Saturday, 28 November 2009
Have fun, enjoy the weekend and see you next week from somewhere. :o)
An advertised position, in the School of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Leeds, is for: “Research Officer - The rise and regulation of lap dancing and the place of sexual labour and consumption in the night time economy”.
The advertisement further stipulates that “prior experience of conducting research in the female sex industry” is essential.
The successful applicant would work with the school's team on a research project to examine the “rise, tolerance and integration of sexual consumption and sexual labour displayed through the erotic dance industry”, and the commercialisation of female sexuality and the female body.
It hopes to determine where dancers are recruited from and what their working conditions are like, as well as examining how erotic dancing has become a “mainstream” entertainment, available on the high street of most British cities.
No doubt most male Neanderthals will be describing this as the best job in the world. Personally, I've never understood the fascination of a (semi) nude body gyrating inches away from me as if going into an epileptic fit nor seen how it is in any way "erotic". Still, each to their own. eh?
Parents first have to assess the toy against six criteria: its usefulness when playing alone (Pi); playing with others (Po); whether it fosters creativity (Cr); its value promoting social interaction (S); its general utility (U) and finally whether it can be handed down to siblings (H). They must then give the toy a score out of five for each and add them up.
In a separate calculation, they must estimate the amount of time in hours a child will play with the toy regularly (T) and multiply it by how many months it is likely to remain of interest (L). The two figures must then be divided by the square root of the cost (C) and added to the total score from the criteria section. It should look like this:
T x L + Pi + Po + Cr + S + U + H / square root of C
He helpfully points out that "result is also likely be different for different children". How does this guy earn a salary? Who pays this charlatan for his snake oil? One born every minute.
The drink is so strong that it should be served in small measures usually reserved for spirits and its maker, BrewDog brewers of Fraserburgh described the 32% proof tipple as its "most audacious and ambitious project to date".
It's sure to be a hit in the Student Union bars and pubs, and with a name like that, who can blame them. However, I've sampled mega beers before and they truly can be disgusting. Not for the faint hearted, just the connoisseur or the show offs.
Only 500 bottles of its latest beer have been produced, with half going on sale for £30 each and remainder offered for £250 with a share in the company also on offer.
A warning on the label advises drinkers to take it in small servings: "and with an air of aristocratic nonchalance.
"In exactly the same manner that you would enjoy a fine whisky, a Frank Zappa album or a visit from a friendly yet anxious ghost."
Good luck to them.
Following objections to their planning permission from the locals (which was granted anyway), the family who owned the property have called the new development Pogue Muhone Court. A linguist expert said:
''Pogue Muhone is a phonetic rendering of the Irish Gaelic phrase Pog mo thoin, which breaks down as Pog- imperative form of the Irish verb 'to kiss'. Mo, a possessive pronoun in the first person singular, and thoin is a mutated form of the noun 'toin' meaning 'arse'.''
Kiss my arse- revenge is sweet indeed. :o)
Irish folk band The Pogues were founded in 1982 as Pogue Mahone, being the Anglicisation of the Gaelic pog mo thoin, meaning ''kiss my arse''.
The second most hair-raising intersection area, according to the survey of 3 225 drivers, was the M8 and its junctions through central Glasgow while Marble Arch in central London was third. Almost one in 10 drivers say they avoid ''scary'' junctions altogether and as a result drive an average of 238 miles extra a year on detours.
Large roundabouts were considered to present the most confusing aspect of urban driving, followed by one-way systems, speed humps, cameras and box junctions.Britain's ''scariest'' junctions:
1. Gravelly Hill (Spaghetti Junction), Birmingham
2. M8 junctions through central Glasgow
3. Marble Arch, London
4. Magic Roundabout, Swindon, Wiltshire
5. Hanger Lane Gyratory, west London
6. M5/M6 intersection, Birmingham
7. Piccadilly Circus, London
8. Five Ways junction, Birmingham
9. Magic Roundabout, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire
10. Kingston Bridge, Glasgow
Sorry, but you ain't seen nothing yet. Try Ho Chi Minh City at Rush Hour with 6 000 000 motorbikes on the road. That's fun.
Bob Dylan: “A voice like sand and glue” in Bowie’s memorable phrase. Contrary to what many of his critics would assert, Dylan actually sings in tune but his harsh, barbed-wire timbre & attacking delivery has been inspiration for every tone deaf poet with a guitar. But with songs like these, who cares whether he can really sing or not?
Lou Reed: His half talking, half singing drawl with the Velvet Underground created a new rock template
Tom Waits: Started out gruff and soulful but deliberately ravaged his vocal chords with whiskey & cigarettes to sound older & more lived in. In the history of vocals, I am not sure anyone has ever done more with less.
Johnny Cash: Even as a youngster, his voice was shaky & low, but he sang in time and in tune and like he had lived every word.
John Lydon: His ranting style, high and tuneless, led the attack of the Sex Pistols then took us on dub metal journeys with PIL
Ian Dury: Unrepentantly cockney speak-singing, frequently completely flat but utterly alive in the playful lyrics.
