My New Story on World Cup Gambling in Thailand

World Cup Gambling in Thailand

I’ve got a story in today’s IHT/Thai Day about illegal gambling surrounding the upcoming World Cup.

The first two grafs:

Sunton Tansiri represents the face of illegal football gambling in Thailand. Over coffee in his dimly-lit Ramkhamhaeng studio apartment, the 33-year-old punter explains that he and all his friends plan to wager extensively on the World Cup football games. “Everyone will bet more during the World Cup,” he says, a smile enveloping his round face. “The games will be on all the channels. Every match will be on TV every day.”

Sunton and his pals are not alone: gambling on football – what some call Thailand’s new national pastime – is about to explode with the kickoff of the World Cup on Friday. A recent ABAC poll found that over 850,000 Bangkok residents would collectively be wagering some 2.14 billion baht on the tournament. A separate Assumption University opinion survey that examined the country as a whole determined that about three million Thais planned to wager on the matches, with 14 billion baht expected to change hands.

I’ve also got another piece in today’s paper about which teams are most likely to win the World Cup. Sadly, it’s not available online, but here’s how I begin:

Just four teams have been finalists in six of the last seven World Cups: Brazil, Germany, Italy, and Argentina. Will the squad that lifts the trophy in Berlin on July 9 be among these traditional heavyweights? Or will this tournament belong to the likes of England, France, the Netherlands, or Mexico?

Which Cinderella squads will make memorable runs? Could this year’s dark-horse teams hail from the Ivory Coast, Ecuador, Ukraine, or maybe even Togo? The issue of upstart outsiders, of course, may prove moot in the end. For the emerging forecast for 2006 World Cup Germany amounts to this: world champion Brazil, a scintillating footballing machine fueled by a roster jam-packed with some of the beautiful game’s most luminous stars, may simply prove unstoppable.

Understanding Afghanistan


In an interesting Newsweek story, Joe Cochrane describes being caught in Kabul’s recent mob uprising — and provides context for the country’s flare-ups in violence:

Even under the best circumstances, Afghanistan is a massive undertaking in nation building. It’s landlocked, surrounded by potentially hostile neighbors, has limited natural resources and has been ravaged by decades of war. The international community remains completely engaged and committed here—it has little choice given the questionable performance of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government. “There is a frustration at the lack of progress, there is a frustration that the government is not reaching out to all areas of the country,” Adrian Edwards, spokesman of the U.N. mission here, told me today. “We need to deliver quickly here. Reconstruction is slow and people don’t see the dividend of peace.”

Related: The US invasion of Afghanistan — Operation Enduring Freedom — was launched on October 7, 2001. Has it really been nearly five years? Time flies.

Related to Related: who’s the lucky SOB at the Pentagon who gets to sit around and dream up these monikers for the US’s various conflicts? You’ve got your War on Terror, naturally. And then there’s Operation Iraqi Freedom, of course. And you can’t forget about Operation Unflinching Rottweiler.

Got you on that last one, didn’t I?

Here’s an in-depth look at the practice of naming military operations.


Around the World in 90 Days


My buddy Matt Gross just began what is quite possibly the coolest travel writing gig imaginable: He’s traveling around the world in 90 days and blogging about his adventures for the New York Times. He’s on a budget, but luckily it’s not too restrictive. Here’s his first post, from Lisbon.

A few snips:

Every week, as I make my way eastward, I will be sharing travel tips, discussing the limits of ultra-discount airlines, exploring the concept of Slow Travel and, if I’m lucky, discovering a microscopic town or burgeoning metropolis with untapped vacation potential. I’ll seek stylish shoes in Barcelona and fine wines in Georgia, and delve into the logistics of yurt camping in Mongolia.


Some guidelines first. Circling the globe presents an seemingly infinite number of travel options, and narrowing them down requires one to be patient, open-minded and occasionally arbitrary. I am beginning in the Mediterranean because it’s summer and I want to go to the beach. Odessa is also on my list, precisely because I had heard little about it except that it’s a hot party zone. And while I went to Shanghai last year, that city struck me as so fast-moving that I couldn’t wait to see how it’s changed in the intervening months.

Matt’s itinerary has him hitting “Lisbon, Istanbul, Tashkent, Beijing, Shanghai, Ulaan Baatar and San Francisco.”


Be sure to share your suggestions and travel tips by posting a comment.

“A Blogger is Just a Writer with a Cooler Name”

Great column from Simon Dumenco in AdAge:

…it occurred to me that there is no such thing as blogging. There is no such thing as a blogger. Blogging is just writing — writing using a particularly efficient type of publishing technology. Even though I tend to first use Microsoft Word on the way to being published, I am not, say, a Worder or Wordder.

