Why are US Women so much better at soccer than US Men?

Tomorrow, in what has become an Olympic tradition, the US women will play in the Gold Medal final of the Olympic football tournament. The US have made the final every year that women have competed in football at the Olympics (1996 was the first year), and have only had to settle for silver ONCE.

The US men’s national team, by comparison have never made it to ANY medal match at the Olympics (Gold or Bronze) even though men’s national teams have been playing at the Olympics 88 years longer than the women.*

The situation is similar in the World Cup: In the 6 FIFA Women’s World Cups that have been held, the US have made it to the final three times and have won it twice. The men have had far more chances — there have been 19 FIFA World Cups for men — but the US have NEVER made it to the final.

Boys get that excited just over making it out of the group stage? Cute.

It’s hard to resist asking: Why have US Women been so much better, relative to the rest of the world, than US Men at the world’s most popular sport?

There might be any number of factors contributing to the “achievement gap” in American soccer, but I’ve identified two broad themes that might help explain it. The two aren’t mutually exclusive, but they do sound a bit contradictory.

Perhaps they can’t both be entirely true, but they certainly go some way toward explaining the US’ gender achievement gap in football.

1. Gender roles in US sports

The most lucrative sport in the US, at both the professional and collegiate level is American football.  So for a young, male athlete who’s talented enough to play in any sport he chooses, there is undoubtedly strong pressure, both internally and externally,  to play American football.

Yeah, soccer’s totally a girlie-girl sport, isn’t it Abby?

But American football is seen as a “man’s game” so for a similarly talented young female athlete, it’s not an option (the rise of lingerie football notwithstanding). Soccer is popularly (and inaccurately, I would add) viewed as more effete, and therefore is the corresponding choice for young women.

Because of this gendered bifurcation of talent, the US women’s national soccer team is comprised of the best and most suitable athletes, while the US men’s national team is comprised just of the most suitable athletes who weren’t interested in American football.

2. Gender parity is sports financing

Thanks to Title IX and several landmark Supreme Court rulings, high schools and universities in the US must make equal provisions for men’s and women’s athletics. Not many other countries have similar provisions, including some of the football powerhouses (on the men’s side) in southern Europe and Latin America.

So while the US are a mediocre regional power on the men’s side, we rise to the top of the global table on the women’s side because several countries that could be fielding top-class national sides fail to invest in girls’ sports.

This would explain why some other countries (say, Norway) with more gender-equal societies can be so lackluster in men’s football, but so successful in women’s.

But maybe there are other explanations…

THOUGHTS???

*1908 was the first year that national teams competed in football at the Olympics, but at the 1900 and 1904 Olympics, three clubs contested. Football was not a medal event at the time.

The 10 Most Adorable Athletes of London 2012 (so far)

In the spirit of the Olympics (or at least in the spirit of events such as synchronised swimming and rhythmic gymnastics), it seems only appropriate to rank some of the world’s elite competitors according to flagrantly subjective and hopeless arbitrary criteria.

Here then is my assessment of the 10 most adorable Olympians at London 2012. Keep in mind, this is most adorable, not most attractive. I”m not trying to objectify anyone — just patronise them.

10. Hiroshi Hoketsu, Japan, Equestrian

First of all, let me just say (with apologies to Ann Romney) that I don’t think equestrian events should be included in the Olympics, and least of all the event known as dressage.

But it’s there and there’s little we can do about it. So I would be remiss if I did not include this Olympiad’s oldest competitor, Hiroshi Hoketsu. He is 71 years old and has been competing in the Olympics since Tokyo 1964. He is also utterly adorable.

He has said that this will be his last Olympics, due to age. Not his age, mind you, but that of his horse, Whisper.

Oh Hiroshi! What a dapper chap!

9. Katie Ledecky, USA, Swimming

Missy Franklin, who is 17 and has won 4 gold medals at this Olympics, has gotten a lot of attention, and much of it has focused on her youthfulness. But Missy is an old codger compared to Ms. Ledecky. The fearless 15-year old went into the 800-metre freestyle swim against world record-holder (not to mention hometown hero) Rebecca Adlington and quickly left Adlington and everyone else behind on her way to the gold.

But why does she make this “most adorable” list?

Somehow Katie still seems like a kid — in her interviews, in her post-race reaction, and just generally in the way she carries herself. While Missy and the whole host of gymnasts have quickly taken on personas that make them seem like teenage stars, Katie still looked like a teenager who suddenly found herself winning in the Olympics.

Oh Katie! You remind me so much of myself when I was 15!

8. Lizzie Armistead, Great Britain, Cycling

Lizzie won the silver medal in the women’s cycling road race, which opened Britain’s account in the medal table for London 2012. Armitstead’s performance was quite impressive, given that this is her Olympic debut.

But since she’s new to the big stage, Lizzie didn’t know that, no matter what you’re asked in post-race interviews and press conferences, you should stick to traditional boilerplate and talk about how happy you are that you won and thank the people who supported you and say how you were feeling during the race and blah blah blah. So instead, dear Lizzie addressed the issue of sexism in professional cycling and sport more generally.

Oh Lizzie! Look at what zany adventures you’ve sent the chattering classes on now!

7. Tüvshinbayar Naidan, Mongolia, Judo

If we’re to be completely honest, the outfits in Judo make all competitors look ridiculous and/or adorable. And if we’re to be even more brutally honest, Mongolian names tend to sound adorable and/or ridiculous.

The mighty Tüvshinbayar won Mongolia’s first ever Olympic gold medal in 2008 in Beijing, but could only manage a silver this time around. But he was adorable, even in defeat, as he lost the final in the men’s -100kg to Tagir Khaibulaev of Russia.

Oh Tuvshee!

6. Reese Hoffa, USA, Athletics

“Can a shot putter be adorable?” you ask. Absolutely, and shame on you for asking. Everything about Reese Hoffa, the American who took bronze in his event, screams “teddy bear.” Which is odd because Hoffa himself doesn’t seem to shout with the same visceral exclamation common in throwing events.

If you have a high tolerance for adorableness, check out the picture of Hoffa and his wife in this slideshow of displays of affection at London 2012.

Oh Reese! You big chug-a-lug, you!

5. John Orozco, USA, Gymnastics

I don’t know about you, but I found the whole helicopter-parent routine with Cuban-American gymnast Danell Leyva and his omnipresent father a bit exhausting. Conversely, I couldn’t get enough of the other American gymnast in the men’s all around: John Orozco.

This Puerto Rican kid (he’s 19) from the Bronx seemed like the sweetest guy you could hope to meet, and unfortunately, his most dramatic moment was an adorable catastrophe — his leotard pants got caught on the pommel horse and all but doomed his medal chances.

Oh John! Why must you sheath your legs with those silly tights anyway!?

4. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Jamaica, Athletics

Folks, she’s no longer the Shelly-Ann Fraser we saw wearing braces while winning the 100-metres  in Beijing in 2008. She’s now Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, a married woman whose dental development is presumably complete. But Shelly-Ann still managed to look  adorable (in a very juvenile sort of way) as she won the 100 metres again yesterday (Although I really would have thought that those ribbons in her hair would create drag while running).

But what really catapulted Shelly-Ann up this ranking was NBC’s feature on her before they aired the 100m final. She couldn’t help but laugh as she told a light-hearted story about how her mother once threatened to cut up a neighbour boy with a long knife.

Oh Shelly-Ann! You and your grim sense of humour!

3. Gabby Douglas, USA, Gymnastics

Many of my American readers probably thought this whole list was just building up toward yet another first-place finish for Gabby. Well, were this just a ranking of the adorableness of American Olympians, it would be a no-contest!

The Flying Squirrel, as Douglas has so aptly been nicknamed, was just as adorable during her routines as she was when feverishly nodding along to coaches’ and teammates’ exhortations on the sidelines. All successful athletes acknowledge the influence and support of their families, and that’s especially true for competitors as young as Douglas (16). Fittingly, Gabby’s family was also quite adorable when she won gold.

Oh Gabby! Don’t ever grow old!

2. Jessica Ennis, Great Britain, Athletics

It would not be a stretch to say Jessica Ennis was the face of these Olympics before she even performed. In fact, it wouldn’t even be all that metaphorical to say she was the face of the Games: British fans wore masks of “Our Jess” in Olympic Park, and her face is on billboards all over London. She was Britain’s great hope and was the favourite to win the Pentathlon.

Needless to say, the pressure on Jess was enormous, and she delivered.

But somehow, despite having the weight of her country’s collective expectations on her shoulders, she was always sporting her whimsical smile, and her delightful Yorkshire accent maintained its musical lilt in all her interviews throughout the Heptathlon.

