Saturday, June 21, 2014

About Manaus

The United States next plays against Portugal in the city of Manaus (I believe that we will win; I believe that we will win), almost certainly the most exotic city ever to host World Cup action. The chief competitors, as far as I'm concerned: 1934 and 1990's Florence, Italy; 1962's Arica, Chile; 1974's West Berlin, Germany, 2002's Seogwipo on Jeju Island, South Korea and Sapporo, Japan, and 2010's Polokwane, South Africa, none of which hold a candle to Manaus in the exotica department. We won't be seeing any more of them after the group stage, and in fact we'll only be seeing them once more period, when Honduras plays Switzerland.

Since we're heading into the Amazon, it might be a nice idea to send you into the place... although I suppose it's a matter of whether you'd rather check out the city or the jungle surrounding it. For those of you seeking the rainforest, we head some considerable distance west of (and therefore upstream from) Manaus for this 2011 documentary from Australia's SBS, called The Tribe In The Picture.

For those of you that want to go into the city, let's talk about how Manaus got to be the city it was: namely, the rubber trade. It's no longer the rubber capital it once was, and there's a reason for that. New Atlantis, in its series Amazonia: Last Call- which you can see via that link, and I recommend it if you have time- will explain what happened, and what effect it's had in the long term, in this episode of the series, 'Amazonia Biopiracy'. Biopiracy here means stealing seeds and shipping them abroad to grow your own plants, thereby cutting the original supplier out of the process. Said supplier zealously guards the seeds, because only one viable set needs to get out and be successfully planted for the world to come crashing down. Of course, you can do this with anything biological.

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