Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Wow! A 'must watch' video.

Thanks to bandicoot for this post which linked to Bill Clinton's interview on Fox News.

You can watch the interview here, and it is well worth watching. As you would expect, the Fox interview was planned as a political ambush but Clinton really lashes out in response.

The fallout to it has been enormous and one you have to watch is Keith Olbermann's 'Special Comment' on MSNBC TV. You'll find it here. It's an amazing attack on Bush W's record.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Two things I need to get off my chest today. Cruelty to animals and Dubai driving.

I've read cruelty to animals stories in two papers today. Emirates Today has a feature on the increasing popularity of dog fights.

Highly organised, two different sets of rules - European and Asian, locally-bred dogs, prize money and huge bets.

Twenty-first century? We're back in the Dark Ages.

Then an awful story in Gulf News Saluki found in Abu Dhabi with jaw broken but still wagging his tail.

The poor animal was found with his jaw snapped, so badly disfigured that the person who found him thought he'd been shot. He was still trying to show he wasn't aggressive and wanted to be friendly by wagging his tail.

Sorry, but I have to include the photo to show just what sick, depraved bastards we have amongst us.

The vet, Dr Jonathan Hale, said the injury was about five days old and "he had been kicked out on the street". Dr Hale added that this was a 'particularly sad case' as the dog did not demonstrate any signs of violent behaviour when he was found. "There was no excuse for someone to injure him," he said. "I want to make people aware of these things, so we don't become accepting and blasé about it all. It won't change anything for this dog, but maybe it will help avoid something like this in the future." The dog had to be put down of course.

We need a complete change of attitude to animals, education from a young age, parental example...and we need to punish the sick bastards who do this. I mean draconian punishment. We need a deterrent to stop other sick bastards from doing it.

And for those who think I have my priorities wrong with so much inhumanity to people happening around the world, understand that people who carry out deliberate sadistic acts of cruelty on animals are one step from doing the same to people.

Moronic drivers.

The other thing that made my blood boil today is morons endangering other road users by their cretinous driving.

I drove from Dubai Marina into Knowledge Village, a distance of maybe six kilometres. At the beginning of the drive I was behind a car driving erratically. The blonde female driver was chatting on her mobile phone, which was much more important, obviously, than thinking about her driving.

At the Al Sufouh Road junction my filter light goes green, I go - and am nearly wiped out by a cretin doing an illegal U-turn into my path. It happens on this junction several times a week so I'm prepared and manage to miss him. When they sit at the lights there's a big sign next to them telling them that U-turns are not permitted. They can't miss it, so doing the illegal U-turn is obviously quite deliberate.

Stop at the next set of lights, they go green, I go - and am nearly wiped out by yet another cretin, this one jumping the red light to do a U-turn in my path, and he's talking on his mobile.

It's at this point that blondie I mentioned at the beginning comes past me - and she's still talking on her mobile.

By the way, ignore all the letters to the papers complaining about local and Asian drivers, these were all Caucasians.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Etisalat obstructing business.

You know my biggest complaint about the ISP that claims on its website "We enable people to reach each other, businesses to find new markets and everyone to fulfil their potential. Across the UAE, we provide telephone, TV and Internet services for everyone, and much more for businesses. We are increasingly present in international markets. Our customers enjoy the latest services and technologies, as well as a choice of great entertainment. Reach out. The world’s waiting."?

It's not the prices, outrageous as they are. It's not the infantile blocking of perfectly valid websites.

It's the lack of speed they give us for work on the internet.

I pay for 512Kbps, but ten years ago in Australia my old-fashioned dial-up was much, much faster. It doesn't matter what speed you pay for, it's all the same snail's pace result.

It flies in the face of the government's drive for Dubai to be a modern international city, a hub for international businesses. Staff sitting staring at blank screens waiting for websites to open isn't the way modern businesses need to run.

What seems to have escaped the notice of people in a position to do something about it is that companies and people do not have to relocate to Dubai. They have many other options, even in the Gulf.