Oh Jess! You could make even a basset hound stop being so gloomy.

1. Mo Farah, Great Britain, Athletics

First of all, there is something inherently adorable about watching a man the width of a chihuahua flying along at speeds unattainable by the average human and then seeing his eyes practically bugging out of his skull as he wins a gold medal.

The final of the Men’s 10,000 metres was probably the most exciting distance race I’ve ever seen at the Olympics, and if you didn’t see it, you at least owe it to yourself to watch the highlights of the race. Equally important to watch, though, is Farah’s tracksideinterview with BBC following the race.  The whole thing is adorable, but the most adorable bit starts here.

Because this list is so America-heavy and transparently unscientific, feel free to offer your rebuttals or amendments.

Cardiff City Jersey Debacle: A Taste of the Future Far Beyond Football

Yesterday, after several weeks of absurd yes-we-will, no-we-won’t drama, Cardiff City FC’s owners announced that they will in fact be changing the team’s shirt next season from blue (the colour the team has worn since 1908) to red (a colour the team has never worn before).

The good old days vs. The brave new world

Moreover, the team’s crest will change too, relegating the Bluebird (Cardiff’s mascot) from its former place of prominence to the very bottom, in favour of the red Welsh dragon.

Now, I think this whole episode portends a lot for the future of human civilisation, but before explaining why, I realise that many of my readers are American, and don’t understand why this re-branding is such a big deal.  I’ll humour you for a moment. For my British readers, skip ahead to the awful picture below.

Why it’s a big deal

The changes to Cardiff City are not analogous to, say, the San Diego Padres changing their colours from brown and yellow to brown and orange to navy blue and orange to just navy blue to camouflage. It’s really not even analogous to the Washington Bullets changing their mascot to become the Washington Wizards. Tradition has a role in baseball and basketball but it’s not nearly as dominant as in European football, and very few teams’ identities and traditions are bound up in their team logo or colours (Exceptions would be very old teams like the Yankees and Reds in baseball or the Celtics and Bulls in basketball).

A better, though still imperfect analogy would be if the Green Bay Packers were to change their uniform to a colour that wasn’t green and changed their logo to something other than the iconic “G.” Again though, this would still not be quite as dramatic, given that the Packers haven’t been around as long as the Bluebirds, and they didn’t always wear green.

[ADDENDUM: For my Canadian readers, it would be like the Maple Leafs changing their sweater to red]

It used to be like this EVERY GAME

What it means

The two conflicting sides in this debacle were the team’s (Malaysian) owners –who claimed that switching to red and dragons would help woo potential supporters in Asia — and the team’s fans who felt that such an abrupt switch ignored the club’s history and traditions.

(Incidentally, if the only thing Asian fans look for in a team is a red uniform and a dragon on the crest, wouldn’t they all already support Liverpool?)

Reverse Imperialism, suckaz!

Now, I count myself a Cardiff supporter, and I  was opposed to the kit switch, but I couldn’t help but find the irony a bit amusing. Here was an episode involving Asians and Europeans, where culture and traditions were being disrespected, or at least disregarded, BUT!!! this time it was the Europeans whose traditions were being disregarded and it was the Asians who had the power, money and final say in the matter.

This, I believe, is the first portent from the shirt saga.

The most obvious lesson for the future of course is that, in our globalised world, commercial considerations will usually trump cultural traditions, but this truism is, by now, so banal, that it hardly warrants further analysis.

Rather, what I find more interesting is the battleground on which these struggles take place. Note that, with his immense wealth (around $1.25 billion), owner Vincent Tan thought the best investment he could make to raise the profile of Malaysian sports was in a football club in Wales.

Indeed, wealthy tycoons from all over the emerging world have also decided that English football clubs are the best use of their gargantuan finances.

Interestingly, Air Asia doesn’t even fly to the UK

Just in the top two divisons of English football you have: Blackburn Rovers, owned by an Indian; Chelsea, owned by a Russian; Leicester City, owned by Thais; Hull City, owned by an Egyptian; Manchester City, owned by an Emirati oil sheikh;  and Queens Park Rangers, owned by an Indian and a Malysian.

As far as I know (and I am willing to be corrected), none of these owners have invested any money in domestic leagues in their own country. They certainly have the means to pump a lot of money into football in Thailand. Malaysia, etc. and thus greatly improve the quality of entire leagues in their home countries.

