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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » 2014 Sochi Olympics (Page 1)

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Author Topic: 2014 Sochi Olympics
Lyrhawn
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It has begun!

It's 2am, but I'm watching slope style qualified runs now! So excited, I absolutely love the Olympics. I'm disappointed in a lot of things regarding Russia as a host nation, from the human rights issues to the poor choice of location, from the corruption to the extreme over spending, from the lack of consideration for long term sustainability to the horrid conditions of the facilities...

But I still love the events. I love the pride and focus, the spirit and drive. And I love the talented displays evident of hard work and practice.

The new events this year are all exciting too.

But my heart is with the hockey tournament. I have divided loyalties between a few different countries, but ultimately I'm hoping America can make another strong showing. Were a perennial underdog who has performed well in the last two Olympics.

Good luck to everyone!

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Xavier
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Yeah, I'm pumped for hockey as well.

I've got these games on my "to watch" list from the preliminary matches:

CZE vs SWE
USA vs RUS
CAN vs FIN

Since those are the only match-ups between "contenders" that I can see. Though I might not be giving Slovakia enough credit.

I'm very curious which goalie the US team will use out of Miller and Quick.

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Lyrhawn
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The goalie depth chart changed wildly over the course of December and January. Quick and Howard were considered 1-2 going into this year, but Howard has been pretty bad (with an even worse defense in front of him).

I think Miller is probably on top, but I think it SHOULD be Quick.

Slovakia and Switzerland are both dark horse contenders. They both have a lot of great young talent. I'll be checking out the games you mentioned plus the Swiss and the Slovaks.

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BlackBlade
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I hope I'm not being off-topic, but folks going to Sochi are all being hacked.
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Szymon
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This event is so extremely political I just don't care. I never liked Olympics, let alone winter Olympics. With Russia starting to regain its former influence it's more and more similar to Berlin 1936. With a lot of journalists happy and saying it's about sports above all.

An average normal human being probably cannot name more than 3 people participating in this event. Bah, maybe even 1 person.

So let's spend 50 billion USD. All for sports. It is immoral.

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Xavier
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quote:
An average normal human being probably cannot name more than 3 people participating in this event.
I guess that depends. I mean, a normal hockey fan could name perhaps a couple dozen. I know we're a minority, but I wouldn't consider us "abnormal" [Wink] .

I don't know that I could name more than 3 people going into a summer Olympics in a normal year. Last time I'd have been able to name Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt. Maybe guessed some of the likely US basketball players. That's it.

I guess I just don't understand the significance of that observation.

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Aros
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You presuppose that it's possible to understand the significance of ANY of Szymon's observations.
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Lyrhawn
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I'm not sure why it would necessarily be important that we be able to name, off the tops of our heads, individual athletes by the dozen.

But I can.

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Samprimary
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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/06/russia-journalists-sochi-hotels-sying_n_4739400.html?utm_hp_ref=media
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scifibum
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wow...
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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
I hope I'm not being off-topic, but folks going to Sochi are all being hacked.

On the bright side, maybe Americans will start learning how scary it is to be targeted by an overzealous and out-of-control security state and start to do something about the NSA.

On the other hand, there was a story about the American government warning the Russians about terrorists using fuc*ing toothpaste bombs, so its probably more likely you'll just amplify each others insecurities ...but a man can dream.

Edit to add: Also teaches me not to take American news at face value anymore. An Aljazeera reporter that I follow just tweeted a link to this
quote:
The story shows Richard Engel "getting hacked" while in a cafe at Sochi. It is wrong in every respect.
They aren't actually in Sochi (they are in Moscow).
The "hack" happens because of the websites they visit (Olympic themed websites), not their physical location. The results would've been the same in America.
The phone didn't "get" hacked; Richard Engel initiated the download of a hostile Android app onto his phone.

I had expected the story to be about the situation with WiFi in Sochi, such as man-in-the-middle attacks inserting the Blackhole toolkit into web pages exploiting the latest Flash 0day. But the story was nothing of the sort.

