Holding out for the super-voucher: Kevin Watkins responds to Justin Sandefur on private v public education

July 27, 2012

African art; UK v Rwanda (et tu ODI?); please vandalize economics textbooks; ferocious oaths; microfinance heretics; Olympic Falklands: links I liked

July 27, 2012

Welcome (sort of) to the London Olympics

July 27, 2012
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Update: skip to the bottom for some conclusions on an epic and weird opening ceremony

OK, it’s been another heavy duty week on the blog, so some light relief for Friday. Especially for the 70% of you who don’t live in the UK, here’s the unofficial welcome video, featuring London’s studiedly eccentric Mayor Boris Johnson (yes, we elected this guy) [h/t Ian Sullivan]. And the New York Times wonders just what is wrong with us Brits [h/t Jon Slater]. Fingers crossed for an excruciatingly weird and naff opening ceremony tonight (and please share your own favourite – and suitably off message – takes and links. And no patriotism please, we’re British…….)

Update: I’ve spent the weekend pondering the mysteries of the opening ceremony (and watching Britons fail to win medals). Headline conclusions – some mine, some stolen:
1. The magnificent underlying arrogance: First, we are going to have a conversation with ourselves about our national identity, loaded with lots of really obscure references. We’ll chuck you a couple of globally intelligible Britishisms (James Bond, Mr Bean), but if you don’t follow the rest, tough. Second, only a really superior nation can take the piss out of itself to that degree.
2. Danny Boyle is a tactical genius. He introduced all the liberal politics and social commentary before 1948, and then switched to culture and technology. The Tory press swallowed it, and I think Boyle may have single-handedly framed a new (politically) liberal consensus on British history. Wow.
3. The opening ceremony was so brilliant that it really doesn’t matter if we win any medals (fortunately)
4. Paul McCartney can’t sing, and his drummer needs to be locked up. An appropriately naff end to a great evening.

Finally, whoever kidnapped Boris Johnson for the evening deserves a (gold) medal.

9 comments

  1. I am unashamedly in London for the Olympics – not to “see” the Olympics (was unlucky on the draws, and then it got too expensive), but rather to “feel” it… and the NYT article not withstanding there is a positive excitement in the city. Went to greet the torch at Edmonton Green on Wednesday, my sister and I (Sri Lankan) with our Ethiopian friends and added our mix of spice and colour to what was an undoubtedly multi-ethnic British gathering..from hijab to dread locks, from bindi and holy ash to tatoo – the crowd that cheered the Olympic flame represented multicultural London at its very best….

  2. It’s so odd,and true, and funny that I’m wondering is it’s satire, or hyperbole; truth standing on its head to attract attention!

    The most offensive aspect to this particular Games, is the fervor with which the ‘brand’ police and their lawyers go after the butcher who has the olympic rings made in sausages in his window; the granny who knit a pullover with olympic rings on it, to sell at the church bazaar, and the Olympic Supermarket which had to change its name for the event. (show me an area anywhere with a large Greek community that doesn’t have an Olympic Supermarket).

    God Bless the Brits, you still have your sense of humour.

  3. Cynicism hey….. Its part of the British Sense of Humour and is key to life…. But its not cynicism alone…. The Torch Relay alone shows how much enthusiasm there is!Let alone ticket demand and conversations.

  4. Agree with all of this, apart from your attack on Abe Laboriel – who is easily the best drummer Paul McCartney has ever played with (though that isn’t saying much).

  5. I think Danny Boyle’s liberal politics and Bond theme should have been played to its logical conclusion: IOC Jacques Rogge stroking a white cat during his speech saying “so Mr Bond you think you can run an Olympic event based on human values…’ which unleashes a fire fight between the tax paying public and corporate sponsors and their cheerleaders

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