Yesterday’s News

So, yesterday was one of those days for news in the paper and a few articles caught my eye (including the MSE article I mentioned in the last post). Of course, the Moran family hit was something that if it had not involved the death of a man would have been truly funny in a black kind of way. Other news was:

Pensioner risks losing home over unpaid BigPond account – this was a classic piece of typical Telstra combined with what happens corporate-wide when you outsource everything. Seems that the pensioner ran up a bill of about $1000 and hadn’t paid. Telstra stopped chasing her, added some fees, sold the bill off to a collection agency who added some more fees, got the bill up to $2000 (how does a bill in Australia double?) and then took the pensioner to Bankruptcy Court where administrative fees are now added to it all and from a $1000 start, the pensioner now owes $23,000. Well done Telstra – seems you have retained the Sol what’s-‘is-name efficiency!

Tears as senator’s daughter expelled from chamber – this has received a lot of coverage lately with opinions kind of split about whether the Senate should change its regulations to permit a child being in the chamber with a parent. I have a problem with this (a couple actually). The first is that it is a workplace and as such, there are risks involved in having a child around. The fact that it is the senate chamber does not make it any safer and it is, in my opinion, irresponsible parenting to have a child there. Secondly, if the Senate permits senator’s children in the chamber, then this sets a precedent for all other workplaces or creates another inequity in Australian society. So, for example, would we permit a child in an Army Main Battle Tank because dad is the driver? Perhaps in the No 3 smelter at the BHP steelworks in Newcastle? Why should these places be treated differently to the Senate? The third issue is one of that of fellow workers. They do not come to work to have children running around the office which may effect their work output. Unfair on colleagues, unsafe for the child and inequitable for society as a whole.

He had her jailed for adultery, now she’s headed to Australia with him – this was a classic. Bloke rings the police in Dubai when his missus disappears into a hotel with another bloke for a bit of jiggery-pokery. Police then arrest her and the other bloke, they are sentenced for naughtiness and spend 6 weeks in gaol in Dubai. She gets out of gaol and heads off to Australia (as she has been deported from Dubai) with her husband – seems that they have kissed and made up. Why is this interesting? Well, I am wondering if the Australian immigration folks actually let her in as she has recently been incarcerated and has a criminal record overseas. After all, she did 6 weeks in the slammer, the woman who pinched the bar mat from the bar in Phuket and was subsequently denied a visa to the US, she was only fined $20!

Yep, it’s good news week!

Saudi and UAE Advertising Standards

Tonight I was watching MBC 4 here and a commercial appeared for KFC. A mother and her toddler are sitting at a table. The toddler is whining and complaining whilst the mother is trying to eat some KFC. The mother then gives some KFC to the child who is then quiet.

Goodness – would an Australian, or UK, or New Zealand or even US advertising agency dare to try that content in an advertisement in those markets?

Censorship in Dubai (United Arab Emirates)

Back in November last year I wrote about censorship in Saudi Arabia. Well, today I am sitting in the very modern and very commercial city of Dubai – in the airport to be exact. I picked up a new PC in Bangkok last week – yes, a new Widget but more about that in a later post.

Whilst sitting here and enjoying a coffee and a 10 hour lay-over, I went about configuring software for Widget-Major. I had just installed the Gimp so that I can make myself look younger and prettier (OK, so I can’t be any more pretty) and had just installed Skype and was about to check the IE addon Skype Settings and such from Skype when the following message was returned to me on a page noting that it was a blocked site:

We apologize the site you are attempting to visit has been blocked due to its content being inconsistent with the religious, cultural, political and moral values of the United Arab Emirates.

This was posted by Etisalat, the only mobile phone network service provider in town
and the ISP I am using at the moment for the Internet connection. Interestingly, Skype is not banned in Saudi Arabia for religious, cultural, political or moral values but then again, in Saudi Arabia, a more strict environment, they at least have competition in the telecommunications industry.

So Etisalat, don’t lie on your web pages and try an blame someone else. Be honest and say:

We apologize the site you are attempting to visit has been blocked due to its content being inconsistent with the commercial aims of our organisation as a monopolistic provider of services within the United Arab Emirates and our fear that to allow you access to this site will result in us making less filthy lucre than we already do.

At least this way, Etisalat, you will earn some respect for honesty.

Korean Female Crew Capture Middle East

I fly a lot. Recently I have been flying a lot more on Emirates than I have in the past (also on Etihad Airways as well). I was therefore amused to read in the Chosun Ilbo of Korea an article about Korean Female flight crew on Emirates Airlines. I was doubly amused reading this because one of the Korean flight crew working for Emirates is an old friend of mine (and translator for a couple of years that I worked for the korean company).

The article was titled Korean Female Crew Capture Middle East and it appeared in early May. The article noted:

“Korean Crew? They are fantastic!” Emirates Airlines vice chairman Maurice Flanagan says. Indeed, the popularity of Korean crew is rising all over the Middle East. Among the 8,000 crew from 100 countries working for Dubai-based Emirates, 620 are Korean women, making them the biggest contingent after Australians.

Apparently the Korean Staff renew their contracts more often than other nationalities which is one of the reasons I guess they are popular with Emirates Airlines.

I must admit that every Emirates flight I have been on, there has, so far, been at least one Aussie and one Korean flight attendant.

Seoul Gets Taller

Artists Illustration of 620 metre high building - from Korail and the Korea TimesOne of my favourite cities is planning on getting taller. Seoul Metropolitan Government has reviewed a Korail (Korean National Railroad) blueprint to develop an international business zone near Yongsan Station. This will include a building up to about 620-meters high there. I wonder how it will look next to the Electronics Market and to the iPark building there that adjoins the railways station?

Details of the building are in the article 5 Skyscrapers to Change Seoul Landscape in the Korea Times.

This is quite an impressive size for Seoul – still, shorter than Taipei 101. The most amazing thing … and I am wondering how I missed it, is the building currently being constructed in Dubai, which is the 160-storey Burj Dubai, scheduled for completion next year. It will be more than 800 meters high 😯 The thing I wonder about is how come I have not managed to see it from any of my flights over the area. I mist remember to pay more attention next time.

Lunch At Dubai International Airport

I was travelling from Bangkok to Jeddah via Dubai. I had a 10-hour transit in Dubai. Killing some time at the airport I was walking around. It was then I discovered that the Safar Restaurant on the Departure Level provides free meals for Emirates Airlines transit passengers whose transit period is 4 hours or longer.

No one had mentioned this to me.

Flying Emirates and having a 10-hour transit, I therefore had lunch. Not great but not so bad either.