Monday, January 31, 2005

I try to follow news out of North Korea, but it's pretty slim pickings, as you might imagine. Here is a great article offering a rare inside look. There are two money quotes:

1. "In interviews for this article over many months, western policymakers, Chinese experts, North Korean exiles and human rights activists built up a picture of a tightly knit clan leadership in Pyongyang that is on the verge of collapse."

and 2. "According to exiles, North Korean agents in Beijing and Ulan Bator are frantically selling assets to raise cash — an important sign, says one activist, because 'the secret police can always smell the crisis coming before anybody else'."

Scroll down to see other North Korea articles I've linked to previously.
Here's a transcript of a web chat with Janusz Michallik. There are plenty of interesting tidbits...

The second domino falls in the German game fixing scandal.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Had the pleasure of attending the CJSA President's Dinner Friday night, which was made quite special by an appearance by Kristine Lilly as well as a speech by USSF Executive V.P. Sunil Gulati.
It so happened my U12 daughter was with me, and she was absolutely thrilled to be in the presence of Ms. Lilly, her longtime soccer hero (that's right, it's not me). After seeing and hearing Kristine, I was struck by the confidence, athleticism, and intelligence she exudes. Small wonder she's one of the most accomplished players in the history of the sport, men or women. 291 caps and 102 career international goals from a flank midfield position. My goodness. And I'm delighted to have someone of Kristine's obvious quality and accomplishment as a role model for my daughter.
I attended the Hartford Builders Association 2005 economic forum last Thursday. The two main speakers, Donald Klepper-Smith, Chief Economist and Director of Research for DataCore Partners LLC and Barry Rosa of Prudential Realty, both seemed quite optimistic about the local economy into 2006. They tempered some of their comments with a realistic leveling-off of the extraordinary housing growth of 2004, but the general outlook was very much of the "glass half full" nature.
Mr. Klepper-Smith's firm, DataCore Partners are the vendor of choice for fiscal impact studies in Connecticut. His analysis and comments were very well thought through and presented.

Friday, January 28, 2005

The always brilliant Virginia Postrel has an excellent article in this morning's New York Times, where she examines some of the less well known benefits of free trade.
(You can check out Ms. Postrel's most recent book here.)

Thursday, January 27, 2005

This isn't good news: an investigation has resulted in a confession from a German referee that he fixed professional games. This has been a growing and disturbing trend in Europe. I suppose it's good that it's being uncovered, but you have to wonder how deep the problem is, and how long it's been going on.
This article says the ref in question was involved with Croatian gambling rings. Where else do their tentacles reach? Remember the first rule of investigations: Follow the money.
I think this is going to be a very big story.
I remember when I was in school all the histrionics about overpopulation, and how we were overcrowding the planet, and all the dire consequences, blah, blah, blah. War! Famine! Pestilence! Oh my!
Not so fast. Turns out the big population problem of the 21st century is actually underpopulation. There is a growing consensus that this will become a very serious issue.
And whatever happened to Toffler and all the other hysterical "futurists" of the 60's and 70's? Why aren't they ever held to account for getting the future so spectacularly wrong?
I also remember as a kid reading magazines like Popular Mechanics and some other sci-fi stuff, promising all kinds of neat stuff for the 21st century. I want my flying car!

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Here's a very interesting post by the St. Cloud Scholars related to Super Bowl betting lines. I'm not much of a gambler, but I've always wondered who determines the favorite/underdog thing. Now we know: it's "five guys sitting around a table."
(you'll have to scroll past the first story to see it.)

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Well, this is certainly an unfortunate soccer fashion development. I'm not a big believer in the intimidation factor of uniforms, but it seems like these would have the opposite effect. What opponent would take you seriously?

This, however, is pretty darn cool.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Business Opportunities is hosting this week's Carnival of the Capitalists. There are lots of interesting and outstanding posts, so head on over and check it out.
Interesting article regarding the habits of predatory lenders. The advise is correct: Get the Good Faith Estimate and check the fees. Also, make sure you deal with an honest lender. Someone like me, for example.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

You can't effectively ridicule culture you don't fully understand.
Disaster averted...for now. The US Soccer Federation reached an interim agreement with the players union, so the US will be using its full-time professionals for the qualifying rounds. That's the good news. The bad news is that the agreement expires in '05, and the finals are in '06.
The absurdly talented David Kelly, who I had the pleasure of coaching lo all those years ago, has suggested that the orange VW bug I owned 22 years ago be used as the official KNVB pace car.
No word yet on how van Nistelrooy and the men of Orange might feel about that.
Paul Graham has some excellent advise for High School students. Money quote:
"I'll start by telling you something you don't have to know in high school: what you want to do with your life. People are always asking you this, so you think you're supposed to have an answer. But adults ask this mainly as a conversation starter. They want to know what sort of person you are, and this question is just to get you talking. They ask it the way you might poke a hermit crab in a tide pool, to see what it does."
I wish somebody told me that back when...

Friday, January 21, 2005

Jacques Chirac is scheduled to visit DC in March. No advance notice on whether or not he'll be carrying a white flag, but Lileks thinks Bush should Taser Chirac when he enters the oval office to, you know, "set the ground rules".
Lileks also has a thought about the "Kirk Doctrine" Or should that be the Denny Crane Doctrine?

Shock Friday Evening Soccer News!

