Count ’em

by Kieran Healy on July 2, 2006

Is “this”: some kind of record?

bq. France began this tournament saddled with worries about the ageing legs at the heart of their team, but they have changed their tune.

We’re just missing a fascist octopus singing its swan song.

FT op-ed

by Henry Farrell on July 2, 2006

I have an op-ed in the _Financial Times_ tomorrow on Swift and privacy in Europe and the US – link “here”:,_i_email=y.html, but subject to rapid linkrot. NB that a final correction appears not to have made it into the online version – the opening sentences:

bq. In the increasingly bitter dispute over press freedom in America, some Republicans are pressing for The New York Times to be charged with espionage. The editor of The New York Times has claimed for his part that the US government is out of control over the newspaper’s disclosures that the government was monitoring international financial transactions.

should read

bq. In the increasingly bitter dispute over press freedom in America, some Republicans are pressing for the New York Times to be charged with espionage for disclosing that the government was monitoring international financial transactions. The editor of the New York Times has claimed for his part that government surveillance programs are effectively out of control.

Who supports whom?

by Chris Bertram on July 2, 2006

It was interesting to watch England’s defeat in a bar in Dublin. The locals were plainly pleased with the result, and so were — on the whole — RTE’s studio panel. But I rather got the impression that the anti-Englishness was more for form and tradition’s sake than based in any deep feelings of hostility. Contrast that with the Scots. I just wouldn’t have felt comfortable (or safe) to cheer England on in Glasgow.

I had a chat with an Estonian philosopher on the subject, which revealed a couple of interesting data points. First, that Estonians don’t feel anything like the degree of sporting antagonism to the Russians that you’d expect (she found the Scottish feeling about the English mystifying). Second, she was rather hoping that the Germans would do well. I’d hypothesized the day before that no-one except the Germans themselves would be supporting their team (with the possible exception of Austrians and the odd relic of a Nietzschean colony in Paraguay). It seems I was wrong: Estonians will happily cheer for the Germans. (The English, on the other hand, backed Argentina against Germany to the last, despite a recentish war and some notable grudge matches between England and Argentina.)

There are clearly some patterns out there reminiscent of those typical of the Eurovision song contest. (Maybe a Finnish team composed of axe-wielding lunatics in latex masks would get widely supported.) So which other countries do your compatriots support? And which do they have an “anyone but X” policy towards?

Freedom Riders

by Belle Waring on July 2, 2006

You should go now to the NYT Magazine and click on the “Lives” photo-essay. A photographer made a project of hunting up many of the original “Freedom Riders” from 1961 and pairing pictures taken of them today with their mugshots. The first pair of images is of a woman named Helen Singleton. Her mugshot shows a strange and wonderful facial expression: ineffable, justified self-satisfaction. When we think of someone being “pleased with themselves” it usually means we think they are being stuck-up or irritating. Mrs. Singleton looks pleased with herself in that picture, and it is anything but irritating. I wonder what the Jackson police photographer thought about that cocked eyebrow and that smile?

The armband passes

by Steven Poole on July 2, 2006

So, David Beckham has quit as England captain. The only thing that has made me ashamed to be English during this World Cup has been the astonishing quantity of bile spat out by the professional Beckham-haters of the English press, notwithstanding the plain fact that England wouldn’t even have been playing last night without the goals he made and scored. It is hard to resist a diagnosis of sheer vicious envy, on the part of journalists who never have been, and never will be, a tiny fraction as talented or as good-looking as the erstwhile English captain. Do they really imagine that a certain low cunning with words makes them in any way superior to such a gifted athlete, such a fine anti-macho role model for 21st-century youth? Can it be any coincidence that Beckham shares his initials with another strong candidate for Greatest Living Englishman, David Bowie? I think not. Sincerely, let us salute him.