But instead, they see English football as the best arena for their personal ambitions and expressions of national pride.

Now, here is what I find interesting: Despite the incredible national diversity of club owners in the English Premier League and Championship, there are NO mainland Chinese* owners. Why? It’s certainly not due to a paucity of Chinese millionaires or a lack of interest in football. Rather, it seems that football-loving Chinese tycoons would rather bring world-class football players to China (the most high-profile example being Nicolas Anelka) than buy up a team in England and re-brand it to look more Chinese.

And so, here for me is the most telling sign of things to come: As China’s wealth and influence has grown, so has its confidence. But for other Asian countries, enjoying similar economic growth, there is still an insecurity which leads them to seek prestige in Europe and the West, rather than on their own terms.

What exactly does that mean for the future? I don’t know, but I’m sure there will be more colossal misunderstandings, and next time maybe outside the realm of football.

And for those of you taking any schadenfreude in Cardiff City’s plight, be careful. If the Bluebird is an endangered species in this brave new world, the Swan could become one too!

*Although Birmingham City are owned by a businessman who is from Hong Kong

Remembering a legend

Last week, my grandpa, Thomas Jefferson Hathaway, died of a brain hemorrhage. It is rare to say this about someone who was 79 years old, but he died before his time.

My grandpa was running hard until the end, completing a half-marathon on March 25, and a 10-mile race on April 14, just over a week before his death. He was planning to do the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon in Indianapolis this Saturday.

In the week since his death, numerous tributes have appeared, including a post on the Indianapolis Star’s blog, a feature in the print edition of the Star, the Indianapolis Business Journal, and a number of others which I’ve attempted to compile at the bottom of this post.

In an inversion of the normal rule of the internet, where reading the “Comments” section on any page crushes your faith in humanity, the comments on the many articles about my grandpa were incredibly uplifting, and people shared stories that many of us in the family hadn’t even heard before.

Grandma and Grandpa at their wedding in 1952

Massive crowds turned out for the viewing last Wednesday, waiting in line 2-3 hours  and causing us to stay at the mortuary until almost 11 pm. My grandparents church, Rosedale Hills United Methodist, had to use every available space as overflow rooms to hold the many who came to the funeral.

That we hadn’t heard all the tales told about my grandpa and that so many people wanted to celebrate his life were tribute to my grandpa’s legend. It might seem odd to say this about someone who was such a close relation, and with whom I  spent so much time, but my grandpa was truly larger than life.

My grandpa at Cutler High School

He was ahead of his time in so many ways. He was running marathons and training others to do so long before it became a “thing.” Several years ago, he became part of an elite group of runners who have completed a marathon in all 50 US states. He was a proponent of women’s athletics and fought many battles with the IHSAA (the governing body for high school sports in Indiana) at a time when women were seen as unfit for some sports. My grandpa was a biology teacher and had five daughters, so he was unimpressed with IHSAA’s reasoning for not allowing girls to run long distance events.

Although my grandpa was a rather humble and unassuming man, his ability to inspire people was profound. I have heard many doctors, nurses and other medical professionals who claimed that they went into their field because of my grandpa’s biology classes.

He fashioned state championship-winning teams out of kids who had never thought of themselves as being great runners. Several of his runners went on to become high school or college coaches themselves, always inspired by, and seeking to emulate my grandpa.

My Grandpa's college graduation photo

The deep and wide influence of my grandpa made it impossible to go anywhere without running into someone who knew him. I was lucky enough as a kid to have traveled with my grandpa to a lot of road races, and it became almost comical how many people would know him wherever we went, whether in or out of state. Even when I wasn’t with him, and was traveling outside of what I thought to be his sphere of influence — from my best friend’s cousin’s graduation in suburban Maryland to the rural church in middle-of-nowhere South Dakota where my wife’s father is a pastor — I met people who knew and admired my grandpa.

The outsized impact my grandpa had also gives me hope. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of people who knew and loved him and appreciated the role he played in their lives. But there are countless others who might not have known my grandpa but were nonetheless impacted by him — women who got the chance to run cross-country or track & field, patients who were treated by the doctors that he inspired, etc.

I imagine that would be grandpa’s ideal plan: impacting others without having to be the centre of attention.

