Hip Hop Culture and the Rise of Bling

Hip Hop culture has added a variety of terms, fashion trends, music styles and even personalities to the culture at large. Nothing has captured public interest more than “Bling.” The late 1990′s first saw “Bing” come into the general vocabulary. Bling, originally used in several different rap songs of the time, was coined to describe elaborate jewelry and personal accessories that show that the wearer has taste, talent, and lots of cash.

Hip Hop culture has had a tremendous impact on fashion in general, well beyond the world of Hip Hop. Much of what is “cool” today originally derived from the world of Hip Hop. Jewelry has been particularly impacted by Hip Hop.

Bling is now more commonly used to refer specifically to flashy types of jewelry, including earrings, necklaces, watches, body jewelry, rings and grillz (braces and caps for the teeth). Of course it can also include other accessories such as cell phones or even jeweled glasses or purses. Bling is commonly associated with diamonds and other precious gems, and precious metal such as gold and platinum. This term has become so universally accepted it was actually added to Webster’s Dictionary in 2002.

Hip Hop has made ornate jewelry as prevalent for men as for women. The popularity of Hip Hop culture and bling has drawn a lot more attention to larger pieces of jewelry that are selected to become the center of focus, not to just add to the overall outfit. Hip Hop artists can be seen on music videos sporting huge link chains in gold and platinum with large diamond and gem-encrusted pendants. The designs are specifically designed for men, with heavier weight and larger scale.

Bling is big, bling is flashy, and bling is meant to impress. It is meant to symbolize success. The use of various symbols including dollar signs, ornate crosses and other religious symbols, gambling symbols, and even different breeds of dogs and animals are all popular within the Hip Hop jewelry world.

Bracelets and necklaces tend to be very large link or dog collar-type chains, however solid bracelets are also very popular for both men and women. Rings tend to be chunky, wide, and feature multiple small diamond chips or several larger diamonds, either real diamonds or cubic zirconia, depending on your budget, in elaborate patterns and designs. There is a general sense of more is better with regards to wearing Bling. Rarely will you find any piece being worn alone. More typically, pieces are worn in multiples.

Jewelry designers outside the Hip Hop world have integrated the concepts of large, heavy, and flashy elements into their own jewelry lines. Over the last ten years jewelry styles have definitely been impacted by the Bling style, becoming larger, bulkier, and more ornate. You can now find Bling-style jewelry everywhere from fine jewelry designers to department stores. Available Bling jewelry ranges from the high-end, in gold and platinum with genuine gem,s to the more affordable, in sterling silver with simulated gems. Today, everyone can sport a little Bling.

My Master’s Degree – How Should I Talk And Write About It?

There are many circumstances in which foreign student have to talk about their intentions to study for advanced degrees. Statements of purpose written to accompany applications for university admission are the most obvious case, but the same situation comes up in interviews with recruiters, IELTS Speaking Tasks, and verbal interactions of all kinds with the officials at the universities you will be attending.

Unfortunately, it’s the time many foreign students say things that sound the least “English.” As a result, these unavoidable statements can often suggest that your command of English is weak. Even though all the native English speakers who regularly hear foreign students make these statements have long gotten used to hearing them spoken incorrectly, the mistake always registers with them at some level, however unconsciously.

To make the best impression on university administrators and IELTS examiners, use the right language to talk about your degree and your academic sentences.

The following are the most common mistakes:

“I’m going to learn a master’s degree.”

“I’m going to study a master’s degree.”

“I plan to learn a master degree.”

Don’t make these unnecessary but common mistakes. All that is necessary for you not to make them is to understand clearly what the appropriate words are and mean.

- A “master’s degree” is a noun. When written, it always has an apostrophe, that is, “master’s degree,” not “masters degree” or, worse, “master degree.”

- A master’s degree is not, however, a field of study. We don’t study a master’s degree, we study a field in which we earn (or, more colloquially, “get”) a maser’s degree. Therefore, in English, we say that we plan “to earn a master’s degree in marketing [or the name of some other field].”

- The degree is what we get as a result of studying, not what we study. So, when we talk about studying, we normally say, “I plan to study economics [or some other field].” It’s not incorrect to say, “I plan to learn marketing,” but “I plan to study marketing” is more normal, idiomatic English.

