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Welcome to Beijing Down Under

Now that the digitally-enhanced fireworks are over, and the girl who mimed the song to someone else's voice has gone to bed, there's a smell in the air of an Australian media group kowtowing to the requirements of the show's creators in a manner that if not unethical is conduct most unbecoming to Australian media.

It was bad enough that the Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG) had promised internet freedom to the international Olympic press. It's ridiculous to consider that such draconian control of the media would occur in corporate Australia though, isn't it? Sadly it now appears that this isn't the case, and that an Australian broadcasting company might have been prepared to alter their programming to appease the cornucopia of ratings that is the Olympics.

GetUp had booked ad-space on Channel Seven and relayer Prime to deliver a simple message:

Tibetans have always believed there is a time and place for silence. The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games is not one of them. Please Mr Rudd, do not leave Beijing without speaking out for Tibet"

Seven is claiming that GetUp wasn't singled out, and that a number of ads were dropped due to the length of the Opening Ceremony. Prime doesn't have that excuse as the ad was booked to be broadcast on that network before the event. The to and fro of conversations is best followed in the transcript at Media Watch. GetUp summarised well in an email sent out today:

The Seven Network are having trouble sticking to a consistent story - first they denied GetUp had booked any ads at all, then, once we produced the confirmed booking sheets, claimed we'd booked another ad unrelated to Tibet. Now they're claiming the ads weren't shown due to time constraints. They've even accused GetUp of engineering this deliberately....

GetUp have thrown down the gauntlet, booking airtime during the Olympics Closing Ceremony. While truth-freaks are scutinising the event for more Computer Generated Images and vocal overdubs (apparently, according to Lateline, the Politbureau didn't like the original singer, and replace her with a thinner mimer with straighter teeth) to allow them to express their opinions about Tibet and allow Channel Seven to prove that it's not applying political censorship on behalf of Beijing.

Why would Seven do such a thing anyway? The only one I can think of is a belief that they may lose their precious flow of vision if they don't act in a certain manner. There may be others..?

The conclusion of the GetUp email spells out the ethical predicament we face:

If we don't speak out when one of the nation's largest broadcasters puts its business interests before freedom of speech, we start down a slippery slope. Sometimes the human rights we thought existed as a given in Australia won't be respected without our insistence on it.

Stay tuned.

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Just like the Great Wall.....

One gigantic fraud from beginning to end...

Doesn't surprise me really; the Chinese have got a lot to answer for. They have a habit of getting a little bit lost in translation, usually to their benefit.

It's a bit like the true story of the Great Wall. History books teach us it was built yonks ago to keep the raging mongrels from invading the Middle Kingdom.

More recently we have been led to believe it was, in fact, built to keep the rabbits out because there were "too many rabbits in China". You may well laugh but this is closer to the truth than you can imagine; although arse about.

Allow me to explain.

I have it it on good authority, by someone who has been whispered the truth from generation to generation, that the Great Wall was built thousands of years ago, and in no time flat, by the bloody rabbits; not the Chinese. I suppose they were Chinese rabbits but rabbits never the less.

Now this makes a lot of sense as everybody knows the Chinese will eat anything with legs (except a table) and anything with wings (except a jumbo jet). So why would the Chinese want to get rid of the yummy bunnies? Not on your life; twas the bunnies who decided to get rid of those gastrocomically greedy Chinese.

Apparently in one of the local (ancient) rabbit communities, Waterbed Drown, a very clever rabbit calling himself Gareth decided it was time to protect the Rabbit Kingdom and thus an idea was born.

A bloody great long wall will keep the blighters out he said, and they believed him. It was also coincidentally the year of the Rabbit which patriotically sweetened  the rethorical endeavours of Gareth who succeded to unite and mobilise the entire rabbit population of the Middle Kingdom to build this bloody great wall. And the buggers did it and they did it before the Dragon made his new year appearance.

The Chinese were amazed, not only with their tucker creating such a  magnificent wall,  but in the manner these wummy bunnies had conveniently cut themselves off.

