Sunday, August 24, 2008

Spring has sprung

I do believe spring just arrived. The bird population certainy thinks so, and the introduced (alien, as in, not native?) flowering trees are all going gangbusters. The Christmas decorations will be in the stores in about five weeks (!) as our hours of daylight increase and the longer days get rapidly warmer. We have a thermometer in the backyard, and it's reading 62 degrees (F) in the shade in a part of the yard that doesn't get the sun. It feels almost balmy...

Now, having said all this, Nostrakeeganus, he predicting prompt return to winter for three more weeks, with freezing temperatures and leaden-gray skies.

So, just so you know I'm not pulling your leg, here's the evidence: (click for a larger view. In order -- almond blossom in the yard; flowering native shrubs in the hills; a koala, actually awake for a change -- note the blue sky! A kookaburra -- note same!! And wild flowers, something like forget-me-nots)

Now, having posted these, we are absolutely certain to lapse back into winter for weeks. Did I just put the kiss of death on spring?

Someone noticed that I haven't said much, if anything about the Games of the 29th Olympiad. Um ... I've been busy. Seriously. I actually enjoy the winter games more than the summer games, but I do follow the cycling (road variety rather than track,) and one or two other events ... none of which have been given any TV coverage down here. Fans of swimming were well catered to, because the Aussies always do very well in those events. However, swimming ain't my thing. And for events where no Australians are competing, they just don't seem to send the cameras.

There was a somewhat critical little ditty going around at the time of the Sydney Olympics. It went like this:

    Here's thanks to the Olympic Committee
    For sending the games to a city
    Where you can't eat the food,
    The locals are rude,
    And the TV coverage is totally ... Aus-centric.

Like the US and Canada, we're a nation of immigrants. Less than half the population was born here, and although -- yes -- we "bond" with the country, we call ourselves Aussies and take an almost inordinate pride in this country's achievements ... there remains a fondness for the old country, and an enduring interest in it. Some of us remain staunch supporters of teams from the old country, and thanks to the internet (and SBS) you can actually keep abreast of Manchester United, or the Raiders, or whomever.

And sure, we enjoy watching the events in which the Green and Gold are going great. We LOVE to see Aussis win. But wouldn't it be nice to see some of the other events, even though Aussie stars aren't competing?!

This country has folks from every corner of the planet: we're very probably the first true cosmopolitan culture, because we don't have ghettos or reservations inside which indigenous peoples are required, culturally and socially if not legally, to be. Just once in a while, I'd like to see Aussie Olympic coverage recognize the truly cosmopolitan nature of the audience to whom they're broadcasting. It'd be nice.

Having said that: the athletes were great, the stadium is fantastic, the opening ceremonies were dazzling, the Chinese government doesn't seem to have put its foot in it *too* deeply or too often, and the Chinese people have been great. I'm told Beijing by night is glorious, you have to see the city lights to believe them (no, the TV coverage didn't extend this far either), and the Games themselves have been remarkably smooth. For those of us who are old enough to recall Munich 72, the idiotic political boycotts of Los Angeles and Moscow, and the depressing though critically necessary Black Power statements back at the end of the Sixties, beginning of the Seventies ... well, the Beijing Games have been laid back, relaxed, open, friendly. Nice. Kudos to all concerned ... except maybe the TV directors, who concentrate on the Green and Gold to the exclusion of virtually everything else. They've done a fine job in technical terms (kudos to all concerned there, too), and if they'd just remembered their cosmopolitan audience, we'd have been unanimous in our praise.

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