Let phone games begin

A badminton scandal tarnishing the Olympics? Who would have guessed? It wasn’t even on the radar of English gamblers, who only had money on the odds of a “bad mutton scandal.”

It turns out, rule-wise, strategically losing isn’t banned. The problem is the players were too obvious about it, making it boring to watch. If “reality TV” has taught us anything, it’s that if you’re going to lose on purpose, or just generally obfuscate, you have to sell it, make it entertaining.

The badminton teams just need some classes with comedian Jon Lovitz’ character “Master Thespian.” To wit: “Wow, it looked like you actually tried to hit that over the net!” “Acting!” “Genius!” “Thank you!”

Let’s play a round-robin of headline reviews:

•”Distracted walking: Smartphone-wielding pedestrians stumble into danger”: Why not make this a new Olympic event, or at least a reality show? (A spinoff of “Survivor” perhaps. “Darwin” maybe?) Get those texting, app-happy, smartphone folks off the streets, and onto even more dangerous, competitive, made-for-TV obstacle courses. Ones with moats, monsters and double-crossing Siri types.

Apple claims Samsung copied iPhone tech”: Apple argues that Samsung “has copied the entire design and user experience” of Apple’s iPhone and iPad. Well, not quite. Another article informs us, “Samsung finds iPhone’s soft spot.” Apparently iPhone sales have slowed, while Samsung’s Galaxy S III is the hottest (read “sleek and wafer-thin”) smartphone out there. The Associated Press says Samsung’s “thinner phones with big screens make the iPhone look small and chubby.”

So, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, it sounds like Samsung improved the entire iPhone “design and user experience,” rather than copying it. They out-Appled Apple.

•”Antiseptic wipes made in China pulled in U.S.”: The wipes and swabs were recalled because of potential microbial contamination. Ah, a two-fer: An indictment of our reliance on questionable Chinese imports, and of our dubious reliance on, and reverence of, the antibacterial wipe.

At-work Olympics viewing wastes $650M”: The article warns, “Productivity experts predict that this year’s games could result in a summer slowdown perhaps unlike any other in history, with millions of American workers devoting portions of their day to track and field instead of, say, tracking customer orders.” Right. You bet. Don’t discount Americans’ ability to balance watching the Olympics and Facebook. Er, work.

Is part of our economy’s trouble due to the fact that there are people actually employed as “productivity experts” who don’t produce anything other than dire predictions that can’t reasonably be measured?

Play to win this week.