- The certificate that confirms that we have successfully completed a course of study and earned an advanced degree (not necessarily a master’s degree) is called a “diploma.” You can say, “I plan to earn a diploma in marketing,” or, if you have completed the degree, “I have a diploma in economics.” But if you do, realize that a native English speaker will not necessarily understand which graduate degree you have earned.

- The most appropriate verbs to use with “master’s degree,” prior to receiving the degree, are “study for,” “earn,” or “pursue.” So, you should say, “I plan to study for a master’s degree in communications,” or “I plan to earn a master’s degree in marketing,” or “I plan to pursue a master’s degree in engineering.”

This may seem like a minor matter in terms of language. However, making the most common mistakes can lead a university official or IELTS examiner to think less of your English language skills or, in the worst case, your intelligence.

So, practice writing and saying these simple but important sentences correctly.

Incorrect: I’m going to study a master degree.

Correct: I’m going to study for a master’s degree.

Incorrect: I will study a master’s degree of marketing.

Correct: I will study for a master’s degree in marketing.

Incorrect: I will learn a masters degree in economics.

Correct: I plan to earn a master’s degree in economics.

Financial Reporting & Auditing in Singapore

The Accounting Profession of Singapore

The Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore (ICPAS) is the national body representing the accounting profession in Singapore. It maintains a register of qualified accountants comprising mainly local graduates. Membership is open to members of the Institutes of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales, Australia, Scotland, Ireland and a number of other accounting bodies. Generally, prior to being admitted as a full member, they must attend a week-long pre-admission course. Members are designated as certified public accountants (CPA).

The Public Accountants Board, whose council members are appointed by the Ministry of Finance, licenses and registers accountants who wish to practise. It also handles practice monitoring, disciplinary matters and regulations on professional conduct.

Accounting Records in Singapore

All companies incorporated under the Companies Act are required to maintain books of accounts that sufficiently explain the transactions and financial position of the company.

The books may be kept either at the company’s registered office or at another place the directors think fit. If the books are maintained outside Singapore, sufficient records must be maintained in Singapore to facilitate the preparation and/or audit of financial statements that reflect accurately the company’s financial position.

Sources of Accounting Principles

Financial Periods Commencing before 1 January 2003 The principal source of accounting principles in Singapore, namely Statements of Accounting Standards (SAS) and Interpretation of Statements of Accounting Standards (INT), are issued by ICPAS. These standards are essentially International Accounting Standards (IAS) modified for certain transitional provisions. They provide guidelines on the accounting measurements and disclosure requirements. Businesses may depart from such standards if the standards conflict with disclosure exemptions granted by law. Otherwise, ICPAS may take disciplinary action against any of its members who are in violation of the standards.

Rules on accounting measurements are generally established by SAS and INT. Disclosure requirements are governed by SAS, INT and the Companies Act.

ICPAS is a member of the International Accounting Standards Committee (IASC). Compliance with IASC standards are not mandatory, but the institute supports the IASC objectives of formulating and publishing standards for observance during presentation of audited financial statements and promoting worldwide acceptance of such standards.

Financial Periods Commencing on or after 1 January 2003 With the implementation of section 37 of the Companies (Amendment) Act 2002, SAS issued by ICPAS will not be used with effect from annual financial periods commencing on or after 1 January 2003. Instead, Singapore Financial Reporting Standards (FRS), issued by the new accounting standards-setting body, the Council on Corporate Disclosure and Governance (CCDG), are now effective. FRS are essentially adopted from International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). The previous SAS were adopted from the same set of IFRS (formerly referred to as IAS) but with modification to certain transitional provisions. Consequently, there are differences between FRS and SAS.

Interpretations of Standards are authoritative guidance on the application of the relevant standards. CCDG adopted all international interpretations as Interpretations of FRS (INT FRS) with effect from financial periods beginning on or after 1 January 2003.

Compliance with FRS is a statutory requirement whereby any non-compliance amounts to a breach of the Companies Act by the directors.

