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We win, apparently.

by Colman Mon Aug 25th, 2008 at 03:48:13 AM EST

From this FT article pointed out by Melanchthon:

Twelfth, the eurozone’s strengths are too often hidden. Here is the clincher: eurozone countries together won more medals at the Beijing Olympics than either China or the US.

The closer to the author's argument that the doom and gloom being peddled about the Eurozone is unjustified.


Display:
Makes you think, doesn't it?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Aug 25th, 2008 at 03:49:13 AM EST
Mind you, we cheat by having lots of entries, which is pretty much what we do at the UN as well.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Aug 25th, 2008 at 03:52:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I never paid much attention to the medal tally until I got to Australia, where the Olympics is the world's biggest swim meet with lots of other events to give the champion swimmers something to enjoy as they savor their victory ...

... and it is very clearly the case in Oz that the medal tally is the total number of gold medals, with the minor medals only acting as a tie breaker.

But I have been seeing on the telly here in the US a lump sum medal tally, with a bronze and a gold having equal weight. That is, the medal tally is a Win=Place=Show tally.

So it this the real Gold Medal tally or the total medal tally? You'd think the gold medal tally would be more resistant to having, in effect, far and away the largest team in the Olympics.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Aug 25th, 2008 at 09:51:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... referred to elsewhere.

Ah, and the point about team size and Gold Medals holds up, at least marginally.

EU Gold versus China Gold: 170%
EU WPS versus US WPS: 254%

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Aug 25th, 2008 at 09:56:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But I have been seeing on the telly here in the US a lump sum medal tally, with a bronze and a gold having equal weight.

Does that make the US come out better than Gold > Silver > Bronze?

It is generally the case that the medal table is sorted by metal.

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 26th, 2008 at 05:11:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, the US comes out better if you lump all the kinds of medals together. This year China got the most gold, but the US got the most medals all told, IIRC.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Aug 26th, 2008 at 05:17:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Olympic coverage at Yahoo  internets was probably no less America-centered than at NBC. Eventually you could get to any results, but the front stories were all about American triumphs and dramas. There were surely pictures of Bolt as well, but also way too much beach-volleybal, softball and whining about scoring in gymnastics.

And of course, the medal count was the one that put USA on the top. I wonder if the gold vs all medals counts for China and USA were reversing in the middle of the games, they would had changed the ranking strategy as well. It is amusing to see winner-obsessed USA counting silvers and bronzes.

by das monde on Tue Aug 26th, 2008 at 05:47:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that the Chinese were targeting the real medal count, so it would always have been safest to rely on the WPS count.

I have no idea how long the US media has been using a faux medal count, since I was in Oz during the last three Olympics.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Aug 26th, 2008 at 10:03:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In purely athletic sports, where most often one of the best athletes really wins, having more people doesn't make a win. 10 European people don't run faster than one Haitian. In sports with a higher random factor, like football, basketball, hockey,... you are right. But first in these sports is not the bulk of medals, and second it can be a disadvantage, not to be able to form a team of all the best players available. In Basketball the US did the double, while e.g. even in the bad German team a Dirk Nowitzky would be one of the top players in Spain or Greece. And sometimes European domination is so strong, that for the pure gold medal count it doesn't matter, who wins, as e.g. in male hockey, where with Spain and Germany two Eurozone teams were in the finals.


Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Mon Aug 25th, 2008 at 11:00:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Except that in many of these sports, the margins are so low as to be completely laughable. The 100 m swimmers this year, for instance, have a spread between first and second place of a fraction of a second. There is no way that the measurement of the time it takes a swimmer to cross a 100 m basin is accurate to one tenth of a second.

I did the calculation once for similarly ridiculous differences, and it turned out that to measure the difference between gold and silver in the 100 m swimming Olympics, you have to have a swimming course with a length that is accurate to about a millimeter, nevermind the accuracy of the clocks...

A reasonable interpretation of those data is that the two guys arrived simultaneously and should share a first place. Or flip a coin for the gold medal - that'd be about as reasonable.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Aug 25th, 2008 at 01:37:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Then you are measuring the wrong quantity, no? The winner isn't the fastest in the water, it's the first who hits the plate at the finish line. How you get there is irrelevant, although you obviously have to be fast enough through the water to make it.

