What do Liu Wen, Aki Hoshino, Eunice Olsen, Aishwarya Rai, Shin Min Ah, Nadine Ann Thomas, Sonia Sui, Jessica Cambensy, Dominique Agisca Diyose, Aung San Suu Kyi and Cherman Ploy Boonyasak have in common?

They are all listed in Esquire magazine’s “atlas” of sexiest women alive 2010.

US actress Minka Kelly is at the top of the heap as the Sexiest Woman Alive, and was made Esquire’s cover girl for its November 2010 issue.

Minka Kelly on the cover of Esquire Magazine November 2010

A total of 195 women were singled out by editors of Esquire’s 17 international editions. They were picked for representing “something different, something beautiful, something that reveals a little bit more about who we are.”

Read the rest of this entry…

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The decision on the hosting of the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup tournaments will be revealed in Zurich in less than an hour from now.

America’s final pitch to host to the 2022 World Cup was left to a former president and an Oscar-winning actor, who talked of diversity and outlined an aggressive economic plan in a 30-minute presentation with hopes of sweeping past Australia, Japan, Qatar and South Korea in today’s vote.

While Clinton’s speech veered into highlights of his own foundation’s achievements, Freeman invoked the name of Nelson Mandela, the former South African president who helped bring the 2010 World Cup to that nation. Freeman portrayed Mandela in the movie “Invictus,” based on the former political prisoner’s role in the 1995 Rugby World Cup and using it to unite a country separated by apartheid.

“We are now the most diverse nation on earth,” Freeman said. “And our patchwork heritage is our greatest strength.”

Freeman later introduced the video of Obama, who delivered a similar message of inclusion.

“Ours has always been a nation of great diversity and great promise,” Obama said. “Anything is possible.”

The World Cup bid team noted that no infrastructure needs to be built to host the tournament in the U.S. The Americans also highlighted the growth of soccer in the country since it hosted the World Cup for the first time in 1994.

The single item that could sway voters toward the American bid is its moneymaking potential. Among the 18 proposed game sites are the new, suite-filled stadiums of the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants and Jets.

The vote for the 2018 World Cup site will also be announced in less than an hour from now, with England, Russia, Spain-Portugal and Belgium-Netherlands competing for the honor.

The bid process has been by far the most controversial that FIFA has ever overseen. Its decision to decide the fate of both the 2018 and 2022 bids at the same time has been widely criticized for encouraging vote collusion between bids — an accusation FIFA deny.

But it was the revelations by the British newspaper the Sunday Times that has marred the process. Undercover journalists secretly filmed two members of FIFA’s then 24-strong executive committee allegedly offering to sell their votes. The accusations of corruption resulted in the suspension of two voters, leaving 22.

The corruption allegations didn’t stop England from pushing ahead in its bid, with David Beckham, Prince Williams and British Prime Minister David Cameron all schmoozing with FIFA voters in Zurich.

The other 2022 presenters did their best to highlight their nations’ strongest qualities:

Australia used supermodel Elle Macpherson and an animated kangaroo to back up its catchphrase of being the “world’s greatest playground.”

Australia is pinning their hopes on the body of Elle Macpherson.

Qatar, which may have had the slickest show, relied mainly on proving it can keep the country cool during the blazing hot summer months.

South Korea played the political angle, saying a World Cup on its soil could foster peace relations on the divided peninsula.

“We saw that football has the power to bring people together, to end enmity and to spur reconciliation,” South Korean Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik said. “It gave us a vision that the World Cup in 2022 can be a celebration of peace for Korea and the world.”

Japan appears to have very little support for the bid within FIFA.

The Federation Internationale de Football Association, or FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, will announce the hosts of the 2018 and 2022 competitions in less than an hour from now. Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, former U.S. President Bill Clinton and the prime ministers of South Korea, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands and Belgium have flown to Zurich to push their countries bids. Hosting the tournament is worth about $5 billion, according to American estimates.

The results will be known any time now. Stay tuned!

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Football fans in the Spanish city of Madrid are a lucky lot. Last summer, Real Madrid dished out more than $200 million to sign Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka

Now the city’s Madrid Zoo Aquarium has launched an audacious bid for Paul — the psychic octopus who correctly predicted Spain’s triumph at the FIFA World Cup 2010. The aquarium had offered to beat any offer already on the table in its quest to clinch Paul’s transfer from Germany’s Oberhausen Sea Life . The zoo’s spokesman said they were also ready to offer other animals in exchange for the octopus and said Paul would be accorded the “best care” befitting of a national hero.

Madrid Zoo Aquarium

Oberhausen Sea Life staff  announced Paul’s retirement from the predictions game earlier this week but said they were considering a host of offers from around the globe. Paul is on course to be the world’s first multi-millionaire octopus should the Oberhausen Sea Life choose to cash in on his global fame.

Paul’s 100 percent record is incredible but the minute he gets it wrong his credibility all disappears. Paul has thus ended his oracle days at exactly the right time.

Considering he is more consistent than all the top football stars like Cristiano Ronaldo, the winning bid should be quite a hefty sum. But taking into consideration that Paul may be around for only another six months to 2 years, Spain needs to expedite the transfer so that they can rake in millions from tourists and from advertisements and endorsements.

There is no limit to the ways in which Paul could be marketed. The gaming industry would be the logical use for Paul. Paul can be licensed for children’s toys, video games or cartoon shows. He can be an icon for a brand. A good use for him would be in adverts featuring two competing brands, such as Coke versus Pepsi or DHL versus FedEX. Which does Paul prefer?

I personally feel that it is most effective to use Paul in light-hearted commercials. Imagine Paul sitting on a tin of Coke in his aquarium and saying “This is the real Coke…nothing can beat it!”. Or picture Paul delivering a heavy FedEX package and saying “FedEX is the best….trust me!”.

