Archive for August, 2008

Fake Ingredients

Kraft is promoting their salad dressing made with real ingredients. My first thought was “Can there be fake ingredients?” Isn’t anything that goes into a product an ingredient? The only way for an ingredient to be fake is to mislabel it (which is a violation of federal law).

I first noticed the ads in the grocery store. There was a TV playing Kraft ads in one of the normal aisles (as opposed to the TV intended for the captive audiences waiting in the checkout lanes). It’s hard to turn around in public these days without seeing a TV. But that’s off the subject. I saw that the Kraft ads were for their new line of salad dressings made with real ingredients. What does that say about their other salad dressings.

So I captured a screen shot of their ad from their website. It’s an annoying Flash ad, so you have to sit through a bit of it before you see the following screen.

Kraft ad with real ingredients

After looking a little closer though, I saw that the ad didn’t really say the dressing is made with real ingredients. It says it is made with the flavor of real ingredients. What does that mean? Fake ingredients but real flavor? I give up. It’s just a bad campaign. I am Some Blogger, and I disapprove their message.

“These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you.”
– 1 John 2:26

Olympic Winners

Since there is some debate about the best way to measure who won the Olympics (correct answer: “We all did”), I thought I would prepare the results using several different methods so that various countries could claim to be the winners.

Most of the debate, at least here in the USA, centers around do only golds count (China won) or do all medals count (USA won). The seemingly official method is to count by golds, but there are some other ways.

Since there are too much data to put into one post, I’ll summarize the results in this post and also point to another page that contains the unsummarized data.

Summary: Panama or India won the 2008 Olympic games

Country Athletes / Gold Rank
Panama PAN 6.0 1
China CHN 12.5 2
Jamaica JAM 14.8 3

If the official ranking is by gold medals won, the ranking should be normalized by how many athletes competed to get those golds. Some other methods are to adjust the ranking by the countries’ GDP, population, or area.

A country’s economic ranking (by GDP) is the best indicator of how well that country will do in the Olympics. Of the top ten Olympic gold winners, eight of them were in the top ten GDPs. The other two winners were still in the top twenty GDPs.

But I prefer to normalize the Olympic rankings by athletes or, as they are sometimes called, delegates. How many contestants did a country send to win medals? And how many medals did they win? It’s more of an efficiency rating, but I think it is better than comparing medals to the general population.

I also prefer to use a weighted ranking (gold = 5 points, silver = 3 points, bronze = 1 point) and rank the countries by points, not by gold medals and not by total medals. It is interesting to note that the ranking of countries by gold medal has the same result as ranking them by points. The points system provides a clearer picture of the order, as there are a number of countries that did not win a gold medal. If the ranking is by gold medal only, then those countries receive the same rank. A points system provides for finer resolution of the ranking.

When one adjusts the points total by number of athletes sent to the Olympics, India is the winner. They were the only country to earn more than one point per athlete or, as I ranked them, less than one athlete per point.

Country Athletes / Point Rank
India IND 0.86 1
Uzbekistan UZB 1.14 2
Cuba CUB 1.65 3

For the complete data, please view the charts on the 2008 Olympics Results page.

Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress

1 Timothy 4:15

I Can See Clearly Now

We received our vouchers from the government for the digital-to-analog TV signal converters. So we went to the store last Saturday and bought a couple converters. I hooked up one of them as soon as we got home, and it is a vast improvement.

I was skeptical beforehand – getting the converters only because we will have no choice in a few months. Since we live on the fringes of some TV stations’ ranges (the analog signal is slightly fuzzy at best), I was expecting that the digital signals wouldn’t be clear enough. Since digital signals are all-or-nothing, you can’t get a fuzzy digital signal. That means you can’t watch a fuzzy station, but then some stations that are on the edge would be gone completely. With analog, a station on the edge could be tolerated for a while.

That’s what I was expecting. But it seems that the digital signals travel a better than the analog signals, because I think we get more channels now with the converter. Some of that is due to the extra channels that each station has (e.g. 7, 7-1, and 7-2), but we are getting other stations that we couldn’t before. And they’re all clear. Which is what I knew would happen, but it is so nice to actually see it. I was surprised how clear it is, after I have spent the last 8 years with fuzzy reception in my rural area.

Occasionally, the digital station will fade out, which means that it just stops, as opposed to getting static-y temporarily. I would rather it get fuzzy for a little bit than just disappear, but there’s not much I can do about that at this point. I am glad we got the converter boxes that allow the analog signal to pass through to the TV still. That way I can still view the old station if the digital signal is not strong enough. That will last until February for most stations, but I will still get to watch CBC over analog for a while.

All men have seen it; Man beholds from afar.

Job 36:25

Pet Fish

Our church recently had a carnival/festival and there were some contests for children. Some of the contests (throw a football through a tire, carry an egg on a spoon, pop the balloon with the darts, etc.) had prizes, and one particular contest was awarding live goldfish (in plastic bags filled with water) as the prize.

No one in my family won a goldfish by playing that game. But we knew the people manning that booth and, unfortunately, they had some fish leftover at the end of the day. That meant that they had to get rid of them somehow, so they gave us a fish.

We already had an empty fishbowl from years ago, and the fish-givers gave us fish food, so we thought it wouldn’t be too bad. It could have been worse: someone else there was giving away puppies (not for a contest, but for anyone who wanted one). So we took the fish home and setup the fishbowl.

