Tag Archives: USSR

Everything You Need To Know About the 2014 World Cup

In which, for no good reason, I disparage a bunch of countries that probably have lots of nice people in them.

You guys, it’s World Cup season, which means it’s time to laugh at the rest of the world for caring so much about this event. Unlike the Olympics, which are our biennial (not biannual. That’s different.) chance to stick it to China and/or the USSR, America could not give a shit about this event. Like, it’s fun when we win, but then you have to celebrate with the kind of Americans who follow soccer, or as it’s known here in America, soccer. Because this is inevitable, let’s get all the soccer fan insults out of the way. They wear stupid scarves, inexplicably use “side” to mean “team,” “pitch” to mean “field,” “pace” to mean “speed,” “kilometer” to mean “0.621371” miles and annoyingly pluralize team names, as in “On a kilometer by kilometer basis, Brazil have the most pace on the pitch of any side.” Speak normally!

But back to the soccer. There are a lot of countries to keep track of in this tournament, so here’s a handy guide to the teams of the 2014 World Cup.

Group A


For a country with such a rich musical tradition, somehow this is still the song I was most quickly able to associate with Brazil.

Win or lose, Brazil’s hilariously corrupt World Cup will go down in history as being hilariously corrupt, that is, unless an interesting soccer thing happens, in which case everyone will forget the billions of dollars used to construct useless stadiums across the country, including one in the middle of the Amazon that is only reachable by plane. Even if Manaus has two million people, it shouldn’t feel like you need Indiana Jones or that adventurer dude from Jumanji to get to a soccer stadium.  On the soccer side of thing, they’ve looked underwhelming so far, struggling to finish on their scoring chances and generally looking tight in front of their home crowds. (That might be the only bit of actual soccer analysis I have to give).


Did you guys know that Mexico hates America’s soccer team? It’s true! In any case, Mexico wouldn’t even be in this tournament if it weren’t for America scoring late against Panama in qualification, so you’re welcome, Mexico. I’m sure whenever the Americans make it back to Mexico, they’ll be given their traditional welcome of a golden shower.


Cameroon v Croatia: Group A - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

On the plus side, their uniforms double as picnic blankets when they’re not using them (the checkerboard element is taken from the Croat Coat of Arms, which is quite the tongue twister). On the downside, I’m pretty sure that every player on their team’s last name ends with ivicisevicicicic, which can be confusing.


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Russia Gives up on Democracy

Today brings another dispatch from our Russian bureau, as Vladimir Putin is on track to win yet another Russian election. And it may surprise you that there are allegations of fraud. In a Russian election! In which Putin, who was previously term-limited out of the presidency, has yet again won the presidency. I know, this must be hard to hear.

But that’s not what struck me about this article. So, with the alleged ballot stuffing, Putin’s United Russia party took about half the vote. You know who came in second, with about 20% of the vote? Take a guess. That’s right, the Communists! Their share rose from 14% in 2007 to 20% in this election cycle.

So, the Communists, riding their perennial motto of “Well, It’s Good in Theory” (which translates fairly cleanly from the Russian, actually) are not so much rising to power as holding down the fort as the only way to effectively vote “Not Putin” and/or betray dying grandparents.
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Josef Stalin’s Daughter Had Remarkable Life, Is Dead

Today we’re talking obits, one in particular, that of Lana Peters. Age: 85. Residence: Richland County, Wisconsin. Survived by two daughters. Oh, and she was formerly known as Svetlana Stalina, the daughter of Joesf Stalin. I know what you’re wondering–what kind of a father was the Man of Steel? And while apparently Stalin was a loving father to his “little sparrow,” evidently “In her teenage years, her father was consumed by the war with Germany and grew distant and sometimes abusive.”

[Read the whole NY Times obit here]

I think we’re all familiar with the idea of a father who puts his work before his children to deleterious effect at home. But… I mean, this is the guy who said, “A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic,” and was speaking from personal experience (Science later proved him right). So, yeah, not entirely surprising.

Also, as it turns out, Josef Stalin proved to be a pretty difficult father-in-law:

In her memoirs she told of how Stalin had sent her first love, a Jewish filmmaker, to Siberia for 10 years. She wanted to study literature at Moscow University, but Stalin demanded that she study history. She did. After graduation, again following her father’s wishes, she became a teacher, teaching Soviet literature and the English language. She then worked as a literary translator.

A year after her father broke up her first romance, she told him she wanted to marry another Jewish man, Grigory Morozov, a fellow student. Stalin slapped her and refused to meet him. This time, however, she had her way. She married Mr. Morozov in 1945. They had one child, Iosif, before divorcing in 1947.

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