Grandpa (number 50) running the Maine Marathon in 2007

Some more tributes to my Grandpa

Article from Southside Times, a local paper on the south side of Indianapolis

Article by Erhard Bell, one of Grandpa’s former students and runners on Hoosier Authority, a high school sports site

An article on the University of Indianapolis website, where my grandpa coached and was inducted into the Hall of Fame

A post on the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (CILC) blog.

“Let the Vikings Leave” – from a Vikings fan

As out-of-state millionaires representing the NFL desperately ramp up the pressure on Minnesota’s elected state government to give the Vikings almost $400 million for a new stadium, the spectre of relocation is being increasingly leveraged as a negotiating position, and may soon cross over into the realm of real-world possibility.

I say let them go.

I know there are probably quite a few in Minnesota who share my sentiment, but largely because they don’t like the Vikings or just don’t care enough to be sorry to see them leave.

I am not in that camp, although in some ways, it would be easier if I was. That attitude certainly would have made many winters less heartbreaking (specifically 1998/99 and 2009/10) or just embarrassing (too many years to list).

But the truth is, I’ve allowed myself to become emotionally invested in the Vikings to varying degrees over the years. So while I definitely don’t count myself among those eager and willing to show the Vikings the door, I also won’t be too troubled if they do leave.

This wouldn’t be the first time a professional sports team left Minneapolis — heck, it wouldn’t even be the first time that a team left Minneapolis for Los Angeles. That westward trail was first blazed by the then-aptly named Minneapolis Lakers who spoiled their name by moving to Los Angeles in 1960.

More recently, and controversially, Norm (censored) Green moved the Minnesota North Stars to Dallas in 1993Although otherwise a terrible human being, Green at least had the good sense to alter the team’s name.

But here’s the thing: both times that a major sports league left the Twin Cities, they came back.  The State of Hockey was only left vacant by the NHL until 2000 when the Minnesota Wild arrived. And the NBA also returned to Minneapolis with the Timberwolves (true, they’re only technically an NBA team).

It seems that some cities are made for sports, or at least certain sports, and some aren’t. Think of Atlanta and hockey; twice the NHL has tried to put a team in Atlanta, and both of those teams left for the Canadian prairies (The Calgary Flames and the Winnipeg Jets).

Or think of San Diego and basketball. The Rockets left San Diego after only four years there, and the Rockets survived only slightly longer — 6 years — in a city that clearly wasn’t cut out for the NBA.

Minnesota, on the other hand  is well-suited for professional sports, and not just on the basis of the evidence that the major leagues always come back. The elements that make for a good sports city are much more numerous than just a state or municipality’s willingness to build expensive playgrounds.

Minnesotans can get enthused enough to carry on a conversation about the weather for 20 minutes. Do these sound like the kind of people who can get excited about something as seemingly unimportant as a game involving a ball or a puck? Yah, sure!

Minnesotans will passionately defend “Duck, duck, grey duck” as the name of a children’s game that involves sitting in, and then running around a circle. Isn’t this the sort of blind state loyalty you want in a fanbase? You betcha!

It's not getting any better...

So let this iteration of the Minnesota Vikings leave. If ever we were going to lose the team, now is the time to do it. Their on-field performance is at an all-time low, with no real prospects of returning to form in the near future. We can wait out the next few years in smug satisfaction as the Los Angeles Vikings struggle.

But soon enough, when Buffalo finally shrinks to the point that it can no longer support an NFL team, or perhaps when the league’s voracious appetite for new revenue causes it to expand to 36 teams, the NFL, like the NHL and NBA before it, will come back to the land of 10,00o lakes.

In the meanwhile, maybe we could fill the football void with an MLS team…

An Open Question on European Ancestry

I recently discovered yet another site on which it is possible to waste your precious time while feeling like you’re learning something. The site is called Dynastree and allows you to map the distribution of surnames in the US, Canada, and a few European countries.

As you can imagine, it’s easy to get carried away searching the maps for your surname, your spouse’s, your mother’s maiden name, your grandmothers’ maiden names, et cetera, et cetera.

But as I was whiling away the minutes, I noticed a few trends which demand some analysis.

First, here is the distribution of the name “Maus” in the US:

The Mice first came to the US in the mid-19th century and settled primarily in Minnesota and Wisconsin. As you can see, they are still mostly concentrated in that same area, although there are also significant concentrations in a few magnetic states in the Northeast, as well as California and Florida.

