Olympic authorities are investigating a bucket of unapproved, non-sponsor condoms found in the village.
Australia's Caroline Buchanan discovered this bucket of unapproved-brand condoms. (Twitter)
The commercialization of the Olympics even reaches into the Olympic Village, where thousands of athletes from around the world live, rest, and do exactly what you'd expect from a bunch of physically fit young people who are filled with adrenaline and excitement. Since the 1992 Barcelona games, host cities have supplied the village with free condoms, and the London 2012 games have extended their ubiquitous sponsorship opportunities -- and fierce protection of those sponsors -- even here, selling exclusive condom rights to Durex. And when they say exclusive, they're not kidding.
Australian BMX cyclist Caroline Buchanan, one of the Olympic Village's many athletic residents, sparked one of the Olympics' many copyright-protection investigations when she tweeted a photo of a bucket of free condoms. A sign over the bucket reads "Kangaroo Condoms: For the Gland Down Under."
Putting aside the egregious violation of Olympic rings copyright (Olympic authorities have put a halt to bakers, florists, and little old ladies using the rings without paying for the right), the big problem here is that the bucket contains a handful of non-Durex condoms. The Ansell and Pasante brand condoms are being handed out in violation of sponsorship rules, the authorities explained, and so must be stopped.
"We will look into this and ask that they are not handed out to other athletes because Durex are our supplier," a spokeswoman told the Guardian. Both Ansell and Pasante wisely denied that their companies played any role in putting the condoms there.
Olympic Villages are, famously, hotbeds of sexual activity. Durex supplied more than enough condoms -- 150,000, they say, and all handed out to athletes for free -- and surely paid well for the right. The organizers in the International Olympic Committee argue that the games are expensive, that they wouldn't happen without sponsorship, and that they can charge sponsors so much in part because of how aggressively they protect those sponsors' exclusive rights.
"If Coca-Cola is spending upwards of £100M [$157 million] for a right of association, which is clearly a huge amount of money, the IOC understands brands need category exclusivity," a marketing academic told the BBC. In 2006, in preparation for the 2012 London games, the UK Parliament passed a law to bolster sponsors' rights and the ability of authorities to enforce them.
Still, condoms might be a commercial product, but they're also a medical device. At some point, it seems worth balancing Durex's commercial interests (and the IOC's balance sheet) against public health. Olympic athletes are already burdened with their home country's national prestige and, by extension of the Olympics' sponsorships, with the games' commercial interests. Surely we can grant them a little physical and commercial privacy when they're back in their village dorms.
Five candidates faced off in Las Vegas, as they tried to shake up the race.
Well, that wasn’t so bad, was it? Despite dire predictions that the first Democratic presidential debate would be a snoozefest, the Las Vegas summit actually offered a little bit of everything: Substance, humor, tension, and one truly baffling Lincoln Chafee answer.
True, it wasn’t as exciting as the Republican debates so far, but what is? Yet even though the debate kicked off with a melodramatic voiceover promising that “This night in Vegas could change the odds... yet again,” the debate didn’t obviously shake up the race. Hillary Clinton delivered a typically strong performance, much as expected; Bernie Sanders played to type, railing against corporations and inequality. Martin O’Malley kept to his strategy of hitting Clinton. And Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee remained, for the most part, marginal to what was going on.
Astronomers have spotted a strange mess of objects whirling around a distant star. Scientists who search for extraterrestrial civilizations are scrambling to get a closer look.
In the Northern hemisphere’s sky, hovering above the Milky Way, there are two constellations—Cygnus the swan, her wings outstretched in full flight, and Lyra, the harp that accompanied poetry in ancient Greece, from which we take our word “lyric.”
Between these constellations sits an unusual star, invisible to the naked eye, but visible to the Kepler Space Telescope, which stared at it for more than four years, beginning in 2009.
“We’d never seen anything like this star,” says Tabetha Boyajian, a postdoc at Yale. “It was really weird. We thought it might be bad data or movement on the spacecraft, but everything checked out.”
Kepler was looking for tiny dips in the light emitted by this star. Indeed, it was looking for these dips in more than 150,000 stars, simultaneously, because these dips are often shadows cast by transiting planets. Especially when they repeat, periodically, as you’d expect if they were caused by orbiting objects.
The whole crew liveblogged tonight’s first Democratic debate in Las Vegas, and you can read it all here. Here’s David’s instant reaction:
Well, that wasn’t so bad, was it? Despite dire predictions that the first Democratic presidential debate would be a snoozefest, the Las Vegas summit actually offered everything: Substance, humor, tension, and one truly baffling Lincoln Chafee answer.
True, it wasn’t as exciting as the Republican debates so far, but what is? Yet even though the debate kicked off with a melodramatic voiceover promising that "This night in Vegas could change the odds... yet again," the debate didn’t obviously shake up the race. Hillary Clinton delivered a typically strong performance, much as expected; Bernie Sanders played to type, railing against corporations and inequality. Martin O’Malley kept to his strategy of hitting Clinton. And Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee remained, for the most part, marginal to what was going on.
In the years leading up to the election, some Democrats worried that Clinton would be hobbled by not facing challengers in the primary, and Tuesday night’s debate showed the truth of that point. She’s a polished, experienced debater, and she profited from standing on stage with the four other men in the field. Chafee and Webb seemed nervous and uncomfortable, while Sanders was—as always—Sanders: Fervent, grumpy, unfiltered, and righteously angry. The factors that have made him an idol to many Democratic voters and eroded her polling also make her look more presidential when they’re standing next to each other.
