Saturday, January 29, 2011
Friday, January 28, 2011
From today’s Financial Times…
The rain beats down on a small Irish town. The streets are deserted. Times are tough. Everyone is in debt and living on credit. A rich German arrives at the local hotel, asks to view its rooms, and puts on the desk a €100 note. The owner gives him a bunch of keys and he goes off for an inspection.
As soon as he has gone upstairs, the hotelier grabs the note and runs next door to pay his debt to the butcher. The butcher hurries down the street to pay what he owes to his feed merchant. The merchant heads for the pub and uses the note to pay his bar bill. The publican slips the note to the local hooker who’s been offering her services on credit. She rushes to the hotel to pay what she owes for room hire. As she puts the €100 note on the counter, the German appears, says the rooms are unsuitable, picks up his €100 note and leaves town.
No one did any work. No one earned anything. Everyone is out of debt. Everyone is feeling better. And that is how a bail-out works.
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Tuesday, January 25, 2011
TO MANY males it sounds the perfect existence. "The men here have no responsibilities," says Kaith Pariat, a member of the Khasi tribe, an ancient community of about a million people who live in the hills of northeast India.
"All we have to do is to eat, drink, play the guitar and produce children." For all their permitted fecklessness, however, the Khasi men are far from happy. Fed up with being branded the weaker sex and discriminated against, under centuries-old traditions, they have started what may be the world's only "men's lib" movement.
The tribe is a rare example of a matrilineal community. It is the youngest daughter who inherits property and children take their mothers' surnames. If a family does not have a daughter, it must adopt one to become its heir.
Men are expected to sleep in the house of the mother-in-law and to keep quiet. They are excluded from clan meetings, which are presided over by a network of matriarchs. This strict social hierarchy is supported by the Indian Constitution, which recognises the traditions of official ethnic minorities and gives them legal status.
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Friday, January 21, 2011
Indian police say the "dangerous rooster" is thought to have killed Singrai Soren after being forced back into the ring soon after his last fight.
The animal had emerged victorious, but witnesses said the victim died after the feathered fiend cut his throat with razor blades attached to its legs as he tried to immediately force it into another bout.
Villagers were warned not to approach the animal cops described as "an unknown rooster with black and red feathers".
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Yesterday was the 92nd anniversary of one of the strangest tragedies ever to take place on American soil. It’s the stuff of Weekly World News or The Onion. Yet it was a very real, deadly, (and delicious) disaster. To this day on hot summer days in an old Boston neighborhood, residents swear that they can smell a vague odor of molasses. It’s a sweet-smelling reminder of a day when some 150 people were injured; 21 people and several horses were killed by a sudden flood of molasses.
It was an an unusually warm day on January 15, 1919 — 40˚ F. Back then, molasses was the standard sweetener in the United States; Molasses can also be fermented to produce rum and ethyl alcohol, the active ingredient in other alcoholic beverages and a key component in the manufacturing of munitions at the time.
Purity Distilling Company was doing big business. A large quantity of stored molasses was awaiting transfer to the Purity plant. The stored molasses was near Keany Square, at 529 Commercial Street, in a huge molasses tank 50 ft (15 m) tall, 90 ft (27 m) in diameter and containing as much as 2,300,000 US gal (8,700,000 L).
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Friday, January 14, 2011
Singaporeans live in crowded apartment blocks, kopitiams have become the country’s open-air living rooms. While the young may prefer to spend their free time at the mall, Singapore’s aunties and uncles (an endearing term for your elders) flock to their nearest kopitiam to read the newspaper, gossip over tea, and watch Chinese dramas on the communal television.
Why should you visit a kopitiam? Other than being a shot of local culture, kopitiams are great value with a cup costing as little as S$0.80. When it’s your turn to order you can forget what you’ve learned at Starbucks: kopitiams have a lingo all their own.
Ask for a kopi (kaw-pee) and you’ll get a rich, thick brew strained through something that resembles a sock. By default, kopitiam-style coffee is served with lots of condensed milk and sugar. If you like it black order a kopi-o or, if you want them to hold the sugar, ask for a kopi kosong. If the weather is too steamy for a hot drink, you can get a kopi peng (on ice). The same terms apply for teh (tea). Fancy a hot black tea without sugar or milk? That’s a teh-o kosong.
Think you’ve got the hang of it? Mix and match the terms to customise your drink.
Iced tea with milk but no sugar = teh peng kosong
Hot tea with sugar but no milk = teh-o
Iced coffee with sugar but no milk = kopi-o peng
Hot coffee without milk or sugar = kopi-o kosong
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Sunday, January 09, 2011
Saturday, January 08, 2011
Thursday, January 06, 2011
Wednesday, January 05, 2011
STAFF numbers in the South Australian Premier's Department are almost double those of other, larger states. This is increasing pressure on Mike Rann as tough budget cuts begin to have an impact on the community.Mr Rann yesterday had to call an Adelaide radio station to defend his staff and wages bill amid growing public anger.
Staff numbers in Mr Rann's Department of Premier and Cabinet have increased from 716 in 2005 to 1244 last year, according to figures provided by his office yesterday. In Victoria, with a population four times greater than South Australia, Premier's Department staff numbers dropped from 465 full-time equivalent positions in 2005 to 343 last year.
The Queensland Premier's Department employed 684 bureaucrats last year, up from 517 in 2005.
The Liberal opposition yesterday claimed Mr Rann had been forced to reveal his department had wasted $246,000 in twice remodelling the office of his chief executive. "After three years, two remodelling attempts, $246,000 wasted, we are back to where we were three years ago," opposition finance spokesman Rob Lucas said.
Mr Rann yesterday called radio station FIVEaa to defend his department's staffing levels: "There was a department called the Department for Administrative and Information Services . . . to save money, we put that under the Premier's Department."
Emperor with no clothes. Has he sacked the footmen, the spin masters, the arse wipers and the food tasters yet?
Tuesday, January 04, 2011
Looking up the 18th fairway at St Andrews, where I went to High School. So nostalgia.
I had access to a tower behind the 17th green from which I had a great view up the 18th to the clubhouse. It’s a unique piece of golfing territory, with the enormous fairway and a road running past the 17th green. I wanted to emphasise this so I decided to use a tilt and shift lens. This piece of equipment enables me to create a tiny plane of focus which can be used to give a miniaturisation effect. It’s something I like to use only occasionally as I feel tricks like these can get boring if overused
Monday, January 03, 2011
For decades, this rope had taken climbers within a few feet of what became known as Green Boots cave. A small limestone overhang located at 8500 m, it was already infamous among climbers for the same reason it earned its nickname. For the past ten years, the body of a climber who died in 1996 has been a grim landmark for every climber of the Northeast route, lying curled up in the fetal position, wearing fluorescent green mountaineering boots.