Archive for the ‘Olympic_Games’ tag
Some quick takes for your general edification and amusement, and disgust…
Too many people have not learned this essential 21st C.E. lesson: corporations are not really people, and thus cannot really “like” you…
A downside of any emotional relationship that can bring such joys is that it can also bring anguish if things go sour. A 2004 BusinessWeek analysis found mergers were a common cause of that anguish: Measures of customer satisfaction tended to decline significantly and persistently after them. Just ask anyone who was a Flickr super-user before Yahoo! bought the photo sharing service. Or the shoppers who protested in downtown Chicago streets when the beloved local department store Marshall Field’s turned into Macy’s.
That may seem like an argument for resisting the urge to fall in love with a company. After all, companies don’t really love their customers. They love profits. And they see gaining customers’ affection as a good way to make profits. They will let that affection wilt if it stops being an effective tool for making money.
(click here to continue reading Sorry, but Your Favorite Company Can’t Be Your Friend – The New York Times.)
Jon Stewart is starting to get bored not being on the teevee, methinks
That’s when Stewart got down to business by bringing da Trump with a thick New York accent, wagging shoulders and wild gesticulations we’ve come to love about his classic impressions. “These 9/11 first responders, let me tell ya’ something, hey, these 9/11 first responders are the most top-notch, first-class, diamond-encrusted heroes America can produce,” Stewart said. “Don’t let Congress play politics with this necessary bill. If I’m elected, and I will be elected, I will build a wall around politics and I will make politics pay for it. Tweet at your Congressman #WorstResponders. Tell them Donald said ‘pull up your big boy pants and make America Great again. Pass the Zadroga Act, or I will glue Congress together, dip them in gold and wear them around my freggin’ neck!”
Stewart is hoping with enough public pressure on Congress they will add the Zadroga Act to the upcoming omnibus bill that has so many riders it’s not as if anyone would notice.
(click here to continue reading Jon Stewart plays Trump in riotous reunion with Stephen Colbert – Salon.com.)
Like a food court maybe? Seriously, how long before Scalia says something so vile that impeachment talk begins to rumble in Congress? Within the year?
A new study conducted by legal scholars indicates that Justice Antonin Scalia would fare better if he served as a judge at a court that was “less advanced” than the United States Supreme Court.
According to the study, Scalia’s struggles to perform his duties in a competent fashion stem from his being inappropriately placed on a court that is “too demanding” for a person of his limited abilities.
“Forcing Justice Scalia to weigh in on complex legal issues that he lacks the background or aptitude to comprehend is, at the end of the day, cruel,” the study said.
(click here to continue reading Study: Scalia Better Off in “Less Advanced” Court – The New Yorker.)
Sign me up!
Icelanders opposed to the state funding of religion have flocked to register as Zuists, a movement that worships ancient Sumerian gods and – perhaps more importantly – promises its followers a tax rebate.
More than 3,100 people – almost 1% of Iceland’s population – have joined the Zuist movement in the past two weeks in protest at paying part of their taxes to the state church and other religious bodies. Followers of Zuism will be refunded the tax element earmarked for religion.
Icelanders are required to register their religion with the state, with almost three-quarters of the population affiliated to the established Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland. There are more than 40 other registered religious bodies that qualify for “parish fees” paid through the taxation system. The amount set in next year’s budget is the equivalent of about $80 (£53) per taxpayer over a year.
“There is no opt-out. Those who are unaffiliated or belong to unregistered religions effectively just pay higher taxes,” said Sveinn Thorhallsson, a Zuist spokesperson. An opinion poll published in September showed 55% of respondents want an end to the system.
(click here to continue reading Icelanders flock to religion revering Sumerian gods and tax rebates | World news | The Guardian.)
