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London 2012 Puts Me In Mind Of The Fall Of Rome

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I went to the medieval English city of Lincoln yesterday afternoon, and it was a pretty nice day, except for when I decided to visit the Lloyds Bar pub in town. The drinks and food were good and so were the surroundings, but on the TV they were showing the closing ceremonies for the Beijing Olympics and the start of the celebrations for the Olympic torch being handed to London.

I watched all this thinking, "Hoo-fucking-ray!" To say that it put me in a sour frame of mind would be as obvious as Al Franken being turned down by any modeling agency he applied at. I also thought, "I am seeing a modern-day version of the fall of Rome here."
Wow, I really enjoyed the moving human tower. My life was so enriched by that.

Fireworks exploding in the shape of the Olympics rings? Marvelous! That performance by the old rocker with the guitar and the young pop bint beside him? Spectacular! Seeing that red doubledecker London bus rolling into the stadium had tears of happiness welling up in my eyes. Just when I thought it couldn't possibly get more edifying and enriching to the soul than this, David Beckham appeared! And he kicked a ball into the crowd! Jesus wept, how I wish I'd spent the equivalent of my salary for the next five years just to have been there! After all, if David Beckham was there, it must have been entirely worth the several billions of dollars being spent on what only a grump would call a travesty.

Well, call me a grump, but it is a travesty. The Olympics are nothing but one huge, grandiose circle jerk. Spare me this misty-eyed "nations coming together in the pursuit of sports" garbage, OK? It's nothing but one colossal spunkfest.

And it's our money they're spunking away. In addition to already paying more for less, via council taxes, Londoners will have to pay extra even to fund the 2012 Olympics. It doesn't matter one iota that there are plenty of Londoners who didn't want this nonsense coming to their city, who didn't "back the bid," and who prayed to God every night to please, please let Paris or Moscow have the Olympics instead. This wasn't up for a vote, as it damn well should have been.

But, alas, you cannot fight or even argue with the mighty triumvirate of sports, consumerism and corporate sponsorship. Add to this trifecta cheesy "celebrity" kitsch, and you've got yourself a winner, me laddie! Karl Marx hadn't yet seen the ultimate opiate of the masses.

As far as I'm concerned, the 7/7 bombings in London were an appropriate mood-setter to London having been "awarded" the Olympics only the day before.

The United Kingdom, its capital London especially, is a time bomb waiting to explode. Hundreds of thousands of youths with nothing to do, nowhere to go, no career prospects. They can't even get a job, never mind a career. They can't spell; a lot of them can't even read beyond a five-year-old's level. You'd think that every single council would have a big youth center to keep these kids active and dispense advice to them. This is one form of development I'd heartily approve of. You keep children and teenagers active, you make them happy. And when they're happy, they're much more likely to accept advice, to learn, to start thinking of college and a possible career. Furthermore, kids with a place to go and stuff to do are far less likely to engage in criminality.

We hear about how we're failing Britain's youth day by day, how we've lost, and continue to lose, generations to idleness, unhappiness and a life of crime, and how nothing ever seems to get done about it. And so what is our response? To spend several billions of dollars, with the cost constantly rising, on a superfluous sporting spunkfest. The legions of unemployed no-hopers must be so grateful.

One group who will be most grateful? Terrorists. Security, according to Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell, is "inadequate" and that plans for security need to be revised. This means, of course, in that time-honored British fashion, that adequate security will be an afterthought until it is too late. London 2012 must be as close as Al-Qaeda members ever get to a wet dream.

And yet we still have jerk-offs crowding Trafalgar Square and The Mall waving their "LONDON 2012" signs and shouting to the heavens of their joy and exhilaration.
Eat, drink and be merry today, oh foolish ones, for tomorrow we all die. A fitting slogan for the London 2012 Olympics if ever there was one.

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About Nightdragon

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    Mark,

    I’m really sorry to hear that you had a nasty drunken epiphany about how all this Olympic shit was happening without your input or consent.

