Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Jozef Imrich: The richest man who ever lived

“Happiness is like water…We’re always trying to grab onto it, but it’s always slipping between our fingers.”

"If you think it's hard to keep a good man down...Try keeping down a BAD one."

Code-named “the commode,” the operation culminated a 40-year hunt for one of the most expensive books in the world... Richest Book

At The London Book Fair, Publishers Salivate Over True Crime

Why is true crime so hot right now? Ask an agent: “I suspect the true-crime podcast thing is driving the current interest.” – The Guardian (UK)

East Germans cheat more

The end of the property boom: Is the worst still to come?

To some it's a bloodbath. Others see it as a correction. But all agree Australia's property boom is well and truly over.

Eva, Gitka a Lidka always remember the name day ;-)

We celebrate the Solemnity of St Joseph today. This is an important feast for the Church, so important that she allows this feast

This simple act can make your coworkers happier and healthier

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Stop expecting your job to make you happy.

A plan to tax the rich on multimillion-dollar second homes in New York City has rapidly moved closer to reality, as legislative leaders in Albany and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo have all signed off on the idea as a funding stream for the city’s beleaguered subway system.

Mr. Cuomo said on Monday there was a consensus among the state’s leaders, all Democrats, that a so-called pied-à-terre tax was a good idea, calling it the “only agreed-to new money” for a state facing a significant drop in tax revenue.

The purchase of a $238 million apartment on Central Park South by Kenneth C. Griffin, a hedge fund billionaire with an estimated net worth of $10 billion, may have helped make the legislation more feasible, proponents said.

The road to the nation’s first tax on superluxury second homes may well have begun at 220 Central Park South, where a four-story, 24,000 square-foot penthouse, unfinished and unfurnished, recently sold for $238 million.

That deal — the most expensive residential sale in United States history — seemingly set the stage for New York’s sudden embrace of a so-called pied-à-terre tax, a potential windfall for the city’s subway system and a small, subtle victory for those who believe Manhattan has become an unfettered playground for the rich.

If the measure is passed and signed into law, New York would join cosmopolitan hubs like Paris, Singapore and Vancouver, which already charge fees on secondary or part-time homes. It would also be a prime example of how headlines and hard times can sometimes intersect with a political moment, giving an outre idea a chance to become policy.

A dispute over an estate passed down through generations in one Tennessee family is pitting two Nashville Christian institutions in a bitter legal battle against three young children.

Nashville Christian School and Harpeth Presbyterian Church say they are two of the rightful beneficiaries to hundreds of acres of farmland and properties across Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee that have been in the Blackburn family since the War of 1812.

Failure is at the heart of both learning and moral complexity. It was David Foster Wallace’s master theme, his tool for evoking irony and Tragedy  

A Bold New Theory Proposes That Humans Tamed Themselves

A leading anthropologist suggests that protohumans became domesticated by killing off violent males.

Mansa Musa: The richest man who ever lived BBC: “Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world, according to the 2019 Forbes billionaires’ list released this week. With an estimated fortune of $131bn (£99bn) he is the wealthiest man in modern history. But he is by no means the richest man of all time. That title belongs to Mansa Musa, the 14th Century West African ruler who was so rich his generous handouts wrecked an entire country’s economy.
“Contemporary accounts of Musa’s wealth are so breathless that it’s almost impossible to get a sense of just how wealthy and powerful he truly was,” Rudolph Butch Ware, associate professor of history at the University of California, told the BBC. Mansa Musa was “richer than anyone could describe”, Jacob Davidson wrote about the African king for in 2015…”

What's your name a little girl?
Letter from Abroad
Memories of the Frontier
By Susie Chambers
I've never had a problem with talking. I am, my friends would agree, most definitely a 'talker'. Passion for verbal communication helps me overcome communication barriers yet gets me into hot water sometimes for being 'full on'. And yet, I can't help but talk.
There's only one situation in which I've been made to speak against my will - the Slovak side of the Iron Curtain frontier between Austria and Slovakia back in 1982. I was five years old. The soldiers lined up in a row - still, waiting, rifles slung over their khaki-clad shoulders. The eerie tranquillity of that place still haunts me.
As a little girl who regularly frequented this bare, spooky stretch of land between Hainburg (the final village on the route from Vienna to Bratislava) and the equally grey fringe of Petrzalka, these surroundings became familiar.
My parents took me on many cross-continental trips in our 'Bus' (the trusty family RV) from England to see Opa (grandpa), Babi (grandma) and other family members in Slovakia. The first of these road trips was in our Ford Fiesta, a blue jalopy with an economy-size trunk. Looking back on it, it astonishes me how few of the things we saw fazed me back then, but at that age it all seemed normal somehow.
That's how I experienced my first bouts of interrogation at the Slovak frontier. After we had spent hours anxiously waiting at the barriers, the guards would finally decide that they had nothing better to do than deal with us. This was the start of an often-repeated psychological game. It usually opened with a full examination of the vehicle. Forget chit-chat; you were expected to shut up and pray that they would let you through to the other side unscathed.
Attempts by my English father to build rapport with the guards by conversing in Slovak were invariably met with suspicion rather than admiration. The patrols would open storage areas (cupboards, boxes - even the oven) and empty the contents. They seemed to think nothing of helping themselves to anything which wasn't nailed down, in their search for evidence of smuggling. It seemed, though, that this exercise was more for the kick they got out of intimidating anyone wanting to cross the frontier rather than for security purposes. An officer once took my Dad's guitar down from the top bunk-bed and played it, without asking permission. Music is at the core of our family culture so this was a violation of the highest order.
The guards were always eager to take some time to talk to me, however. The funny little blonde creature in the back of the van, slurping a milkshake and colouring by numbers. Their tactics were immaculately planned and focused on getting incriminating evidence out of me. The fact I spoke Slovak presumably made me an even more irresistible target for their interrogation - less effort required on their part.
First, a few warm-up questions: "What's your name?", "How old are you?", "What's that you're drawing?" before moving onto the killer questions. "What does Mummy have in this cupboard?". "Are there any secret places you hide things?", urging me to expose my parents' supposed guilt. The truth is, at that frontier even Mother Theresa would have been made to feel guilty. That was the nature of passage from West to East back then. Nowadays, life at the frontier is different beyond recognition. The road in from that once sleepy village in Austria is now often heaving with traffic, the Iron Curtain has been ripped up, leaving ugly scars in the ground. There's even a kiosk for food and drink, unthinkable in those days of high-strung inspections. Previously it would have been impossible for Slovaks to consider travelling to their workplace across the border but now this is a realistic option with regular bus services from Mlynské Nivy bus station to Vienna.
I sometimes still have nightmares about the time I spent at the frontier, being so small and answering seemingly innocent questions for strangers in peaked caps. In my nightmare I sit in a large, dim office. There are flags and pictures of tanks on the walls around me and a big glass-topped table with medals proudly laid out on a piece of red satin. I cannot figure out whether these images I dream are a figment of my imagination or whether they really happened, but it scares me nevertheless. And then I wake up and talk as much as possible to those around me - just because I can, without being afraid.
From 'Slovak Spectator'