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Archive for March, 2012

Those amazing Swedes

Saturday, 31 March, 2012

It began with ABBA. In their time, Agnetha Fältskog, Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus and Anni-Frid Lyngstad sold an astounding 380 million albums, which, believe it or not, puts them next in line to the Beatles. After ABBA came Roxette, Dr. Alban, Ace of Base, The Cardigans, Mando Diao, The Hives and The Shout Out Louds, to mention just seven. What’s the secret? A critical factor is the Swedish educational system. It encourages every child to learn music while turning out perfect speakers of English. Put the two together and you get people capable of feeling at home in any genre.

So what started with ABBA has expanded to a global network of producers and performers who accept no boundaries or borders. Two examples: Tove Styrke, who specializes in global pop, and Anna Ternheim, who is going down the country road. Here, she sings “The Longer The Waiting, The Sweeter The Kiss” on Dave Ferguson’s porch in Goodletsville, Tennessee.

Leonardo DiCaprio doesn’t get his face on the Great Gatsby poster

Friday, 30 March, 2012
Leonardo DiCaprio doesn’t get his face on the Great Gatsby poster

“If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promise of life, as if he related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away. This responsiveness had nothing to do with that flabby impressionability which is dignified under […]

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Fear of flying and the Airbus A380

Thursday, 29 March, 2012
Fear of flying and  the Airbus A380

The jewel in the Airbus crown, the A380, did not have a great day on Tuesday, when two of the superjumbos had to abandon flights. An A380 operated by Singapore Airlines and flying from Singapore to Frankfurt had to return to base after one of its four Rolls-Royce engines developed a fault and had to […]

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Cash Daddy in 419 land

Wednesday, 28 March, 2012
Cash Daddy in 419 land

Of all the bizarre occurrences in these bizarre times, the recent address by Bertie Ahern, the former Prime Minister of Ireland, at an economic forum in Nigeria has to take the biscuit. That this discredited individual could trouser a reported €30,000 from the organizers of the Ogun State Investors’ Forum only amplifies what was spelled […]

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Cuba is striving to renew and broaden its horizons

Tuesday, 27 March, 2012
Cuba is striving to renew and broaden its horizons

“Dear friends, I am convinced that Cuba, at this moment of particular importance in its history, is already looking to the future, and thus is striving to renew and broaden its horizons.” Thus spoke Pope Benedict XVI yesterday following his arrival at Antonio Maceo International Airport in Santiago de Cuba. The diplomatic skill that went […]

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The real Gisele Bündchen is so fickle

Monday, 26 March, 2012

Back in 2007, the world’s top-earning model, Gisele Bündchen, reportedly responded to the falling value of the US dollar by refusing to be paid in the currency of Uncle Sam. Her sister and manager told the Bloomberg news agency that Gisele preferred to be paid in euros. Five years ago, the euro was seen as […]

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Room with a view

Sunday, 25 March, 2012
Room with a view

“It was pleasant to wake up in Florence, to open the eyes upon a bright bare room, with a floor of red tiles which look clean though they are not; with a painted ceiling whereon pink griffins and blue amorini sport in a forest of yellow violins and bassoons. It was pleasant, too, to fling […]

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Anais Mitchell

Saturday, 24 March, 2012

From her new album, Young Man in America, the very talented and very wry Anais Mitchell displays her poignant side as she combines whispers of Joanna Newsom and Gillian Welch in Coming Down.

Verbal Edge: Borges & Buckley

Friday, 23 March, 2012
Verbal Edge: Borges & Buckley

There’s a plethora of fine words in Up in the Air by Walter Kirn. The main character, Ryan Bingham, expands his vocabulary with words from the Verbal Edge cassette tapes as he flies around the US. Lots of great words, too, in Buckley: The Right Word. The late William F. Buckley was a marvellous interviewer […]

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Unexpected FT headline: “Beijing on edge amid coup rumours”

Thursday, 22 March, 2012

“Adding to the air of intrigue in the capital, a report of a fatal car crash on Sunday involving the son of a top leader and a Ferrari appeared on the internet but was quickly removed by official censors. Netizens and one source with close ties to China’s top leaders said the illegitimate son of […]

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For the people, by the people

Wednesday, 21 March, 2012

Politicians are, in general, a shoddy lot. Busy stuffing their pockets from the public purse and and stuffing all levels of the bureaucracy with their incompetent relations and clients, they are deserving of the abuse that’s poured upon them. The Danes, however, are different and the current government in Copenhagen has taken remarkable steps to make itself accountable to the people using the full range of communication channels that are available to all. Exemplary.

Danish public officials