Monday, July 31, 2006

The value of time

An article in today's Straits Times, Recruit column illustrates this point. A sales girl is quoted as saying that some of her colleagues would lunch where they can get the cheapest meal even though it may be far away. But this sales girl doesn't mind spending 50 cents to a dollar more, if she can save 20 to 30 minutes of walking time, so that she get back faster to serve customers- and make more sales.

This is the kind of staff who will progress well in her job.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

A farmer has to sell his robotic sons.

A Chinese farmer grows robots. It's strange, he does it by himself and they've become his sons.

The China Daily said Mr. Wu Ylu, 44 was forced to sell his beloved home-made robots to pay off debts after his house burnt down.

All 25 robots were made of wire, metal, screws and nails found in rubbish tips, with some able to serve tea, light cigarettes and push rickshaws. "The cleverer they became, the deeper the emotional link I felt … I began to call them my sons," Wu Yulu was quoted as saying.

Mr. Wu does not have a formal education. He was one of five children in the family, and his parents could not support his education after he graduated from primary school in the mid-1970s. This was, however, no deterent to Mr. Wu who persisted to work on his dreams.

He took cue from nature. He was fascinated by the human body movements and in his spare time from farming, he collected everything that could be used in those movable things.

He loved to play with robots but had not heard of the word 'robot' when his imagintion to build moveable objects took flight.

Despite obstacles of accidents and disabled robots, Mr. Wu pressed on and the final blow forcing him to sell his robotic sons is a cruel twist to a fascinating story.

Mr. Wu is a genius of perseverence.

A New Zealand politician plays race card

A prominent New Zealand politician was accused of racism on Saturday after a speech in which he said immigrants who did not accept the country's "bedrock values" should not be allowed to stay.

The leader of the conservative opposition National Party, defined the values as "an acceptance of democracy and the rule of law, religious and personal freedom and legal equality of the sexes".

Diversity in society was fine, but there could be too much of a good thing, he said told an immigration consultants' conference on Friday, likening it to drinking red wine.

The shadow prime minister refused to specify who he was referring to and the country's Race Relations Commissioner passed it on saying he would leave the debate up to the public.

It is unhelpful for racial harmony when a politician makes a statement with negative racial undertones.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Pakistan increases nuclear buildup

Washington, D.C.,-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), a US thinktank has said Islamabad was building a reactor about 105 miles southwest of here that could generate plutonium for up to 50 atomic bombs a year.

The report said that the new reactor could be finished within a few years, and the expansion would represent a 20-fold increase of Pakistan's existing capabilities.

The US government urged Pakistan not to expand its nuclear weapons program.

Pakistan has not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and International observers reacted with alarm after the Washington Post on Monday reported the reactor's existence. But Pakistan says that there would be no arms race with rival India, which is also armed with nuclear weapons.

Pakistan and India, who have fought three wars since independence from Britain, carried out tit-for-tat nuclear detonations in 1998 that provoked a global storm of protest.

A pending nuclear cooperation agreement between the Bush administration and India would give New Delhi access to sensitive U.S. nuclear technology in exchange for agreeing to more stringent safeguards over its civilian nuclear reactors.

Pakistan has criticized the deal, which requires approval from Congress, as one-sided, and demanded similar access to U.S. atomic technology.

South Asia may be heading for a nuclear arms race with worrisome consequences. It was Pakistan's disgraced nuclear scientist Dr. A.Q.Khan who who headed Pakistan's nuclear program for some 25 years and was forced out for selling nuclear technology to Iran, Libya, and North Korea.

Too much of sun kills

What's it with the sun these days!

The World Health Organization (WHO) is warning that as many as 60,000 people a year die from too much sun, mostly from malignant skin cancer.

The bulk of the deaths are from skin cancers caused by excess exposure to the sun's harmful rays, ultraviolet radiation, says WHO.

UVR also causes sunburn, triggers cold sores and ages the skin, according to its report, the first to outline the global health burden of sun exposure.

Simple measures, such as covering up when in the sun, could cut the deaths.

The WHO report in this regard, while warning the dangers of too much exposure to the sun, should also as forcefully bring out the message about the depletion of the ozone layer, causing this deadly problem in the first place. The international community needs to wake up and take decisive and urgent action to stop polluting the air with green house gases.

Celsius: A drink too good to believe

This sounds almost too good to be true: A soft drink that can actually help a person lose weight. No exercise required, just enjoy the drink and lose weight. This is something too good to be true. Against a backdrop of sagging sales of carbonated soft drinks, enter Celsius soft drinks from Elite FX.

The drink, called Celsius, is manufactured by a Florida company and is now hitting shelves in Maine, Portland .

Well, we are now moving away from the no-calorie soda to the negative calorie sodas. The Celsius in its early evolutionary stages is still a revolutionary act in the diet soda market that exists from the 1960s. Certainly the pursuit of weight loss is nothing new. But wouldn't this be quite an achievent when you can sit on your couch, watch your favourite TV program and lose weight by sipping Celsius.

The secret of Celsius, said Janice Haley of Elite FX, is in the natural ingredients, which include green tea, ginger and B vitamins.

Haley explained, "The way Celsius works, it raises your metabolism by 12 percent.

Not so fast cautions exercise physiologist Dawn Strout who is skeptical. While she said she doesn't discredit the claims, she doesn't believe there is any quick fix to weight loss. She said she believes in raising metabolism naturally.

So be careful, heed this Celsius claim only with a grain of salt.

Friday, July 28, 2006

A cure for poverty

While surfing around, Pascal Zachary's 'A capitalist cure for poverty' caught my attention.

It is a catchy title. Zacharay illustrates an example of how global capitalism alleviates poverty by creating job opportunities for the poor. Far from from its developed and high-cost shores, a US company is setting up an electronics factory in Kuching, on the island of Borneo in East Malyasia. Many would argue that clearing up the rain forest to give way to put up a factory providing employment to the tribes deep in the jungle has negative consequences, notwithstanding the short term benefits.

Charity is not what is at work here, it is the opportunity provided for the impoverished workers living in the surrounding vicinity to earn a decent wage and provide for their family.

C.K. Prahalad, a business consultant and management expert, postulates that the goal of the corporate world should be to 'eradicate poverty' rather than just to alleviate poverty. This a noble and lofty ambition which so far the World Bank and other lending agencies together with the support of the philanthropists have yet to achieve.

Prahalad talks of the poor as an untapped market. He presents his own, very simple, solution to poverty: Give the poor decent products at affordable prices. In short, treat the poor as consumers. Companies who do, he argues, will find "the fortune at the bottom of the pyramid."

The phrase, which is the title of Prahalad's latest book, refers to the world's wealth pyramid. Out of six billion people, one third are relatively wealthy and one third are absolutely poor, living on a $1 per day or less. Prahalad says these people, plus two billion more who live on between $1 and $2 per day, make up the "bottom of the pyramid,"(BOP). Prahalad says this the BOP approach.

Traditionally, businesses have always wanted to increase their profits and those that provided for the poor have also gouged them, extorting extra-high profits as a "reward" for going through the trouble of dealing with them in the first place.

Sceptics and the downtrodden will eagerly await to see what the multinational corporations do next.

Success according to Emerson

What is success? Here is what the famous American intellectual Ralph Waldo Emerson said:

To laugh often and much;

To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;

To earn the approbation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty;

To find the best in others;

To give of one's self;

To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition;

To have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation;

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived -

This is to have succeeded.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Sound career advice from Napoleon Hill


It’s hard to say which would be more discouraging: drifting from job to job because you’re always the first to be laid off, or laboring in monotonous obscurity at the same job.