Instead, the hacking in the story was due to the hostility of Olympic themed websites. The only increased danger from being in Russia is geolocation. Google uses your IP address to increase the of rank local sites, so you'll see more dodgy Russian sites in the results. You can disable this feature in your Google account settings.

Absolutely 0% of the story was about turning on a computer and connecting to a Sochi network. 100% of the story was about visiting websites remotely. Thus, the claim of the story that you'll get hacked immediately upon turning on your computers is fraudulent. The only thing that can be confirmed by the story is "don't let Richard Engel borrow your phone".

http://blog.erratasec.com/2014/02/that-nbc-story-100-fraudulent.html#.UvQ_l338XbV

[ February 06, 2014, 09:11 PM: Message edited by: Mucus ]

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BlackBlade
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Thanks Mucus.
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Dan_Frank
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Some of that, like the idiot downloading malware onto his phone, was pretty apparent just from watching the segment. Network news is pretty pathetic.
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Lyrhawn
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Al Jazeera America is where I get most of my news.

But that's a bit said, because I always liked Engel.

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BlackBlade
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I can't kick my Washington Post habit.
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Elison R. Salazar
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In related Eastern European themed news the United States appears to have, in the immortal words of Zero Punctuation "Screwed the pooch so hard the pooch had to locked itself into the bathroom with a tube of soothing cream."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-26079957

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Orincoro
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I'm in Kiev at the moment. My wife's friend reports shock and awe at the sudden uptick of the Hryvnia to almost 9 practically overnight (it was at 7.9- she works at a bank). This apparently along with a protectivist two-week escrow on all currency conversions has a lot of people very spooked about runaway inflation.

It's so weird, I've been to Ukraine 3 times in the past year, and people are almost nihilistic about the future.

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Elison R. Salazar
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The value of the currency has gone up and that has people worried about inflation?
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Lyrhawn
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I'm not sure I see exactly what the big uproar is about this.

And the phone was bugged and the conversation leaked. It's not like Nuland released it herself. It was a private conversation where she said some not particularly nice things, but also not catastrophic.

They're also things a lot of Ukrainians, from what I understand, agree with. They're not really high on the EU right now.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Elison R. Salazar:
The value of the currency has gone up and that has people worried about inflation?

The value of the currency has dropped against the dollar- from 7.9:1 to 9:1. Meaning it takes 9 UH to buy one dollar, not 7.9. While that's good for the Ukrainian export economy, it's not good for Ukraine in general- it's a huge swing. That means it costs more to buy foreign products and make deals in foreign currency, meaning prices go up, meaning wages have to go up, meaning the government may issue more debt to cover its bills, meaning there will be inflation.

Also a sudden 12% uptick in price is hell on banks and large corporations that have deals pending and money moving in and out that is suddenly wildly revalued. Imagine your bought a house yesterday, handed over the cheque, but today the house costs 10% more (or less). It's a nightmare.

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BlackBlade
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What Orincoro said.
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Samprimary
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Sochi's cost overrun is now well over 500 percent. This is one of, if not the most frighteningly corrupt olympic venue events in history, and already definitely the most expensive.

It's amazing to watch.

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Lyrhawn
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The budget is almost ten times that of the Vancouver Olympics.
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Mucus
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Well, yeah, Canada. I'd certainly hope they spent more than us.
What I find as a better sense of perspective is apparently the cost is even 10 billion above Beijing's cost for the Summer Olympics.

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
I'm not sure I see exactly what the big uproar is about this.

I don't think the release was meant for an American audience. Coming from a Chinese perspective, its one thing to be an opposition leader, that's pretty respectable, cool even. But to be seen as working in the interests of the US, even implicitly? That's just radioactive.
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Lyrhawn
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Even when domestic interests and American interests coincide?

From what I understand (and I could be wrong, I don't have an in-depth grasp of the politics), the opposition group is Anti-Russian pro-Ukrainian nationalist, more or less. It's an east vs. west thing, both inside and outside of Ukraine since there's the east-west divide within the country itself.

