Thursday, 15 March 2018

The 2018 Winter Para-Olympics: Opening Ceremony Pt 6.

A continuation of Part 5;

Cauldron Lighting:

It is protocol that each Opening Ceremony features a sequence where the Para-Olympic Cauldron is lit.

In a tradition dating all the way back to 2014 the Cauldron is lit with the so-called; "Heritage Flame." This is carried from the birthplace of the Para-Olympics at Stoke-Manderville Hospital in the UK in a torch relay which continues into the arena.

The section of the torch relay which occurred within the arena was built around the theme of transformation and equality. 

Frustratingly I did not catch the names of any of the torch bearers.

The first two torch bearers were a North Korean athlete and a South Korean athlete. They carried the torch together as equal partners.

The second set of torch bearers highlighted equality between races. 

They were South Korea's first Para-Olympic Nordic Skier and her coach. A European man who I assume is from one of the Nordic countries.

The third set of torch bearers highlighted equality between generations. 

They were a South Korean father and his disabled son. The nature of the son's impairment was not stated. However it appeared to be some form of very severe congenital, developmental disability. 

That touched on the issue of the RoK's so-called; "Birth Strike." In discussing this across all ceremonies the South Korean hosts have been influenced by the US TV Show; "A Handmaid's Tale." 

The RoK's big movie of 2016 was actually a drama called; "The Handmaiden." This was based on the novel by British author Sarah Waters called; "The Fingersmith." Lesbianism is a major theme.

In The Handmaid's Tale it is never really explained why the global birthrate has collapsed. However it is strongly suggested that it is linked to environmental pollution so children are being born. They're just either being stillborn or born with severe, life limiting developmental impairments. 

Although it's unlikely to be a popular topic to bring up at a Para-Olympics given the RoK's low birthrate severely disabled children like the one featured are a cause for concern. 

Rather than being able to fully contribute to society they are going to require extra care. Placing an extra burden on a care system already creaking under the weight of an ageing population.

The fourth set of torchbearers highlighted equality between the disabled and able bodied. 

They were a Visually Impaired Skier and her guide. For the first time at the 2018 games guides will be awarded medals alongside their Visually Impaired Skier.

The skiing pair took us to the huge problem of the torch relay. The giant, steep ramp between the arena floor and the Cauldron.

In the Olympic Opening Ceremony this was solved by steps suddenly appearing in the ramp. 

This was a reference to the 2016 Summer Para-Olympic Opening Ceremony. Their Cauldron stood atop a stage resembling a Mayan Temple with steps leading up the sides. 

Confronted with these steps the wheelchair using torch bearer was forced to stop. Then a ramp suddenly appeared in the steps making it wheelchair accessible.

Referencing a Para-Olympic Opening Ceremony during an Olympic Ceremony was an early South Korean gesture of equality between the two strands of the games.

Again the steps appeared in the ramp and the skiers climbed about halfway up. They then handed the torch to a South Korean amputee Ice Hockey Player. He climbed the rest of the ramp without steps, using only a rope to steady himself.

That was an example of a Para-Olympic athlete going above and beyond what could be achieved by mere Olympic athletes.

The act of actually lighting the cauldron was given to a South Korean Curler who won a Silver medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Alongside the captain of the South Korean women's Curling team which won a Silver medal at the 2018 Olympic games. She is now very famous within the RoK.

The Cauldron used was the same Cauldron used for the Olympics. That giant monument to US Fake News Hoaxes about Foreign Interference.

Obviously the pair could not light that giant Cauldron itself. So instead they light a small round object - resembling an Atom - which in turn caused the Cauldron to spring into life.

This possibly served as a talking point about nuclear energy. However it primarily symbolised they needed a device with which to light the main Cauldron.

The sexual innuendo of beautiful female Figure Skater Kim Yeon-ah stroking a giant phallic column into life wasn't really appropriate for the theme of this lighting ceremony.

In covering the Olympic Opening Ceremony I produced something in the region of 40,000 words across 8 posts. This led to some people suggesting I might want to edit it down a bit.

The sad fact is that was the edited version. I removed some quite large tangents that I didn't think were of primary importance. 

For example the ceremony referenced Jennifer Lawrences' "Hunger Games" movies. You could quite easily spin off from that into a discussion about nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence being leaked online. Include Apple's weak security measures which allowed the hack to take place.

One of the things I edited out but now think is important was the corkscrew motion of the column which lit the Cauldron.

This was a reference to what famous British Prime Minister Winston Churchill described as; "Corkscrew Minds." The type of no-linear thinking required in spying and espionage work.

I think Churchill was referring specifically to; "Operation Mincemeat."

During the Second World War the allies wanted to invade the Italian island of Sicily. So they drew up detailed plans of how they were going to invade Greece.

They then waited from the right sort of vagrant to die of natural causes. They dressed the corpse up as a British military officer and dumped it along with the invasion plans for Greece into the sea. As if a British officer had been killed in a plane crash.

They then waited until the Nazi forces had been moved to Greece to resist the impending invasion before invading Sicily as planned.

That type of operation requires a certain degree of non-linear thinking. Rather similar to a corkscrew.

These Corkscrew minds are really essential during the games period.

For example this Opening Ceremony has talked extensively about transformation of attitudes and equality between the able bodied and those with impairments.

But that's not really what we're talking about.

Likewise in the week leading up to the Para-Olympics the UK has been talking about a Russian MI6 agent being poisoned in the UK city of Salisbury.

But that's not really what we're talking about.

If nothing else the current UK Prime Minister Theresa May has shown us the problems that arise when Churchill's Corkscrew Minds are absent.

The sequence ended with the traditional, carefully controlled fireworks display.

No fires were allowed to rage out of control there.

The Ying Yang Song: 

All of the ceremonies so far have referenced traditional Korean Animist religions. Particularly Taoism.

Probably the most famous Taoist symbol is the Ying Yang. I guess it must be an important one. It is after all at the centre of the South Korean national flag.

The Ying Yang depicts two competing forces in balance with each other within a single whole. Those forces can be anything that competes such as Light & Dark, Good & Evil etc. The Ying Yang symbolises the need for equality and balance within life.

This closing sequence featured two female singers performing the specially composed and not at all subtle song; "Standing Here As One."

One of the singers was Hwang Su-mi. The South Korean Opera star who featured in the Olympic Opening Ceremony.

The singer was Yang So-hee. An up-and-coming K-Pop star with the band Elris.

Hwang wore a white dress while Yang wore a black dress. Symbolising the contrasting forces of Light & Dark.

Their respective styles of music also represented a contrast. Between the classical opera style and the modern pop style.

This is a type of contrast which is very familiar within the Eurovision Song Contest. Classical music is used to represent Russian high culture while pop music is used to represent American low culture.

So if you wish to indicate support for Russia your song would be in the classical style. 

If you wish to indicate support for America your song would be in the pop style. And thanks to former US President Obama ideally in the style of what has become known as; "The Black Music."

In short the RoK really, really wants to be part of the Eurovision Song Contest. And it looks like they'll fit right in.

Due to extensive lobbying by 2016 Para-Olympic host Brazil the RoK can now compete in the Eurovision Song Contest. It now allows entries from European Broadcasting Union (EBU) associate members alongside full members.

However I should warn the South Koreans that the Australians already seem to be protesting this new type of fast tracking into the academy.

That though is something the bird of the week will have to read up on as she prepares for her own personal Suneung.

Rather than having a big finish the ceremony sort of faded out. As I now must. 

17:20 on 15/3/18 (UK date).


Wednesday, 14 March 2018

The 2018 Winter Para-Olympics: Opening Ceremony Pt.5

A continuation of Part 4;


This sequence was built around 310 performers. It is also another heavy duty Physics lesson.

It began with the performers forming the shape of a giant human. This was a reference to famous British Physicist Isaac Newton.

In 1686 Newton invented Gravity. As a way to keep black people down. Newton described his body of work as him;

"Standing on the Shoulders of Giants."

He acknowledged that he had appropriated the work of those who had gone before him and added to it. He expected those to come after him to appropriate his work and add to it.

Obama's BLM warriors would be appalled by this cross-cultural appropriation.

Their ideology insists that only British Physicists like Stephen Hawking can add to the work of British Physicists like Isaac Newton. German Physicists like Albert Einstein can only add to the work of other German Physicists and so on.

This approach would make any form of scientific or cultural advance impossible.

We certainly wouldn't be able to have things like the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) and the Large-Hadron Collider which in 2012 proved the existence of the Higgs-Boson. 

Physics at this level is so extremely complicated that there are only a handful of people worldwide capable of undertaking it. The type of equipment required is also prohibitively expensive. So the people who are capable of this work pool their resources and gather together.

So at places like CERN you have international cooperation which would appal people outside of the world of Physics. Israeli nuclear Physicists working alongside Iranian nuclear Physicists and so on.

Suddenly a single performer seemed to be fired across the arena floor. As this single particle collided with the giant it was spilt apart.

This was a reference to the concept of nuclear fission. 