Leonard Cohen: A low, shaky monotone that has, somehow, grown in authority even as it reduces in range
Nick Cave: A stiff baritone beset by tuning problems, Cave invests his apocalyptic blues with spine chilling conviction
Siouxsie Sioux: A lone female entrant on our chart of errant singing stars, Siouxsie’s limited range and gravelly tone only added to her lustre as the grand dame of punk & goth
Jarvis Cocker: OK when he keeps it to a whisper but as soon as he sings out he turns into some tuneless geek in a karaoke bar. Which perfectly suits his vignettes of ordinary life.No way do Lydon and Sioux warrant even a mention in this list, they were not great by any stretch of the imagination- just lucky to be in the right place at the right time.
More than 5 000 MusicRadar users took part in a poll to determine the best ever guitar riff. TTel brings you the top 20:
The top 20:
1. The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
2. Guns N' Roses - Sweet Child O' Mine
3. Led Zeppelin - Whole Lotta Love
4. Deep Purple - Smoke On The Water
5. Derek and the Dominos - Layla
6. AC/DC - Back In Black
7. Metallica - Enter Sandman
8. The Beatles - Day Tripper
9. Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit
10. The Rolling Stones - (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction
11. Black Sabbath - Paranoid
12. Muse - Plug In Baby
13. Eddie Van Halen - Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love
14. The Kinks - You Really Got Me
15. The White Stripes - Seven Nation Army
16. AC/DC - Highway to Hell
17. Led Zeppelin - Heartbreaker
18. Black Sabbath - Iron Man
19. Led Zeppelin - Black Dog
20. Michael Jackson - Beat It
Funny how it's all the classics that dominate. Only #12 & #15 aren't found in our old record collection. Yes, even we had a Michael Jackson album in our pile of vinyl; it was left behind after a party and no one came forward to claim it. It was never played, mind.
What is sovereign debt?
It is a type of borrowing carried out by a national government which is guaranteed by that government. It raises money from investors prepared to buy its bonds (called “gilts” in the UK) and guarantees to repay at some point. They will usually pay interest as well.
Why is it important?
Because it is one of the two main ways in which governments can raise money. The other is by putting up taxes. A third, less easily exploited, avenue is privatising or selling state-owned assets.
How easy is it for governments to issue debt?
It depends on their credit rating. The UK, for example, enjoys a AAA credit rating — which reassures investors that they will get their money back.
Is it worth buying?
It used to be regarded as “risk-less”.
Used to be? Do investors in sovereign debt not always get repaid, then?
In the 1980s many Latin American countries defaulted as they, and Russia and Turkey, did in the 1990s.
And what happens then?
First, the country sees its credit rating trashed, making it harder — or more expensive — to borrow. After the Latin American blowout the US Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady, oversaw the creation of instruments with which the banks could trade this debt. This helped put a value on the debt and got it off balance sheets.
Why are people now worried about sovereign debt?
Partly because lots of governments — particularly the US, the UK and Japan — have been issuing record sums of debt recently. There is a danger that there will be so much of it during the next few years that investors will not want to buy. Some investors are also concerned that some countries, in particular the US, will be tempted to go soft on inflation as a way of buying back debt more cheaply. Investors are also worried that many of the big debt-issuers are not saying how or when they plan to reduce their budget deficits — the UK is a classic example in this regard.
Yes. Following the credit crisis, commercial banks have been ordered by regulators to hold a greater proportion of “less risky” assets on their balance sheets, such as good-quality sovereign debt.
So all the banks are stuffed full of this debt then?
Afraid so. And, because all of the banks have been ordered to load up on this stuff, they have bought it at often uncompetitive rates. Pension funds have lots of it, too.
Can investors protect themselves against governments defaulting on their sovereign debt?
Yes, by buying a product called a credit default swap (CDS). The seller of the contract makes a payment to the buyer if there is a debt default or, in some cases, even if the debt-issuer has seen their credit downgraded.
So these CDS contracts give you a good idea of how nervous markets are about types of soveriegn debt?
They do indeed. The cost of insuring against a Dubai default rocketed yesterday — the market now thinks such an event is more likely to happen in Dubai than even Iceland.
Thanks, you’ve really cheered me up
Don’t mention it.
Wifey had a few options bookmarked but unfortunately... that was on the Vaio and so not on this one. It's back to the drawing board but I'm sure it won't take too long- there isn't much choice or much to do either, so a couple of nights should be more than enough.
I had stir fried beef with ginger, wifey had squid, the soups were spicy and hot and for pudding we had local fruit in syrup (average). With a good OJ that was continually replenished, a bargain all round and we'll be back to try the other options next week.
Plus all the food was cooked freshly and arrived steaming to the table. Cool, eh? Hot food, whatever next?
No idea of how good (or famous?) the band were, but they had a couple of beers before they left to play their gig tonight somewhere up the road. We'd go and watch but we have a stupid o'clock start tomorrow for our trip to Brunei- perhaps when we get back, if they're still there?
Shabbey: £185.42 + £2.71 "handling fee" = total £188.13
A difference of £5.87
Not only do the Shabbey offer appalling customer services but they charge you more for it too.
Well, while we must have an emergency alternative and we can't open up another account in the UK while we are still travelling, we're going to have to stick with them for the moment. However, we have just transferred any extra cash we used to have with them into the Nationwide (who continue to be quite excellent) and we are just going to keep the account open to deal with our direct debits and other irritations.
