Wow! What a masterly performance by Barcelona who absolutely crushed Real Madrid. It was a privilege to watch this Barcelona team play football which such class, determination and consummate skill.
On paper the two titans of Spanish football are evenly matched. What should have been an evenly matched game turned into a rout. At one point Barcelona put together a sequence of 30 consecutive, unchallenged passes!
As usual Lionel Messi was his brilliant self. Cristiano Ronaldo on the other hand was virtually a ghost on the pitch and showed yet again that distasteful unsporting side of his character. Actually, the Madrid club as a whole showed a vengeful character once it was obvious they were being outclassed.
The Spanish capital's club have a big job on their hands. They are now only 2 points behind Barcelona in La Liga and strong contenders for the Champions League title. But their manager, Jose Mourinho, who calls himself the "Special One" needs salvage the shattered pride of his devastated players and lift them from the humiliation that's just been inflicted upon them by the classy Barcelona.
This 27-storey monstrosity is the world's most expensive house, worth a reputed $1 billion and built in Mumbai by India's richest man, Mukesh Ambani. The house reportedly requires 600 staff to run and the first electricity bill was valued at over $150,000!
As you'd expect with such exorbitantly valued property, the house comes with a view... of Mumbai's slums.
"With this journey I hope to raise awareness of disability and sustainability as well as what we can achieve as individuals if we have the courage and determination to try."
Haidar Taleb was diagnosed with polio when he was 4 and has been wheelchair-bound ever since. The 47-year-old citizen of the United Arab Emirates is now in the midst of an 11-day journey across his native land in his solar-powered wheelchair.
You can check on Haidar's progress at his website.
So far so good. Until, that is, I came across the write-up this courageous and adveturous man received in the tech blog Gizmodo. The anonymous writer has obviously read nothing about Haidar. Good thing he chose to write anonymously, that way his ignorance can remain nameless and faceless.
Not so a couple of people who left comments; the aptly-named tw@t who wrote: "You know, when sitting you can't really tell that he is wearing a dress." The superficial halopower67 added, "Oh man what a boring thing to do. 12mph across 200 miles? I can't think of something more boring to do. He should have done something to his wheelchair to make it go faster or something. Make it out of carbon fiber and put a stronger motor so nothing is lost but speed is gained. SOMETHING."
Nothing can detract from Haidar's quest to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records, and certainly not these ignorant and dismissive people.
You can email him your message of support here.
The New York Times reports that a man claiming to be a senior Taliban commander flew on NATO aircraft, entered the presidential palace in Kabul, discussed peace efforts with president Hamid Karzai and received a "sizable sum of money" for his trouble. Problem is he wasn't the Taliban's Mullah Mansour!
Meanwhile in London, 27-year-old Janis Nords has been tried and sentenced after a spree of fine dining that left 9 top London restaurants footing a $9300 bill after Mr Nords did the old eat 'n run trick.
The slippery epicurean has been ordered to pay the outstanding bills and banned for 1 year from 6 London postcodes, home to many of the English capital's top restaurants.
One of the best science articles I've read in quite a while. Written by the Guardian's science writer Ian Sample, he takes you to the Interntional Space Station and you feel as if you're really there. Highly recommended.
Canada's CBC is about to broadcast tonight an investigative documentary on the murder of Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri. The program is entitled "Getting Away with Murder" and is bound to add fuel to the fire in Lebanon. Read the extensive report here.
The Eid al-Adha holiday has just come to an end. It marks the culmination of the pilgrimage to Mecca, the Hajj.
It is a logistical nightmare for the Saudi authorities with some 3 million pilgrims making the journey this year.
The emir of Mecca, Khaled al-Faisal, pulled no punches when he discussed some of the problems.
Having finished reading that report I ask what happened to the Prophet Muhammad's saying, "Cleanliness is next to Godliness."
It's been 2 weeks since I update this blog. Not that I don't have anything to say...
So how about a quick rundown of some of the news that struck me. Not struck me as important, just struck me.
The abuse of maids continues in the Middle East. The sad news is that one Indonesian maid has allegedly been killed by her employer, with another suffering serious injuries due to abuse. Details here and here.