The Anti-Russian anti-government forces aren't getting a lot of help from the EU, who seem to be sort of half-heartedly supporting Ukraine while being terrified of pissing of Russia and suffering cut offs of gas or oil supplies.

Enter America, who is doing more to keep Russia at bay than the EU, when many Ukrainians think that without America, Ukraine would have already been annexed. So while a Chinese citizen might see working with the US as radioactive, wouldn't it be seen as more a natural alliance in west Ukraine?

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Mucus
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From my understanding, it would be misleading to call either the opposition or the government "nationalist" as if the other one were not, just like in the US you can't label one party "patriotic" and the other not. Rather, they disagree on the best path for Ukraine going forward and from my understanding the protests were sparked by opposition groups disappointed that the government was pulling back from EU integration. And on top of that, usually in these cases I find that things are usually less than clear-cut.

For example, here's a poll that indicates at least in November 45% is EU leaning while 14% is Russia leaning. But that still leaves a good 41% that is undecided or rejects both. http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304644104579193992459983238

The enemy of your enemy isn't necessarily your friend.

Edit to add: There's also a certain difference between working with the US and being a flunky or a useful idiot for the US. The Conservatives and their opponents in Canada often fight over whether Conservatives are the former or the latter, but that's a more subtle point.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
I'm not sure I see exactly what the big uproar is about this.

I don't think the release was meant for an American audience. Coming from a Chinese perspective, its one thing to be an opposition leader, that's pretty respectable, cool even. But to be seen as working in the interests of the US, even implicitly? That's just radioactive.
Not as much in Ukraine. The big sort of dichotomy in politics here is essentially pro-west, vs. pro-Russia, with 32 flavors in between. You have religious conservatives who support Russian influence because of the strong church there, business leaders that hate Russia because they're regressive and corrupt and not particularly innovative, business leaders who love Russia for those same reasons, Ukrainian partisans who hate Kiev because it's Russian, and Kievans who hate partisans in the west but hate Russia just as much.

Loving or hating America is sort of confusing here. People only know that both sides are perfectly capable, as experience proves, of selling Ukrainians up the creek at the first opportunity. They hate Putin more and more, but they know that Obama doesn't care about them. Nobody has ever cared about Ukrainians- that's a mark of the history here that people still feel. When the East grows tired of exploiting them, the west starts to do it. That's how they see it.

quote:
From what I understand (and I could be wrong, I don't have an in-depth grasp of the politics), the opposition group is Anti-Russian pro-Ukrainian nationalist, more or less. It's an east vs. west thing, both inside and outside of Ukraine since there's the east-west divide within the country itself.
Well, there's almost no such thing as hardcore nationalists in national politics here. Most align Pro-Russia/Conservative and Pro-West/reformist/technocratic. Virtually all parties are operating on the practical assumption that Ukraine has no ability to sustain itself without meta-national sponsorship of one kind or another, wether it comes from NATO, the EU, or the RF, is the persistent argument.

Reformists want access to the growing high tech markets in Europe, and they want to shake off the yolk of corruption that has a stranglehold on Ukraine, especially surrounding energy. Naturally, the elites in the energy business and banking want to continue the gravy train that gives Ukraine one of the more ridiculous income gaps in the developing world, though not the worst.

Thus, you get images you'd more expect to encounter in India or China: a Bentley dealership a stones throw from an 80 year old woman selling pickles on the sidewalk (in the snow), because her state pension is literally 40 dollars a month.

Kiev is one of the most disgusting places I have ever seen.

[ February 08, 2014, 10:09 PM: Message edited by: Orincoro ]

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Lyrhawn
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I guess I meant nationalist in the sense that, in the east they speak Russian because of the whole genocide thing and replacement by ethnic Russians in the east, and in the west they feel stronger ties to Ukraine as a people, speak Ukrainian, etc.

I think if Russia annexed Ukraine, the east probably wouldn't fuss much about it. But the west would go insurgent.

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Orincoro
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I don't know, honestly. It's a slight canard concerning language. *Everyone* speaks Russian, and being "Russian" in Ukraine just means being from a Russian family. Plus the difference between the languages is not insubstantial, but is often academic, as people mix them to the point of obscurity.
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Lyrhawn
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Isn't being Russian kind of a big deal though? Stalin killed off half the country through a brutal forced starvation and then marched thousands of Russian families into Ukraine.

