Ariel Sharon has left hospital after recovering from a stroke, although the scare, coming so soon after he had left the Likud Party to set up a new political party, left some Israelis in jitters regarding the very portly Prime Minister's weight. On a lighter side, Sharon has joked about his weight before, although his closest aides are known to keep his exact weight a state secret.
Chelsea has been drawn to face Barcelona again in the Champions League knockout stages. The two became bitter enemies after meeting earlier this year in the Champions League quarter-finals. Barcelona won the home leg 2-1 on that occasion, before Jose Mourinho's charge of improper conduct involving Barca coach Frank Rijkaard and referee Anders Frisk incited incredible amounts of bad blood between the two clubs. Chelsea proceeded to win the return leg 4-2 at Stamford Bridge, going through on aggregate. They were then knocked out by eventual winners Liverpool.
Speaking of Frisk, he was honoured with a special award by FIFA president Sepp Blatter. Blatter gave Frisk the award following the Swede announced his retirement from refereeing, a direct consequence of vicious threats that followed Mourinho's accusations. Frisk's own departure means two world-class referees have left the scene in a little over a year, after Italian Pierluigi Collina quit the game following accusations of conflict of interest after agreeing to a sponsorship deal with car-makers Opel, who also happen to sponsor Italian powehouse AC Milan.
A proposal for moderate electoral reform in Hong Kong has been shot down by pro-democracy legislators, who have demanded direct elections by all in Hong Kong instead. Call me a skeptic, but I thought these legislators were asking for what they knew to be impossible. I'm not sure what the next step they had in mind was, knowing the certainty of their plan's doom to failure. Beijing will not be happy.
Investigations into a Singaporean healthcare-related charity suggested much malpractice on the part of its former chief executive officer and board of governors. The charity, the first in the country claiming to adopt a business model, took much flak following its ill-advised decision to file - and later withdraw - a lawsuit against a leading local newspaper which blew the whistle on such practices. Having heard much about its antics well before the lawsuit, I suppose none of this was a surprise. The real issue is whether this will prompt a cleanup elsewhere, or will the stain tarnish reputations of everyone else in the charity circle, rightly or wrongly. Not that I care; I still haven't parted with my obligatory two dollars for any charities this Christmas, not that I intend to do so in a hurry.
And on that note, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays too all readers of this blog. gambitch [
Friday, December 23, 2005
As a guy who makes journalism his career, sometimes it means very much personally to get the scoop out ahead of fellow professionals. Earlier this week I just got what amounts to my first compliment for making this achievement.
What actually happened was that I had been tracking a certain transfer story for a little while. I was aware of a few uncertainties thanks to inside information, and after learning of a few developments, I figured the time was right to put together and deliver the story. I needed a few quotes and got them in the morning - while shopping for groceries, no less - and sent out the report before noon. Within four hours it was published, and I called my source afterwards to inform him of the story's publication.
Turns out he knew, because another journalist, a much more senior figure in the area, had called my source earlier to ask if the story was true. Basically he said, "How come I didn't know a thing about this? Who's this fella who got wind of it before I did?"
When I heard about it, I was chuffed to bits. An upstart stealing a march on the veterans - always nice when it happens. But now that I've had a bit more time to calm down, I have to remind myself that this is just a one-time thing. I've to try to do this more often, or at least stay in touch with the news so that I'm in a position to write them. This is competition, but it is the kind of competition that I believe can be healthy for the consumer market. I must harness that energy in such a manner to benefit the public. Of course, it doesn't do my street cred any harm!
Of course, sometimes that kind of thing does run into difficulties. Lately I've not been able to reach my editor, which means that I'm not able to communicate effectively with him on whether he wants any work done, and what work it is he has in mind. I know I'm an upstart at the moment, at best. As others more senior than me have told me, this gives me great enthusiasm to forge ahead, which isn't necessarily bad in itself. But it means I'm going to have to get used to frustrations about stories being sat on.
I guess that's the kind of speed bump I'm having to learn to cope with at the moment. So perhaps a slightly more "go slow" policy would be appropriate for the moment, until I manage to build enough trust from my editor. gambitch [
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
I just went through pictures of TARCON posted by other The Amazing Race fans. For the uninitiated, TARCON roughly stands for The Amazing Race CONvention, or something like that. It's basically a party organized in New York City timed to coincide with the airing of the final episode of The Amazing Race in each season. Fans sign up, gather, party, watch the finale - without most of the sound, obviously, because of all the party noise - and if they're lucky (they often are) they'll be joined by a great number of people who were on the race.
It's expensive, and it's in New York City - two reasons why, in the near future, I fear I will not be able to join up at the party. Of course, the fact that I'm not yet a registered forum member at Television Without Pity doesn't help matters much. So the next best thing I will settle for is looking at the photos.
From the shots taken, I have learnt that Stassi dyed her hair blonde. Apparently the black hair we've seen on the show was also dyed, much earlier in her life, and she's recently grown sick of it. Many people have said she looked very attractive going blonde, but I personally disagree, respectfully. I kinda like Western girls with black hair and very pale skin - to the point that they blush well. I've nothing against blondes, but a hint of Gothic appeal works out well with me. Going over-Gothic in the Elvira style doesn't quite work with me. A hint of it is nice, though.
Meanwhile it appears that the Gaghan family was a big hit at the party as well. They even brought their kids, all three of them - there's a younger daughter who didn't make the show, because it was for four, and she was underage anyway. They were much loved by the fans, as the pictures showed in abundance.
Kinda makes me jealous about not being able to attend TARCON. gambitch [
Monday, December 19, 2005
The regular Sunday football game was called off due to bad weather, which sorta gave me some time to get extra sleep (the game was scheduled for the morning). Quite a pity, though - I would have loved to play.
I recently started going down to the local bookstore to read this book for free. Yes, I know, I'm being a bit of a cheapskate, but there's a limit to how much room I have at home to store the books I buy. This one narrowly missed the cut, partially because of sensitive language that I thought best not to bring home. Anyway, the book is entitled New Rules, and it's written by Bill Maher. Bill politely includes a subtitle for his book, which reads "Polite Musings from a Timid Observer".
For someone who's a "timid observer", he has plenty of fun writing his book and pitching it. In the introduction he writes several times about how it makes a great gift. Bill, I'd like to give a copy away, but I'm too busy reading it myself and enjoying!
In the book, he takes aim at a whole range of subjects, from the very big (Bush gets his usual dose for any number of things, while the Democrats also take a couple of hits for their "chasing of lost causes") to the things close to our hearts (the rant about cellphones that give all sorts of nifty functions but can't make calls from places they don't like was particularly familiar). It's a damn mean book, and I'd strongly recommend readers of this blog to either buy or borrow a copy of the book and get your sides split!
The book sorts out the targets alphabetically. Right now I'm up to the letter J. I'd have gone even faster if meals hadn't stopped me! gambitch [
I don't know what to make of it. Heart attacks are sudden things - you don't usually expect them. But John Spencer's sudden death leaves a very big gap to deal with on the set of The West Wing. What will they do about Leo McGarry now? Leo was such a great, loved character. I loved Leo - and I had not even seen most of the best of him.
More eloquent watchers of the show than I have already said their bit, so I won't add much more to it. I don't know what more I could say that others could not.
RIP John Spencer (1946-2005). RIP Leo McGarry. gambitch [