Tag Archives: ‘obsessed’

This is why Victorians were obsessed with taking pictures of dead relatives

After 1860, it become more popular to pose the dead as if they were awake by propping them up on a chair and painting eyes onto the corpse’s eyelids.

The demand for post-mortem photography began to diminish as photography became cheaper and more commonplace, so families were more likely to have plenty of photographs of their loved one while they were alive.

Medical advancements also meant people were living longer and far fewer children died in infancy, which in turn made more people squeamish about death.

Additional reporting by Olivia Rose Fox.

Why are people obsessed with the Olympics?

If you’re one of the unfortunate few who don’t give a hoot about the Olympics, the biennial onslaught may feel overwhelming. After all, most sports fans don’t care about table tennis or pole vaulting when the games aren’t in session, so why should they get so obsessed all of a sudden?

Turns out the appeal of the Olympics is less about the individual sports and more about how the event as a whole caters to different parts of the human psyche. The competition has three key ingredients that spark fervent fandom: curated marketing, compelling personal stories, and an outlet for national pride. Understanding these factors can help you appreciate the enduring power of the games’ tradition—and maybe help you tolerate a few weeks of Olympic fever.

A TV bonanza

The first and most important thing to understand about the modern Olympics is that they are, more than anything else, a media product. Yes, host cities like Tokyo spend millions of dollars building bespoke stadiums and tracks, and yes, thousands of people travel from all corners of the world to attend. But the vast majority of people experience them via TV or the internet.

It took a while, but the games themselves have adapted to that fact over the past few decades, says John Davis, a former professor of business at University of Oregon, who’s written a book about the commercial appeal of the Olympics.

“When it really started to shift was in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, which was the first truly profitable Olympics,” says Davis. The California games helped to transform the contest into a commercial and media phenomenon. Or as Davis puts it, they “ignited a virtuous cycle—athletes attract fans, fans attract media, and media attracts sponsors.” The stars of the show were the members of the US men’s basketball team, led by Michael Jordan, who himself had ushered in a new era of sports celebrity in the NBA.

Almost four decades later, the Olympics still live or die by their TV success, Davis explains: Six of the 10 most-watched broadcasts in world history are recent Olympics. One of these was the 2016 summer games in Rio de Janeiro, which were dogged by reports of corruption and delay in the lead-up to the opening ceremony. Despite the controversy, though, the games themselves drew 30 million viewers in the US, nearly an Olympic record. The easiest explanation for the outing’s success might have been that Rio’s time zone is only an hour ahead of New York’s, which made it easy to draw big audiences for prime-time events. This year’s event in Tokyo is also expected to draw record-setting viewers despite concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, in part because the main events will be scheduled so as to cater to a US viewership. That means athletes in Japan may compete at odd local times so their exploits can be broadcast live during American primetime or in concert with NBC’s Good Morning America. 

Making it personal

Still, the Olympics draw far more viewers than one would expect given the relative popularity of the sports involved. Swimming and ice skating don’t normally get primetime treatment, so what compels people to watch them once every four years?

[Related: Surfers are riding a wave of new technologies to their Olympic debut]

The attraction, says Lisa Delpy Neirotti, a professor of sports management at George Washington University, isn’t the sports themselves. It’s about the narratives we build up around them.

“It does have special meaning because there’s so many amateur athletes [watching the games],” she says. “Anybody who competed in swimming at one point may have thought there would be the next Michael Phelps; almost every little kid tumbled at one point, maybe they could be Simone Biles.”

This is why the individual athletes are so important. Our brains gravitate toward relatable stories, and even those of us who never wanted to be Olympians are familiar with the feeling of working hard toward a difficult goal. That emotional resonance makes it easy for us to get invested in the success or failure of individual athletes like Allyson Felix, especially when the announcers constantly remind us how much the competitors sacrificed to train and earn a spot on the world stage. The growth of sponsorship deals and the advent of the internet have also helped to turn competitors like Biles and Phelps into enduring celebrities, so that their narrative arcs extend beyond any one Olympics season.

This focus on individual performance tends to make Olympic viewers “more forgiving” of athletes than traditional team-sports enthusiasts, says Davis. If you’re a Philadelphia diehard and the Eagles get knocked out of the NFL playoffs, you might be liable to stick your fist through drywall. But if a 100-meter runner you love fizzles out with a bronze, it’s easy for your enthusiasm to shift toward the underdog who came away with the gold.

For Sparta

There’s another, more primal reason we tune into the Olympics, and that’s national pride.

The idea for the modern Olympics emerged from the brain of one Baron de Coubertin, a 19th-century French aristocrat who thought sports were the perfect way to bring the whole world together under the banner of peace and harmony. That might have seemed possible back then, but two World Wars and a Cold War later, it’s not so practical.

Today, says Jeffrey Montez de Oca, a professor of sociology at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, the Olympics are a bloodless outlet for nationalism and patriotic sentiment.

[Related: How Abebe Bikila won the Olympics marathon without shoes]

“In the United States, we’ve always loved competition,” he says, “and the Olympics has always been a political space. It’s always been about competitions between nations.” When the Cold War was in full swing, says Montez de Oca, the most important challenge for the US was to beat the Soviet Union, as it did in the famous 1980 medal-round hockey game. Now, though, it’s more about dominating the overall medal count to show that we produce more great athletes than anyone. Either way, the games appeal to our innate tendency toward in-group belonging, a habit that has evolutionary roots in our ancestral pasts. Research has shown that early humans were more likely to survive when they associated and identified with well-defined cliques rather than ranging from cadre to cadre. As a result, some evolutionary theorists think that today’s patriotic feelings could stem from that ancient loyalty.

