In re: A pink card?

Americans who dislike soccer often point to one area, besides the low scores when expressing their disdain–the antics of diving, that being when players flop to the ground pretending to be fouled and hurt to some exaggerated degree, sometimes an absurdly exaggerated degree.  Moments after their crying show is over and the ‘magic spray'(what is that anyway?) is applied they pop up and are good to play. 

One can always find criticisms of diving, so it was nice to see an article that explained “Why Diving Makes Soccer Great,” The article argues that diving evens out the field among the bigger, stronger defenders and the smaller & more skilled players, forcing the less agile to be careful to stay away or possibly succumb to the theatrically based yellow-card.  While there are many arguments against diving, the article points out that many are based on masculinity, and that diving isn’t manly, such that a pink card should be awarded for divers.  Even if I don’t really agree with diving and feel it needlessly slows down the game, and it would be better to see players playing, rather than writhing on the ground, that said I don’t necessarily go full tilt against it as Dave Eggers did:

“Americans may generally be arrogant, but there is one stance I … stand behind, and that is the intense loathing of penalty-fakers. There are few examples of American sports where flopping is part of the game, much less accepted as such… Flopping is essentially a combination of acting, lying, begging, and cheating, and these four behaviors make for an unappealing mix. The sheer theatricality of flopping is distasteful, as is the slow-motion way the chicanery unfolds. First there will be some incidental contact, and then there will be a long moment—enough to allow you to go and wash the car and return—after the contact and before the flopper decides to flop. When you’ve returned from washing the car and around the time you’re making yourself a mini-bagel grilled cheese, the flopper will be leaping forward, his mouth Munch-wide and oval, bracing himself for contact with the earth beneath him. But this is just the beginning. Go and do the grocery shopping and perhaps open a new money-market account at the bank, and when you return, our flopper will still be on the ground, holding his shin, his head thrown back in mock-agony… Once the referees have decided either to issue a penalty or not to our Fakey McChumpland, he will jump up, suddenly and spectacularly uninjured—excelsior!” (The True Story of American Soccer by Dave Eggers, excerpt from The Thinking Fan’s Guide to the World Cup, an anthology,partially available on Slate

But a pink card?  The world cup blog takes this idea on:

 “The idea is to award players who dive with a pink card. Two pink cards in a match and the player would be ejected. In other words it would be the same thing as a yellow card, except it would be pink. Apparently the stigma of the color pink would be so humiliating and such an affront to a player’s masculinity that it would make players think twice before they resort to diving. Huh?
I’ve read a lot of dumb things and lord know I have written my share of idiotic ideas, but this one is almost in a class by itself. I can only imagine that after the Pink Card Solution doesn’t work – and it won’t – the next proposal will be to make all pink card recipients wear a dress and sing Britney Spears songs at halftime.”

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In re: What makes it home?

HouseHouse by Michael Ruhlman, is a memoir about the restoration of a home in Cleveland Heights, the older, inner suburb of Cleveland where I grew up.  I believe I had mentioned earlier here that I had been reading it as part of the ‘restored’ book club (the book club is a really exclusive organization I am in…that being a friend and I take turns choosing a book that we will both read, kind of an attempt to put pressure on ourselves to read these books and then maybe talk about them.  In reality it hasn’t worked out as well as we envisioned, but through determination and the perseverance of the human spirit, it has survived even if Garbage Land, took about 3 or 4 months to read on my part and a similarly large chunk for my friend.  (A note on Garbage Land, which I actually mentioned here before, it was an interesting book, not a page turner per se—I mean what were you expecting?—but it really only took so long as I misplaced it once for a month or so, had various bouts of studying for school overcome me)  Anyway, maybe I’ll mention that book again sometime, but for now I really had only meant to mention a scene in House, where on first morning waking up in their new house (which was still under significant reconstruction and they were living in the 3rd floor, which was the only finished part) and descending to find the morning papers on the front step and the significance that the delivery of the paper had come through.  I understood what he was talking about, and while I don’t remember right now what grand words he used, I had similar experiences when I moved to Columbus and I woke up in my new home to have no news from any source, be it internet, TV or newspaper and when on the 2nd or 3rd day the Columbus Dispatch began to arrive, a significant corner was turned and I felt finally I was at home.  I’ve always felt something important about getting the paper, I don’t know if it is that merely someone visiting my house every morning while it is still dark out, or the sheer enjoyment of reading the paper with a cup of coffee, that a laptop loaded up with websites doesn’t replace for me.  Even at as young and tender an age as I have attained I may be dating myself, as I’ve already found friends thinking I was out of touch when I suggested they check my paper for the channel of a TV show or for the days weather, but it works, it sits there and it comforts me, and it may be horrible for the environment (I recycle the paper, but of course lots of energy and waste is created in this cycle of madness) but I do it nonetheless as it defines my day and my home in some indescribable way. 