Standing on the shoulders of Albert Einstein this was discovered by German Physicists Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann in 1938. In response Einstein teamed up with Hungarian Physicists Leo Szilard, Edward Teller and Eugene Wigner to write the so-called; "Einstein-Szilard Letter."

That letter prompted then US President Franklin D. Roosevelt to start the Manhattan Project. This led to the creation of the first nuclear bomb. 

The nuclear fission at the heart of that bomb created a new element - Einsteinium. The most stable isotope is Einsteinium-252. No matter how much police in Salisbury, UK try to insist that it's Einsteinium-380.

As the atom of the giant shattered amid fission the particles it had been made up of scattered. These sub-atomic particles spread around the arena.

The sub-atomic particles then grouped together in the centre of the arena in a circle. As they did so light projection gave the impression of them speeding up to approach the speed of light. Or at least as it's commonly portrayed in Science Fiction.

The Speed of Light is a constant which is used widely in Physics - rather like the constant Pi. This constant (c) is the C in Einstein's most famous equation E=MC2. 

This equation describes the; "Mass-Energy Equivalence." This quantifies how everything in the universe is either Energy (E) or Mass (M) and how the two states can be converted. Multiplying by Speed of Light constant (C) squared.

As they approached the speed of light the sub-atomic particles formed the shape of what resembled a human eye. With the black hole of the pupil at the centre.

This was a nod, or perhaps a wink to the 2016 Summer Para-Olympics Opening Ceremony. 

That featured a sequence entirely about the rods and cones which make up the human eye and the variety of things that can go wrong with them. Leading to visual impairment.

That Opening Ceremony of course was organised by the Brazilian Andrew Parsons. The new head of the IPC.

An earlier reference to the Brazilian Opening Ceremony showed the soundwaves produced by a drum as soundwaves. This raised an important point about the adaptations that can be made to overcome physical impairments.

It focused on what I think it one of the most common impairments known to TV viewers. The sense of sight being used to overcome an impairment in the sense of hearing.

In short visual signals are used to compensate for hearing impaired people who can't detect audio clues. TV programs feature subtitles so people who can't hear what is being said can read what is being said.

This sequenced focused on the other example commonly known to TV viewers. How the sense of sound can be used to overcome an impairment in the sense of sight. 

For example many TV services now also include Audio Description. This allows people who cannot see what is happening have what is happening described to them through sound.

As it stood there the pupil of the eye seemed to pulse as if in time with the human heart. 

This seemed to be a deliberate reference to a certain type of visual impairment known as; "Retinal Vessel Occlusion." This is caused when the tiny blood vessels within the eye either become blocked or burst. 

Although I am far from an expert common causes of this seem to be age and Diabetes. These are both hot topics within developed nations with ageing populations and high levels of obesity.

Finally the eye broke apart and the sub-atomic particles again flowed around the arena. 

The light up smart-fabric gloves the particles were wearing made clear they were intended to be light particles. Occasionally they formed into waves. In reference to the concept of; "Wave-Particle Duality."

Joined by South Korean Wheelchair Rugby (Murderball) players the particles then started to arrange themselves into chains or strings.

This introduced the complex concept of; "String Theory."

The discovery of the Higgs-Boson sub-atomic particle has shown that everything in the universe exists within a web of field of tiny, sub-atomic particles.

String Theory posits that this web or field is made up of sub-atomic particles arranged into strings. Rather like the threads you would find in a piece of fabric. 

It is the vibration of these strings which causes interactions with the field. So something like humming a Rihanna song causing a vibration which makes it rain.

Above the arena appeared a Lotus with four petals. These petals represented; Courage, Determination, Inspiration and Equality. 

Slowly the Lotus petals closed to form what resembled an Atom. As in Atom Bomb (A-bomb) or other sort of nuclear weapon.

This imagery was interesting because the Lotus flower has a special place in Animist religions. Particularly in Mahyana Buddhists who have Lotus or; "Padma" Sutra religious text.

The Lotus serves then as a symbol for the journey of enlightenment towards the complete purification of body, mind and deed through Buddhist teaching. 

An open Lotus signifies enlightenment while a closed Lotus signifies ignorance.

The petals of this Lotus; Courage, Determination, Inspiration and Equality closed to form a symbol of nuclear weapons. Suggesting the pursuit by a certain nation - we won't say who - is a regressive step leading to and driven by ignorance.

The sequence ended with a projection of a constellation of stars onto the arena floor. Signifying the universe. The sub-atomic particles in their quantum strings moved amid this universe.

After all as Einstein pointed out everything in the universe is either Energy or Matter and can transition between those states.

Obviously the projection also featured the colours of the Wu Xing. 

Because Einstein was not the first to see the universe in that way.

21:20 on 14/3/18 (UK date).

The 2018 Winter Para-Olympics: Opening Ceremony Pt.4

A continuation of Part 3;

Opening Speeches:

It is protocol that each Opening Ceremony includes a sequence for opening speeches. These are given by the head of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the head of the National Paralympic Committee (NPC) of the host nations.

In this ceremony the first speech was given by the head of the RoK's NPC. A man named Lee Hee-beom.

However the way the South Korean stadium announcer pronounced this name made it sound like; "Lee Ki-bum." As in; "Leaky Bum." The sort of thing a diarrhoea sufferer would experience.

One of the themes of the Olympic Closing Ceremony was the things that are common to all humans. For example that wherever you go in the World elementary school aged children are considered adorable.

Another example is jokes about bodily functions. Wherever you go in the World jokes about bodily functions are considered hilarious.

Lee Hee-beom began his speech with a quick history to the Para-Olympics.

The Para-Olympics began in Britain at the Stoke-Manderville hospital. There Dr Ludwig Guttmann was treating British soldiers who had suffered severe impairments during the Second World War. Such as partial paralysis and amputations.

Dr Guttmann used sport to rehabilitate these men by showing them they could still achieve and participate in life despite their injuries.

The history of the Para-Olympics of course touches on the Korean Peninsula's own troubled history prior to, during and after the Second World War. Without making too big an issue of it.

The first Para-Olympics took place in Britain coinciding with the 1948 Summer Olympics held in London. 2018 is obviously the 70th anniversary of those first games. This is why the UK feels it deserves an oversized role in the Para-Olympics

Although the first Para-Olympics were held alongside an Olympics the organisation of the events then quickly diverged.

The "Para" is Para-Olympics does not mean; "Paralysed" or; "Paraplegic." It means "Parallel."

It used to be that you would have an Olympics in one year in one particular country. Then you would have the Para-Olympics in a different year in a completely different country. The two sets of games would continue on their respective tracks never meeting.

This changed at the 1988 Summer Olympics held in Seoul in the RoK. Here the South Korean hosts brought the Olympics and the Para-Olympics together on an equal footing.

That is why the UK views the RoK are something of a threat to its dominance of the political aspects of the Para-Olympics.

This history of the Para-Olympics also established the main theme of Lee Hee-beom's speech. The transformative power of the of the games. This year the RoK is making a big effort to make sure there is little or no distinction between the Olympics and the Para-Olympics.

As an example of the transformative power of the games Lee Hee-beom cited Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt.

This seemed a little dig at the summer sports which we all know are far inferior to the winter sports. After all without the Olympics Usain Bolt is just a man who can run really fast in a straight line for 100m.

Winter or summer it's clear that Para-Olympic sports are superior to Olympic sports.

For example Olympic skiers hurtle down a mountain at speeds of around 100km/h. Visually Impaired Para-Olympic skiers hurtle down a mountain at speeds of around 100km/h. While being completely unable to see where they are going.

At the 2014 Winter Para-Olympics there was something of an amusing moment. Poor visibility meant that the Sit-Ski events had to be cancelled for safety reasons. The Visually Impaired Skiers just carried on because that level of danger is normal for them.

The Para-Olympics also involve another form of transformation. The way in which equipment and techniques are used to overcome physical impairments.

As an example of this transformative power Lee Hee-beom cited the American Helen Keller.

Helen Keller was born deaf, blind and mute. The impairment in those senses were overcome using the sense of touch. Helen Keller was taught to write and communicate by using a finger to form the shape of the letters on the palm of the hand. Fiercely intelligent Helen Keller went on to become the first deaf and blind person to earn a university degree.

Lee Hee-beom also cited British Physicist Stephen Hawking.

At the time of the speech Stephen Hawking famously suffered from the degenerative condition Motor Neurone Disease (MND) sometimes known as; Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig's disease. This though did not stop him becoming one of the greatest scientific minds of possibly all generations.

Hawking's MND robbed him of the power of speech. However using a computer synthesiser this did not stop him acting as the narrator of the 2012 Summer Para-Olympic Opening Ceremony. Held in the UK, birthplace of the Para-Olympics.

By an amazing coincidence Stephen Hawking died today. On other famous Physicist Albert Einstein's birthday.

A day known in the US where they don't know how to write dates as; "Pi Day." It is a celebration of the mathematical constant Pi - the short version of which is written as 3.14.

As a result this small reference has become a much wider reflection of Stephen Hawking's entire life.

The 2012 Opening Ceremony touched on the Unified Quantum Field Theory. Something the South Korean ceremonies have explored extensively. Particularly as it related to the Taoist concept of the Wu Xing.

