I can’t believe what a bunch of numpties the International Olympic Committee are. They are, allegedly, the most esteemed leaders of sporting endeavour the world over. Former athletes, coaches and sporting mentors gathered together representing all that is good in the sporting world. That was until 2002 when they awarded the games to China’s best loved and most polluted city Beijing. Now, as we are a few short months out from the games the protests have started, and the IOC and China are crying foul…
Let’s first look at what the Olympics stand for. I did a bit of a search on the interweb and discovered this most interesting of facts on Olympics.org – their own website. Below is a quote copied directly from said webpage – it is part of their own charter.
Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy found in effort, the educational value of good example and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.
So, can someone please tell me, when the games were given to China were those old men at the IOC asleep in their luxury chairs – chairs that were probably gifted to each member by the Chinese delegation – did they decide that China’s gross abuses of human rights to it’s own people and the illegal occupation of Tibet equaled (and I quote) “respect for universal fundamental ethical principles?”
China have been the boss of Tibet for between 60 and 700 years, depending on who you believe. China says Tibet has been a territory since the 14th century – Tibet says it hasn’t. Tibet suggests it was, in fact, an independent nation between 1913 and the Communist invasion of 1949 or thereabouts. It doesn’t matter who is right or wrong in this scenario, what is clear is that it is very easy for a massive superpower, such as China, and, more recently, the United States of America, to unilaterally invade a smaller nation, such as Tibet, or Iraq. Invading Tibet must have been sooooo hard for the Chinese back in 1949. Bhuddists the world over are well known for their violent, bloody outbursts and ferociously brutal resistance when faced with situations of this nature. What is also clear is that the international community has been sadly lacking in their condemnation of this, and other, occupations.
Whoopdepoop, I hear you say. What has this got to do with the Olympics? Let me draw your attention to the Berlin games of 1936. Mr A. Hitler, leader of the Nazi regime, used these games as a platform for their message of hate. Thankfully a ridiculously fast Jesse Owens was able to gazzump Hitler by winning 4 gold medals and outpacing even the fastest Arian.
If the International Olympic Committee thought that China was going to consign their javelin of oppression to the javelin container of history because they were awarded the 2008 games then they are, as I have previously mentioned, a bunch of numpties. China was only ever going to use it to promote their own prowess as an international sporting, and thus, world superpower. It happened back in the days of East vs. West when everyone looked on in horror as 14yo East German female gymnasts took out gold after gold after gold thanks to strict training regimes and testicular-based strength. Being atop the medal table at the end of the games is the only reason you turn up. The country that ends up there is the best in the world. At everything.
I was watching breakfast television this morning, not really known for it’s ability to get down and dirty with the more controversial of topics. A featured guest was the head of the Australian Olympic Committee who suggested that the games should be free of political statement. He said those people protesting the Chinese occupation of Tibet at the Olympic torch lighting ceremony in Greece shouldn’t have. He said now just wasn’t the right time. What a dick! Any protester worth anything knows in the current world of a mass globalised media, the best time to mount any kind of protest and provide the world a glimpse of your point, is when thousands of journalists and cameramen are right in front of you. You don’t wait until they go home to wave your Tibetan flag. You wave it while they are there.
These days more journalists than athletes turn up to an Olympic Games. This year’s games was already a political statement long before any Free Tibet protester began making their point. If you want to condemn a Tibetan for wanting a free homeland, you might as well give up on democracy and adopt whatever system they are using in the United States (Free and fair elections? My arse. The person with the most money wins, they always do. And another thing: the US were so keen to invade Iraq when Saddam invaded Kuwait, why don’t they invade China in retaliation for their invasion of Tibet?).
I don’t believe I will be watching the Olympics this year. And good luck to the athletes trying to slice their way through the carbon-based air of Beijing. Although I wouldn’t put it past the Chinese authorities to ban the use of motor vehicles and coal-fired power stations in the coming months in an effort to clean up the air.
Good luck Tibet. May you become your own country very, very soon.
Hello and welcome once again to the meanderings of my brainwork.
Myself and my lovely wife live in a fairly leafy upper-middle-class suburb of central Auckland – the biggest city of New Zealand. Being city livers (not the internal organ, but rather residers within the boundary limits of a city), we could enjoy the benefits of an integrated public transport system. It is unfortunate that a city the size of Auckland – 1.2ish million busy souls – has no such system. The one it does have is eerily similar to that of Cambodian capital Phnom Penh. I know this because I thought while I was writing, ‘I wonder if our public transport system is any good compared to the rest of the world’ and I typed a city into Google that I believed to have little or no public transport. This was to see if I could make some kind of joke or or put-down at the expense of those who run Auckland transport. It seems there are some bus operations in Phnom Penh, but no real coordination between different bus companies and no other forms of public transport. This sums up the Auckland situation beautifully.
