You probably heard that the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro were going to be an absolute shitshow. In fact, we told you that a couple times. But every virus-laden cloud holding you up at gunpoint has a silver lining, and there have been some truly inspirational stories to come out of the Games so far. Some of them didn't even get one of those over-the-top motivational mini-movies NBC has such a hard-on for.
#6. More Than 1,000 U.S. Spies Are In Brazil To Keep People Safe
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If that movie Munich taught me anything, it's that terrorists like using the Olympic Games as a target (and you should never, ever piss off the Israelis). And this year, with all the attacks around the world that ISIS and Al-Qaida (remember them?) and even just lone-wolf crazies have taken credit for, it was a bit concerning that so many people would be gathering together like very muscular sitting ducks. It was even more concerning that Rio needed a $850 million bailout to beef up security just weeks before the Games started.
Their original plan was less than impressive.
But the American government wasn't going to let some suicide bomber distract from our athletes' domination of the medals table. That's why they sent 1,000 spies down to Brazil to make sure everything is hunky-dory. So some of those seemingly drunk spectators with flags sticking out of their hair dancing around to ABBA at the men's beach volleyball could actually be putting their lives on the line. If that isn't enough, all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies (did you know we had 17 intelligence agencies?!) are working with the Brazilian government and doing everything from vetting the athletes themselves to monitoring known terrorists' social media accounts.
"That Michael Phelps is so hot. I totally want to blow him ... up."
To top it off, it just so happens that all branches of the military sent athletes to the Games this year. So if some jackass intent on doing harm does get past all the security precautions, he better not target certain shooting, boxing, or wrestling competitions, or he might find himself laid out, Greco-Roman style.
USA! USA! USA!
#5. That Dutch Cyclist Didn't Die
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How much did you care about the Dutch women's road race cycling team before the Olympics? Liar. Still, there is a pretty good chance you know something about it now, since humans are terrible by nature and this happened to one of the riders:
That's Annemiek van Vleuten flipping over the front of her bike and slamming head-first into the side of the road. And she wasn't even the first person that happened to! During the earlier men's race, the leader, Italy's Vincenzo Nibali, crashed in almost the exact same spot and broke his collar bone.
It's not like no one knew this descent was going to be a problem. One former Olympian told the BBC he was pissed off because the course was obviously dangerous to anyone who knew what they were looking for, but for some reason the designers just left it. Cycling's governing body defended the course, obviously, saying it had been "extensively tested." Yes, we know, but testing stuff with competitors' faces doesn't really count.
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Come here; I need to "extensively test" this boxing glove for a minute.
The very, very good news is that van Vleuten is basically fine. She suffered a concussion and a few fractures in her lower back, but considering that is a crash where the best-case scenario on most days is that you are in a wheelchair the rest of your life, she got off easy. Of course, since this is the Olympics and people are so hyped up on competition, a woman almost dying was pretty secondary to the rest of the race. The NBC commentators barely mentioned it before moving on, and van Vleuten's teammate Anna van der Breggen sped right past her friend's motionless body to win the gold.
#4. A Selfie Showed Korean Leaders That Peace Is Possible
North and South Korea have been at war with each other since 1950. They've spent more than half a century in a tense standoff, and as recently as while I am writing this they are threatening to kill us all.
That's why it was kind of shocking to see two young gymnasts from the different countries chatting with each other and then stopping to take a selfie.
WORLD LEADERS: IT'S THIS SIMPLE.
As soon as the picture hit the web, social media exploded with concerns that Hong Un-jong was going to go back to North Korea and be disciplined, maybe even killed. After all, we know that place is part of the Axis of Evil and run by a dangerous, cheese-loving megalomaniac. And there is precedent; Olympians have applied for asylum in the past due to things that happened during the Games. But Hong is far more likely to be heralded as a star when she gets home, getting special housing and maybe even a film made about her life. That's because North Korea sees sports as one of the best ways of making them look somewhat normal to the rest of the world. They even have a name for it: "sports diplomacy." And it works! How can you be thinking about Kim Jong-un with his finger on the red button when you look at that young girl's smiling face?
Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images
Who needs nukes when you've got those guns?
Of course, it's probably less effective when North Korean athletes start beating us, like Hong did in Beijing in 2008, where she won the gold medal in vault. Is Kim Jong-un breeding a race of adorable gymnasts who can leap over our defenses on the 38th parallel? Why am I the only one asking this question?