The first results from not doing what you are told to do, the second from doing only what you are told to do. You can "get by" for a time following either approach, but you will never get ahead. Personal initiative is more important in today’s enlightened, high-tech workplace than it was during the Industrial Age, when the ability to follow orders was a critical skill.

As technology makes many supervisory functions obsolete, every one of us is expected to do more with less, determine what needs to be done, and do it. Don’t wait to be told. Know your company and your job so well that you can anticipate what needs to be done-then do it! Stop explaining and start doing!

This positive message is brought to you by the Napoleon Hill Foundation at

Diet seesaw swings back to carbs

The most effective way to lose weight is through a high-carbohydrate, low-glycemic index diet, according to a world-first Australian study.

The theory behind low GI diets is that rapidly digested, high GI carbohydrates cause fluctuations in blood glucose and insulin levels, contributing to hunger and preventing the breakdown of fat.

Lowering the GI level of the diet effectively doubled the fat loss -- an effect strongest in women.

Popular staples such as natural muesli, poached eggs, pasta, meat, and chicken get the green light under the plan.

Foods with a low GI include breakfast cereals based on oats, barley and bran, wholegrain and sour dough breads and Basmati or Doongara rice.

Foods with a high GI include potatoes and white bread.

"High carb, low GI is the best of all in terms of total heart health because it delivers the best fat loss and reduces cholesterol level," said University of Sydney nutritionist Joanna McMillan-Price. "Our findings suggest dietary glycemic load, and not just overall energy intake, influences weight loss and blood sugar levels."

Arrogant till the very end

Former Iraqi Persident Saddam Hussein, defiant and without remorse, has told his trial he wants to be shot not hanged if he is given a verdict to die.

Shooting was the appropriate means of execution for a military man like himself, he said.

Saddam and the seven others have been on trial since Oct. 19 for the deaths of Shiite Muslims after a crackdown in the town of Dujail, which was launched after an assassination attempt there in 1982. The prosecution is seeking the death penalty for Saddam and two other defendants, including Sadam's half-brother Barzan Ibrahim.

Here the trial's timeline from BBC.

Dr.Mahathir tries his hand in business

The former prime minister of Malaysia Dr.Mahathir has decided to go into making Japanese bread as he believes bread from that country as being of high quality.

Dr.Mahathir is the chairman and controlling shareholder of a firm operating a business called "The Loaf" serving bread and pastries. It opens its doors in the resort island of Langkawi in Malaysia on Saturday.

Dr.Mahathir owns a 51 percent stake in a company called M&M Consolidated Resources Sdn Bhd, which is investing three million ringgit ($817,000) in the venture. A Japanese partner owns the remaining 49 percent stake.

Dr Mahathir, who is also adviser of Langkawi Development Authority, said the island had some first-class hotels and restaurants but as a world-class resort, it had not been aiming for high-end food.

M&M Consolidated managing director Jiro Suzuki said the bakery would initially offer 60 types of bread and 15 to 20 types of pastries, which would increase to 100 and 30 respectively by end-2007.

He said in two to three years, the company would be looking at opening more outlets or expanding via franchising in high-class resorts in Phuket, Bali, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

Ultimately, it plans to have outlets or franchisees in Tokyo, London and New York, offering bakery products that are as good as those offered in these cities.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A supermodel returns

Here's the supermodel Kate Moss,32 as seen on Sydney Morning Herald.

The modeling industry is always looking for young talent to market their latest fashion and set new trends.

Supermodel Kate Moss and her antics have been praised by fashion powerhouse KARL LAGERFELD.

It is said that these models can wear anything and look good.

As age takes these sizzling beauties on, many of them have moved beyond the glamour of the catwalk to become brand ambassadors of beauty and personal products or are involved in worthy social causes.

Supermodels do return.

Forcing CEOs to step down

Oil giant BP Chief Executive John Browne ended speculation about his retirement on Tuesday, saying he would go as planned in 2008.

BP has a retirement age of 60, which Browne will be in 2008. Browne said he would stay beyond his birthday but go by the end of 2008.

Browne is one of the UK's best paid executives, although his package, worth around $10 million (5.4 million pounds) last year, is modest compared to that of U.S. oil major chief executives like Exxon Mobil's Lee Raymond who took home $49 million last year, before retiring.

The whole question of BP’s chief executive having no option but to stand down at 60 is calling for a rethink of companies’ retirement policies in the boardroom in an increasingly competitive, globalised economy.

In the case of BP, this rethink requires a change of the UK legislation that is forcing their employees to accept the 'golden handshake' and stand down while the world's industrial leader US and the emerging giant China do not practice such forced retirement.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Camels to protect Jordan's heritage site

Wadi Rum is a valley cut into the sandstone and granite rock in south west Jordan. It is the largest wadi in Jordan.

The dramatic landscape of dunes and massifs, home to Lawrence of Arabia makes Wadi Rum one of Jordan's most precious heritage sites.

A tourism project to save the desert environment of Wadi Rum in southern Jordan is seeking to make camels the sole means of transport. The aim is for these hardy animals to gradually take over from the four wheel drives and other vehicles which currently bring visitors to the zone respecting the natural habitat.

This project aims to protect the bedouin culture which has remained the traditional force in this ancient land.

Tour Mumbai slums if you aren't faint-hearted

This tour comes not only as a fad for the western tourist, happily it is also putting some money in the pockets of Mumbai's slum dwellers and in the process highlighting their plight.

From a tiny office perched above a photocopying shop in Colaba, the suburban metropolis of this jam-packed city, a young Briton, Chris Way is offering an uncommon tour.

The 31-year-old from Stourport, in Worcestershire, sends small groups of tourists on walking tours of the slums.

Mr Way has started his tours at a time when there is a sudden Western fascination with Mumbai's slums, fuelled by the bestselling novel Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts - soon to be turned into a Hollywood movie starring Johnny Depp - in which an Australian bank robber who has escaped from prison hides out in them.

There is little privacy in the slums, and every open doorway lets onto a family's entire home. So Mr Way is careful to stress that his tours are not designed to invade the slum-dwellers' privacy. Tourists are asked not to take photographs except in particular areas where the locals have agreed, and not to hang about in some places but to walk straight through.

The walking tours takes through some extraordinary scenes: winding streets like subterranean tunnels where the houses on either side touch overhead and the light never enters; warehouses piled to their wooden rafters with tens of thousands of empty metal cans and other items.

One of the most startling discoveries on Way's tours, is 'Dharavi,' a place with a reputation for grinding poverty, is actually home to a thriving economy, with an annual turnover of £350m. There are even textile businesses that export cloth to the US. There are Americans who have no idea the cloth for their T-shirt was dyed in a fetid slum in India.

Mr Way's Indian business partner Krishna Pujari says "This is a place of thriving legitimate business. "This is what we want to show, that the common perception in India, that Dharavi is just a place of criminals, is wrong."

Indeed many of the residents in the slums are hard-working and decent people while the environment of the slums could also pose threats from criminal elements.

Mr. Way who makes most of his money from coventional tours says, "the slum tours are about more than making money from a tourist attraction. For one thing, 80 per cent of the profits go to a charity that helps slum-dwellers. We want to help change perceptions, both in India and internationally."

Mumbai the commercial capital of India is also a city of slums. It's not possible to spend more than an hour or two in the city without seeing one from the outside. Even in the wealthiest neighbourhoods, across the street from plush apartment blocks you will find a slum.

World trade talks collapse: what next?

World Trade Organization's trade talks in Geneva have collapsed amid serious differences between the US and EU countries.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an international, multilateral organization, which sets the rules for the global trading system and resolves disputes between its member states.

Ministers from the G6 group – Australia, Brazil, India, Japan, the European Union and the United States – had been talking to reach a deal on how to boost trade in farm and industrial goods .

The main sticking point was the refusal of the rich countries to cut huge subsidies they give to their farmers and open up their markets for fair trade.

It is estimated that the EU and US still spend $100 billion per year on farm subsidies that undercut producers in poor countries. All rich countries promised was a re-packaging of existing domestic support rather than real cuts to the amount of money going to rich farmers and corporations.

The WTO trade talks aim to boost the global economy and lift millions out of poverty worldwide by lowering trade barriers across all sectors, with particular emphasis on clearing obstacles to increased exports from developing countries.

Poorer countries resent what they see as the high-handedness of the rich countries for their refusal to give a fair deal to others in this globalized world economy.

It's apparent that many countries are being pushed into the global economy faster than their citizens or their political cultures can adapt. They need time, and support, to accommodate the stresses of participating in a rule-based global economy.

EU Commissioner Mandelson also held out little hope the failed talks could be resurrected, saying many of the WTO's 149 members would have "lost a great deal of faith and confidence" in the process.

In the long run, the collapse of the talks would lead to less open markets and leave developing countries worse off, he added.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Singapore lays to rest one of its illustrious sons

The late Mr Lim Kim San, one of Singapore founding fathers and a former Cabinet Minister was laid to rest after a funeral service at the Mandai Crematorium on Sunday morning.

From the eulogies that came from Singapore leaders it is clear that Mr. Lim Kim San has made a monumental contribution to Singapore's early development, most notably his foundation for affordable public housing which stands tall among the city state's several proud achievemnets.

Mr. Lim Kim San also initiated the Master Plan for Singapore water supply, which led to the collection of surface run-offs from unprotected catchments to make the state less dependent on Johor water.

Mr.Lim has earned praise for his uncanny ability to judge people, their character and motivations. Indeed he has played a pivotal role in the selection of some of the current generation of leaders for his party that has helped to mainatin the highest level of integrity and efficiency for Singapore.

As the founding generation of Singapore continue to pass on, it may be worth for the younger generation of this country, born into affluence and spoilt for choice, to recognize that the same values of industriousness, integrity and strong leadership responsible for success achieved, is relevant and still important to face new challenges and win over the global competition.

Energy drinks is making a resurgence

Originally associated with the extreme sports phenomenon, energy drinks have managed to endear themselves to mainstream consumers, much like sports beverages. Whereas sports drinks were once a hallmark of serious athletes, the on-the-go consumer has embraced them as a convenient alternative to soft drinks.

Energy drinks are defined as beverages bearing a specific claim to boost energy or stimulation.

Energy drinks are now a booming industry.TaB Energy is the Coca-Cola's low-calorie energy drink. It is a caffeinated energy drink and some people call it the 'pink power' because of its distinctive pink colour can. Weight-conscious celebrities are seen to be using them.

The world's most popular soft drink, the coke has gone full throttle to produce another energy drink 'Full Throttle.' Full Throttle is also a graphical adventure game, originally developed in-house and released by LucasArts and the the 'full throttle' of the Coca-Cola would certainly have a cool appeal of a younger audience who can't have enough of the game.

With the 'red bulls' and several other brands pounding their way into the mainstream beverage market, there is no shortage of choice for thrill seeking customers.

According to the Mintel market research group, the combined sales of sports and energy drinks in 2005 was $1.83-billion (U.S.), up 130 per cent from 2004, making it the fastest-growing edge of the beverage market.

Energy drinks are now available in most gyms as well as in popular bars.

In the run upto 2008 olympic games in Beijing, Dairy Australia is helping companies in China on how to add a boost to their dairy products to meet a growing demand for energy drinks.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Virtual reality: High technology fiction.

I am revisiting a topic, posted here before as virtual reality.

One of the areas where the impact of virtual reality or VR is strongest is in business. Business is everywhere and all around us, from our groceries, to fashion and entertainment, from medical tehnology to tourism and communications.

VR will allow a customer at home to 'visit' a supermarket, see what is there to buy and place the order by computer.

We are living a sonic lifestyle and what we can do or achieve is limited by our imagination.

Research has shown that the feeling of pain produced during medical treatment can be reduced through sophisticated virtual reality helmets, the patient just has to wear the VR helmet and play computer games.

Some scientists are working on a computer that will test and record the human telepathic ability. Hopefully this can shed some light on what is going on in the paranormal world.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Go for a snooze on the Metronap Sleep Pod

Sleep deprivation is a common occurrence in modern culture. There seems to be twice as much work and half as much time to complete it in. This results in either extended periods of wakefulness or a decrease in sleep over an extended period of time.

It is said that New York, the world's leading business centre does not sleep.

A company in USA is providing some help in this regard. It has developed MetroNaps, a process that helps to maximize the rejuvenating effects of a brief rest.

This Pod inclines forward to allow for easy entry, and then reclines and it gives a magical rest.

This is also good news for a nation addicted to fast foods and finds obesity one of it's major health problems. Lack of sleep is said to contribute to weight gain and so more sleep pods are needed in offices, airports and other public places to provide the weary workers a respite.

Julia Roberts, the Green Ambassador

Dallas-based biodiesel producer Earth Biofuels has announced that Julia Roberts will serve as a spokeswoman and chair the company's new advisory board. The organization wants to promote its environmentally friendly alternative fuels.

"It's very important that we expand our use of clean energy and make a long-term commitment to it. Biodiesel and ethanol are better for the environment and for the air we breathe," Roberts said in a statement released this week.

With a sustained increase in oil prices since 2004 and one of the major supply sources, the Middle East becoming a hotspot of conflicts, demand for biofuels is increasing.

OPEC, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is made up of Algeria, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela. These countries have seldom been effective at controlling oil prices.

Like her Oscar-winning character Erin Brockovich, Julia Roberts is on an environmental mission.

Now a pretty woman has come forward to promote the use of environmentally friendly fuel instead of being dependent on the pricey fossil fuels.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Las Vegas Bans Feeding Homeless in Parks

According to AP, the City Council of Las Vegas has made it illegal to give food to homeless people in city parks.

The City Council wants to ban charity that is having unintended consequences. And what are those unintended consequences?

It seems some of the homeless are urinating and defecating in front of the residents surrounding the park. The City Council should deal with such people for being more than an eyesore and allow the others to be fed.

The City Council's law, which went into effect on Thursday, targets so-called "mobile soup kitchens," that provide food the homeless. It carries a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine and six months in jail.

A city spokesman said that by shutting down such soup kitchens, homeless people will be encouraged to go to a center or charity that offers services such as mental health evaluations or job placement.

It appears that the homeless have become the scorn of society here. They are worse off than prisoners, who the state locks up for committing crimes but yet feeds them. The affluent residents who can't bear the sight of the the homeless and poorest may well feel that they are milking their society.

American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada lawyer Allen Lichtenstein said the language makes the law unenforceable.