Going back to the early seventies, companies left Beirut because of the civil war and re-located largely to Cyprus, Athens, Dubai, Bahrain. Many of those which had gone to Cyprus & Athens re-re-located because telecommunications were so bad. Many came on to Dubai because telecommunications were so good. A lesson Etisalat and those who control it need to remember, before it's too late.

making it hard for you to reach out

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Wot, no proof reader?

Full page in Emirates Today advertising several job vacancies. In the call to action it states:

"The candidate should have a good command of Spoken and Written English."


The headline is:

"One of the largest and fastest growing media groups within the UAE is offering to fill the following positions."


I've made the point so often in the past. Why don't our media groups employ proof readers?

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Freedom of the press?

There's an interesting but frustrating two page spread in Gulf News' Weekend Review headlined Media needs to act with greater responsibility.

Briefly, it reports on a meeting called by Al Bayan to 'debate and explore the necessity of maintaining a clear media policy and preserving social values'. That is because 'the absence of clear and well-defined media guidelines is resulting in journalism losing its ethics.

I agree with part of that statement. A lack of ethics is apparent. But surely that's down to responsible, effective editing. As far as I'm concerned it's a cop-out to say guidelines have to be set. Professionalism, common sense and a sense of propriety are what's needed, not legislation.

I fully agree with the concern that was behind the whole exercise: Media watchers are concerned that the new found openness that finds its way to the letters columns could create divisive cracks in a society that aspires at preserving peace and harmony among its residents.

I've been amazed at some, many in fact, of the letters which have been published in English-language newspapers - by '7Days' in particular.

There are two categories that I'm amazed to have seen published:

*spoof letters. Obvious send-up letters, designed to draw angry responses. Some were harmless, but others were inflamatory. Both types should have been weeded out by the Letters Editor and not published. The letters page should be for genuine letters.

*letters containing inflamatory, rascist, derogatory remarks about other people. These simply should never see the light of day.

How does it happen? I said that professionalism, common sense and a sense of propriety are what's needed. The Managing Editor of 7Days gives the game away when he is quoted as saying: "Currently, I deal with letters that come to us and others tend to this while I am away. There are some foreign journalists who have been living in the UAE for the last year or two and might not pay attention to some details.


Who are these 'others' who are given responsibility for editing the letters page? Are they qualified? Are they professional? The evidence would suggest they are not. Not by a long way.

And "journalists...may not pay attention to some details"! Why they hell are they still employed then? And how are their errors of judgement getting past the Editor? Is there no checking?

This is unprofessional in the extreme.


I'm frustrated with the report on several levels. First, the meeting invited 'Arabic speaking media representatives...from the English and non-English media'. To me that's only half a meeting. If you really want to seriously debate such things in Dubai you have to include non-Arabic speakers. The participants were high-flyers, but it was only nine people.

I was frustrated at the brevity of the report. It gave only one or two quotes from only six of the participants. And there was no summing up, no indication whether anything was agreed upon, or recommendations would be made - and if so, to whom. There was no overview of what took place. It was really just a teaser and because of the importance of the subject I thought it should have been much more than that.

I was also frustrated at comments by some of the participants. Sweeping generalisations about groups of people and a lack of understanding of what they were about. In fact, much like some of the letters they were complaining about!

An example:

The Executive Managing Editor for Local Issues, Al Ittihad says: "Expatriates have resentment towards UAE nationals and the media is used to pass around these feelings.

Is that a sweeping statement or not! I'm an expatriate and I certainly don't resent Emiratis, and I can't think of anyone I mix with who isn't the same.

He continues: "...and criticise the Ministry of Labour for the Emiratisation of one or two vocations in the private sector, this is intentionally harmful." No it isn't. It is not harmful and it is not intended to be harmful. It was a discussion about the desirability of a policy that assumes thousands of people from one particular group are suitable, suited, trained, competent to take over an entire corporate function throughout the country. Had the policy stated that only Indians or Australians, for example, could be HR Directors there would have been a similar reaction.

