Argentina just won the 2022 World Cup by lining up and taking free kicks at a French goalie in a fitting end to one of the most corrupt and deadly sporting events in history. At least the 2026 World Cup will take place in countries with (reasonably) strong institutions and existing infrastructure.
All the expense, the hype, the scandal, the drama...and in the end, it came down to penalty kicks. It's like having track meet decided by guys jumping one hurdle at a time, or by putting a guy on 2nd base at the top of the 10th inning in a desperate attempt to make baseball more exciting. (Oh, wait...)
France didn't win, but Argentina didn't either, really. Nor did the 6,500 dead construction workers, the athletes, the gay fans, or the 90% of the people living in Qatar who will never have citizenship because, like most petro-states, the Qataris have a form of Apartheid that FW de Klerk could only dream of.
So who really won this evening? FIFA officials, of course. The Qatari elite (for now; in 10 years they will look upon their works, and despair). The bribed European officials who didn't get caught. And probably Lionel Messi, who gets a better send-off this evening than Zidane did, I suppose.
The only appropriate response to FIFA is not to watch. Even John Oliver conceded as much, before admitting he'd watch. Everyone's individual choices make corruption on this scale work. I just wish people would internalize that.
But in Qatar, the lone and level sands stretch far away.
With only about a week of autumn left officially, we have some great weather today. Cassie is with her pack at day care and I'm inside my downtown office looking at the sun and (relative) warmth outside, but the weather should continue through Friday.
What else is going on?
Finally, I hate to tell you, we will never find any real evidence to support the existence of Noah's Ark.
I admit, I never heard of "The Play" before this morning, and I'm not even really a football fan. So when this popped up on my history feed, I had to Google it. I'm glad I did; reading a description of this event and seeing the video are two different things (yay Internet!). I laughed so hard I even woke Cassie up.
Even with Chicago's 1,642 judges on the ballot ("Shall NERDLY McSNOOD be retained as a circuit court judge in Cook County?"), I still got in and out of my polling place in about 15 minutes. It helped that the various bar associations only gave "not recommended" marks to two of them, which still left 1,640 little "yes" ovals to fill in.
Meanwhile, in the rest of the world...
Finally, Chicago gets a new brewery taproom on Thursday when Hop Butcher to the World opens in Half Acre's former Lincoln Avenue space, just over 2 km from my house. Cassie and I might find out on Saturday whether they let dogs in, assuming the forecast holds. (And there it is: a post that literally checks all the boxes for Daily Parker categories!)
I took Friday off, so it felt like Saturday. Then Saturday felt like Sunday, Sunday felt like another Saturday, and yesterday was definitely another Sunday. Today does not feel like Tuesday.
Like most Mondays, I had a lot of catching up at the office, including mandatory biennial sexual harassment training (prevention and reporting, I hasten to point out). So despite a 7pm meeting with an Australian client tonight, I hope I find time to read these articles:
Finally, the Hugo Awards were announced in Chicago over the weekend, and now I have a ton more books to buy.
Two surprising stories out of the UK involving public figures who behaved badly and got caught. First, former tennis star Boris Becker will spend 30 months in jail for hiding assets from the UK bankruptcy court:
The former tennis star had faced a jail sentence of up to 28 years under the Insolvency Act. He was found guilty of four charges by a jury at Southwark crown court earlier this month but acquitted of further 20 counts relating to his 2017 bankruptcy.
Once nicknamed Britain’s favourite German – the 54-year-old once joked he was “top of a short list” – the six-time grand slam winner was worth about £38m in his heyday in prize money and sponsorship deals.
Also today, Conservative MP Neil Parish (Tiverton and Honiton, Devonshire) turned himself in to the Commons standards committee after admitting he watched pornography in the House of Commons:
Rumours about the identity of the MP had been rife in Westminster since it emerged earlier this week that a female Conservative minister had reported seeing a colleague watching pornography on his phone in the Commons – an account corroborated by another MP.
Before Parish’s name emerged, several Conservative MPs, including Nickie Aiken and Simon Hoare, had called on the unnamed MP accused of watching pornography to resign, rather than risk others being wrongly named.
Guys, what the hell. Just don't.
I don't understand why Russian figure-skating coaches have such a bad reputation:
One of the joys of watching the Olympics is seeing moments like this, dreams realized. I have indelible memories of such celebrations. In 1998, Tara Lipinski leapt into the air and released a series of ear-splitting shrieks when she found out she won, embracing her coaches in pure joy. In 2002, Sarah Hughes fell to the ground in shock backstage, laughing and smiling in disbelief, her coach grabbing her face and exclaiming, “You won the gold medal at the Olympics!”
At the 2022 Beijing Olympics, there was no such moment of joy. The scene that I witnessed instead made me feel hollow and heartbroken, like I was somehow complicit in the mental anguish of these young women by even watching. When it was announced that 17-year-old Anna Shcherbakova was the gold medalist, the camera didn’t even cut to her for several minutes. Instead, we watched 15-year-old Kamila Valieva, the girl at the center of the Olympic doping scandal, the skater seen as near certain to capture the gold medal, crumple into a ball of tears upon learning she had ended up in fourth place after a disastrous free skate. Valieva received only perfunctory support from her coach, Eteri Tutberidze, who had berated her as soon as she stepped off the ice: “Why did you let it go? Why did you stop fighting? Explain it to me, why? You let it go after that axel. Why?”
