Category Archives: Olympics

Waked after long sleep

Article 22: Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

I have the Opening Ceremony, Isles of Wonder, open in the corner of my screen at this moment – the industrialists have just arrived on Glastonbury Tor, and Isambard Kingdom Brunel is about to speak Caliban’s speech from The Tempest. Thanks to BBC iPlayer and the licence fee, I can watch any part of it I wish, from now til 12th January 2013. And I would never have thought that this would actually be something I would want to do.

As SharedPast summarises it

My expectations of the London Olympics’ opening ceremony were so low that, I suppose, I would have been impressed if it had featured Boris as Boudicca, driving a chariot over the prostate figures of the Locog committee. (Actually, now that I think about it, that would have been fairly entertaining.)

I haven’t changed my mind about the Olympics or Dow Chemical, but Isles of Wonder is a magnificent piece of performance art. The whole Olympic ceremony impressed and delighted me – to say “beyond expectations” is meiosis: I had sat down to watch it in a negative mood about the Olympics, cross about the money, and fully expecting to spend Friday evening making bread, doing laundry, only a quarter of my attention on the TV.

Ms Mongrel wrote in Bring me my chariot of fire:

Despite my cynicism, I do want things to go well. I want the Olympics to be a success for example, and I was really pleased at the spectacle of the Opening Ceremony. Continue reading

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Filed under Benefits, Education, Human Rights, Olympics

The Opening Ceremony

Danny Boyle did great. So did all the volunteers who took part. Literally the best thing Seb Coe did for the London Olympics was ask Danny Boyle to plan the opening ceremony and give him a free creative hand.

I saw a tweet just after Michael Fish and the non-hurricane warning appeared saying to the effect that most Olympic opening ceremonies try to impress the world. This ceremony wasn’t meant for the rest of the world: it was meant for us.

(Kes. I saw Kes. And Frankie Says Relax. I remember when the BBC banned that.)

[Update, 30th July: Apparently it was so British-orientated that NBC cut the tribute to the 7/7 dead and had no idea who Tim Berners-Lee is.]

It was all really, peculiarly, brilliantly British. As if Danny Boyle had thought: we are all feeling staggeringly horrible about this, for very excellent reasons: let me do a show that will remind us of our mutual shared Britishness, before the athletic teams march. Of course that cheap Nazi knock-off Aidan Burley hated it.

Aidan Burley hates multiculturalism
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Olympics Torch: It’s a joke

Lakshmi Mittal is a torchbearer without a hometown.

Today he will be carrying the Flame through the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, selected by LOCOG as one of the 8000 inspirational people.

Lakshmi Mittal retained his crown as Britain’s richest man despite losing almost a quarter of his wealth over the past year following a fall in the share value of his ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steelmaker.

The Indian-born businessman saw his personal worth slide by £4.8 billion to £12.7 billion, but that was still enough to keep him narrowly on top of the list.

That’s inspiring, isn’t it?

This year, the fee that Lakshmi Mittal pays the British government in order to avoid paying any income tax in the UK, went up from £30,000 to £50,000. Continue reading

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Torch Relay: The strongest personal story

Apparently we’ve all been complaining even more than usual. About the Olympics. About the organisers. (Also, about the weather.) But, the Games are nearly upon us, even if LOCOG’s opposition to letting ordinary people share the excitement is such that they’re even talking about it in Calgary. (Jeremy Klaszus: “Games could use Stampede branding lesson”) and the restrictions on what you can and cannot say without paying LOCOG for permission has become almost a parody of itself: Stewart Lee: How I was busted by the O—— Advertisement Enforcement Office; Avedon Carol: WTF? Oh, if only I was any good at creating graphics, this is such an invitation to parody. With little swastikas…..

But never mind that! From the Ealing Gazette:

There’s growing excitement as the Olympic Torch Relay draws to a close – it means the games are almost ready to begin.
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Constable Savage

On Thursday 4th August 2011, the Metropolitan Police shot Mark Duggan in the chest and killed him. The police story at the time was that Duggan had fired on them: a story later confirmed to be false. Having killed Mark Duggan, the police do not appear to have made any attempt to contact his parents to let them know he was dead until Friday: his mother discovered the shooting from a newspaper headline.