"Being 'Russian in Ukraine just means being from a Russian family" is a pretty clean way of describing the result of a horrific historical incident.

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Orincoro
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Yes, but that was 3 generations ago. By now, there are not many families that don't include Russian great-grandparents. There were not many before the Holodomor that didn't either.

And between then and now, it's not as if the Russian families that were displaced into Ukraine were exactly favored by Moscow. Few in serious discourse claim that one half of the country views itself as a Russian colony, even if that was the goal in the 30s. And what of the people who assimilated into this newly Russian-centric capital in the 1950s and 60s? They mostly did positive things for Ukraine, so feeling is not exactly black and white about Russians, and their kids aren't Russians anyway. They just come from Russian families.

While feelings toward Russia are one thing, people are not so swift to forget that Russia has victimized Russians, sometimes just as brutally, as they have other ethnic groups. Nobody is a favored class for long.

Don't get me wrong, I find these people's sentimentality for imperial Russia somewhat laughable, but not many people in Ukraine, Russian or not, are exactly pining for the days when they were dominated and humiliated by Moscow.

[ February 10, 2014, 03:59 PM: Message edited by: Orincoro ]

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Lyrhawn
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Interesting.

I've had two big books on Ukrainian history sitting on my bookshelf for a few months now and I keep meaning to get to them. Seems like there's no better time than now.

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Orincoro
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Ukraine is a fascinating set of contradictions. And good luck getting a straight answer on practically anything from Ukrainians. I'm married to one, and I can't figure it out. Politics there is a haze of suspicion, double talk, winking nods, and passive aggression.
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GaalDornick
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http://www.policymic.com/articles/81663/sochiproblems-is-more-of-an-embarrassment-for-america-than-it-is-for-russia
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Lyrhawn
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I think there's something to that. And I guess I find the glee people find at pointing to a country's national embarrassment problematic (though really, it's really more a shot to Putin's pride than the nation's as a whole).

On the other hand, I don't think people are being ridiculous for expecting completed hotel rooms with drinkable water coming out of faucets.

The IOC should be ashamed of itself for choosing a nation that would spend $50 billion on an incomplete games instead of expecting that nation to spend $50 billion to ensure a clean drinking water supply to its citizens.

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Mucus
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Although funny, I do feel guilty about the language bits. How crappy would our (North American) translations into Russian be? That's ignoring the people that would be like, "speak English!" So when encountering bad translations, I often tell myself that these people are doing me a favour and likely accommodating me a hell of a lot better as a English-only speaker in Russia than how a Russian-only speaker in North American would be.

Separately, I don't really think the Russian decision making would have been along the lines of "well, we failed to get those Olympics, let's put it into health! Oh, and we'll forget about corrupting money too"

It's like if the US had decided to skip the Iraq and Afghanistan war, would we really be looking at universal healthcare in the US? I doubt it. There are many more problems in the way in both cases.

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Hobbes
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quote:
Originally posted by GaalDornick:
http://www.policymic.com/articles/81663/sochiproblems-is-more-of-an-embarrassment-for-america-than-it-is-for-russia

That seems like a pretty specious attack. Journalists are reporting things are terrible at Sochi and finding some dark humor in the fact that Russia spent way more than any previous country to host the Olympics while still ending up with terrible facilities. I'm not seeing the black mark on America there.

So is the axe supposed to descend on "And it's even worse for everyday life in most of Russia"? That means it's even more embarrassing for Russia, not somehow for the US. Plus, why is it specifically America's fault? If it's journalists or twitter, than it's "the West". And how is pointing out how terrible the conditions are, while at the same time showing that even when they try to present a facade of grandeur at the Olympics they fail, embarrassing to anyone other than the Russians?

