Briefings: Medal Count Predictions, Photos of Olympians, Sherlock Holmes, Japanese Robot Cabaret, and a Huge Tomato Fight

During the Olympics the geopolitical world seems relatively simple, cultural stereotypes prove true, and we’re all basically friends if the teevee is tuned in to an NBC affiliate. It’s the USA v. China in the medal count. Great Britain’s pommel horse savant looks like a DJ. Kazakhstan wins gold in weightlifting. Cherish these simple times.

It’s a big and complicated world. We’re at tips [at] if you think there’s something we should know about.

1. What to Count | Medals

Is it possible to predict how many medals each country will win in the Olympics? If anyone can do it, it’s economists. No, seriously, that wasn’t a joke. Econometricians have been fine- tuning their models for predicting the medal count over the years, considering everything from a country’s economic system to the advantages enjoyed by host countries. The Economist has a brief look at this year’s predictions, including this: “Emily Williams, the torchbearer for the Tuck School of Business team that won the medal-forecasting gold last time with 95% accuracy, tips Britain’s athletes to win 62 medals (25 of them gold), up from 47 four years earlier in Beijing. That would be a record haul for Britain, and place it fourth overall, behind America (103), China (94, down from 100 when it hosted), and Russia (67).”

2. What to See | Photos of Olympians

Tasked with shooting portraits of athletes competing in the 2012 London Olympics, Los Angeles Times photographer Jay Clendenin decided to shoot each set with his digital SLR cameras and with a 4-by-5-inch field camera equipped with a 100-plus-year-old Petzval lens. He found the process refreshing: “I was reminded of the creative serendipity that comes with shooting film: I couldn’t look at the back of the camera and see what had just happened when I took that picture!” Check out the full gallery on the LAT website.

3. What to Have | A Very Particular Set of Skills

We’re talking, of course, about a guy who had skills long before Liam Neeson used his to dismantle Europe: Sherlock Holmes. Here they are, according to Smithsonian Magazine: chemistry, bloodstain identification, botany, geology, anatomy, law, cryptanalysis, fingerprinting, document examination, ballistics, psychological profiling and forensic medicine. Armed with these and some fresh optical technology, Holmes brought heat on the guilty. This and more in the third installment of Smithsonian‘s “Design and Sherlock Holmes” series.

4. What to Ogle | Robots

Japan is a treasure trove of cultural eccentricity: They’ve given us sushi, Comme des Garcons, drifting…the list goes on. But the latest and (debatably) greatest gift is a robot bar that offers patrons a sort of meta cabaret with their Sapporo. The bar, located in Tokyo, cost $130 million to furnish with bikini-clad robots crafted in the likeness of women, which are in turn operated by women dressed just like the robots.

5. Where to Throw Tomatoes | In Spain

You made it through the Running of the Bulls, or, at the very least, you made it through reading about people making it through the Running of the Bulls. There’s light at the end of the cobblestone street: La Tomatina. It’s Spain’s less dangerous summer festival, when revelers gather in Bunol to hurl tomatoes at each other. The food fight officially begins when someone climbs a greasy pole and retrieves the ham on top. Point Spain.