As government agencies and tech companies develop more and more intrusive means of watching and influencing people, how can we live free lives?
I knew we’d bought walnuts at the store that week, and I wanted to add some to my oatmeal. I called to my wife and asked her where she’d put them. She was washing her face in the bathroom, running the faucet, and must not have heard me—she didn’t answer. I found the bag of nuts without her help and stirred a handful into my bowl. My phone was charging on the counter. Bored, I picked it up to check the app that wirelessly grabs data from the fitness band I’d started wearing a month earlier. I saw that I’d slept for almost eight hours the night before but had gotten a mere two hours of “deep sleep.” I saw that I’d reached exactly 30 percent of my day’s goal of 13,000 steps. And then I noticed a message in a small window reserved for miscellaneous health tips. “Walnuts,” it read. It told me to eat more walnuts.
When a congressional investigation turns into a partisan operation, the media need to treat it as such.
Hardly anyone still working in today’s media can remember an era in which “mainstream media” practices, as we now think of them, actually prevailed. By which I mean: a few dominant, sober-sided media outlets; a news cycle punctuated by evening network-news shows, morning (and sometimes afternoon) newspapers, weekend newsmaker talk shows, and weekly news magazines; and political discourse that shared enough assumptions about facts and logic that journalists felt they could do their jobs by saying, “We’ve heard from one side. Now let’s hear from the other.”
I can barely remember any of that, and I got my first magazine job (with The Washington Monthly) around the time of the Watergate break-in and subsequent Woodward-and-Bernstein scoops, when all parts of the old-style journalistic ecosystem were still functioning.
Is there anything inherently “doggy” about the word “dog”? Obviously not—to the French, a dog is a chien, to Russians a sobaka, to Mandarin Chinese-speakers a gǒu. These words have nothing in common, and none seem any more connected to the canine essence than any other. One runs up against that wall with pretty much any word.
Except some. The word for “mother” seems often either to be mama or have a nasal sound similar to m, like nana. The word for “father” seems often either to be papa or have a sound similar to p, like b, in it—such that you get something like baba. The word for “dad” may also have either d or t, which is a variation on saying d, just as p is on b. People say mama or nana, and then papa, baba, dada, or tata,worldwide.
Bill Gates has committed his fortune to moving the world beyond fossil fuels and mitigating climate change.
In his offices overlooking Lake Washington, just east of Seattle, Bill Gates grabbed a legal pad recently and began covering it in his left-handed scrawl. He scribbled arrows by each margin of the pad, both pointing inward. The arrow near the left margin, he said, represented how governments worldwide could stimulate ingenuity to combat climate change by dramatically increasing spending on research and development. “The push is the R&D,” he said, before indicating the arrow on the right. “The pull is the carbon tax.” Between the arrows he sketched boxes to represent areas, such as deployment of new technology, where, he argued, private investors should foot the bill. He has pledged to commit $2 billion himself.
The former vice president has led his firm to financial success. But what he really wants to do is create a whole new version of capitalism.
“When i left the White House in 2001, I really didn’t know what I was going to do with my life,” Al Gore told me this summer, at his office in the Green Hills district of Nashville. “I’d had a plan”—this with a seemingly genuine chuckle rather than any sign of a grimace—“but … that changed!” After the “change,” via the drawn-out 2000 presidential election in which he won the vote of the populace but not that of the Supreme Court, for the first time in his adult life Gore found himself without an obvious next step. He was 52, two years younger than Barack Obama is now; he hadn’t worked outside the government in decades; and even if he managed to cope personally with a historically bitter disappointment that might have broken many people, he would still face the task of deciding how to spend the upcoming years.
A decade since the book pushed “pickup artistry” into the mainstream, Neil Strauss has some mixed thoughts on its legacy.
When Neil Strauss’s blockbuster book about pickup artistry came out a decade ago, I was a Midwestern ingenue in New York City, and I read it mostly as a defensive measure. A nice Ph.D. student named Jon had mentioned The Game, and was demonstrating how it worked by means of “The Cube” routine, where you ask a woman to imagine a box standing in the desert, and you tell her about herself based on how she describes it. (The cube represents the woman’s ego or something—so if it’s big, it means she’s self-confident; if it’s transparent as opposed to opaque that means she’s open as opposed to guarded; if it’s pink that means she’s bright and energetic … basic non-falsifiable horoscope-type material she can read herself into and then find you perceptive.) It was basically a way to harness people’s love of talking about themselves in order to score.
Science says lasting relationships come down to—you guessed it—kindness and generosity.
Every day in June, the most popular wedding month of the year, about 13,000 American couples will say “I do,” committing to a lifelong relationship that will be full of friendship, joy, and love that will carry them forward to their final days on this earth.
Except, of course, it doesn’t work out that way for most people. The majority of marriages fail, either ending in divorce and separation or devolving into bitterness and dysfunction. Of all the people who get married, only three in ten remain in healthy, happy marriages, as psychologist Ty Tashiro points out in his book The Science of Happily Ever After, which was published earlier this year.
Social scientists first started studying marriages by observing them in action in the 1970s in response to a crisis: Married couples were divorcing at unprecedented rates. Worried about the impact these divorces would have on the children of the broken marriages, psychologists decided to cast their scientific net on couples, bringing them into the lab to observe them and determine what the ingredients of a healthy, lasting relationship were. Was each unhappy family unhappy in its own way, as Tolstoy claimed, or did the miserable marriages all share something toxic in common?