They will not be earning much out of us.
Can you believe that the guy I spoke to didn't know his manager's name and wouldn't put me through to him? Apparently his manager refused to talk to me because I didn't give my name (which I had) or my account details.
I had spent fifteen minutes doing just so with another member of staff and was not going to waste further time in repeating myself and this arrogant, snooty tosser hides behind his unhelpful staff not wanting to talk to one of his customers?
Another complaint has just been sent in and my other problem has now been sent to the Financial Ombudsman Services. Let's see if they care about the man in the street?
Friday, 27 November 2009
Court rules banks can bugger you provided they warn you first
Millions of bank customers have been told by a Supreme Court judgement that banks can take them roughly from behind, just as long as the banks tell them it is coming in their small print.
The court has overturned earlier court rulings that allowed the Office of Fair Trading to investigate the fairness of them taking everything you own simply because you borrowed a tenner without getting written consent in advance.
A bankers union representative told us, “This is obviously a victory for common sense. Well, common sense and billion pound commercial enterprises.”
Banks were keen to stress that they had done nothing wrong in applying extortionate punitive fees to people who unexpectedly went overdrawn.
“Look, if there was a sign on dark alley that said you were very likely to get raped if you used it, then you can’t blame the rapist when you get attacked and repeatedly violated.”
“He made it very clear what was going to happen, and it doesn’t matter if your other routes home were all on fire - he gave you fair notice, and therefore did nothing wrong.”
“So we’re a bit like that rapist, and you’re a bit like the victim who hasn’t had the foresight to plan a better route home.”
The courts have issued a statement claiming that the ruling has nothing to do with the the Government owning a significant interest in pretty much all of the banks at risk in the case.
“Of course not,” said Supreme court president Lord Phillips.
“Banks cannot be held to the standards you or I adhere to.”
“If we mismanage our finances, we should get financially raped, but if the banks mismanage their finances, they should get billions in support from the Government - it’s only fair.”
“The fact that the Government pays my wages, decides if I keep a job, and provides me with an excellent pension, has nothing to do with my decision in this case whatsoever.”
Former Birmingham City managing director Karren Brady warned England will be competing against nations with sunshine, culture, clean stadia and women that don't look like wookies dipped in Primark.
Brady, now a member of the England 2018 board, said: "At this stage our only hope is to try and make a virtue out of all the rain and the vomit. It would also help if everything didn't reek of piss."
She added: "I suppose my dream slogan would have to be something along the lines of 'England - where the rain will wash away your vomit and nothing smells of piss any more'."
Meanwhile the 2018 bid has also been hit by infighting between organisers over what excuses they should give FIFA for England's transport network, its inhumane sandwiches and the existence of Croydon.
An FA spokesman said: "One director wanted to tell them some big town planners did it and ran away, while another said we should simply cover it with a large tarpaulin for the next nine years."
Last night FIFA president Sepp Blatter signalled he would be willing to overlook the rain, vomit, piss and Croydon but stressed that Liverpudlians remain 'comprehensively unacceptable'.
He added: "You can't expect people from decent countries to get from Lime Street Station to Anfield without wanting to kill themselves. We may as well just machine gun them as they get off the train."
The court heard how the man was caught by Plod within minutes because he was seen running into his pad after attacking the security guard with a stick. The would-be-thief had just been made redundant from his job and "was short of cash".
To disguise himself, he covered his face with a T-shirt, before picking up a stick, which he used to strike the back of the guards knee from behind. Making good his escape, he then hid the loot in his attic, which too was discovered by the Rozzers shortly after his arrest.
He got 2.5 years for his efforts.
How can a little local difficulty thousands of miles away affect me?
The tentacles of global capitalism stretch a long way. British banks are huge lenders to governments and business in the Gulf. HSBC has £11 billion in outstanding loans to countries in the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is one of seven. In the other direction, Dubai is a big investor in British businesses, owning the container port operations of Southampton and Tilbury as well as a major stake in the London Stock Exchange
Even so, these days Dubai's debts of $80 billion are chicken feed, aren't they?
Compared with the cost of the bank bailout, yes. Some British banks might have to write off a few tens of millions of pounds if Dubai were to default, but this would not make a major dent in their balance sheets. This is more about investor sentiment. A small setback can have major repercussions if investor confidence is dented
Why should confidence be hit?
Because this refocuses anxieties on the financial strength of sovereign nations. Investors until now have been comparatively sanguine about the ability of governments to take on huge debts and meet their interest payments. Any suggestion that Dubai might default will make currency and bond traders nervous. The uncertainty about who the creditors are in any financial collapse can paralyse markets as happened after the demise of Lehman Brothers last year
Why would government defaults matter?
They would hit share and bond prices, destroying value in pension funds. They could also lead to a slowdown in economic growth as governments would be forced to raise taxes and cut spending to balance their books. That would hurt UK exports and slow or halt the fragile recovery here
Will Dubai default?
Not necessarily. Dubai is in serious trouble because its oil and gas revenues are tiny and dwindling and it has bet the farm on a construction boom, but it has rich neighbours. Many analysts believe the standstill shock was partly a ploy to pressure Abu Dhabi, a super-rich neighbouring emirate, to come to the rescue
Thailand has issued rules making applying for gender reassignment more difficult, including a demand that candidates should cross-dress for a year, following fears that some patients are rushing into the operation. The Thai medical council, said:
“This is a very important decision in their life. After the operation, there is no way to fix it. This is not a small thing, not like going shopping.”
