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Goodbye to a Half-Alien Role Model

February 28th, 2015 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Leonard Nimoy died yesterday. He was 83.

He was an actor best known for a three-year role as the half-Vulcan/half-human Mr. Spock of Star Trek fame.

His was just one character of a television series that lasted only three seasons, from September 8, 1966, through June 3, 1969, before coming back to life as a movie franchise, as well as a comic-book topic and at least two more TV series.

To those of my generation, however, Nimoy was always the Spock of the first TV series, whose relentlessly “logical” character was both a life coach and a role model for many of us who were young teens, or even pre-teens, during the time of the show.

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‘Jihadi John’ and the Pittsburgh Pirates Cap

February 27th, 2015 · No Comments · Baseball

The first adult photo of the Islamic State executioner known in popular media as Jihadi John was revealed today …

And Mohammed Emwazi, Kuwaiti national, former London resident, is seen … wearing a Pittsburgh Pirates cap.

Much to the consternation of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

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Office Germs: Too Much Information

February 26th, 2015 · No Comments · Journalism, The National

Most of us have a pretty good idea how easy it is to pass along germs in the workplace.

Probably could have done without knowing just how easy it is.

A news reporter at The National came up with the idea of testing various surfaces in the newsroom to see what sort of bacteria might be there … and the results were pretty much awful.

E.coli, anyone?

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Maury Wills Bobblehead!

February 25th, 2015 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, Baseball, Dodgers, The National

I was a big fan of Maury Wills, when he played for the Dodgers in the 1960s. These were the struggle-to-score Dodgers, who often went back to Dead Ball Era tactics to win, with “Little Maury” leading the way.

Bunt single, stolen base, ground ball to the right side, sacrifice fly.

That was a Dodgers rally, particularly as the decade rolled on and offense became scarce. Sometime in the middle 1960s, Don Drysdale was told that Sandy Koufax had pitched a no-hitter, and Drysdale’s reaction was: “Did he win?”

Wills stole 104 bases in 1962, breaking Ty Cobb’s “modern” record, and helping the Dodgers to a share of first place with the San Francisco Giants. (The Dodgers lost the playoff.) He was voted MVP of the National League, in a rare (for that time) departure by the electorate from the usual most-homers-and-RBI voting.

A case can be made that Willie Mays should have been MVP that year; his Wins Above Replacement stat was 105, Wills’s was 6.0. But voters of that era, innocent lambs, didn’t have advanced metrics to tell them how to vote and they clearly were impressed by what the Dodgers’ leadoff man had done — help reintroduce the stolen base into the game after about 30 years of no one running much.

Wills was great fun to watch.

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O.J. Behind Bars

February 24th, 2015 · No Comments · Football, NFL

Now and then, the name O.J. Simpson, pops up.

When they see that name, most Americans who were adults in the middle 1990s probably have a couple of thoughts flit through their heads.

“Football star … killed two people and got away with it …”

Often, the next-most-pertinent thought — “currently in prison” — doesn’t come to the surface. It probably is later on the checklist. Maybe after “Heisman Trophy winner” or “celebrity” or “movie star”.

Mostly, because Simpson’s conviction in Las Vegas on charges of armed robbery and kidnapping (among other things), in 2008, got nowhere near the attention of the Trial of the Century, in 1995.

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The ‘Gullible’ Hoopster Manny Pacquiao

February 23rd, 2015 · No Comments · Basketball, Boxing, NBA

In the “emperor has no clothes” category, boxing division, we have Manny Pacquaio, elite pugilist, apparently being told by so many fawning people that he can play professional basketball … that he is attempting to do so.

This, when anyone paying attention knows that the 5-foot-6, 36-year-old fighter is, at best, a decent pickup-game player.

Pacquiao scored his first point in a Phillipines Basketball Association game last week, and when an American on the opposing team said Manny in a PBA game was “a joke” … his team cut him and the league fined him.

Rene Pardo, the top executive of the Purefoods Hotshots team, said yes, Daniel Orton was released for insulting Pacquaio.

“Everyone is angry at him,” a Philippines news website reported. “It is like he went to the United Sates and insulted the name of Martin Luther King.”


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The Landon Donovan of the UAE?

February 22nd, 2015 · No Comments · Arabian Gulf League, Football, Galaxy, Landon Donovan, London 2012, soccer, The National, World Cup

Omar Abdulrahman is the best soccer player in the UAE. He might be the best soccer player in the Middle East.

He is good enough that whenever foreigners see him play, they inevitably ask: “When are you going to Europe?”

Now and then, Omar has seemed vaguely interested in that concept. He trained for a few weeks with Manchester City, after the 2012 London Olympics, where he impressed. But then he came home.

And he has never budged, even as the years are beginning to pile up; 23 is not old in real life, but it’s approaching mid-career age in modern soccer, and Omar, 23, has never played for anyone but Al Ain, the UAE’s most successful club.

And it now appears he will not be playing for anyone else anytime soon, either. He had a press conference today to talk about his decision to extend his contract at Al Ain through the 2017-18 season.

For the three additional seasons he signed up for … he reportedly will be paid $3.8 million per season.

So, he is a guy who is getting a lot of money, is a superstar inside the country and is comfortable in his current situation.

So, does that make him the UAE’s Landon Donovan?

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Not Quite a Towering Inferno, in Dubai

February 21st, 2015 · No Comments · Dubai, The National, UAE

Seems like an act of hubris to put up a 79-story skyscraper in Dubai and name it The Marina Torch. Isn’t that sort of asking for fate to intervene? Had the builders never seen (or heard of) The Towering Inferno?

So, The Marina Torch, often known simply as the The Torch, got some global notoriety today for a fire that began on the 51st floor early this morning and apparently swept right up to the top of the building, the 79th floor.

Luckily, no one was hurt, and the fire seems to have been limited to balconies and other structures outside the living areas of what a few years ago once was the world’s tallest residential building, at 1,103 feet.

But it got a lot of attention around the world, given that all TV stations everywhere love nothing more than video of a burning building in the middle of the night. And here is video from the BBC. Oh, and a third video, from The National, in which a key factor in the fire becomes audible — the strong winds that have been buffeting the UAE. Wouldn’t take much of a fire to pick up speed in that kind of wind.

But The Torch is the name you want for your tower? Really?

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February 20th, 2015 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, The National, UAE


The UAE gets sandstorms. We get that. Like Southern California gets Santa Anas.

But this one is unusually severe.  As the photo, above, from our balcony showed, the sun has been nearly blotted out and we cannot clearly make out buildings more distant than across the street. And this was at high noon on February 20.

That’s a bad sandstorm.

This one is ugly on two levels.

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Crocodiles Rock

February 19th, 2015 · No Comments · Dubai, The National

We are very interested in crocodiles, over here in the UAE.

They’re big, they’re ugly, they’re dangerous and they’re here.

They do not occur in nature anywhere around the Gulf, far as I know, but that has not stopped the operators of Dubai Mall from bringing over a pair, dubbed King Croc and Queen Croc, from Australia.

And they are expecting 59 babies.

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