The law defines a homeless person as an indigent “whom a reasonable ordinary person would believe to be entitled to apply for or receive assistance.”

“It means they can discriminate based on the way people look,” Lichtenstein said.

You would think that Las Vegas, the popular hoilday and gambling destination ought be able to handle the plight of their homeless and downtrodden better than this.

"It is only the dead who have seen the end of war”-Plato

"It is only the dead who have seen the end of war”. This quotation attributed to Plato is engraved on a wall at the British Imperial War Museum.

The Imperial War Museum in London features military vehicles, weapons, war memorabilia, a library of art collection of 20th century and later conflicts, especially those involving Britain, and the British Empire.

What does Plato's quotation mean in the context of this war museum, which encourages the study and understanding of the history of modern war and how it affects our lives?

FIFA bans Zidane and Materazzi

Fifa, the world football's governing body has taken action against Zidane and Materazzi: Zidane for using his head and Materazzi for using his mouth

Zidane has been fined £3,260 and handed a nominal three-match ban for his World Cup final extra-time head-butt on the Italy defender Marco Materazzi, who has himself been suspended for two games and fined £2,170 for provoking the incident. Zidane's ban is made academic by the fact he has now retired from football, but the 34-year-old Frenchman will instead spend three days working with Fifa.

Top class football isn't beautiful anymore. Most of the millionaire superstars and their managers have become bigger than the game itself. Corporate sponsors and big money is the driver that has driven teams to win at all costs including match fixing as we see in Italy Seria A scandal that has shocked the nation.

Materazzi has said touting is widespread in top football. It is used as a tactic to rile your opponents who will retaliate and in the process get yellow or red carded. Football is now a mind game as much as it involves the physical skills to put the ball into the net.

Zidane was the captain of the French team. He carried the burden and responsibilty to win for his nation and he buckled under the pressure, perhaps too much for him to bear even as the legend of being one of the world's best players. Those who support him also say that he has sacrificed victory for honour, when Materazzi abused his mother and sister.

Whichever way you look at this saga, it is a sad ending for a great player.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Know thy time- A daily dose of Inspiration from Peter Drucker

The above is a must-have book for me, but not in my possession yet. Here is a pick of a daily inspiration taken from Drucker's site.

Effective executives start with their time.

"Know thyself," the old prescription for wisdom, is almost impossibly difficult for mortal men. But everyone can follow the injunction "Know thy time" if one wants to, and be well on the road toward contribution and effectiveness.

Effective executives do not start with their tasks. They start with their time. And they do not start out with planning. They start by finding out where their time actually goes. Then they attempt to manage their time and to cut back unproductive demands on their time. Finally they consolidate their "discretionary" time into the largest possible continuing units.

Action Point for the Day: Find out where your time goes by recording, managing, and consolidating your time.

iiNet offers New Zealand iHug for sale

Perth-based ISP iiNet has put is its New Zealand business subsidiary iHug on the market, the company's executive chairman Peter Harley has announced. iiNet is aiming to fund further expansion of its Australian broadband network by selling its New Zealand ihug.

In a statement released to the market today, iiNet said that it wanted to focus on developing its Australian business.

The company is looking for a cash sale to fund further infrastructure investment in the Australian market, Mr Harley said. Part of the proceeds would be used to reduce the company's debt to Westpac.

iiNet bought ihug's Australia and New Zealand businesses in September 2003 for $30.1 million in cash and 23.7 million iiNet shares.

ihug has 120,000 subscribers in New Zealand but this does not accurately represent its customers base because some customers receive a combination of dial-up internet, broadband and fixed-line phone services.

iiNet's New Zealand operation currently has around 120,000 internet subscribers and recorded and EBITDA profit of $5.7 million last financial year.

Tobacco plant used to cure cancer

The heading of an artice in the Independent Online reads "Tobacco could cure cancer."

My first impression: Tobacco is the culprit that is causing cancer, the reason why health warnings are mandatory on all tobacco products. What a turnaround this is!

Read on. Tobacco is still harmful to health and it still causes cancer, there is no change to that.

The scientific community has in the recent times, genetically engineered tobacco plants to produce human proteins antibodies that fights against certain types of cancer. Thanks to the advances in medical and biotechnology, more effective treatments are now available to fight the deadly disease.

Alain Tissier, a biologist, plans to use molecules from tobacco plants to create a cheaper, more effective way of manufacturing treatments. "These molecules - taxol and taxotere - are already used in treatments for cancers of the ovary, breast, lung and prostate," said M. Tissier, who heads the Librophyt scientific research company based in Saint-Paul-lès-Durance in southern France. "They are used in chemotherapy and are essential in preventing the spread of cancerous cells."

So let us get this very clear. Don't get caught up with a misleading title. Tobacco is still the cancer causing culprit, but scientists are able to use the tobacco plant and make antibodies to fight cancer. Tobacco plants are cheap to grow, so the treatment can be less expensive. It seems we can also get the devil to fight the devil.

Amitabh Bachchan conferred honorary doctorate

Amitabh Bachchan has become the first Indian film star ever to be awarded an honorary doctorate from a British university.

On Wednesday Mr. Bachchan was conferred an honorary degree of Doctorate of Arts by the De Montford University at Leicester at it's graduation ceremony. The university said he was recognized for his outstanding contribution to the movie business in India.

Bachchan said he was deeply humbled by this recognition.

Officials of De Montfort University also expressed that "Amitabh Bachchan is a well-known figure in the creative industries and his energy and professionalism will be an inspiration to our graduates and students across the board, and especially to those wishing to pursue careers in this sector."

They also admit that honouring of the Big B had much to do with their ongoing drive to get on to the news agenda, highlight their commitment to the creative industries and push for more Indian students.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Childhood asthma rises due to indoor swimming

Researchers, led by Alfred Bernard, professor of toxicology at the Catholic University of Louvain in Brussels have found that incidents of childhood asthma rose in areas with indoor pools.

The assumption is that chlorine gas from indoor pools could affect lungs of young children.

The findings have led Prof Bernard to conclude that children who are susceptible to allergies should not be allowed to swim in pools which smell strongly of chlorine. Outdoor chlorinated pools are safer as the gas is quickly dispersed.

A bargain hunt begins at Juventus

Some of Italy's biggest football clubs have become tainted and sleazy.

The corruption scandal that gripped Italy just before the world cup, broke in May when newspapers published intercepted conversations between Luciano Moggi, the former general manager of Juventus, and senior officials of the football federation discussing the appointment of referees during the 2004/05 football season.

Less than a week after Italy celebrated winning the world cup championship, a sports tribunal has delivered a brutal verdict which reversed the euphoria and has sent the nation into mourning.

Even Italy's Justice Minister Clemente Mastella weighed in against the verdict, saying it mostly punished fans.

Three of Italy's Serie A clubs Juventus, Lazio and Fiorentina have been demoted to the second division for their involvement in Italy's match-fixing scandal. Juventus is stripped of their last two Serie A titles and had 30 points deducted, meaning they are likely to stay down for two seasons.

Juventus is one of Italy's oldest and most renowned clubs. It is based in Turin.

AC Milan will stay in Serie A but will start the season docked 15 points.

All are barred from playing in Europe - Juventus, Milan and Fiorentina in the Champions League; Lazio the Uefa Cup.

This is a huge blow for Juventus whose big stars like Fabio Cannavaro, Alessandro Del Piero, Zambrotta, Gianluigi Buffon, Patrick Viera, Emerson, Lilian Thuram and Pavel Nedved are likely to seek immediate transfers to other clubs.