Quantum Field Theory posits that everything in the universe exists within a web of field of tiny, sub-atomic particles.

String Theory which is referenced in the sequence of this ceremony which features the giant upon whose shoulders Isaac Newton stood posits that these sub-atomic particles exists ordered into chains rather like strings or threats in a blanket.

However these sub-atomic particles are modelled an action in one part of the field will cause a hard to predict outcome in another part of the field.

Therefore it is theoretically possible that all this talk about Stephen Hawking and his work caused Stephen Hawking's death.

In much the same way it is theoretically possible that everyone humming star of the 2012 Para-Olympic Closing Ceremony Rihanna's song; "Umbrella" caused it to rain throughout the summer of 2007.

Taoists do not consider this to be a new belief. They see it as similar to the idea of the Wu Xing. Essentially elements existing in cooperation with each other constantly seeking balance.

One of the few people on the planet who could properly discuss any potential link between Quantum Physics and the Wu Xing was Stephen Hawking.

Stephen Hawking's very obvious physical impairments have, from time to time, made him a talking point about disability rights and healthcare.

One on the big talking points in this area at the 2016 Summer Para-Olympics was the issue of euthanasia or assisted dying. Belgian Silver medallist Marieke Vervoort announced before the games that her condition would lead her to seek to end her own life.

The founding ethos of the Para-Olympics is to use sport to show wounded veterans that physical impairment does not mean that their lives are over. The notion of assisted dying goes strongly against that ethos.

However there are certain degenerative conditions such as MND and Multiple sclerosis (MS) which will eventually kill their sufferers. They will kill them in extremely painful and humiliating ways. So there is an argument for allowing people with those conditions to chose the manner and time of their inevitable death.

This presents a huge moral challenge. If the person choosing to die is under any sort of pressure then we are back in the day's of Nazi Germany. Where the disabled were exterminated as part of a mass eugenics program. A notion of innate superiority the Olympic movement has never quite let go of.

One of the stranger sequences of the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony focused on Britain's National Health Service (NHS). At the time former US President Obama was trying to introduce a similar universal healthcare system.

In the arguments against this much was made of the fact the NHS denies care to patients which is considers not to be cost effective. Loud mouth American commentators went so far as to claim the NHS has death panels. Essentially committees who decided whether a patient lives or dies based on their economic value.

During this debate someone famously claimed that if Stephen Hawking were British a NHS death panel would have deemed his MND too expensive to treat and he would have been killed.

Stephen Hawking then pointed out that he is British. And that the majority of his healthcare had been provided by the NHS.

Stephen Hawking's has not been the only sudden British celebrity death today. It has also been announced that quiz show host Jim Bowen has died.

Jim Bowen provides me with an opportunity to discuss another form of impairment which is a topic of growing importance in developed nations. Albeit not one that features at the Para-Olympics. 

Mental illness. An important topic for British Crown Prince William and his; "Heads Together Campaign."

I did use to know a psychiatric patient who suffered from Grandiose Delusions (GD). A from of Delusional Personality Disorder. 

Sufferers of this condition believe that they are an important historical figure. Such as Napoleon, Julius Cesar or Adolf Hitler. It's similar to Jerusalem Syndrome. A condition Obama seemed to be severely afflicted with.

However the GD sufferer I knew was convinced he was 1970's British Dart's themed quiz show host Jim Bowen. He would force people to play imaginary games of the quiz show; "Bullseye."

This is every bit as insane and hilarious as it sounds. So I have told this story many times.

Most recently I remember telling it while visiting the Intensive Care/Treatment Unit (IC/TU) at Salisbury Hospital. This led to me getting told off. Apparently its a bad idea to make people suffering from Respiratory Distress laugh.

So it certainly appears that while UK Prime Minister Theresa May is doubling down on her false claim that Russia poisoned MI6 agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury the UK Establishment has been on a bit of a killing spree. 

Perhaps to send the message that she no longer enjoys their support. 

At around 15:55 on 14/3/18 (UK date) I will pick this up after a late lunch.

Edited around 17:00 on 14/3/18 (UK date) to add;

Having established this theme of transformation and equality Lee Hee-beom then spoke of South Koreans pride at once again welcoming the World back to their nation. In this spirit of upgraded and mature attitudes in the sectors of politics and social attitudes.

During the 1988 Summer Olympics the RoK was ruled by President Roh Tae-woo. He had been appointed as the successor to Chun Doo-hwan.

Chun Doo-hwan seized power in a military coup in 1979. This restored the military dictatorship of Park Chun-hee which the democratically elected President Choi Kyu-hah had ended just 8 months previously.

One of the most brutal episodes of this coup was the May 1980 Gawngju Massacre. 

Chun Doo-wan's troops massacred some 600 students at Chonnam University who were protesting against him seizing power. Chun Doo-wan was sentenced to death over the massacre in 1996 but was later pardoned.

So the pride South Koreans feel is over their transition from the military dictatorship of Park Chung-hee. Creating a society built on civilised notions of equality and inclusion. Not just in terms of the relationship between the disabled and the able bodied but also between citizens and the state.

In short the RoK is extremely proud of no longer being; "Parkland." No matter how often US Democrats march in support of Parkland.

During Lee Hee-beom's speech there were frequent shots of the team from the DPRK. 

I know that in that acronym the; "PRK" stands for; "People's Republic of Korea."

During these Para-Olympics what the; "D" stands for seems to up for interpretation.

Lee Hee-beom's speech was followed with a speech by Andrew Parsons. The head of the IPC.

Parson's speech was not as impressive as Lee Hee-beom's extremely impressive speech. It did feature a few notable moments though.

It referenced the fact that International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach was in attendence. A symbol of the Para-Olympics upgraded and equal status.

Parson's then appeared to follow directly the path laid out by his predecessor Philip Craven. He pledged to do everything to ensure that Para-Olympic sport went ahead untainted by drug use and doping. This seemed to be a laughter cue.

Due to the vast array of medical conditions on display almost all Para-Olympians are on huge amounts of drugs they need to control those conditions. So drug use by athletes is most certainly not a taboo amongst Para-Olympians. Drug cheating is almost impossible under the rules.

The equivilent cheating within the Para-Olympics is the issue of impairement classification. In short people overstating their impairments through things like taking cold baths to reduce joint mobility in order to compete against less competitive opponents.

At the same time it was looking at the granting of Theraputic Use Exemptions (TUE) such as for Bradley Wiggins the UK Parliment's Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport also examined Para-Olympic classification. Driven mainly by complaints by Craig Spence - father of T38 longjump world champion Olivia Spence.

The fact that it is almost impossible to do drug cheating under Para-Olympic rules makes the hard line Philip Craven took against Russia even harder to rationally explain.

At the end of his speech Andrew Parsons handed over to South Korean President Moon Jae-in to formally declare games open.

President Moon Jae-in continues in not being President Park Geun-hye. The daughter of dictator Park Chun-hee who rigged the 2012 election by falisfying claims of foreign interference. 

Commercial Break:

Another commercial break from UK broadcaster Channel 4.

Para-Olympic Flag & Anthem:

It is a matter of protocol that every ceremony must feature a sequence in which the Para-Olympic flag is raised and the Para-Olympic anthem is played.

Again Channel 4 came back late from their commercial break. So I have no idea how the large, unfurled flag entered the arena.

However it was handed to the military flag detail which proceeded to raise it.

As this was happened a recording of the Para-Olympic anthem was played.

However the All Wheelchair Choir who led the singing of the South Korean anthem were in attendence.

I have to say that I doubt their claim to be an all wheelchair choir. There were certainly members who were standing. Including one young man who appeared to be suffering from Downs Syndrome.

This provided an opportunity to remind people that not all impairments are the same.

Although I'm not trying to be rude Downs Syndrome is a severe development impairment. It is distingushed by incredibly low IQ. As a result people with Downs Syndrome are really too stupid to participate in the Para-Olympics. They instead compete in the Special Olympics.

However Downs Syndrome is often mistaken for Cerebral Palsy which is included in the Para-Olympics. Cerebral Palsy affects the way the brain communicates with the body. It in no way affects a person's intelligence. Sufferers can be just as stupid or just as intelligent as anybody else.

People mistaking Cerebral Palsy for Downs Syndrome and treating sufferers as if they're mentally retarded is obviously extremely frustrating for people with Cerebral Palsy.

As assuming anyone in a wheelchair is mentally retarded is also extremely frustrating for wheelchair uses. People like perhaps Stephen Hawking.


It is protocol that each ceremony includes a sequence in which the Para-Olympic oath is taken by representives of the competitors and the judges.

The names of the three inviduals taking the oaths of this occassion were not provided. I find that a little frustating because this is their moments of fame. It only seems right they are given due credit. Even in an onscreen caption.

Commercial Break:

Another commercial break from UK broadcaster Channel 4.

17:55 on 14/3/18 (UK date).


Tuesday, 13 March 2018

A Woman's Place.

Is Clearly Not in Government.

On March 4th (4/3/18) Britain's foreign intelligence service MI6 poisoned Russian MI6 agent Sergei Skripal. In the UK city of Salisbury, Wiltshire.

Also poisoned in this incident was the man's daughter Yulia Skripal and a British police officer. You will notice though that the death toll from this little stunt stands at precisely zero.

This event was Britain's big set piece for the 2018 Winter Para-Olympics which opened in PyeongChang in the Republic of Korea (RoK) on March 9th (9/3/18).

The UK feels it has an outsized role within the Para-Olympics. For reasons South Korean NPC head Lee Ki-bum explained rather well in his speech at the games' Opening Ceremony.

Obviously in order to dominate global discussion for a period of three weeks the Skripal story had to encompass a number of issues. I think I covered them rather well in these posts;

From a British perspective one of the big issues going into the games was the June 2017 arson attack on the Grenfell Tower in London by the UK Labour Party. In this they murdered 70 people in an effort to overthrow the government which had only weeks before been democratically and lawfully elected.

More specifically the issue is Britain's continuing failure to prosecute the Labour Party over the arson attack.

On its own that is a morally dubious decision. Within democracies mass murder is not normally considered a legitimate campaign tool.

This moral failure also significantly weakens Britain as a nation. It denies it a majority government under Conservative Party Prime Minister Theresa May.

At a time when Britain is facing the most important period in its history for at least a generation. Negotiating its exit from the European Union (EU). The so-called; "Brexit."

Rather as in the John le Carre spy novel; "A Small Town in Germany" British politics has been infiltrated at high levels by individuals with extreme nationalist, borderline fascist beliefs. This is particularly true of the Conservative Party.

These are the people who continued to seethe at the fact Nazi Sweden was defeated by Russia during the 1939 Winter War. Their default position is hostility and aggression towards Russia.

Led by individuals like the Conservatives Thomas Tugendhat and Dominic Raab this group have been pursing efforts to seize assets from opponents of certain Russian oligarchs under what has been dubbed the; "Magnitsky Amendment."

In reference to the US the US Magnitsky Act passed in 2012 by former President Obama. As part of his package of support for Islamist terrorists in Syria and beyond.

Supporters of the UK Magnitsky Amendment have been actively pursuing this idea since December 2016. Significantly before the events of March 2018 in Salisbury.

It almost goes without saying that these extreme nationalists also hold some strong views on the Brexit issue.

As such the Skripal poisoning serves a very public test of Prime Minister May's leadership. In the Brexit era.

Is Prime Minister May a strong leader capable of staying the course. Or is she a weak leader who is buffeted by the winds and ultimately beholden to the extremists within her own party.

Yesterday (12/3/18) we got Prime Minister May's test results.

In front of the UK Parliament she disregard what we all know to be true. She blamed the Skripal poisoning on Russia.

This comes after particularly Tugendhat had engaged in several days of what is termed; "Foghorn Diplomacy."

He has appeared on a host of TV news and politics shows demanding and creating an expectation that Prime Minister May blames Russia and takes strong action. By which he means the Magnitsky Amendment he has long fantasised over.

Prime Minister May has no doubt found a way to convince herself this will improve relations with Russia. Ahead of the March 18th (18/3/18)  Election Russian President Vladimir Putin certainly doesn't mind being accused of this type of thing.

However in failing to stay the course Prime Minister May has trashed a number of complex British diplomatic positions.

For example the Skripal poisoning is said to have occurred at an Italian restaurant. On the same day EU member Italy was holding an election which has resulted in complex coalition negotiations.

Even under the pro-EU centrist-left government of Matteo Renzi Italy has strongly opposed the US and UK's hostility towards Russia. Every time sanctions have come up for renewal Italy has opposed. The populist parties set to replace Renzi's government are even more opposed to sanctions on Russia.

So if the UK tries to conduct Brexit negotiations while demanding more sanctions on Russia Italy is going to seek to punish it. And punish it hard.

Then there is the fact that Skripal was recruited for MI6 by an officer who now works in the private sector. For a company run by Christopher Steele. The man at the centre of US Democrats efforts to rig the 2016 US Election.

So there is absolutely no possibility that Tugendhat, Raab et al's anti-Russian agenda can be pursued. It's a threat to British national security. Anyone pursuing it will have to be eliminated. Rather like Jo Cox was eliminated.

However that is not the extent of Prime Minister May's failure. Not only did she lie to Parliament about Russia being responsible she set herself a deadline of midnight tonight for further action to be taken. Action which she cannot take.

So in trying to avoid being viewed as a weak leader by frankly idiots in her own party Prime Minister May has put herself on a timetable to be revealed as what the public will now believe is a leader weak on Russia.

Prime Minister May will have to publicly and formally apologise.

After all if we were going to bring down her minority government we would only need to look at corrupt payments between feuding Russian oligarchs like the Lebedev brothers and Conservatives like Tugendhat.

It's as if he's trying to line his own pockets at the expense of the nation.

12:05 on 13/3/18 (UK date).

Edited at around 16:25 on 13/3/18 (UK date) to add;

To defend the Conservative Party's position Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Senior Foreign Minister) Boris Johnson gave a widely distributed media interview.

In it Johnson cited the support of the UK's allies. Specifically US Secretary of State (Senior Foreign Minister) Rex Tillerson.

The problem is that Rex Tillerson isn't the US Secretary of State.

While Johnson's first act of the day was to claim the support of Tillerson the US', some four hours behind, first act of the day was to fire Tillerson.

The timing of this announcement was chosen for maximum effect. To coincide with UK Chancellor of the Exchequer (Senior Finance Minister) Philip Hammond's Spring Statement.

The UK Secretary of State for Trade (Senior Trade Minister) Liam Fox is a prime example of the corruption within the Conservative Party. In 2011 he was forced to resign from Secretary of State for National Defence (Senior Defence Minister) over an influence peddling scandal.

The fact that Fox is back in government rather than in prison is testament to just how weak Prime Minister May's position is.

However Tillerson's departure has been a long time coming. Although he has faced extreme challenges - such as the Parkland shooting - he has very much underperformed in the role.

For example when confronted with questions about the Parkland shooting in Lebanon on February 15th (15/2/18) Tillerson was visibly shaken and unable to provide a coherent answer. A Secretary of State should never appear  unsettled and incapable of providing an answer.

Then there was the March 9th (9/3/18) announcement of a HOGS level meeting between the US and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). This had been suggested and endorsed by the RoK.

However Tillerson was so unprepared for this he had to cancel official engagements in Kenya the following day citing illness. These engagements included paying tribute to victims of the 1998 Al Qaeda bombing of the US Embassy in Nairobi.

Tillerson's personal failings reflect wider failings within the State Department he led.

For example on March 2nd (2/3/18) Deputy Secretary of State John J Sullivan visited Ukraine to celebrate the fourth anniversary of the US overthrowing the Ukrainian government.

Meanwhile in the RoK people celebrating the fourth anniversary of the 2014 Winter Olympics and condemning the US' attempts to disrupt the event by overthrowing Ukraine's government.

Ukraine itself was expelling Mikhail Saakashvilli from their country. A key figure in the US overthrow of the Ukrainian government. Also a major figure of fun in the RoK as the man who entirely faked a Russian land invasion in an effort to rig an election.

This direction has left State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert resembling a mentally ill woman screaming at passing traffic in the street.

It gives the impression of a department just as utterly detached from reality as it was when it was run by Hillary Clinton.

Tillerson's replaced is Mike Pompeo. As the formed head of the CIA he is certainly better versed in the work of the intelligence community. And the games that they play.

16:55 on 13/3/18 (UK date).

Monday, 12 March 2018

The 2018 Winter Para-Olympic: Opening Ceremony Pt.3

A continuation of Part 2;

Para, Parenthesis?:

This sequence was centred around a rather dubious proposition.

We were introduced to an Elementary School aged, visually impaired girl whose name was given as; "Lee So-jung."

It is claimed that Lee So-jung is a talented artist who uses her imagination to draw what her visual impairment does not allow her to see. Her apparent skill of Extra-Sensory Perception led her to be the subject of a 2016 documentary entitled; "Blind Angel."

I have researched these claims extensively and found nothing to support them. Leading me to believe the Dokkaebi are back, messing with the foreigners.

There is a reasonably famous Korean singer named Lee So-jung or simply; "Sojung." After placing in the top 8 in the first (2012) season of the Korean version of; "The Voice" she went on to become a founding member of the Korean Pop (K-Pop) girl band; "Ladies Code."

In September 2014 Ladies Code were involved in a horrific car accident at the Singal Junction on the Yeongdong Expressway. Two of the band members - EunB and RiSe - were killed and Sojung was badly injured.

After Sojung and the other two members of the band - Ashley and Zuny - had recovered from their injuries the band continued as a three piece.

There is also a very famous Blind Angel named; "Samael."

The Olympic Opening Ceremony compared the Creation Myths of Korea's traditional Animist religions with the Creation Myth of the Abrahamic religions.

The widely accepted version of the Abrahamic Creation Myth is laid down in the Biblical book of Genesis. It is rather simple; A single god in another dimension creates the human dimension in six days and rests on the seventh.

