On '60s Star Trek priestesses and half-pipes in politics

By Jack Knox, Times Colonist October 24, 2009

Random thoughts after the lighting of the Olympic torch this week:

- Didn't we see those white-clad Greek "priestesses" in an episode of Star Trek, circa 1969?

- Snowboarding's Ross Rebagliati, who famously tested positive for marijuana after winning a gold medal at the 1998 Nagano Games, is seeking the federal Liberal nomination in the Okanagan seat held by Conservative cabinet minister Stockwell Day. What, wasn't Tommy Chong available? And what do you expect from a sport that features an event called the half-pipe?

- The owner of Vancouver's Flag Shop is upset that Olympic souvenir flags are to be made in China. Similar complaints have been made about Olympic trading pins and the 2010 Games plush mascots Itchy, Scratchy and Tamagotchi, or whatever their names are.

But why limit outsourcing to commercial goods? Meet B.C.'s new premier, Huang Huahua. He already has one job, as the governor of China's manufacturing powerhouse Guangdong province, but as long as we're having Games-related work done overseas....

- I remember the summer day in 2003 when the International Olympic Committee revealed who would host the 2010 Games. Hundreds were gathered at The Empress, guys in business suits and pretty, athletic women crowding into the Crystal Ballroom to watch the live television feed from Prague. Federal, provincial and municipal politicians perched on the edge of front-row seats, holding hands like a 1960s love-in as they waited for IOC boss Jacques Rogge to utter the words: "The International Olympic Committee has the honour of announcing that the 21st Olympic Winter Games in 2010 are awarded to the city of Van...."

The room exploded in joy, everyone hugging everyone hugging else. I opened my arms and searched eagerly for the pretty, athletic women, but all I saw was Les Leyne who, although a handsome man, wasn't what I had in mind.

It was, in fact, appropriate that I go hugless, being one of the few in the room who had not totally embraced our Olympic bid, or at least the manner in which it was sold to us.

There was -- and is -- plenty about the Olympics about which we should be cynical: the corruption of the IOC itself, the voodoo economics with which the provincial government tried to justify throwing a two-week party, its refusal to be straightforward about the true cost of the Games, the billion-dollar security measures that will cripple our justice system for all of February and make travel to and in Vancouver a pain -- plus, of course, the argument that government's priority should be bread, not circuses. For most of us, the Olympics will be like those family functions where the kids are stuck making sandwiches in the kitchen while mum and dad dance with lampshades on their heads in the living room.

Yet there is also plenty about the Olympics to celebrate: The inspiration, the affirmation of spirit, the communion of humankind. When gutsy Jeneece Edroff lights the cauldron at the legislature next Friday, and when runners carry the torch through the streets -- a once-in-a-lifetime experience -- it won't be about politics, it will be about the goodness and gumption of Simon Whitfield and all those rowers who bust their guts in the chilly Elk Lake dawn, chasing an ideal.

People fret that anti-Games activists might disrupt the torch relay, but that might not give activists themselves enough credit; disrupting the run would be off-target, counter-productive, mean-spirited and self-indulgent. (Speaking of off-target and mean-spirited, note how Fox News ranter Glenn Beck recently declared that Vancouver "lost a billion dollars when they had the Olympics." Someone should send him a 2010 calendar.)

Besides, like it or not, we're about to throw a party. Might as well enjoy it before it's time to pick up the empties.

Remember Thursday's column when I said The Rumbles were over?

Fiddlesticks, says Cadboro Bay's Gayden Warmald, who reports having his windows rattled by the mysterious God's-bowling-alley noise this week.

One possible explanation is the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station's use of Growler jets, which generate the same decibel count but a different frequency than their predecessor, the Prowler.

Or maybe it's a Klingon invasion, in which case we had better ask the Greek Star Trek priestesses for help.


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