And maybe launch a new tv reality show “Who Wants To Be An Octopus”.

Who Wants To Be An Octopus?

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It appears that some German fans are lacking a sense of humour. The keepers at the Oberhausen, Germany aquarium where Paul resides have received death threats and octopus recipes after Germany was knocked out by Spain on Wednesday. And Germans aren’t the only ones incensed at Paul. Angry Argentinian fans blamed him for Argentina’s embarrassing 0-4 defeat by Germany and threatened to eat him to avenge his prediction. Paul’s handlers are stoically undeterred by the threats.

Paul’s keeper in Oberhausen, Germany said “there are always people who want to eat our octopus but he is not shy and we are here to protect him as well. He will survive.”

Paul hatched from an egg in an aquarium at Sea Life Weymouth in Weymouth, England but is now residing in an aquarium at the Sea Life Oberhausen in Oberhausen, Germany. His name Paul is based on the title of a poem by the German writer Boy Lomsen: Der Tintenfisch Paul Oktopus.

This is where Paul resides.

According to statements from Sea Life’s entertainment director, Daniel Fey, Paul showed his intelligence early on: “There was something about the way he looked at our visitors when they came close to the tank. It was so unusual, so we tried to find out what his special talents were.”

During the UEFA Euro 2008, Paul made his debut in predicting soccer match results. He was correct in 70% of the predictions that he made but he was wrong in his prediction of the winner of the final match which saw Germany pitted against Spain. Paul predicted a win for Germany but Spain emerged from the match as champion.

After that successful run of picks in Euro 2008, Paul is on fire again but with an even better track record this time, correctly predicting the outcomes of all the six matches that Germany had so far played in this World Cup 2010. Fans of Spain and the Netherlands will no doubt be anxious to see what Paul’s prediction will be for the final. Presuming, that is, his handlers aren’t too bummed out by their team’s defeat to make him pick between two non-German nations. So the question on every one’s mind now is this: Will Paul be predicting the outcome of the Spain-Netherlands final?

If you have placed your faith in Paul and have bet on all the 6 matches that he had made predictions for, you would have been laughing all the way to the bank now. And if Paul himself has bet on his own predictions, this is how he would look like now.

Octopus Paul With His Winnings

With the fame that Paul has attained in this World Cup, I would not be surprised if this year’s top selling Christmas toy is an Octopus  blowing a South Africa 2010 vuvuzela! Hey, China toy makers, take note, there is a fortune to be made here!

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It is really amazing…..Octopus Paul is right again! Spain beat Germany 1-0 through a header by Carles Puyol in the 73rd minute. The whole of Spain is celebrating now.  Paul has been 100% correct in his predictions in this World Cup and that is really incredible!!

Carles Puyol scores!

Carles Puyol scores!

The above photo is taken from ESPN Soccernet. By the way, I realised now that the photo showing Paul predicting Spain to be the winner in my last post is a fake and I apologise for that.

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The waiting is over…..Spain is predicted to “whacka whacka” Germany. Octopus Paul at Oberhausen Sea Life Aquarium in Germany has picked Spain to win the Germany-Spain semi-final match. With a 100% correct prediction track record so far in this World Cup, I bet millions of people will place their bets on Spain winning the Germany-Spain match. What are you waiting for? Call your bookie now!

Paul picks Spain!

I don’t know whether the Germans will feel betrayed….but the Spaniards will feel more confident now. David Villa may get such a big morale boost that he scores a couple of goals.  And let’s hope that Paul will not end up in a German cooking pot!

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The 2010 FIFA World Cup is all set to kick off tomorrow in South Africa. This will be the 19th FIFA World Cup and this is the first time that the tournament will be hosted by an African nation, after South Africa defeated Morocco and Egypt in an all-African bidding process. The tournament is scheduled to take place between June 11 and July 11.

2010 FIFA World Cup

This is the first World Cup that does not include any teams that are qualifying for the first time, although two of the qualifiers (Slovakia and Serbia) have previously appeared only as parts of former competing nations. Slovakia was previously part of Czechoslovakia, and Serbia has competed as part of Yugoslavia and Serbia & Montenegro. In both cases FIFA considers these teams to have retained the earlier nations’ records.

The 32 qualifiers are South Africa, Brazil, Spain, Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Argentina, England, Australia, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Honduras, Mexico, United States, New Zealand, Algeria, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Denmark, France, Greece, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland.

The tournament will be held at the following 10 venues in South Africa.

Cape Town Stadium, Capetown

Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg

Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein

Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Pretoria

Mbombela Stadium, Nelsprint

Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban

Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth

Peter Mokaba Stadium, Polokwane

Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg

Soccer City, Johannesburg

Soccer City, Johannesburg

Zakumi, an anthropomorphized leopard with green hair, is the official mascot of the tournament. “Za” is the international abbreviation for South Africa and “kumi” is an African word that means “ten”. So Zakumi stands for South Africa 2010.

Zakumi...official mascot of the 2010 FIFA World Cup

The official song for 2010 FIFA World Cup is “Waka Waka (This Time For Africa)”, in English, and “Waka Waka (Esto es Africa)” in Spanish. Waka means do it. It will be performed by Shakira and South African group Freshlyground at the closing ceremony before the World Cup final on Juy 11 in Johannesburg Soccer City Stadium.

Shakira

Who will win the coveted World Cup? Being a fan of English Premier League, I would be ecstatic if England wins it. But I seriously doubt England can pull it off as England always seems to falter at World Cup tournaments. I am putting my money on Brazil and Spain.

Let the world cup begin……Waka Waka!

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