--
$E(X_t|F_s) = X_s,\quad t > s$
by martingale on Tue Aug 26th, 2008 at 01:04:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, they're supposed to be competing in similarly sized basins... And if the margin is on the order of a tenth or a hundredth of a second, "similarly sized" becomes a very precise criterion indeed.

But in either case, I would argue that even if we drop the argument about measurement accuracy, a difference of a tenth or a couple of hundredths of a second still comes down to luck - it's hardly credible to claim that either is the better athlete based on such a thin margin.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Aug 26th, 2008 at 02:27:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Isn't there some confusion here between who is fastest in a particular Pool, and the validity of "World Records" calculated to 100 th's of a second when Pools may be imperfectly measured?

A case in point being the huge amount of money currently being expended (stripping tiles, planing concrete etc)to extend London's Crystal Palace Pool from its current 49.98m to 50.00m.....

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Tue Aug 26th, 2008 at 03:55:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not really. My argument is that the ends of the pools are not perfectly parallel to the millimeter, so the courses are not equally long even in the same pool.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Aug 26th, 2008 at 04:11:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are two different issues: For comparing competitors in a single race, only the variation of the pool size over the various lanes matters (and the quality of time keeping). For comparing competitors over several races (eg over time in different olympics) the variation over different swimming pools also matters. Generally, since swimming pools in different countries are built by different contractors, it's plausible that the variation between pools is higher than the variation between individual lane lengths. The time keeping tolerances are much smaller, so can be ignored, at least over the last 30-50 years I'd say, and anything older is not worth bothering with.

--
$E(X_t|F_s) = X_s,\quad t > s$
by martingale on Tue Aug 26th, 2008 at 05:08:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The FINA olympic size is precisely defined as 50.0m with a tolerance of plus/minus 1cm, ie 1/5000th of the size of the pool (*). Since it takes about 20s to cross 50m, the variation in time taken is on the order of 20s/5000 = 0.004s, less than half a hundredth of a second.

The crystals in your computer or mine measure billionths of a second reliably, and separating swimmers to within four thousandths of a second with literally negligible margins of error is easy with touch panels. There's really no issue at all of margin of error in time measurement to speak of.

When athletes are selected, it's safe to say that they are believed to be able to reliably repeat their performances. It would not do to send an athlete whose performance has a huge random variation from race to race, and since the olympic performers are practically constantly monitored during training, such variation does show up.

I have little doubt that a 0.01s difference is meaningful on the day of the race.

(*) I believe Beijing was boasting a tolerance of 2mm rather than 1cm, but if you're comparing against other olympic races in other countries, 1cm is needed.

--
$E(X_t|F_s) = X_s,\quad t > s$

by martingale on Tue Aug 26th, 2008 at 04:59:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I stand corrected on the measurement, then.

But I still doubt that the performance of the human body is repeatable to .1 %...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Aug 26th, 2008 at 05:16:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's an interesting question, isn't it? The kind of data which can truly decide this is hard to come by. Here's a list of world records in 50m freestyle, which shows a typical improvement of 1/10th of a second or so. If this was all there is to it, then you'd be right.

What is true is that world records only happen a few times a year during championship meets yet swimmers do pretend races every day during training. Moreover, records have a different statistical distribution compared with the underlying time series, so the list above says nothing about how the daily improvements would look for a typical top swimmer.

At this level of competition, all bodily functions are controlled and training happens every day for most of the day so there's plenty of scope for steady progress with tiny improvements of the order of 1/100th second every couple of days, which add up to 1/10th progress by the time that the next big race occurs.

However, I couldn't find a time series supporting this with casual googling, and in truth I expect it's too valuable to be found on the web. At this level of competition, the swimmers are measured daily, and all their bodily functions are controlled. A complete time series of daily improvements is likely worth a small fortune. Swimming coaches at this level of competitionare unlikely to give out daily timing progress

--
$E(X_t|F_s) = X_s,\quad t > s$

by martingale on Tue Aug 26th, 2008 at 06:09:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... of a human body is repeatable to within 0.1% ... no swimming contest is making the claim that the result would be repeated with exactly the same finish and times if repeated ... its only making the claim that that was the finish on the day.

Indeed, if it were repeatable to that precision, there would be little point in racing.

