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Archive for January, 2008

Changes for USA, DC United

Today the United States Soccer Federation revealed the new home jersey of the men’s soccer team. I like it. It’s simple, classic. The shirt will debut next Wednesday against Mexico in Houston.

DC United also recently revealed a new look jersey for 2008. Also simple and understated, the DC jersey looks good. Rumor has it that the space on the front was left vacant for a Verizon advertisement.

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Politics, Markets, Presidential Nominations

Donkey vs Elephant

I’ve been captivated by the presidential nomination process and have been consuming all the information I can handle relating to the debates, speeches, endorsements, posturing, etc. The polarizing, counter-productive nature of American politics bothers me but I make it a point to try to stay informed. So as not to alienate or terribly offend anyone, I subconsciously adopted a common, practically failsafe method of engaging in political conversations with co-workers and acquaintances: never take a side, always play the cynic. It’s really a cowardly, easy out. In Good Will Hunting, Sean (played by Robin Williams) confronts Will (played by Matt Damon) and his similar approach to women: “I think that’s a super philosophy, Will, that way you can go through your entire life without ever having to really know anybody.” Don’t worry, I’m not going to address my cowardice here.

CNN put together a cool tool called Political Market that is right up my alley. According to CNN, the “goal of CNN Political Market is to combine the opinions of a diverse group of people to try and predict the probability of an event occurring or the value of something”. I don’t have to take sides; I just have to predict outcomes. I created an account today and bought shares. A couple of widgets that track performance on the answer to a question I am particularly interested in are pasted below. If you’re inclined give it a shot.

Creative Capitalism

The Wall Street Journal’s Robert Guth interviewed Bill Gates ahead of his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Guth says “the software tycoon plans to call for a ‘creative capitalism’ that uses market forces to address poor-country needs that he feels are being ignored.” In the video interview, Gates talks about the bottom third–the bottom 2 billion–and how they’re not doing too well. It is important and wonderful for influential citizens like Gates to care about and want to address poverty. He intends to encourage companies to create businesses that make profits by building products and services for the poor. In The Wealth of Nations Adam Smith talks about the selfish motivations of individuals benefiting the collective and Gates is counting on those motivations to serve the poor. If the attitudes and ideas of the British are any indicator, we better rely on selfish motivations because empathy is nearly non-existent.

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Fulhamerica – Eddie Johnson transfers to Fulham

 

Yesterday news came from London that 23 year old American striker Eddie Johnson signed for Fulham Football Club, a club that has been in the Premiership since 2001 but currently sits in the relegation zone. Johnson joins Americans Clint Dempsey, Carlos Bocanegra, Brian McBride and Kasey Keller at the south London club. The heavy American presence has led US soccer fans to start calling the club Fulhamerica. Perhaps even more clever than the US fans is David Lloyd creator of the fanzine There’s Only One F in Fulham which mocks the common mistake of adding a second ‘L’ to the club’s name.

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USA 2 Sweden 0: International Friendly

Saturday night an MLS-based US squad beat an Allsvenskan-based Sweden team 2-0 on the strength of goals by first time cap-winner Eddie Robinson and newly crowned all-time scoring leader Landon Donovan. Both goals came off set pieces: Robinson’s from a rebound from a dangerous Brad Davis corner that was flicked on by Pat Noonan; Donovan’s from a penalty that was drawn by Jozy Altidore from a clever Noonan pass. For most of the US players the game was the first in several months and it showed: there was a lack of cohesion and understanding between the players that made the game uneven and a bit of a chore to watch. In Carlos Bocanegra‘s absence, Donovan’s captaincy was restored and he responded with an excellent match: he was clearly the best player on the field, playing a step ahead of his opponents and teammates. The one other player who played particularly well and boosted his chances of signing on with Celtic was goalkeeper Brad Guzan. Sweden pressured the US and seemed destined to score during a 10-minute flurry in the first half. Guzan made three excellent saves in that span and again displayed why so many coaches and scouts are high on him.

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Baltimore Sports: Football Season

2 times the disappointment, 2 times the hate, 2 times the blood alcohol content

The following post was written by my youngest brother Jared. He is a high school junior who plays soccer and tennis and aspires to be a professional comedic writer.

On Sunday, December 29, or Week 17 as most male Americans know it as, I had the pleasure of attending (thanks to the Spearman family) my first ever Baltimore Ravens game. And what a first game to go to – against the Steelers! the Ravens arch rival (hated just like those Yankees!). Okay, it was week 17, when most teams seasons had been decided for better or worse, sure neither starting Quarterback or Running Back were playing, yeah Ray Lewis – the face of the Ravens – was limited to doing his dancing in a cast and heavy jacket on the sidelines, fine the Ravens had lost 8 ½ * straight, whatever if the Steelers were going to the playoffs, and alright it was 38 degrees and raining, but I was excited to go. Honestly, in my excitement I didn’t even realize 4 of 6 of those things until I heard the guys in my section having a P + M session about the Ravens disappointing season before kickoff.

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Snow! In Atlanta!

Juno (the Motion Picture) and Juno (Music from the Motion Picture)

Last weekend I saw the Jason Reitman comedy Juno. It was superbly funny, honest and endearing. The characters are refreshingly genuine, the dialog sharp and a potentially polarizing storyline is delicately presented without pretense. It is a comedy along the lines of Best in Show.

Ellen Page plays Juno and is undoubtedly the star, though all the film’s actors performed excellently. JK Simmons is particularly funny as Juno’s father; Jason Bateman is a convincingly pathetic yuppie in the midst of 2/5-life crisis, married to a suburban stereotype well portrayed by Jennifer Garner. Juno’s brazen words and actions provide most of the humor. When Bateman’s character first meets Juno and innocently asks, “Juno, like the city in Alaska?”, Juno simply replies “No,” and offers no platitudes to soften the moment. Not all the humor is uncomfortable or abrasive. It comes hard and fast and will make the film worth watching a second and third time.

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an itunes Christmas

Sufjan Stevens: Illinoise, Red Mountain Church: This Breaks My Heart of Stone, Red: End of Silence, The Shins: Wincing the Night Away

My favorite gift to receive is an itunes gift card. I love buying new music and having an itunes gift card gives me no choice but to do just that. Thanks to my generous friends and family I am able to start 2008 checking out lots of good music. The fun is often in the search. I came across the four enjoyable albums pictured above in four different ways.

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Thomas L Friedman: The World is Flat (2.0 edition)

I have been wanting to read The World is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century since I read The Lexus and the Olive Tree for one of my first MBA courses. Friedman is a big picture guy and he tells stories and communicates ideas with a real sense of energy and enthusiasm. I finally made the time to read the book over my holiday break and I am very glad I did. Though the book is somewhat repetitive, Friedman does an excellent job describing the current political, economic, social and technical landscape. By flat, Friedman means interconnected: a world without borders. In The Lexus and the Olive Tree, Friedman put forth a Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention. Over the course of his research, he discovered that no two countries had gone to war since both had opened McDonald’s franchises. He updated the theory in The World is Flat to The Dell Theory of Conflict Prevention which says that no two countries that are a part of the same global supply chain, like Dell’s, have gone to war with each other nor are they likely to. What makes this book a pleasure to read is Friedman’s overarching acumen which enables him to make these kind of high-level, Freakonomic-like observations and then condense and synthesize the complex ideas into an easy to consume theory.

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