Other countries, meanwhile, have narrower and more specific ambitions. Montez de Oca’s wife is Japanese, and he says that Olympic fans in Japan root for the country to earn more medals than other small countries rather than dominate the overall count. In other countries like India or Norway, viewers may be invested in a less-watched event like archery or the biathlon. (Perhaps the most famous example of this phenomenon was the underdog Jamaican men’s bobsled team, immortalized in the 1993 film Cool Runnings.)

The upshot, then, is that the Olympics aren’t much about the sports at all, but about the meaning we give to them. That might not make the wall-to-wall coverage any less annoying, but it does mean there’s a low barrier to entry for aloof viewers. If you find yourself with a few minutes to spare this summer, maybe tune into some speed climbing. You might find you have a soft spot for one of the self-made dreamers vying for the gold.

Author: Purbita Saha
Read more here >>> Science – Popular Science

Annie Lane: Sister obsessed with conspiracy theories

Dear Annie: My sister and I reunited about five years ago after not speaking for at least 10 years. Unfortunately, we did not have a good childhood; as we got older, our own dynamics grew toxic, and I had no choice but to keep her away. I was glad that we started talking again earlier this year, but since we have reconnected, I have noticed some quirks. She believes in a lot of conspiracy theories and practices a religion that has some strange beliefs. She says very hateful things about certain groups of people. Sometimes, we will be enjoying ourselves at the mall or at lunch, and seemingly out of nowhere, she will start espousing some of her crazy or hateful beliefs. She has also done this around my children. Another thing is that she randomly gets incredibly frightened and calls me crying and begging me to buy supplies for her in case it’s the end of the world, or to loan her money to leave the country because she believes the government is trying to kill her. She gets al!

l her information from videos she finds online. I have begged her to stop, and I try to be patient, but it’s upsetting to me, and I stay stressed for days after one of her episodes. I don’t want to lose my sister again, but our relationship is wearing me down. Can you help?

— Sad About Sis

Dear Sad: The internet has flooded the world with conspiracy theories. Millions are lost in that sea, while the rest of us, their friends and family, stand waiting at the shore. In your sister’s case, it sounds as though there might be a deeper issue at play. Her extreme paranoia suggests an underlying mental illness. While you can’t force her to seek help, you can encourage her to do so.

First, empathize with her anxieties. The modern world can be an overwhelming, frightening place right now; history seems to be moving at an alarming clip. Technology does raise legitimate privacy concerns. You can understand where she’s coming from without agreeing to where she’s ended up.

Ask how she’s doing. Let her know that you’ve been concerned lately, because her fears seem to be causing her a lot of distress — such as the times when she called you asking for money to flee the country. Encourage her to consider talking with a counselor.

Whether or not she agrees to get help, you can help yourself by setting better boundaries. Let her know you won’t tolerate any hate speech; the second she starts that up, firmly excuse yourself. For relief from the burden of shouldering this weight alone, visit www.nami.org; select “Support and Education;” then “Support Groups.” From there, you’ll find the link for family support groups. Meetings are free, and the peace of mind they can offer is priceless.

• • •

Dear Annie: I would like to start downsizing and have yard sales. But I have hoarders living next door to me. All we have, we have taken good care of, and I don’t want to see these items sitting carelessly out in the rain and snow for months between now and the time we move. How do I tell my neighbors that they cannot purchase any items?

— Nervous Neighbor

Dear Nervous Neighbor: You could try selling some of the furniture online, on platforms such as Facebook Marketplace or Nextdoor — but those can raise safety concerns. Ebay is another option, although the costs of shipping can be high. Of course, you can have a yard sale without any price stickers and give your neighbors an unreasonably high price point if they inquire. But the fact of the matter is that if you’re going to sell something, you need to relinquish control of what happens to it afterward.

Author: Daily Herald
Read more here >>> Austin Daily Herald

‘Why would that be a bad thing?’ Djokovic vows to keep talking tennis politics as champ responds to Nadal’s claim he is ‘obsessed’

Serbian tennis great Novak Djokovic has reacted to comments from rival Rafael Nadal about his “obsession” with winning Grand Slams and setting new records, countering that he has never had problems with “verbalizing” his targets.

The world number one said that he doesn’t think he is obsessed with anything in life, adding that he feels only “passion and huge desire” to conquer new heights in tennis.

Of course, I want to win more Slams, yes,” world number three Nadal told Metro. “No doubt about that. But I never get – I mean, Novak is more obsessed about this, more focused,” 

Not in a negative way. No, he’s more focused on just these things and it means a lot to him, all of this stuff. He’s always saying and talking about these records, and well done for him. But it’s not my approach to my tennis career.”

Responding to the comments made by his rival, the 18-time Grand Slam winner said that he sees nothing bad in expressing the ambitions he sets for himself.

“I do not know why would that be a bad thing – not just in terms of records, but anything: politics in tennis, for instance,” Djokovic said during a press conference in Belgrade before the start of the Serbia Open.

I am going towards achieving my goals and I have never had a problem verbalizing it. Maybe someone cannot say something and then stick to it, but I never found it hard to say: ‘I want to break that record or reach a certain goal.’

I cannot speak on [Nadal’s] behalf – I do not know the way he thinks, but it is his right to voice an opinion, how he sees me in regards to records and so on.

“Personally, I do not feel that I am obsessed with anything in life; what I feel is passion and huge desire.”

The 33-year-old all-time great clinched his latest Grand Slam in February, defeating Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in the final of the Australian Open.

Last month, he set a new ATP record for the most weeks as world number one, surpassing Swiss superstar Roger Federer’s total.
Also on rt.com Rare snail species named after tennis icon Novak Djokovic to ‘acknowledge his inspiring enthusiasm and energy’

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