Thursday, August 7, 2008

Official VWXYNot? Olympics Pool and Trash Talk Thread

Everyone can play this game, not just Europeans and football fans!

Bragging rights will be assigned according to the number of medals per head of your country's population (otherwise you Americans will win waaaay too easily). 3 points for each gold medal, 2 for silver, 1 for bronze. Declare your nationality if possible, but if this will breach your anonymity then you can just trash talk the rest of us and then tell us your country's final score at the end. We'll obviously have more than one person supporting some of the countries, so please predict the number of gold, silver and bronze medals your team will win. (Again you don't have to declare the country, just let us know how closely you guessed. I'm assuming that we're all honest!). I'll use these predictions to award a winner in the almost inevitable case of a tie-break.

I am supporting Team GB first and foremost, but also Canada. So it's only fair to allow everyone else to choose a second country too. Preferably these will be countries to which you have some connection (birth/residence/origin/citizenship - it's complicated these days isn't it?!).

All population data will be taken from the CIA World Factbook, creepily enough - at least their methods should be consistent across the board. Find your country here.

United Kingdom* population: 60,943,912. I confidently and loudly predict 14 gold, 10 silver and 12 bronze.
Canada population: 33,212,696. I confidently yet politely predict 6 gold, 4 silver and 5 bronze.

*Team GB represents Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the geographical and political entity that is more commonly known as the United Kingdom. I don't know why they're not called Team UK - it's very confusing. Just look for the Union Flag. Remember, it's not called the Union Jack unless it's flying from a boat. No, wait, that's confusing too.


  1. Oh good! I can practice being a really annoying American for when I go to England and tell them all that they spell "color" wrong!! Okay, I have to think about my predictions. I'll get back to you. :)

  2. I'm in. I choose Canada and Australia. Will get back to you with the medal count. Much as I love and support Canada, my prediction is that the Aussies will out-medal them.

  3. Ok, here are my predictions:

    USA (great country or greatest country?) 301 million people

    95 medals total
    45 gold
    25 silver
    25 bronze

    I also predict that the US will be the overall medal leader. Suck it, China!!

    Um... India will be lucky to win one medal. In Athens they won A silver. Let's give them a silver and a bronze for a total of two medals. It's a population of 1.1 billion, but can we grade on a curve here?! If they get more than one medal, I feel like we should all golf clap.

  4. Oh sorry. I realized I was rounding a lot with those populations.

    US: 301,139,947
    India: 1,129,866,154

  5. Damnit, I forgot about Australia. They always punch above their weight in the Olympics. And here's me thinking the UK might have a decent shot, having come 10th in the overall medals table in Athens.

  6. Australia will be a challenge to predict this year, as the Thorpedo has retired, and I am not aware that any other Aussie is as dominating.

  7. Go Canucks Go!!! I predict 12 medals total..hmm how to break them down?? 4 Gold, and lets aim for 5 silver and 3 bronze. I am 100% Canadian but I will pay homage to my parents homeland and support India. I'll keep my fingers crossed that they get at least 1. Sorry Arduous I can only do wishful thinking for one country:)

  8. OK, so far we have 1 person for GB, 3 for Canada, 2 for India, 1 for the USA and 1 for Australia. We need more diversification! Anyone else want to play?

  9. OK, here is my medal breakdown.

    AUS, 20,600,856 people: 6 gold, 17 silver, 17 bronze
    CAD, 33,212,696 people: 3 gold, 4 silver, 6 bronze

    Sorry Canada, I love you but the Aussies take their sport very seriously!

  10. What can I say ?
    I would support my two countries (Italy and Canada), if I only could bring myself to watch the Olympic games... I think the last ones to which I paid some attention were in 1988 (wait, I remember watching something in 1996 too... can't remember what though).
    The reasons why I lost interest are many, one of them being the same why I also lost interest in cycling (used lo love it as a kid) and I am also not nearly as crazy about calcio (football/soccer) as I used to be.

    You enjoy this one, Cath -- I'll be waiting for you in the Fall, when NHL restarts.

  11. Oh dear god. I can't remember the last time I watched the Olympics or kept track of medal counts. Can I steal Ruchi's medal prediction for the US?

    As for the other two countries I have significant ties to, well, I can very safely predict neither of them will win any medals!

  12. Okham, you spoilsport! :-) Do you not even watch the Winter Olympic hockey? And they still gave you Canadian citizenship? I thought that was the first question on the test.

    MadHatter, you'll have to ask Ruchi about that! Do your countries at least have teams entered?