Financial Reporting in Singapore

The Companies Act requires that an audited set of financial statements, made up to not more than six months before every Annual General Meeting, is to be presented to the shareholders at the meeting. Generally if a company incorporated in Singapore has one or more subsidiaries, it must prepare consolidated financial statements unless it meets certain criteria as provided for in FRS 27 Consolidated and Separate Financial Statements. Currently, financial statements under the Companies Act consist of the balance sheet, income statement together with explanatory notes. With the Companies (Accounting Standards) Regulations 2002 coming into operation for financial periods on or after 1 January 2003, a complete set of financial statements will comprise the balance sheet, income statement, statement of changes in equity, cash flow statement and explanatory notes.

The financial statements must be accompanied by the directors’ and auditors’ reports and by a statement from the directors declaring that the financial statements show a true and fair view and that it is reasonable to believe that the company can reasonably pay its debts as they become due.

Companies which meet specific provisions in the Companies Act may be exempt from having their accounts audited but nevertheless must prepare financial statements that comply with the Companies Act.

Annual Requirements for Companies in Singapore

The Companies Act requires every company, except for those exempted in accordance with the provisions in the Act, to appoint one or more auditors qualified for appointment under the Accountants Act to report on the company’s financial statements. The auditors are to ascertain whether proper books of accounts have been kept and whether the financial statements agree with the company’s records. They will then report on the trueness and fairness of the financial statements to the shareholders at the Annual General Meeting.

Audit Exemption Starting with the financial year beginning on or after 15 May 2003, the following companies are no longer required to have their accounts audited. However, they are still required to prepare accounts (and consolidated accounts where applicable) that comply with FRS.

o Small exempt private companies An exempt private company with revenue in a financial year below S$5m is exempted from appointing auditors and from audit requirements. Revenue is defined according to the statutory accounting standards, i.e. the FRS.

o Dormant companies A dormant company is exempted from appointing auditors and from the audit requirements if it has been dormant either (a) from the time of its formation or (b) since the end of the previous financial year. A company is considered dormant during a period in which no accounting transaction occurs, and the company ceases to be dormant on the occurrence of such a transaction. For this purpose, transactions arising from the following are disregarded:

  • Taking of shares in the company by a subscriber to the memorandum
  • Appointment of company secretary
  • Appointment of auditor
  • Maintenance of a registered office
  • Keeping of registers and books
  • Fees, fines or default penalties paid to the Registrar of Companies

Really Get Away From It All: The World’s Most Remote Hotels

Sometimes we all need to get away from it all; sometimes the further away the better. When you're usual holiday destination will not suffice (out of boredom or a need to put as much distance between yourself and your everyday life as possible), there are a host of hotels around the world that will meet your needs. Some of them offer extreme luxury amid exotic surroundings, while others offer entirely new experiences in locations you would never have dreamed of visiting. Read about the top five most remote hotels in the world and start planning your next holiday.

Bloomfield Lodge, Cairns, Australia

Bloomfield Lodge is located in Queensland's far north and trips guests to not one but two World Heritage Sites: the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest. The lodge is recognized as one of the most exclusive luxury resorts in Australia. Only 34 guests are permitted at a time, so you can sure that your every need will be promptly met.

According to Forbes's list of remote hotels, to reach the lodge one must first charter a plane, then one has to drive through the Outback for a few hours and finally cruise some way down the Bloomfield River. When you ever arrive, however, you will find that all your troubles were worth it.

For starters, the lodge is nestled on the very edge of the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef is just across the bay. There are guided tours of the forest or you can follow some self-guided trails if you prefer. You can also go on guided bird watching tours, enjoy some relaxing fishing or more adrenalin infused tropical fishing out at sea, and laze in the seclusion of Kangaii Beach. Activities based around the lodge include an outdoor Jacuzzi, freshwater pool, spa and well stocked library with paperbacks and a selection of books and journals devoted to the ecology of the rainforest and region's local history. There is also a two-hour guided river cruise that will take you to the local Aboriginal community at Wujal Wujal, while giving you an opportunity to look out for birds and crocodiles.

Kokopelli's Cave, Farmington, New Mexico

If you want remote but do not want to travel to the ends of the earth, Kokopelli's Cave might suit you. The cave, which is not a natural formation and is privately owned, is rather difficult to reach; even the owners recommend that you only try it if you¡¯re physically fit. But if it's seclusion you're after sleeping 70 feet below the earth is ideal.

