Olympics opening ceremony – I liked it

I’m not normally one who really watches the Olympics, but I really enjoyed the opening ceremony of the London games.

Not the athletes parade of course; apart from the quite inspiring presence of some of the really troubled countries like Sudan and Afghanistan and Sierra Leone, I’m sorry, but I find it a real yawnfest.

But the rest of the ceremony I thought was great. I’m sure this is a consequence of being half-English myself — and therefore perhaps immersed in British culture than most Australians — I got a lump in the throat when I saw Danny Boyle’s tributes to the UK culture.

London 2012 opening: Tim Berners-Lee's message
Source: The Telegraph

In fact I liked it from the opening montage at the very start — with lots of little references to popular music, London landmarks, the London Underground (with a blast of The Clash), even EastEnders was in there. The imagery of England’s “green and pleasant land” along with the singing of Jerusalem took me back to singing the song in high school (and let me tell you, massed singing does something to it that is indescribable.)

I liked that it showed both the good and the bad of the development of modern Britain — the genius of Brunel, but also the pollution and upheaval of the industrial revolution; the inequality that spawned the suffragette movement; the loss of war.

The insertion of Mr Bean into Chariots Of Fire was very funny, as was the Queen’s bit with James Bond, and it was great to see Sir Tim Berners-Lee — even if the American NBC commentators didn’t know who he was, and suggested Googling him…

I had to laugh at the National Health Service tribute, having heard my sister and cousin speak of the difficulties of dealing with the NHS bureaucracy, and I wonder what conservative Americans thought of it. It was also funny to see one bed in that segment with two kids in it — hopefully not generally reflective of the state of British hospitals.

So in summary, I suppose I fall into the camp that thinks Danny Boyle is a genius.

Not everybody liked it; UK Conservative MP Aiden Burley tweeted:

The most leftie opening ceremony I have ever seen – more than Beijing, the capital of a communist state! Welfare tribute next?

What a plonker.

Digital TV can sometimes look like crap

Where digital TV really fails is handling lots and lots of moving objects on screen at once.

Look at these two grabs from last night’s ABC news. In the first, host Ian Henderson is shown. With little moving, the picture is very smooth — even with the slightly dodgy ABC blue screen.

Digital TV grab 1/2
(See it bigger)

Now look at the second grab a few seconds later. It’s library footage of Melbourne Storm’s premiership win a few years ago. Tickertape stuff is going everywhere, it’s probably been grabbed in turn off a Channel 9 transmission and reprocessed, and the picture looks like crap.

Digital TV grab 2/2
(See it bigger)

Admittedly it doesn’t look quite so bad when viewing the footage, as so much is moving around that the eye doesn’t really notice the artefacts as much. But this is once instance where I suspect analogue would actually look much better.

Video: What you get to see trackside at the Grand Prix

If you’ve never been to the Grand Prix (which is on today), here (from 2009 when I went for The Who concert) is what you get to see trackside.

Can’t say it appeals much to me.

Note what I assume are sonic booms.

A coupla things

The Slap

I finished reading The Slap. Great book, provided you don’t mind a little fruity language and adult themes in your novels. Looking forward now to the TV adaption.Thumbs up!

Possums

I was just thinking the other day that despite seeing a lot of possums around the neighbourhood, I never heard them in the roof.

Then when I was taking a look in the roof over the Easter break, I noticed a small hole, near the front of the house.

And the other night, I heard a possum scampering around up there. D’oh.

I told you so

I meant to post this a while back, but better late than never.

I reckon these guys have a good point.

We told you so

FORMULA one boss Bernie Ecclestone has said that he and Ron Walker now agree that the grand prix “should not have been run at the Albert Park street circuit”, and that “Melbourne should have constructed a purpose-built track for the race years ago” (Sport, 17/3).

Save Albert Park has maintained exactly that since 1994. A key slogan was ”Relocate (to a permanent track), don’t desecrate (Albert Park Reserve)”. If our group had been listened to rather than being maligned or ignored by successive Victorian governments, the state would now have a profitable permanent track and associated facilities given year-round use for motor sport activities, driver training, and testing of automotive products.

The state would have saved the hundreds of million of dollars now wasted on set-up and take-down of the temporary Albert Park circuit, and we would have a circuit capable of being modified to meet the changing requirements of F1 racing, such as increased overtaking opportunities.

Peter Goad, Save Albert Park, Middle Park

Age letters, 18/3/2011