Quite a reasonable request considering the enormity of the op, but it can't be much fun for the guys who already are convinced. Still, better safe than sorry.
Like a McCluck for the Scots or Clook for the Geordies? :o)
I wonder if that holds true for different animals? Cow moos, horse neighs and dog barks, for example?
The Swiss Paradise Hotel is also doing an offer where every room is just MYR 68 (<£13) but no internet in the room which is basic. However, they may have a deluxe room near to the lobby which could pick up their signal and so this may be possible.
We'll have a look at some more today, but quite honestly, where we are now is actually a lot better than most we've seen and we may yet end up staying put. It's only for a another week and then we're back in Bangkok and the Imm, so it's no problem. We'll see.
Today's task is to find somewhere in Brunei for a couple of nights that won't bankrupt us. This could prove challenging.
Malay food is famed for some reason as having great cuisine, but outside of Penang, I'm not so sure that is true. It is usually cooked fresh in the morning and then left in large large containers under feeble lights to keep it warm during the day. This is hardly effective and they don't even bother to re-heat things in a microwave.
I had a quite poor Butter Milk Prawn with cold rice yesterday. I'm sorry? Cold rice? It should, as with all main courses be served HOT.
Chicken is also a huge favourite meat in Malaysia but getting any breast is nigh on Mission Impossible and the usual offering tends to be scrag end of wing, thigh or foot, and naturally the skin is left on every piece. It's not too pleasant to have a breadcrumb coated chicken and then end up with a gob full of flabby skin...
And what's with pre-cooking chips and then leaving them to sit under yet more "heat lamps"? They go limp and cold very quickly and taste like cardboard- see rice for the best way to serve fries.
Even the curry is mass produced and left to catch listeria or e-coli (or worse?) under the 40W bulb offering as much heat as Scrooge and his single coal fire.
Nope, it's all a bit poor, which is a pity as it's one of the fun things to do on holiday; checking out where and what to eat. So far it's been quite a chore but we remain hopeful and think we may have found a few better options as we explore more of the town.
Recurring themes in Irving's work include New England, prostitutes, wrestling, Vienna, Iowa, bears, deadly accidents, a main character dealing with an absent or unknown parent, a main character who is involved in film making, sexual relationships between young men and older women and other variations in sexual relations. Severing of body parts (tongue, finger, other) appears in several novels.
Irving has often used the literary technique of a story within a story. In addition, his novels have a character who is a writer and if the captions don't come out properly, see the original link at wiki.
It's nearly 1 000 pages long and it is typically Irving at his near best, centring around Jack Burns, a good looking lad who goes on to become an actor and whose mother (a tattooist) is in search of the boy's father.
As expected, it has a whole array of delicious side characters and bizarre/weird plot twists and the writing is as always first class. However, personally it doesn't come close to Garp or Meany (or anotherpersonal favourite, The Fourth Hand), but it's not far off.
Well worth sticking to, but try and do it in less time than I did- he's written another book since I first picked it up, "Last Night in Twisted River". :o)
Hope you have a smashing day filled with Barcadi & Cokes and we'll be raising a glass to you later tonight.
PS: Did you like your present? Hang on, it's with your mum and she won't have had a chance to drop it round; you'll have to wait until Sunday.
Mens 3 vs Phoenix 2 Lost 8-4 Scorers: Smithson A, Gul 2, Leaver K
Goals: Ohmy Gul 2, Andy Smithson 1, Kieran Leavit 1
First off, I must thank all the players who played late, away and lets say had a test of stamina that those of us playing once didn’t have to go through. It would have been a tricky game playing with six players, and it wouldn’t have helped our goal difference one bit. For the second week running we went two goals up and for the all too briefest of moments it looked like we could win. Alas we peaked too early and all hopes and dreams turned to ashes as their “good player sprinted passed us repeatedly to score goal after goal. As my hockey guru Maharishi Chopkins pointed out, “they were so fast I couldn’t even get close enough to foul them”. Wise words indeed oh holy one. There were few good performances; young Mike Smithson showed enough promise to prove he didn’t get his skills from dad, and Ohmy Gul! worked really hard and was rewarded with two goals, the jacket and MOM. Hope he did the lottery that night. The only consolation for the day was hot food and decent beer; the opposition all left before us so not for the first time it was the three’s, the barman and the local wino (not Giles) left in the away clubhouse.
It’s getting tough to write a report week after week when you’re losing so changing the subject; I can’t believe Jedward, Jade, Ricky and Jordan are out of “Strictly No XXXing Talent in the Jungle” this week! The excitement’s too much so I think I’ll go out for a few beers and a curry this Saturday instead.
Another bruising defeat, almost as bad as Wigan's to Tottenham. What's up boys? You missing Clarky who guested (and scored) for the IIs?
Thursday, 26 November 2009
Train man moves right the way down inside the carriage
A rush-hour rail passenger this week made his way down into the middle of an otherwise packed train to allow fellow commuters to board, Newsarse has learned.
In a scene that might have been straight out of a Hollywood blockbuster, his quick thinking and heroic actions led to literally six more people boarding the morning train at Southall on the busy Reading to London Paddington service.
“Normally you can’t even get on the train,” said regular commuter Trevor McSingh*.
“I thought I was going to be late to work, but then this man, with acres of space to himself already, moved even further into the middle of the car to let us on.”
“In all my years I’d never seen anything quite like it. I still tear up now just thinking about it.”
According to other passengers, the guard on platform asked people standing in the crowded area by the doors to move down inside the car, upon which a man not only acknowledged the request, but went to stand in a more convenient place, removing his bulky rucksack as he did so.
The platform guard from that day told us, “It was strange, it was almost as if he could actually hear the words coming out of my mouth.”
Commuters have already launched a Facebook group to track down the man, who is in his late twenties and is not thought to be British.
A fan-site, called “Movedown Man - We Just Want To Say Thanks”, already has three thousand members and is likely to spawn a book deal.
A spokesman for First Great Western trains hoped the idea would catch on, but added: “On the assumption this was an anomaly we’re still instructing our staff to bang on the windows like monkeys at a drive-through safari park.”
*I am still laughing so hard at this superb name. Sheer genius.
Every school pupil in England is to be taught that domestic violence against women and girls is generally a bad thing, as part of a new government strategy to state the bleeding obvious at every opportunity.
Under the plans, from 2011 children will be taught from the age of five how to not smack women repeatedly with whatever implement is nearest to hand.
“We feel that perhaps parents aren’t making it clear enough that physically attacking other people is a bad thing, so like any good Government we’re once again stepping into the breach,” said Schools minister Vernon Coaker.
“We’ll need to bump a couple of Geography lessons to make room for this new one, but the only time people ever need a list of the world’s capital cities is for pub quizzes anyway.”
The new GCSE qualification in Not Hitting Women will be available in the 2012 exam timetable.
Mock examinations are already under way in order to gauge the level re-education required among the student population.
“I got a C plus, as I was pretty sure you could give a backhanded slap for talking during Match of The Day - who knew?” said 15-year-old Darren Shaw.
Another student told us, “I got an A, simply by answering ‘No’ to every question that started, “Should you hit a woman if…”, it was quite easy to be honest.”
“Apparently, to get an A* you need to spot the trick question, which now I think about it is probably answering ‘Yes’ if she suggests going on Jeremy Kyle.”
The Government confidently predicts domestic violence to be completely eradicated by 2020.
Yip, it's from NArse. :o)
The bottom ten 'Family Brands' in Britain 2009:
2. British Midland
3. BMI Baby
5. Royal Bank of Scotland
6. Domino's Pizza
7. Halifax Bank of Scotland
8. Burger King
The top ten 'Family Brands' in Britain 2009:
1. Marks & Spencer
Fancy a December city break in Denmark? If you'd booked the SK502 from London to Copenhagen, returning on the SK1507 with SAS last week, you'd have paid £126.90.
The same flights booked through Bmi's website cost £116.70 more - a total of £243.60.
That's £116.70 more to fly in the same aircraft, with the same flight crew, having made the booking on the same day.
Why? Because the flight is a code share.
The original flight is operated by SAS, with a SAS aircraft and SAS flight crew. SAS has agreed that another carrier - in this case Bmi - can market the flight under its own brand and sell it online.
SAS invariably has the best fares on the route because it controls the sale of seats on the flight. The code share carrier gets a number of seats at agreed fare levels which they then sell.
Bob Atkinson, travel expert at travelsupermarket.com says it's all too common for there to be a huge difference in prices on a code share flight.
"Do not be fooled into thinking that you will get the same fare from one airline to another when they are code sharing," he told Times Online. "Usually the ‘host’ airline will have the lowest fare as it controls the actual revenue management of the flight."
Atkinson investigated 13 code share flights to compare fares. In nine of the examples, the "host airline" had the cheapest fares, and in only three examples, the fares were the same with each carrier.
"If you are a frequent flyer with an airline and always slavishly go to their site, you may be paying through the nose for the privilege of booking with that carrier when you are in fact travelling with another", he says.
Bob Atkinson's advice for getting the cheapest fare
- If you can see that the flight is a code share, check both the carrier you are looking to book with as well as the ‘disclosed’ third party carrier to see who has the lower fare.
- Price comparison websites will already do this for you in most occasions as it will pull back the most flights examples in one search.
- Always check the small print to ensure you realise who you are flying with.
- Airlines that code share with each other tend to recognise the other airline's frequent flyer card so you can still save by booking with the other carrier and get your points. And if they don’t, are the miles you would have accrued really worth the additional fare you have paid?
1 New York, USA
This was always the one to beat. New York regularly tops best-city polls and has come to symbolise the very essence of what a city should be, almost to the point of caricature. When we deliberated, in April 2009, the pillars of the old establishment tottering amid the financial crisis, there was a feeling that the Western old guard might cede its dominance to Asia and another city come up on the rails to steal New York’s crown. However, when assessed in each of our headline categories – architecture, arts & culture, buzz, food & drink, quality of life, and world status – New York still proves hard to fault in any.
Its weakness is quality of life. Part of this is down to the poor public healthcare, but the rest simply the urban problems besetting any large city: high cost of living, crime (albeit falling), housing pressure, a struggling transport system. Quality of life and buzz, it seems, are to a degree naturally opposed.
2 London, England
Though its citizens may have lost some of their pre-recession swagger, culturally London is still holding the world’s attention – its theatre, dance, art, heritage, literature, music, fashion and even what’s left of the film industry command international respect and continue to delight audiences.
Its street styles and subcultures are still places where eccentricity and creativity thrive. Food and drink, which not so long ago would have received nul points, have surprised everyone; London now has some of the best chefs exploring new culinary avenues, and a richness of international cuisines that goes unrivalled.
Predictably London is brought down by its everyday stresses – in particular its frequently dysfunctional transport system, the bane of the Londoner’s life, inadequate housing stock, and uneven educational opportunities. But the hardest-argued category was architecture, for which it was lucky to scrape a seven out of ten, compared to New York’s nine. For every landmark building and elegant terrace, there’s a piece of poor planning legislation or a lack of vision that has allowed mediocre architecture to flourish in and beyond the icon-studded centre.
3 Paris, France
Paris basks in the illusion of being the perfect city, but how much of this stands up to examination and how much is romantic fantasy?
Though once a city of global cultural importance – at various times leading the way in art, food, cinema, fashion, philosophy, and revolutionary tendency – contemporary Paris lacks the sense of urgency and vitality that previously meant you just had to be there. Its food and fashion are still international benchmarks of excellence, the black music scene has been vibrant, and Mitterrand’s Grands Projets of the 80s and 90s did much to reestablish the city’s reputation for architectural sophistication. However the racial tensions and social problems of the banlieues suggest that quality of life is not of the same high standard for all its citizens. Recent public projects such as the Vélib bike hire scheme, new arts centres and free summer activities on the Paris Plage are inspiring other cities. Paris is in the ascendant.
4 Berlin, Germany
Though it entered the millennium still reeling from a turbulent century, Berlin has rebuilt and rebranded itself as a confident new capital that is going places. The arts have been reestablished to the point where bold museums are opening alongside independent galleries with international art critics a twitter. The city hosts a prestigious annual film festival, and it is home to one of the world’s best symphony orchestras.
Superficially, Berlin’s flat sprawl does not have the beauty of a Paris or a Rome, but the rebuilding programme has included many new architectural landmarks. As for the imposing concrete throwbacks of East Berlin – you either love them or you hate them.
Despite Berlin’s rising importance in the global political and economic arenas, it is still a relatively relaxed place to live, negotiable by bicycle, fastidious about recycling, efficient with its public services, offering a good supply of spacious apartments, creative with its public spaces, and enlivened by an eclectic streetlife.
Where it fell down? The cuisine, the local delicacy being sausage seasoned with warm ketchup and curry powder.
Architecturally it is both stunning and sophisticated, complementing the ornate Catalan modernista buildings and Antoni Gaudi’s outrageous confections with some classy additions that came with its Olympics-inspired, post-Franco reinvention.
There is a work-hard, play hard attitude to Barcelona, remarkably marrying good living under the Mediterranean sun, urban beaches, vibrant street life and plentiful supplies of good food and cava with impressive modern art museums, cool bars, engaging public spaces and one of the world’s most influential chefs in Ferran Adriá. Design is taken very seriously indeed, with furniture and graphic designers leading a world-class industry and helping create a distinctive ‘look’. The football team dominates Europe and the atmosphere after a home win is electric.
Though it is much loved by the many who visit, and is at the heart of a fierce Catalan identity, it is hard to argue that Barcelona’s global influence extends much beyond design, football and experimental cooking.
5= Chicago, USA
Perhaps one of the more surprising entries in the Top Ten, and not always an easy city to live in. Winters are bitter, some communities still quite segregated and some areas fairly rough. In spite of the city’s reputation as populated by uncultured sports nuts, Time Out editors who live in or regularly visit the city rave about its distinctive neighbourhoods and charismatic cultural scene. Where it really makes up ground on other cities is in its architecture – inventing the skyscraper and precipitating the modernist tendencies that would define 20th century urban architecture. It also gave America its first black president, may well be the next Olympic city and is generally feeling pretty pleased with itself.
5= Tokyo, Japan
The ultimate urban experience of bright lights, frenetic pace, conspicuous consumption, futuristic technology, a powerful stock exchange, street style and subcultures, tall buildings, millions of people and a relentless mass that stretches on for miles and miles. This place certainly has buzz.
But it also, when examined at a slower pace, has a respected music industry, top fashion designers, revered manga artists, innovative modern architects, and Oscar-winning film animators. It respects ancient traditions but is often first with new fads and youth obsessions.
If it is let down by a quality of life that involves high stress, impossible commutes and hardly any space, it takes pride in the fact that it has more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other city in the world (more than Paris and London combined) and as such is the only city we awarded a gastronomic 10 out of 10.
8 Istanbul, Turkey
A big, business-like city, with a palpable energy found in the bazaars and coffee houses, rooftop bars and commuter ferries, Istanbul’s celebrated beauty comes from a combination of geography (built on hills straddling the Bosphorus) and ancient heritage – a sea of domes and minarets, as well as the worlds most famous mosque and the greatest collection of Byzantine frescoes. Sunset, our resident experts tell us, is sublime.
Although points were lost on quality of life partly due to Turkey’s questionable human rights record, a long and influential history and position on a key trade route at the juncture of Europe and Asia ensures Istanbul will always be a global player; consequently it presents an international confidence without actually being a capital.
9= Rome, Italy
From the Colosseum to Zaha Hadid’s MAXXI museum, Rome has never been afraid of making a statement. Though much of the city’s power and appeal comes from activities two thousand years ago, the juxtaposition of ancient and modern has its own frisson. A daily theatre of chic showmanship and pride in the pizza, is rehearsed against a backdrop of crumbling Corinthian columns, formal gardens, seminal paintings and Renaissance palazzi, set out over the undulating landscape of Rome’s famous seven hills. Though pushy modern Romans thrive on the buzz, the everyday inefficiencies of an ancient city and its crazy traffic give cause for much grumbling.
For the purposed of our cities poll, Time Out included Vatican City as part of Rome – although a separate city state, its presence is inescapable for the city that surrounds it. This brings into play St Peter’s Cathedral and the Sistine Chapel, its arts and culture trump cards.
Sydney wins points for being a good-time multi-cultural city with a healthy outdoors lifestyle, whose citizens enjoy early morning surfing, world-renowned beaches, good housing, excellent food and a café society. Its nightlife is colourful, if verging on the tacky, but a well-established gay community, exuberant Mardi Gras procession, and spectacular New Year fireworks displays are to be envied. For quality of life it had to be a ten out of ten.
Though it has the requisite big cultural institutions, and has exported many successful curators, actors and media moguls, Sydney’s inevitably isolated arts scene, when compared with those of New York, London, Paris, or Berlin, cannot compete.
That's more like it, we've been to eight out of the ten and both at #5 we will definitely be seeing at some point* on our travels. Tokyo may even be on the cards for next year. As to Berlin getting marked down for a Currywurst? That's the best part- they rock. :o)
*Edited due to beer error as per Au P and his eagle eye.
One of the greatest cities the world has ever known, nowhere does the cliché of East meets West, old meets new, apply more aptly.
The last few years have seen Istanbul thrive with boutique hotels, uber-trendy bars and gourmet restaurants adding to its already intoxicating mix of historic and cultural sites. Watch it ramp up another notch as the city becomes a European Capital of Culture in 2010.
Feted as the world’s most livable city, this West Coast gem has a lively cultural scene with superb restaurants and hotels. A beautiful city where glass towers and skyscrapers are set against a backdrop of coastal mountains, in 2010 it will host the Winter Olympics.
With a strong focus on sustainability, the legacy of the Games for Vancouver will see improved public transport, striking ‘green’ buildings and a huge arts and culture programme.
Rejuvenated and refreshed, Delhi is sprucing up to host the 2010 Commonwealth Games. The colonial city centre and Delhi’s main shopping area, Connaught Place, has been given a new façade, while the city’s monuments are being cleaned and revitalised and improved transport links are opening up the city. Don’t be surprised to find bullock carts still plodding placidly alongside the latest luxury car though – Delhi is a city where contrasts sit happily.
In May 2010 Hollywood’s eyes will focus on this humble corner of the East Midlands, as Ridley Scott’s new Robin Hood film is released to the world. Meanwhile old meets new at Nottingham Contemporary, a new building designed by award-winning architects Caruso St John, with a series of exhibitions and art projects running across four galleries. Add to this Nottingham's designer shopping credentials and you have plenty of reasons to visit the city.
Japan’s ancient capital Nara celebrates its 1300th anniversary in 2010 with special displays of hidden national treasures and rarely-seen Buddhist statues, as well as a host of other cultural events including an International Film Festival.
With its wooded hills, temple, parks and some of the world’s oldest wooden buildings this ancient city remains a symbol of tranquility in a country where teenagers experiment with the gadgets of the future.
New England’s largest city exists to be explored. From spring 2010, intrepid visitors will benefit from the biggest bike share scheme to launch in the US to date, with two and a half thousand bikes available to hire at the swipe of a credit card from special stands across the city.
Film lovers might choose to seek out locations used in a slew of filmed-in-Boston movies due to hit screens in 2010, including Ben Affleck’s The Town and Mel Gibson’s Edge of Darkness.
There aren’t many capital cities where you can swim in summer and ski in winter, all within the city’s boundaries. Oslo is charmingly Scandinavian but with the kind of outdoor ‘chilling’ culture more usually associated with Southern Europe.
With new flights from Ryanair and costs that now compare favourably with many Euro-zone destinations, Oslo is more affordable than ever. And in 2010 it plays host to the Eurovision Song Contest.
Touted as the New York of the East, Tel Aviv looks set to really attract attention in 2010 as news spreads about the city’s party credentials. New Easyjet flights from Stansted, starting in late 2009, are bound to encourage the crowds. The heat generated by the city’s nightlife is matched only by the temperatures on its glorious sweep of city beach.
A charming town, where Chilean socialist Pablo Neruda hid in the late 1940s when Communism was outlawed. 2010 will mark the 40th anniversary of Chile’s first democratically-elected socialist head of state, Salvador Allende.
