Archive for the ‘Money’ Category

Watch the spectacular video here.

Dubai on Monday officially inaugurated the centerpiece of its decade-long construction boom, with the surprise revelation that the world-beating 168-story skyscraper — seen by some as a symbol of the city’s economic excess — was even bigger than previously thought.

In a glitzy firework-lit ceremony, the city-state’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum unveiled a plaque commemorating the event and also announced that the $1.5 billion structure has a new name: the Burj Khalifa.

Named after Khalifa Bin Zayed, the president of the United Arab Emirates — and ruler of Abu Dhabi, which recently bailed out debt-ridden Dubai to the tune of $10 billion — the tower was officially recorded as 828 meters tall, adding 10 meters on to previous height claims.

Six years in the making, and now 319 meters higher than previous skyscraping record-holder Taipei 101, Dubai’s newest edifice commands dizzying views of the ambitious building program that has transformed the emirate.

The structure’s architects, Chicago-based Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, have called the Burj Khalifa “a bold global icon that will serve as a model for future urban centers.”

Declaring that “tall buildings are back,” the company predicts that the groundbreaking techniques it used to push the Burj Khalifa to new heights should enable the construction of even taller towers in the future.

iReport: Share your photos of the world’s tallest buildings

“As with any project, SOM’s architects and engineers learned a great deal and are ready to apply this to the next world’s tallest building as it is certainly possible to go taller,” it said.

CNN – Despite such lofty claims, the Burj Khalifa — and other construction projects including the Palm Jumeirah and World archipelagos of man-made islands built for the super-rich — have cast a financial shadow over Dubai.

Last year the emirate shocked investors by asking for a freeze on payments owed on its $26 billion in debts.

The announcement by Dubai World — an umbrella group which includes the Burj Khalifa’s developers –delivered a cold dose of reality to speculators worldwide who believed the oil-rich region was impervious to the global financial crisis.

Facts and figures: Why Dubai is looking up

While predicted economic recovery are likely to help Dubai to shake off some of its debt woes, if not fully regain its boom-time ebullience, some say the city’s path of prestige over practicality will leave projects like the Burj Khalifa struggling to justify their place in the Gulf state’s skyline.

“Dubai doesn’t really need to have to build tall asides from prestige purposes,” Jim Krane, author of “City of Gold: Dubai and the Dream of Capitalism” told CNN in a recent interview.

“If you look at it, it’s a really bad idea. It uses as much electricity as an entire city. And every time the toilet is flushed they’ve got to pump water half a mile into the sky,” he said.

The telescopic shape also presents problems of a more practical nature Krane says.

“The upper 30 or 40 floors are so tiny that they’re useless, so they can’t use them for anything else apart from storage. They’ve built a small, not so useful storage warehouse half a mile in the sky,” he said.

It’s the holidays, we’re coming off a brutal recession, and the last thing any of us needs is a speeding ticket. And yet someone reading this — I hope not the person writing this — is going to get a speeding ticket in the next week or so. According to the National Motorists Association, between 25 million and 50 million speeding tickets are issued every year. So with that in mind, and since plenty of people get pulled over on their way to and from work, we’re offering some suggestions for talking your way out of a ticket.

Will any of this work? Your guess is as good as ours. And, of course, you can drive 90 miles an hour on the freeway and try to find out, but we don’t recommend it. At any rate, here are our suggestions, cultivated from some experts and regular folks who have managed to talk their way out of a ticket. Consider it our gift to anyone caught speeding over the holidays or in the midst of a new year.

Don’t lie. Sure, it’s understandable that you’re going to want to punt and tell the officer that your wife is in labor at the hospital waiting for you, or you’re being chased by a gang of jewel thieves determined to rub you out. But aside from the fact that lying is wrong, and honesty is the best policy and all of that, police officers are kind of trained to spot, well, you know, crooks. If you lie, they’re either going to recognize that or simply find out (“Oh, wow, sorry to hear about your wife — let me make sure you get to the hospital on time”). Instead, do what may not come naturally at a time like this and tell the truth.

That’s the approach Devra Renner, a parenting blogger, gave back when she was in college, driving from Tucson to Lubbock and was pulled over in Salt Flat, Texas. The state trooper asked Renner what she was doing “speeding through the great state of Texas.” Renner admitted that she was in the middle of nowhere, had been driving for hours, got bored and wanted to see how fast her car could go.

Maybe the officer admired that honesty, because he looked at her and said, “Darlin’, you know you’re in a Volkswagen Rabbit, not on the Nascar circuit, right?”