Real Madrid, Manchester United and Chelsea if not negotiating already are waiting for outcome of an appeal against the verdict by Juventus.

According to a football financial expert, the fallen Italian giants will need extra money to continue. It is likey that sponsors will drop out and many of the top players will not want to play in a lower division.

These illustreous clubs now put to shame with the match fixing verdict cannot afford to keep the high-earning players, so there will be be some cut-price deals for those who are watching with interest.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

How good is consumerism?

What is consumerism?

Consumerism is a term used to describe the effects of equating personal happiness with purchasing material possessions and consumption.

Consumers worldwide are not the same, and the differences in consumer behavior between countries are increasing. Because all aspects of consumer behavior are culture-bound, and not subject merely to environmental factors but integrated in all of human behavior, there is an increased need to identify and understand this integration and its impact on global marketing and advertising.

Proponents in favour of consumerism say that it is the right of every individual or consumer to make a choice; what to buy or when to buy a product or service. When you look at the big brand companies and their hugely financed marketing strategies to sell their products, it becomes clear how the consumers make their choices.

In recent years, there has been some strong criticism against the movement to promote consumerism. Consumerism, as in the case of people purchasing goods or consuming materials in excess of their basic needs, has evoked intense debate in the USA and Europe for various reasons.

Today, in most of the developed countries, many students leave college carrying their student loans with them that will be paid through their gainful employment. They are individuals, individual consumers who start off living a life on credit by brandishing the easily available credit cards. Their commitment to relationships depend on their ability to live the perceived happy lifestyle craving for instant grtification.

These advanced societies are now beginning to realize that happiness doesn't come merely by material possessions alone. Individuals do have the right to make their own choices in what they buy or don't buy or in how they want to live their lives. But individuals must also be mindful not to create unsolvable problems for future generations. Their excessive and unwarranted use of limited environmental resources or by the radical ideas such as to allow children to be borne out of cohabitation without the commitment of marriage and parenthood leaves profound problems for future generations.

Monday, July 17, 2006

A Wiki by experts

The free encyclopedia wikipedia is a big time hit in the digital universe.

There has been some understandable apprehension among academic circles that the wiki is not so reliable because anyone can contribute to it and that there is no traditional review process.

This article in Reuters about Enron Founder Ken Lay's death underscores the challenges facing Wikepedia.

Glyn Moody of The Guardian writes a nice artice about how Larry Sanger is working to bring out the new Wiki. Read this article to understand Sanger's role in the Wiki from the very beginning.

Now go on to Sanger's blog Digital universe foundation. In it he writes, "I am not launching a web guide. There’s a whole group of dozens of employees who, truth be told, have all the fun of doing the work, more than I am. Apart from Textop, which is my own project, I am a project planner and theorist and consultant, and public cheerleader (e.g., this blog). I answer the President of the DUF, Bernard Haisch, and we answer to the DUF Board of Directors. And the ManyOne Networks side of things is really doing most of the heavy lifting. Just wanted to make that clear!"

Citizen journalists gain recognition

The above picture taken moments after a bomb exploded on a number 30 bus in London's Tavistock Square on 7 July 2005 has won the first citizen journalism award.

The awards are set up by Nokia and the UK Press Gazette. It aims to recognize images that are shot by citizens witnessing events.

Increasingly the well-known pictures of significant events around the world, such as the bombings in London on 7 July 2005, are coming from citizens rather than professional photographers.

The person who took the Tavistock Square photograph elected to remain anonymous and asked for the prize to be donated to one of the London bombings charities.

Bionic eyes: FDA says not yet

According to a LiveScience report, a tiny telescope designed to be implanted in the eyes of some elderly patients has failed to receive the US Food and Drug Administration approval.

The TV show "The Six Million Dollar Man" would have raised hopes for a tiny telescope to be implanted in the eyes of some elderly patients, but for now it will have to wait.

The first-of-its-kind device is called the Implantable Miniature Telescope. The telephoto lens could enable some patients to do away with the special glasses and handheld telescopes they now use to compensate for the loss in central vision caused by age-related macular degeneration, according to VisionCare Ophthalmic Technologies Inc., its manufacturer.

An FDA spokesperson said that it's ophthalmic devices panel recommended against the pea-sized bionic device for safety reasons.

The manufacturer will have to keep the bionic eye on test bed until further tests are carried out to satisfy the FDA.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Photo of a dying Princess Di sparks outrage in Britain

Europe was abuzz this week when Italian magazine called Chi printed a photo of a dying Princess Diana.

The photograph shows the princess being given oxygen in the wreckage of the Mercedes car in which she died.

The Italian magazine's decision to print a photo of a dying Princess Diana set off anger in Britain, with tabloid newspapers leading the protests against the image.

"We feel deeply saddened that such a low has been reached," said Diana's sons, princes William and Harry, in a statement released Friday.

Chi editor Umberto Brindani said he had published the picture for the "very simple reason" that it has never been seen before.

"In my opinion it is not a picture which is offensive to the memory of Princess Diana," he added.

"She is not dead in the picture but looks as if she is a sleeping princess."

Regardless of the outrage, the ethics and morality involving human dignity, this is a story that sells. It makes money for the publishers. But it is such a shame that money has to be made this way.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The health benefits of chocolate

Is chocolate an essential component of a balanced diet?

According to this piece from Clevelandclinic, it has health benefits, more specifically it benefits a healthy heart.

They say that it contains chemicals called flavinoids which are found in a wide array of foods and beverages, such as cranberries, apples, peanuts, chocolate, onions, tea and red wine.

To date, dark chocolate appears to retain the highest level of flavonoids. So your best bet is to choose dark chocolate over milk chocolate.

It looks like the old adage of "everything in moderation" holds. But if you can't resist chocolate, at least stick to dark. It's higher in cocoa than milk chocolate and helps to increase levels of HDL, a type of cholesterol that helps prevent fat clogging up arteries.

Why is the sun dimming?

We are all seeing rather less of the Sun. Scientists looking at five decades of sunlight measurements have reached the disturbing conclusion that the amount of solar energy reaching the Earth's surface has been gradually falling.

This phenomenan is called global dimming. No one is sure what's causing global dimming – or what it means for the future.

The decline in sunlight reaching the surface of the earth may mean that global warming is a far greater threat to society than previously thought.

This is bad news. It should be a concern not only to the climate scientists but to the global community as a whole.

While scientists may find difficult to prove the causes of this 'dimming,' we know there is global warming and the various forms of pollution that affects the environment. So for sceptics and critics alike, it may be time to take a good hard look and understand what challenges lie ahead.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Monsoon in India

The southwest monsoons supply over 80% of India's annual rainfall. There are two branches to the monsoon, the Bay of Bengal branch, and the Arabian Sea branch, extending to the low pressure area over the Thar Desert in Rajasthan. The Arabian Sea branch is roughly three times stronger than the Bay of Bengal branch.

The monsoon makes its presence felt by the end of May. It starts around the 29 May, hitting the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal. It strikes the mainland in Kerala by 1 June. By 9 June, it reaches Mumbai, and Delhi by 29 June. The Bay of Bengal monsoon moves in a northwest direction whereas the Arabian Sea monsoon moves northeast. By the first week of July, the entire country experiences rain. But usually southern India receives more rainfall than northern India.

