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David Moyes and Manchester United

April 21st, 2014 · No Comments · Football, Landon Donovan, Sports Journalism, The National, UAE, soccer

I was in the office today when this story exploded. Which is what stories do in the era of Twitter. They turn into flaming meteors the size of New Jersey which slam into the news cycle, crushing everything else.

When the 144-character primary news source (that would be Twitter) gets hold of a story it almost instantly turns into a self-reinforcing mountain of hysteria built on half a fact, or maybe no facts at all.

It’s OK for fans to spread hearsay, but journalists shouldn’t do it, but we generally do. It’s like we’ve all lost our minds and the journalism rules of “sources” go out the window. And we begin to declare as fact something that hasn’t quite happened yet.

In this case, the imminent departure, apparently, of David Moyes, the man who replaced Alex Ferguson — who is the man who led United to 13 league titles and two Uefa Champions League victories in 26-plus seasons as coach.

This probably is a bigger story in the U.S. than it would have been five years ago. But it is an enormous story over here, in the UAE, where the English Premier League is closely followed.

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Vying for the Attention of Yasiel Puig

April 20th, 2014 · No Comments · Baseball, Dodgers

Perhaps you read the stories, or the news reports based on the stories.

Yasiel Puig has other things on his mind than playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Which might explain his repeated episodes of poor decision-making in the outfield and on the base paths and off the field.

Or not.

But Puig, according to similar stories last week in L.A. Magazine and ESPN The Magazine, is a man only two years removed from …

1) A harrowing defection via speed boat from communist Cuba;

2) Being snatched from the custody of his original lancheros (people smugglers) by a competing group, leaving the original hard men mighty displeased (and perhaps leading to the death of one person involved);

3) May still be at risk from unhappy human-traffickers, and;

4) May be sued for allegedly helping the Cuban government by “informing” on countrymen (who may not be guilty of any crime) so as to prove his devotion to the creaky regime and enhance his own chances of defecting.

Missing the cut-off man, now and then, seems a bit more understandable.

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Al Fresco April

April 19th, 2014 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, UAE

This is the first month of the UAE calendar when you can assume a sane person no longer spends a lot of time in the sun. The high every day this week was 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Or more.

However, if you pay attention to the meteorological data — or poke your head out the door — it is still possible to spend a very pleasant evening on a terrace or on a balcony.

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Memories of Music and Voices

April 18th, 2014 · No Comments · Uncategorized

I have been mulling this, off and on, for weeks.

How is that we recall passages from complicated music — familiar orchestral works, for example? Not talking about the opening chords of Beethoven’s Fifth … rather, the key passages from lesser-known works.

Is that process akin to the way in which we can hear the voices of people who are dead, or people with whom we have not spoken in years?

And does all of this often depend on connecting words to the music, and then recalling it via that route?

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Time-Lapse Video of Dubai, Abu Dhabi

April 17th, 2014 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, Dubai, UAE

Beno Saradzic is at it again.

Three years ago, the Slovenian photographer, who lives in the UAE, gave us a spectacular time-lapse photo/video of Abu Dhabi. It seems much more recent, in my memory, but here is the blog post from 2011.

The new photo project is named: Beyond: Memoirs in a Time Lapse. You also can click to the video via the story done by The National.

Some explanation/context:

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The Most Unusual Newspaper I Have Helped Put Out

April 16th, 2014 · 2 Comments · Abu Dhabi, Journalism, Newspapers, Sports Journalism, The National, UAE, World Cup


For the sixth anniversary of The National, tomorrow, the newspaper at which I work, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, it was decided by the editor, Mohammed Al Otaiba, to do something different.

Something very different.

Our four standard news sections … with almost no words.

The mission:

Telling the news of the day through photos and graphics.

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Jurgen Klinsmann, Landon Donovan and 32 Birthdays

April 15th, 2014 · No Comments · Football, Galaxy, Landon Donovan, UAE, World Cup, soccer

A month ago, I noted with alarm that Landon Donovan, the greatest soccer player to play for the U.S. national team, appeared to spend a lot of time walking during a Galaxy game in Tijuana.

Which led me to wonder if he were pacing himself … or carrying an injury.

And it may have been both. Pacing and injury.

Donovan today told ESPN that his poor form recently — he does not have a goal in four Galaxy games so far this season — could be a function of age, suggesting he no longer can go all out at every practice session as well as every match.

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‘Boring James Milner’

April 14th, 2014 · No Comments · Football, Sports Journalism, The National, World Cup, soccer

James Milner is an Englishman who plays for the Manchester City club. He is in the starting 11 now and then.

Mostly, he is an industrious backup midfielder. With the emphasis on industrious. Supreme fitness seems to preoccupy him.

At a Euro 2012 tournament game, he famously ran 1.4 kilometers more (in excess of .86 miles) than any other player on the pitch.

And even with all that running, he completed only nine passes, leading a British soccer writer to characterize Milner as “A man very stubbornly doing lengths of a swimming pool while a water polo match goes on all around him.”

That episode, plus his brief remarks to journalists, led to the notion of James Milner as not a very bright guy.

Well, actually, a very dull guy.

And led to a fake Twitter account that is amusing.

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The Welcome Mat

April 13th, 2014 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, UAE

Outside the front door of an apartment here in my building in Abu Dhabi is a sort of welcome mat. One with a message.

It reads:



“(at last)”

It strikes me as a bit of an unusual welcome mat.

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The Gym, and Picking Up After Yourself

April 12th, 2014 · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

How hard is this? Really?

When you leave a gym … you put away whatever it was you had been using.

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