In re: The culture of consolidation

Goal Financial LLC, reads, “Notice of Congressional Action. Failure to respond could result in limitations to your rights pursuant to Congressional bill S. 1932 and may expose you to federal rate increases effective 07/01/06.”  (see a story at The Chronicle of Higher Education)

Notices such as these have been showing up in my mailbox by the hundreds over the last few months, as well as at my parents address, where they think they are actually ‘official’ mailings and bother to forward them to me.  In reality the deadline for consolidating loans is approaching and the variable rates for federal loans will rise, but the whole system has created a mad dash for money and students (read: suckers) to sign up.  I’ve actually had two brushes with consolidation, once, taken by ‘fear’ at an artificial deadline that Law School Loans used in what I felt was basically a false advertising claim to get folks to consolidate several months ago.  Thankfully I was able to back out and consolidate with Graduate Leverage who started as a pro bono project at the Harvard Business school and don’t really have the push and profit motive of these others, also they were the group I heard talk on campus to us about loans, helping to dispel some of the myths that these consolidators have been perpetuating. 

A few lenders have posted clocks on their Web sites ticking down the seconds until July 1, 2006

Considering that all of this consolidation comes out of the existence of government loans, I would have thought that the government would have been in better control of this whole situation of mass mailing campaigns, utilizing envelopes and messages that try and disguise themselves to be an official government message. Anyway, the whole industry of consolidation looks like a bunch of crooks so I am just glad not to be thinking about it anymore.

In re: Free market sports

So for those of you who share Jack Kemps anti-soccer mentalities and agree that soccer epitomizes socialism, I recommend a blog post on Goal Post, a World Cup blog that is being written on The New Republic by a collection of people including Franklin Foer, their editor who also wrote the book I just mentioned earlier how soccer explains the world.  Anyway, the post points out the economic differences between European clubs who are run as independent companies, rather than the sports league rackets that exist here.  See Hayek 1 Kemp 0

Oh and to see how Jack Kemp feels today…see What I really think about soccer

In re: How Soccer Explains the World.

The World Cup is on, and for me and a few others its one of the greatest sporting events to follow, giving us a month of excitement and depending on where it is being held either early morning wakeups to catch the action from the other side of the globe, or in the case of this years Cup from Germany, avoiding hearing (or attempting to avoid, as some how the failure rate has been high) to hear the scores of the games to watch them later after work.

Anyway, so today was primed to be one of the best days, a Saturday, meaning a day with live games and no work, and today the USA v. Italy in a make or break game. Two games preceded it however, including Ghana v. Czech Republic, which turned out to be an amazing upset with Ghana winning 2-0. Unfortunately however what could have been a day watching and rooting with friends instead was a day sprawled on the couch, eating soup and drinking Gatorade as I came down last night with what I hope is only a 24 hour bug as tonight I am feeling a lot better. Despite dozing in and out of the first two games an internal clock woke me up just to see the beginning of the US game and the atrocious refereeing that cause the match to turn into a 10 on 9 match, and the prospect of a 1-1 draw sounding good (although leaving the US fortunes in the hands of Italia) Anyway, feeling better after the game and a quick visit from a friend I thought I would finish up the book I mentioned before How Soccer Explains the World by Franklin Foer who writes for the New Republic. Each chapter in this great book goes over a situation, such as the Glasgow soccer rivalry of the Rangers and Celtic (the 'old firm', referring to the two of them) who are not only rivals, but religious foes, with Rangers representing the Protestant and Celtic the Catholic. The book finished up with soccer in America, and the paradox that soccer in the US is not a working class sport (the rest of the world it is generally a sport of the working class, with other sports, such as Rugby in England having been more fitting of the wealthy)

The book is in some ways a hodgepodge of different things but generally they are held together by the way sport, and obviously soccer, often represents so much more, be it politics, religion and other such 'lofty' realms that sports aren't necessarily pictured with.

