Soccer vs. Baseball

When I grew up I played a little bit of soccer. This was a long time ago and I was not particularly talented. Our team was better than most in the Chicago area because two German-born children of the coach of the long-defunct Chicago Sting also played alongside us and clearly led the team. I’m sure as actual German soccer players 30+ years ago they must have thought our soccer skills were absolutely pathetic, in contrast with European standards of the day.

There have long been debates on the (low) popularity of soccer in the United States, along with hand-wringing about the cause and various opinions on all sides. I haven’t paid too much attention to the debate but I was on vacation in Italy when the US team tied Italy in 2007 and I did feel good at the time (it was quite a shock to the locals, I’ll tell you).

Over the years soccer has grown as a youth sport and also as a competitive sport. The Chicago Fire soccer team actually is able to draw a decent crowd. In Chicago we have a vast foreign born population and whenever there is an important match on overseas our local bars pick up the games on satellite and are packed full of hard drinkers in bar wear for their favorite team.

The US beat Spain recently in a huge upset that did get some press. To say the team from Spain was favored is to vastly understate the scale of the upset; some compared it to the US defeat of the USSR in 1980 in ice hockey.

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Just Because I Like It

A young lad loves a maiden
she likes another one
that other marries another
whose heart and hand he won

The maiden weds in anger
the first man she can snare
who comes across her pathway
The lad is in despair

It is an old, old story
yet new with every start,
and every time it happens
it breaks a loving heart.

–Heinrich Heine

Poetry, of course, is notoriously difficult to translate. The Heine translations of which the above is an example (done by Max Knight and Joseph Fabry) are among the fairly rare examples in which the poem as rendered in the target language preserves much of the rhyme and rhythm of the original. This is done, though, at the sacrifice of precision of meaning: even with my mostly-forgotten high school and college German, I can tell that the line

Dem bricht das Herz entzwei

doesn’t say anything about “breaking a loving heart”–rather, if refers to “breaking a heart in two.” Also, the translation uses some rather strange English phrasings (new with every start?) Still, though, I think this kind of translation is a very nice supplement to the more-precise-but-drier translations which seem to be much more common.

A few more Heine poems from the same translators:

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Urban Wildlife Update

There has been a bear sighting in the Cleveland area.

Now, God bless ’em, local TV crews need work too, but someone please tell me that this is a joke.

As a side note, my grandmother still lives in the northwoods of Wisconsin and black bear sightings have been common up there for a very long time. They love garbage and even knock down my grandmother’s bird feeder from time to time.

Was Michael Jackson Murdered?

I know I shouldn’t wallow in tabloid speculation but this profile of Michael Jackson [h/t/ Instapundit] suggests that he might have been. 

If the story is true, Jackson would have been worth more alive than dead to many people including his entourage. If Jackson failed to perform due to ill health, the promoters of his upcoming series of 50 London concerts would lose all the money they put in. If he died, they could recover some or all of their investment from insurance. Someone in his entourage might have feared that Jackson would be sued and wiped out if the concert promoters had learned he had been too ill to perform when he made the contract. If he died, they at least would have the estate and children to pick over (or thought they would). His Nation of Islam bodyguards might be the obvious suspects because (1) no one can murder an individual easier than their own bodyguards and (2) they may have detested Jackson for his homosexuality. 

As I wrote before, we see in superstars like Jackson all the psychopathologies that used to afflict the absolute rulers of old. Assassination would be just one more parallel. 

Maybe we should issue an Intrade contract for when the first murder conspiracy book will be published. I’d put my money on 30 days.