There are more complex fringe versions of the story though. Particularly in Kabbalah - the mystical interpretation of Judaism.

This posits that there is only one god. However the dimension of god - Heaven - is split into seven sub-regions or chambers. Each of those chambers is controlled by an Archangel - essentially god's lieutenant.

The seventh chamber is controlled by the Archangel Samael although he lives in the fifth chamber. Samael is considered to be the Angel of Death, Temptation and Sin. In more conventional interpretations of the Abrahamic religions Samael is known by the name; "Satan."

The Abrahamic Creation Myth describes the birth of humanity as God's creation of the first man - Adam. God then creates the first woman - Eve - and the two live together in the Garden of Eden before Eve is tempted by a snake and the two are expelled from the garden.

Some believe that Samael initially opposed the creation of man. His response to was create Lilith - a demon to keep Adam company who is considered his first wife. It is Samael who appeared as the snake to punish Eve for replacing Lilith as Adam's wife.

Mainstream Abrahamic religions consider Satan to be a separate force in opposition to God. However in Kabbalah Samael is considered to be God's servant. His job is to punish on God's behalf. In order to follow God's instructions blindly Samael is known as; "The Blind Angel."

Samael is also sometimes referred to as; "The Poison of God" or; "The Blindness of God."

That prompts discussion about the way that - particularly in Abrahamic religions - disability has in the past been viewed as some sort of curse or punishment by God.

The drawings Lee So-jung produced during this sequence were projected in light onto the arena floor. They were inspired by the sea which sits between Korea's east coast - just beyond PyeongChang - and the west of Japan.

The name you use to describe this sea is one of the most controversial topics concerning the International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO). They refer to it as the; "Sea of Japan" arguing that is the commonly used name.

However the Sea of Japan name only came into common usage during Japan's occupation of the Korean Peninsula between 1910 and 1945. So in 1992 both the RoK and the DPRK raised an objection to this name at the UN's Sixth Conference on the Standardisation of Geographical Names.

Alongside wanting the distinguish the sea from Japan the RoK and the DPRK also want to distinguish it from each other. So the RoK want it to be named the; "East Sea" while the DPRK want it to be named the; "Korean East Sea." This division has only served to help Japan's claim.

The IHO continue to refuse to acknowledge either of the Korean names for the sea. However the UN and some more enlightened map makers have taken to labelling it with the Japanese name and the RoK name in parenthesis. So; 

Sea of Japan (East Sea).

These open and close brackets or parenthesis have become something of a talking point amongst Internet users.

Anti-Semitic Internet users including Neo-Nazis and some Muslims have taken to putting multiple parenthesis around the names of Jewish people. Including those who believe in the Kabbalah. For example;

((((Benjamin Netanyahu))))

Here the parenthesis are supposed to signify the crimes of Jews echoing through history.

Inspired by the sea just east of PyeongChang Lee So-jung's drawings obviously featured various forms of aquatic life. Most prominently a Blue Whale.

The promotes discussion about the UN's recent focus on protecting the global marine environment. Most notably at the June 2017 Ocean Conference and the appointment of Peter Thomson as a Special Envoy for the Oceans.

As a global effort the reduction of particularly plastic pollution in the World's ocean is a large topic. It includes things like China's 2018 decision to no longer take in the World's plastic waste for recycling as it tries to expand its economy beyond being the; "Workshop of the World."

It must be said though that this current focus on ocean pollution seems driven by a desire to distract people from the fact the Paris Agreement won't combat Climate Change.

Towards the end of the sequence Lee So-jung's drawing of aquatic life seemed to turn to stone. In reference to fossils. Which certainly challenge the Abrahamic Creation myth.

It also raises the question of how long it is before ocean life we currently see will soon become extinct.

You may well have noticed the similarities between this sequence and the sequence produced by China in the Olympic Closing Ceremony. Where they too projected an image of a Blue Whale in what resembled a counterfeit of a Japanese Sony Bravia TV commercial.

The sea just east of PyeongChang is home to what I will term the; "Liancourt Rocks." 

Both the RoK and the DPRK are in dispute over control of these islands with Japan. Officially it was the dispute between the RoK and the DPRK over the Liancourt Rocks which prevented the two nations marching as a single team in the Parade of Nations.

Japan is also currently in dispute with China over control of a set of islands which I am going to refer to as the; "Pinnacle Islands." These are located in the East China Sea significantly south of the Korean Peninsula.

These islands are known to the Japanese as the; "Senkaku Islands" and to China as the; "Diaoyu Islands." China is also in dispute with its Taiwan province who refer to the islands as the; "Diaoyutai Islands."

By so closely referencing China's contribution the RoK seem to be indicating they would be prepared to support China's claim to the Pinnacle Islands. Provided China is prepared to back the RoK in its own dispute with Japan over the Liancourt Rocks.

At around 18:15 I'm going to have to pick this up later. Not necessarily today.

Edited at around 17:25 on 13/3/18 (UK date) to add above and below;

The Dream of Children: 

The black arena floor that had been Lee So-jung's canvas suddenly became white. The white of the snow and ice of winter sports.

Lee So-jung was joined in the arena by Bandabi - the mascot of the games. Bandabi is an Asiatic Black Bear which is local to Gangwon Province where the games are being held. It is actually the symbol of the province.

Asiatic Black Bear's are distinguished by a white crescent moon marking on their chests. This provides a nice link with Soohorang - the mascot of the Olympics. Soohorang is a White Tiger one of the Four Guardians. On one level these are the names of the constellations of stars.

Bandabi was riding a snowboard with wheels. Something which is easy to mistake for a skateboard.

The Olympic Closing Ceremony featured skate-skiers. Essentially skis on wheels. This was a little joke at the expense of 2022 Winter games host China. Although it has the winter games Beijing, China doesn't really have snow. Or much interest in Winter sports.

Bandabi's wheeled snowboard also seemed to be a little reference to the 2020 Summer games to be held in Japan. That will include skateboarding for the first time.

Lee So-jung and Bandabi where then joined by lots of elementary school aged children all enjoying winter sports.

Much like scenes in the US TV Show; "A Handmaids Tale" these are apparently the only children in the RoK.

Then arrived in the arena what was described as a; "Paraboat." Although this looked nothing like any boat I've ever seen.

Not even the "Geobukseon" or; "Turtle Ship" invented by the Koreans during the Joseon Dynasty to fight off Japanese invaders.

The Paraboat is also not powered like any boat I've ever seen. Apparently it is powered by children's dreams.

This made this mysterious contraption resemble something from a Doctor Suess book.

This seemed to be a little nod to the 2016 Summer Para-Olympics. In that Parade of Nations competitors were led out by performers riding some sort of bizarre Doctor Suess themed bicycle. That Opening Ceremony was of course organised by current IPC President Andrew Parsons.

It also referenced the 2014 Winter Olympic Closing Ceremony. Which these games officially pick up the baton from.

That featured a strange golden galleon-style sailing ship. However rather than floating on the sea this ship flew in the air. Held aloft by a giant hot air balloon. Of the type commonly associated with the Jules Verne novel; "Around the World in 80 Day's."

This was very similar to a contraption used in the 1988 British/American children's fantasy movie; "The Adventures of Baron von Munchhausen."

The 2018 Winter Olympic Opening Ceremony introduced the themes of the different types of power. Such as; "Hard Power," "Soft Power" and the newly invented; "Sharp Power."

One of the main architects of Soft Power was Nazi Germany propaganda chief  Joesph Goebbels.

At the time war propaganda was really focused on trashing your enemy while repeatedly drumming into the audience at home how great their nation is and how well the war was going.

Goebbels realised that it was also important to amuse and entertain your audience. In part to distract them from the hardships of everyday life and in part because people like people who amuse them.

The 1943 Goebbels produced movie; "The Adventures of Baron von Munchhausen" is widely recognised as one of the first examples of Soft Power.

Guided by Bandabi Lee So-jung climbed about the Paraboat and it floated in the air. There Lee So-jung treated us to a song. Introducing us to the concept of Lee So-jung the singer.

While this was going on there was a mass performance of break dancing by South Korean performers. And Bandabi who really got into it.

This example of "Cultural Appropriation" - South Korean dancers performing a traditional African American for of dance - no doubt drove Obama's BLM warriors into a fury.

During the performance there was a projection of the constellations of the stars onto the arena floor. This display included the colours of the Wu Xing.

This highlighted the connection between Bandabi and Soohorang and the other Four Guardians. It also referenced the concept of Unified Quantum Field Theory of physics not exactly being a new idea to Korean Taoists who follow the Wu Xing.

Into the arena were brought light sculptures showing the core Winter Para-Olympic sports. Essentially these were wire sculptures with lightbulbs attached.

These looked similar to the Augmented Reality (AR) sequences during the Olympic Opening Ceremony. However because they physically existed within the arena the audience could actually see them.

The sequence then ended with a short video made up of animations of the light sculptures. However the audience could not see that.

18:25 on 13/3/18 (UK date).


Sunday, 11 March 2018

The 2018 Winter Para-Olympic: Opening Ceremony Pt.2

A continuation of Part 1;

A Royal Welcome:

This next sequence is based on the welcoming ceremony given to important visitors to the Korean Royal Court.

Apparently this type of ceremony has an official name.

Unfortunately there is significantly less information about the Para-Olympic Opening Ceremony available than there is compared to the Olympic Opening Ceremony. For example its Wikipedia entry merely confirms the time and location at which it took place.

Therefore being unable to see the name of this ceremony written down I can't research it. As I proved yesterday spending two hours trying and failing to research it.

However the period of Korean history the ceremony dates from is the Joseon Dynasty. This is considered one of the most important periods of Korean history.

The Olympic Opening Ceremony focused on the Three Kingdoms of Korea period between 57 B.C and 668 A.D. The Three Kingdoms period ended with the Korean Peninsula being divided into North and South states between 668 A.D and roughly 900 A.D.

This was followed by the Later Three Kingdoms Period between roughly 900 A.D and 920 A.D. This gave way to the Unitary Dynastic Period which lasted from 920 A.D until the start of Japanese Colonial rule in 1910.

The Joseon Dynasty was the longest lasting and most important of the three dynasties of the Unitary Dynastic Period.

The Joseon period was considered the height of Korean culture, technology, trade and regional power. Much of the societal rules such as the role of women and the class system which continue to exist in modern South Korean society came into being during Joseon Dynasty.

The key figure within the Joseon Dynasty is King Sejong the Great who ruled from 1418 to 1450. Amid his many scientific and cultural achievements was the creation of the Hangul. The Korean system of writing that continues to be used to this day.

There were also some extremely troubled periods during the Joseon Dynasty. Most notably the rule of King Yi Yung known as Yeonsangun of Joseon between 1494 and 1506.

Yeonsangun led purges of the intellectual elite known as; "Sarim"  including the; "Office of Censors" a body supposed to act as a check on the King's power and hold him to account. Yeonsangun even banned the use of Hangul after he discovered newly literate peasants were using it to criticise him.

During the Joseon Dynasty Korea also suffered numerous invasions. Twice at the hands of the Japanese in 1592 and 1597. Then by the Chinese Manchu in 1627 and again in 1636.

This saw Korea withdrawing into isolation leading it to be dubbed the; "Hermit Kingdom."

Many - particularly western - commentators have taken to referring to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK/North) as the; "Hermit Kingdom."

This must really annoy Koreans because the Hermit Kingdom refers to a specific and different period of Korean history. The fact commentators don't know that makes you doubt the way they describe themselves as; "Experts on Korea."

Whatever the name of this Joseon Royal welcoming ceremony it centred around music and dance.

It began with a single, below the elbow amputee striking a Pungmul-buk drum. This is a type of drum dating back to the Three Kingdoms period used in Pungmul folk music. "Buk" is merely the Korean word for; "Drum."

Although I did not catch his name the performers specific impairment is significant here. As part of the ceremony the Pungmul-buk is struck with the right hand rather than the left hand used for a similar Suri-buk. This performers right hand was a prosthetic limb.

The action then shifted to two performers playing a very large drum laying flat on the centre of the arena floor. I think this is a type of drum known as a; "Junggo." However I can honestly say this is the first conversation about traditional Korean drums I've ever had in my life. So I may well be wrong.

As this large drum was being played the sound waves it produced were being shown as light waves projected onto the arena floor.

If you've been reading up on the Doppler Effect you would know that the frequency of these waves changes relatively to the point at which you are observing them.

Sound waves being shown as light waves raises an important point about the adaptations that can be made to overcome physical impairments.

It focused on what I think it one of the most common impairments known to TV viewers. The sense of sight being used to overcome an impairment in the sense of hearing.

In short visual signals are used to compensate for hearing impaired people who can't detect audio clues. TV programs feature subtitles so people who can't hear what is being said can read what is being said.

Many TV services now also include Audio Description. This allows people who cannot see what is happening have what is happening described to them through sound. Hilarious during sex scenes.

This was a big theme of the 2016 Summer Para-Olympics held in Rio de Janerio, Brazil.

They actually went into a lot of depth about a neurological condition called; "Synesthesia." People suffering from Synesthesia experience a sensory input in the form of the perception of another sense. So for example they might smell noise or hear colour.

Officially the 2018 Winter Para-Olympics are picking up the baton from the 2014 Winter Para-Olympics held in Sochi, Russia. However this reference to Brazil seemed in honour of new IPC President Andrew Parsons.

Despite having possibly the most English name imaginable Andrew Parsons is Brazilian. He oversaw the 2016 Summer Para-Olympic games.

He also helps to highlight a major theme from those games. That there simply is no dominant ethnic group in Brazil.

So if Obama's Black Lives Matter (BLM) warriors are serious about eliminating; "Cultural Appropriation" I'm pretty sure they're going to have to exterminate the entire population of Brazil.

The sounds of the drum were joined by dancers performing some variant of a traditional Korean Lotus dance.

The Lotus flower is a potent symbol within Animist religions. Particularly in Mahyana Buddhists who have Lotus or; "Padma" Sutra religious text.

The roots of the Lotus plant grow beneath the muddy water. Yet it's pure white flower grows to bloom above the murk. It serves then as a symbol for the journey of enlightenment towards the complete purification of body, mind and deed through Buddhist teaching.

Lotus dances are traditionally performed during the month of May which marks the birth of Buddha. This also marks the start of spring so the Lotus and Lotus dances are often mistaken for symbols of spring.

Despite these being the Winter Para-Olympics they are actually taking place when South Korea moves from winter into spring. What the Wu Xing would describe as the Earth element - the period between two seasons.

It is quite subversive using a Lotus dance during a ceremony supposedly from the Joseon Dynasty. One of the main efforts of the first Joseon King - Yi Seong-gye known as; "Taejo of Joseon - was to shift Koreans from Buddhism to the teachings of Chinese philosopher Confucius.

As the dance was taking place projected onto the arena floor were colourful images which seemed to resemble the; "Wheel of Time" or "Kalachakra." This is used in predominately Indian and Tibetan Buddhism along with Indian Sikhism and Indian Hinduism. It is portrayed slightly differently by the followers of the different religions.

Indian Hindus worship multiple gods. Three most important are the gods of the triumvirate; Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. They are said to be responsible for the creation of the universe, the protection of the universe and the destruction of the universe respectively.

As the leader of the Manhattan Project the Physicist Robert Oppenheimer is considered to be the father of the nuclear weapons. It is often said that upon witnessing the first nuclear blast Oppenheimer misquoted the Hindu Bhagavad-Gita by saying;

"Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”

His colleague Kenneth Bainbridge is said to have put it more succinctly;

"Now we're all sons of bitches."

The sequence ended with more dancers waving rather than playing handheld Korean drums. Which I think are called; "Sogo."

Commercial Break:

It was at this point the UK broadcaster Channel 4 decided to cut to a commercial break. 

As the ceremony was being broadcast in the middle of the working day - hardly premium advertising space - you would have thought they could had respected the Para-Olympics by avoiding commercial breaks. Just like they avoid putting commercial breaks into Formula 1 races of similar length they show.

Failing that you would have thought they could at least keep the commercial breaks to a minimum. Such as doing a handful of short breaks showing only the program sponsor's branding and one or possibly two adverts.

Channel 4 though decided to go for the maximum amount of advertising they're legally allowed to show. They also seemed to be trying to make the breaks as long as possible by including adverts for other Channel 4 shows which don't count towards the legal limit.

I'm sure they will try and claim this was a deliberate effort to encourage people to stream the event live from the Paralympic website to avoid missing out on key details.

Flag & Anthem:

It is a matter of Para-Olympic protocol that every ceremony must feature the raising or lowering of the flag of the host nation and the singing of the national anthem. Although I don't think its strictly speaking protocol this often involves a large flag being brought into a paraded around the arena by figures of significance.

Due to the commerical break I missed the start of this sequence. While I was able to see enough to see a large flag was used I cannot comment on the flagbearers, their identity or significance. At the very least you would expect that to be on the Paralympics own website.

I joined just in time to see the large flag being handed to the flag detail. Interestingly this was a full military flag detail.

This is noteworthy because under President Park Chung-hee the RoK was an absolute military dictatorship between 1962 and 1979. The RoK didn't fully transition to democracy until after the Cold War in the mid-1990's when it was finally allowed to join the UN.

Nations which have suffered under military dictatorship - such as 2016 Para-Olympic host Brazil - understandably can be quite sensitive about the military performing this sort of role in  public, civilian life.

As part of its transition to democracy the RoK created something called the Royal Guard to perform this type of ceremonial pageantry. As they did in the Olympic ceremonies. Although they are based on the military guard for royal palaces during the Joseon Dynasty the Korean Royal Guard are entirely civilian in nature.

While I understand why the Royal Guard were created and am in no way calling for them to be disbanded their use in the Olympic ceremonies does seem a little odd.

The RoK remains a nation at war and one with compulsory military service. With the military being able to intrude on South Koreans private lives by forcing them to join their ranks for two years it seems petty to object to them being involved in public life by raising a flag at a ceremony.

