Tag Archives: World Cup

Tips For Adulthood: Five Reasons To Watch The World Cup

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

This week’s list is inspired by my newfound (and bewildering) fascination with the World Cup. Bewildering because like most Americans, I have a hard time getting terribly excited about this game. Although my son’s interest in football has forced me to learn way more about this sport than I ever imagined, I myself am not an avid football fan. My best sports continue to be pool and bowling.

But this World Cup has been amazing not just for the quality of football played, but the things it has revealed “off the pitch,” so to speak.

Here are five reasons to watch:

1. It allows for a global redistribution of power. Granted, it doesn’t take much to animate my inner Marxist. But you’d have to be pretty hard-hearted not to feel inspired when countries like Ghana and Paraguay make it into the quarter-finals. Because soccer is a truly global sport, there’s always a bit of an upstairs/downstairs quality to the matches every four years. But this year, the balance seems particularly tipped towards poorer countries. To wit: while five out of 8 quarter-finalists this year hail from the Global South (Argentina, Brazil, Ghana, Paraguay and Uruguay), only two did in 2006 (Argentina and Brazil; I’m not sure how to “count” Ukraine). In a world marked by growing income inequality, this is a welcome turn of affairs. Viva la Revolucion!

2. You get to see a nation’s true colors. Again, this has always been true, but national personality has been super-sized this time around. Take the gutsy, aggressive, free-wheeling Argentine team and their pop-star-like coach, Diego Maradona. Argentinians have long been famous in Latin America for their over-sized egos and brazen self-confidence. (And yes, some of my best friends are Argentine. Really.) Or the spectacularly haughty French team, which went on strike – how French! – to protest the explusion of one of their players after he swore at the team’s Manager. (Mon Dieu!) Slate even ran a piece by Anne Applebaum analyzing the ways different countries have responded to the Vuvuzela and what that says about national character.

3. New words get invented. While we’re on the topic of the vuvuzela, let’s talk about the way in which – over the course of, what, three weeks? – this word has managed to insinuate itself into all of our consciences. Inspired by the word and concept of “vuvuzelas,” Schott’s Vocab blog at The New York Times went so far as to launch a contest where readers were asked to list their favorite sounds, descriptions of sounds and onomatopoeia. (The prize? A set of vuvuzela-canceling headphones. Brilliant!)

4. It produces great ads. Much like the Superbowl in the U.S., the World Cup leads to some top-notch advertising. If you haven’t seen the Nike World Cup Ad – Write The Future – promoting the event itself, it’s a must. Another must see (which I linked to a few weeks back on my Friday Pix list) are the string of World Cup moment re-enactments in Lego that have been running at The Guardian. (Here’s the now-classic botched England save in USA v. England, rendered in Lego.)

5. You learn about ethics. You know when a world-famous philosopher – Peter Singer – uses a World Cup goal as a “teachable moment” about ethics and cheating that the sport has transcended low-brow entertainment and is now a form of art.

Yesterday, I was over at www.PoliticsDaily.com talking about how scientific advances are changing our understanding of what “having it all” means for women. Have a look.

Image: 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa by phallin via Flickr in a Creative Commons license.

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iPhone 4: Way Cool But Is Anyone Recycling Their Old Ones?

Last week was quite a week for novelty and inspiration. Alongside the USA’s dramatic victory over Algeria in the World Cup and the longest tennis match in history, Apple also rolled out the latest incarnation of its incredibly popular iPhone.

In Japan, where the launch for the iPhone 4 began on Thursday morning, Apple’s exclusive wireless carrier had sold out by early afternoon. In the United States, more than 600,000 pre-orders for the new phone crashed the system on Wednesday. One eager soul in Dallas camped out at an Apple store a full week before the launch. Some in the telecommunications industry are expecting that Apple will sell 9.5 million of them by the end of June. (Compare that with the first iPhone release in 2007, when it took about 2½ months to sell 1 million.)

In my own neighborhood here in London, there was already a queue around the block by the time the Vodaphone Store opened at 10 a.m. Men and women in suits tapped out texts on their soon-to-be-outdated iPhone 3G’s. Mums sipping Starbucks tried to keep restless toddlers in their strollers. In short: Dozens of people delayed the start of this stunningly beautiful June day by several hours, all so that they could be the first to get their hands on this latest i-toy.

Read the rest of this post at www.PoliticsDaily.com

image: iPhone 4 line on launch day at San Francisco Apple Store 125 via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

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Friday Pix: Recommended Reading For The Weekend

Every Friday I point you to some recommended reading around the blogosphere:

1. I’m a sucker for understated British humor. Here’s a hysterical post in The Guardian by the British actor/writer/comedian David Mitchell on the new toilet-paper free toilet.

2. Also funny is Stuff White People Like’s take on why white people like the World Cup.

3. For the avid readers out there, here are the top five children’s books for grown-ups from Brain Pickings. I’m especially fond of The Little Prince.

4. I haven’t seen Sex and The City 2 (nor do I plan to) but this scathing review at The Stranger made me laugh out loud. (Hat tip: Communicatrix.)

5. In light of my recent post on frugality, I loved this article in Mint about how to go on a date without breaking the bank. (Hat Tip: @urbanmusewriter who wrote it!)

6. Finally, in the Department of Cool, check out this video on Gimundo about what Los Angeles would look like without cars. (Hat tip: The Happiness Project)

And, as always, please do follow me on Twitter!

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