The fish did not have a name. We got the fish on a Saturday, and my wife named the fish on Tuesday. I came home from work, and we sat down to eat dinner. As part of the dinner conversation my wife referred to the fish as “Floaty”. Sure enough, he was quite floaty. So now he resides in a different plastic bag – until next Tuesday when he moves to his new home courtesy of the garbage truck.

“Therefore the land mourns, And everyone who lives in it languishes Along with the beasts of the field and the birds of the sky, And also the fish of the sea disappear.”
– Hosea 4:3

Chinese Medals

The current Olympics in Beijing, China, are interesting to me because of the medal count. The official method of listing the winning countries is by order of gold medals, not by total medals won. This is interesting because out of the last few Olympics, the total medal winner has been the same as the gold medal winner.

This Olympics is different, because China is winning the gold medal count and the USA is winning the total medal count. I thought I would do some research on this, and you, the reader, get to benefit from that. How? I don’t know yet.

At first I wondered if it had to do with China’s being the host country. Some may argue that the host does receive favorable treatment and scoring, but I looked at the trend and I think it just has to do with China’s effort to improve themselves in international competition.

First up, China’s medal count trend. Look at how both the gold medals won and total medals won have been increasing from effectively zero several Olympics ago. Now they’re one of the leaders.

Gold medals by year
Total medals by year

Next up, China’s increase in gold medals trend. Look at how their percentage of medals has been changing toward more golds and less of the other medals. I have extrapolated the data and found that, if the current trend continues, all the medals that China wins will be golds by the year 2028. They won’t even bother with the silver or bronze medals. If the Olympic ranking system goes for gold, not total medals, then that is how countries should play – for the gold. China is the only country whose gold medal count is more than half of its total medal count.

Gold medals as a percent of total medals

Don’t worry though. Even though all of China’s medals will be gold by 2028, they won’t win all the events that year. So there will still be gold medals available for a while. I also checked out how long it will take for China to win all the events, and that should occur in the year 2108, at a venue still to be decided by the IOC.

Total medals won extrapolated

So either China will end up with all the medals, or their rate of medal winning will level off at some point. If they haven’t claimed all the medals by 2108, then you can find me and I will try to revise this post with the correct information.

“Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules.”
– 2 Timothy 2:5

Summer Evening

We had nothing scheduled for this evening, so we decided to do some things in the yard. First was to plant some mums that we had bought recently. We didn’t really plant them – we left the mums in their pots but set the pots down in the dirt a little. That was somewhat for better curb appeal but more to keep the wind from knocking over the pots.

Next was to water the vegetable garden and the potted flowers. That’s an easy job – the kids are eager to volunteer. “Who wants the hose?” I ask, and they come running. The hard part is making sure they take turns and don’t drown some plants while ignoring others.

Then, since the hose was out and running, the kids asked if we could get out the sprinkler. I thought that would be a fine way to keep them outside, so I got the sprinkler. It’s the type that spins, but they don’t like it to spin. Once it was setup, they started pulling plastic toys out of the shed. They also pulled out the lawn chair. I think it was meant to hold their towels, but I commandeered it so I could sit and read the issue of the Inspire that came today.

It was quite peaceful – the kids had found the T-ball set and placed it right next to the sprinkler and were playing waterball.  There were no bugs, particularly mosquitoes.  I don’t know whether that was because of the slight breeze or because I had sprayed for them last week.  I was thinking “This is what summer is supposed to be.”

Then I noticed some dark pick-up truck stop on the side of the road, just after our driveway.  A couple of people came around the side of the truck and started moving things in the bed.  I figured they just had to adjust their freight.  Then some more people appeared.  I saw the freight, and it was a cooler.  The local high school cross-country team was on a training run, and they decided to place their water break right in front of our house.

That’s when I realized that summer was officially closing.  Cross-country camp, football starting across the nation, planting mums – they all add to equal the start of fall.  All good things, but summer needs to last a little longer.

“You have established all the boundaries of the earth; You have made summer and winter.”
– Psalm 74:17

Mostly Games

What makes a game a game and a sport a sport?

Games are something that people can do for fun. Sports are not. Track and Field is generally a sport, because you don’t have people playing a pick-up game of pole vault.

They’re called the Olympic Games. There are a lot of games in there, but there are some real sports too. Swimming is mostly a sport – who swims the butterfly for fun? But diving could be considered game-ish.

Things that require subjective judging are usually games, as sports have clear and obvious scores. If you have the fastest time or longest distance or whatever, then you’re the winner. Watching some of the Olympic events, I wondered what would happen if we applied subjective scoring to other events. What prompted that was the interminable wait after some of the gymnastics events until the gymnast’s score was determined.

What if that same method was applied to something else, such as the 100-yard dash? Okay, officially it is known as the 100-meter dash, but we all know they just renamed the event to make it sound internationalish. Anyway, what if the race finished, but we had to wait until they added individual level-of-difficulty to everyone’s time, and then they subtracted some deductions for things like bad form? That would make for a very tedious competition and would not be very entertaining. Hmm… now that I think about it some more, that sounds a lot like the BCS formula.

But not all things that are objective are sports. Table tennis has obvious scoring, but it is a game. People play it for fun – the same with volleyball. Plus volleyball is too much fun to be a pure sport. Sports are things that are not fun in and of themselves, like marathons. Sure the event of the marathon may be fun, with live bands and people cheering. But the running part of the marathon, without those other things, is no fun.

“Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.”
– 1 Corinthians 9:25