Friday, August 22, 2008



1. Watching President Junior doing the "raise the roof" hands pushing the sky motion and stumbling around the Olympics like a drunken frat boy, while Russia invaded Georgia (an invasion preceded by weeks of military build up and preperations to inflict damage not only on strategic concrete infrastructure but on internet infrastructure as well on Russia's part, making liars out of those who insist Georgia provoked it, as well as following years of Russian "peacekeepers" allowing armed thugs to intimidate Georgians living in the so-called "contested" area(s) that supposedly sparked the invasion) and once again our foreign policy under this administration was proved uninformed (where was the intellgience about all the military preperations by Russia) and impotent (the Russians continue to ignore the so-called truce they signed and we are unable to do anything to stop them, putting the lie to the whole "spreading democracy" bit of the neoconservatives as this will show all other budding democracies in the region that it's better to play ball with Putin than with the USA).

2. The TV networks and most of the rest of the "mass media" ignoring the reppressive side of the Chinese government as best illustrated by the fact that there were no demonstrations. The government set aside three parks in Beijing for legal protests, the only kind allowed. Though obviously those aren't allowed either as none materialized, and the few people who went to the central police headquarters to apply for a permit for one—which includes rules that demand the exact number of protestors, their names and addresses, the slogans they will shout and put on banners, etc.—including a couple of elderly women, were immediately "detained" by the police, i.e. imprisoned.
If the Olympics were in Iran and they did that—or even in France for that matter, and they did that—you can be sure the networks would be all over it. But they not only didn't cover that story, they also ignored the ways in which the Chinese have been repressing the minorities within their borders, doing much to destroy their languages, customs, religious traditions and practices, etc., mostly by encouraging and promoting the migration of Han Chinese into these areas (like Tibet and the Uigher regions, the Islamic minority) and giving the Han the best land and jobs and creating infrastructure to get them there etc., much in the way Israel has done with the settlements in the West Bank only more so. It would be like if the U. S. government made land cheap and readily available on "Indian" reservations for European-Americans and then built commuter railroads and highways to the nearest cities, and poured money into business start ups by the European-Americans and suppressed Indian riuals and rites and languages and customs etc. (Oh yeah, we did do that for many decades but thankfully stopped before it was too late, leaving some Indian peoples and lands intact, unlike what's happening in China).

3. Some of the scoring, including gymnastics. But especially for boxing, where so many better fighters lost their bouts due to incredibly faulty scoring that the TV cameras made so evident they should have the "replay the video tape" rule to correct it.


1. We actually could see from the images on TV how bad the pollution is on most days, reminding me of shots of L. A. in the 1950s on the most visible smog days.

2. The opportunity for dedicated "atheletes" in all kinds of obscure sports to have their day in the sun, even though they were mostly ignored by the TV netowrks here.

3. The two man volleyball competitions. Last thing I'd think I'd get interested in. The women's volleyball matches, especially the two women team matches are the more obvious focus for most men I know. But it was the strange sight of a 6'9" beanpole, shaven-headed guy and his teammate and coach—"the thin beast" and "the professor"—not exactly the most original nicknames—that ended up fascinating me. The ways in which they could start out sloppy and almost not present and then adjust their playing and their attitudes to end up dominating their opponents, as well as the unique ballet of these two mismatched athletes making sense of all the parabolic possibilities of a round ball—between the size of a basketball and a softball—and four mean, I don't know, I just found it poetic in some unforseen way.
I can't wait until they make hurling—the Irish national sport—an Olympic game, then you'd see some great action and sportsmanship. (And yes, it's a real game not a reference to what some people do when they drink too much.) But, I may be waiting for the rest of my life for that.

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