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Jul 12, 2008

GWOOT (Global War On ... Olympic Terrorism)


It was not till the forty-third comment on the Big Picture's Chinese Olympic terrorism prep series that someone finally hits on the political irony of this chilling eye candy.  The commenter states:

Are we sure Segway vs Flamethrower is not a proposed Olympic event?

Barrier-cutting might be an individual competition, and the first few photos look like typical Superbowl halftime shows....

What I'm seeing in these terrorism preparation drills -- held on the actual field of Olympic competition, employing finely-hone physical skill and and precise group coordination, the point being public display -- is an almost complete blurring of the lines between athletic and military competition.  In the best blood sport tradition of Rove, Rumsfeld and Cheney, these photos fall neatly into the shock-and-awe genre, where putting on a hurt -- especially the more fiery, precise and/or technological -- is (literally) a beautiful thing.

In the Village People shot, its fantastic seeing combat performance theatre cannibalizing what appear to be track hurdles.  It viscerally models the message: Lay one finger on these games, and you'll be taken apart.  In the second shot, this is certainly the pose (or the background) that Giuliani should have thought of.  Beyond the phallic nature here (and in the first pic, for that matter), it looks like the Chinese have perfected (and already executed) the GWOT equivalent of the opening ceremony's warrior's march.

(image 1: China Photos/Getty Images. July 2, 2008 Chongqing Municipality, China.  image 2: Fan Changguo/Xinhua/AP. July 2, 2008. Jinan,)


Actually, when I saw the Segway shot I thought this was the Chinese athletes practicing their entrance into the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremonies.

What is always impressive about Chinese military images is the multiplication effect - the same act being repeated in precise unison by dozens if not hundreds of soldiers... it suggests an incredible discipline (and is quite intimidating at the same time).

More great pics of this can be seen at

"Village People shot" Heh. Good one, that.

In retrospect, how has the U.S. managed to host past Olympics without a battery of surface to air missiles? What an embarrassing oversight. Heads should roll.

The shot of rank and file with a giant inflatable Olympic mascot in the background was a nice juxtaposition.

Interesting how many shots of preparation for these large events, like the Olympics and the parties' conventions, all deal with preparation for violent response. Clearly there's a basic assumption that the appropriate response to differences of opinion is tasers, gunners on Segways (which were designed originally to promote reduction in use of resources for short range travel), and chain saws designed to cut through metal.

What a tragedy for humanity.

Is the chainsaw event a team sport or an individual challenge? If the latter, is the length of the stream of sparks worth points? In that case, there seems to be only one winner here.

The little segway drill team looks so cute, trying to balance on two wheels with no hands. That is until you notice that their hands are holding something to their eyes that is not a pea-shooter.

There is something about a country taking extravagant advance measures to quell supposed future protestors that indicates reason for guilt on the part of that country.

For all the deadly force the mounted Segway warriors are packing there is still an air of silliness to their formation. For some reason I'm reminded of Jar Jar Binks, possibly because of their ungainly top heavy unbalanced appearance. The formation reminds me of Shriners , minus the small town surrealism. Interesting times.

There is something about a country taking extravagant advance measures to quell supposed future protestors that indicates reason for guilt on the part of that country. Posted by: Zzyzx

They aren't going to these extraordinary lengths to discourage protesters. As a rising secular economic superpower hosting a high profile international event, Chinese officials are concerned about a possible terrorist attack.

The 2nd shot is shagtastic and worthy of Dr. Evil. I am sure there's also a moat containing sharks with frigging laser around the whole stadium. First image on the Bag that had me LOL.

My first thought upon seeing the Segway image was... what a disappointing contrast to Dean Kamen's purpose for these devices - enhanced mobility for the disabled. My brain hurts.

ratfood.....please explain how chopping up metal barriers foils a terrorist plot. Or, for that matter, how are the segway riders going to stop a bus bomb or even a suicide killer.

Is anyone else reminded of ... um ... iumph-tray of the ill-way?

Those itty-bitty guns and those big rubber wheels---any terrorist would die laughing.

Ryszard Kapuschinski wrote about child soldiers in Africa and noted how modern machine guns look comical in the hands of adults because arms merchants really make them for children. Seeing the second picture reminded me of this sad observation.

and yes, Triumph of the Will comes to mind.

All this said, come on guys, any response force has to have drills. Even the fire dept.

"is an almost complete blurring of the lines between athletic and military competition"

Uh... usually I'm with you (or somewhat near you) in your take on these things.... but when was that ever NOT so? I mean really, beyond the blatant militaristic aspect of modern organized sports like football, the ancient Olympics were especially oriented toward combat and military simulation!

Sprinting races to settle arguments (usurping the more direct and final "club-to-skull" method) are truly ancient, but consider the events added to the ancient Olympics after the original running events: the "Hoplite race" where people ran with metal shields and in armor through mud, boxing with weighted gloves, wrestling, pankration (full contact martial arts), chariot races, javelin throw, equestrian races... I mean the whole idea sprung from military origins. Even later archery, karate, pistol target shooting, rifle target shooting (and biathalon), etc. Heck I'm surprised they never added jousting or similar.

Anyway, I agree the 1st photo is strangely pleasing like fireworks, and the 2nd is hilariously dorky! But I'd point out that perhaps the idea behind those little pea shooters (aside from the two heavier automatic rifles in the background) is that machine pistols use ammunition that will kill people at close range without over penetrating and perhaps hitting other officers in a chaotic mob situation. The are also easier to pivot and aim at such close ranges simply by virtue of less barrel length/weight. Right tool for the job and all that. Using a cheap Segway knock of is interesting an all, but sure lacks the crowd intimidation that a large horse possesses (which IIRC we still use to great effect in places like NYC and NO mardi gras).

Finally to be further contrarian, perhaps the Chinese are preparing so that they aren't embarrassed like we were in Georgia (poor security, a bomb went off, we blamed the wrong guy and bungled the investigation, etc). How quickly we forget. There are many things I don't like about China, but attempting to poke them in the eye for trying to provide good security for the Olympics... seems silly and petty to me. Of course ANY nation would need to train security if hosting that event.

... what a disappointing contrast to Dean Kamen's purpose for these devices - enhanced mobility for the disabled. My brain hurts.

That's because you're not thinking correctly: you forgot to put on your marketing hat to cushion the blow. From the June 4, 2008, USA Today article Jackie Chan, Segway dealer, says exec fear China piracy:

Chan's business partner, Matt McGuire, said they aim to sell 600 to 1,000 Segway scooters in China this year. Security and grounds staff at the Olympics will use about 100, the Beijing airport's new terminal has ordered four, and police in the eastern province of Shandong have bought 30 scooters to patrol the Olympic sailing venue, he said.

Among the Segway models on display at the security fair Wednesday were a police model and a camouflage-colored military version.

When the scooter hit the market in 2001, inventor Dean Kamen predicted it would make the car obsolete in congested cities. Segways are still a rare sight, however.

McGuire said Chan's dealership has grown "significantly" since opening in 2006, with annual revenue now in the millions of U.S. dollars.

With a little progressive Western financing, progressive Communism can buy all the progressive technology it needs to keep an eye on things.

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