While these 2 sad cases took place in Saudi Arabia, such abuse happens everywhere in the Arab world where maids work. To me it's indicative of a serious malady afflicting Arab societies.
Maids are being abused as far away as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore. But what concerns me is my own back yard.
I'm sick of seeing maids accompanying their mistresses to the supermarket, pushing the cart and being told which item to take off the shelf and put in the cart. I'm alarmed at seeing maids virtually raising kids who are left in their charge all the time, even during playtime, because the parents can't be bothered. I've seen maids accompanying families to restaurants only to be made to stand aside as the family gorges itself. In general there is no concept of a day off for maids. And this disease is affecting western expats. I see more and more of these young expat families take the maid out with them to the supermarket.
The abuse of these housemaids who leave their loved ones and travel to strange lands so they can make pitiful sums to better their lives and those of their families while working at the bottom of the heap, this has to stop. Laws have to be enacted and enforced. Most importantly, we need a deep rooted change in the consciousness of the employers and their families. They need to realize that these maids are not household objects and automatons. We need more humanity in our societies and we must examine what is going on within our culture.
But it is also the duty of the governments of these labor-exporting countries to do more for the welfare of their citizens. These governments treat the hundreds of thousands of maids and menial laborers as nothing but a source of hard currency. The onus is also upon these countries to prove that this is not the case, that they do care about their own people.
Unfortunately I'm certain I will read and hear about many such cases again.
From London came the news of the BBC's last minute decision to pull a 3-part documentary about the assassination in 2005 of Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri (well, 3 days before the broadcast date).
The program is produced by the UK-based ORTV.
Which basically means that the BBC paid for this program only to discover at the last minute that it requires further scrutiny. Yeah, right!
According to an official BBC statement,
“All programs shown by BBC World News must comply with the BBC’s editorial guidelines. This applies equally to programs we commission from the BBC, independents or, in this case, brought in programs. From time to time, the compliance process requires more time to complete. This can affect scheduling. This series of programs falls into this category.”
Now, what do you think about this? You could easily cite the age-old response to queries from the not so secretive Hacks R Us society: No comment.
And finally, for now, Pope Benedict has said the use of condoms may be permissible in certain exceptional circumstances, such as stopping the spread of HIV.
But according to Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See press office "The reasoning of the pope cannot certainly be defined as a revolutionary turn."
Important news from Israel this morning that Benjamin Netanyahu intends to inform the United Nations of Israel's intention to withdraw from the al-Ghajar village in Lebanon, long a bone of contention in the volatile border area. Details here.
Users of Sony Ericsson phones that run on the Android platform have been waiting for an upgrade from Android 1.6 to 2.1. The update was originally expected in September. But Sony Ericsson then pushed the date back to October.
Faced with increasing pressure from its customers the company announced that the update will begin on a "roll-out" basis on October 31. Nordic users of SE Android phones did indeed receive the update... in the final hours of October 31, allowing the company to claim that it adhered to its promised October launch date. However most other owners of SE's Android phones have been kept waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and waiting... Get the picture? Basically this update is a work in progress and SE's engineers are way behind on their workload.
Unfortunately for Sony Ericsson, users of other brands of phones that utilize Android (Samsung, LG, Motorola, HTC, etc.) have had version 2.1 and 2.2 on their phone for months.
Hence the outpouring of anger on Sony Ericsson's official product blog here and here. As you can see there are over 2600 comments, many if not most from irate SE customers basically saying, "Where's my update?", and not necessarily in very polite tones!
This situation has also been met with virtually complete silence from the mobile phone press as if this debacle did not exist. A conspiracy of silence.
The standards of today's journalism never cease to amaze me.
As for Sony Ericsson, that's no way to run your business in this cut-throat market. But customers vote with their wallets so let's see what the ultimate repercussions of this Android update situation are on Sony Ericsson who has stated that it is aiming for global dominance in the Android handset market.
Hardly the way to set about achieving your goals.
And in case you're wondering I already have my update. That's the beauty of the open-source Android platform. Unlike the iPhone, for example, where everything absolutely must go through Apple. But Apple would never do this to its customers.
A man on a long journey through a perpetual desert.
The opinions expressed in this blog are mine and mine alone. They do not represent the views of any of my employers, past, present or future.