Gladiators online

I just changed the title here so more people will read this one instead of the old one.

Now that the final challenge has been met, and the ultimate gladiators (for this season, anyway) have been decided, I checked out some of the other features on NBC’s website related to the show. There are good parts, and bad parts. The overall layout was a bit overwhelming to take in. I get the chrome edging, the very bright red, white, and blue colors, the highlighted stars – it’s all tough, and very American. Still, legibility is something of a concern here. Also, there’s a section dedicated to defining the events. It’s not really necessary. If I’m already interested enough in the show to go to NBC and check it out, I’m not going to need to know what the events are. If I’m still checking out some descriptions of the show and possibly reviews, I’m not going to be looking at NBC.

Still, there is quite a bit of quality material on the website. It’s pretty standard stuff, but a step in the right direction as far as making shows more viewer participation oriented. There’s games that allow all of us couch potatoes to get in on the action of competition, even if they aren’t currently terribly dramatic games. There’s stats and details about both the contestants and the gladiators. There’s video clips detailing almost every aspect of the show. There’s a series of forums, downloads, and photos that allow a little bit of viewer participation.
1. More trash talking: One of the most fundamental aspects of the game on television is talking yourself up. If the website allows us to compete against each other in online games, it should definitely also give us the opportunity to exhibit our joaning prowess.

2. Bread: Obviously, a large part of Rome’s success in her expansion across the known world had to do with satisfying the ‘citizens’ back at home. Just as Decimus Junius Juvenalis said about the interests of those same citizens, they are really only interested in ‘bread and circuses’. I’ve already stated in an earlier post how American Gladiators serves to satisfy our bloodthirstiness – they are the entertainment, the ‘circus’. Now, to fill our bellies. I recommend that NBC start doing a little USA foodstuff distribution to promote the next season. I mean really, who wouldn’t want a tasty American Gladiators Snack Pack? I know I would.

3. Viewer participation, viewer participation, viewer participation: There’s so much that could be done here in an expansive way. More games. Online viewer challenges. There should be voting online for your favorite contender, and more than just voting, there should be NCA-type brackets that can be filled out. Possibly there should be gladiator-to-gladiator online competitions that are simulated due to different skills, the outcomes of which you can guess. Simulated betting might be another option. Viewer comment should be more integrated into the overall layout of the site – if I’m going to leave a comment about Wolf, it should be accessible from his description. Also, it’s a little tedious to deal with all the different types of postings relating to a single gladiator or competitor. Viewer comments should be more browsable.

So, there’s still alot to be done, and I’m sure people who are younger and more web-savvy than me will have more to say. American Gladiators, you put up a good fight. But I wonder if, without the writer’s strike to boost your viewing numbers, you’ll be able to keep your numbers up and keep your stamina for future seasons.

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Under the Sea.

Ariel’s voice from the Little Mermaid was always too high pitched for me.  I’m just not a soprano – I wasn’t even as a child.  Sebastian’s range fit me better, which is probably why my younger sisters ended up enjoying the movie (and its music) more than I did.  I think another part of it has to do with the happy ending of all Disney movies – even as a child, I appreciated the melancholy of the original Hans Christian Anderson tale.  Still, I did find a certain joy in the Caribbean beats of some of the songs.

The sea always has a certain draw, whether from the energy and sound of the waves, or the simple experience of a world different than our own.  There is a certain romance about sailors and the maritime tradition, perhaps now in part due to the nostalgia of a time before our own – modern fisherman often fail to evoke the same feeling.  It is this sense, perhaps, that has drawn frequent visitors to recent unearthings along the Northwest Coast.   Due to intense storms and unusually drastic shifts in the coastline, many of the markers of our former history have been revealed – shipwrecks and associated  goods, the stumps of old coastal forests, and even iron formations that are not quite understood.  Though some of them have even now been reconsumed by the sands and beaches, what is most interesting to me is the large numbers of visitors to these sites.  Despite bad weather and the speed of coastal change, one wreck has already boasted at least 3,000 visitors.

Further off this same coast lie many of the mysteries of North America’s human past.  In those coastal waters lie the best bet for discoveries concerning the migration of peoples from Asia to North America.  It is in these areas, with the help of underwater archeology, that theories regarding coastal migrations, either by land or by boat or some combination of the two, might one day be confirmed.   It is here, that we might learn who we are first, and perhaps better understand who we have become.

What I couldn’t do with $30,000

Inventiveness should be cherished.  It’s something that I’ve always felt was true, even though I’m likely to not ever make a better widget-maker.  I value creativity, in the areas of art where I have some potential for benefiting the world, but also in areas of science and most importantly, humaneness.  While the last is obviously the hardest to acheive, I still have utter respect for those who excel at the first two.

The Lemelson prize is a recognition of the second, a recognition of strides made in science inventiveness.  This year’s prize winner is all about bacteriophages, little viruses that infect bacteria.  By redesigning these, the winner was able to use them to target the DNA of bacteria and manipulate its ability to resist antibiotics as well as to produce enzymes that break down the biofilms that bacteria can build up as slimy layers of defense against antiseptics and cleaners.  What’s next?  Proteins for the destruction of viruses?  The manipulation of DNA on a molecular level?  I certainly don’t know.

There was also some discussion of the development of new antibiotics, and how expensive it was.  Evidently the reason most companies don’t take it on is due to the high cost of the process and the low returns due to a decreased use of antibiotics.  There are two contradictory self-defeating propositions there, I suppose counterbalancing each other.  The first is the reduced use of antibiotics due to increased resistance to them, which new developments might be able to overcome, increasing the use of that particular antibiotic.  The second is the increased resistance of bacteria to antibiotics due to the development of new ones that allow bacteria to grow more defensive.

Finally, I would like to discuss the prize of $30,000.  Now, I can understand the recognition we want to give to our inventors, and the bacteriophage work is something I never could have done.  But still, $30,000?  What is the money really for?  Do we think this winner is going to be more inspired to invent more due to his prize, or is this considered just as seed money for potential future developments?  Obviously the addition of funds helps research, but how much is a prize like this really going to fuel that research?  Would the money be better spent on programs that allow for development, rather than an individual?  Conversely, would we have peanut butter diesel fuel if George Washington Carver had won the Lemelson prize?