This strikes me as politically correct, character assassination, and a rather asinine train of thought. If they want to complain that Western journalists are making fun of a light situation: they should do that. But I don't even see evidence which support such an accusation, as I've read and listened to countless reports about real problems in Russia, how the games are illustrative of that, and why Putin's government allows or causes those problems.

It's a pretty poor accusation that, after reporting on nationwide mistreatment, when the journalists return to their $50 billion venue and get a dark laugh out of the fact that even there: the tap water can kill you.

Hobbes [Smile]

[ February 11, 2014, 04:24 PM: Message edited by: Hobbes ]

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Samprimary
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Yeah, if you watch the Vice take on it, it's primarily about the (predominantly invisible) story of regular russian economic hardship in the shadow of what is really and truly an epic magnitude of corruption and graft in the Sochi cost overrun.
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GaalDornick
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quote:
Originally posted by Hobbes:
quote:
Originally posted by GaalDornick:
http://www.policymic.com/articles/81663/sochiproblems-is-more-of-an-embarrassment-for-america-than-it-is-for-russia

That seems like a pretty specious attack. Journalists are reporting things are terrible at Sochi and finding some dark humor in the fact that Russia spent way more than any previous country to host the Olympics while still ending up with terrible facilities. I'm not seeing the black mark on America there.

So is the axe supposed to descend on "And it's even worse for everyday life in most of Russia"? That means it's even more embarrassing for Russia, not somehow for the US. Plus, why is it specifically America's fault? If it's journalists or twitter, than it's "the West". And how is pointing out how terrible the conditions are, while at the same time showing that even when they try to present a facade of grandeur at the Olympics they fail, embarrassing to anyone other than the Russians?

This strikes me as politically correct, character assassination, and a rather asinine train of thought. If they want to complain that Western journalists are making fun of a light situation: they should do that. But I don't even see evidence which support such an accusation, as I've read and listened to countless reports about real problems in Russia, how the games are illustrative of that, and why Putin's government allows or causes those problems.

It's a pretty poor accusation that, after reporting on nationwide mistreatment, when the journalists return to their $50 billion venue and get a dark laugh out of the fact that even there: the tap water can kill you.

Hobbes [Smile]

They're not criticizing the journalists, they're criticizing the Twitter-trending #SochiProblems and the Twitter account @SochiProblems that was created solely to have a laugh at the expense of the problems they're facing in Sochi, which for many Russians isn't a joke, but a way of life. They should have our sympathy, not our condescending attitude of "Ha, sucks to live there" that the Twitter trend displays.
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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
Although funny, I do feel guilty about the language bits. How crappy would our (North American) translations into Russian be? That's ignoring the people that would be like, "speak English!" So when encountering bad translations, I often tell myself that these people are doing me a favour and likely accommodating me a hell of a lot better as a English-only speaker in Russia than how a Russian-only speaker in North American would be.

Separately, I don't really think the Russian decision making would have been along the lines of "well, we failed to get those Olympics, let's put it into health! Oh, and we'll forget about corrupting money too"

It's like if the US had decided to skip the Iraq and Afghanistan war, would we really be looking at universal healthcare in the US? I doubt it. There are many more problems in the way in both cases.

That's not really the point.
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Hobbes
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quote:
They're not criticizing the journalists, they're criticizing the Twitter-trending #SochiProblems and the Twitter account @SochiProblems that was created solely to have a laugh at the expense of the problems they're facing in Sochi, which for many Russians isn't a joke, but a way of life. They should have our sympathy, not our condescending attitude of "Ha, sucks to live there" that the Twitter trend displays.
I invite you to my house to show off how great it is, and there you discover that not only is the house total crap, I've been savagely beating the people that work on it for me. Your kid comments that it's hilarious that after all the bragging and out of control spending, the roof still leaks.

In this scenario, apparently, you and your family are worse than I am.

Hobbes [Smile]

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BlackBlade
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Word.
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Mucus
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Lyrhawn:
I don't follow your point then. It seems that it would be fairly obvious why the IOC should be ashamed about the state of water in Russia if they had some responsibility for its state, but it is far less obvious to me if they didn't have the power* to change it.

