On Olympic Mascots

Andrew Sullivan’s blog has been charting the history of Olympic mascots as a response to public bemusement with Wenlock and Mandeville, the London 2012 official mascots.

However, a reader of Sullivan’s blog said it best when it came to “Izzy”, the mascot for the 1996 games in Atlanta:

The reader commented:

If you are going to examine bad mascots, please don’t forget Whatizit/Izzy from Atlanta in 1996.  It was a horrible blue sperm with stars shooting out his ass. It was the disastrous result of too many marketing people throwing everything into the pot. We still are living down the shame of Izzy.

Izzy actually makes Wenlock and Mandeville seem pretty tame and bland by comparison.


Fox News Reaches A New Low

Eagerly snatching another opportunity to paint American conservatives as more patriotic than their liberal brethren, Fox News decided to jump on American Gymnastics gold medallist Gabby Douglas for showing insufficient national pride by wearing a pink leotard whilst competing:


Because, of course, the best way to demonstrate pride in and commitment to one’s country at the Olympic Games is not to compete to the best of your ability and bring home a gold medal, but rather to display the colours of your flag over a sufficient percentage of the surface area of your body.

I just can’t with this nonsense. I know it’s a personality trait in a lot of conservative-leaning people that I should perhaps try to understand (though as a conservative-leaning person myself I don’t think I have this tendency), that they place a great deal of value in reverence for institutions and symbols. There is certainly a time and a place for that. However, this need for all aspiring American politicians to wear a US flag lapel pin, and now this snide attack on Gabby Douglas for failing to show enough of the red, white and blue, is just ridiculous.

You don’t need to wear the modern day equivalent of an Uncle Sam costume to prove that you love America, and are proud of your great nation’s astonishing heritage and unrivaled accomplishments.

You don’t need to chant “USA, USA!” all the time if you don’t want to.

America became the great land that it is precisely because the people who made it great didn’t feel the need to talk about it all the time. They quietly got on and did it.

When nationalistic bombast is all you have left to display, then your country is in a bad place. America is not in that bad place, and God willing, it never will be. Fox News should focus on who will win the next Olympic gold medal for Team USA, not the clothing choice of their most recent champion.

The Boris Resurgence

For most politicians, being accidentally suspended several metres above the ground on a zipwire whilst trying to promote the Olympic Games taking place in your city would be considered a negative occurence.

But despite having an internet meme modelled after him, Mayor of London Boris Johnson seems to be riding high in the polls and in the general public estimation.

Boris Johnson uses NASA’s “skycrane” concept to land on the surfact of Mars.
Image from http://dangleboris.wordpress.com

As Conservative Home notes:

Johnson is in a unique position: he is a national figure, an elected British politician with a large individual mandate, and does not have the pressure of constituency surgeries and whips, and so on. He is therefore able, in the style of American politicians (think Mitt Romney’s recent trip to London), to take a foreign trip and build his foreign policy credibility. His perceived rivals for the leadership (the Independent today gives the odds on Johnson, Gove, Osborne, Hammond, Hague and Davis) are not able to do that; they would either be on government business, or would slip under the radar.

A source tells the Times: “Frankly, Boris is one of the few people who could deliver this … his contact with sovereign wealth funds and big business leaders, as well as his draw as a political personality, is a key selling point for a lot of these people”.

These points are all very true. And given the strong leadership vacuum currently being left by the hapless David Cameron (though let’s wait to see what kind of Olympic bounce he might receive in the opinion polls) and the coalition strife being formented by Cameron’s decision to put off the government’s plans to modernise the House of Lords, a future Boris Johnson leadership challenge is certainly on the cards.

Cameron should take note – even if it results in the occasional misstep or gaffe, people appreciate authenticity and conviction most of all. Agree or disagree with him, Boris Johnson has both of these qualities. If they do lurk within David Cameron, he has yet to show them so far.

Bravo, Bradley!

Three cheers for British cyclist and four-time Olympic Gold medallist Bradley Wiggins, who celebrated his follow-on victory from the Tour de France by knocking back a few drinks at a rooftop bar somewhere in the City of London, according to The Telegraph.

They report:

The four time Olympic Gold medallist and Tour De France winner told millions of viewers after his latest win in the time trial that he was going to have a rare night off from his punishing training regime and “get drunk” to celebrate.

And just hours later – shortly after midnight – he was pictured on a rooftop bar overlooking St Paul’s cathedral in central London achieving his goal.

The 32-year-old posted two pictures of himself on Twitter with friends declaring to the world he was “getting wasted at at (sic) StPauls.”

His spelling and grammar suggested he was well on the way.

Mission accomplished, in every sense of the word! And what well-deserved drinks they were, after Wiggins provided Team GB with their second gold medal of the 2012 Olympics.

Here’s hoping that we add significantly to that tally over the next few days.

The Best Thing Of 2012

I know that it is only the first day of August, but I am supremely confident that nothing will surpass this story reported by ITV News.

Apparently the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, was at an Olympic event in Victoria Park, trying out a zipwire ride, when it malfunctioned and he became stuck, suspended some distance above the ground:

Boris Johnson flies the flag for Britain. Image from ITV News.

He spent several minutes in this indecorous pose, to the amusement of the crowds, apparently shouting “Get me a rope, get me a ladder!” until he was able to be winched to safety.

London Mayor Boris Johnson dangles above the ground before being rescued. Image from ITV News

I more or less support Boris Johnson’s mayoralty of London (he’s a zillion times better than “Red” Ken Livingstone, anyway), and while it is a little mean-spirited to laugh at another person’s misfortune, I seriously think that this may have made my political year.