Our premiums have jumped, our insurance broker says it is most certainly due to this change: Feds promised money to insurance companies, then reneged…
Nine days later, the New York Times’s Robert Pear broke some news to readers. “A little-noticed health care provision that Senator Marco Rubio of Florida slipped into a giant spending law last year has tangled up the Obama administration,” he wrote. “Mr. Rubio’s efforts against the so-called risk corridor provision of the health law has hardly risen to the forefront of the race for the Republican presidential nomination, but his plan limiting how much the government can spend to protect insurance companies against financial losses has shown the effectiveness of quiet legislative sabotage.”
A paradox emerges. A “quiet” sabotage would seem to be one the saboteurs do not discuss. Rubio, by contrast, went after risk corridors with all the subtlety of Auric Goldfinger talking to a captured James Bond. Two years ago, when Democrats controlled the Senate, Rubio introduced a stand-alone bill, the “ObamaCare Bailout Prevention Act,” to end risk corridors altogether. Rubio’s talking points have hardly changed since then; letting HHS make up the difference in cost for insurers amounted to “Washington picking winners and losers.” When the CRomnibus passed, health care wonks rang alarm bells about the risk corridor amendment.
(click here to continue reading The ‘quiet victory’ that Marco Rubio can’t stop talking about – The Washington Post.)
Rubio is responsible for the premium hikes, basically
What he calls a bailout is the idea of risk corridors. That was a cushion created, paid into by health insurance companies, to help out companies who took on a disproportionate number of sicker, more expensive Obamacare patients. In the early going, companies couldn’t predict what their customer mix was going to be to help them set premium levels. For those who ended up paying out more in coverage than premiums brought in, the risk corridor gave them a safety net of funds to draw on. At the same time, the companies who paid out less than predicted and had higher profits paid into the fund.
But in the first year, “claims to obtain money from the program equaled $2.9 billion, while insurers’ payments into the system came to $362 million.” Health and Human Services would have transferred departmental funding—taxpayer money—to the fund to cover the shortfall, but Rubio blocked them from doing so. The result has been that a bunch of smaller insurers have had to drop out of the exchanges, and a dozen or so health insurance cooperatives that started up under the law have folded. Because they’re the ones who couldn’t recoup losses.
(click here to continue reading How Marco Rubio might be responsible for higher Obamacare premiums.)
A new round of testing by The Associated Press shows the city’s Olympic waterways are as rife with pathogens far offshore as they are nearer land, where raw sewage flows into them from fetid rivers and storm drains. That means there is no dilution factor in the bay or lagoon where events will take place and no less risk to the health of athletes like sailors competing farther from the shore.
“Those virus levels are widespread. It’s not just along the shoreline but it’s elsewhere in the water, therefore it’s going to increase the exposure of the people who come into contact with those waters,” said Kristina Mena, an expert in waterborne viruses and an associate professor of public health at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. “We’re talking about an extreme environment, where the pollution is so high that exposure is imminent and the chance of infection very likely.”
Now, the AP’s most recent tests since August show not only no improvement in water quality — but that the water is even more widely contaminated than previously known. The number of viruses found over a kilometer from the shore in Guanabara Bay, where sailors compete at high speeds and get utterly drenched, are equal to those found along shorelines closer to sewage sources.
“The levels of viruses are so high in these Brazilian waters that if we saw those levels here in the United States on beaches, officials would likely close those beaches,” Mena said.
(click here to continue reading AP test: Rio Olympic water badly polluted, even far offshore – Yahoo News.)
Speaking of viruses and pathogens…
Republican party officials are now actively preparing for the prospect of a contested convention in Cleveland as front-runner Donald Trump continues to draw strong support from the GOP base. The scenario was discussed by more than 20 party stalwarts Monday at a Washington, DC, dinner held by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, the Washington Post reported. A person familiar with who attended the dinner confirmed to Bloomberg that it took place, and that Priebus, members of congress, establishment lobbyists and others have held similar discussions for weeks. Should Trump continue to dominate the nomination race in the coming months and amass the required number of delegates to become the official Republican nominee, members of the establishment told the Post they would be forced to contest his nomination on the convention floor in Cleveland from July 18–21.
(click here to continue reading Republicans Discuss Brokered Convention as Trump Leads – Bloomberg Politics.)
