La Riposte

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

News in Brief

Indonesia is experimenting with using oil from castor beans to provide heat for cooking – hoping to replace a quarter of its nearly 5 million kiloliters of annual petroleum consumption with the  renewable alternative by 2025.

 Hardcore pornography is now a hot seller on the streets of Baghdad – but what does this say about Iraq’s security situation, and what does it portend for the future of the struggling state?

And as technology advances, lasers will replace air pistols in the modern pentathlon for the 2012 London Games. 

But while head of the international pentathlon organization Klaus Schormann heralds the possible expansion of interest this may create, his euphoric observation that “We can hold competitions in parks and even shopping malls” may be a bit premature. After all, no mall-friendly modern substitute for the half-ton horses that are another feature of the sport have yet been devised.

And considering that the “modern pentathlon” is an invented game intended to test the ability of a 19th-century dismounted soldier to survive behind enemy lines on a European battlefield (hence the shooting, swimming, running, horsemanship, and pistoleering) and at its inception only reflected a then-modern interpretation of the ancient pentathlon (where the Greek athlete again displayed the skills he might use in combat – running, jumping, wrestling, hurling spear and discus) – perhaps we are due for another updating of the sport? Perhaps un-armed combat (a’la UFC) a driving course on a track that may (or may not) be mined, the ubiquitous running (soldiers throughout the ages seem to do a lot of it!) and to round things out, perhaps a grenade toss and a knife fight. That sounds about right.

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