Well, pretty much only played one game this week – World of Tanks of course. Otherwise I spent a bit of time watching what I could of the LDS. Unfortunately all but one of the teams I was rooting for lost, but that happens. Not that I will get to watch much of the LCS or World Series – the timings generally just do not work for me on this side of the Atlantic, and we are away again for most of the next week so will just be following what is going on via the written word – though if we have semi-reasonable mobile reception (doubtful) I may try to listen to some audio. Here is hoping the Tigers and Dodgers meet when we are back from holiday.

World of Tanks

Well the main aim I had in this spell of time between the two holidays was playing through the remaining Tier III vehicles. This I have managed to do, albeit not entirely to be my satisfaction. I would dearly like to get an Ace Tanker medal in the D2 and Panzer I Ausf. C. The latter is troublesome as I know a lot of good players regularly play that tank, and so raise the bar somewhat. Also it is a tank that I am finding an interesting challenge – it very much fits into the “scout tank” profile that I struggle with, so all in all very good experience. The D2 is just a very frustrating tank to play.

I also wished to come to come conclusions about the KV-1, VK3001H, and VK3002M. Well I have decided definitely to retain the KV-1, just having absolutely loads of fun at the moment. I am leanings towards keeping the VK3001H as well for the time being. A very different tank to what it was of course, but still a great ride. The VK3002M does remind me of the VK3001H, only “more so”. I am probably going to keep it around too for the time being, but I am less attached to it than I am the others.

I have also been playing the Panzer VI Tiger a little, trying forlornly to get the Ace Tanker. Mostly this went well – but then last night I lost six games in it. Typical. A couple of the loses were very good losses, and the one win I got was absolutely brilliant, but still not enough. Clearly I am not playing the Tiger to its full potential since my damage ratio is only about 0.8/1. I die too cheaply.

I will have very limited playtime this week coming up, so mostly will only be playing tonight until next weekend. Tonight going to try to earn some credits on the tanks in the special, and finally get the Cruiser III crew over 100% (currently 99%).

Also just the quickest of posts to celebrate Alabama just winning the SEC Championship game against Georgia.

Some Championship games really are not all that exciting, but this one went down to the wire. A really good game between two great teams.

(I am not sure if I have mentioned it before, but alongside following baseball I also follow college American football)

One of the great things about the Olympics is the sheer variety of different sports on offer, virtually every sort of sport to whet the competitive appetite of any palette. One of the great annoyances of the Olympics are all these great sports being shown at the same time. Not that this dilemma is one the organisers can avoid however.

I rather like this panoply of sport set before us, for us to feast upon. To be sure, there will be many who prefer one or two disciplines to the exclusion of others, and that is absolutely fine and well. There is no “correct” way to watch the Olympics after all. For our part though we have so far managed to switch between channels to get a taste of many varieties of spectacle.

In the last two days we have watched a fair amount of archery, swimming, and equestrian (eventing – dressage stage). We have also watched some tennis, and water polo and badminton; a match of handball and table-tennis; a few runs of canoe slalom and a session each of male and female artistic gymnastics (both male and female); even a brief foray into female weightlifting and male judo – oh, and I almost forgot, a couple of matches of fencing – and several races in sailing.

We are, of course, rooting both the British and Danish squads in this household. It provides extra opportunities for interest, along with occasionally some good-natured rivalry.

Oh, I forgot, we’ve seen some rowing too.

Just the sheer scope and variety of the Olympics never ceases to amaze, and I am glad to report we are making the most of the opportunities here.

I am watching the Opening Ceremony. I may or may not have more to say on that another time, but just now the athletes are marching out.

They march out, some in their hundreds, others in just a handful. Three or four marched as independents, one of whom hails from this world’s newest country of South Sudan (which is so new it hasn’t organised an Olympic Committee yet). They march out, many different and differing faces, the whole range of humanity. They come from the farthest north, they come from the utter south. They come from the largest and most settled nations on earth, and yet even the smallest and most troubled also send their sons and daughters. The walk and form a human current, a human stream of the great human sea.

