Reading this story, as much as I'd like to say that the mistreatment detailed therein took me by surprise, the truth is rather different: the Arab nations have long been notorious for the horrible treatment dished out to foreign workers from poorer countries, even when they happen to be fellow Muslims and not just "kufr" (infidels). In fact, this abuse of servants is so routine that it even occurs with wealthy Arabs living in Western countries; so ingrained is the "servant as slave" mentality that legal considerations seem to play no role in their thinking.
If you've ever wondered how it is that Sir Ridley Scott has managed so consistently to make awe-inspiring movies - Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator, Thelma & Louise, Black Hawk Down, American Gangster, etc. - wonder no more: the man is quite simply brilliant, as this interview with Wired magazine reveals. Not only does Scott display a wide-ranging knowledge and understanding of both the history of (and the contemporary developments in) architecture and the various arts, but his in-depth explanations of the rationale behind some of his directorial decisions serves to convince you that virtually nothing is left to chance with a Ridley Scott film: if something in a movie of his happens to strike one as particularly clever or subtle, it's nearly certainly the case that this is because Ridley Scott wanted it so, not merely because a happy accident occurred. Think I'm exaggerating? Just read the article in full and see for yourself.
If Google's "auto suggest" feature is any indication, even the folks at Mountain View have a "respectful"* [sic] view of the Religion of Peace. Think I'm kidding? Take a look at this picture and see for yourself. Better yet, why not go ahead and try typing "X is" for any number of religions "X" and see which ones come up curiously empty? Supposedly the people in charge of Google Suggest have claimed that this is just a "bug", but it is rather strange that this particular "bug" should be restricted to one religion whose adherents turn up frequently in the news for all the wrong reasons ...
An Australian medical study, carried out on 6,400 women over the course of 10 years, has managed to establish what many men already long believed: that there's something about getting married and having children which stimulates women to pack on the pounds, even when compared to single women of the same age group. The article manages to throw in some quotes from some nutritionist called "Jennifer Sygo", who offers two alternatives: either married women care less than single ones do because they've already managed to snare a sucker partner, or they're fatter because they have less time for "exercise and healthy eating", but it doesn't take a genius to see which of the two possibilities is far more likely, does it?
The New York Times is reporting that James Cameron's "Avatar" is setting records not only in the box office, but on the torrent sites as well. Having seen the movie in the cinema in 3D, I have to say that downloading this particular movie has to count as the daftest act of film piracy ever. Without a Blu-Ray or DVD release anywhere on the horizon as yet, the only way any torrent copies of "Avatar" can have been obtained will have been through individuals taking their shaky little handycams into a movie theatre and pointing them at the screens, the resulting low visual quality of which totally ruins the very thing that is most compelling about the film, namely the stunning and richly detailed visual world James Cameron has managed to conjure up as "Pandora".
To mark the start of the New Year, I decided to attend the annual parade which is held in the heart of London's Mayfair district, and the pictures I obtained from said attendance are my reward for braving sub-zero temperatures for 3 hours straight.
If you like American and Japanese high-school cheerleaders, I have a feeling more than a few of the photos in the complete set will be your thing ...