Challenge #3

So I got asked the following questions by Christopher Hawley:

1) Your take on the Olympics, the venue, and whether bicycling is adequately represented in the official events

2) optimism/realism/cynicism/pessimism: where do you see yourself on this spectrum? Is there another position which you would prefer to find yourself?

3) perversity of the universe, and why it tends to a maximal value (possibly one of Niven’s Laws, but ICBA to check): any personal anecdotes or insights?

[Here’s a starting topic: Why are people who are most hard of hearing the most likely to unplug the phone ‘because its ringing would disturb my sleep’?]

Well, let’s go through these one at a time.

First, the Olympics and cycling’s place in it. The venue? I’m fine with the games being hosted in China. Sure, they’ve got some human rights issues that they need to work out, but as a whole, I’m fine with the games being hosted there. That said, however, I feel bad for any endurance athlete that has to compete in Beijing’s air pollution.

As for cycling’s representation in the Olympics? I have mixed feelings. When they first talked about adding BMX, I questioned whether or not this was an attempt to compete with the X Games, which is probably the same reaction a lot of people had when they added snowboarding and aerial skiing. Overall, I am generally okay with it, but I don’t think it will endure as an event — BMX racing’s popularity has been waning over the last eight years, and a more-established event, the 1km time trial, was removed from the track events to make way for the BMXers. Whatever the case, I think there’s a sufficient number of events for cycling. Though I must admit that I’m all for Drunken Bike Polo and the Bike Jousting events in London in 2012.

As for the spectrum, I’m generally pretty optimistic. These days, I’ve become one of those hope-for-the-best-prepare-for-the-worst guys.

You’re thinking of Niven’s “law” from Ringworld. Specifically: “The perversity of the universe tends towards a maximum. The universe is hostile.”

And you know, I think that “hostile” implies a certain degree of intent. I think that what he was trying to say was something to the effect of, “The universe is a generally unpleasant place for organic life and we’re only evolved to handle the conditions in one very small, nondescript corner of it.”

However, you are talking to a guy who managed to superglue his own ass to his desk (not the chair, the desk) while in college. So maybe the universe is hostile.

As for the hard-of-hearing/unplug the phone thing. I would think that someone who is hard of hearing has a noise-/pattern-recognition system that works overtime to compensate for the faulty data it’s receiving and as such makes note of little noises when it’s quiet (at night, for example) and amplifies the meaning attached to those noises. Just a thought.