Sunday, June 27, 2010

On to Botswana

After a quick flight on a prop plane (yep, a prop plane for an international flight) I arrived in Gabarone, Botswana's capital and largest city yesterday afternoon. While here I am staying with my friend and colleague Mark, a Zimbabwean whom I met (during the last World Cup, actually) in South Africa and who teaches at the University of Botswana, where I am writing this. He and I are trying to put together a collaborative research project, so U of B will be my base for a week. You can catch a much longer update (several, actually) at the FPA Africa Blog.

I simply cannot be too disappointed about last night's US loss to Ghana. I can now cheer for Ghana going forward, and it will mean a lot more to the Ghanaians (and many other Africans) than to the Americans, who can Rip Van Winkle their way until the qualifiers for the next World Cup.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Revived in Durban

I'm now in Durban on South Africa's Indian Ocean coast, South Africa's favorite holiday destination. My hotel looks directly out onto the Ocean, and between me and the water lapping on the beach is the FIFA Fanfest. You can read all about it over at the Foreign Policy Association's Africa Blog. I will just add this -- there is something rejuvenating about going from freezing on the highveld to sitting with the windows open as I write this smelling the ocean air and listening to the already-growing bustle on the waterfront.

Tonight I hit the Nigeria-South Korea game. Meaningless? You bet? But it should be a fun game at what, if last night's glace was any indication, is the most spectacular of all of the new World Cup stadiums. Go Super Eagles!

Monday, June 21, 2010

After several days without the interwebs I am back to posting about my World Cup adventures on the FPA Africa blog. And of course on Twitter @dcatafrica.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Update, World Cup Edition

Hey, I've been babbling on at the FPA Africa Blog and even on Ephblog. The World Cup, so far? Awesome.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

In Addis Ababa

I am in Addis Ababa (see here for more), have not slept in 40 hours and since my hotel room seems to have ESPN International, which is supposed to have the Celtics-Lakers game overnight (it's after midnight now and I just got to my room), it looks like I'll roll out of here tomorrow morning (5:00 wake up!) on virtually no sleep. And then of course I get into Joburg with just hours to spare before the South Africa-Mexico game.

In the meantime, you might know this guy. You might think he's me. (He's not me.)

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Twits Tweet on Twitter (Self Indulgence Alert)

I have had no interest whatsoever in Twitter. But for reasons that have to do wholly with the fact that someone from a fairly major newspaper saw my FPA writing and thought it might help elevate my profile (and get them watching, they strongly implied) you can now follow me: @dcatafrica -- I have no idea how this works or what I just wrote even means, but hopefully I'll figure it out.

FPA Group Stage Previews

I now have my brave and inevitably wrong predictions for and previews of the group stages of the World Cup posted over at the FPA Africa Blog. I've only been following world football for a few years now, so if I were you I'd run to Ladbrokes or your local bookie and bet the exact opposite of everything I wrote. I'm off on my three-day travel adventure starting at 6 tomorrow morning. In the thirty or so hours that follow I'll go from San Antonio to Dallas to Washington to Rome to Addis Ababa.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Pre-Departure Links Deluge

These should keep you off the streets:

Richard Kahlenberg believes that most distance learning is, at the least, problematic. He's fundamentally right, of course. Although this review focuses mostly on secondary education, the reality is that institutions look at online education, see a cash cow and justify it not for pedagogical reasons (anyone care to tell me how to give a test to an online class?) but rather out of self interest couched in the language of giving the consumers what they want (rather than what they need).

The C's and Lakers are tied at one game apiece as the NBA Finals head to Boston in the ridiculous 2-3-2 format that the league uses for the finals, and only the finals. Going into the series the great Charles Pierce wondered why the C's were underdogs. This will mark the first time one of my teams will have a chance to win a championship while I am away, pretty remarkable given the extent of my travels. Suffice it to say, I am ambivalent. Not that I expect much pity given what I'm going to be doing.

Former Supreme Court Justice David Souter, the smartest man I've ever been in a room with, recently put the smack down on conservative "originalism" saying it "has only a tenuous connection to reality." He's right, of course.

Former federal prosecutor-turned-conservative commentator Andy McCarthy's book is apparently riddled with errors, all of which just happen to bolster his anti-Obama screed.

In the wake of the Rand Paul idiocy about the 1964 Civil Rights Act comes a reminder that in places like Paul's Kentucky not only racism, but active discrimination, are alive and well.

There are a million things you can read about soccer (or football if you prefer -- I tend to use them interchangeably) right now, given our proximity to the World Cup, but I would recommend taking a few minutes to read this, from The Chronicle Review. (Of course I hope you'll also regularly check in at the Foreign Policy Association's Africa Blog where I hope to have daily coverage of things on the ground, not only from a football perspective, but more significantly in looking at how South Africa -- and Botswana -- experience the Cup.)