The cave is located near the Mesa Verde National Monument in New Mexico and if you climb to the top of the cliff you'll be able to see all four states of the Four Corners area. It is only accessible by dirt roads and they are rough. They can be traversed by ordinary cars (up to a point), but 4x4s are recommended. If you're in a conventional car you will have to park it at the upper parking lot and walk the rest of the way, 4x4s will get you quite a bit further. If you're footing it, you'll have to follow a marked trail that leads steadily downward. The way out is even more difficult because it's all uphill.

You'd be well advised to note that no meals are served at the cave, although you can arrange for special occasions to be catered. There is a fridge and some cabinets that provide breakfast things and some fruit, but you'll have to bring everything else. There are all the creature comforts you could want, including a Jacuzzi and waterfall shower, but there are only two local TV channels, so be prepared to entertain yourself.

The Andean Cottage, Peru

Staying at the Andean Cottage has been likened to a spiritual experience. Aside from a butler, who is on call 24 hours and who appears at night to light the two wood-burning chimneys, guests are truly alone. The Andean Cottage is the only one in the area and guests have the lakeside beach all to themselves. You'd better be prepared to embrace rustic living, as there are no cars and no electricity (which means no TV).

What you get is a spacious two-bedroom home with a lake all to yourself. The master bedroom boasts a super king bed size and a large bath which provides open views of the lake.

You get there via speedboat; the trip takes 4.5 hours and the boat leaves daily from the private pier at Casa Andina, Puno. On the way you stop at the Uros Floating Islands as well as the traditional Alsuno community of weavers on Taquile Island, before arriving at Suasi. Alternately, guests with their own vehicles (4x4s strongly recommended) can drive to the dock in Cambria and go the rest of the way in the lodge's Zodiac dinghy.

In terms of things to see and do, you can go on a number of nature walks, canoe on Lake Titicaca, visit the cultural hut, which serves as a museum and library, trek up Itapilluni Hill to admire the sunset and enjoy stargazing such as you will never experience in the city.

Three Camel Lodge, Mongolia

For an authentic Mongolian experience you can do no better than Three Camel Lodge, which offers a taste of a rugged nomadic lifestyle but with luxury Gers (traditional nomadic tents) and five-star dining to fall back on. The Deluxe Gers come with private bathrooms, king size beds and felt slippers and Mongolian bathrobes, as well as locally produced toilets. The more traditional Gers are furnished with wood-burning stoves, felt carpets, hand-painted wooden beds and ceilings that provide an unobstructed view of the stars.

The lodge is located in the heart of the Gobi desert and was built according to environmentally and culturally sustainable methods; electricity is provided by solar and wind power. The lodge offers guests a number of opportunities to explore the vast Gobi desert, including Bactrian camel tours, four-wheel drive excursions, hikes (which provide an intimate glimpse into the ecology of the region including its plant, animal and bird life) and overnight field explorations. It's also possible to remember dinosaur fossils, as a paleontologist from the Mongolian Academy of Sciences takes guests out to dig sites and supervises the expedition.

Getting there is an experience in itself. First you will need to take a two-hour flight from Beijing to Ulaanbaatar (alternatively there is a three-hour flight from Seoul), then you will need to board a prop-plane for a further one-hour flight to Dalanzadgad, followed by an hour-and-a-half drive on a rough dirt road. The chance to meet local nomadic tribes, dine on local produce at the Bulagtai Restaurant and bask in the stars more than makes up for the inconvenience.

Hotel Arctic, Greenland

For possibly the most extreme experience of your life, you can not beat the Hotel Arctic, which is the northernmost 4-star hotel in the world. The hotel is located on the edge of the Ilulissat Ice Fjord, which is a World Heritage Site. It's not all that difficult to reach; almost all major European cities have flights to the airport at Kangerlussuaq, which is in turn a short 45 minute hop to Ilulissat, but it is actually at the end of the world.

The Ice Fjord is the region's primary attraction. It covers 3000 square kilometers and contains one of the largest and most active glaciers in the world. The glacier moves approximately 20m per day, and is described as a park full of sculptures that are constantly changing.

There is also the opportunity to stay in an igloo on the edge of the fjord. The igloos are not made of ice, mores the pity, but that means you are assured of all the modern conveniences.