…and worse, Ted Cruz:
In no particular order, Texas senator and Republican presidential aspirant Ted Cruz has: said acts of Christian terrorism stopped centuries ago, forgetting the Ku Klux Klan and the shooting in Colorado last week; claimed he has never met an anti-abortion activist who advocates violence, despite being endorsed by one just days before; dismissed the need for Planned Parenthood because there isn’t a shortage of “rubbers” in America; and made an offhand comment that Colorado mass shooter Robert Dear could be a “transgendered leftist activist.” All this in just the last week.
Ted Cruz is far from crazy, which is the essential Ted Cruz problem. Crazy you can deal with, even forgive a little, often ignore. Ben Carson is a bowl of Froot Loops floating in a sad lethal pond of gasoline. Donald Trump went warp speed into the Trumpiverse decades ago. Both men have conducted their campaigns and recent years on perpetual tangents. But Ted Cruz knows exactly what he’s doing. He doesn’t even hide it particularly well. Not only is his intelligence one of his favorite selling points, his book undermines any notion that he misspeaks. He is gaffe proof because the gaffes are not arrived at by error. Ted Cruz does awful things by intelligent design.
(click here to continue reading Ted Cruz Isn’t Crazy – He’s Much Worse | Rolling Stone.)
I’m sort of interested in watching The Man in The High Castle, even though it is one of my favorite PKD books, especially since fascist ideology seems to be on the rise
They basically stole Phil Dick’s pitch — and then deployed it in their own inimitable style. I find the show fairly compelling to watch. But I also find myself saying, “I don’t know that this is what Dick was getting at.”
It seems much morally simpler, less ambiguous. There were some suggestions in [the novel] that America and Nazi Germany were not all that different — that’s not a particularly P.C. idea, but it is important. While the Germans were extinguishing Jews, we were excluding black people from the lunch counter. It was a matter of degrees.
We had [racial] superiority here … The Nazi fantasy of the blond, blue-eyed book and how it overlapped with California dreamin’ … The idea of the blond, perfect teeth, riding on the wave like some übermensch. It’s not without its resonance, and to leave all those out and make it a simple good vs. evil — that’s a travesty. A betrayal of Dick’s intention. But probably works better on TV.
Not everyone was displeased. “My hope is that we’ll get back to paying attention to the problems that are facing the city on an ongoing basis,” said Andrew Huff, editor and publisher of Gaper’s Block, an independent Web site that covers local Chicago news. “We can concentrate on 2009 and 2010 instead of 2016. There are so many things we should be paying attention to rather than whether we’re going to host an event in the future.”
[Click to continue reading Rio Wins 2016 Olympic Games – WSJ.com]
Eric Zorn and Dennis Byrne expressed similar sentiments: funnel all the cash that would have been spent preparing for a two week event seven years from now into lasting improvements for the city right now.
Now that the U.S. Olympic Committee has killed Chicago’s fledgling bid for the 2016 Summer games, we’re free from all the fuss, headaches and financial risks of that event.
While Los Angeles stews and spends for the next 30 months until the International Olympic Committee choose a host city, Chicago can get on with the business of building and improving this region for people who live here rather than in preparation for a momentary burst of tourists, athletes and reporters nine summers from now.
an insider wrote into Talking Points Memo, one possible reason for Chicago not being chosen, the bad reputation the US Immigration policies have:
Id prefer to not have my name published if you post any of this, but I wanted to give you some inside perspective on the Olympic planning as I had the privilege to work and help with some of the architecture and planning proposal for Chicago’s Bid.
Mainly, this is just an email to say that regardless of the headline on Drudge, and your comment that the IOC might not enjoy being “big-footed” by Obama, that is not the case. In fact, it was probably helpful, even though we were voted out in the first round. Almost every other country has their leader making personal appearances in support of major international architecture and planning endeavors, but the American president. There have been a number of projects, New Mariinsky Theater in St Petersberg, Russia (for example), where all the finalists, were supported by the leader of their country in having a call placed to the committee, however, the US architect/planner never receives that level of support or interest from the President. So it can only be refreshing to have the President support its country in these types of selections.