  13. hey, I can support the northern country of Sweden! And then Canada has a special place in my heart... so thats my second (although I must state my hesitation about it).

    Swedish population: 9,045,389

    don't know at the moment how many medals that will be but I'll be back with that ;)

  14. MH, use my medal predictions as a jumping off point, sure. But maybe mix it up a little so that Cath is able to break a tie! :)

  15. Do you not even watch the Winter Olympic hockey?

    Nope -- not even that... I know, it's bad but... there is something about the Olympic games, especially the winter ones, that really puts me off. I don't know when this started... The 1994 Nancy-Tonya travesty maybe (why meeeeeeh.....) ? Anyhoozle...

  16. Chall, thanks for diversifying the pool!

    Okham, I see you have left your first country and moved on to another. Is the vegetarian food any better? BTW I have never heard an Italian say anyhoozle before...

  17. No matter how I feel about the Chinese government, I have to say, it makes me tear up when I saw those Chinese drummers and how proud they were to be part of this all. I think for the Chinese people these games are so important. And watching the Opening Ceremonies, I realize how important it is to distinguish a people from its government. (Something I implore Europeans and Canadians to do daily about us!!)

    Ok, that wasn't really trash talk. But the opening ceremonies get me weepy! I'm too busy loving all the countries to talk smack.

  18. Okham, I see you have left your first country and moved on to another. Is the vegetarian food any better?

    Well, you have to understand, this is a physics conference, and physicists are notorious for being cheapskates -- we are fed on site but, because this meeting is much bigger size than the previous one, we receive lunch boxes containing, among other things, a kitkat bar and a cheese sandwich (extremely low density bread with very low surface-to-volume ratio). How's that for "vegetarian" ?

    On the other hand, at night we can go to restaurants and the fish is pretty good around here. Now, if I only could get rid of the flu and sleep at night... next Tuesday I'll be traveling to Cath's land.

    BTW I have never heard an Italian say anyhoozle before...

    Hehehe... I heard it on the radio a few years back and am now enamored with it -- much like "touchy feely", it cracks me up. But I know what you mean, most of my british colleagues look at me funny when I call them "old chap", or "squire" :-)

  19. Ruchi, I actually missed it but the still shots looked amazing. I'll be spending some time on YouTube later!

    Okham, are you sticking to London or venturing any further afield? The premiership season starts next week you know...

  20. NN visitor here. I'm with ruchi-I love all the countries too much to talk smack. And I've only lived in the US and in GB, and there are already bragging rights for those countries.

    So I'll go with the country of my predominant ethnic background, Germany.
    Population = 82,400,996
    Predicted medal count = 54 total, 12 gold, 20 silver, 22 bronze

    I think that Cuba also quite literally punches above its weight, taking medals in boxing, judo, fencing, and track and field. So I'll give Cuba a vote too, to add some diversity.

    Population = 11,394,043 (excluding Gitmo)
    Predicted medal count = 28 total
    6 gold, 10 silver, 12 bronze

  21. I am afraid I won't have time to go anywhere else -- we just have five days and I have a pretty intense workshop schedule. Plus, it's Mrs Okham's first time in London, so she's going to want to do conventional sightseeing, going through the most famous landmarks.

  22. I guess I'll have to chip in with GB and Finland. Predicting Finland's medal haul is easy - possibly a silver in the javelin, if they're lucky. They do better in the winter Olympics.

    I don't want to make any predictions about Team GB, other than that we will beat Finland, and possible Sweden. And neither will be able to get their revenge in the ice hockey in 2 years time.

  23. Going to bed after watching my boy Phelps win gold far America is the overall medal leader with 2 gold, 2 silver, and 4 bronze!

  24. Gold for GB! Womens' road race, nice job. And a good omen for my own 60 km MS Society ride that starts in an hour or so. I can't believe I had to get up at 6 on a Sunday.

    Three words though. Synchronised diving - wow.

    Nothing for Canada yet

  25. I'll primarily back the US, predicting 104 medals -- 43 gold, 30 silver, and 31 bronze.

    My second choice is New Zealand, which I predict will win 1 gold, 2 silver, and 1 bronze.

  26. South Africa

    Population: 48 million

    I am hopeful for:

    Gold: 3
    Silver: 5
    Bronze: 5

    You might be interested in this article in the Wall Street Journal based on Daniel Johnson's work relating number of medals to economic variables?

    Want to Predict Olympic Champs? Look at GDP (

    Here is a link to Daniel Johnson's site on the Olympics...

