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After World Cup, Brazil Returns To Normal - What A Shame!

Can Brazil apply the successful “Copa template” to everyday life and political leadership? Too often, the country tends to disappoint when the rest of the world isn't watching.

Brazil fans watch the World Cup quarterfinal match between Brazil and Colombia in Sao Paulo, on July 4, 2014.
Brazil fans watch the World Cup quarterfinal match between Brazil and Colombia in Sao Paulo, on July 4, 2014.
Valdo Cruz


BRASILIA — The World Cup is over, and with it our dream of being World Champions for a sixth time is deferred again, this time at home. Germany’s victory yesterday against Argentina came as a reward for their superb planning, and the best team of the competition were crowned.

Starting today, life in Brazil resumes its normal course.

But I would rather it was the exact opposite. I prefer the abnormality of the Copa, which should be our natural state and which, for some areas of society and for some people, is indeed the norm.

For 32 days, Brazil delighted both foreigners and Brazilians alike. Everything ran so much more smoothly than usual, from the airports and general security to the stadiums and the reception, all in a rhythm that left nothing to be desired.

Of course, there were incidents. An overpass bridge collapsed, killing two people. There were also a few security glitches like long waiting lines to access some stadiums but generally speaking, outside the pitch, the country won with style.

This means that when we put our minds to it and when we need to, we can do things well. We have been a good host, one that repainted its house, refurbished the guest room and stocked up the fridge before the visit of a long awaited guest it hopes will come back soon.

Which brings us to this question: Why can't we keep the house nice and tidy for those who live here every day as well, and not just for occasional visitors? How about treating our own neighbors in the same manner that so delighted foreign tourists?

Similarly, why wouldn’t our political rulers show every single day the same dedication to Brazil’s public services as they did during the World Cup to tell the world that, yes, we are a capable nation?

This is Brazil’s next challenge: Turn the “Copa template” we lived by these past few weeks into something normal, a symbol for every Brazilian, and be done with solutions par excellence that are only applied during exceptional events.

For that, we need to learn from our mistakes. Let us not be drunk on our momentary success. In the end it all worked well, but we should remember that the road to get there was long, painful and chaotic.

The fatal bridge collapse in Belo Horizonte should be remembered as a negative example of what happens when things are done in a rush. For the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, everything ought to be accomplished with more planning and less drama. It's also the lesson for every day.

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Life On "Mars": With The Teams Simulating Space Missions Under A Dome

A niche research community plays out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another planet.

Photo of a person in a space suit walking toward the ​Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

At the Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

Sarah Scoles

In November 2022, Tara Sweeney’s plane landed on Thwaites Glacier, a 74,000-square-mile mass of frozen water in West Antarctica. She arrived with an international research team to study the glacier’s geology and ice fabric, and how its ice melt might contribute to sea level rise. But while near Earth’s southernmost point, Sweeney kept thinking about the moon.

“It felt every bit of what I think it will feel like being a space explorer,” said Sweeney, a former Air Force officer who’s now working on a doctorate in lunar geology at the University of Texas at El Paso. “You have all of these resources, and you get to be the one to go out and do the exploring and do the science. And that was really spectacular.”

That similarity is why space scientists study the physiology and psychology of people living in Antarctic and other remote outposts: For around 25 years, people have played out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another world. Polar explorers are, in a way, analogous to astronauts who land on alien planets. And while Sweeney wasn’t technically on an “analog astronaut” mission — her primary objective being the geological exploration of Earth — her days played out much the same as a space explorer’s might.

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