Texas is looking at a budget crunch right now. My adopted state is looking at cutting back on vital services. And the Lone Star State loved to look at the rest of the world and point fingers when things remained ok here while the economy tanked elsewhere. (Oh, you should have heard the smugness about California's meltdown two years ago. Admittedly, California is rightfully as source of mockery for all given its absurd political-economic system. Still -- many of us knew Texas was just putting off its own reckoning.) Well, Texas is giving $25 million dollars to Formula One, apparently just because.

I have not had the time nor the inclination to weigh in on the fiasco that was Israel's inept handling of the ship of fools heading toward Gaza last week. But Leon Wieseltier hits it pretty squarely on the head when he writes that whatever the justification, Israel may as well just have called its invasion of the ship "Operation Make the World Hate Us." Bibi Netanyahu is a bigot and a fool and has set back the cause of Israel by decades.

Apparently this is what follows "Generation X." I have no idea what it all means.

Have I mentioned that I'm going to the World Cup?

Sunday, June 06, 2010

The Travel Schedule -- Self Indulgence Alert

Posting will be light for the next week or so (though I am going to try to stockpile some content on Monday and Tuesday) as the big travel week begins. A sense of where I'll be:

Monday: Odessa to San Antonio.

Wednesday: San Antonio to Washington, Washington to Rome.

Thursday: Rome to Addis Ababa

Friday: Addis Ababa to Johannesburg. I should land about three hours before the South Africa-Mexico game. With a little luck I'll get to my bed and breakfast in Sandton (in Joburg's northern suburbs, possibly the most affluent community in all of South Africa, a place I have never stayed and don't belong, but my preferred Melville is fully booked.)

Saturday: Johannesburg to Rustenburg (and hopefully back later that night after the US-England game.)

Sunday: Joburg to Pretoria for Serbia-Ghana game, and hopefully back.

Monday: Joburg to Cape Town. I'll be in Cape Town for five days before heading back to Joburg for the Slovenia-USA game at Ellis Park.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Simmons Takes a Few (Deserved) Shots

At Slate's blog Scocca two guys with whom I must admit I was unfamiliar until today, Tom Scocca and Josh Levin, obliterate The Sportsguy's Finals Preview column at

US-England (Self Indulgence Alert)

As the World Cup approaches I have been keeping my eyes on tickets for some of the more high-profile matches, as the organizers have been rationing tickets. Very few of the matches have sold out completely, largely because FIFA has kept some tickets in reserve. But more and more of those tickets are on sale each day, and today I was able to secure a ducat to the US-England game, which promises to be one of the crucial matches of the Cup. The tournament starts in a week, and I'll arrive in South Africa just a few hours before kickoff of the South Africa-Mexico game.

A Nation Forged in War

Because your faithful scribe is sometimes a bit of a retard, I just realized that our friend Tom Bruscino's truly excellent book, A Nation Forged in War: How World War II Taught Americans to Get Along, is not over there in the right-hand column about our books that too damned many of you people ignore on a daily basis. Consider the error corrected.

And would it kill you to have all of those books in your library? I think not. After all, I give you freeloaders free content on a semi-regular basis.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

OU and the Fulmer Cup

Ohio University's football team is climbing up Every Day Should Be Saturday's Fulmer Cup Rankings. Such pride beats in the breasts of all Bobcats.

Stars, Drugs, and Track

The message to take away from this story on the state of track & field in the United States? Stars are good for the sport. Drugs are bad for it. It's not exactly a magic formula, but until we have a handle on the latter the former will live under a cloud of suspicion.

538 to NYT

Huge news on the political blogging front. FiveThirtyEight -- simply the best data-driven politics site anywhere -- is being folded in to the New York Times, though it will retain its editorial autonomy.

Colbert on "Blackwashing"

This is from last September but is still one of my favorite commentaries on the conservative problem with race.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Blackwashing
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

World Cup Countdown Continues (Continued!)

I am gearing up for the World Cup in a big way. This week I am making as many final preparations as possible. On Monday I head down to San Antonio for a couple of family commitments, and I'll fly from there to Washington and beyond on Wednesday. I will be spending a night in Addis Ababa before flying out the next morning to Johannesburg, landing just a few hours before the crucial opening match of the tournament, pitting South Africa against Mexico in a match that will transcend soccer.

I'll be posting daily at the Foreign Policy Association Africa Blog on not only the tournament itself, but more significantly on the interconnections between race, politics, sport, and nationalism. I am also working on a few other opportunities to write more expansive essays, though the progress on that front has been fitful.

There will, as a consequence of all of this, be a lot more soccer talk around here than usual, though my daily coverage will not appear at dcat. I'm no expert on the Beautiful Game, though I am doing my best to climb the learning curve as quickly as possible. But I hope you'll follow along.

A soccer link for today: The best teams that did not win the World Cup.