5 Creepy Things London Did to Prepare for the Olympics
On July 27, the London Olympic Games begin, and for 17 long days everyone on Earth will pretend to be interested in track. And for some reason, LOCOG (the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games), normally responsible for ensuring that all the events start on time and all poles are properly vaulted, have instead seized their chance to change laws, build urban fortresses, revoke civil rights and swamp the streets with enough high-tech weaponry for an Iron Man sequel. It's all in the name of anti-terrorism and public safety, of course, but the London 2012 Olympics will be the most sinister sporting event ever held outside of Battle Royale, thanks to stuff like ...
Surface-to-Air Missiles ... on Apartment Buildings
At some point during the planning stages of this sporting event, someone in the fetid bowels of LOCOG headquarters stood up and said, "So, we've got the sod laid and ensured that we have enough seating and bathrooms. Now, how many rocket launchers do we think we need?"
New events this year include Government Helicopter Shoot and Molotov Toss.
That's right: To protect the London Olympics, they're installing high-grade surface-to-air missiles ... on top of residential buildings.
Because nothing says "this city is safe" like missiles looming over you at all times.
While other Olympics contented themselves with Tasers and stern, disapproving looks, LOCOG security hurtled screaming past the event horizon of sanity and started transforming apartment buildings into launch pads. Ostensibly, the missiles are intended for use against low-flying aircraft, such as suicide-bombing planes or those goddamn pigeons from Mary Poppins. But the residents of the Fred Wigg Tower, and several other soon-to-be-weaponized apartment buildings, probably take little solace in the fact that they'll be hosting Starstreak missiles 10 feet above their living rooms. Because even if the best case scenario plays out and missile flames don't burn their houses down, they'll still have to deal with collateral damage from an intercepted target. The remains of any stricken aircraft will have no place to fall but directly on top of residential London, gently dusting the inhabitants with a fine layer of fucked. That's all assuming, of course, that it actually works. The newest Starstreaks have zero combat efficacy data, rely heavily on operator skill and might be foiled by bad weather.
But what are the odds of bad weather happening in a place like London?
The Biggest Military Buildup in London Since World War II
During WWII, there were warships docked on the river Thames, right in the center of London. It was a sobering sight, having those war machines looming over a major metropolis. But those were dark days, requiring drastic measures: There was also an operating Royal Air Force base in the capital back then, and all air traffic control was taken out of civilian hands and given to the Ministry of Defense. That's exactly the sort of thing we'd expect to happen during the largest, most destructive war in human history. That's not exactly the sort of thing we'd expect from, say, the security team at a Ping-Pong match.
Poor British soldiers. Now all the other armies are gonna laugh at them.
But apparently the London 2012 Olympics features some seriously, awesomely dangerous new sports, because all of those things are coming back for the first time since the Blitz. During the games, 13,500 troops will be deployed in London just for the run time of the Olympics -- that's 4,000 more than they had on the ground in Afghanistan in 2011. And these aren't the across-the-pond versions of the National Guard or anything -- Britain's most badass commandos, the Royal Marines, will be checking tickets at the shot put and waving around those little parking attendant glow sticks. Also, fresh from its last deployment in Libya, the HMS Ocean will be docked in the Thames.
"Yes, it does have batteries of missiles. But they almost never fire off for no reason."
That's the largest ship in the Royal Navy. Not to mention all the fighter aircraft, helicopter gunships and pilotless drones clouding the skies. On land, sea and air, it will be what the British government calls "maximum" military presence.
For the Olympics.
It's often said that the Olympic Games are a platform for a country to show what it's proudest of off to the world. If that's true, then apparently London is that creepy kid from middle school who invites you over to his house to look at his knife collection.
"... and these are my Royal Marines. They're here to shoot anyone who cheats at the 100-meter breaststroke."
Empty Roads for the Rich
It's an unfortunate happening, no doubt chock-full of enough wacky shenanigans to staff a Rob Schneider movie, but sometimes athletes have missed their events at past Olympics. But not this year: London has designated special lanes in the city not just for athletes, but for Olympics officials, people working for sponsoring companies and, hey, what the hell, anyone else rich enough to buy their way in.