In Oz, where they take their Olympic swimming coverage quite seriously, you not only hear the winning time and whether it broke a World Record or Olympic Record, but also the PB's (personal best time) of the individual ozzie swimmers and whether they did a new PB at the Olympics.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Aug 26th, 2008 at 10:13:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Same counts for the UN. Yes, Europeans have a bulk of seats, but wouldn't you say, the one veto seat by the US counts more than all non French, non UK seats together, with France and UK not always really doing pan-European decision and UK often voting along US lines, instead of along the lines of the majority of continental European votes?

Africa has lots of seats, too, with not exactly a lot of power.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Mon Aug 25th, 2008 at 11:04:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... after all, to avoid the risk of the General Assembly accumulating real power.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Aug 26th, 2008 at 10:15:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For those who can not access the FT here the link Metatone posted in last nights OT: http://www.medaltracker.eu/

Is there a way to read the FT without having to register or even pay for it? Even if I register I can only read 30 articles per month, or one per day. But usually they are used up much faster. As I have used up my quota how can I read the article linked to in this story?

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Aug 25th, 2008 at 04:01:58 AM EST
I thought "Comment" was open access? Or is that just the editorials?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Aug 25th, 2008 at 04:14:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Look for the article on Google News.  Viewing it from that sometimes helps!
by Gafrewig on Mon Aug 25th, 2008 at 04:31:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a way to go around that. When you connect to the FT site without logging in, you have access to 4 articles for free. If you set up Firefox in order to erase cookies every time you close it, when you open it again, your access to 4 articles is renewed...

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Mon Aug 25th, 2008 at 04:58:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks, I will give it a try. :-)
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Aug 25th, 2008 at 05:03:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Me like:

FT.com / Comment & analysis / Comment - How a euro-molehill became a mountain

Ninth, economists or traders at banks in London or New York who do not get out enough sometimes assume that what happens on their doorsteps must also happen in the eurozone.
by Nomad on Mon Aug 25th, 2008 at 04:09:56 AM EST
Using this count, FSU countries passed USA but still are below China.

In any event, Great Britain is the real winner among EU countries, no questions.

by Sargon on Mon Aug 25th, 2008 at 04:31:35 AM EST
I must admit that I did the exercise of adding Ukraine and others to Russia's score before I thought of adding the EU score.

Has anyone worked out the eurozone score?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Aug 25th, 2008 at 05:01:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See Metatone's link, which I reposted above!
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Aug 25th, 2008 at 05:04:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I always find comparisons of medals quite entertaining.

Yes, Luxembourg has precisely the same number of people than China, so the comparison is fair, very fair. ;)

by t-------------- on Mon Aug 25th, 2008 at 08:21:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Tenth, global financial market turmoil shows few signs of wreaking significant economic damage directly on the eurozone, where the financial services sector has not been an important driver of growth. Bank lending to businesses remains strong and eurozone consumers' finances, generally, are not over-stretched.

Eleventh, no fundamental flaws have been found in the main engines of eurozone growth (unlike in banking). Economists once questioned whether manufacturing had a future in high-cost Germany, but nobody does nowadays.

Looks like, fortunately, the European economy has resisted the Anglo Disease better than we thought...

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Mon Aug 25th, 2008 at 05:09:10 AM EST
Eleventh, no fundamental flaws have been found in the main engines of eurozone growth (unlike in banking). Economists once questioned whether manufacturing had a future in high-cost Germany, but nobody does nowadays.
People should start questioning whether Economics has a future as an input into policy making...

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 26th, 2008 at 05:08:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
than others...


Third, official statistics have exaggerated the slowdown. GDP figures for the first quarter were flattered by the mild winter, which boosted construction, and an early Easter, which helped tourism and travel. Smooth out the data and they are consistent with long-term eurozone economic stability, although previously one might have used adjectives such as "sclerotic".

I remember rather clearly how the very strong growth figures for the first quarter were described as a temporary aberratino that would not last. I don't remember the same critical note being given to this quarter's numbers, seen immediately as proof of the eurozone's crash. The fact is, taken together, you have rather normal numbers.


Tenth, global financial market turmoil shows few signs of wreaking significant economic damage directly on the eurozone, where the financial services sector has not been an important driver of growth. Bank lending to businesses remains strong and eurozone consumers' finances, generally, are not over-stretched.

Eleventh, no fundamental flaws have been found in the main engines of eurozone growth (unlike in banking). Economists once questioned whether manufacturing had a future in high-cost Germany, but nobody does nowadays.