And he continues: "I say there is a fierce attack, such as that conducted in connection to labourers' rights. BBC, CNN, and International Labour Organisation all point on their websites to the UAE's alleged abuse of labourers. If we go back to the Arab newspapers' archives, we will see numerous cases, where we defended labourers. We realise there are problems, with some sponsors stepping over the line, but most of them are not UAE nationals.

What's the problem here? The Arabic newspapers defended labourers. Good for them. So what's wrong with English-language newspapers doing the same thing? What's wrong with outside organisations highlighting abuses? That's what happens in the real world. Dubai can't hide any more, it strives very hard to be in the world's spotlight and it must expect examination of its practices.

"...sponsors stepping over the line, but most of them are not UAE nationals." I haven't read anywhere that specifically Emirati sponsors are being blamed for abuse of labourers. Stronger laws and enforcement of laws has been the demand, with stories of non-payment of wages or bad conditions being examples of why that is needed.

The whole thing was off-beam, missed the point. The problem isn't to do with expat workers, resentment of Emiratis, fierce attacks about labourers, intentional harm to the country, the need for media guidelines. Nothing of the sort.

It's about two things. Dubai, and the UAE in general, working hard to be in the world's spotlight, wanting to join international organisations, wanting free trade agreements - and having to accept that this will involve greater scrutiny of its laws and practices, greater comment from the world's media about all manner of things.

And it's about the lack of professionalism in our media. We don't need legislation, we need professional media people - all the way from editors to journalists and proof readers.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

High-tech it ain't...

...but at least they're doing it.

Let me remind you of my earlier posts about the lack of street cleaning in Dubai Marina, the breakthrough of Emaar taking notice of what I'd said and telling me "Cleaning has been arranged and warning letters are being sent to construction companies."

Well folks, the warning letters obviously were sent, a couple of the building companies did take notice and...

I know, I know. It's hardly cutting-edge, state-of-the-art, world-beating, high-tech. It's just a broom and a shovel. But it's actually working. Parts of some of the streets are cleaner. Around a couple of construction sites. Several others haven't got around to it yet. Maybe they don't have the necessary equipment in their inventory.

And the streets around the completed buildings haven't been touched. The general street cleaning, which I assume should be on a regular basis, simply isn't being done. At all.

I'll have to get back to the very helpful Lilia DeSouza from Emaar's Customer Care Department about that.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Double standards

The (London) Daily Telegraph reports that YouTube is showing videos of American soldiers being shot and blown up, in a piece headlined Website attacked over propaganda videos of soldiers' deaths in Iraq. In Gulf News the headline is "Fury as website 'gloats' over US Iraq deaths."

As you would expect, "Outraged relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq are now calling for the videos to be removed, or the website shut down."

The father of one of the victims said it was "deplorable" that YouTube was allowing such videos to be posted by its members.

"It's a propaganda tool, a recruiting tool and putting it on the internet like this is rubbing it in our faces," he said."It just infuriates me. Watching it was horrible. My son was hanging in there but he died eight hours after the explosion. He was only a kid."

I agree one hundred percent. Without question. Such images should not be shown.

Regardless of the nationality of the victims.

I well recall seeing on mainstream public television, film of Iraqis being killed. One that sticks in my mind is a man in a pick-up truck, jumping out and trying to hide from a helicopter gunship. We even had the voice-over of the aimer as the chopper hunted him down, then we saw the rocket fire hitting the road in front of him, he looked up startled, then was cut to pieces.

I read no outrage about that. I heard no-one demand that the tv station should be shut down. We didn't hear what his father thought about his son's death being broadcast on television around the world.

Double standards. Them and us. It's permissable for one side but not for the other. No family should have to see film of their loved ones being killed. No family. American or Iraqi. Or anyone else.

By the way, the report includes the line: The videos, made as propaganda by Islamist extremists... Using the same logic, wasn't the film I'm referring to 'made as propaganda by the US military'?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Camel jockey lawsuit...

...anyone else smell a rat?

Thanks to samuraisam for finding the lawsuit story. If you haven't read it, according to AFP, an American law firm has served legal papers on two of our most important people.