You see the very clever Gareth was a motivator of bunnies, he said cool things and had engineering skills beyond that of his peers. But he never had a clue where he was. Yep a bloody lousy sense of direction had Gareth; worse than Jenny Hume's or Douglas "wrong way" Corrigan.

So there was Gareth standing up all erect and proud with his achievement  while failing to notice that he (along with another 4 billion bunnies) was sitting in the sun on the southern side of the wall. Ooooops.

All hell broke loose and bunnies took off everywhere (not north) followed by those gastrocomically greedy Chinese; but not before Gareth's pissed off buddies gave him a bloody good walloping and left him for dead, er dinner.

A Chinaman  immediately picked up Gareth (by his ears which really pissed him off) and congratulated Gareth for his excellent work then rewarded Gareth by gently dropping him into the boiler. But not before Gareth  was heard mumbling something like "it seemed like a good idea at the time" .

So there you have it; the real dope on the GW. The Chinese of course were never going to tell that to the punters so they made up a fantasy, a far more patriotic and powerful story that was at least a little bit believable  -  and they just kept telling it and saying it and writing it, over and over, until everyone thought it to be true. And you know what -  those raging mongrels never exited anyway.

One gigantic fraud from beginning to end...


Wrong turn

Justin Obodie: "But he never had a clue where he was. Yep a bloody lousy sense of direction had Gareth; worse than Jenny Hume's or Douglas 'wrong way' Corrigan"

Well at least mine is better than Cheryl's. I would however admit that that would not be hard.

As for rabbits. Maybe we could ask the Chinese about population control because they are on both sides of the Fence these days. They built a wall to keep the vermin out, we built a fence full of holes. No wonder they have the edge on the rest of us.

One gigantic fraud from beginning to end...

We heard the Berling Olympics rated as "most exceptional" - but naturally, the Chinese media reported something different:

Mr Samaranch called Atlanta "most exceptional" - a phrase widely interpreted as damning with faint praise. Mr Rogge's "truly exceptional" verdict on Beijing does not seem to mark much graduation from that.

But when Mr Rogge made his declaration on Sunday night, the Chinese characters that flashed up on the huge screens, and the translation given by commentators in Chinese for the hundreds of millions of TV viewers throughout China, were wu yi lun bi.

The standard definition of this phrase is "unparalleled" - or, of course, "best ever".

One gigantic fraud from beginning to end...

Ten foreign activists given jail sentence

I'm a bit thick occasionally.  Must do some follow-up on the APEC gathering at Hyde Park being cleared to keep protesters away from President Hu. 

Scott Parkin sent a message out last night that all but two have since been put on a plane to the US.  I haven't heard this story elsewhere, so here's the original announcement:

As the 2008 Olympics come to a close, and the Chinese government hails the Games as a triumph for China, ten foreign Tibet supporters, including a Tibetan, an internationally renowned artist, and award-winning bloggers and documentary filmmakers, remain in jail in Beijing – most of them for independently reporting on peaceful protests. In the lead up to and during the Olympic Games, hundreds of Chinese have been placed under house arrest, have disappeared or suffer in re-education-through-labor camps since being swept up in a pre-Olympic crackdown on human rights advocates and others Beijing considers ‘undesirables.’ At the same time, thousands of Tibetans remain missing or are detained in an ongoing brutal clampdown on protests for freedom and human rights in Tibet.

Eight Americans, one Briton and one Tibetan-German are being held in detention for ten days. Only six of them have been given an official sentence, and they are due to be deported on August 30th. The remaining four have not been officially charged. These ten individuals (artists, activists and citizen journalists) were in Beijing to amplify Tibetan voices calling for freedom and human rights and the right of all people to freedom of expression. They are no more guilty of a crime than Tibetans or Chinese who speak out for justice. For the Chinese authorities to sentence them at all shows the government’s insecurity and intolerance of even the most peaceful challenges to its authoritarian control.

Students for a Free Tibet categorically rejects the validity of these detentions, as well as the notion that the expression or documentation of a person’s views is a punishable offense. We demand the immediate release of Brian Conley, Jeffrey Rae, Jeff Goldin, Michael Liss, Tom Grant, James Powderly, Jeremy Wells, John Watterberg, Florian Norbu Gyanatshang and Mandie McKeown.