She agreed, apologized and told him she would “hop more slowly” from now on. The state trooper asked her to watch her speed and gave her a warning.

Drive around with something really weird in your car. We’re not really recommending this as a strategy, but it’s such an unusual story, we figured we’d offer it up. Autumn O’Bryan, from Salem, New Hampshire, has a pretty unique business. She stages sex toy home parties for women, and a few years ago, as she was leaving one such party, the hostess came running out of the house, flagging O’Bryan down. O’Bryan had left behind one of those toys.

She thanked the hostess, threw it on her passenger seat and drove away, in somewhat of a hurry to meet some girlfriends. “I was speeding and got caught in a speed trap,” says O’Bryan, who vividly recalls the officer walking up to her car with a flashlight and asking for her license and registration. “He asked where I was coming from, and why I was in such a hurry.”

O’Bryan explained that she had just finished working, and that she was on the way out to meet the girls. That’s when he flashed his light on the sex toy, and the officer then stared at O’Bryan for a long moment. Finally, he said, “Be careful and have a good night,” and walked away, shaking his head. He never even took the license or registration.

Know when to keep your mouth shut. One police officer in Virginia emailed in (he didn’t want his name used) and made the observation that “if you get the ticket, you don’t get the lecture. If you start getting the lecture, it usually means no ticket.” That would suggest that if you’re getting a lecture, it would be smart to not be defensive. Try nodding, saying, “you’re right,” and in general, being polite. Being polite to an officer of the law is a good idea in any situation, but seriously, this is not the moment to get argumentative.

COMING SOON: How to minimize the damage if you are going to get a ticket, in “How to Talk Your Way Out of a Speeding Ticket, Part II”

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New Study Reveals Most Children Unrepentant Sociopaths!

We’ve seen some expensive video games. We’ve seen some pricey video game consoles, too. But we’re pretty confident that this one beats them all.

It’s the Nintendo Wii Supreme. It took six months to make, and is built from over 5.5 pounds of 22-carat gold. Its front buttons are inlaid with 78 0.25-carat flawless, conflict-free diamonds, making almost 20 carats in total. It’s the work of Liverpool, England craftsman Stuart Hughes, and it costs — are you sitting down? — 299,995.00 pounds, or just about $484,000.

Hughes also sells a gold and diamond-studded iPhone for almost 2 million pounds ($3.2m), a carbon-fiber and diamond-studded Nokia phone for 30,000 pounds ($48,000) and a snakeskin and diamond Blackberry Bold for a mere 5,000 pounds ($8,000). He’s been the subject of write-ups in Vogue, Salon, and Business People magazines.

Buy the Wii Supreme, and you’ll be joining a highly exclusive club. Only three are being produced, and the only other person we know of with a gold Wii is (deep breath) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, who was given one earlier this year by game publisher Take Two.

So if you’re looking for the perfect gift for the bling-obsessed gamer in your life, and you have half a million dollars to spend, and you don’t mind spending it on a $199 Wii, your search is over. Congratulations!

What I think is that as far as Nintendo is concerned, it was already made of gold. Now it’s worth its weight in gold too.

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The World’s Most Expensive Magazine

An image from the new issue of Nomenus Quarterly. Like the rest of the original images in the magazine, the photo was taken by Nomenus’ founder Erik Madigan Heck.

Nomenus Quarterly, a limited-edition folio of original or previously unpublished images, typically costs more than your average It bag. (Each issue differs in price, but the rate, until now, was around $2,500.) So, given the current economic climate, it’s a little cheeky that Erik Madigan Heck, the publication’s founder and editor in chief, has slashed the print run to 10 copies from 50 and raised the price to $6,500. For the cost of an entry-level Birkin, the new, seventh issue includes work by the artists Anselm Kiefer and Lucian Freud, the photographers Adam Fuss and Roger Bollan, and a tribute to Ann Demeulemeester men’s wear (above) — shot, by Heck, in the style of the Italian photographer Mario Giacomelli’s studies of young priests. Bless.

To view the issue — and its impressively plentiful Web extras — free, go to nomenusquarterly.com.

Lifestyles of the Rich and (yawn) Jaded. The first shots are really cool, but let’s face it, you can find these kind of images n almost every photography artsy magazine.

Tomorrow sees the anniversary of the birth of Walt Disney, the father of cartoon animation. But the company he founded has grown far beyond Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, take a look at just how big Disney has become.
As an englishman, “240,000 pounds laundered each day” takes on a different meaning.