They are instituting a class action "for allegedly abducting thousands of young boys from South Asia and Africa and enslaving them to work as camel jockeys in races in the UAE."

The lawsuit was filed in Miami on behalf of the boys and their parents.

This is not a comment about the immorality of the child jockey saga. It's about the legal action.

Have I got this right? Impoverished, uneducated families from remote villages in South Asia and Africa have contacted a powerful firm of lawyers in South Carolina, instructing them to instigate a class action lawsuit in Florida.


Not usually a conspiracy theorist, I have to wonder what the agenda is here, and whose agenda it is.

Sheikh Mohammed's winning bids at the Kentucky horse sales are linked in, as is "They also own Dubai Ports World, whose involvement in port operations in Miami and elsewhere sparked Congressional concern, and the Dubai Holding Co. and its subsidiaries, which own hotels, apartment buildings and health care facilities."

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Cringingly embarrassing from Dubai Eye

Dubai Eye Radio plumbed the depths this morning with its new 'Majlis' programme, various parts of which I caught on the car radio. Dubai Eye is well known for the amateurishness of most of its presenters, but this set a new low standard.

The idea is good - as I understand it they invite high-flyers into the studio for a chat, so that we can all be better informed. The presenter's job in that case is to ask questions on our behalf, delve for the answers we are seeking.

This morning we had the CEO from Etisalat and someone from the TRA. And we had a presenter who was obviously uncomfortable in the environment, who was ill-prepared, out of his depth, who struggled to frame his questions which were littered with y'know and I mean.

A presenter who was embarrassingly deferential to the guests. There's a huge difference between politeness and being in awe and he fell on the wrong side by a country mile. A real lightweight amateur. He even read out a text message from an irate listener complaining about his 'brown-nosing' making it a terrible programme. His response? "I have a radio programme, you don't".


The whole programme was a spoken press release, I swear using Secret Dubai's brilliant UAE Press Release Generator.

Of course spokespeople for organisations are going to simply repeat the corporate line if they're allowed to. The job of reporters and interviewers is to get past that, to get to the truth, to ask the awkward questions. To actually get some information for heavens sake!

The question of VoIP came up again, and yet again the naivete of our 'journalists' was apparent.

Etisalat's CEO confirmed that they will introduce VoIP at some unspecified time in the future. But he wasn't asked about the pricing strategy. The verbal press release followed by...nothing.

I've posted about this before* - our 'journalists' naively believe that VoIP is inherently cheap. It isn't! The price the consumer pays depends entirely on the price the provider decides to charge. Skype, MyWebCalls and all the others offer cheap calls because of the huge competition they face. Etisalat will face ersatz competition only from the government controlled du.

We have a missed opportunity here. A radio station giving us more than the wallpaper music of the others, a good programme idea, VIP guests, the opportunity to get answers to so many of our questions. All in the hands of a cringingly embarrassing amateur presenter.

*Cheap VoIP from Etisalat

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Dubai has world's best airport.

I must say I can't agree with Conde Nast Traveller magazine Readers' Travel Awards that Dubai has the world's best airport.

It's up there amongst the best I do agree, but Changi would have to come above. I haven't been into Hong Kong's new airport, but that's also been getting rave reviews.

I suspect it's all in the questionaire, the way it was formulated. DIA is certainly conveniently located for the city, it's new, the signage is good etc etc. But there are three major faults.

One, the huge distances you have to walk between aircraft and exit.

Two, the absolute chaos as you reach the exit. Huge uncontrolled crowds of people blocking the exit down to a single channel.

Three, the bodies sleeping not just on almost every seat but also all over the floor where you have to weave around or clamber over them.

Sort those problems out and maybe Dubai would compete with Changi.


An update on yesterday's update.

Emaar Customer Care Department have been back to me again- take a bow Lilia DeSouza. If only everyone was as efficient...

Apparently Community Co-ordinators and Hyder Consulting "who are in charge of monitoring the area" have been 'on site'.

Cleaning has been arranged and warning letters are being sent to construction companies.