While we recognize that ten days in jail pales in comparison to the consequences faced by Tibetans, Chinese dissidents and others living under Chinese government rule who dare to speak out, we find the Chinese authorities’ response to the peaceful actions of these individuals to be reprehensible and a violation of their fundamental rights. We appeal to the American, British and German governments to take action to secure their immediate and unconditional release.

We further call on the international community, and the International Olympic Committee in particular, to demand that the Chinese authorities immediately release all those people who have been unjustly detained for their political or religious views in China’s Olympic crackdown

2012 London Olympics - 1,000 quid on opening ceremony?

Already the London Olympics is looking better:

"Virtually every single one of our international sports were either invented or codified by the British, and I say this respectfully to our Chinese hosts who have excelled so magnificently at ping pong," [London Mayor Boris Johnson] said in a tongue-in-cheek speech.

"Ping pong was invented on the dining tables of England in the 19th century and it was called wiff waff.

"There I think you have the essential difference between us and the rest of world.

"Other nations, the French, looked at a dining table and saw an opportunity to have dinner. We looked at a dining table and saw an opportunity to play wiff waff. That is why London is the sporting capital of the world."

I'm hoping they spend no more than a thousand quid on the opening ceremony, too.

You heard it here first!

I told you so!

Hackers have unearthed more compelling evidence that China's dual-gold medal winning gymnast He Kexin is underaged and should have been barred from competing at the Olympics.

A US-based internet security consultant and part-time hacker calling himself "Stryde Hax" has trawled through the search results on Google, Google China and the Chinese search engine Baidu, unearthing numerous examples of cached official Excel spreadsheets showing He Kexin listed as being born on January 1, 1994.

Search engines work by trawling the web and indexing search results. They usually take a snapshot of their findings at the same time in a process known as caching. So while original web pages can expire or be removed, the cached snapshot of the page can usually still be recovered.

The 1.42-metre (4'8") tall gymnast was part of the women's gymnastic team which won gold and then took an individual gold medal in the uneven bars at the Beijing Olympics.

If correct, that would make her 14 instead of 16 and under the competition rules, gymnasts must be aged 16 in the year an Olympics takes place in order to qualify to compete.

The rules were put into place to avoid exploiting younger gymnasts, who have more flexible bodies.



Fixing things in Beijing

"How long before we detect 'irregularities' in the competition results?"

 - Eliot Ramsey on August 15, 2008 - 4:09pm.

Four days:

The controversy over the allegedly under-aged Chinese gymnast He Kexin took a new and unexpected twist last night when she edged out an American competitor for the gold medal.

The two teenagers both ended the final of the women's uneven bars with a dead-heat score of 16.725 points.

But the Chinese girl got the nod after a panel of judges - including Australia's Helen Colagiuri - invoked a complicated tie-break formula that was introduced after the Atlanta Olympics and used for the first time last night to decide an Olympic competition.

I watched this event.

You should have seen the look on the American girl's face when the scores came up. Not shock or outrage. Just that flat, cold-eyed expressionless stare teenaged girls give when they're quietly contemplating your murder.

The little Chinese girl was excellent, as was the American girl. Absolutely nothing between them. I mean, soaring, gliding, methodical, clickety-click perfection.

Except Nastia's landing made the recent Phoenix touchdown on Mars look clumsy by comparison.

Swish-swish-click. Not a ripple. She went onto the floor straight as an Apache arrow. Shtick!

Then the score came up, exactly equal ... and then that look.


By the way, did others see this;

"China has received dozens of applications for demonstrations during the Olympics but none of them have gone ahead.

Beijing city authorities say they have received 77 applications for demonstrations in the specially designated Olympic protest parks but none have been cleared to take place.

According to China's Xinhua news agency, 74 of the applications have been withdrawn because the problems have already been ironed out through consultation.

Two other applications were denied because the application procedures were incomplete and the remaining one protest application was vetoed by police.

But human rights groups say China never intended to allow protests during the Olympic Games"?

Communists. You have to laugh.

