Tue, Aug 14, 2012 - Page 8 News List

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Statistics and sports

Although the Olympic Games are frequently dogged by suspicions of doping and illicit activity, the reality is that most elite athletes give their best performance in an honest and genuine fashion.

They show immense mental toughness and great psychological skill, which allows them to handle tremendous pressure and strive for excellence.

The case of the table tennis singles competition at the Olympics reveals much. Scoring first in this event impacts the odds for the later medal matches and is seemingly correlated with participants’ metal toughness.

In the quarter and semi-finals, scoring first won 42 out of 60 matches (70 percent odds). Equally, when a player scored the first three points, a win scenario would result in 12 matches.

However, in the medal matches, scoring first only won nine out of 20 (45 percent odds), which is statistically lower than in the quarter and semi-finals.

Furthermore, when a lead reaches 3:0 in the medal contests, the player has a 50 percent chance of winning in a total of 6 matches — again, statistically much lower than in the earlier games.

Given this, a unique formula could be devised, which could illustrate when to score and how to maximize winning potential.

However, there are variables, such as random chance and different strength levels, which can not be incorporated. As such, the golden rule remains: a player must know how to act under pressure in order to reap the benefits from these intense encounters. That is how a competitor wins back the dominant position.

Yuan Min-hao

Taipei, Taiwan

Lost in translations

Recently, I was reading about the New York artist Nathan Sawaya’s Lego exhibition in Taipei and decided to pay a visit.

After an online search, I discovered that the exhibition was being held at the Huashan 1914 Creative Park. Luckily, before I went, a colleague informed me that the actual address, which was listed on the Chinese language Web site, was located at Songshan Cultural Park.

How many patrons went to the wrong venue without calling first?

We tend to believe what we read online and often do not have the time or money to waste on telephone calls.

It is sad that, in such a global city, such confusion still occurs in basic English translations and place names.

It is also ironic that faceless bureaucrats — as opposed to the artists themselves — often name these venues.

I am aware there are historical motives involved in the naming process, but a little imagination would certainly not go amiss.

Pete Jones

Taipei

Cultural observations

Being a Canadian-born-Chinese (CBC) and returning home to Taiwan, I’ve experienced a lot of wonder and a lot of terror.

This fast-paced and densely populated country is on the extreme side of every scale.

Women cart around their puppies in strollers and pamper them with love and affection while thousands of stray animals are viewed as malicious and terrifying brutes.

Laws are being enacted to ensure children under a certain height are kept in child-specified car seats, yet drunk drivers escape with minimal punishment.

I have been graciously met by the people from all over the country because they knew I was a foreigner.

However, there are so many beggars, handicapped people and blue-collar workers who I have seen treated without a hint of respect or sympathy.

Where is the warmth and compassion of Taiwanese when it comes to these locals in need?

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