I think I might consider before & after photos...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The usual mixture.

Just an update on my earlier postings about the lack of street cleaning in Dubai Marina.

I contacted Dubai Municipality and Emaar to find out who is responsible, with mixed results - as we expect in Dubai.

It's no surprise I'm sure that Dubai Municipality have not responded.

Emaar Customer Care Department responded immediately, saying that my enquiry had been passed on to the Community Management Department and a representative would contact me with the information.

A week later a representative had not contacted me so I re-sent the message to Customer Care. Again they responded immediately with a 'sincere apology' for the delay and saying my question had again been sent to Community Management. It's taken twelve days so far.

Mind you, it was a tricky question: "Who is responsible for street cleaning in Dubai Marina? Dubai Municipality, Emaar as Master Developer, individual developers or individual contractors? A real hot potato. You can imagine the scramble to duck for cover, pass it on, refer to higher authority, get authorisation for the draft answer...

So, top marks to Emaar Customer Care Department. Wouldn't it be nice if the other people and departments we have to constantly deal with were as efficient.

Dream on.

Oh, meanwhile the garbage, the builders' rubbish, the piles of blown sand continue to deface one of Dubai's alleged most prestigious developments.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Another puzzling photograph...

Have a look at this photograph in today's Gulf News...

I have two questions.

First, what the hell is the pedestrian doing wandering down the middle of the road, especially in thick fog!

Second, the caption is "Vehicles move cautiously amid thick fog on Shaikh Zayed Road.

The fog must have been so thick the photographer didn't know which street he was on. That sure isn't SZR. Where was the Picture Editor when that was captioned and went to press?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Never mind the name, go for the food.

I've been intending for ages to talk about and recommend some of the restaurants where we've had excellent meals at amazingly low prices. But other things keep cropping up and I haven't got around to it.

That is until I read Moryarti's review of Al Sammach which prompted me to stop making excuses and just get on and start doing the reviews.

Far too many western expats will only go to restaurants in 5-star hotels, wouldn't be seen dead in the mall or roadside restaurants. The lack of alcohol is part of it I'm sure. But I enjoy a drink as much as anyone and I can tell you that alcohol is not actually essential to having a good evening, excellent dinner and enjoying yourself.

The restaurant I'll talk about this time is Automatic in Jumeirah 1. Not the best choice of name I grant you, but ignore that. It's a small chain of Lebanese restaurants, been around for years and years, with outlets dotted around the city. We go to this particular one because it's the nearest to us.

It's in the Jumeirah Beach Centre on Beach Road, not far from Mercato Mall, on the ground floor at the front. (Get a window table and watch the cabaret of the morons using Beach Road as a racetrack.)

The decor & furnishings are predictable, just what you'd expect. Nothing frantically trendy, as too many of out outlets are, but comfortable. The staff are what you want them to be - greeted by the maitre de who will show you to your table, attentive service but not in yer face hovering all the time.

When you sit down your waiter will bring a huge bowl of salad, a big dish of assorted olives & pickles, a basket of bread, all of which is complimentary. The salad alone is enough for a meal - our last one was a whole lettuce, rocket, two cucumbers, a whole green capsicum, tomatoes, carrots, radishes, spring onions, bunches of mint & a whole lemon.

Most of this is free folks!

It's typical Lebanese cuisine, which I must say is one of my favourites. Not complicated, just good quality fresh ingredients cooked simply. And plenty of different mezza dishes - we love to pick at the different tastes and textures of a variety of dishes.

Of the main courses our favourites are Shish Tawouk, marinated chicken pieces grilled on a skewer and served with rice or french fries, and Seafood Grill, which is hammour, large prawns & calamari with french fries & vegetables. We always have hommos, which I like with the kebab.

There's no alcohol of course but don't let that put you off. I recommend fresh lemon & mint juice, which Automatic does very well. They also have very fresh bread...