A few months ago, (getting back to the Olympic selection) it was made clear to us that Chicago was going to have some difficulty in gaining the selection for a number of reasons including that we have had a large percentage of games hosted here, but most importantly, that we do not have the best international reputation at this time, and it is well known that it is a frustrating and difficult process compared to the other host countries for travelers to gain admittance into the US. There was not a lot that could be done with our planning about this, but it was still brought up as an unofficial “official” concern of the IOC. I think Obama’s visit was prob in some effort to help remove this concern from the selection committee. I would say from knowledge of work on this bid, as well as having produced work to assist with London’s planning effort for Foreign Office Architects in London (before starting my own practice in Chicago) that there was little chance that the decision would be able to be changed this late in the game, and that at this point (the last week), most of the IOC already knows their rankings, and are just discussing the top two. So, again, regardless of Obama’s influence (or lack of), at best, all he would have been able to do was help push over the top, or slightly hurt, but not much more. The decision was most likely already made that Chicago would not host it a few weeks ago by the IOC.
[Click to continue reading Not Their Kinda Town | Talking Points Memo]
I hope Rio has a great Olympic games, I’ve always wanted to visit there actually.Footnotes:
- notice a link to them over on my sidebar? [↩]
Mayor Daley has famously only lost four votes in the City Hall rubber-stamp room called the City Council, but the residents of Chicago are less sanguine about the economic benefits of hosting the Olympics.
The Second City is weary after months of recession and Illinois corruption scandals, and angry about everything from rising taxes to deepening potholes. The city is especially skeptical of Mr. Daley’s Olympic push: After pledging Chicago wouldn’t pay a cent should the Games lose money, the mayor later said Chicago would cover any potential shortfall.
Mr. Daley, re-elected in 2007 with more than 71% of the vote, now has a career-low approval rating of 35%, according to a recent Chicago Tribune poll. In public meetings, citizens rail that he has become isolated, thin-skinned and autocratic. Only 47% of Chicagoans support hosting the Games.
Mr. Daley, asked about his falling approval ratings and concerns over cost overruns and corruption, shakes his head.
“You have to have vision,” the 67-year-old mayor said in an interview this month as he shuttled between appearances in the back seat of his black sedan. “You can’t start second-guessing yourself.”
Mr. Daley says the Games will transform Chicago and update its international image from a meat-and-manufacturing hub to the Paris on the Prairie its planners envisioned. Chicago’s Olympic committee has said the Games will generate tens of thousands of jobs and a $13.7 billion economic boost for Chicago. Last week, Anderson Economic Group LLC estimated that spending in Chicago would be more modest, around $4.4 billion.
University of Chicago sports economist Allen Sanderson is more skeptical still. “When you say the word ‘billions,’ special-interest groups start salivating,” he said. “This is Chicago, so yeah, I expect some cost overruns.”
[Click to continue reading Mayor Places Olympian Bet on Chicago’s Bid for Games – WSJ.com]
The Olympics last for what, two weeks? But preparation has to start seven years in advance? Yikes.
Apparently, Chicago has integrated without much notice:
As other Midwestern cities emptied, Chicago grew. In the past 10 years, it added parks and trees, luxury residential skyscrapers and 36 million square feet of commercial development — nearly twice as much as Los Angeles. Between 1989 and 2008, Chicago’s median household income rose 2.7%, in 2008 dollars. Over the same period, incomes in Rust Belt cities Detroit, Cleveland and Indianapolis shrunk 11% or more.
By 2008, Chicago had become the eighth-most integrated global city in the world, according to Foreign Policy magazine, behind Singapore and ahead of Seoul.
And Obama is going to personally persuade IOC officials in Copenhagen after all, for some reason.
Less than two weeks ago, President Obama lamented that he was too busy to go to Denmark to lobby for Chicago’s bid to host the Olympics. “I would make the case in Copenhagen personally,” he said, “if I weren’t so firmly committed to making real the promise of quality, affordable health care for every American.”