For example, to try and get across town, from the KFC in the east Auckland suburb of Botany Downs to Henderson out in west Auckland – a trip of some 30kms (20 miles) – your bus would take nearly 2 hours, and you would have to swap buses halfway as there is not one actual bus that goes between the two suburbs. It would cost you somewhere in the vicinity of $NZ12. There is little to no chance to get a train either. There are two train lines in Auckland: one goes south, the other goes north. It sounds like we are a small town really. For just $US2 ($2.20) you can travel from Phnom Penh to Bangkok. Admittedly this option is 3rd class, but what and adventure!! And you may even get to sit next to a free chicken.
It is little wonder then, thanks to years of noninvestment in the transport infrastructure by successive Auckland mayors, many of whom seems more interested in building big stone things with their names on the sides, we now have disturbingly poor offerings to try and entice the modern worker out of their cars for their daily work-bound trip. Billions are currently being spent on more motorways, underground motorways and motorway sidings. The thinking being that said sidings must be made beautiful with flowers and trees and statues because often people are parked next to them for minutes at a time.
I’m still trying to work out, however, why people insist on traveling around a city this size in a vehicle that isn’t much smaller. Quite often you’ll be waiting at an intersection when the eclipsing form of a planetary SUV halts its orbit alongside your own less grandiose ONV (Ordinary Nonutility Vehicle). In order to keep moving you either have to wait for this machine to recommence manoeuvres or edge yourself slowly out into a bus lane and/or oncoming traffic.
You sit there in the summer traffic breathing lungfulls of diesel smoke as this vehicular beast pulls away giving you a good glimpse of a spare tire cover featuring an animated depiction of a Tasmanian devil, you may think to yourself, “you know, for a vehicle that, by its very nature is supposed to be used for any variety of sporting and outdoor activities, the profound lack of dirt and grime contained thereon is so concerning to me at this present moment in time that I must converse with the driver immediately.”
It is a 4-wheel drive vehicle meant to be used in cross country driving, beach driving, farm driving and mud driving to name but a few of the many activities the hundreds or thousands of NZ-based SUVs aren’t currently engaged in. There is no mud or dirt or sand or filth on any of the city SUVs I have seen recently. There should be. They are utility vehicles. They have many different uses. Not just driving the kids to and from school, or picking up the grandparents for their weekly visit, or parking in the handicapped zone because of the slight limp obtained after a miscalculation involving the driver’s foot and the distance between the SUV’s doorstep and the ground.
It won’t be long before any vehicle that burns a certain amount of fuel per mile/kilometre will have an extra tax burden placed on it by governments. Thanks to crazy old Dubya (who is probably raking in the billions at the moment thanks to oil rising from $US30 to $US100 as a direct result of his fingers being stuffed into a Middle Eastern pie that, rather than cooling down on the windowsill of international diplomacy, seems to be heating up the longer he remains in control of the kitchen), it is unlikely that petrol prices are going to fall any time soon. People are not going to want to drive around in something that only gets 3 miles to the gallon. They are going to want to change. This is the time when the conspiracy theorists will say, “I told you so!!” and the water powered car will eventually take its place at the top of the vehicular heap. Thanks to the warming earth, and the melting ice caps, there will undoubtedly be an abundance of fuel for these vehicles. Of course, the sad irony will be if crazy old Dubya and his oil loving cronies somehow get control of the worlds water supplies and start charging us for it (insert conspiracy theory here).
I walk to work. I have a bicycle that I sometimes use also. I use public transport whenever I can. Since I bought my first car in June last year, I’ve only done about 3000kms (2000 miles). I can’t bring myself to use it unless traveling on those nonexistent cross-town bus routes mentioned above.
I am not that fit, so I would consider myself to be the average adult. Anyone of my fitness here is your challenge. It takes me about 10 minutes of slow walking to cover 1km (0.6 miles). At a fair clip I could probably do a mile in 12 minutes. That’s 3 and a bit miles in half an hour. If you add in a couple of good slopes in that time then you will find your arse tightening, your thighs firming, your abs reappearing and your manboobs disintegrating. Walking is good for these bodily areas.
Until next time, have fun not using your car.