So our meal is often olives, pickles, salad, hommos, bread, shish tawouk, seafood grill, lemon & mint juice, mineral water, Turkish Coffee. And that doesn't cost much more than Dh100 in total. That's roughly 15 pounds Sterling, US$27, Aussie$36...for dinner for two.

Think about it folks. Dubai expensive? There's a hell of a lot here that isn't anywhere near as expensive as 'back home' - and making it even better value, here you're paying for it with untaxed salary.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Ban the bloggers!

It seems that blogging is a danger to society. From a report in 7Days:

In yet another case of a school administration trying to ban student blogging, three engineering students at a campus in Knowledge Village in Dubai have been suspended indefinitely, raising questions about freedom of speech and expression......A second year Chemical Engineering student has been suspended for posting the blog, while two others are being punished for posting responses, other students said.

If it's true that they were suspended for the act of blogging, as opposed to what was in the blog (which could have been inflamatory for example), it's a big concern.

Is the school administration stepping beyond its authority? The laws of the land are what matter, so I wonder what they say about it. Is it lawful for a college to suspend students for blogging, or leaving a comment on a blog? Can the students appeal to the Ministry of Education?

The article raises more questions than it answers.

Blog suspension

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Ridiculous & pretentious

Another ridiculous presentation from a five star restaurant.

Pax Romana at Dusit Dubai. An excellent, stylish restaurant. Decor, furnishings, food, staff, views, all are excellent.

The menu though! Designed by someone with no thought about its use or users. And obviously approved and accepted by the management.

A cumbersome heavy thing, like a child's first book, printed on very thick card. But worse than that, it's not a menu, a bill of fare, it's an abstract design project. The sort of thing you get from first year design students.

Design for the sake of it. Bits and pieces all over the place. Sideways and upside down even.

Think I'm exaggerating? Here's a photo of a page:

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Irresponsible statistics & reporting.

There's a posting by trailing spouse on Gulf News' report that statistics show Indians & Pakistanis are the worst drivers.

It reminded me that I was going to write on the subject too, because it is totally irresponsible reporting. If these are truly the statistics published by the RTA, then they are at fault for publishing partial and misleading statistics. And Gulf News is at fault for not delving deeper and giving us the true picture.

If Gulf News have mis- or partially-reported the statistics, that is appalling 'journalism'.

The report shows unacceptable statistical anomalies, partial information at best, is guilty of not comparing like with like.

For example, it tells us that Pakistani drivers caused the maximum number of road deaths, while Indians caused most accidents in Dubai in the first half of the year. It doesn't tell us what percentage of drivers are Indian or Pakistani, so the statistic is meaningless. If, for argument's sake, Indians cause 30% of accidents but make up 50% of all drivers, the stat. gives a different picture.

Another example:
Indians caused most accidents in Dubai in the first half of the year, according to statistics released by the Roads and Transport Authority. It goes on: Indians committed 228 accidents causing 30 deaths and 344 injuries, which is 19.2 per cent of total accident victims.

You see, "caused most accidents" is compared with "is 19.2% of total accident victims."

Is it "accidents" or "accident victims" we're looking at? They are very different things.

Why accidents need to be presented by nationality is questionable. But if stats. are going to be presented in that way, then let's have the full picture so that they actually mean something.

Now of course it may be true that one particular nationality is over-represented in causing accidents. If it is true, and if South Asians are guilty of it, there's a sobering fact that trailing spouse reminds us of - they have to take lessons and pass the driving test in the UAE because their home licences are not accepted for transfer.

And one other point - sub-Continentals "cause" accidents while GCC nationals are "involved in" accidents. I quote: "Pakistani drivers caused the maximum number of road deaths, while Indians caused most accidents...GCC nationals were involved in 163 accidents"

Spare us from fanatics!

I watched a documentary on Osama bin Laden yesterday.

He's doing what he's doing because God is telling him to.

I've heard George W. Bush say those exact words too.

Most people who do things because voices in their head tell them to are locked safely away...

Monday, September 04, 2006

Simply not acceptable.

A few days ago I wrote about the lack of street cleaning in Dubai Marina, at the Jebel Ali end.