As Valieva exited the kiss and cry, she passed silver medalist Alexandra Trusova, also crying, throwing what can only be described as a temper tantrum. When someone offered Trusova an arm of support, she jumped away and shouted in Russian: “I can’t see this! I won’t see this!” One might have imagined these remarks were in sympathy for her training mate Valieva, but later comments made it clear it was bitterness over receiving silver. Trusova is quoted as exclaiming, “I hate it! … I don’t want to do anything in figure skating ever in my life! … Everyone has a gold medal, and I don’t!” One can forgive a teenage girl for having an emotional response to disappointment in a high-stakes situation, but Trusova’s reaction was an ugly display of poor sportsmanship, happening mere feet from a devastated Valieva. Trusova would later have to be coaxed into even coming back onto the ice to accept her second place finish.
After reading Schleicher's account of last Wednesday's awfulness, and a few others that crossed my desk over the week, I have two questions: first, why are Russians competing at all this year, when clearly their suspension for doping did nothing to stop them from doping? And second, why do people want to watch children destroying their lives for figure skating? It's past time to kick the Russian teams out of international competitions until they stop cheating, and past time to raise the age of participation in all Olympic sports to 18.
Something about some sheep defending their pasture against cats? Do I have that right?
I'm working through Best Picture nominees and generally chilling out, so I might have to miss it. Let me know which of the barnyard animals wins.
The temperature dropped 17.7°C between 2:30 pm yesterday and 7:45 this morning, from 6.5°C to -10.2°C, as measured at Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters. So far it's recovered to -5.5°C, almost warm enough to take my lazy dog on a hike. She got a talking-to from HR about not pulling her weight in the office, so this morning she worked away at a bone for a good stretch:
Alas, the sun came out, a beam hit her head, and she decided the bone could wait:
Meanwhile, in the rest of the world:
- Julia Ioffe interviews Russian diplomat Dr Andrey Sushentsov about Russia's views of the Ukraine crisis. tl;dr: the US and Russia don't even have a common set of facts to discuss, let alone a common interpretation of them.
- In Beijing, former Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon blasts the Russian team for once again crapping on their own performance with yet another doping scandal.
- The government of Ontario secured a court order last night allowing the Windsor Police and OPP to start clearing the Ambassador Bridge. So far, they have managed to do so without violence, but a few extremists haven't yet budged.
- James Fallows updates his earlier post on how framing outrageous actions as "that's just Trump" is an abrogation of the press's responsibility to its consumers. "For perspective here: the late Sandy Berger, who had been Bill Clinton’s National Security Advisor, was investigated, charged, fined $50,000, and sentenced to two years of probation for stuffing copies of a classified document into his socks, and sneaking them out from the National Archives. The story of his downfall was a major news feature back in the mid-2000s."
- The UK now allows fully-vaccinated travelers from most countries to arrive and depart without getting a swab stuck up their nose.
- Comedian Bob Saget died of blunt head trauma, consistent with a slip and fall, according to an autopsy. It also found his heart had a 95% blockage, which might have killed him even without the fall.
Finally, in 2018 Rebecca Mead returned to London after living in New York for 30 years. Her 15-year-old son now speaks with a unique accent Mead says has become the new standard "Multicultural London English."
Jennifer Rubin says what I've been thinking:
I have never been a fan of the Olympics. Or, I should say, I have never been a fan of the International Olympic Committee.
An organization that rewards dictatorial regimes (Russia in 2014, and now China for the second time) with events that attract billions of eyeballs and sappy worldwide coverage — all while punishing athletes who stand up for human rights — is not apolitical or “promoting the Olympic spirit.” It’s making money off and providing cover for brutal regimes that use the Games to burnish their image.
To stage the Games in the midst of China’s genocide of Uyghurs and ongoing repression of Tibet and Hong Kong is an atrocity. To herald the spirit of sports in a police state that is clearly holding tennis star Peng Shuai captive — and worse, staged obvious PR stunts to clear China’s name — is simply grotesque.
The IOC exists to serve the IOC, using people's emotions about the Olympic Games to drive billions in revenue. The IOC's demands of host countries for this cycle shocked Norway into dropping out, "leaving Almaty, Kasakhstan and Beijing as the only remaining cities to host the event." And after the games this month, what will happen to the Olympic Village? Well, Sochi is a ruin; Rio's facilities have been stripped by looters; other recent host countries got half-billion dollar disasters instead of perpetual improvements.
I remember when Chicago put together a bid for the 2016 Games, but voters like me made it painfully clear to the City that we didn't want them here.
The IOC needs to go away, or at least reform significantly. I like the proposal to have the games in Greece permanently, but the IOC, accustomed to working with authoritarian regimes to get the perks of royalty for its management, will never accept that until people stop watching.