"How can we take an institution beloved for dissolving barriers between people and make it the exact opposite of that?"
Not allowed behind London's velvet off-ramps, however, are ambulances carrying such trivial things as blood for donations and elderly people in need of dialysis. True, ambulances carrying people in need of emergency medical care will be able to turn on their sirens and use the special lanes if they absolutely have to, but unless you're firmly heading toward the light, you'll just have to sit in the unmanageable Olympics traffic with the rest of London.
Do try not to cough on any of the McDonald's or Coca-Cola employees as they zip past you, laughing and sipping champagne while bombing around their 39 miles of VIP roadways.
London's sanitation department will have to work overtime to clean up all the littered chalices and solid gold napkins.
Big Brother Is Watching You (You, Specifically)
In Great Britain, everyone is a film star. That's because, while Brits are only around 1 percent of the global population, they're being watched by 20 percent of the global CCTV cameras. That's more camera surveillance than even communist China. But it's not enough to just have one camera for every 14 people at the London Olympics. So LOCOG is not just installing more surveillance equipment, they're also making it smarter.
There'd better be the disembodied brain of a wounded cop controlling that thing.
The city of London is being wired up with a new range of scanners, biometric ID cards, number-plate and facial-recognition CCTV systems, disease tracking capabilities, new police control centers and checkpoints. All of which will now be under a central control, and yes, that is exactly as sinister as it sounds. This means the cameras are capable of tracking beyond one location -- no more frantically checking every screen, trying to pick up somebody who's walked out of frame. Because the computer does that for you. It can now track individual human beings from camera to camera and plot their progress, location and habits on a live, constantly updating map of Your Business.
"That's expired salsa. Twenty quid says she poops within the next half hour."
And don't think you can get away in a lucky fog or sudden drizzle. CCTV isn't nearly as effective on days when it rains (which you'll remember from our hilarious accidental missile explosion joke earlier is every single day in London), so new thermal imaging technology is being introduced to the CCTV cameras. And not just to watch for suspicious terrorist behavior, like excessive hand wringing and sinister mustache twirling -- they'll also be used to prosecute people selling counterfeit Olympics goods.
That's right: They're arming Big Brother with Predator vision just to stop people from hawking unauthorized Wenlock shirts.
"Hi kids, I'm Wenlock! YOUR WORLD WILL END IN FIRE."
Because there's such an insane demand for merchandise of that adorable angry amorphous robot with the all-seeing eye. Kids just can't get enough of him; he's like Dora the Explorer ... if she were furious, a robot and always watching you.
Berlin Wall 2: Wall Harder
The organizers of the London 2012 Olympics have surrounded the stadium with a wall, which is, yeah, probably not entirely in the spirit of nations crossing borders to come together as one world community. But it's just a stupid wall, right?
Except that it's 11 miles long.
Oh, also it's electrified; touch it and you will get a 5,000-volt shock.
And it's a uniform six meters in height across its entire length, more than two meters taller than that puny one in Berlin.
Some sections have the equivalent of a slutty see-through shirt, something the Russians were always too cheap to buy.
And it's going to be patrolled by those 7,500 Royal Marines, unmanned drones, 55 dog teams, 900 day/night surveillance cameras and 1,000 armed U.S. diplomatic and FBI agents on special assignment.
Which probably doesn't seem like that big of a deal to you, until you remember that these Olympics are not being held in an empty field 200 miles from society. They're right smack in the middle of one of the largest, most populated cities on Earth. Which means that the giant, imposing, electrified and locked down Barrier of Death that comprises one of the most militarized borders in history, rivaling even the DMZ and the infamous Berlin Wall ...
... runs right through your quaint little jogging path.
For more of Cracked's Olympic coverage, check out 20 Ideas For Making the Olympics Kick Way More Ass and 6 Insane Sports That Could Be in the Next Olympics.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out LeBron vs. Jordan: A Non-Basketball Study .
And stop by LinkSTORM to get all your coverage of Olympic noodling.
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