The monsoon accounts for 80 percent of the rainfall in the country. Indian agriculture (which accounts for 25 percent of the GDP and employs 70 percent of the population) is heavily dependent on the rains, especially crops like cotton, rice, oilseeds and coarse grains. A delay of a few days in the arrival of the monsoon can, and does, badly affect the economy, as evidenced in the numerous droughts in India in the 90s.

The picture above is artist George Oommen's , "Kerala Altered Reflections" (2002, acrylic on canvas) where the monsoon weaves both sky and land into a luminous wash that drizzles tropical yellows, blues and greens into murky, many-layered water.

Click here to look at George Oommen's monsoon magic.

Oil prices increase sharply

Oil prices surged Thursday to a record above $78 a barrel in world markets rattled by the escalating turmoil in the Middle East and the threat of supply disruptions in the Middle East and beyond.

Oil's march toward $80 a barrel seems inevitable, with multiple paths to get there.

It could follow another flare-up of the continuing Middle East violence. Or a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. Or maybe a refinery snag is all it would take.

Oil market analysts report that there is enough crude oil to meet daily demand of 85 million barrels a day, but it isn't just buyers of the physical commodity bidding up prices. Hedge funds and other institutional investors are making big bets on energy as a way to profit from global instability and to offset any losses the rest of their portfolios may sustain as a result.

The latest leap in oil has shaken the confidence of stock-market investors already fretting about higher interest rates and a slowing economy, though economists say most consumers and businesses appear to be absorbing higher energy costs surprisingly well.

Most of the global stock indices are down today amid uncertainty and fears of escalating tension and violence in the Middle East, which is adding to the existing pressures on the international community by a defiant North Korea that has tested several missiles recently.

Timber industry goes underwater

As the world's thirst for wood grows and the resulting deforestation contributes to a wide range of environmental problems, one enterprising group has gone to a surprising location to search for more sustainable wood supplies--under the water.

A great amount of timber sank during log drives or was flooded during the construction of hydroelectric dams around the world.

As the traditional logging industry deals with unsteady prices and the challenges of globalization, the value of a new crop is coming to light: trees hidden under reservoirs, long given up for lost.

The global market for industrial wood products (including wood and paper) is a $400 billion industry, according to From Forests to Floorboards: Trends in Industrial Roundwood Production and Consumption, a 2001 report from the World Resources Institute.

Barges and divers have long gone after both standing trees and abandoned, sunken logs, but it is a slow and dangerous process. Now technology is lending a helping hand, allowing submerged trees to be cut more quickly.

A robotic 3-ton submarine, the yellow Sawfish (in the picture above) is going under to get the job done. An operator works in a control booth on a barge, directing the robot to the base of a standing tree. A hydraulically powered grapple (driven by vegetable oil, not hydraulic fluid) grabs the tree, and the sub screws a large air bladder to the trunk and inflates it. After the Sawfish saws the trunk with its 40-horsepower electric chain saw, the bladder lifts the tree to the surface. Workers then remove the bladder and the tree's limbs.

Capable of operating in up to 1,000 feet of water, Sawfish can cut up to 10 trees an hour. That's somewhat slower than conventional harvesting techniques, but each dead tree harvested by Sawfish can be another live tree saved.

The company that designed Sawfish, believes its submersible could save about 20 million live trees in British Columbia alone.

An estimated 200 billion board-feet of high-quality timber are thought to be standing on reservoir floors behind the world's 45,000 major dams. That's more than six times the amount of timber harvested each year in the United States.

With underwater logging, every acre of drowned trees that is chain sawed in a hydroelectric reservoir should translate into an acre of forest that's left standing. And that, in turn, could translate into significant environmental benefits for the world.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Vanuatu is the happiest place on earth

Vanuatu, the small island state in the pacific is a happy place, infact it is the happiest place on earth according to the study compiled by think-tank the New Economics Foundation (Nef).

The study is based on the 178-nation "Happy Planet Index" taking into account consumption levels, life expectancy and happiness, rather than national economic wealth measurements such as GDP.

According to the CIA Handbook, Vanuatu has :

"Population: 209,000
GDP/capita: $2,900 (£1,575)
Climate: tropical
Resources: forests, fish
Economy: agriculture, tourism
Environmental issues: deforestation and clean water"

The Group of Eight (G8) industrialised nations failed to make the top 50. The United States came in at 150 in the 178-nation survey, with the UK at number 108.

Richard Layard, director of the Well-Being Programme at the London School of Economics' Centre for Economic Performance, said that the index was an interesting way to tackle the issue of modern life's environmental impact.

"It reminds us that it is not good enough to be happy today if we are impoverishing future generations through global warming.

"Over the last 50 years, living standards in the West have improved enormously but we have become no happier," Mr Layard told the BBC.

"This shows we should not sacrifice human relationships, which are the main source of happiness, for the sake of economic growth."

BrainGate leads thoughts into action

The BrainGate Neural Interface designed to restore functionality for a limited, immobile group of severely motor-impaired individuals is expected to create a direct link between a person's brain and a computer, translating neural activity into action.

The BrainGate System is based on Cyberkinetics' platform technology to sense, transmit, analyze and apply the language of neurons. The System consists of a sensor that is implanted on the motor cortex of the brain and a device that analyzes brain signals. The principle of operation behind the BrainGate System is that with intact brain function, brain signals are generated even though they are not sent to the arms, hands and legs.

Matthew Nagle, though paralysed from the neck down could open a simulated e-mail, play a retro arcade computer game and adjust the volume on the television set by the power of thought alone, and while talking at the same time.

The 25-year-old Nagle has been on the clinical trial of the BrainGate system and it has show promising results for him, a prospect that gives hope to the aspirations of many others like him. Nagle is well on his way to become the first bionic man. This is real life, pushing the limits of technology ahead of the American TV series The Six Million Dollar Man.

British scientists hailed the the medical breakthrough as a landmark yesterday that could bring hope to hundreds of thousands of people disabled by accidents, stroke or other diseases.

World's most expensive painting

A 1907 portrait by Gustav Klimt, known as the "Mona Lisa of Austria," has been purchased by cosmetics magnate Ronald S. Lauder for 135 million U.S. dollars, becoming the world's most expensive painting. The highest price previously paid was $104 million for Picasso’s Boy with a Pipe in 2004.

Lauder is a lifelong collector; he's also heir to the Estee Lauder cosmetics fortune.

For purchasing the painting at the enormous price of U.S.$ 135 million, Lauder said, "This was not a question of money. This was a question of something so special. This piece is priceless."

Klimt painted Adele Bloch-Bauer in 1907. The daughter of a Jewish sugar magnate, she was rumored to be the artist's lover.

In 1938, when the Nazis invaded Austria, the painting was looted and only returned to its rightful owners this year.

When an arbitration court in Vienna ruled this January that Vienna's state-owned Belvedere Gallery must return five Klimt paintings to Maria Altmann, Bauer-Bloch's last surviving heir now living in California , restitution experts around the world reacted with joy and disbelief. The case of Altmann vs the Republic of Austria was a highly publicised and bitter legal battle which intrigued the art world for more than seven years.

Installed behind bulletproof glass, the shimmering Adele will be on display at the Neue Gallerie in New York beginning on Thursday. The painting's price tag is now as rich as its history.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Government of Singapore Investment Corp has earned average 9.5% over 25 years

According to Bloomberg, The Government of Singapore Investment Corp., (GIC) which manages more than $100 billion of the city-state's reserves, has earned an average 9.5 percent a year since its inception in 1981. This was stated by GIC Chairman Mr. Lee Kuan Yew.

