Morning links: Yep, that’s the sound of World Cup kicking off!

The rules of the game – If you want to have a successful World Cup you have to have one team that you absolutely want to win. Three is even better. Five is fantastic. More than seven and you’ll start to have trouble keeping them straight.
Football is war – Soccer wars are rare, but the notion that international sporting competitions inevitably inspire warm fraternity, is a romantic fiction.
Soccer and philosophy
WSJ – “Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I am very disappointed in that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that.”
How did sport get so big? – Once, it was only a game. Now sport is a never-ending drama, a soap opera watched all over the world. How did it happen?

Who’s spending again? The rich and the old
New York Times – The wealth effect related to stock market gains may also help explain why higher-income Americans have picked up their spending so much, too.
If Belgium struggles to pull of federalism, what hope does Europe have?
The Economist – Belgium has in one sense become a model for the European Union. Alas, a negative model. Belgium is a living proof that the cultural gulf between north and south Europe makes it agonizingly hard to pull off a single economic political union.
‘Just do it’ is no mantra for Japan
FT – Japan’s leaders have shirked hard choices. Also, their system is not conducive to producing strong leaders. But it is wrong to suggest the answers are obvious.
Seven constructive remarks about the Euro
Credit Write Downs – There are constructive things that can be said about the weak euro.
Britain and Europe: No laughing matter
The Economist – Vigilant Eurosceptics are usually keen to see conniving genius in European federalists. For once, the British may have underestimated their determination never to let a crisis go to waste.

South Korea blasts pop music, propaganda over the border – After the country formally accused North Korea of launching the torpedo that sunk their warship Cheonan, South Korea has declared psychological warfare in retaliation.
The end of men – Yes, women still do most of the child care. And yes, the upper reaches of society are still dominated by men. But given the power of the forces pushing at the economy, this setup feels like the last gasp of dying age.
How to write a “Malcolm Gladwell Bestseller” – Gladwell’s books actually contain very few ideas. But these few ideas are chosen to be interesting to a general reader, and to be understandable by a layman. 

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