Saturday, January 30, 2010
I did get excited when Vancouver (near here) got the 2010 Winter Games, because I've known for some decades that my only shot at an Olympic medal would be in curling - and this might be my chance. I was a high school champion and it's the only Olympic sport I can think of that usually includes chatting, drinking between games, and welcomes overweight middle-aged athletes. And when they shout to their team mates, they scream "HARD! ! HURRY HARD!! HAAARDERRRR!" Which is just plain funny.
I'll probably catch some of it on TV, and I do love to watch ski jumping (flying!) and the biathlon (skiing AND shooting). But some of the things that gall me about these games include:
- Corporate sponsorships are so huge that they have branded everything. When the torch celebration, blew through Nelson - the COKE RBC (Royal Bank of Canada) stage and sound system and free light-up COKE drinks were delightfully global spirited. The Vancouver Library was ordered to cover up logos of non-sponsors on any plaques, donated items or other publicly visible places. No PEPSI donated computers allowed! Not in Olympic City. Oh yes, and COKE flew a bunch of staff up to Canada from Atlanta - so they could get turns running the torch in BC.
- Our provincial and federal governments are spending about $6 billion on the games (yes, the B-word). That's at a time when schools are closing, the arts have been cut by 40% in BC, health care needs an injection... and homelessness is on the rise. In fact, school sports have been cut.
- Security for the athletes, IOC gang, politicians, and corporate sponsors is huge. Our bill will be $900 million. There are several thousand Canadian troops in town supporting the RCMP, Vancouver police and no doubt, our little spy service, called CSIS.
- Tickets for the "people's games" are a little on the dear side. The remaining seats for events like, say a Belarus - Belgian hockey game might go for as little as $75 to $400 a seat. The gold medal game has tickets, on the official site last week, that top out at $50,000 a pair. (Is he making this stuff up? No, but to be fair, if any ordinary good tickets were available, they were only about $750 each.)
All this to say that many athletes are amazing and worth seeing; the opening ceremonies will be spectacular (even if the orchestra is 'lip-synching' the instruments to recorded music); and the feeling of pride in winning will be palpable. I'm personally pulling for Ghana's one man Olympic team.
But there are all those other things that sour it for me.
More bread, less circuses please.
Friday, January 22, 2010
First anniversary of "Close Guantanamo Bay within one year"
I know it's tough to do the right thing in a country where the wrong thing is the default position - in a nation where fear still trumps rights, where the bible is the handbook for many, where information is distorted and where fear rules (did I mention that bit twice?).
Yet a stand has to be taken - on human rights, on climate change, on sending food not guns into Haiti...and so on. If not me, who? If not now, when?
Saturday, January 16, 2010
This week's graffiti
Friday, January 15, 2010
A few photos from Australia
Here are a sampling of photos to spark my memory...and perhaps entertain you briefly as you move along through 2010. "No worries" as the Aussies say.
Melbourne has a great tram system, including free downtown line. Photo reflection.
This little stoner is tired and spends 20 or so hours a day sleeping. The rest of the time he sits around buzzed, eating only eucalyptus leaves.
"Whoa man! Is that ANOTHER eucalyptus tree I see over there?"
At the end of the dirt road, not far from Pacific Palms, on a one-man homemade golf course (30 members) - that's where the roos are hanging out, including this little bald Joey and his mom. (Click to see larger.)
Giant fig tree - in the Wingham nature walk, inland from the east coast. Moments earlier the intrepid traveler almost stepped on a mullet (no the bad haircut, the lizard). Also spent time avoiding the Giant Stinging Tree and the poop from above, where several hundred thousand flying fox bats call home. Note: pretty much everyone in the 100 year old Australian Hotel and pub in Wingham, say "G'die Mite!" (translation: "Good Day Mate" - and each one reminds me a little of Steve Irwin.
Hiking the rain forest trail in the Blue Mountains, east of Sydney. Incredible ancient feeling and very sore legs and feet after hours of up and down. Check out the Giant Staircase (861 steps down and one weird train ride back up). You really earn your pie (ask any Australian about pie...mmmm).
Monday, January 04, 2010
By the way, if you like this, you'll probably also enjoy Seraphine's blog, with its daily dose of wonderful comic art and social comment.
Click on them to see photos larger...