Rice pudding

Stephanie Rice, Australia's queen of the pool at the Beijing Olympics, will get another pot of gold on her return to Australia.

Rice is poised for a massive financial windfall from endorsements and sponsorships following her outstanding gold medal-winning feats in the 200m and 400m individual medleys and 4x200m freestyle relay.

Richard Tonkin: "What they didn't realise was happening was that they were being inadvertently forced into engaging with the Chinese on their own terms. It was pretty to watch."

Same with Sudanese businessmen dealing with Chinese, only they're more used to having to pay bribes. Pretty to watch.

Richard Tonkin

You are absolutely correct, and I unreservedly apologise for my "totally unwarranted attack upon yours truly."

Da nada, F Kendall

"Things are bound to get a little tense around here,” he said with the most deadpan expression he could muster.

My main concern in this exercise of cultural interplay is that we allow our own tenets to exist on a "level playing field."

In China in the 80's I laughed at the exasperation of American businessmen at railway stations and airports. "These people have no idea how to do business," they'd bluster as they moaned of endless meetings, changes in directions, the need to come back in six months to sort things out again. What they didn't realise was happening was that they were being inadvertently forced into engaging with the Chinese on their own terms. It was pretty to watch.

Now though, as China enters another phase of its millennia-spanning cultural development, if we don't create a situation where we can interact and transact with our own integrities intact, we're going to see a demonstrative lesson in the nature of our adolescence.

There's no honour amongst thieves...

F Kendall: "Eliot Ramsay, if you enriched yourself by robbery, including robbing my house,  then you are not the person to moralise against my way of life when I take up robbery."

It still wouldn't make robbery the right thing, would it?

Anyway, back to the People's Republic:

Beijing Olympic organisers have abandoned their regular daily press conferences following a series of heated exchanges between officials and journalists in the past four days.

Beijing spokesman Sun Weide said there would be no press conference on Saturday because the Olympics were running very smoothly.

Next, fake journalists supplied by the Ministry for Information.

Lead by example

Eliot Ramsay, if you enriched yourself by robbery, including robbing my house,  then you are not the person to moralise against my way of life when I take up robbery.

Hypocrisy, you see.  Not a good look.

Leading selves up garden paths

F Kendall, it's rare to see me defend Eliot but you seem to have used your totally unwarranted attack upon yours truly to establish a moral standpoint from which to sit on a high horse and attack Mr Ramsey in a way that Malcolm Turnbull would love to use to become PM..

At some time or another humanity's going to need to shuffle the deck, look at the number of people, amounts of resource, successfully habitable environments, and say "fuck history, let's pool our assets and survive." Bogging down attempted resolution of a current predicament by besmearing opinions from a hundred-year-old moral standpoint is not helpful, but an exquisite Pandora's Box.

Anyway ... what's a hundred years to a culture of such long standing?

Ethnic pretending

This from AFP today:

"Children from China's dominant Han population were used in a key part of the Olympics opening ceremony, not youngsters from all 56 ethnic groups as claimed, an official said in comment published Friday."

Anyone familiar with the more and absurd Communist Chinese propaganda devices of the 1960s will be beginning to experience a certain déjà vu by about now.

How long before we detect 'irregularities' in the competition results?

China bashing

F Kendall, even if  "China was exploited, robbed, ruined, crippled, enslaved, drugged and corrupted by us" a hundred years ago, how does that justify China exploiting, robbing, ruining, crippling, enslaving, drugging and corrupting Tibet and other subject nations today?

Marilyn Shepherd: "Never mind the dopey pom in Beijing as we indulge in China bashing."

You might be interested in this refugee problem, Marilyn:

Another rebel leader told the BBC that the Sudanese army was attempting to clear out rebels from the area in order to allow Chinese oil companies to prospect in the area.

Sudan and China have strong links, with China buying much of the African nation's oil and supplying arms.

The conflict in Darfur began when black tribesmen took up arms against what they called decades of neglect and discrimination by the Arab-dominated Sudanese government in Khartoum.

The UN says up to 300,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced by five years of conflict.