Singapore's foreign reserves increased to $128.9 billion in May to become the seventh largest in the world, from ``only a few billion dollars'' in 1970, according to GIC and data from the city-state's central bank.

This is a great achievement that Singapore can be proud of.

Magic mushrooms can induce mystical effects

A universal mystical experience with life-changing effects can be produced by the hallucinogen contained in magic mushrooms, scientists claimed yesterday.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, Maryland, have for the first time demonstrated that mystical experiences can be produced safely in the laboratory. They say that there is no difference between drug-induced mystical experiences and the spontaneous religious ones that believers have reported for centuries.

The resulting experiences apparently prompt positive changes in behavior and attitude that last several months, at least. The agent, a plant alkaloid called psilocybin, mimics the effect of serotonin on brain receptors-as do some other hallucinogens-but precisely where in the brain and in what manner are unknown.

Leaving aside the question of legality of this fascinating experience , there are several reasons why this new research is important.

First, it shows clearly, and scientifically, that psilocybin can produce mystical experiences.

It's an early step in what we hope will be a large body of scientific work that will ultimately help people," said Roland Griffiths, a psychopharmacologist at Hopkins' departments of Neuroscience and Psychiatry and Behavioral Biology.

Many people spend their whole lives trying to understand the spiritual meaning of their existence. Some never achieve it. Is Griffiths trying to find a short cut to enlightenment?

Now this reasearch will take the debate to a whole new level of finding god.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Zidane is world cup's best player amid anguish of sending off

France captain Zinedine Zidane, sent off for headbutting Marco Materazzi late in Sunday's World Cup final loss to Italy, won the Golden Ball award for the tournament's best player.

The results were released on Monday morning by Fifa.Zidane polled 2012 points in the vote by journalists covering the tournament, beating Italians Fabio Cannavaro (1977 points) and Andrea Pirlo (715 points) in the ballot.

A bitter French Gallas has controversially moved to defend his team-mate and alleged that Marcello Lippi's team used underhand tactics to win.

"Italians always act like this," he told AFP. "It is a shame to say that, but when they feel they are being dominated they try to provoke you.

"Yes, they are cheaters, but we can't stop that. Fifa and the referees only see the second act, they never look at why there is an incident.

"I accept when the adversary wins with honour, but that is not the case. We know Zizou, he doesn't react like that, people can't react like that, but he has been insulted.

"I think it was very grave. When you play against people like that you want to kick their ass. It is cheating, but they are Italians."

While reports in the French media suggest that Materazzi called Zidane a 'terrorist,' making reference to his Algerian roots, the Frenchman's reaction was inexcusable and left a sour taste in the mouth after what has been an outstanding career.

FIFA ought to ivestigate this matter, as it will be a matter of speculation , debate and heart pain for many people over the coming months or years.

As Italy wins, Zidane bows out in disgrace

The beautiful game turned vicious, even venomous on Sunday. It was all still beautiful to Italy. And very ugly for France, which lost captain Zinedine Zidane with a red card after his nasty head butt in extra time, and then went down 5-3 in a shootout after a 1-1 draw.

Explanations were nonexistent for Zidane's action in the 110th minute of his farewell game although it is said there may have been some sort of verbal provocation by the Italian defender Metarrazi.

This world cup campaign holds a record for the number of red cards dished out.

Italy can certainly be proud of this victory, for their national team on the international stage when their domestic league is bogged with a huge match fixing scandal.

Verdicts in the match-fixing trial that could relegate four teams -- and 13 of Italy's 23 players -- to lower divisions are expected next week.

Until now, no team since the last Azzurri champions in 1982 had to endure the stress and anguish of a soccer scandal.

Congratulations to Italy for winning this world cup. They hold the European record of winning the FIFA championship four times, while Brazil is the only team that has won five times.

For Zinedine Zidane, what can you say. He is the most gifted player of his generation, playing his final match on the world stage, will be remembered now for something else - petulance, selfishness, looniness, take your pick.

All because of one moment of unbridled fury, a moment of madness which is seen even from other players in this game of high passion.

In the 110th minute of Sunday's World Cup final, Zidane lost his cool and all those sparks of magic that flew off his feet game after game, year after year- all of a sudden, it's almost like they never happened.

Zidane was a member of the French football team in the 1998 FIFA World Cup, scoring two headed goals in the final against Brazil, which ended in a 3-0 victory. This earned France its first World Cup championship and it was also the first time in 20 years that a host had won the tournament. There many more trophies Zidane has hoisted in his illustreous footballing career and it is such a shame that it had the curtains came down for the final time in this manner.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Supreme Court of India rules honour killngs barbaric

Terming 'honour killing' as an act of barbarism, the Indian Supreme Court has ordered police across the country to take stern action against those resorting to violence against boys above 21 and girls above 18 who enter into inter-caste or inter-religious marriages.

Recently, this subject has generated intense interest by the media in Pakistan. The Hudood Ordinance is the Honour Killing Act. Honour killing or karo kari is a custom where male relatives kill those family members who bring shame to the family. Often, these are female family members who are accused of having illicit relations with a man.

According to independent reports in Pakistan, around 122 people have been killed in the name of honour in the first three months of this year alone, while 322 people were killed last year.

Honour killing refers to extra-judicial capital punishment of a female relative for supposed sexual or marriage offenses. The justification given is that the "offense" has brought "dishonour" to the family. This is a double standard, because a man will not be killed for such an offense; if he rapes a woman, it is she who "brings dishonour" to her family, not him.

Google is a verb

The word has made it into the latest edition of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, as a transitive verb with a lower case "g". The dictionary defines it as: "to use the Google search engine to obtain information (as a person) on the World Wide Web".

Other new technology-related additions to the dictionary include "spyware", "ringtone" and "mouse potato", a term used to describe someone who spends too much time sitting in front of their computer. This a popular twist on the late 1990s "couch potato" entry.

This is not the first time Google has appeared in a dictionary; the Oxford English Dictionary included the word in its June update to its online version. They have defined the verb as: "To use the Google search engine to find information on the internet.

Merriam Webster editors scan publications looking for new words and their usages. It only took 5 years for the word google to gain its official status, which is remarkably quick; usually it takes 10 to 20 years. This shows the power of this google phenomenon.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Soitec invests S$711m in Singapore

Soitec (Euronext Paris), the world’s leading manufacturer of silicon-on-insulator (SOI) wafers and other engineered substrates announced on Thursday that it is investing 350 million euros (S$711 million) in a new production plant in Singapore, its first plant outside France.

The new plant in Singapore's Pasir Ris Wafer Fab Park is expected to start production in mid-2008. About 500 people will be employed at the plant by 2009.

Mr Teo Ming Kian, chairman of Singapore's Economic Development Board, said: 'We are very honoured that Soitec, a world leader in SOI wafer fabrication, has chosen Singapore for its first manufacturing campus outside of France over many other locations. Soitec’s facility, employing the most advanced technology, reflects the growing sophistication and adds to the vibrancy of Singapore’s semiconductor ecosystem.'

Mr Andre-Jacques Auberton-Herve, president and chief executive of Soitec, said the decision to expand in Asia was to meet 'an anticipated rising demand from chipmakers worldwide, including Asian foundries'.