Evidently, his commitment to health care is no longer quite so time consuming. Mr. Obama announced Monday that he would fly to Copenhagen this week after all to lobby the International Olympic Committee for the 2016 Summer Games.
Mr. Obama changed his mind and decided to take a gamble no other American president has taken at the urging of his close friend and senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett, who has been deeply involved in promoting Chicago’s bid. He hopes to trump the presence in Copenhagen of his counterparts from rival countries seeking the games — Brazil, Japan and Spain — and duplicate the success that Tony Blair of Britain and Vladimir V. Putin of Russia have had in recent years by personally lobbying for their nations’ bids.
Moreover, aides noted that it would be a relatively small time investment. Mr. Obama will leave Thursday evening and fly overnight, arriving in Copenhagen just in time to join Chicago’s final presentation Friday morning, when he and the first lady will address the committee. He returns to Washington on Friday afternoon.
[Click to continue reading White House Memo – In Pitch for Games, a Gamble for Obama – NYTimes.com]
I don’t buy the argument that the President can only perform one task in a day. Maybe GWB was limited that way, but most modern politicians are adept enough to chew gum and walk at the same time. Still, I question whether the Olympic Games are worth wasting a President’s limited agenda upon.
Click here for some other posts discussing the 2016 games
Notice Obama isn’t actually going to Copenhagen: the bid is not worth wasting the power of the presidency on. The Olympics might end up in Brazil, after all.
With 16 days left until the International Olympic Committee chooses a host city for the 2016 Olympics, President Barack Obama stood on the South Lawn of the White House on Wednesday and made a pitch for Chicago’s bid to win those Summer Games. He promised that if the I.O.C. chose Chicago, the city would make the United States — and the world — proud.
“Chicago is ready,” Obama said during an event featuring Olympians, Paralympians and local schoolchildren. “The American people are ready. We want these Games.”
“I promise you, we are fired up about this,” he said of the possibility of the Games being awarded to Chicago, where he lived for nearly 25 years before moving into the White House.
[Click to continue reading Obama Says Chicago Is ‘Ready’ to Win Bid to Hold 2016 Games – NYTimes.com]
Here’s what the City of Chicago needs to spend money on instead: this is the Division Street Bridge, seemingly rusted nearly to collapse. Why don’t we spend money fixing our infrastructure and mass transit first?
Ms. Obama loves to publicly tease the President:
Michelle Obama, a lifelong Chicagoan, will lead the United States contingent at the meetings. On Wednesday, she showed the crowd charisma that just may win over some I.O.C. members.
After taking to the podium, she encouraged the audience to cheer and show its Olympic spirit. She then poked fun at her husband’s attempt at a few of the Olympic sports that were on hand, causing the crowd to roar with laughter.
“You should have seen the president in there fencing,” she said of her husband, who said he had always wanted to try the sport. “It was pathetic.”
and not sure how relevant the Chicago Cubs attendance records are to funding Olympics:
Michelle Obama said Chicago was the “ideal home for the 2016 Games,” not just for its landscape, infrastructure or resources, but also for its people and their love of sports.
“You know, you have to admit, even White Sox fans are impressed by the fact that even though the Cubs haven’t won a World Series in centuries, Cubs games sell out,” she said. “Everybody’s there. It doesn’t matter. Win or lose, we are going to watch the Cubs.”
because the White Sox don’t always sell out, just the Cubs.
Click here for some other posts discussing the 2016 games
We’re going to get the watered down [Olympic Oversight] ordinance2, because our Aldermen are afraid of their own shadows. We’re going to get the Olympics. Mayor Daley will get re-elected. There will be massive cost-overruns; historic displacement of working class black families from the South and West side*; abuse of the homeless and indigent**; brutal police crackdowns; privatized security armies on the streets of Chicago; an unceasing stream of conflict-of-interest and contracting scandals; there will be gigantic budget shortfalls that will force more layoffs, more shutting down of social services like the mental health centers, more labor disputes.