Now this is real media brutality


Never mind the dopey pom in Beijing as we indulge in China bashing.   Here we all saw the murder of the young Palestinian journalist by the IDF and lo and behold they clear themselves of all wrong doing.

Bit like Sami Al haj spending over 6 years in Gitmo for daring to be a journo for al Jazeera.

Richard Tonkin: enough already

China was exploited, robbed, ruined, crippled, enslaved, drugged  and corrupted by us, and, if now, 100 years later, it is just managing to crawl out of the scar tissue of the digusting mess that we reduced the country to, I consider a comment such as: "whether China deserves to be the recipient of hosting such virtues" ...   to be (*&&^^^^!!@!@!,  ()*(&*^%@#@!!!! ,  as well as greatly uninformed and  just totally wrong.

Hey, but ol GW is right by your side.

Story on 7 news site, did it make a bulletin?

It's listed as having been posted at 4:45pm (EST I presume) which you could assume would be early enough to be included in the 6pm news bulletin? 


BEIJING (AFP) - The International Olympic Committee on Thursday condemned the roughing up of a British journalist who was trying to cover a pro- Tibet protest close to the main Games' complex.

Uniformed police pounced on John Ray, China correspondent for Independent Television News (ITN) on Wednesday, shortly after protesters unfurled a pro- Tibet banner, witnesses and the reporter said.

IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said the media should be allowed to operate freely in Beijing .

"The IOC does disapprove of any attempts to hinder a journalist who is going about or doing his job seemingly within the rules and regulation," she told reporters when asked about the incident.

"We do not want to see it happening again."

I didn't see Seven's news last night?  Anyone?

Sorry to reduce you to asterisks, F Kendall

However the deceit in feigning an agreement for open media coverage of events (now demonstrated by this arrest) coupled with treatment of Tibetans, Falon Gong and the refusal to let Taiwan exist independently demonstrate certain lacks of virtue, at least one of which was promised not to be a factor in its hosting of this gathering.

I won't be around much tomorrow, but I'll give more thought to this and get back to you.  And I'll keep my fingers on the right row of the keyboard ;)

By the way, I had only literally raised the question before you bit my head off.  Good to know the intensity of your opinion! 

Teachers? Presidents?

You confirm my point then, Ian MacDougall: the complete lack of African athlete's ability to level the playing field (or lower it in Alan Curran's eyes) to where all athletes are equal. They simply aren't in the race.

The Olympic Committee, by giving the games to China, have shown themselves up and the games for what they are – a blatant political event that is backfiring on both the Committee and China at present, and a dreadful waste of money.

As each small country entered the arena on the opening night – some with half a dozen athletes – the audience didn't even have the good grace to give them a rousing cheer. But if you believed the Australian media when the Aussie team entered the applause was like thunder, which was possibly correct and due to the huge Australian audience in attendance. It's all quite ugly stuff.

Let's hope London in 2012 is a disaster, which it's already looking to be financially, and this tawdry display of jingoistic revelling in muscles is scaled back to something tasteful.

China has shown that you don't actually need an opening night extravaganza – it can be all done by computer or smoke and mirrors.

Either that or let them all take drugs.

Speaking of "ugly stuff," the arrested ITV reporter

My mood of bonhommerie is turning on hearing of this:

[Guardian extract]:

Police in Beijing roughed up and detained a British journalist after he covered a Free Tibet protest close to the city's main Olympic zone earlier today.

The incident appeared to be the clearest breach yet of the host nation's promise of free media access during the Games.

John Ray, of Independent Television News, said he was pinned down by police, dragged along the ground and pushed into a police van.

He said the authorities had also confiscated his equipment, pulled off his shoes, filmed him and accused him of trying to unfurl a Tibetan flag.

After his release some 30 minutes later, he said he was shaken but unharmed.

Beijing police said eight foreign Free Tibet protesters, including seven US citizens and a Japanese national, were arrested and their deportation was being supervised. They made no comment about Ray's treatment.

It will be interesting to find out how Seven reports this story in Australia, if at all.

Such unfair competition

The worst aspect of this garish spectacle is the complete unfairness in competition.