    You obviously have a highly superior perspective than all those thousands of “jerk-offs” who were standing in celebration of the coming Olympic London disaster. And of course all the shit heads in Beijing, the idiot, irrelevant athletes should just leave us the fuck alone, and get fucking real jobs. Tote that barge, motherfucker!

    Of course, the same can be said for ALL sporting events. They should all be thrown into the shit bin. What a waste of fucking time. Who needs it?

    Let’s not kid ourselves. Any and all types of so called “entertainment” are in effect a monumental circle jerk, a mind fuck. Fuck all that shit! Shit can all of it! Other than downing a few pints and maybe a little harmless porn, what else does a guy need? Piss on the rest of it!

    Indeed, we are all sheep getting fucked in the ass by our corporate shepherds. Well, fuck those bloody cocksuckers!

    Fuck! I’m fucking drunk!! Fuck em all!!!

    B

  • Clavos

    Must’ve been somethin’ in all that smog…

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Mark seriously needs to take STM’s offer and get on that flight back to Boston. He’s turning into – has turned into – one of those cynical, whining English pygmies I came to know and love when I lived there.

    Basically, what B-tone said, only with a bit more class.

  • Clavos

    Are the olympics over yet?

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Yes, Clav, you can come out now. No-one’s going to dive on top of you, vault over you, race past you or bench-press you.

  • Clavos

    Oh, good.

    Can we all get back to waging war on each other now?

  • STM

    What worries me most about MEM is that photo … the morning after the night before, which makes him look a bit “liverish” to me.

    Perhaps that’s why he’s such a grumpy fu.king fart. My favourite MEM piece was when he was bagging-out some pommy journo sheila in New York for commenting on the American political process, and pontificating about how she has no right to make judgments about America because she’s a pom.

    Lol. What, that’s different to a grumpy bloke from Boston commenting about Britain and what a fu.ked joint it is?

    Get this into your head now Mark: You can’t comment about how bad Britain is because you’re an American. You aren’t entitled to.

    Only Australians can. And do :)

  • http://nitpickingnightdragon.blogspot.com Mark Edward Manning

    Dr. D and Stan — You really didn’t pay any mind whatsoever to the twin problems of idle youth (of which there is no shortage) and terrorism that I brought up, did you?
    You think it’s fine to spend all that money just so that we can all have a big party and say, “yea, we’re on the world stage?”
    Which, of course, is about as ridiculous as it gets because London has always been a major world city. It doesn’t need a special platform via the Olym-pricks. London stands, and will always stand, head and shoulders among the most famous world cities.
    I’d oppose the London 2012 Olympics just on principle due to the truly asinine logo that we pissed millions of pounds away on.

  • STM

    Lol. Mark, I’ve gotta admire you, despite everything. Your grumpy-old man persona is a hoot. I notice you are now using the royal “we” when discussing Britons, which means you have slowly become immersed in pom kulcha. It always happens by osmosis over there. I used to hate the place, then I grew to love it, and the Poms. Go figure.

    Seriously though, because I’m an Aussie, I love sport, but the Olympics don’t really do it for me generally … but when they were here in Sydney in 2000, there really was an amazing spirit around the place – enough to convince this grumpy old skeptic that there might ultimately be something good in it. If nothing else, it was a great excuse for a huge party.

    Sadly, it seems to have well and truly dissipated, and now we’re just left with some white elephant venues – the olympic stadium being one of them, which now seems to be used mostly for rugby league matches and seems to take an hour to get in and out of the olympic precinct by car.

    But at the time, mate, I have to say it really was a lot of fun. Idle youth is a world-wide problem (GenY issue, don’t know how anyone’s going to solve that) and terrorism, of course, is another issue altogether. It’s even more serious now than it was then, but I can remember being out surfing and watching the SAS commandos flying over doing exercises in their blackhawks on a headland not far away from where I was catching waves. It seemed a bit surreal. Interesting times, they were, and yes, the whole exercise does cost a bloody mint.

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    But Doc, this is all a part of the “class” struggle. I just wanted to lower the bar a bit.

    While I suppose I did go off a bit with the obscenities, I thought my response pretty accurately reflected the tone and intent of Mark’s post, and as noted, his photo.

    B

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Mark, the reason I disregarded your bewailing of ‘idle youth’ and terrorism is that they’re only marginally relevant.

    The Olympics in London brings a wealth of employment opportunities, which hopefully will be at least partly targeted towards these layabouts you so despise. Sure, some of them won’t want to work, but nothing is going to dissuade them from that attitude and I hardly need to point out to you that it isn’t uniquely a London problem.

    As far as terrorism goes, it’s not as if London will be starting from scratch. We’ll be using our years of experience dealing with al-Qaeda (or whichever order of maniacs it was those idiots thought they were members of) and the IRA, and we’ll learn from the experiences of the organizers of previous Olympics – come on, do you really think Beijing, Athens, Sydney, Atlanta and all the other cities won’t share what they learned from their anti-terrorism planning? Not to mention that terrorists don’t need an Olympic Games as an excuse to make fools of themselves – ask the victims of the Madrid train bombings or the citizens of New York.

    And yes, London is already a major world city. What’s your point? They weren’t about to award the Olympics to Woking.

    And London didn’t attain the prestige it has by just sitting there either.

    I get the impression, actually, Mark, that you really don’t like sports at all and that you don’t understand or accept that other people might enjoy and get great pride from the world’s biggest sporting event being held in their country.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan Miller

    Doc,

    do you really think Beijing, Athens, Sydney, Atlanta and all the other cities won’t share what they learned from their anti-terrorism planning?

    Do you really think London should rely on Beijing’s expertise in anti-terrorism planning?

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Not at all. Although you must have noticed that there were no terrorist incidents in Beijing during the Games.

    London will take lessons from both its own tragically long and bitter fight with various forms of terrorism, and from the experiences of its predecessor cities in managing security for their Olympics.

    (Although perhaps not Atlanta. Or Munich…)

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    Yeah, what Doc said!

    Dan,

    Why wouldn’t they? Very little happened in Beijing. The murder of the American is still not thought to have been a terrorist act. The only incidents (that we know of) took place distances away from Beijing, keeping in mind the numbers of people involved, the vastness of the Chinese mainland and the relative lack of sophisticated development in many parts of the country. Those are not issues facing the London planners.

    Obviously, their handling of the Tibetan and other protests was not a model anyone should follow, but their preparedness to handle different situations was apparently well thought out, and they were quite able to execute their plans.

    Yeah, I think it might be apropos for the Londoners to sit down with the Beijing planners and discuss such things as the Chinese are willing to share.

    B

  • Clavos

    Obviously, their handling of the Tibetan and other protests was not a model anyone should follow, but their preparedness to handle different situations was apparently well thought out, and they were quite able to execute their plans.

    Plus, their trains run on time…

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Plus, their trains run on time…

    Is railroad punctuality the yardstick of oppression now, Clav?

    Here in Central California, Amtrak’s “San Joaquins” service between Bakersfield and Oakland is routinely two hours late. Our state must therefore be the most liberated society on the planet.

  • Clavos

    Is railroad punctuality the yardstick of oppression now, Clav?

    As you know, Doc, it was for the Mussolini Fascistic regime, so I thought repeating it (since it’s probably true of the Chinese trains) would highlight the fact that they ran the games well aided by their oppressive way of governing.

    But you knew that…

  • Colin

    “As far as I’m concerned, the 7/7 bombings in London were an appropriate mood-setter to London having been “awarded” the Olympics only the day before.”

    Mmmm. How very appropriate and proportional of you to use the violent deaths of 52 people to make your point. “Mood-setter” indeed!
    I shan’t continue, and count yourself lucky if I don’t start emailling the newsdesks of British tabloids with “American immigrant cheapens 7/7 dead” stories. It’s not as if you’re not making yourself an easy target for such things either Mark – I believe you’ve made the point before that you really don’t like this country and you’re only here for the free health care. Don’t let your hyperbole run you into statements of such poor taste – please, this isn’t a private blog, you are in a public domain.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Evening, Colin. How goes it over there in Cymru?