We know why the Mayor and his people are pursuing this: it’s a distraction from the problems in the city, it wipes clean what is now approaching a decade of scandals and bad news for the Mayor, and pumps enormous sums of money into the pinstripe and identity politics patronage that has protected the status quo for a generation. Or, have we become so credulous, and ungenerous, that we believe that the Mayor honestly believes the Olympics are the only way to invest in our neighborhoods, and that he sincerely understands “being a world class city” as “getting on television”?
[Click to continue reading Gapers Block : Mechanics : Chicago Politics – No Cap on Public Money + No Oversight = Unmitigated Disaster]
I read somewhere today that one of the other four finalists, Tokyo, only has 56 percent of its population supporting their bid, while Chicago’s populace allegedly is 67 percent gung-ho. Ha, if only 33 percent of us oppose 2016, we sure are vocal. In fact, in my own informal surveys, I have yet to meet a single person who thinks the Olympics won’t be a disaster for Chicago. My sample size is under 100, but 73-03 is pretty compelling evidence, if not exactly statistically valid.
Click here for some other posts discussing the 2016 gamesFootnotes:
From my vantage point, $50,000,000 is a lot of cheese just to be one of the four finalists for the 2016 Olympic Games. Especially if this money was provided by the City of Chicago, and not private largesse1
[Anti-Olympic Fever! Catch It!2 ]
After spending $50 million showing off Chicago and circling the globe to hobnob with the world’s sporting potentates, civic boosters pursuing the 2016 Olympic Games are fretting over one last detail: Will Chicago’s First Citizen, President Barack Obama, travel to Europe next month to make the final pitch to the International Olympic Committee?
Chicago’s rivals plan to send their own heavyweights to Copenhagen for the Oct. 2 vote: President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva for Rio de Janeiro; King Juan Carlos for Madrid; and Japan’s crown prince and princess for Tokyo.
Mayor Richard Daley has led Chicago’s charge for 2016, but an appearance by Mr. Obama in Copenhagen would be the trump card. The White House “certainly knows that we would like him to come,” says Patrick Ryan, founder of Aon Corp. and leader of the bid committee.
[Click to continue reading For 2016 Olympic Contenders, the Games Have Now Begun – WSJ.com]
previous bids have been derailed by blabbing politicians:
In the weeks leading up to the decision, Paris was the presumed favorite over London and New York City. But [Prime Minister Tony] Blair arrived for the final IOC session in Singapore three days early, and proceeded to receive a phalanx of IOC members. [French President Jacques] Chirac arrived fashionably late.…
London won by four votes over Paris; New York was eliminated in an earlier round. The voting is secret, but a number of IOC members later said Mr. Blair’s lobbying was likely decisive.
Mr. Chirac also might have lost votes when, in the company of fellow world leaders, he took a Gallic swipe at British cuisine: “After Finland,” he said, “it’s the country with the worst food.”
Finland had two members on the IOC during that host city election — perhaps the votes that pushed London over the top.
Loose lips also might have damaged Toronto’s pitch to host the 2008 Summer Olympics. Toronto was thought to be a robust candidate for the Games, until the city’s mayor, speaking before a trip to Africa, said he feared ending up in a pot of boiling water, surrounded by dancing natives. Instead, he was likely scalded by the IOC’s African members, who often provide swing votes in host-city elections, as the continent itself rarely puts forth a bid.
I have decidedly mixed feelings about Chicago’s bid to host the Games. I suspect a lot of debt will be incurred in the name of taxpayers, and for what? Crowds of international tourists, above and beyond the crowds of international tourists we already have? Money not spent on parks, bridges and schools, but instead spent building infrequently used sport stadiums, on land owned by friends of Mayor Daley? Of course, we, the citizens of Chicago, have decidedly not been asked our opinion, because we are skeptical of the actual practical benefits of being an Olympic City.
Update: Click here for some other posts discussing the 2016 gamesFootnotes: