Every four years the Winter Olympics come around and I am hooked. I love the speed of downhill skiing and bobsled races. I cannot comprehend the luge and feel distraught at the death of the young Georgian on the first day of these 2010 games in springlike gorgeous Vancouver. I am a sports fan but trying to understand curling is one sport too many. The skating competitions have the strongest draw for me: gymnastics, dancing, skating at the highest level all in one package. The costumes, the different personalities (go Johnny Weir and Patrick Chun), the symbiosis of coach (Svengali) and young athlete, the choice of music; this is compelling. But this time around the thrill of watching is enhanced by two factors, HDTV and the record button on my remote. HDTV is image perfection; watching the cross-country ski pursuit on a picture perfect Saturday fully displays what I am talking about. Then there is the ability to record programs so I can watch at my convenience and zip through at alpine ski speeds those endless, inane and mind-numbing ads. To say nothing of Bob Costas and his smooth talking, bland commentary and schmaltz with which NBC tries to tie the drama (that needs no enhancement) together. (Although I did enjoy watching Mary Carillo attend the Royal Canada Mountie school. But then I am a tennis fan too.) No doubt it already exists, but is not available to the American public, raw live feed of the events as they happen without commentary and without ads. May they day come soon when we can see what the TV producers and journalists see.
Another huge plus (which perhaps is our live feed of the moment) is the amazing official Olympic Winter Games website with myriad opportunities to follow in real-time each and every minutia of the Games.
So this leads me to a socio-political line of thinking. HDTV, touch of the button recording of at least two channels at the same time, access to the latest computer technology and the ability (economic and utilitarian) to use the ever-changing and increasing tools of the Information Age creates a cyber-age global apartheid that separates the hi-technology and computer literate and savvy haves, from the billions and billions of have-nots. Earlier this week I lost electrical power as I was settling in to watch the medal round of the Men’s figure skating (why all those falls?) Sitting in the dark for two hours while the electrician did his work, brought home to me how utterly dependent so many billions of us are on electricity. Think about it.
I have no idea what this means for the future of our beautiful planet. I am an optimist, so I think of great opportunities for out-of-the box thinking entrepreneurs who can attempt to close the gap. On the other hand the gap may become so vast that cyberspace implodes and sinks us all in an immense dark hole.
Happy Winter Olympics second week TV watching.
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