Next, here is the distribution of the name “Ament,” which is my maternal grandmother’s maiden name:

The Aments came to the US at about the same time as the Mice, settled in the same general areas, and to this day, have a similar distribution across the US.

Both the Maus and Ament clans have only been in the US for a little over 150 years, which perhaps explains why neither has spread too significantly beyond their initial settlements in the US.

In contrast, have a look at the distribution of “Hathaway” which is my mother’s maiden name:

As you can see, the Hathaways are rather ubiquitous in the US. They can be found in every state and there are large concentrations of them in very disparate states — from Massachusetts to Indiana to Washington state.

This seems intuitive: the Hathaways have been in the US since the 17th century and thus have had more time to spread out across the country.

So, if I posed the following question:

“Why is the name ‘Hathaway’ more widespread in the US than either ‘Ament’ or ‘Maus?'”

The logical answer would seem to be “Because the Hathaways have been here longer.” BUT, here is where things get interesting. If the primary limiting factor on a family name’s spread is time, we should expect that in their respective European homelands, each of these names should be fairly widespread, since they all have had hundreds of years to move around.

So, let’s look first at the distribution of “Maus” in Germany:

The Mäuse came from the western edge of Germany in what is now North Rhine-Westphalia, and that is still where they are concentrated. They can be found in other areas of western Germany , but for the most part, they are spread very thinly.

Now let’s look at the Aments:

You can probably guess, from looking at this map, where the Aments came from. They came from the southwest of Germany, in what is now Baden-Württemberg. With the exception of the neighbouring state of Hesse, and a few small clusters around the urban centres of Berlin and Munich, Baden-Württemberg is still one of the only places in Germany that the Aments can be found.

Finally, let’s have a look at the distribution of the Hathaways in the UK:

The Hathaways originated in South Wales and were established in the Severnside and the west of England by the time that some of them left for the US. They are still most concentrated in Gloucestershire and nearby counties. The Hathaways have managed to spread somewhat in the south of England, although curiously, there are some counties with absolutely no Hathaways (such as Leicestershire and Avon) that are adjacent to counties with significant concentrations of Hathaways.

So here is the question that all these brightly-coloured maps raises: Why was it so much easier for families to spread across the US in only a few generations than in their respective European homelands over an even longer period of time?

I have a few possible explanations for this disparity in geographic mobility. Hopefully some of my readers will have more well-researched answers.

1. Ease of displacing neighbours. When the Hathaways and other early European immigrants arrived in the Americas, the land was very sparsely populated, and if they wanted more land, they had to annex it from Native Americans, who had little means of resistance. By the time my German ancestors arrived in the US, the country was much more densely populated, and the neighbours they would have needed to displace to acquire more land were now other Europeans who had better means of resistance than the Native Americans. Ditto in Europe.

2. “New World” effect. Perhaps there is something to that notion that the New World offered an opportunity for European immigrants to start afresh. Local rivalries and prejudices that might have prevented families from moving to nearby areas in England or Germany were either absent or less formidable in the Americas.

3. Time Required for Dynasty formation. Local dynasties can form that elevate a family to a place of regional prominence and therefore give members of that family a strong disincentive to stray too far from their dynasty’s sphere of influence. This would explain why the Cabots, one of the first families of the “Boston Brahmin” are still most concentrated in Massachusetts. But dynasties take time to form, and dynastic families in Europe had a several hundred-year head start on would-be dynasties in the US.  Note that this idea runs counter to the argument that the longer a family has been in the US, the more widespread they would be today.

THOUGHTS???


Bottles to Bricks: An Idea Worth Spreading

Of Elephants and Castles

When I am in the US, I am admittedly a bit of an anti-soda humbug (“anti-pop” for my readers in Minnesota). It’s not just that soda is gratuitously unhealthy, but the bottles that contain it are as bad for the environment as their contents are for your body. Even if you recycle your plastic bottles, they’re still wreaking environmental havoc.

In Uganda, I’ve become much less anti-soda. This is due to no less than three factors: 1: Soda here is not made with high fructose corn syrup, as it is in the US. 2: It is much more common to find soda in glass bottles than plastic bottles here, and the empty glass bottles are ultimately re-used. 3: There is a delightful, gingery soda called “Stoney Tangawizi” which can only be found in East Africa (to my knowledge).

And now there’s even better news: SOMEONE HAS FOUND A USEFUL AND…

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