In other words: the eurozone does not suffer from the Anglo Disease, and still produces stuff which the rest of the world is interested in buying, even when expensive. That does not sound like doom.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Aug 25th, 2008 at 05:18:40 AM EST
Doesn't prevent a certain French government to shreik "crisis" after the Q2 numbers came out, which of course means they will all claim credit when the numbers "rebound".

Silver lining? The window of opportunity for further gifts to the wealthy via the paquet fiscale has been lowered quite a bit. When the other side starts believe it's own bullshit, it can be an advantage...

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Mon Aug 25th, 2008 at 06:12:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I remember rather clearly how the very strong growth figures for the first quarter were described as a temporary aberratino that would not last. I don't remember the same critical note being given to this quarter's numbers, seen immediately as proof of the eurozone's crash.

Depends by whom. I remember rather clearly how the very strong growth figures (+0.6% -mind you they have been twice revised downwards since, to 0.4%) for the first quarter were described by Christine Lagarde as glorious and oh-so-significant, proof positive that Sarkozy had anticipated everything and that the infamous "paquet fiscal" worked brilliantly and was just what had been needed, while the second quarter (-0.3%) was merely described as due to a worldwide tendency, that we had adverted better than most (really? based on that figure?) thanks to the glorious "paquet fiscal", proof positive that we needed more of it.

Methinks some people have caught the neoliberal disease on our shores...

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Mon Aug 25th, 2008 at 06:15:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He even goes as far as saying:

The job security enjoyed by French workers should also help support consumer spending.

Yes, in the Financial Times!

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Mon Aug 25th, 2008 at 07:10:35 AM EST
  1.  Eurozone medals?  Y'all need to implement a Constitution before you can go around taking credit like that.  Silliness!

  2.  I'm sick of all of this whining about how it's unfair to compare the medal count among countries with radically different populations.  Bah.  If Luxembourg wants more medals, they should do what the US, China and Russia did: get themselves more land.  Lots more land.  More land and more people.  Those borders won't expand themselves.  In all the time you've been whining about how it's unfair you could have been 10 miles into Belgium by now!  Also, you should do away with your weird European cult of happy childhoods.  If you want more medals, you'll need to rip babes from the arms of their mothers in infancy and immediately place them in an intensive 14 year sports program.  Breed them, essentially.  Like horses, or puppies.  Get to work!  

</snark>

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Mon Aug 25th, 2008 at 11:27:48 AM EST
poemless:
Also, you should do away with your weird European cult of happy childhoods.  If you want more medals, you'll need to rip babes from the arms of their mothers in infancy and immediately place them in an intensive 14 year sports program.  Breed them, essentially.  Like horses, or puppies.  Get to work!  

Do you coach the US girls gymnastics team in your spare time?

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Aug 25th, 2008 at 11:36:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Surely only on her days off training children for beuty pagents. ;-)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Aug 25th, 2008 at 12:01:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No.  But I just absolutely adore Valeri Liukin, so if he ever needs a hand ...

It appears the US girls gymnastics team are there of their own volition.  I was listening to commentary of the Chinese women's synchronized swimming team (weirdest. sport. ever.) and they were talking about how one member was punished for crying because she hadn't been allowed to see her parents in 12 years.  Might be propaganda.  Might be true.  

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Mon Aug 25th, 2008 at 12:13:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't watch synchronized swimming. It freaks me out.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Aug 25th, 2008 at 01:34:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't even think about synchronised swimming.

Ow.

Ow, ow, ow, ow.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Aug 25th, 2008 at 01:42:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is seriously freaky.  Creepy.  That and the rhythmic gymnastics.  I can understand the athleticism in vaulting and balance beams, and that thing the men do where they hold themselves up with those rings - amazing!  But prancing about with ribbons?  That's a sport?  Are you serious?  I'm a bit concerned that the Russians do so phenomenally well in synchronized swimming and rhythmic gymnastics.  No wonder the rest of the world doesn't trust them. ;)

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Mon Aug 25th, 2008 at 01:50:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]


"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Mon Aug 25th, 2008 at 01:58:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And worser, according to wikiP, it was developed in the early 1900s in Canada. I suppose if the development were immediately post WW1, we might have some faint excuse (national trauma from Flanders, old boy), but I can't be bothered to find out.

Blame Canada.

Must go hide my head in shame.

by PIGL (stevec@boreal.gmail@com) on Tue Aug 26th, 2008 at 04:33:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... Olympics and "judging" Olympics.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Aug 26th, 2008 at 10:16:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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