01/21/05 Associated Press- Staff Report Former Glasgow Celtic Shareholder Fergus McCann in takeover bid for Glastonbury Celtic. Posted by guest blogger Pat McCann.
In a monumental move set to change the destiny of a struggling stateside football club Fergus McCann, former chairman of Glasgow Celtic has purchased Glastonbury Celtic F.C for an undisclosed fee. Glastonbury Celtic, an obscure American club in the lower echelons of amateur football in the United States is now set to become America's richest football club. In a move which surprised even the sharpest of football pundits McCann has also signed the entire Glasgow Celtic first team squad and has dumped Glastonbury Celtic's first team calling them "useless foreign also rans who seem to come across red cards easily but can't seem get a single green card between the lot of them"
Immediately upon confirming the sale Dan Rooney, President and over 40 team stalwart of stated " Well it will be sorry to see the old guys go but these are exciting times at Celtic and we won't be looking back". Rooney has also made himself available as the squads 5th back up keeper.
As part of the deal, the IAHS, the current home of Glastonbury Celtic will be redeveloped into a sports entertainment complex including stadium, all weather practice areas, casino, movie cineplex and Guinness brewery. When informed of the deal long serving IAHS member and current board incumbent Mike Foley exclaimed "Brilliant"!
For more news check out the team website.
CalTechGirl is hosting this week's Carnival of the Recipes. Looks like there's lots of great new recipes to try, so head on over.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Steve Coxon, coaching director of CFC has been named the Connecticut High School Coach of the Year. Congratulations to Steve, an outstanding coach, and to CFC, an outstanding club staffed with nothing but top flight coaches.
Well, this is disturbing: the CIA is predicting the collapse of the EU in fifteen years.
I've always thought it was inevitable and will frankly be surprised if they can even last that long. Here's the money quote:

"In a devastating indictment of EU economic prospects, the report warns: 'The current EU welfare state is unsustainable and the lack of any economic revitalisation could lead to the splintering or, at worst, disintegration of the EU, undermining its ambitions to play a heavyweight international role.'"

Of course. Even a blind Marxist could see it.

(As for the CIA's abilities as a "prediction agency", well that's a subject for another day.)
As follow up to my previous post below about a looming housing bubble, here's an article that recaps a robust 2004 housing market in the Hartford area. Good news certainly, but it's unrealistic to expect this sort of growth to sustain.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Well, it's happened. The national team players union rejected the USSF offer, and a team of replacement players will be used for World Cup qualifying. A disaster and an embarrassment...Just as US soccer had begun to be taken seriously on the world stage, we'll be sending amateurs for the qualifying games. And why didn't I get a call? I'm available for selection...

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Potential North Korea meltdown

First signs of protest in North Korea.

A Housing Bubble?

This Wall Street Journal article sounds a warning. Money quote:
"Millions of Americans became stockholders in the late 1990s, just in time to experience the biggest bear market in a generation. Does the same fate await millions of first-time homeowners?"
I think much of this is regional, but the northeast is certainly a region that's experienced increases in home prices above the national average.

Rule #1: Obey all other rules!

North Korea update: Why is Kim Jong Il the only fat man in North Korea? It's a reasonable question, but don't even think about asking it in North Korea.

And another article: While North Koreans starve, Kim Jong Il has built 10 palaces complete with golf courses and movie theaters. How long can he get away with it?

Diving Update

The Euro medias new approach of disdain for players who chronically dive seems to be having some effect. Here's an accusation.

And here's my earlier post on the subject. It really needs to stop; it undermines the beautiful game.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

A couple of people have asked me about my post yesterday regarding globalization. Specifically, I've been asked more or less where I stand on the subject. I remember reading a Robert D. Kaplan interview a couple of years ago where he said, "globalization isn't a good thing and it isn't a bad thing. It's just the thing." I agree. Globalization just happens to be the stage of human economic development we're in right now. It has its roots in the industrial revolution and even earlier. Technology has simply accelerated the process. Anyway, Franklin Foer's book has a somewhat ambivalent and benign outlook on it all, focusing more on how soccer teams and leagues (and players) have globalized themselves, and what it means. It's a great read.

Friday, January 14, 2005

The most globalized institution on the planet

I finally got around to reading Franklin Foer's latest book about globalization, "How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization." It had been excerpted in article form in Foreign Policy Magazine last year, for those of you who'd prefer a condensed version. It's a hugely interesting theory, and Franklin presents it very entertainingly. I'd certainly recommend it to anyone interested in either globalization or international soccer. Er, all 2 of us.
And speaking of great Foreign Policy articles, they hit another home run (score another goal?) with this fine article, which describes how Israel is just a strip of land in what may be the world's most noxious neighborhood, and the cleanup hasn't even begun.

Blog Myths & Facts

The always outrageous Frank J offers a useful list. No need to go into how many of these apply to me; suffice to say more than a few.

Market Update & Rates

For any of you home buyers, here's my market update for the weekend. You'll need to click on "Daily Market Update" in the left hand column.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Art of the Dive

The soccer-dive has long been a problem, but it looks like the Euro soccer media may finally be taking players to task for this dreadful tactic. Here's hoping.
If you want the entire Rathergate mess summed up in one beautiful, laugh-out-loud story, just check out what Iowahawk hath wrought.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Aid for the victims: