Friday, April 25, 2014


If your ideology requires keeping people ignorant, fearful and submissive, the odds are good it's not an ideology worth having.
The families of more than 230 Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by Islamist insurgents more than 10 days ago say they are fast losing hope of seeing their daughters again despite government assurances they will be found.
The mass abduction of the girls watched over by government soldiers is the most devastating in a series of recent attacks on state schools – and comes as the government debates extending a year-long state of emergency across three north-eastern states from which the militants have operated for five years. On the same day as the kidnappings, a massive bombing by Boko Haram insurgents killed more than 75 commuters hundreds of miles south on the outskirts of the capital.
The girls, who were mostly between 16 and 18 years old, were rounded up at gunpoint after militants overpowered a military guard assigned to a boarding school in Chibok, in north-eastern Borno state. They had just finished their final school exams. The school was the only one still open in the area following threats and attacks by Boko Haram, whose ideology opposes both so-called western education, and particularly women's education.
This kidnapping of 234 girls taking a physics exam was brought to you by Boko Haram, whose name translates to "Western education is sinful". Can't have those ladyfolk learning -- next thing you know, they'll start getting ideas above their station and want to be more than obedient baby factories. It seems the men running Boko Haram would prefer living in a simpler time when their way of life and behavior would go unchallenged, rather than this modern, increasingly secular world. Would this be an awkward time to remind them that the good ol' days weren't actually all that good?

Unfortunately, unlike certain tragic events in South Korea or Malaysia, coverage of the kidnappings largely has been relegated to the back burner. The people of Nigeria are uniting against Boko Haram, even as the country's military makes a fool of itself and the government does little but wring its hands and call more meetings. What can those outside Nigeria do? It's not much, but watch this video and sign this petition. Every little bit helps.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Taking in the sights

Had a day off of work and was tired of just lounging, so I thought I'd visit one of the most iconic sights in Abu Dhabi -- the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Without spoiling too much, let's just say it lives up to its billing.

Clearly Sheikh Zayed loved him some Allah. More pictures -- including some of the nicest chandeliers I've ever seen -- can be found here.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

We're not the worst!

It's official – newspaper reporter is no longer the worst job in America. All good things, etc.

Career guidance website CareerCast has released its 26th annual rating of the best and worst jobs to have, and my chosen profession has been bumped from 200th place to 199th by lumberjack, the new worst job in America. There are parallels between the two – increasing mechanization, poor hiring prospects and shrinking pay – though the risk of being crushed by falling timber is somewhat less in a newsroom. Lumberjack is expected to see a 9 percent drop in logging positions by 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, compared to a 13 percent drop for newspaper reporters.

Some numbers for you – the 10 worst by rank, job and mid-level pay:
  1. Lumberjack, $24,370
  2. Newspaper reporter, $37,090
  3. Enlisted military personnel, $28,840
  4. Taxi driver, $22,820
  5. Broadcaster, $55,380
  6. Head cook, $42,480
  7. Flight attendant, $37,240
  8. Garbage collector, $22,970
  9. Firefighter, $45,250
  10. Corrections officer, $38,970
Can't help but wonder how many of those jobs have lines out the door of people willing to do them practically, if not literally, for free.

As for the best jobs?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Fun with numbers, World Cup edition

Decrying "lazy journalism" is normally the domain of anonymous Internet commentators, and usually I am loath to rake fellow media members over the coals, but this foofery cannot be allowed to stand. Lindsay Dunsmuir of Reuters took the results of an online poll of 1,400 American adults and vomited out this little gem -- "Two in three Americans do not plan to follow soccer's World Cup".

Oh, where to begin? Are we supposed to be shocked that most Americans don't want to spend their summer watching soccer? Did I miss some watershed moment where the majority of Americans were supposed to agree to embrace soccer? I would wager that most Americans aren't sports fans of any stripe, so the fact that most of them don't want to watch a soccer tournament with mostly foreign teams can hardly be a surprise.

Now for that supposedly shocking two-thirds figure. At last count, there were about 315 million Americans, so while 210 million of them will pass on the World Cup, that still means 105 million of them will follow the tournament! This year's Super Bowl, the most-watched television show in US history, pulled in a slightly higher 111.5 million viewers. If you took those 105 million Americans and made them their own country, they'd be the 12th-largest in the world, in between Mexico and the Philippines. The article also states "[o]nly 7 percent said they anticipated following it closely" -- in other words, 22 million Americans plan to follow the World Cup closely. Do you know the filthy, unspeakable things advertisers would do to have the attention of 22 million Americans for a solid month?

Friday, April 11, 2014

The domino theory of match-fixing

Looks like Ike might have been right after all. Let a malign force linger unchallenged in Southeast Asia and all of a sudden it starts spreading to areas once considered under control.

As detailed previously on HNWT, Singapore and Malaysia have emerged as a hotbed of illegal betting and match-fixing in the world of soccer, with the likes of Dan Tan and the Kelong Kings among the most well-known perpetrators. FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation continue to furrow their brows and make grave pronouncements about the need to stamp out illegal betting, but, unlike their good friends at the English Football Association, they appear to be in no danger of taking action that might deal with the problem.

Now, almost a year after three Lebanese referees were dropped from an AFC Cup match and later convicted of accepting sexual favors in exchange for fixing said match, Southeast Asia and the AFC Cup have been linked to match-fixing again. As many as 13 players from Vietnamese side Ninh Binh are under investigation for attempting to fix matches in the domestic V-League and the AFC Cup. According to a report, Ninh Binh players accepted 800 million Vietnamese dong ($40,000) to fix an AFC Cup match against Malaysian side Kelantan, and that is just the tip of the iceberg.
Club owner Vu Manh Truong has suspended all club activities while match-fixing investigations are underway. Ninh Binh have also voluntarily withdrawn from the ongoing V-League season, with the club languishing third from bottom in the table. The club's unusual pattern of registering the best first-half results in the league, with as many as five out of eight matches where points were dropped after leading at the break, has given rise to more questions over the credibility of the results.

The 2013 Vietnamese Cup champions made their AFC Cup debut this season and have impressed, sealing progress to the knockout stages with a game to spare.

However, Goal understands that Ninh Binh's matches in the AFC Cup are also under scrutiny following suspicious results, with the team believed to have tried to fix half-time results.
Full credit to the club management for taking such swift and decisive action to root out the problem, even if no doubt it will cause the rest of their league and AFC Cup opponents no small inconvenience in the short term. The AFC, in case you were wondering, has "expressed concern" and is monitoring the situation. Bless.

Think incidents such as these only happen in poor countries where players and officials can be bought for a song? Think again. Even Australia, a country with a booming economy, is far from immune.