It's actually now much worse because several sites are pumping concrete so there's a never-ending stream of heavy tucks.

That's not a problem, it's what you expect around construction sites. also expect that the mess will be cleared up. And that's the problem, there is no street cleaning. In the area I'm referring to there are as many occupied buildings as construction sites. People live there. There are shops and offices. It's a community.

Three buildings across the roundabout are occupied. So is the one to the right of the car and two behind the photographer. Hundreds of residents have to fight this disgraceful situation every day.

The roads are even more dangerous than normal because there are piles of stones, sand, concrete, garbage all over them. Clouds of dust billow around, stones & gravel are kicked up whenever a vehicle passes. Sand is piled against the kerbs all around. Food and drink containers are blowing around.

This in one of Dubai's showcase prestige projects, yet it looks Third World.

Who is responsible? Somebody has to be, surely.

I've had no reply from the Municipality. A major developer tells me that it's Emaar's responsibility. Emaar's Customer Care Dept. tell me that someone from their Community Management Dept. will be contacting me.

Meanwhile, the problem builds.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The world has gone completely mad.

A friend in Sydney drew my attention to a story in the Sydney Daily Telegraph. A few highlights...

Have they gone completely potty?

TOM Cruise and Katie Holmes have yet to show their baby daughter off in public, but eager fans were given an unusual preview today with what's claimed to be a bronze cast depicting her first solid stool.

The scatological sculpture – more doodoo than Dada – is purportedly cast from 19-week-old Suri's first bowel movement and will be shown at the Capla Kesting gallery in Brooklyn, New York, before being auctioned off for charity.

"A bronzed cast of baby's first poop can be a meaningful memento for the family," gallery director David Kesting said, adding that he hoped the work would attract bids of up to $US25,000 ($A32,793) or $US30,000 ($A39,352).

No-one could be more cynical than me about the way the world is going, but even so I continue to be amazed on a daily basis.

Somebody please tell me this is a spoof, a wind-up.

Sept. 3. UPDATE

Yes folks, it's a wind-up. Huge sigh of relief. Thanks to halfmanhalfbeer for the detective work.

I checked the link I put above and got "Page not found". But they've forgotten to take the item out of their archive page where it still shows the following linked teaser:

Have they gone completely potty?
TOM Cruise and Katie Holmes have yet to show their baby daughter off in public, but fans were given an unusual preview today with what's claimed to be a bronze cast depicting her first poop.

*Shakes head in disbelief*

My wife's company advertised three new job positions; admin. assistant, tele-sales person, Sales Manager. Applications to be sent to their e-mail eddress.

Within 48 hours there were over 2,000 applications sitting in the In-Box. Nothing special, that's the norm these days.

To digress from what I was going to say for a moment, just think about that. Suppose you spend even only 30 seconds on each, opening it up, speed reading the application letter, opening the attached CV, speed reading that, closing it. Suppose you do literally nothing else, no other work, no conversations, no breaks for coffee, lunch, toilet, anything else. Even in that unlikely scenario you will devote nearly 17 hours to simply scanning the applications.

Then you have the problem of most of the applications being identical. They obviously have them prepared by a typing office, identical layout, wording, language. Perfect English. Only the detail of experience differs. Some seem worth pursuing, so you get on the phone to them. At best, their English skills are very bad, absolutely nothing like their application. More wasted time.

Back to the story - an applicant for the Sales Manager position looked suitable from his CV. Wifey had gone into the office on Friday so that she could plough through the applications without interruption. She called the mobile number matey had given, introduced herself, said: "You applied to us for the position of Sales Manager."
He responded: "I'm watching a movie. Would you call me back later."

That's where the shaking my head in disbelief comes in...

Let me add a postscript to the story. Last time they advertised for a tele-sales person they whittled it down to five people and arranged interviews.

Three were no-shows. Simply didn't turn up. No phone call, nothing. Just didn't bother.

The fourth turned up on time - drunk. That didn't go down too well but he became quite aggressive over the rejection.

Fortunately the fifth one was good and has proved himself in the job.