June 9th, 2006

krazy koati

Just be the flame and spirit come alive

Singapore's getting excited for the World Cup, which apparently is sometime soon. Already the last third of the evening news is packed with charming stories about offices giving in to the inevitable and buying wide-screen TVs for the break lounge, in the hopes that workers will watch someplace close to the office instead of calling in sick for two weeks. Actually, given the time zones, I don't see why they need to make any special arrangement; it seems like if the games are in the afternoon and evening German time they'll naturally be evening and after-midnight Singapore time. Perhaps they're just using the World Cup as an excuse to buy new TV sets. The Football Association of Singapore has announced its workers may report for work late throughout the World Cup.

And McDonald's has unleashed a bunch of commercials of people ordering special Team meals. From the posters I thought the ``Team A Meal'' was an obscure imperative, but there's a ``Team B Meal'' too to go with it. The commercials feature the ordering of either Team Meal leading to doing the wave, which I have not observed happening in actual restaurants. The Happy Meals come with deals for stuffed dolls of the mascots, Bear from the Big Blue House dressing up badly as a lion and that soccer ball in bondage gear. I'm not particularly excited by either prospect. I wonder if the Team B Meal is a trap for the gullible.

Trivia: The first Turkish printed book, on historical geography, was published in 1729 by Ibrahim Muteferrika. Source: The Decline and Fall of the Ottoman Empire, Alan Palmer.

Currently Reading: Willard Gibbs, Muriel Rukeyser. You'd think Gibbs -- probably the greatest theoretical physicist the United States has yet produced -- would be a difficult subject for a biography: he worked pretty much alone, was always placed well-enough in society (his father aided John Quincy Adams in the Amistad trial) and had enough money to not have to go through a starving student era, occasionally turned out brilliant but nearly-incomprehensible papers that were published in the phenomenally obscure Transactions of the Connecticut Academy, and apart from three years studying in Europe lived his whole life within walking distance of the Yale campus. A short walking distance. And ... I can't say the author rises to the challenge. Things like Gibbs's invention of a railroad airbrake aren't explained, and the narrative jumps to descriptions of other people whom, I hope, intersect with Gibbs's life at some point, but there's not much reason in text to suppose that so far.