We have countries like the USA supplying their swimmers with NASA designed swimsuits which obviously aid them to win. How can an African country possibly compete on a similar level?

Drug taking is just one aspect of the advantages some athletes have. We, China and the rich western countries can subsidise our athletes to train full time while athletes from a poor country probably still till the soil during daylight hours. Is it any wonder the US, China, Australia, UK all have high medal tallies?

It's unfair and hardly a genuine competition, and the mass of poorer countries are basically used as propaganda when they march into the arena at the opening of the games as we magnamiously patronise them into believeing they are part of the Olympic "spirit". Nothing could be further from the truth.

The problem, and the solution

Michael: "We have countries like the USA supplying their swimmers with NASA designed swimsuits which obviously aid them to win. How can an African country possibly compete on a similar level?"

Most African countries could find the money to build an Olympic standard training facility and buy their swimmers each a Speedo Laser swimsuit (AU$500 each and good for about 10 swims) by paying for it out of the personal Presidential Account in whatever Swiss bank. Track and field the same.

What amazes me is the "controversy" over the aforementioned Laser. The Speedo company has offered the suits to all olympians, regardless of nationality, yet we have calls for their banning. The banning brigade is obviously unaware of the fact that it is only differential access to technology that enables technology to make any difference in the overall ranking of athletes.

The solution is obvious: in 2012, all swimmers should have to dive in and swim their events stark naked. Come to think of it, that's how athletes competed in the original games back in ancient Greece.


Eeew, Ian, the men's weight lifting?  And on the gymnastics front it could add a whole new meaning to the rings.

After spending an evening with my Miss Ten watching the gymnastics, and the Aussie women's relay swimmers take the gold ahead of China and the US, I'm somewhat mollified.  There are virtues to this that one settles into after a while.

I guess the issue is whether China deserves to be the recipient of hosting such virtues.  Without researching, I don't remember hearing or reading much about  international attention on Australian human rights violations during the Sydney event.  Maybe a few reports about a few reports before the games commenced, but after that...?

It's worth turning on for a look, really.  Especially given the ABC are running a lot of fillers till it's all over.


Michael de Angelos:"The worst aspect of this garish spectacle is the complete unfairness in competition."

Perhaps you would like the Olympics to be run by the NSW Teachers Federation. That would bring everybody down to lowest level.

Jennifer Hawkins to substitute for Libby Trickett at pool side

Bill Avent: "The kid didn't look ugly in the photo I saw."

Not ugly, but clearly not cute enough.

Look, let's get into the spirit of the event.

From now on, whenever someone from the Australian team wins a medal, we should substitute cast members from Home & Away for whichever Aussie athlete happens to be on the winners' dais.

So, if Tamsyn Lewis wins a medal, we whisk her out of sight as soon as the race ends and substitute Isabel Lucas for Tamsyn.

That way Isabel, an experienced model after all, can take the picture opportunity and give a short victory speech. She can read a script, albeit she's a bit dull to listen to. But what athlete isn't?

I mean, Tamsyn seems like a nice, principled girl, but Isabel beats the socks of her in the looks department. And is principled, too.

Likewise, why isn't Jennifer Hawkins poolside in Beijing to take the accolades for Libby Trickett?

I mean, for God's sake, it's not that hard to see the logic there, is it?

Also, about Michael Phelps. Why aren't we calling him 'Aussie' Michael Phelps? You know? Like 'Aussie' Ana Ivanovic?

At least that way they'd shut up about Stephanie Rice maybe.

Eye of the beholder

But, Eliot, is child #1 cuter than child #2? Not to my eyes. Which I would rather not have the wool pulled over. Or over which I would rather not have the wool pulled, as some of the self-styled language experts around here would perhaps prefer.

My eyes and ears prefer things presented to them as real to really be real. Then again, my eyes and ears are not Chinese, and at the end of the day (not to mention the so often ignored morning) what the Chinese do is Chinese business, not mine.