The use of a military flag detail here seemed to raise that point. While making it clear that South Koreans aren't that sensitive about the role of the military in public life. They just wanted to show off their Royal Guard.

This can also be interpreted as a gesture of support for US President Donald Trump.

The day before the Olympic Opening Ceremony the DPRK held a big military parade. A rival to the RoK's big display of pageantry

US President Trump used this as an opportunity to Troll or wind-up Obama's warriors. He declared that he too wanted a military parade like the one he's attended in France on Bastille Day 2017.

Obama's warriors then leapt on this as evidence that Trump was some sort of North Korean dictator. 

Not realising that 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. The reason why Trump attended the 2017 Bastille Day parade was because it was led by US troops. To mark the 100th anniversary of the US' entry into the First World War.

Some of Obama's warriors - possibly based in Seattle, Washington - pointed to the RoK's use of the non-military Royal Guard as further evidence that Trump is a dictator and totally out of touch with the South Koreans.

I somehow doubt those same people will be commenting on the RoK's use of a military guard here.

As the flag was raised a giant version of the red and blue Taoist Ying Yang symbol at the centre of the South Korean flag was projected onto the floor.

The signing of the South Korean national anthem was led by the; "All Wheelchair Choir" which was formed in 2016. It was mainly sung though by all the South Koreans present in the arena. 

Parade of Nations: 

It is protocol that each ceremony must include a segment in which the flags of the competing nations are paraded around the arena and then raised. Although not compulsory many of the competitors choose to join their flag in this parade.

At the Para-Olympics this can be quite a bit more complicated because many of the competitors suffer from impairments which affect their mobility. 

So for example a double below the knee amputee might find it easy to play Ice Hockey sitting on a sledge. It is more difficult for them to walk a long distance around an arena in the freezing cold.

So this sequence provides me with an opportunity to discuss the adaptations which had been made to the arena to help mitigate impairments which affect mobility.

The main one of these is that they had built a permanent (throughout the ceremony) protocol stage. Sitting where the ramp from the Cauldron to the arena floor. This contained things like the flagpoles used during the ceremony and the microphones used to give the official speeches.

This protocol stage was also fully wheelchair accessible. Rather than stairs it had multiple ramps on it allowing wheelchair users to enter the stage and discreetly leave it.

The protocol stage and its ramps had the effect of reducing the size of the arena floor. Compared to what it was during the Olympic ceremonies.

During the Olympic Parade of Nations everyone paraded around the outside of the larger arena floor in the shape of a Taoist circle. For the Para-Olympic parade not only was the arena floor smaller in size they organised a shorter route across it.

Marked out by light projection and stewards this was in the form of a snake winding across the arena floor.

This too seemed like a gesture of support for US President Trump.

President Trump handled the Olympic ceremonies with a level of diplomatic skill the World has not seen for the US since at least the days of President George H. Bush.

For the Opening Ceremony Trump dispatched Vice President Mike Pence. 

Vice President Pence represents the very hawkish wing of US politics. His brand of Evangelical Christianity has really been used to supplant South Korea's traditional Animist religions as a counter-balance to the DPRK's aggressive atheism. A major theme of the Opening Ceremony. 

On his way to the Opening Ceremony Vice President Pence was sent to Japan to make very hawkish statements about the DPRK. Apparently completely unaware of the tensions between the RoK and Japan.

For the Closing Ceremony Trump dispatched his daughter Ivanka Trump.

In keeping with the spirit of the ceremonies this was an artistic gesture of the new replacing the old. A gesture the South Koreans clearly approve of.

In response to this planned diplomatic play I said we're going to have to invent a whole new; "Troll Tier" just for Trump. A high honour amongst diplomats who are essentially professional trolls.

I suggested; "Snake General." In honour of Snake General who along with Tortoise General make up Black Turtle - one of the Four Guardians featuring in the Olympic Opening Ceremony.

So during this Parade of Nations all nations were being encouraged to follow President Trump's path.

It was also noteworthy for how the Russian team appeared.

Russia was of course banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics. However they were allowed to appear as; "Olympic Athletes of Russia (OAR)." As I explained at the time even that acronym seemed like a protest by the IOC against its President Thomas Bach's treatment of Russia.

The IPC has traditionally taken a harder line against Russia than the IOC. At the 2016 Summer Olympics Russia were only partially banned from events such as athletics. They were completely banned from the 2016 Summer Para-Olympics.

This harder line is on display during these games. Rather than being allowed to compete as OAR Russian athletes are being forced to compete as; "Neutral Athletes." No mention of Russia whatsoever and nothing to distinguish them from other athletes who are competing as neutrals.

This anti-Russian attitude seems to have played a large part in former IPC President Britain's Philip Craven leaving his post. His replacement the Brazilian Andrew Parsons has only been in post for five months.

I don't think anyone seriously wants the complex politics of the Korean Peninsula on their first day at a new job.

Speaking of which. During the Olympic Parade of Nations the two Korea's marched as a single team under a flag of Korean Unification. In the Para-Olympic parade they marched separately.

The real reason for this is that it is the DPRK's first Winter Para-Olympics. So they very much want to be seen. Their two athletes would have been completely swamped by the around 200 athletes from the RoK. 

The official reason though is that the two Korea's could not agree whether the Unification flag should include an image of what I am going to term the; "Liancourt Rocks."

These islands are in Korea's East Sea (The Sea of Japan). They are currently administered by Japan who refer to them as; "Takeshima." However they were seized from Korea during Japanese Colonial rule. 

Therefore the RoK also claim ownership of them referring to the islands as; "Tokto." As does the DPRK who refer to them as; "Dokdo."

Remember this detail. It will be important during a later, aquatic themed sequence.  

Commercial Break: 

Another commercial break from Channel 4.

18:25 on 11/3/18 (UK date).

Saturday, 10 March 2018

The 2018 Winter Para-Olympics: Opening Ceremony.

On March 9th (9/3/18) the 2018 Winter Para-Olympics opened in PyeongChang in the Republic of Korea (RoK/South).

It opened with the traditional Opening Ceremony.

In writing about things like Olympic ceremonies and the Eurovision Song Contest I do worry that I seem to be creating rules of what they should contain. This places an expectation on people who participate in them in the future limiting their creativity.

Generally speaking though Olympic Opening Ceremonies are used to introduce and welcome visitors to the host nation. They then make some attempt to set the agenda of the topics to be discussed during the games.

The 2018 Winter Olympic Opening Ceremony introduced some extremely heavy topics. Such as;

The ancient history of the Korean Peninsula. Particularly the Unified Three Kingdoms of Korea period from 57 B.C to 668 A.D.

This topic touches on the Korean people's relationship with the Chinese people. In particular the Chinese Tang Dynasty's role in unifying the Three Kingdoms and the Korean's betrayal of the Tang Dynasty through the creation of; "Balhae." Within the territory of the Tang Dynasty.

Korea's traditional Animist religions such as Taoism and Buddhism. It compared these to the Abrahamic religions such as Christianity and Islam. In part to highlight how more complex Animist religions are to understand because they lack a codified belief system.

How these Animist religious beliefs have mixed with local folklore to create things like the Four Guardians explanation of the solar system and various Creation Myths. This in turn contrasts with the Mount Paektu Bloodline Creation Myth which the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK/North) system of government is based upon.

Existential philosophy. A topic which by its nature is impossible to define.

Korean Unification. As an existential concept.

The Closing Ceremony also introduced a pair of very complex topics;

The RoK's falling birth rate sometimes referred to as the; "Birth Strike." It looked at the socioeconomic drivers behind this phenomenon. Such as the RoK's highly competitive childhood education system and its equally competitive system of adult employment. Along with women's changing role in society.

Advanced Physics. Particularly the similarity between the relatively new concept of Unified Quantum Field Theory and the ancient Animist belief of the Wu Xing. Five essential elements which make up everything and strive to exist in balance and harmony with each other.

Other Olympic ceremonies have touched on the topic of advanced physics. However the 2018 Closing Ceremony drilled down into very specific concepts. Such as Wave-Particle Duality, Time Dilation and the Doppler Effect.

I just about remember studying Wave-Particle Duality at High School. That section of the course lasted for about a month.

The Para-Olympic Opening Ceremony didn't really introduce fresh topics. Instead it referenced the topics raised in the 2018 Olympic ceremonies. So they could be discussed again at the Para-Olympics.

Rather than not bothering for the Para-Olympics this seemed to be a deliberate effort by the South Koreans to establish parity between the Olympics and the Para-Olympics. It makes the Para-Olympics an extension of the Olympics rather than a separate event.

For example if you were introduced to the concept of Wave-Particle Duality at the Olympic Closing Ceremony and have spent the past two weeks reading up on it. Well the chances are that you're only now ready to start discussing it with other people.

What's a TV Anyway?: 

One prime example of the inferior way that the Para-Olympics are treated compared to the Olympics is the lack of TV coverage.

The Olympics are a massive global event. The Opening and Closing ceremonies are broadcast live by many broadcasters in most nations on Earth. By contrast Britain's Channel 4 is one of only a handful of broadcasters who showed the Para-Olympic Opening Ceremony live.