Mark Duggan

Since 1990, 1433 people have died in police custody or after police “contact” – such as Simon Harwood’s baton knocking Ian Tomlinson to the ground – and not one police officer has been convicted of a criminal offense. Continue reading

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Filed under Olympics, Riots

20 reasons why the Olympics are a disaster for London

20 reasons why the Olympics are great for Britainfrom The Independent today:

One: Visit Britain: We may not be able to rely on the weather enjoyed by Sydney, Beijing or other recent Games. But as long as Usain Bolt doesn’t mind a bit of drizzle, this is a chance to show off Britain’s capability. Just as the Royal Wedding and Diamond Jubilee beamed images of a spruced-up London around the world, the Olympics offer a giant advertising opportunity for business and tourism.

Visitors to Britain will indeed get an image of what the UK is like today. Continue reading

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Piracy of links

  1. A Friday 13th Ghost Story
  2. It’s not widely discussed. Those who have witnessed it firsthand are, for obvious reasons, reluctant to talk about it. You’ll never see them publicly recounting their tales in front of the cameras and the microphones. These aren’t stories they are eager to tell.

    But one hears whispers, rumors, stories told by the friends of friends. And those whispers, rumors and stories are too numerous and too eerily similar to be dismissed.

    Something is happening. Something, it seems, happens every Friday the 13th, just before midnight.

    Frederick Douglass

  3. Urban Legends: Friday the 13th (TGIF13)
  4. Still other sources speculate that the number 13 may have been purposely vilified by the founders of patriarchal religions in the early days of western civilization because it represented femininity. Thirteen had been revered in prehistoric goddess-worshiping cultures, we are told, because it corresponded to the number of lunar (menstrual) cycles in a year (13 x 28 = 364 days). The “Earth Mother of Laussel,” for example — a 27,000-year-old carving found near the Lascaux caves in France often cited as an icon of matriarchal spirituality — depicts a female figure holding a crescent-shaped horn bearing 13 notches. As the solar calendar triumphed over the lunar with the rise of male-dominated civilization, it is surmised, so did the “perfect” number 12 over the “imperfect” number 13, thereafter considered anathema.

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Filed under Cake, Olympics, Other stuff on the Internet I like

Wednesday Sports with Chips

What says Olympic sports to you?

McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Cadbury, obviously.
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Cameron at the Olympics

David Cameron goes to the official uniform distribution centre in east London to talk about the Olympics. After his talk he offers question time. One Olympics Volunteer puts up his hand and George asks him what his name is.

“Billy.”

“And what is your question, Billy?”

“I have 3 questions. First, why is your government making cuts in services that disabled people depend on and taking away Disabled Living Allowance from people who need it? Second, why are you privatising the NHS when that wasn’t in the Conservative manifesto or the coalition agreement? And third, why is your government forcing people who are very ill or have serious disabilities into workfare?”
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Flaming Baguettes and Woolly Thinking

Hugh Robertson MP wrote in the February Olympic Quarterly Report:

“One of the greatest adverts for the UK from the London 2012 Games is the Olympic Park itself, which showcases the best of British architecture, engineering and construction”.

Lord Haskel noted this remark in the House of Lords on 21st May 2012, and added:

It is indeed a wonderful showcase for our companies, which supplied not only the innovative products about which the Minister spoke but also the recyclable materials-products that make this a green Olympics. The floor coverings, waste bins and much of the pipework are all recyclable. The new road surfaces use waste material. The energy centre burns waste material. New materials were developed for the roofing membranes, for the 80,000 seats in the main stadium and for the 6,000 seats in the velodrome. The water and sewerage services are most ingenious. As the Minister said, it is a showcase for the best of British industry. What a good story we have to tell-a story that British companies should tell out loud. They can supply these materials and their products to construction companies in all parts of the world.

However, they cannot tell it. Why? In order to get the business, companies had to sign an agreement that they would not publicise their products without permission from LOCOG. Despite many applications, none of the companies that supplied the products and materials that I have mentioned was given permission. Continue reading

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Filed under Disability, Olympics, Public Transport