh air. In October and November, a coronavirus outbreak swept through their ranks. At one point, 22 of the 46 asylum seekers who were then being held at the hotel had Covid.

“We cannot get out of the hotel,” said Mehdi Ali, a 24-year-old Iranian refugee. “We’re surrounded by walls.”

Australia’s offshore detention policy has been criticized at home and abroad for years. According to the Australian government’s statistics, as of September, 117 asylum seekers had been in detention for five years or more, and several for more than 10 years. That number has been declining in recent years, as dozens of refugees moved to the United States after being vetted by the American authorities, under a deal brokered during President Barack Obama’s administration.

This sounds like good news for the U.S. Treasury. If the standard path out of Australian immigration detention is U.S. residence and citizenship, as the NYT informs us, it is only a matter of time before Novak Djokovic abandons his tax-free home in Monte Carlo to become a U.S. taxpayer.


  • If Djokovic is destined to follow other Australia immigration detainees into U.S. citizenship, perhaps he’ll want to live free of state income tax next to 20 clay courts at the Palm Beach Gardens Tennis Center (owned by the city, but as nice as any country club)
  • mask laws in Victoria (Djokovic was being released into a society where “Wearing a mask is required for everyone aged 8 and above in all indoor settings in Victoria” and “We strongly recommend wearing a mask if you can’t physically distance, even if you are outdoors,…”)
  • Karen wants Novak home… “Australia should send Novak Djokovic Home” (Washington Post, Eugene Karen Robinson, 1/10): I’d remember the repeated lockdowns that were among the strictest and most punishing in the world. … I’d want the government to use all its power to bar him anyway. … I’d refuse to watch him play … Djokovic, however, is well-known as anti-vaccine. … Djokovic’s exemption may be technically correct … but it is morally wrong and contravenes the spirit of Australian law. … Morrison’s government can, and should, still kick him out. … Aussies have more than done their part to fight the pandemic.”

Update: I found a chart that explains everything.

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Olympic moving sport?

After observing some guys pack our stuff into three containers on the last day of Tokyo 2020, an idea for future Olympics: See who can pack stuff, with a range of fragility, into boxes and furniture blankets, move items into 16’ container, and then pull everything back out the fastest. Containers get shaken in the middle and points are deducted for anything broken. A team sport with 5 team members that combines a mental and a physical challenge.

Readers: would you prefer to watch this compared to a running race, for example?

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What have I missed at the Olympics?

Nobody at Oshkosh mentioned the Olympics and it is rare to see a television while participating in EAA AirVenture. Did I miss anything? How much excitement is lost due to the lack of spectators?

This is the first Olympics since all virtuous Americans agreed to condemn gender binarism. With a rainbow of 50+ gender IDs and “men” and “women” now ill-defined ephemeral categories, is anyone pointing out the oddity of having “men’s” and “women’s” events? (I personally think that there should be no gender-ID-based barriers in sports; just have different leagues for people of different ability, as we did in MIT intramural sports (D league hockey for those who couldn’t skate; A league for those who played high school varsity hockey).)

Department of #KnowYourAudience (TV at the Hilton Garden Inn, Oshkosh tuned to Fox News):

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