It’s just software, people! The underlying creative/media function remains exactly the same.

Dumenco says there’s a false dichotomy between traditional journalism and blogging — that the two aren’t necessarily different:

A lot of the tendency to draw lines internally, I think, has to do with the fact that most old-school publishing organizations with online components invested heavily in the ’90s in then-state-of-the-art, but now-cumbersome online publishing systems, which are functionally very different from more nimble blogging software solutions. But over the next few years those legacy systems will be phased out and everyone publishing online will be using some form of what’s now commonly thought of as blogging software.

Ultimately, it comes down to this: In the very near future, there are only going to be two types of media people: those who can reliably work and publish (or broadcast) incredibly fast, and those … who can’t.

Best Newspaper Corrections of 2005

This list of the best newspaper corrections of 2K5 contains some true, true gems.

Like this one, which features the most evocative — if wrong — lede in the history of journalism. Click on the image to read:

Yeah, Um, About those Beef Panties...

And this one’s pretty good, too:

Just Because She Hangs Out with Charlie Sheen...

(Via The Taipei Kid.)

Wikipedia: Now Running a Tighter Ship


Online encyclopaedia Wikipedia has tightened its submission rules following a complaint.

Prominent journalist John Seigenthaler described as “false and malicious” an entry on Wikipedia implicating him in the Kennedy assassinations.

When he phoned Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia’s founder, he was told there was no way of finding out who wrote the entry.

Wikipedia has since removed the entry and now requires users to register before they can create articles.

Excerpt from the Lost Capote Novel

When he was all of nineteen years old, Truman Capote wrote a novel that is only now being published; he said he’d destroyed it. The current New Yorker has an excerpt from the book illustrating that Capote’s genius for stylish prose manifested itself at an early age indeed:

Broadway is a street; it is also a neighborhood, an atmosphere. From the time she was thirteen, and during all those winters at Miss Risdale’s classes, Grady had made, even if it meant skipping school, as it often did, secret and weekly expeditions into this atmosphere, the attraction at first being band shows at the Paramount, the Strand, curious movies that never played the theaters east of Fifth or in Stamford and Greenwich. Since she had turned seventeen, however, she had liked only to walk around or stand on street corners with crowds moving about her. She would stay all afternoon and sometimes until it was dark. But it was never dark there: the lights that had been running all day grew yellow at dusk, white at night, and the faces, those dream-trapped faces, revealed the most to her then. Anonymity was part of the pleasure, but while she was no longer Grady McNeil, she did not know who it was that replaced her, and the tallest fires of her excitement burned with a fuel she could not name.

(Emphasis mine.)

“Capote,” a new biopic I mentioned earlier, opens next weekend.

(Via Maud Newton.)

Capote, Truman+Capote

Peter Hessler’s Forthcoming Book

Peter Hessler, who wrote the exceptional “River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze,” has got a new book coming out in April. It’ll be called “Oracle Bones : A Journey Between China’s Past and Present.” Those’re the only details I’ve got. I may just have to pre-order this one.

(Hessler’s author bio in last week’s New Yorker mentioned his new book; I haven’t read his article in that issue yet, but it looks great — it’s about Chinese auto makers and Chinese car culture.)

Books Life

New Truman Capote Biopic

A new Truman Capote biopic is opening on September 30th. The film tells the story of Capote investigating and writing the classic “non-fiction novel” In Cold Blood. The movie’s called “Capote,” and the trailer is promising. Philip Seymour Hoffman will play TC, and the movie also features the excellent Catherine Keener and Chris Cooper.

Capote is one of my favorite writers. He wrote stunning prose and he lived an out-sized life, once allegedly proclaiming “I am three things: An alcoholic, a homosexual, and a genius.”

His first novel, Other Voices Other Rooms, which he published at age 24, contains passages so eloquent that, if you have a single sensitive bone in your body, may well make you weep.

Such as:

The brain may take advice, but not the heart, and love having no geography, knows no boundaries: weight and sink it deep, no matter, it will rise and find the surface: and why not? any love is natural and beautiful that lies within a person’s nature; only hyprocrites would hold a man responsible for what he loves, emotional illiterates and those of righteous envy, who, in their agitated concern, mistake so frequently the arrow pointing to heaven for the one that leads to hell.


Citizen Journalism at its Best

Woman snaps photo of NYC subway pervert and posts it on flickr.

Will this loser meet the same fate as the Korean dog poop girl? One can only hope.

(Via Dana.)

NYC, NYC+subway, dog+poop+girl, subway