Valparaiso offers a fairly unique South American experience, with painted houses sitting on hills leading down to a huge bay, with old elevators taking you up and down the city's steep slopes.
Financially speaking it’s a relatively good time to visit. Getting there might be easier too, with Iceland Express flying to New York four times a week from June 2010, and Icelandair increasing its services from Glasgow and Manchester, and connections to North America.
Logistics aside, Reykjavik offers a fine visit, from hedonistic revelry to the calming charm of a city that offers glaciers in its sea views, a mountainous backdrop and geothermal lagoons.
Not so good on our list- we've only managed three of them so far.
The plans, drawn up by Revenue & Customs, show that ministers will tax households with more than one phone line (of which there are more than 1.7 million) for each line they rent, and will also levy VAT on the charge.
The Finance Bill is to be published early next year and it will contain the plans for the 50p a month tax, which ministers hope will raise up to £175 million a year to fund superfast broadband connections for rural areas. However, if you have a separate phone line, fax line and broad band connection, you're going to get stiffed three times.
Intelligence that Saddam Hussein did not have access to weapons of mass destruction was received by the Government ten days before Tony BLiar ordered the invasion of Iraq, the inquiry into the war was told yesterday.
Inspectors in Iraq had also told the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that they believed that Saddam might not have chemical and biological weapons. But with British and US troops massed on the border, the new intelligence was dismissed.
Follow the title link for more. or check out the same story at TTel.
I've been knacked on the back of my left hand and also on my left ankle in separate incidents, which serves as a good reminder to get a tin of the orange stuff.
*Edited on 28th November, 2009 and I can't get hold of any OFF! spray anywhere here. :-(
We have found our perfect drinking den, and it's just a stumble away from our hotel, down some side street behind a petrol station. Sounds rather attractive already, doesn't it? :oD In fact, the bar is about the size of our hotel room; it's tiny.
We looked in and were utterly impressed at the tinsel be-decked room with flashing fairy lights (covering the entire ceiling, no less), "Happy Christmas" signs and a gaudy (fake) tree in the corner. We were sweating freely in the hot night air, yet here it was apparently the festive season? We couldn't resist.
Almost every table was occupied but we grabbed one of the free ones and noticed that wifey was the only chick in there, the rest were all guys. A waitress came up to take our order.
"Three tins of tiger (330 ml) for MYR 10, one large bottle of Tiger for MYR 7 (640 ml) or three bottles in an ice bucket for MYR 20".
Preferring to start cautiously, we opted for a bottle each and could not believe the prices. Usually the cheapest large bottle costs around MYR 12 and that is in the Red Garden Night Market in Georgetown- here it was almost half price! That meant we were getting 1.16 pints for £1.24 which is utterly awesome, particularly in Malaysia where the majority are Muslim and do not drink.
Not only was the beer cheap, but the salted peanuts were the best we've had in years (almost all of Asia puts sugar in with them; it's gross) and they even had a Karaoke with cheesy 80s songs. Can you believe they played Brother Louie by the German band Modern Talking? I was singing my little heart out after the first bucket was finished...
Super night and we'll be back for some more before we return to Thailand.
Instead we went the opposite way and wound our way through the back streets to find a multitude of open air (ish) food halls which catered for any kind of meal you fancied. Of the pick of them we stumbled across a warehouse sized area under cover that looked as if it should have been at Ocean World.
Aquariums lined three sides of the aircraft hanger and I have never seen so many differing options of seafood on offer. Over 50% I didn't recognise and the other 50% I had not the faintest idea of how to even eat it. Amazing to witness if a little distressing at the over crowded tanks in which the next supper was being held captive. Worse were some of the lobster-sized prawns/langoustines that were put into plastic bottles to prevent them from damaging each other, I presume. It was like being in straitjacket. :-(
- The Colour Shifting Security Thread which replaces the existing security thread and is embedded in the paper. The thread appears on the reverse side of the note as coloured intermittent lines. When held against light, it is seen as a continuous dark coloured line and the repeated text of BNM RM50 can be read. When the note is tilted, the colour of the thread changes from red to green and vice versa. Under ultra-violet light, the repeated text of BNM RM50 will fluoresce yellow and the thread is seen as a continuous fluorescent yellow line when the banknote is viewed from the obverse.
- The Two-Coloured Fluorescent Elements is an additional invisible printed feature on the reverse of the note. Under ultra-violet light, a complex design two-colour numeral 50 will fluoresce.
- The existing security features which are designed for public verification remains as follows:
- The Watermark Portrait can be recognised by tints that are lighter or darker than the surrounding paper. This watermark portrait which has a three-dimensional effect appears without sharp outlines. At the base of the watermark, the numeral 50 is clearly visible.
- Perfect See-Through Register features the songket design on the obverse and reverse of the banknote when it is held against the light.
- Invisible Fluorescent Elements of the background on the obverse and reverse of the banknote which fluoresces in different colours under ultra-violet light.
- Micro-Letterings of "BNM RM50" which can be viewed under a magnifying glass.
- Holographic Stripe features the numeral 50 and hibiscus flower.
- Multicolor Latent Image where the numeral 50 is visible when the banknote is tilted slightly and changes colour when it is rotated.
- Anti-Scanner feature in which certain design cannot be captured by scanning machines.
- Braille Feature for the visually impaired.