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Babes are born and cauldrons bubble

Now it's the Telegraph's turn to recount the miraculous capacity of the Olympics to boost fertility! And just in case anyone should doubt its truth even science is recruited to provide an explanation for the baby boom. Janice Hillier, a consultant clinical psychologist at the Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships informs us:

“When you experience feelings of novelty, interest and motivation your brain releases dopamine and noradrenaline, which in turn increase levels of oxytocin and vasopressin – chemicals associated with arousal. On a neurobiological level, the Olympic baby boom makes sense.”

Another cult enthusiast, Thomas Heatherwick, who designed the London 2012 cauldron, declared:

“The Olympic Games is phenomenally religious, the liturgy, the ceremonial dimension, is incredibly similar to a religious service. There’s very precise ceremonial aspects and a gravity to that process,” he said. “In a way, the stadium represented the temple to that, and this funny faith that is an Olympics also has miracles that actually maybe you do believe in."

Of course, religion's opiate qualities have to be borne in mind, perfectly illustrated in the case of Olympism by its prophet's devotion to Nazism and his modern day disciples' adherence to the doctrines of corporate capitalism.

Maybe this miraculous ability also explains the amazing growth in the size of the Olympic Park, the site of future Olympic pilgrimage.

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London Olympic Park Watch

A website has begun publishing news and comment about the Olympic Park. It is called London Olympic Park Watch. It

"...aims to be an independent, balanced, open-minded, and constructively critical, observer of the next phase in the life of the Olympic Park."

Its Editor is Steve McCormack who a London-based freelance journalist with 30 years' experience in broadcasting and print. As a BBC news correspondent, he covered politics, foreign affairs and sport, including Olympic Games and world championships. In print, he has specialised mainly in education. His interest in the future of the Olympic Park was sparked after working as the Venue Media Manager of the Olympic Stadium during the London Games.

He wrote a piece for Sport and Recreation Alliance about his website project.

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Olympic closures continue

Local knowledge is invaluable! @grahamdwalter Graham Walter informs us 18 Nov #ThamesPath still closed @EtonDorney 2.5 months after #Olympics. Thanks #LOCOG @sebcoe for legacy. Path still closed 2.5 months after OlympicsThames Path still closed 2.5 months after Olympics

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Corporate disclosure - but thick as thieves

Here's a searching piece of journalism! Sue Reisinger of Corporate Counsel talks to Chief Olympics Counsel Terry Miller about ‘her journey, her love of horses, and the challenges of her job’. Oh, and by the way, there's disclosure! Miller and Reisinger were University of Dayton Law school classmates in the mid-70s, and Reisinger worked with Miller’s British-born husband, Jonathan, at the Dayton Daily News. Just in case you thought they might be thick as thieves!

Terry fills Sue in on her job at Goldman Sachs when, just as she was planning on going part-time, by happy coincidence ‘one of my fellow Goldman Sachs partners became the CEO of the [London 2012 Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games], and he asked if I would be the general counsel.’ No doubt after a strenuous interview process!

The interview continues with hard questions about how many lawyers were employed, the number of contracts (total amazement on the part of the interviewer on this one), including contracts for temporary toilets, and why did they need to start doing stuff so long before the Games started?

Part 2 continues in a similar vein although without much reference to her legal activities. Security features with some coy references to G4S, which she enjoys bashing, but nothing about how it felt to enforce the rights of sponsors, threaten local residents who complained about noise and dust, take out injunctions against protesters and launch prosecutions when they tried to prevent the illegal seizure of marshland in contravention of planning rules or hit them with thousands of pounds of costs when they sought judicial review. And nowhere do those nasty words ‘compulsory purchase' or the ‘demolition' of homes, industry, allotments and such like crop up.

And what of the building of a store on the Olympic Park for over 7,000 tonnes of radioactively contaminated soil, including 100 tonnes of non-exempt material which should have been sent to Drigg, all without prior planning permission? Huh? Sue and Terry were long gone, reminiscing about riding, handing out medals, happy memories…

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A construction boom and a lost opportunity

Along with all the stirring stuff about Olympics job creation, an Olympics boost to the economy, the Olympics transportation miracle comes the news in a 'government-commissioned report' that the Olympics created a construction boom from the building of venues and infrastructure.

