I was excited to see a Reuters headline, ``Manchester United plans $1 billion Singapore float: sources''. Who wouldn't be? If I know anything about Manchester United, it's that they're from Manchester, a city definitely in England or maybe Scotland. Either way, England and Scotland are full of people who get together to do fun things, often involving floating, flying, falling, or a lot of mud. They can do stuff with almost anything, which to be fair, most people can, if they have enough anything.
But England and Scotland and those other little bits around there have a real talent for it. In a couple weeks we can expect the annual spectacle of the Royal Cow Force reenacting the Battle of Saint George upon the Agincourt-upon-Avon, tight formations of cows suffering under the influence of BST charging almost wingtip-to-wingtip (they've been trying for years to get the cows into penny loafers, but the cows keep losing the pennies) until they soar out over the somewhat stained cliffs of Lemminiclyf, testing the buoyancy of their cattle and the highness of their tides. Great spectacle. You can imagine it, can't you? Me too. Try to stay well off-shore.
Now we've got my imagination warmed up, so I can imagine what kind of float's worth a billion dollars. Obviously it's a parade float. But even building a float as pricey per linear foot as possible it seems hopeless. Add all the motorized gizmos and shiny objects and spotlights you can, by a hundred million dollars in, the float's a trans-atlantic cruise ship long and there's only a couple streets in the world you can possibly march it down. There's no sense having a parade float you can't move down any street, since then it becomes more a parade sink. You could probably set something up out of town and bring the people in, but then the people are the parade and the sink is a tourist attraction. Then you start having to sell ``wish you were here'' postcards and selling T-shirts and it becomes a profit center and you'll never get to using up that billion dollars.
Then I remember that Manchester United plays soccer, or as the game is known to people outside the United States, ``footbag'', when those people didn't hear exactly the conversation and guessed it was about hackey sack. Obviously their float would connect to soccer, and if they wanted to bring the float to the United States --- which is not near Singapore, sure, but there's all kinds of containerized cargo shipping between the two nations --- would be including to the float an activity center where average passers-by can write articles about how Americans are finally warming up to soccer this generation for sure. And maybe give them money for actually finishing the articles.
Maybe that's the wrong direction, though. What if they're planning a billion-dollar ice cream float? That'd be perfect, since it's really hot and muggy in Singapore and a big whomping load of ice cream would be fantastic, even if some of it got whomped right into the harbor where it won't do anybody any good except for making some amusing entries in pilot ships' logs (``1345: Pulau Brani emergency stop; cherry vanilla rapids''). But the billion-ness of it is still the problem. I could imagine spending $840 million on ice cream, or $850 million if you include chocolate sauces, whipped cream, maybe a few fruit slices so it can be entered in the diet diary as ``vitamin supplements and/or pebbles eaten off the street''. It's the last $160 million that's the problem (or the last $150 million a smaller problem). Even the priciest ice cream, say if we brought Heavenly Hash back from extinction through an accelerated breeding program, wouldn't use it up. Buying those fancy metal dishes still leaves us $159,999,997 (or not) to go.
But the headline mislead me anyway. The ``float'' they meant was that boring old stock market thing where people give Manchester United money in exchange for maybe somebody else giving them different money some other time. That's no way to run a hackey sack industry.
Trivia: The Manchester Board of Health, created by John Farrier, was the first board of health set up in England, and it established special hospital wards for fever patients with the requirement for disinfection of those wards and of homes where fever was found. Source: How The Scots Invented The Modern World, Arthur Herman.
Currently Reading: Russia In 1913, Wayne Dowler.