* Significant power anyway, I suspect that if they had been more shrewd negotiators they could have gotten better water conditions for the journalists in Sochi, but that seems pretty minor to me

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GaalDornick
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quote:
Originally posted by Hobbes:
quote:
They're not criticizing the journalists, they're criticizing the Twitter-trending #SochiProblems and the Twitter account @SochiProblems that was created solely to have a laugh at the expense of the problems they're facing in Sochi, which for many Russians isn't a joke, but a way of life. They should have our sympathy, not our condescending attitude of "Ha, sucks to live there" that the Twitter trend displays.
I invite you to my house to show off how great it is, and there you discover that not only is the house total crap, I've been savagely beating the people that work on it for me. Your kid comments that it's hilarious that after all the bragging and out of control spending, the roof still leaks.

In this scenario, apparently, you and your family are worse than I am.

Hobbes [Smile]

Come on. This doesn't hold up at all.

Take a look at the SochiProblems account and hashtags and you'll see why they're upset.

I have no problem with criticizing the homeowner in your example, but it's laughing at the savagely beaten workers for doing such a poor job of building the house that's upsetting.

Edit: The condescending tweets aren't really there anymore, it seems the jokes have died off. I just think the article saying the Russians considered our reaction to their problems as "malicious glee" was pretty accurate. If the Olympics were held in an African country, would we be laughing if there wasn't enough food for the journalists and making jokes about how it must suck for the people that live there all the time with food shortages?

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
Lyrhawn:
I don't follow your point then. It seems that it would be fairly obvious why the IOC should be ashamed about the state of water in Russia if they had some responsibility for its state, but it is far less obvious to me if they didn't have the power* to change it.

* Significant power anyway, I suspect that if they had been more shrewd negotiators they could have gotten better water conditions for the journalists in Sochi, but that seems pretty minor to me

I don't think the IOC has the power to make a country fix its water system.

I'm saying I think that for the IOC to choose a country who won't (not can't, won't) provide basic services to its citizens is morally wrong.

In other words, the IOC never should haven chosen Russia. They have much more important things to spend their money on, and while the IOC can't make them spend their money on those things, they can make it clear that a country that doesn't take care of its own people won't be rewarded with an Olympic games.

But I don't honestly expect the IOC to makes decisions based on morals. Maybe not that the Rogge era is over, we'll see.

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Mucus
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Yeah, I'm not seeing the point in enacting a policy that would result in no actual results let alone assigning morality to not enacting it.
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Lyrhawn
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That's kind of a weird way to look at the world.

What's the point of having morals if you aren't going to base your actions on them?

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Mucus
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That's not what I'm saying at all. Of course one should make sure one's actions are moral, but how does one go about assigning morality in the first place to an action that has no consequences?

i.e. If the IOC did have the power to make Russia fix its water system by picking a different host city or if it caused money to be diverted away from Russia fixing its water system by picking Sochi, then it would certainly be immoral to have picked Sochi as a host. But you seem to have already accepted the IOC has no power to affect the system either way, so how is making the decision moral or immoral either way?

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Lyrhawn
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Because you're rewarding bad behavior and tacitly endorsing it as well.

What you're basically saying is that there's no moral imperative to ever punish someone for bad behavior. So long as those behaving badly stick to their guns and never change, those who might withhold rewards can just throw their hands up and say "what're you gonna do?" and go about business as usual.

So there's a company that is dumping toxic chemicals into the local water supply. It's causing cancer in the population of local residents and all sorts of other nasty things. You can choose to give them a special award that has maybe no intrinsic value but is an immense source of pride for the company as it gives them increased standing in the community and marks them as good actors.

You consider holding that award back, but, realizing you'll never change their behavior, you give it to them anyway? How does that make sense?

And further still, after you award them your award, they proceed to defraud the company, dump more chemicals and don't pay their workers after making them work in deplorable, dangerous conditions. Plus they issue new intolerant policies that go against the very nature the award was created for.

But you know that rescinding the award means they won't change their behavior. So you let them keep it.

As far as I'm concerned, you've acted immorally by stamping that company with your imprimatur.

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