How extraordinary! They've discovered the miracle of public spending. Build something and get a return on the project! Why, they might have spent the money on affordable housing and be left with some places for people to live. They're called opportunity costs, what the London 2012 budget could have been spent on at less cost and without the demolition of industry, allotments, open space, sports facilities and homes in the Olympic Park and with a construction boom, jobs and a long lasting social legacy.

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London 2012 - first helicopter in space?

Dave Ward, Network Rail's Olympic delivery director, told the Greater London Assembly's transport committee that a helicopter was sent 380,000 miles out of Southend Airport during the Games to inspect infrastructure.

Where did it go? Mars?

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It's the East End stupid!

The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) has been at it again. Following its espousal of the as yet uninhabited E20 postcode it is now predicting a boom based on the vibrant technology, creative and media sectors of the East End. However, this is located not in the attractive E20 zone but in the areas of Shoreditch, Hoxton and Bethnal Green. Of course, these are not usually associated with London 2012 but, no matter, a plug is still given to the Olympics, which supposedly accelerated the trend and brought with it a housing and transport infrastructure boom! That the Athletes' Village remains unoccupied and no housing has yet been built on the Olympic Park, no new transport infrastructure was introduced as a result of the Olympics and E20 and the Shoreditch, Hoxton, Bethnal Green areas are several miles apart are insignificant details to the researchers with their 'unparalleled range of skills and expertise'.

Who cares? It's all in the East End stupid!

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It's official - the Olympics is a fertility cult

Baron de Coubertin deliberately devised the Olympics as a cult. Sochi has added a new element - fertility. The head of the Sochi organising committee, Dmitri Chernyshenko, has claimed an explosion in the birth rate is down to the Olympics! "The spike in babies shows the power of the Olympics" he says.

Fox Sports are enthusiastic followers!


This time it's Locog (not) within budget!

Following the ONS' declarations on its inability to quantify the impact of the Olympics further information has been published on LOCOG's expenditure, which only tends to add to the confusion. LOCOG says it has broken even on costs of £2.4 billion. However, with ticket sales of £659 million, sponsorship of £764 million, £609 million from IOC media earnings and £85 million from merchandising making a total of £2,087 million it still had to rely on a government grant of £111 million for half the cost of the Paralympics and £200 million from 'incomes' (whatever that is!) meaning it did not meet its costs without assistance.

But, as the Standard points out, this did not include £1088 million that it received from the government for a variety of costs, of which £224 million went direct to LOCOG to pay for security, ceremonies and the Cultural Olympiad.

It also has to be pointed out that the supposed 0.2% boost to the economy from ticket sales doesn't represent a profit. This was just money spent to cover costs already incurred in running the Games!

Oh, what a lovely budget!

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Multi-storey parkland? The amazing inflating Olympic Park

The mythical size of the 'Queen Elizabeth' Olympic 'Park' has entered a whole new dimension of hyperbole on the London Legacy Development Corporation's new marketing website

This certainly is No Ordinary Park - it has now gained Tardis-like capabilities and features considerably more 'open space' than the entire area of the site, despite being a park only in name and in reality being a 'whole new piece of the city'.

In its list of 'Facts' about the park, the home page boasts

"357 Football pitches of landscaped open space"

Football pitches are very variable in size - anything from 90m to 120m long and from 45m to 90m wide (BBC Sport - Football pitch dimensions) - with an area of anything between 0.405 ha and 1.08 hectares.

This makes them pretty useless for defining the size of anything.

However, undeterred by such quibbles, the LLDC seem to have adopted a 'football pitch' measure of area as equivalent to 0.7 ha - as this LLDC press release about the plans for the South Plaza claims 11.3 ha is equivalent to 16 football pitches.

So, on this basis we can apparently now rejoice in the prospect of an expansive 252 hectares of 'landscaped open space' - 357 times 0.7 .

But as the total area of the LLDC Olympic Park is around 200 ha - a figure repeatedly quoted over many years - and at least half of it will be covered with buildings, roads, waterways and suchlike, this is truly a miracle of ingenuity.