Monthly Archives: June 2014

Must-Follow World Cup Pundits: Men in Blazers

If you’re not following them already — and if, as I’m assuming, you love everything about the World Cup and the U.S. team — be sure to follow Roger Bennett and Michael Davies, a.k.a. Men in Blazers.

The two pundits, Brits who are long-time U.S. residents, combine in depth knowledge of the sport with an immigrant’s love for U.S. soccer.

They are especially well informed about the transformation in style and attitude that U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann has brought to the American side. (For more on that topic, see this WSJ interactive from earlier this month.)

Also, they are delightfully silly.

While I also follow The Guardian‘s World Cup Football Daily podcast and occasionally BBC 5 Live’s World Cup Daily, Rog and Davo, as they’re known, are so enjoyable because they’re lighthearted: They frequently weave in cultural references and inside jokes, and do not at all take themselves seriously.

Here are some of their recent podcasts.

You can also find their ongoing videos and other contributions on ESPN FC here.

They’re on Twitter at: @meninblazers.

Sample Tweet:

Embedded above and online here: their recent take on the U.S.-Germany game, and an audio podcast after the U.S.-Portugal match.

My Story on Messaging Apps in Southeast Asia

2014 06 25 messaging apps

The reason I have this special folder on my iPhone: I’ve been researching a story on messaging app makers battling for users here in Southeast Asia.

It ran in the WSJ Asia in print and online Friday.

The lede:

When Listri Samudra, an equity sales representative in the Indonesian city of Bandung, opens her smartphone to connect with her clients, she has three messaging apps to choose from.

She usually prefers BlackBerry Messenger, which remains highly popular in Indonesia, but also often uses WhatsApp—the company Facebook Inc. recently agreed to buy for $19 billion—or Line, a Japanese app that is rapidly gaining ground in the region.

The crowd of free messaging apps on Ms. Samudra’s phone illustrates why Southeast Asia is shaping up as an important battleground for messaging app makers. The region, in which no clear messaging leader has emerged, is critical, in part, because many of its roughly 600 million people have yet to upgrade from basic cellphones to smartphones.

Click through for a map of the region with estimates of which apps are most popular in countries like Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia.

10 Links

  1. Goat Parkour Is the Best Evidence Yet That Goats Are the New Cats — Slate
  2. The Disruption Machine: What the gospel of innovation gets wrong — Jill Lepore at The New Yorker
  3. Clayton Christensen Responds to New Yorker Takedown of ‘Disruptive Innovation’ — BloombergBusinessweek
  4. An Island-Hopping Southern Seafood CrawlWSJ
  5. The Case for Reparations — Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic
  6. What’s wrong with Soccernomics? — Daniel Altman
  7. The internet’s biggest companies are breaking themselves into small pieces — Quartz
  8. Print still matters, even if some would like to believe it shouldn’t — Ken Doctor at Nieman Journalism Lab
  9. Amazon’s Whale Strategy — Stratechery
  10. Video embedded above and on Vine here: “That ball!” — Robin van Persie’s goal for the Netherlands against Spain, via a pass from Daley Blind.

(Previous link round-ups are available via the links tag.)

On England and the World Cup

Snips from “A Soccer Empire, Deeply Confused,” David Winner‘s contribution to the New York Times‘s feature on the World Cup and national playing styles:

Soccer has long been a bastion of a peculiarly 19th-century conception of Englishness the nation seems reluctant to relinquish. The game was born during the era of empire when the country’s elite public schools adapted earlier forms of violent folk football for the purpose of education.

Typical rustic folk games involved hundreds of drunken men from rival villages rampaging through streets and fields, trying to drive, say, a casket of beer (the proto-ball) into the crypt of a church (the proto-goal). The schools distilled such testosterone-fuelled rituals into new formats involving smaller teams, sober boys and sodden leather balls. Codified by the Football Association and later disseminated to the world, this style of soccer was never the so-called beautiful game; the original purpose of educators was to instill manly and martial virtues into future imperial soldiers and administrators.

And:

Just as adapting to their diminished, post-imperial status in international affairs has been a struggle, so the English are taking a long time to abandon the fantasy that, having invented the game, they should still expect to win the World Cup.

The truth — as everyone elsewhere noticed long ago — is that the nation has only once gone further than the quarterfinals of a major tournament played abroad (it reached the semifinals in Italy in 1990).

English soccer confusion, delusion and cloying nostalgia have become tedious. The time for the national team to adopt a bit of modesty and modernity — and to move to embrace change — is long overdue.

Read the whole thing.

(Via Amy Lawrence.)

‘Hunger Games’ Salute, Facebook outage and more: a Belated Roundup of Thai Coup Stories

As I mentioned in my previous post, I traveled to Bangkok to help out with our coverage following the May 22 military coup.

Here are links to a few of the stories I worked on:

And, perhaps most memorably:

The lede:

Anti-coup protesters in Thailand are adopting a symbol of resistance from a science fiction movie in which citizens struggle against a tyrannical government in a dark, dystopian future.

A few dozen demonstrators on Sunday gathered in a flash-mob style protest at a Bangkok shopping mall, where many held anti-army signs and raised their hands in a three fingered salute aimed at nearby troops.

The gestures were similar to those used by heroine Katniss Everdeen and other characters in “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” a globally popular movie based on one of Suzanne Collins’s hit trilogy of books. Western films and other popular culture are widely consumed in Thailand.

To hear me discussing the three-fingered “Hunger Games” salute, see the WSJ Live video embedded above and online here.

And finally, for more on the Facebook issue, see this story I wrote just a few days ago: