Next year the world will know where the 2012 Olympics will be held. There are 5 cities in the shortlist. London is the UK's candidate, a choice which made a few people unhappy about that choice. These people fall in two camps (excluding the treehuggers, but they are unhappy about everything - perhaps rightly so).
Firstly, Londoners who think the city will not be able to cope. And they are totally right - the city will not be able to cope, as anyone who's tried travelling on the underground at rush hour can tell you. Secondly, people who take the slogan at face value, and do want to Make Britain Proud. They thinks London is rich and big enough, and there are parts of the country who needs the cash injection much more. Like the North East of England, Wales, or (the Supreme Being Currently Without Earthly Representative forbid) Northern Ireland. Some of the regions receive aid from the EU (not that twats into the UKIP notice), so why not give them a hand? These people tend to think redistributing resources to regions is part of a central government's job.
I agree with both sides in this camp, but am beginning to change my mind. The reason is the problems in the coming Turin Winter Olympics. The economy of the city has gone downhill since they secured the Olympics (mostly due to the demise of FIAT). Sponsors are simply not interested, and it has come to the point where the Italian athletes may not get paid because the federation has run out of money. Will not something similar happen if the Olympics are hosted in Sunderland? Not the most glamorous of places. I can just imagine the adverts in Japan:
"Idure mono me yo Sanda Landa!"
"Mo ni to?"
"Omohi SANDA LANDA!!"
On the opposing side, the army of London supporters, again divided into two sides. First those who think London is the only city in the UK. Confronted with the economic arguments, they'll retort that most of the country is already sponging off London, and they should be happy with what they got. One could reply that a lot of money made in London are not always "London money" (MacDonald's UK makes money all over the country, but its head offices are in London so that's where they pay their taxes). But eventually those people, for example a Romford taxi driver I had a discussion with, will cut the arguments short with a "Fuck them - they are all Northern scums anyway. We are the capital!" or suchlike, depending on their education and amount of booze in their system.
Then there are the pragmatists, who think Manchester's failure proves no city but London has a chance, so they may as well support for the good of the UK brand. Having seen Manchester from the top of a ferris wheel, I see where they are coming from.
In the end, all this boil down to a debate on how to run an economy centrally for the benefit of the regions and not just the capital (perhaps an oxymoron), on regionalism in general and on the worth of the Olympics (a notch below Doctor Who, AFAIC). We have the same debate in Italy, and in fact we are on the verge of becoming a federal republic. The British, however, have rejected regional parliaments, whether this implies regionalism is not for them or whether it was, like the republican referendum in Australia, a case of the question being asked badly, I am not too sure about.
As for chances of winning it... you'd think after the Picketts Locks debacle the UK wouldn't have a chance until a new government is in charge. And you'd also think the fact the planned transport infrastructure will not be ready by 2012 means the IOC will just say "Well, give us a ring when it is ready". But the people running the London campaign have been very clever - their angle has been "We are the masters of marketing... Look how well we could SELL it!! Imagine all the case YOU could be making!". I still think they won't make it, but it's going to be close.
And that's all on this topic - on to the poll!
Peace on Earth
Just finished reading Peace on Earth, by Stanislaw Lem (the guy who wrote Solaris). I really liked it, but found it a bit hard to read. I am not sure whether the translation is bad, or whether it is just the way it is, but the language didn't quite flow, it was a bit like reading an engineering textbook. Also, its subject matter is the the cold war, and it is a bit hard trying to remember what it was all like back then. But the plot is good, the gadgets stand the text of time, and its view of the way society evolves fits in very well with what we see today.
888 or 666?
On the tube today, I saw this advert for 888.com, a gambling website. It's one of those posters with lots and lots of text in it.
The strapline reads: "Vegas, Atlantic City, Shepherds Bush" and the copy describes the 'experience' of someone trying it for the first time.
"With a whisky beside me, I log onto www.888.com ...."
"With knowledge, alcohol, and a faint hint of bravado swilling inside me, ..."
So, that's where the smart money is: in the synergy between alcohol manufacturers and gambling websites. Buy shares now, before the outcry will cause everyone to jump on the bandwagon!
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