What do you mean they couldn’t run?

NBC did a fantastic job telling the entire story of women in track and field today during marathon coverage. They showed lots of outrageous stuff like the NY Times running editorials after the 1928 games saying that women would lose their ability to have children if they continued to run such great distances (800 meter is two laps on a track, about a half mile). They also showed some great shots of the woman that crashed the 1968 Boston marathon being harrassed by race officials, and her boyfriend shoulder-checking the guy so she could keep running.

As long as I’ve been running for fun (since 7th grade cross country, in 1985), the image of women running was an everyday occurrence (even our 7th grade cross country had a female team, most of which beat me in races) and I can’t imagine there was a time where it was considered odd for them to go for a long jog. For years women have been getting closer to winning ultra marathon events and it’s only a matter of time before a woman beats all men in a 100 miler.

I honestly had no idea the history of women’s running was so messed up, as it’s been commonplace ever since I first put a pair of running shoes on.

Flickr innovates again

The thing that amazed me about Google’s gmail was that it acted like a desktop application, but was provided through a browser. Given the limits of client-side and server-side programming, there’s only so much you can do and gmail pushed it into a very capable email client I could see using full time.

Flickr just launched a new feature of their photo management/sharing site called Organizr. Watch the demo videos to see it in action — this is as close to a desktop app I’ve ever seen a web application. With a bit of Flash programming and photos I’ve already uploaded, Flickr approaches the features of iPhoto (the photo manager I currently use) and Photoshop Album (tried it, liked it too), but all within a browser. In some aspects (gallery control, keyword additions/searching) Flickr surpasses the functionality of iPhoto.

I can see this is just the tip of the iceberg with Flickr and can’t wait until someday I’m storing all my photos there, editing them, posting them, and organizing them all in Flickr.

About the only things blocking this from happening seems to be slow uploading from most home broadband connections (especially with a 5+ megapixel camera) and the unlimited storage problem.

Brilliant!

I was at a Petco the other day buying some cat litter and before the cashier took my $20 bill, she said “your total is $17.86, would you like to donate the 14 cents change to the county humane society?” I not only said yes, but emphatically so. I hate carrying around change (especially pointless amounts like 14 cents), I like animals and donating to good causes, but I’m also incredibly lazy, so it was the best idea I’ve ever heard. It was as if a group was assembled to figure out how to make my day better while also helping out a charity that features cute puppies and kittens, and they came up with this.

I wouldn’t be surprised if more specialty stores do it, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I willingly give away more change in the future this way.

FunFunFun

I’ve been ocean kayaking a few times and a couple times on a calm river, but I’ve always wanted to shoot some rapids with one and learn how to do the roll. Except the whole “bonking your head on a rock and then you drown” part keeps me from trying it out.

After seeing some Olympic canoe and kayak events on TV today, I have to say the Olympic complex looks like the funnest waterpark in the world. A giant fake rushing river complete with foam boulders is a place I would feel much more comfortable learning the ropes of fast water kayaking. I wonder if any of these exist in the US?

API + glue = neat apps

I love Andre’s new dropcash app, because it helps you coordinate a little fundraiser (like this test one) simply using paypal and typekey. It’s cool that both systems allow for third party apps like this to spring up, as this provides functionality the amazon donations/payment program has, but paypal never had. Hopefully paypal rolls this into their system or gives Andre a job doing it for them.

Body types

Back when I used to compete in some bike events as a teen, I remember that the sport tended to favor shorter than average men, and even at the local level, the majority of top guys fell into a pretty small range of body size and type. At the state and national level, the distribution was even smaller, with almost every competitor being about 5′ 6″.

It’s kind of fun to watch the olympics and notice that on a global stage, the distributions seem to fall the same way, with each sport favoring a certain body type and seemingly 90% or more of the contestants looking just about the same. The women’s beach volleyball is where it seems most obvious. You see tall, thin, tan women that look as if they all just stepped off a beach in Southern California. Then you see that they’re from China, or Japan, or Switzerland, as well as the US. Men’s and Women’s gymnastics, swimming, and diving all seem to favor a pretty narrow body type as well. Anyone that’s ever watched college women’s softball knows there’s a body type for that sport as well, and it’s also easy to see the teams around the world fall into it.

Every sport favors genetics to some extent, but I’ve always discounted them and held that anyone of any shape could rise towards the top if they trained hard enough. But at the absolute upper reaches of a sport, falling outside the norm becomes a liability and when the margin of error grows thin, you’re going to fall behind the best.

I’ve always been an idealist that believed anyone could become president of the US, a pro baseball player, or the next Bill Gates, but when it comes to global competitve sports, it seems like winning the genetic lottery is almost always required if you really want to be the absolute best.