During the Olympic ceremonies extra efforts have to be made so all these different broadcasters can calibrate and synchronise their coverage.

This is completely absent at Para-Olympic ceremonies. As almost the sole broadcaster I'm pretty sure Channel 4 could get the hosts to move the ceremonies so the fitted in with its scheduling.

As a result the overwhelming majority of people who watched the Para-Olympic Opening Ceremony would have done so online. Streaming it from the Paralympic website.

This cuts out the middlemen of the broadcasters. So rather then having to coordinate the presenters and the pre-show programming the stream of the ceremony starts about 15 minutes before. Then people keep half an eye on it until the show actually starts.

To highlight this the South Korean host broadcaster provided quite an interesting stream. Rather than say a fixed shot of the outside of the arena they had multiple cameras showing the inside of the arena. So you got to see people taking their seats etc giving you a good idea of the atmosphere.

The irony is that while the International Paralympic Committee (IPC)  have been trying to get more TV broadcasters to show their events the role of TV broadcasters has dramatically decreased.

People who work in the media no longer talk in terms of; "TV Programs" but of; "Media Content." The way that people consume that media content is increasingly been done through Internet streaming.

At the 2016 Summer Olympics the International Olympic Committee (IOC) launched its own Internet streaming service - the; "Olympics Channel." The 2018 Winter Games were the first games where this service was up and running.

As no doubt people on the Korean Peninsula have heard I've recently got into the world on Internet streaming. Through a Roku box which sits on my desk/TV stand. About the size of a big button this connects my TV to the Internet.

I was contemplating using this to watch some of the Olympics and Para-Olympics. However I can't because of a flaw in the IOC and IPC's business model.

Like many Internet enabled TV's a Roku box doesn't allow you to use the Internet through a browser.

Instead it allows you use Apps which use certain parts of the Internet. Without a browser you can only use Apps which are available through the service provider - in my case Roku - market place.  The Olympic Channel app is not available in that market place. I don't think the IPC even have an App.

The challenge for content providers such as the IOC and the IPC now seems to be to get their Apps included in the service providers market place. It is unlikely they'll provide this service for free giving the service providers a great deal of control over content.

Particularly in the US they're currently trying to increase their level of control even further by ending the concept of net neutrality. This will allow Internet Service Providers (ISP) to speed up or slow down the content depending on how much the content providers are prepared to pay for using a particular service provider.

I suppose I could watch the Para-Olympics on Channel 4's online streaming platform which is available on the Roku market place.

Unfortunately Channel 4 is run by Totalitarian Capitalists. They are utterly obsessed with control.

So Channel 4's online streaming platform is unique amongst free-to-air UK streaming platforms. It requires you to register handing over a great deal of personal information. Which the UK government owned Channel 4 will no doubt use for some sinister purpose.

Like all Totalitarian Capitalists Channel 4 is also utterly obsessed by the; "Nudge Theory" of economics put forward by 2017 Nobel Prize winner Richard Thaler.

So rather than allowing me to make the free choice to watch the Para-Olympics online Channel 4 have decided to try and nudge me into it.

This has involved shutting down their High Definition (HD) channels and only offering HD programming online.

Particularly targeting the new season of the US TV show; "Homeland" the intention being to force me to sign up to their online streaming platform to watch things in HD. It would certainly be nice to see the end of an episode.

However much like the Totalitarian female Democrat Party President in Homeland Channel 4 really need to learn that they can't bully and trick their way into getting what they want.

The Countdown:

At the Olympic ceremonies the main way that broadcasters calibrate and synchronise their coverage is through the video countdown.

A short video sequence counts down the seconds with numerals showing 10 to 1. This allows continuity editors to know exactly how long they've got before they need to switch from the studio feed to the arena feed.

However as broadcast technology has improved the job of continuity editor has almost completely disappeared. It has been replaced almost entirely by computerised systems.

As a result this video countdown has become less and less important to the broadcast.

It has always been almost entirely irrelevant at the Para-Olympics.

There are so few broadcasters their coverage can be coordinated by the conference call between the continuity editors and the ceremony director. Even the broadcasters which do show the ceremony live don't do so with the same level of studio package provided to the Olympics.

It is though tradition. So many host nation's have taken to making the countdown sequence part of the ceremony itself.

The South Koreans did though include a short video sequence and a semi-separate countdown.

The video sequence featured lots of people with physical impairments and the equipment they use to overcome those impairments to participate in winter sports.

So for example you saw a man pulling on a prosthetic leg. A child wearing a prosthetic leg in the shower. A woman with only one arm, the other amputated at the shoulder exercising in a gym. You also saw an able bodied downhill skier directly followed by footage of a Sit-Skier to highlight the contrast.

A large part of the Para-Olympics is to promote disability rights. This involves lots of discussion about the different types of physical impairments that affect people, how they affect people and what can be done to overcome those limitations.

Also the Para-Olympics is not as high profile as the Olympics. So every Para-Olympic games has to serve as a sort of introduction to people who are watching disability sport for the first time and often encountering the types of physical impairments for the first time.

So invariably you have to spend some time answering the stupid questions and explaining all the complex jargon.

Such as that the woman with one arm in the gym is referred to as; "A single above elbow amputee" and that Sit Skiers have some level of impairment in their lower limbs. So they compete by sitting in type of wheelchair which is attached to skis rather than wheels.

The video also featured lots of shots of South Korea's natural environment while introducing us to the main theme. The rising temperature as show by a thermometer.

This can be taken on a number of levels.

Although these are the Winter Para-Olympics it is March now which is really the start of spring in the RoK. One of the features of the Wu Xing mentioned earlier is that it signifies the different seasons. However there are five elements to the Wu Xing but only four seasons.

The fifth element of the Wu Xing; "Earth" represented by the colour Yellow represents that time between the seasons. So I suppose you could really describe these as the; "Earth Games." Occurring as they do not quite in winter but not quite in spring either.

The issue of rising temperature could also be taking as a reference to Climate Change and Global Warming. As home to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) the RoK is a key nation in the fight against Climate Change. Even if through the Paris Agreement every other nation has already surrendered.

It could also be taken as a reference to the political temperature rising. It is traditional that the Olympics are used by a variety of nations to bring up a variety of political topics. A small number of those topics are then taken forward to the Para-Olympics to be discussed in a lot of detail. So it's at the Para-Olympics the heated arguments and fights start to break out.

At one point the video featured footage of a wind turbine. I think this was the same footage of a wind turbine used during the Olympic ceremonies. However the footage had been speeded up so the wind turbine was shown spinning really, really fast.

This seemed to be a reference to the joke the weather seemed to play on the organisers during the Olympics.

The Korean Peninsula and therefore these games are still stuck in the Cold War era. During the Olympics the weather seemed keen to emphasise this point.

Initially the weather was very, very COLD. When winter sport athletes are complaining about the cold you know its a bit chilly. When winter sport athletes from Canada's arctic north are complaining about how cold it is you know it is really cold.

After the cold the weather decided to focus on the WAR. Explosively high winds caused many events to be delayed and some of the venues to be closed entirely.

The video sequence ended with a flaming Ice Hockey puck being struck by a Sledge Hockey player.

These are people with lower limb impairments who play Ice Hockey by sitting on a sledge. The propel themselves around by using spikes attached to the pair of sticks they use. It's as if someones looked at the already violent sport of Ice Hockey and gone;

"Do you know what this needs?! Spears!"

The hockey puck then seemed to break free of the video and enter the arena.

Light projection showed it tearing a fiery path down the ramp from the Cauldron to the arena floor. It's path was marked in the red of the thermometer shown in the video. When it arrived in the Taoist circle at the centre of the arena floor that circle became the thermometer's reservoir.

Within the reservoir English numerals appeared counting down from 10 to 1. If you wanted to know how those numbers are pronounced in Korean you only needed to listen to the crowd.

As the countdown reached zero light appeared to make ice crack across the arena.

I have to say that the lighting display used throughout the ceremony and in particular in this sequence was extremely impressive.

The arena has no roof. However they seemed to created a roof of lights. The lights being in the colour of the Wu Xing.

Introductions & Handshakes:

It is IPC protocol that each Opening Ceremony features a short sequence in which VIP's are welcomed into the arena.

This normally includes the Head of Government/State of the host nation. In this case South Korean President Moon Jae-in. It also includes the Head of the IPC. In this case Andrew Parsons who was appointed in September 2016.

At the Olympic Opening Ceremony this segment of was dramatic. It featured the first handshake between a sitting South Korean President and a member of North Korea's fabled Mount Paektu Bloodline. In the form of Kim Yo-jong.

At the Para-Olympics this segment was back to being traditionally dull.

The only thing of note was the IOC President Thomas Bach was in attendance. A further gesture of parity and equality between the Olympics and the Para-Olympics.

Also it was South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Not South Korean President Park Guen-hye.

Park Guen-hye was deposed in 2016 after faking claims of foreign interference to rig South Korea's 2012 election.

18:40 on 10/3/18 (UK date).