Ein Prosit…

“Ein Prosit, ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit”.

Munich is the best city in the world to live in.

A winning combination of investment in infrastructure, high-quality housing, low crime, liberal politics, strong media and general feeling of Gemütlichkeit make it a city that should inspire others. (Global Culture – Most liveable cities)

Wikipedia says:-

Gemütlichkeit is a German abstract noun whose closest English equivalent is Cosiness. However, rather than basically just describing a place as not too large, well-heated and nicely furnished (a cosy room, a cosy flat), Gemütlichkeit connotes, much more than cosiness, the notion of belonging, social acceptance, cheerfulness, the absence of anything hectic and the spending of quality time in a place as described above
“Abandon all burden, ye who enter here.”

Penan People

I always enjoy watching Bruce Parry on BBC’s Tribe; I’ve mentioned this already. But Tuesday’s show, the final one, was really emotional for both me and Bruce.

This time he was living with the Penan people of Sarawak, Malaysia. They are a nomadic hunter gatherer tribe who live off Borneo’s primary forest. Alas commercial logging companies granted permission to log by the Malaysian Government are making deep inroads into their traditional territories, and the clearing of primary forest leads to the growth of secondary forest which they find much harder to hunt in. Apart from the obvious loss of the plants they depend on for both sustenance and medicine, the heavy logging is also causing heavy erosion when it rains, and denying them fresh water supplies due to silt in their water sources. And any land cleared is also taken over by plantations of the infamous tree with the insidious influence, the Palm Oil.

Throughout the series we were shown instances of progress creeping up on the tribes, sometimes silently and sometimes not so silently, ever inexorably. But this time the trusting and simple nature of the Penan juxtaposed with the visible signs of catastrophe looming was rather much, and one could see Bruce trying to be detatched but disturbed at the injustice of it all.


The PMF business:-

In many ways it mirrors broader trends in the world economy as countries switch from manufacturing to services and outsource functions once thought to be the preserve of the state.

PMF stands for Private Military Firms, a USD 120 billion (and growing) global industry.

“Organised as business entities and structured along corporate lines, they mark the corporate evolution of the mercenary trade”

“The rate of growth in the security industry has been phenomenal,” says Deborah Avant, a professor of political science at UCLA. The single largest spur to this boom is the conflict in Iraq.

None of the estimated 48,000 private military operatives in Iraq has been convicted of a crime and no one knows how many Iraqis have been killed by private military forces, because the US does not keep records.

A high-ranking US military commander in Iraq said: “These guys run loose in this country and do stupid stuff. There’s no authority over them, so you can’t come down on them hard when they escalate force. They shoot people.”

Source: The Independent 21 September 2007

And here’s a postscript to this post:-
U.S. Resumes Blackwater Convoys in Iraq

Sudan, watch out!

Dim Red Light

I saw this story in the Metro paper on the bus today

About a third of Amsterdam’s red-lit windows for prostitutes will disappear from the city centre as one of the main brothel owners is set to sell his empire to a real estate company. (Reuters)

and my mind went back to a report I had read on sky-high Amsterdam house prices and the soaring houseboat market because there was no more land to build on.

I found it amusing that the sex trade wasn’t generating enough money so what stait-laced politicians couldn’t do, market economics managed and people, given the choice, would rather have a house than have sex (and the revenue from it).

I was going to continue reflecting along the lines of “lessons we can learn from Amsterdam”, “prohibition does more damage than good” and “sex isn’t the big deal it’s made out to be” (no, really!) when this later article by Sky News caught my eye with its new twist-

Many of the windows used by prostitutes in Amsterdam’s famous red light district are set to close as part of an attempt to clean up the city.
Authorities say the brothel windows, used by scantily-clad working girls to advertise, are a magnet for crime and money laundering.(Sky News)

A news story about a financially-motivated property deal suddenly gained a moral angle!

Global Property Review

Discussing the composition of the weekly Global Property Reviews and how they might be tailored for public consumption, etc., I realised one quote aptly describes the slight misgivings I have towards posing as an expert…

“Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn’t mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar.”
– Edward R. Murrow

Plus I’m on Lovefilm’s 30-day free DVD rental scheme after which I’ll cancel Mwuaaahahahahaha!!!
(Yes we all know I’ll forget to cancel, and they’ll lock me in, and I’ll have to visit my bank, and I’ll forget, and they’ll have the final laugh, which will be longer in duration).

Yours sincerely

The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you’ve got it made.

– Jean Giraudoux

A T.V guide (that’s television not transvestite)

Thursday nights are the bestest. Mock the Week with Frankie Boyle, Andy Parsons, Hugh Dennis; Saxondale with Steve Coogan and then That Mitchell and Webb Look with that Mitchell and Webb. Oh how I laughed!

Wednesday wasn’t bad either, with England drubbing Russia. But that’s not a constant feature, more’s the pity (and why didn’t I get to see the goals from Wales, Scotland, Eire and N.Ireland) And Tittybangbang? Puh-lease, that’s utter crap and nonsense.

Tuesday I was out in South Tanzania with Bruce Parry and his Tribe, which is always an absolute pleasure. And there’s always Gavin and Stacey to lighten things up after.

Monday was a bit slow; I was tired, and had a zillion things to do that I’d carried over from t’weekend, so the telly was suitably non-engrossing apart from University Challenge.

And there’s Phoenix Nights today, that Peter Kay’s a Mental! What’s he like, eh? Garlic Bread!


There’s been a new comedy show on BBC the past few nights on 22:35 about a middle class family trying to raise three kids normally and encountering all sorts of problems. The kids are the real focal point of the show; very good acting with real believability. I love it when kids go “but why?” and you can see the parents smiling at them through gritted teeth, just about to lose it completely.

One kid is a pathological liar, and absolutely shameless about it to boot, the smallest keeps asking metaphysical questions (“Are shadows made of atoms as well?”) and another sulky teenager seems to be quite Machiavellian.

Not side-splitting, but good to watch. If only the supporting cast weren’t so cardboardy.