The law of comparative advantage

Our interest in the World Cup plummeted after the quarterfinals so Lore has returned her attention to another staple of Argentinian entertainment: “Showmatch”. It’s a long-running television show which in its current incarnation is sort of like “Dancing With the Stars” but with fewer clothes. It’s also a brilliant example of the law of comparative advantage, as Argentina mobilizes one of its primary resources–vast reserves of beautiful women willing to dance in thongs on television.

Jazz, soccer, and the fourth of July

Another Independence Day weekend, another Iowa City Jazz Festival. I’ve written here before about my difficulty appreciating jazz. It’s like wine: I know when I like something but I can’t explain why I like it. I don’t have any understanding of the subtleties.

Speaking of things I don’t understand the subtleties of: the World Cup. Argentina got pounded yesterday by Germany, so I have a lot of sad in-laws. Then Paraguay lost a close game to Spain, which means their hottest underwear model won’t get naked in public as promised. It was a bad day for the Americas.

This so-called World Cup is really a Eurotrash festival. Europe started out by sending their thirteen (thirteen!) best teams to the tournament–including “England”, which is like letting California have its own team. Germany, Spain, and Netherlands all made it to the semifinals. Uruguay is our only hope.

So, though I struck out with these two things–one typically American (jazz) and another of more international appeal (soccer), I’m tackling something a little more familiar to me this weekend to celebrate the independence of our declining nation. I’m reading a new book about the founders: “Revolutionaries” by Jack Rakove. I’m only about two-thirds of the way through, but so far it’s pretty good. The author attends to some of the less celebrated revolutionary figures (George Mason, Robert Morris, and Henry Laurens) and events (the framing of the first state constitutions, the peace negotiations with Great Britain).

I don’t know why I like reading about the founders so much. Maybe it’s because our present political leaders are such duds. I had a history professor at college who insisted that all historical figures were simply the products of their times. In that case, maybe we’re the duds. Happy Fourth.

World Cup soccer

Now that I’m married to a South American, it’s easy to get excited by World Cup soccer. The always amazing Iowa City Public Library showed the U.S.-Ghana match live in one of its meeting rooms. Most of the people there were rooting for the U.S. There were a few Ghanaians, too, rooting for their team, and then a couple of people I can only assume were not from Ghana but rooting for Ghana anyway. Probably just your friendly neighborhood America-haters who happen to be enjoying our free and public library.

The Ghanaian players were aggressive, fast runners and won the game by outrunning the Americans. One thing I like about soccer is that the games keep moving without much interruption. The clock keeps running even during down time, but extra minutes are added to make up for. These extra minutes are a secret well-kept by the officials, so the game continues at full speed until someone blows a whistle.

Today Lore and I watched the Argentina-Mexico game. The Latin American players keep the ball and themselves in motion, and take a lot of shots on goal. They are a little more exciting to watch. The neighborhood bar where we watched the game emptied its lunch crowd by the second half, so we were watching alone. Lore said that in Argentina everybody was watching this game.