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    Clav,

    You know I am not embracing the Chinese government. I am aware of how oppressive it is and have said as much. I don’t know about their trains. I would guess that you are correct. It probably would be the case even without an oppressive government. Asians in general tend to be pretty precise about things.

    It’s been my experience that in Germany, now well beyond the Third Reich and the Soviets, the trains still run on time (and it’s great, btw.) I don’t think a repressive government is necessary to get public transportation to run as it should.

    But I would still say that lessons can be learned from all of the former olympic hosts – perhaps even Munich or Atlanta, if only one finds out what NOT to do.

    I know, I’m running off at the fingers.

    B

  • http://nitpickingnightdragon.blogspot.com Mark Edward Manning

    Colin: “Don’t let your hyperbole run you into statements of such poor taste.”

    You’re right, that 7/7 remark of mine was in poor taste. But most sarcasm can be regarded that way.
    The reason I said that was not to be callous about the tragedy. It might seem that way, but my real intention in saying was: if you think 7/7 was bad — which it undoubtedly was, I was saddened and enraged by it — then you ain’t seen nothin’ yet once August 2012 rolls around. I just don’t think our security forces are up to task. You can report me to the tabloids for that, because that’s my explanation and I’m sticking to it, but really, I don’t think they’ll be interested.
    But, if I offended you, Colin, then you have my humble apologies.

  • http://nitpickingnightdragon.blogspot.com Mark Edward Manning

    Dr. D: I get the impression, actually, Mark, that you really don’t like sports at all.”

    Not true. I love baseball, American football and basketball. Everything else, to me, is boring to the nth degree. Especially the Olympics.
    Yes, I can grasp, by the way, why others might be excited by it. But I really wish they’d consider the undemocratic way the Olympic committee sets about “awarding” cities with their spectacle as well as the mind-numbing cost of holding it — money that can sorely be used for so many other things.

  • http://nitpickingnightdragon.blogspot.com Mark Edward Manning

    Grumpy old skeptic? YOU, Stan? Gee, Mr. You’ve-No-Right-To-Complain-About-Anything would appear to have a caustic side himself! Is that why you insult me and give me such a hard time because you see me in yourself? What an uncomfortable thought! I don’t blame you for trying to cover up the horror you must feel by taking cheap shots at my photo (in which I am not drunk nor hungover) and calling me a f.king fart.
    Stan, please remember, you can’t throw beer in someone’s face and then whip your arm around their shoulder. It doesn’t work that way. But if I amuse you, then I guess the world can keep on spinning.
    Any road, I guess the ol’ osmosis thing has been happening with me, but I’d still go back to the U.S. in a heartbeat if the opportunity presented itself and I could make not only myself but my wife comfortable there. I’m here because I’ve invested a lot of my life to this place over the past eight years. Doesn’t mean I don’t pine for home or think it’s a better place. But you knew that already.

  • http://nitpickingnightdragon.blogspot.com Mark Edward Manning

    For all those who think I must be the only one daring to criticise London 2012, please read this excellent column by Simon Jenkins. Please note how he also laughs off the hippy-dippy one-world theme, the spiralling cost and the “security” (his quotation marks, not mine).

  • Ruvy

    then you ain’t seen nothin’ yet once August 2012 rolls around.

    Mark, if we all make it to 2012, the Olympics will seem as important as a five pence coin. Plenty of other events will be grabbing our attention, no matter what the idiots who hustle professional sports do. Giving away free pints ain’t going to draw attention away from those other events occurring. But I digress.

    Really, Mark, you should change that photo. It makes you look like a lush without his ID, who has to pull teds to get admitted to a pub because he looks too young – and too drunk.

  • Colin

    Hey Doc, not bad thanks, and you? I only popped in after getting the mail about the site being taken over.

    Apology accepted Mark. You’re obviously not a complete loon but I really wished you hadn’t used the 7/7 bombings to make a point about the Olympics – you might not have meant to have seemed callous, but you did.

