Architectural rant for Friday, re this, via the Monitor.

As we all know, the main train station is supposed to undergo a modernization to bring it more in line with western European stations - places where people actually want to go rather than avoid. But did you know that the Italian company chosen for the job (what is it with the Czechs choosing Italians for flagship projects?) has to by law get agreement from the original architects on all their proposed changes?

The current main buildings are from the 70s. So - you are a Czech architect, getting on in years, a product of the genius of Communist architectural thinking of the normalization period. Now you are supposed to approve of what some fancy, young Italian architect wants to do to your baby. Alena Sramkova is the architect with the veto power. How does she feel about the beautiful main station building she helped lag-bolt on to the old one in the 70s? "I would like to see it listed among sights of historical interests," she says, "We should protect the architecture of 60s and 70s." Who's betting on anything ever happening?

Well, now, Alena has a website. Judge her "projects and realisations" yourself. But isn't it interesting that her baby the train station is decidedly missing from her reference list? In fact, there seems to be only one pre-1989 date on the whole website. Maybe not so proud, after all?

Steve | 11:22 |


Jon Stewart on yesterday's Daily Show Global Edition: "Yesterday the US lost 3-0 to Czechoslovakia." There must have been numerous mentions of the game on US media. There must have been numerous mentions of the fact that the US lost to the Czech Republic. I know for a fact that there was much gnashing of teeth and renting of garments over the US performance. I will go so far as to say that I assume that for the most part this discussion concerned the 'Czech Republic'. None of that penetrated the skull of this great cultural sage who still calls it Czechoslovakia 15 years after the fact. Now - whatever the demographics of the show's US viewers - I wonder what percentage of them heard anything amiss? My money would be on less than 5%.

Steve | 13:05 |


Now I've seen everything. Just who were the guys in the American uniforms playing against Italy tonight and where the hell were they against the Czechs? For that matter, who were the dudes in the Czech uniforms today playing Ghana and just why didn't they use the ones that beat the US on Monday?

Anyhow, bravo to the nine-a-side team the Americans did field tonight. As with Portugal four years ago, it's always a pleasure to see the faces of excitable continental types being denied the easy win they expect as their due.

Steve | 23:13 |

Well, I've discovered there are some Ghanaians living on my street. There were some hearty roars after the two goals Ghana slotted past Petr Cech in the game just now finished. Either that or some Italians cheering for Ghana in the hope that it leaves them free and clear to win the group and avoid Brazil in the next round.

Good for Ghana, although I wouldn't be too proud of winning only 2 nil against fictitious defense like that. We learn something about the US team from this match - if they were unable to penetrate a Czech defense with more holes than a kitchen sieve then they are really nowhere.

Steve | 19:58 |


Link to Slate's analysis of the non-phenomenon of soccer in the US.

Well, how about that: there's some overlap with the article I linked to in the previous post. Previous article first reason why soccer isn't popular in the US: "1. We Didn’t Invent It". Slate's first reason: "First, as a nation of loony but determined inventors, we prefer things we thought of ourselves." Previous article reason eight: "8. Players faking injuries". Slate reason two: "The second and greatest, by far, obstacle to the popularity of the World Cup, and of professional soccer in general, is the element of flopping."

Harmonious convergence, I guess. Speaking for myself, diving is reason nummer eins. Certain countries, and you know who are, are worse than others. Perhaps the German tendency to orderliness and discipline will somehow ooze into the air and moderate some of the worst offenders.

Steve | 16:25 |

Ten Reasons Why America Isn’t Wild About Soccer

6. So many games end in a tie

This is clearly un-American. America likes victory, even when its only an imaginary one.

Via Clive Davis.

Steve | 14:55 |


Acquire a bookstore: The Globe is for sale for 2 million Kc, about $84,000. Seems cheap to me. But apparently the cost of running the place has run it into the ground and it may close.

Steve | 11:50 |


The Skoda Roomster. I haven't seen it around, and would remember if I had. What an odd looking car.

Steve | 12:40 |


Nice drop:

The US has emerged victorious in a blind tasting by experts in London and California pitting US and French wine against each other.

Steve | 12:50 |