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Olympics Retort


Eight Billion Dollars Got Canadians High on the Olympics. Was it Money Well Spent?

Chris Shaw
Mar 5th, 2010

Looking back from the Olympic flame in the days when a fence still surrounded it in a photograph by Linda Solomon

Now that the circus has left town, it’s time for a serious debrief.  In other words, what the military call a “hotwash." What went right, what went wrong, what could be improved, and so forth.

So here goes.   Note that I’m probably going to offend nearly everyone, so your blistering rebuttals will be welcome to round out the analysis.  T

First, a disclaimer: My “15 minutes of fame”, as many of you have noted, has gone on more than long enough.  I couldn’t agree more.  Indeed it’s been 7 years, 7 months, some days (and 45 minutes) too long since the fateful day I walked into the CBC studio in September 2002 and recorded my negative “Commentary” about Vancouver’s Olympic bid.  Had I known then where this would all lead, would I do it all again?  It’s doubtful, as the outcome came with enormous costs to family and friends, relationships, and my scientific endeavors.  Sometimes I truly wish I were a “paid professional protester” because at least if so I could have made a few bucks with this “hobby”.

Do I regret it?

No. At least not much, for reasons to be detailed below.

Olympic Nation

Chris Shaw
Mar 2nd, 2010

I don't much like my country these days, indeed haven't for the last week or so.  Is it simply a case of me being an anti-Olympic no-fun grinch?  Maybe.
Or maybe it’s something else.
One of my fathers-in-law (there have been several) once recounted to me how when he was choosing a country to come to after World War II, he deliberately picked one without a flag of its own.
Peter, Jewish, had grown up in what was then Czechoslovakia and spent years in death camps where most of his family perished. He met his future wife in a displaced person's camp in Austria after the war. As they contemplated life anew, Peter noted that Canada at the time had no real national flag, but rather flew the British Red Ensign. This suited him as he wanted to be in a country without flag waving crowds filled to the nines with beer and nationalistic fervour. He never again in his lifetime wanted to hear mobs chanting their country's praises.

Olympic Battle Rattle: The Rules of Engagement Have Already Been Written

Chris Shaw
Feb 3rd, 2010

With now just under two weeks to go before the 2010 Olympics officially open, behind the scenes preparations are feverishly happening in the two opposing camps: the Integrated Security Unit (ISU) with its myriad elements and the anti-Olympic convergence with its own diverse collection of groups and issues.  
I've spent enough time in the military to have a pretty good sense where the police and military must be in their pre-Games preparations.  And, as a member of the resistance, I know how things are shaping up on this end as well.
So are my thoughts about where everyone is as the countdown clock runs out:
The police and military units have received their final orders and, barring changes in their intelligence briefings, pretty much know where they will be positioned, have completed their reconnaissances, know where their reserves are going to be located, and have given their own updated "warning orders" to their subordinates.

They have received most or all of the "kit" they will need. 

Thanks to the Olympics, Second Class Citizens in our Own City

Chris Shaw
Jan 27th, 2010

Here's the final installment of the District of North Vancouver's response to me about why Olympic corporate sponsors could use Distirct property to promote themselves.

 Dr. Shaw:

Sorry for the delay in responding, however, the person I needed to talk to with regards to your issues has been away on vacation. As a Community Contributor, the District signed an agreement with VANOC in regards to signage and this agreement, while in effect, supersedes the District’s banner policy.

 Louise Horton

Executive Assistant to Mayor Richard Walton

Signs, Snow, Whistler Bankruptcy, and Other Olympic-Sized Misadventures and Malfunctions

Chris Shaw
Jan 22nd, 2010

Recently, a series of Olympic flags went up on lamp posts along a stretch of the Dollarton Highway in the District of North Vancouver.  These were specifically within the boundaries of the Burrard Band (Tsleil-Waututh), one of the four Native “host nations” to the 2010 Games.  I wrote the following letter to North Vancouver District Mayor Richard Walton.

Dear Mayor Walton:

I have noted with some dismay the recent placement of VANOC signage on lamp posts along parts of the Dollarton Highway.  These signs include the corporate logos of several Olympic sponsors, notably RBC and Coca Cola.  For me, the inclusion of corporate logos (and hence advertising) on public property represents an unwanted intrusion of the corporate sector onto the "Commons".

Given that as a taxpayer I have paid part of the costs of this public infrastructure, I am frankly offended by these signs.  Furthermore, I do not recall that the issue was presented to the public by Council for approval.

Medical Research at UBC to Grind to a Virtual Halt During Olympic Games

Chris Shaw
Jan 21st, 2010

The University of British Columbia is now indirectly admitting that all medical research will come to a halt for about two months to enable the Olympic party to proceed.  Maybe you think you read that wrong? Nope, no research at UBC.

By broadcast email, UBC informed the various research laboratories that deliveries will be severely constrained, in fact largely not happening at all from January 26th until after the Paralympics at the end of March. 

According to the email, “Requests for ‘business critical’ deliveries of Dangerous Goods within restricted times, or deliveries of a quantity or concentration which require an Emergency Response Assistance Plan, will be considered on an individual basis by the Vancouver 2010 ISU and Transport Canada.”  Since most things used in experimental work, chemicals, gases, etc. easily fall into such categories, it means no deliveries to laboratories. 

Our Time to Shine?

Chris Shaw
Jan 19th, 2010

I don't usually gamble, mostly due to lack of skill and knowledge of the odds, but when it comes to the Olympics I’d bet on practically everything on the horizon.  Why? Because predicting future Olympic outcomes are less about chance than sound empiricism. 


My statistical abilities have in fact been particularly acute about Vancouver's 2010 Winter Games, now just over three weeks from the opening ceremonies.  So here are a few of my predictions for February’s circus, one for each day:


1. The weather will remain wet and nasty, truly earning Vancouver its reputation as the "wet coast". Tourists and local Oly boosters crammed into the so-called celebratory sites will enjoy the participatory sports of puddle jumping and dancing between the raindrops.  The only snow on the ski hills will have to be moved in from higher elevations at –guess what?- more costs to the rest of us.  Those trying hard to celebrate the circus will quickly grow moldy and conclude that future trips to Vancouver in February are not wise.


Winter of Discontent

Chris Shaw
Jan 11th, 2010

With the consumer frenzy of the holidays now past and the grey drizzly skies of January above us, many seem to have descended into their own winter of discontent.  


In part, the malaise seems to arise from the sense that many of the dreams of the first decade of the 21st Century have gone badly awry, not simply shattered and discarded, but more bizarrely simply disconnected from reality. 


Civil Rights Advocates in Vancouver Score Three Big Victories This Week

Chris Shaw
Nov 27th, 2009

Anti-Olympic organizers in Vancouver scored a hat trick over the last seven days, beginning with a declaration from the “Security Games” forum issued after last weekend’s meeting at the Simon Fraser Harbour Centre campus. 

The opening panel on Friday morning on privacy and security in 2010 (Nov. 20th) saw presentations by the deputy Information Commissioner for Canada, Chantal Bernier, B.C’s information commissioner, David Loukidelis, BCCLA policy director, Micheal Vonn, and this writer. The two information commissioners spoke about the more theoretical aspects of information and privacy legislation and how it should work. Vonn and I dealt with the realities: CCTV cameras -likely to be a permanent fixture after the Games – invading public spaces and the dichotomy a situation where security services can, and do, obtain information about individuals and groups with little or no real oversight while being able to hide behind the legislation to conceal information from the public. 

Who Are the Real Olympic Disrupters?

Chris Shaw
Nov 18th, 2009

Much has been made in the mainstream media (i.e., the large scale commercial media) about the “disgraceful” disruption of the opening of the 2010 Olympic torch relay by a motley collage of anarchist low life “professional protesters,"  Calls for jail sentences bounced around the pages of Canwestglobal like so many ping pong balls gone wild.

 Reporters were unable to refrain from seizing the anticipated rhetorical high ground to condemn how the same nihilist rabble crushed the dreams of a 17-year old torch bearer with cerebral palsy and cruelly disappointed small children happily waiting for their heroes to triumphantly run past.  Not least, the potty-mouthed demonstrators used the f-bomb to shock Victorian grandmothers and toddlers alike…and heavens, even did so more than once! 

 Does this perfidy ever end? No, it appears not since the same Goths and Vandals were willing to kill police horses with the surreptitious placement of marbles on the streets, thus endangering both the beasts and their masters. 

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