    Of course, you make some good points, and, indeed, many people are dubious at best about the games coming to London – the Government is given regular shellackings in the press over the spiralling cost, and rightly so.

  • Colin

    Hey Mark,

    Here’s a challenge – write a positive article about the lovely United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (or parts thereof).

    Can you do it? You’re in Ludnud, you have the wonders of the British Museum among many other splendours with which to engage. Watch a cricket match and try and explain it to an American readership.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    But I really wish they’d consider the undemocratic way the Olympic committee sets about “awarding” cities with their spectacle as well as the mind-numbing cost of holding it — money that can sorely be used for so many other things.

    Money can always be used for other things, Mark. Bush could’ve strengthened the economy instead of throwing money at Iraq. NASA could limit itself to launching nice cheap satellites instead of expensive Mars missions. The Dems could invest in researching a really workable healthcare scheme instead of having a huge lavish convention. Do you really need that computer you typed your article on? Couldn’t you have made a donation to Imperial Cancer Research instead? Thing is, you can throw every cent of revenue at social problems until the cows come home and they still won’t go away.

    Sometimes the benefits of an investment aren’t immediately obvious. Kenya and Ethiopia are dirt poor, but they still invest in training world-class athletes. Why? Because when those athletes win Olympic gold and enjoy success at pro track meets in Europe and Asia, they bring pride and prestige and money back to their countries.

    And as for undemocratic… OK, Mark, so you love football. Does the NFL consult the people of, say, Detroit before they decide to hold the Superbowl there? Sure, it’s on a much smaller scale, but a city certainly does incur a lot of extra expense and disruption from hosting the event. Nevertheless, one thing you won’t hear is a large block of Detroit citizens saying, “Uh, no thanks, we don’t want the Superbowl here”.

    I believe you’re not the only voice of dissent with regard to London hosting the Olympics, Mark. In fact I know you’re not. I grew up there, remember?

    (I do agree with you on one thing, though. David Beckham kicking that ball into the crowd was pretty naff.)

  • Casey

    Mark, I understand the sentiment – the Olympics can be perceived as trite, overexaggerrated, and an empty symbol of the 20th century.

    However, your reasoning – boredom, idle youth, and general ‘jerk-offery’ – are equally trite, equally overexxagerrated, and empty. We GenY’ers, with our dag-gum skateboards and iPod thingamajigs, why, we’re nothing but no-good sneak-thiefs, aren’t we? (Could that generational analogy be any more obvious?)

    But I digress. The main complaint that I have of your argument is that while your perceived world is shriveling from its peak, while the Olympics are coming to run London into the ground, and especially while the London youth are up to no good, YOU’RE NOT DOING ANYTHING BUT SITTING AT YOUR COMPUTER AND WHINING.

    You think the kids are a problem? Fine, GO BE A MENTOR.

    You’re worried about terrorism? GO VOLUNTEER WITH AN OUTREACH PROGRAM.

    You’re worried about the London taxpayers? CAMPAIGN FOR A CANDIDATE THAT WILL MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD.

    See, I can get away with complaining about your article since this is the most direct form of, um, complaint.

    So Mark, stop whining, and do something about it. You know, that whole ‘be the change you want to see in the world’ thing. After all, Gandhi was a member of the (British) Empire, wasn’t he?

    BTW Dr D., I hope you were joking when you suggested Atlanta bestow their anti-terrorism knowledge on London…pipe bomb, anyone?

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    BTW Dr D., I hope you were joking when you suggested Atlanta bestow their anti-terrorism knowledge on London…pipe bomb, anyone?

    As Baritone observed, Atlanta should probably be the model for what not to do…

  • London

    Ruvy: “Mark, if we all make it to 2012, the Olympics will seem as important as a five pence coin.”

    You don’t actually believe that do you?

    I can’t wait until the Olympics in London. Having the whole world watching your country will be amazing. Not to mention the money that the games will bring. Although, have you seen the ticket prices?! Far too expensive in my opinion.

    As long as we don’t balls it up, this will be a month to remember and the lasting economic impacts will be very warmly welcomed!