As for substitutes, I would prefer them to be ones who have learned to talk, beyond having been taught to rattle off a handful of clichés and buzzwords. Here again, of course, I am out of touch. The three main things required of athletes caught on camera are that they pull as extreme a face as possible; open their mouths wide beyond belief; and keep enough energy in reserve at contest's end to be able to punch the air with utmost enthusiasm.

I doubt we have actors or actresses with talent enough to do those things better than our genuine athletes. Oi oi oi.

You're not alone, Peter

Peter Hindrup: "Dear me! And here I thought I was only me!"

I don't know anyone personally who wasn't sickened by the whole disgusting thing this year.

I'm not sure why, but that business with the little girl being told she wasn't cute enough to appear in public was the final straw for me. It just epitomises the sheer audacious, stupid hypocrisy of the whole thing.

Can you imagine how that child felt?

Compare her situation with Kevin Gosper's daughter last Olympics, getting bumped up the preference list just so she could run with the stupid Torch.

What a message this sort of thing sends to the world.

Too bloody slow

A couple of hours back, while tapping away on the front bar laptop, I watched a Seven cameraman come and grab some footage of our fireplace, for a firewood shortage piece that's just aired on the news.... beamed from the station across the road to a mountain outside of town and back to the pub, for me to watch from my typing spot.

I must be getting slow in my old age, as I should've thought of downloading and discreetly placing a GetUp logo on the mantlepiece, or a script of the ad, or even a copy of the above piece!  Oh well...

Ugly? What?

The kid didn't look ugly in the photo I saw. Quite gorgeous, in fact. Was she fat? What's wrong with a seven year old kid being fat? I thought fat was favoured among Chinese.

Just another Oriental mystery, I guess. Maybe they just have a preference for artificiality over the genuine article.

Each Olympic gold medal cost us about $40 million

Michael de Angelos: "We subsidise these athletes with unlimited government funds, none of which is returned to us when they go into private sponsorship and earn millions."

Each Olympic gold medal over the last twenty years has cost Australian taxpayers about $40 million.

Then the likes of Libby Trickett and Kieren Perkins make personal fortunes advertising products ranging from breakfast cereals to fruit salads to insurance schemes to vitamins to God knows what else.

The students at the Institute of Sport pay no HECS.

Try getting someone to spend $40 million bucks on a student's PhD in medical science. And dropping his or her HECS.

The Sydney Piano Competition receives no, that is no government funding apart from the free exposure it gets on the ABC. None.

Tell me an Australian arts or science fair that cost $4 billion.

Four billion dollars, the Sydney Olympics. Unbelievable.

Just so retards like Laurie Lawrence can rant and rave about the Aussie spirit at corporate management retreats. And bung on fake Chinese accents at press conferences.

You want to fix Aboriginal housing? Then tell Elka Graham and Ian Thorpe to get real jobs.

Greed, ego & 'power'

Dear me! And here I thought I was only me!

The Olympics are all about privilege and power and money – for the mob that run the Olympics.

It is show business – paid for by the mugs. People are supposedly 'outraged' that the little kid that could sing was replaced by the little kid that was cute. Why were they even surprised?

The Olympics for the countries hosting them are always a financial disaster. Politicians bankrupt their country in the delusion that some of the reflected 'glory' will rub off on them.

If I was to draw up a list of where our money ought to be spent, the Institute of Sport and the Olympics would be in the never to be considered pile.

Bread & Circuses

I'm totally over the Olympics in their present form.

They represent everything that is ugly about sport. They are political no matter what is claimed. From the '36 Berlin Olympics up to the present day they have just become an event for a country to get across a bogus message about itself.

We subsidise these athletes with unlimited government funds, none of which is returned to us when they go into private sponsorship and earn millions. Just like corporate welfare, no return is asked for or given while those at the bottom rung, the unemployed, aged pensioners or disabled, are still maligned as "bludgers" or some sort of problem to be tolerated.

I don't have any thoughts on substituting singers or such. The Sydney Olympics weren't any great example of integrity. It's the whole gaudy spectacle of these "games". The media are simply lashing out at China in the petty vindictive manner the media does when it doesn't get its own way or allowed to dictate what the "news" should be.