It is marvellous to see.

When you watch the nations march, you get a sense of just how large this world is, just how varied our we who inhabit it.

On just about every face there is a wide smile – though some of the flag-bearers appear to be understandably nervous. One can nevertheless feel the joy through a television screen, the energy is infectious.

I started typing this when Portugal entered the area, South Africa just has been announced, and still they come. What a glorious world we live in.

Tomorrow is the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games. The first sporting events have actually taken place (football matches). There has been, in the media (and especially I think in the newspapers) a certain amount of grouching about this upcoming extravaganza. I can only think that the chattering classes are trying to do all they can to stop us enjoying this great event, that is unlikely to come again to this country in my lifetime. Fortunately most folks I speak to, be they great sports enthusiasts or not, seem to be wanting to enjoy the next few weeks in various and varying ways. No moaning there!

It is difficult though to think of the Olympics in London without thinking of the events that took place seven years ago. On July 6th it was announced that London had won the right to host the 2012 Olympics. I do not think it is rose-tinted spectacles and errant memory when I say I remember alot of people, inside and outside of London, myself included, found this is a reason to celebrate.

The next day fifty-two innocent people in London lost their lives in four separate explosions, at the hands of four suicide bombers.

The aims of the bombers were not connected with the Olympics, but in my mind ever since the 2012 Olympics have been irrevocably linked to the actions for those four young men on July 7th, 2005.

The Olympic ideal is easy to scoff at. It is easy to say that the Games have fallen prey to geopolitical strife more than once. The events in Munich in 1972 are still an uncomfortable heritage which I do not think the IOC fully realises, for reasons I do not know. Likewise it is easy to find fault with the “business” side of the games, the commercial sponsorships and the like. In the same vein there is the ever-present doubt it today’s champion but turn out to achieved greatness through illegal means.

I actually agree somewhat with each of those concerns, but ultimately, the Olympic ideal remains. It is an ideal, to be aimed for, and like all ideals is not necessarily achievable, humans being what we are. Paraphrasing G K Chesterton, the Olympic has not been achieved and found wanting, it has been found difficult and thus disparaged.

The Olympics are meant to be a time of coming-together. A time to set aside old and current scores. A time to celebrate humanity’s achievements, and to make allowance for our flaws. At times the Olympics has been bedevilled by geopolitics, and yet, I wonder … perhaps some of the great US/USSR clashes, Cold War by proxy, actually acted as a safety valve, allowing an expression of jingoism and competition in a safe place, while cooler heads could prevail in the realms of armies, navies, and air forces. As Churchill once said, “Jaw, jaw, jaw is better than war, war, war.”

When I watch the Opening Ceremony tomorrow, I will marvel that so many disparate nations, nations that even today are very unfriendly, are gathering peacefully in one place for something as beautifully mundane and glorious as sport. When I travel to London next Thursday to actually attend an Olympic event, I will get a feeling I always get when visiting London of a global metropolis, yet British city, vibrant and resilient.

I remember a cartoon from 2005. A spectral Hitler was saying to bin-Laden something along the lines of “Don’t bomb Londoners. It doesn’t work. I tried.”

So often nations only seem to gather together in death. Sometimes this is at funerals of the great – just think of the international nature of the funeral of Pope John Paul II the Great. Other times it is of tragedy. A vast number of countries, and people within those countries, in this world have expressed sympathy with the victims of the murderer at the screening of a batman film in the US. I remember, in 2005, at baseball’s All-Star Game the bands played “God Save the Queen”. I watched it and cried. I just found it a shame so few of my countrymen probably realised how, at a very time and place, America mourned with us as we had mourned with them four years previously.

Tomorrow, the world will be gathered for reasons other than death. It is something to celebrate. I intend to do so.