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A very military flavor

Posted by Bob Ryan, Globe Staff  August 12, 2008 11:04 AM

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BEIJING -- You've no doubt already heard about the tank. I must say that it was quite a jolt to wake up, look outside my window and see a baby tank (not Williams) parked outside. That's a way of controlling the media even the Patriots haven't thought of.

A People's Armed Police armored personnel carrier (APC) is parked outside the front entrance to the main press center in Beijing.
(Reuters Photo)
This is Olympics No. 9 for me, and I must say I've never seen one with such a military flavor. It's not just the guards (almost impossibly young looking) standing at attention all over the place. It's about the marching. You see columns of people marching everywhere. Late yesterday afternoon a new shift of volunteers came streaming through security. They all fell into columns. I'm trying to imagine untold numbers of American teenagers lining up in columns and marching off to their duties, but the picture somehow can't quite form in my mind.

More observations from Beijing ...

  • One thing no one in this country could never say with a clear conscience: "We don't have enough people to do the job." A clear maiifestation of having 1.3 billion people at your disposal is that every task has someone, plus a back-up, plus a back-up to the back-up. There are people everywhere. I was making printouts in the main media work room the other day when the machine ran out of paper. Seconds later, I heard the patter of feet. A young lady had sprinted from wherever to re-stock the paper. And I'm sure someone was watching her watch me.

  • Cabs can be very interesting. Had a cabby on Monday who was happily watching a Sylvester Stallone movie on the TV set mounted over the front passenger's seat. That's right; I said front seat. We motioned to him as we were waiting in traffic that we woild appreciate it if he kept his eyes on the road. He laughed, nodded and said yes. Fortunately, we were soon getting out.

  • The surprise team of the men's basketball competition has been Croatia, which appears to have reloaded after a long drought with some kids who can really shoot. They absolutely bombarded the dazed Aussies with threes and then they knocked off Russia the second night...I gotta tell ya'. I didn't travel more than 6,500 miles and expect to see Ed F. Rush referee a game. The idea is to travel that far just to get away from him.

  • There is no point to London (host of the 2012 Games) even trying to duplicate the spectacular opening ceremony we saw a few nights ago. My advice is for England to stick to things it has proven it does well. They should simply put on a production of "Macbeth" and then send everyone off to a pub.

  • They tell me that yellow thing we saw up in the sky for a spell today was something called the sun.

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