Saturday, May 28, 2005

Living the Dream 

The Financial Times has named Copenhagen "the most liveable, loveable" city in the world. (Actually it's tied for first with Tokyo, but I don't live in Tokyo.)

Copenhagen also comes out on top because it's just the right size. What put it at the top was the winning combination of attractive locals, a near-perfect airport, new metro system, bicycle path network and cosy sense of scale. In addition the redevelopment around the harbour, interesting shops and nice pieces of Danish modernism inspire you to start looking in estate agents' windows.

Improvements: Sunday shopping, a renovated train station and some better hotels.

It's hard to take these kinds of lists seriously—how many cities are there in the world? How many has this guy been to in the past year? How much time did he spend in each? (See how those two questions sort of beat each other up? The more places he went, the less time he could have spend in each.) Also, did he not notice the price tags in Copenhagen's "estate agents' windows?"

Okay, that was the requisite skepticism. On the other hand—woo hoo! I'm living in the City of Dreams!

It's interesting but unsurprising that not a single American city made the list.

I also think it's interesting that the attractiveness of the local population seemed to figure into the criteria. I agree completely that this fair city is teeming with beauties, but that's awfully subjective, isn't it? What if you don't go for the whole blonde nordic thing? (You'll notice he was also gaga for Stockholm's people.)

Friday, May 27, 2005

Bush Birthday in Copenhagen 

Yesterday's paper edition of Berlingske Tidende made a big fuss over U.S.
President George Bush's announced intention to spend his July 6 birthday here in Denmark.

A banner across the top of the paper announced, "Bush celebrating his birthday on July 6th — in Copenhagen!"

Page two featured photographs of and the brief comments of ten Danes reacting to the news. They were seven women and three men, ranging from 23 to 64 years of age. I'll translate all of them. (But I'll shorten George W. Bush, and all variations, to Bush, and Anders Fogh Rasmussen, and all variations, to Fogh.)

Karina Bude, 24, spanish student: "Bush and Fogh have got a good rapport. But he won't get the same support from the Danes that Clinton got. There won't be any praise and flags, on account of the Iraq war."

T. Simonson, 64, retired: "I think it's a shame for Denmark considering the politics he leads. In contrast to Clinton, who was a pryd for Denmark." [pryd is literally 'ornament' or 'decoration,' but I'm not sure of the idiomatic usage here.]

Betina Hjerming, 24, theology student: "I'm not especially keen on the guy. I think it's sad that there's such a close bond between the US and Denmark, and that we don't step back from the Iraq war."

Jacob Michael Larsen, 33, journalism student: "Now I'm not so happy with the Republican side of the US. I'm against the war, and it's disturbing that Bush is coming here. There are lots of Danes who didn't back his Iraq project."

Michelle Thunstrup, 23, pedagog: "It doesn't tell me especially much, unless he's changing his mind about the Iraq war. Otherwise it just doesn't mean anything to me."

Lone Sørensen, 60, office assistant: "I saw Clinton. I'm not a Bush supporter, so it just doesn't mean so much to me."

Sofie Lindhardt, 38, librarian: "It doesn't mean so much to me, but it's a bit of news I'm paying close attention to anyway."

Mads Larsen, 25, music student: "For me it doesn't mean so much, but I can sure see that it's a big event."

Anni Ankjær, 54, project manager: "It's always exciting to have an American president visit. But it doesn't mean anything for me personally."

Karen Marke, 56, pedagog: "I think he should get lost. He's got nothing to do here. It's a lousy piece of work, what he's done in Iraq."

A headline on page 5 declares, "Bush plans lightning-visit to Denmark in July." The article contains plenty of support for the notion that Denmark's opposition politicos are even less enthusiastic about the visit than Karen Marke.

SF's spokesman Villy Søvndahl says, "I hope I get the opportunity to say that we certainly don't think much of his foreign policy, which is bringing the world into a condition of constant conflict. I will certainly also urge Bush to apologize for past mistakes, like the war in Vietnam and the coup in Chile." (No comment on whether or not he'd like to ask Bush to apologize for prohibition, slavery, and the Salem witch trials.)

Another headline on the same page (both articles flank a large photo of the president and first lady waving from the door of Air Force One) declares, "A long awaited visit." This article mostly describes the relations between Bush and Fogh and the logistical implications of a visit to Copenhagen by US president.

Molli's first birthday is July 3. She will also be spending it in Copenhagen. Berlingske Tidende has nothing to say on the subject.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

If It Wriggles, Tax It... 

There must be a room somewhere in which the Danish taxation brain-trust just sits around a few hours each day thinking of things they haven't taxed yet. How else to explain this story?

Denmark, with the world's highest income tax levels, wants sperm donors to pay tax on the 500 crown (46 pounds) reimbursement men receive for their services.

There goes my backup employment plan.

* * *

I think I passed my written Danish exam on Tuesday and ought to have more time for the blog and Almanac soon. But now I'm still a little pressed for time...

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