There was a report about a tank stationed outside the venue yesterday . The attempt to beat this up as a sensation was pathetic, considering the extraordinary measures we witnessed in Sydney just before 2000 with helicopters and special troops scaling down onto building tops etc.

Remember the repeated claims we got about these ghastly kitsch events before 2000? Bob Carr kept hammering home that the entire world would soon be flocking to Sydney for years after (just like APEC when they saw the wire fences hemming in the city!). Then came SARS which hit tourism on the head, followed by 9/11. All we got was that wasteland out at Homebush which, no matter how much they dress it up, remains a barren cold disaster and waste of space.

At the Sports Illustrated marquee at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair one night, rubber duckies buzzed alongside the harbour as frogmen grimly searched along the shores and balaclava-d soldiers searched through bushes for potential assassins posing as wombats or such. I remarked as much to the little chubby American woman I had struck up a conversation with and she replied "I think it's because of me". She was Clinton's under-secretary of employment or something.

Beijing we have a problem

Zhang Xiaojia says: "The Beijing Olympics - what an event!"

No disrespect, but I thought it was horrifying.

I should qualify that by saying I've found all such Olympic spectacles over the years pretty disturbing, although I thought the Atlanta opening ceremony had at least an element of self-deprecating irony (intentional or otherwise) and the Barcelona opening ceremony was okay right until Sarah Brightman started to sing.

And of course Sarah was at it singing again this year!

At least she didn't lip sync like the nine-year-old child actor Lin Miaoke who substituted for seven-year-old singer Yang Peiyi who in turn had been sacked from her on-stage role by the Communist Party because she was too ugly.

"She was dropped after a senior member of China's ruling Communist Party attended a rehearsal and said "there was a problem"."

The problem was Yang Peiyi is fat and plain, unlike Lin Miaoke who is pretty and looks good in red.

That's the Olympic spirit right there, isn;'t it? And how much worse could Yang Peiyi be than Libby Trickett, the face of young Australiain sport today?

Then there were the 'virtual' fireworks. And what has to have been the most ludicrous Torch-lighting stunt since the Sydney torch got stuck on its gantry leaving Kathy Freeman variously in danger of being burned, drowned and embarrassed to death.

I mean, an athlete on a rope?

All this nonsense about big spectacular opening ceremonies goes back to the 1936 Olympics, and the need for the then emerging German superpower to signal its arrival on the world stage and to shake off the humiliations of its past treatment by the West.

So, massed gymnastics displays, serried ranks of Party brown-shirts, and vast arenas filled with fluttering red banners and cheering Party faithful were choreographed to wow the world.

Likewise in Germany in 1936.

At least Albert Speer had a handle on the visual potential of deco and avoided all the tizzy kitsch of Sydney and Beijing.

Still, what Sydney lacked in style, Beijing certainly made up for in over-kill.

Sydney cost four billion dollars, and Beijing cost 40 billion dollars, which is running way ahead of inflation adjusted for movements in the CPI over the last eight years, not including the effects on Beijing's growing army of displaced homeless.

Another thing about the stupid Olympics is its tendency for phony tradition.

Like, the Olympic maidens (pleated dresses and under-arm perspiration and weird, ultra-slow ritual choreography) who light the Torch from the sun rays at Mount Olympus. As in days of yore. Well, as far back as 1936 when Speer first got the idea.

They also do another dreary, slow-motion closing ritual that leaves attending officials, heads of government and various speech-makers standing rigid at the rostrum with nothing to do for about a half-hour except grin fixedly at the Olympic maidens as they go through their tedious, snail-paced routine.

Just on the Torch itself as an Olympic symbol, I have some suspicions concerning Speer's choice there, too. Because outside the Reich Chancellery in Berlin, there used to be two oversized male nude statues on the stoop overlooking the street, one representing the Armed Forces, the other representing the Nazi Party.

The statue representing the Armed Forces held aloft a sword.

You guessed it. The other statue representing the Nazi Party held aloft a flaming torch.

The Torch relay was in 1936 a paid Party political message. And it still is.

Richard:  Eliot, I hope you don't mind my moving your post here.  I'll leave a note on the other.

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