In re: Why not accredit my iPod?

Before starting work this summer I found myself with a week off, which was surprisingly tough to utilize, even with numerous tasks and chores around the house available.  To attempt to be productive, or possible the reverse, I ordered from a company called the Teaching Company an audio lecture called ‘How to listen to and understand great music’ which is essentially a survey course on ‘classical’ music, although already I’ve learned the term is wrong and we should say ‘concert’ music (classic music being a subset, an era, of what we call classical music, but I digress).  You may laugh at the choice, but I had been mailed a sample CD awhile ago with their catalog that contained the first lecture of this course, and one other on philosophy.  I enjoyed the style, the level and most importantly the professor, Robert Greenberg‘s voice. 

It wasn’t cheap, the lectures that is, but it is 48 CDs long, 48 lectures in total, a whole semesters worth, so to save some money and save on the shipping I opted for the MP3 download version and loaded it into my iPod.  Well its been a few weeks now and I’ve gotten through eight lectures, although a few of them I had to redo as I fell asleep during them (not really their fault, but I had put them on right as I got into bed).  Nonetheless it brings me back to the idea of why would a course such as this, taught by a very respected professor be anyless legitimate then one taught at Berkley when he was teaching there?  In general in the US distance learning, or internet learning is not going to be held on par, or even close to par to a university setting.  In the case of a survey course such as this however, where at a large school hundreds may be in attendence and many will skip frequently, would you be just as worthy of course credit for listening to your ipod for the 15 weeks of the semester and then coming back to sit for an exam?  It may not jibe with our ideas of university, but it is common in Europe to believe that class attendence isn’t really required, nor really even encouraged as long as they can learn it on their own and pass the exam.  I personally don’t believe that these large lectures generally serve to educate as well as smaller more involved classes (even in a large class you could ask a question usually) unlike on my iPod, but where impractical for someone, why not let them get some of their basic large lectures brushed aside in a manner that allows them to work?  

In reality I am not really arguing for more distance learning, but I will say that for people who are looking for random extra knowledge (and for those who know me, they likely think that learning a little bit more extra knowlege will not help me win anymore friends) I would recommend this to them, for me, having grown up with parents who understand and appreciate this music, I kinda felt it my duty to try and brush up and learn about it, while I still can. 

In re: New Worlds

Every now and then something happens which causes the discovery of what I'll call a new world.  You may think I am being too grand, to label such small life experiences new worlds, but there is something that really is different.  Most recently, actually yesterday I entered the world of dry-cleaning.  I've had things dry cleaned before, but rarely as the occasional sport coat was cleaned, but usually handled by my parents.  Now, with working and needing to have nicely ironed shirts I decided to undertake the world of professional laundry.  I've seen and heard a bit about such a world before, peoples shirts coming back to them nicely pressed and bagged or boxed, ready for another cycle through the professional world, but this seemed extravagant.  Yet once busy and the seemingly daunting task of another wrinkle-less shirt keeps coming everyday, I caved.  The world of pressed laundry and professional cleaning however was not entered without first a survey, as I talked to friends and quickly learned that I was not alone in this business.  Apparently many people I knew surprisingly too did not find that they could adequately iron the shirts they needed for work.  I also encountered another subgroup, who are the wrinkle-free crowd, who rejoice in their choice to have clothing that doesn't need the touch and constant attention of the dry-cleaning professionals.  So we will see how it goes, as I have put one foot in both worlds, having also grabbed a few wrinkle free shirts to see how they compare.