This week: Vodka, vapologists and Winston Churchill
Image of the week: E-smoke gets in your eyes
New job title alert: “Vapologist”, as seen on the white coat of the man standing behind the bar at the Henley Vaporium in New York.
It’s one of a growing number of e-cigarette lounges that are popping up in US cities, encouraging their patrons to indulge in their choice of more than 90 flavours of nicotine-infused vapour, ranging from bacon (literally, smoky bacon) to bubble gum, and just generally simulate the pleasure of smoking a real cigarette indoors.
The hipsters pictured enjoying their electronic puffing – aka vaping – here may not be doing so for much longer, if electronic cigarettes fall foul of the city’s strict smoking ban. At the time of writing, New York City Council was preparing to vote on exactly this issue. Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters
In numbers: Bogus booze
Percentage alcohol content in the counterfeit Smirnoff red label vodka that has been found on sale, according to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, following a tip-off from its counterpart in the UK.
A buyer of genuine vodka would get no less than this percentage of alcohol from their 1 litre bottles of Smirnoff red label.
Percentage of consumers in Northern Ireland who admitted buying fake alcohol in a recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The report identified the region as the “counterfeit capital” of the UK.
The lexicon: Taper lite
Monetary stimulus – who needs it? Well, the US, and by extension the world, economy, still. The Federal Reserve has finally made its tapering decision, deciding to cut its monthly asset buying activity by $10 billion to $75 billion.
This has led some analysts to use the phrase “just $10 billion” in notes describing Ben Bernanke’s swansong move as a modest one. Thomas Tzitzouris, analyst at Strategas Research Partners, has dubbed it “taper lite”. Related lexicon entry: “taper tantrum”, an expected stock markets wobble in the wake of the tapering announcement that has not, so far, occurred. It’s now over to incoming Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen for the next move.
Getting to know: Plastic banknotes
“I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, sweat and plastic,” isn’t quite how he made his wartime leadership pitch, but it nevertheless falls to Winston Churchill to be the first face to grace Britain’s planned new polymer banknotes.
Sterling will follow in the footsteps of the Aussie dollar and go plastic from 2016, the Bank of England has confirmed, bringing the joy of damage-resistant money to the pockets of the British consumer.
Back in the paper-loving euro zone, however, the durability of the bank notes is, unsurprisingly, not the top priority. Although polymer notes are said to last two and a half times longer than the average cotton-paper note, they have a higher production cost and may well require a revamp of payment and vending machines – it’s probably best to save our energy for the end of the euro full stop.
The list: Most downloaded free iPad apps
Apple has released a rundown of the most downloaded free and paid apps for iPhone and iPad as well as the top-grossing apps. It was a year where “free-to-play” games managed to cash in from the small proportion of players who succumb to in-app purchases. The moral of the story: don’t let your kids find out your App Store password. Here are the top free iPad app delights.
1 Candy Crush Saga: Headed several of Apple’s charts, including the top-grossing app and the most downloaded free app on both iPad and iPhone.
2 YouTube: The magic of watching old clips of singers with bizarre hair miming on Top of the Pops will never fade.
3 Temple Run 2: Have fun being chased by monkeys. Or, alternatively, have nightmares about it.
4 Calculator for iPad: Because everyone needs to know just how much those in-app purchases add up.
5 Skype for iPad: Skype naturally didn’t make the top 10 iPhone apps, but on iPad, a Skype conversation is apparently just about tolerable.