  27. I wrote hopeful.
    It is an "in my dreams" hopeful.

  28. The women's road race was excellent, in spite of the wet conditions. Well done, GB!

    Apparently the Chinese are strong contenders in rowing events this year-what's up with that?

    The whole "NBA players on Team USA" thing continues to cause me great embarrassment. I'd really like to see them get their butts kicked.

  29. Oh my god, India won a gold and I can't even figure out what for?!!

    But I think, I THINK, this makes India better than Canada?


  30. Ruchi (aka Arduous), as we say in Canada, there is only one game worth being good at...

  31. Okay, so I'm a loser and didn't get my predictions together before countries started winning medals...sigh. Anyway, thanks for offering to let me copy your, predictions, Ruchi! :-)

    Cath, both of the other countries I support (M and T) entered teams, although one of them only has a handful of athletes. Surprisingly, one of those countries did win a medal!!! So I was wrong and am ecstatic to be so. :-)

  32. wohhoooo... Swedish medal in cycling - road race for women! Silver! :)

    (shh, we're not talking about the other things that have gone wrong, i.e. not qualifying for the final in swimming due to "letting the best one rest" and loosing female soccer... etc Bah!)

    I'm looking forward to the Track and field. And the opening was stunning. (hard to admit since I think it was wrong to give China the games but it was stunning)

  33. Thanks for playing everyone! I'll try to set up some kind of predictions table to summarise everyone's picks when I have more time, like, in a few years or something.

    Two golds and one bronze now for Team GB! w00t!

    Still nothing for Canada. However, there is a Canadian swimmer by the name of Beavers. This pleases me greatly.

    My parents told me yesterday that a British woman lost out on Archery bronze - to a French woman. Henry V would have been mortified. I also saw an awesome quote from the men's archery team that the course was in fantastic condition and the grass looks lovely. Erm, why does this matter? It's ARCHERY!

  34. The Beast is Australian, so I'm keeping him away from the medals table at the moment.

    Finland have already surpassed my predictions, which shows you what I know.

    Alas the British are too polite to have dealt with the French archer (archeress? archress?). Someone should have pointed out what happened to Jean d'Arc.

  35. My cats are Canadian (from Haida Gwaii, aka Queen Charlotte Islands to be exact) so I am shielding them from the horrors of the medal table. Team Canada is doing very well at sucking. Ah well, like Okham said, just wait 2 years for the winter games...

  36. I just watched Germany wrap up a gold medal in the team eventing with the last phase, show jumping. Gina Miles of the US is in strong contention for individual gold...oh, wait, Romeike of Germany wins gold, Miles silver, and Kristina Cook of GB bronze for individual eventing! Cook was a late replacement on the GB team, and she and her horse Miner's Frolic were just brilliant.

  37. Awww, damn!!

    From the NY Times Olympic blog:

    AUSSIE OFFICIAL CRACKS WISE ABOUT THE BRITISH AND SOAP There was also another bit of bother Monday, between the Aussies and the British, although it was in more of a music-hall vein. In a report from Beijing in the British daily The Guardian (the same paper that broke the Spain ad story on monday), the paper’s Matt Scott noted the “sporting spat between Britain and Australia plumbed new and comical depths yesterday as the most senior Australian Olympic official accused British athletes of lacking personal hygiene.”

    The remark in question came from Oz Olympic Committee chief and IOC member John Coates, who reacted to Rebecca Adlington’s gold in the 400-meter freestyle swim for Britain with the observation, “It’s not bad for a country that has no swimming pools and very little soap.”

    Cath, you didn't tell me that Britain is bereft of soap! What am I going to do? Do I have to import my own soap with me in my already too heavy luggage?!!!

    Quel horreur!

  38. No, there is no soap AT ALL in England. Everyone smells, all of the time. Didn't you know that? On the other hand the tea is excellent. Can you live with that trade-off?

  39. Actually, I can assess first hand that there is soap in England, and the tea is excellent -- oh, wait, my wife is telling me that it was coffee that I just drank, not tea. Sorry...
    Electric sockets, on the other hand, are still incompatible with plugs from just about any other country... so I had to buy adapters.

    Btw, Cath, what's the deal with wanting to see my passport (twice no less, once before I boarded the train in Bruxelles, the second time after arriving in St. Pancras) ?
    I thought that the EU worked like the US or Canada, i.e., with a single point of entry, and that thereafter I could travel from anywhere to anywhere without having to show anything. Isn't the UK in the EU ?
    I had this mean-looking lady ask me "What are you going to the UK for ? How many days ? Where are you traveling afterwards ?"... Maybe she was trying out for a job with INS...
    Weather sucks, just like it did in Holland. At least it's not hot though.

  40. I think the UK, as an island, retained some kind of rights to check all passports at the border. If you showed an Italian passport though they shouldn't have questioned you!

    I've had my passport checked at the border when travelling from France into Italy, and France into Spain, and when entering and leaving Switzerland (which obviously isn't in the EU). However I didn't get checked on the train from Spain to Portugal, or at other borders between France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. I think sometimes they just get bored.

  41. I should have said that all the times I did get checked were on trains.

  42. I have to say, that there is a LOT of straining on TV of commentators trying to decide who is leading overall: China or the US.

    The US leads in the overall medal count, but the Chinese leads in the GOLD medal count. I listened to 15 minutes worth of, "The US is leading." "No, it's China." "No it's the US." "No, only gold matters."

    I think your way of assigning points makes the most sense. And by that calculation, UNFORTUNATELY China still leads. I am very hopeful though that that will change soon.

  43. Everything changes when the track and field events start!

    You never know, Canada might even win a medal.

    GB is doing pretty well though! 2 Gold, 2 Silver and 3 Bronze. 10th overall.

  44. Bah. I'm depressed now that Federer lost. What is going ON with him? And of course the commentators here are all excited because it means the US might medal in men's tennis which is suddenly important now that Venus and Serena are out.

    2012 will be exciting because the tennis will be played at Wimbledon!! I wonder if all the stupid Wimbledon rules (wearing all white, women being referred to as Miss Suchandsuch) will be in effect.

  45. YOU'RE depressed?! Try being in Canada right now - doom and gloom! Although apparently the second half of the games always goes better for Team Canada.

    I actually found myself supporting a Canadian against a Brit in a swimming semifinal yesterday. Just because Britain already has 2 swimming medals and Canada has NONE. In ANY sport.

    Okham, Italy are doing really well, if you wanted to know!

  46. Yes, Canada has been pretty dismal. You know they've never won a gold on their home turf? Both at Calgary and Montreal they never managed to win a gold medal. So I guess people are very antsy about Vancouver.

    Actually I think Americans are getting anxious because this may be the first time in a while that the Americans don't end up as the medal leader.

    Also, it is very hard to smack talk as an American because no matter what you say you are going to come across like a bully!!

    Also, I am still excited about India's gold. Even though it was in a stupid non-sport.

    The end.

  47. Okham, Italy are doing really well, if you wanted to know!

    Yeah, I read it on the newspaper... pretty incredible that a country with barely 50 million people and one of the lowest birthrates in the world manages to continue to perform at a decent level at the Olympics.

    OK, this is crazy -- a north korean shooter has been disqualified for DOPING ? A shooter ? What did he take, valium ?
    OK, I have discussed enough Olympic games for the next month or so...

  48. Yeah that sounds kinda like the archers talking about how nice the grass is.

    Hmmm, maybe it was grass.

    Crack cocaine often helps people to shoot things.

  49. Just so you know, based on Per Capita, Canada is kicking everyone's arse! Woot woot. using Cath's point system, we are at 8.4 points, followed by the USA at 6.1 the brits bring up the bottom with at 1.411 (china is 1.42). Once I get back from the gym and costco, I'll waste sometime figuring out how to put an excel sheet on my blog :) Go Canucks Go!!! sorry aussies, you're not listed on the CBCs home page.

  50. I think you misplaced your decimal point there matey!

    I make it:
    GB: 17 golds = 51 points, 12 silvers = 24 points, 11 bronzes = 11 points. Total 86 points divided by a population of 60.9 million = 1.41

    Canada: 3 golds = 9 points, 7 silvers = 14 points, 5 bronzes = 5 points. Total 28 points divided by a population of 33.2 million = 0.84


  51. shit you're right, stupid excel had in it 1.4E6 vs. 8.4E7 (I didn't look at the E values. Gosh that was bad scientist moment, I'll blame it on my rush to get to the gym:). That said we canucks are still ahead of China and the USA. Lets see what happens after today, we're up for a couple more!

  52. Kakaying and...erm, something else I think. I'll be watching tonight before my early night!

  53. OK, so my tally for Australia:

    (14 gold x 3) + (15 silver x 2) + 17 = 89 points divided by 20.6 million people = 4.32.

    Do I win?

  54. Working on it! Expect post by Thursday evening...


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