The Soitec Group is the world’s leading innovator and provider of the engineered substrates that serve as the foundation for today’s most advanced electronic products and nanotechnologies.

Founder of Enron Kenneth Lay dies a beaten man

Founder of the energy giant Enron's Kenneth Lay (April 15, 1942 – July 5, 2006), died of a massive heart attack on July 5, while vacationing in a home he once owned near Aspen, Colorado. He was awaiting sentencing after being convicted in May of federal fraud charges stemming from Enron's collapse, which wiped out more than 5,000 jobs and $1 billion in employee pensions.

Ken Lay's story is an amazing one.

Enron Corporation is an energy company based in Houston, Texas. Prior to its bankruptcy in late 2001, Enron employed around 21,000 people and was one of the world's leading electricity, natural gas, pulp and paper, and communications companies, with claimed revenues of $101 billion in 2000. Fortune named Enron "America's Most Innovative Company" for six consecutive years.

Less than two years after Enron was formed, a trader in the company's Valhalla office lost hundreds of millions of dollars betting the wrong way on crude oil. The company, at Lay's bidding, hid the damage from investors until executives had worked it down to a more manageable $85 million.

It was an early--disturbingly early--sign that Lay was willing to do almost anything to protect his company from disclosures that could tank its stock price.

It was this pattern of deception and Lay's willingness to hide the truth that ultimately brought the collapse of Enron, wherein unwitting investors lost $6 trillion overall. Millions of innocent bystanders lost much more in terms of their lives.

Lay rose from near poverty as a minister's son in Missouri to the pinnacle of America. He was a strong supporter of the Republican Party.

Lay was one of America's highest-paid CEOs, earning (for example) a $42.4 million compensation package in 1999. He dumped large amounts of his Enron stock in September and October of 2001 as its price fell, while encouraging employees to buy more stock, telling them the company would rebound. Lay liquidated more than $300 million in Enron stock from 1989 to 2001, mostly in stock options.

Justice is done in strange ways. While it is inhuman to gloat over the death of a person, those who lost their livelihood and pensions would feel Kenneth Lay facing his day in court is small comfort for them.

Friday, July 07, 2006

When egos get in the way of winning.

The recently concluded cricket test series between West Indies and India, on West Indies home turf brings out everything good for the Indian team who won the series.

The win gave India a 1-0 victory in the four-Test series, after the first three Tests at the Antigua Recreation Ground, the Beausejour Cricket Ground, and Warner Park all ended in draws.

It also provided India with a series victory in the Caribbean for the first time in 35 years, only their second series triumph in the Caribbean in nine trips, and their first win at a ground in the Caribbean outside of Port of Spain.

Compared to Indian Captain Rahul Dravid's performance and leadership, West Indian team was in disarray. Brian Lara who took over the captaincy only recently performed poorly and worse by his public outburst against the team selection criteria and state of the pitch did not bode well for his leadership responsibilty.

It is understandable that he would have been extremely frustrated in the aftermath of India's series-clinching victory inside three days in the fourth and final Test in Kingston. Yet, as much as he may have justifiable cause for complaint about selection and pitch preparation among the many other ills in the regional game, to reinforce those points in the immediate aftermath of defeat leaves the impression that Lara is fishing for excuses.

In the past, Lara has shown an almost unparalleled ability to build massive innings, and holds several world records for high scoring. He has the highest individual score in both first-class cricket (501 not out for Warwickshire against Durham in 1994) and Test cricket (400 not out for the West Indies against England in 2004).

Lara has taken over the captaincy for the third time and although he is regarded as one of the world's best batsman, in reality his career has been bedevilled by clashes with authority, injury and loss of form.

In March 2005, Lara, along with six other senior players, was dropped by the West Indies Cricket Board from the West Indies team over their personal Cable & Wireless sponsorship deals, which clashed with the Cricket Board's main sponsor, Digicel. Happily for Lara's fans, the issue was resolved and he returned to test cricket.

The never-give-up spirit of Verdi

Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi (10 October 1813 – 27 January 1901) was an Italian composer, mainly of opera. He was the most influential member of the 19th century's Italian School of Opera. His works are frequently performed in opera houses throughout the world.

Verdi had written his last opera "Falstaff" when he was eighty years old. Asked why he had taken up such a challenging opera at his age, he is reported to have said, "all my life as a musician, I have striven for perfection. It has always eluded me. I surely have an obligation to make one more try."

These are profoundly powerful words that can inspire and guide anyone to push forward, no matter what the obstacles that may appear in a person's life.

Verdi's last opera, Falstaff, based on Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor became an international success. Verdi was a genius but he achieved his greatness by the power of his never-give-up spirit.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Shaolin Kungfu Master flying to watch world cup final.

The Shaolin temple is a Chinese Buddhist monastery famed for its long association with Zen Buddhism and martial arts, and is perhaps the Buddhist monastery best known in the West.

Abbot Shi Yongxin will fly to Germany to watch the World Cup soccer final at the special invitation of FIFA President Sepp Blatter, the temple said on Wednesday.

Established about 1,500 years ago, the Shaolin Temple is famed for combining martial arts with Zen Buddhism and features long sessions of meditation to purify the mind.

It has in recent years sought to shed its its reclusive reputation, increasingly stepping into the spotlight to promote trademark protection for the temple and raise money.

The abbot who rarely watches any football is quoted as saying, "that sportsmanship is highly valued in the World Cup and it's the same with kungfu."

Eat a mind meal

An ideal meal for mood has been devised for the British mental health charity Mind by Amanda Geary, nutritional therapist and founder of the Food And Mood Project.

It's a healthy feast of wheat-free pasta with pesto and oily fish, avocado and mixed-seed salad, and fruit and oatcakes for pudding. The pasta is wheat-free because wheat is a common culprit in food sensitivities that can cause fatigue and depression.

The Food and Mood Project was founded in 1998 with a Millennium Award from Mind, the UK's leading mental health charity.

Click here to find out more about this dietary self help called food and mood.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Asian Highway Network: the modern silk route is shaping up

Conceived in 1959, the Asian Highway(AH) Network took off with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) promoting it through the past two decades. A big breakthrough came in April 2004 when 23 Asian countries signed the Asian Highway agreement in the 60th session of UNESCAP at Shanghai, China, aptly the country that set off the glorious silk route to Europe in a previous golden era.

The Asian Highway (AH) project is a cooperative project among countries in Asia and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) to improve the highway systems in Asia.

In June this year, the 141,204-kilometer Asian Highway network slotted into place completed sections linking Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar. The US$144.77 million construction bill was partly financed by the Asian Development Bank.

The $44 billion Asian Highway network weaves through 32 countries, connects Asia with Europe, and promises to boost regional economies by facilitating trade and tourism through its linkage of Asian seaports, airports and major tourist destinations. It also fleshes out dreams of a Pan-Asian community with a common socio-political-economic identity analogous to the European Union.

A total of $26 billion has already been invested in the Asian Highway and $18 billion more is needed, says UNESCAP and eighty-three percent of the network is considered ready.

Greenpeace raises red flag for bluefin tuna

Tuna, sometimes called tunafish, are several species of ocean-dwelling fish in the family Scombridae, mostly in the genus Thunnus. Tuna is an important commercial fish and popular seafood.

Tuna are fast swimmers (they have been measured at 77 km/h (48 mph)) and include several species that are warm-blooded. Unlike most fish species, which have white flesh, the flesh of tuna is pink to dark red. This is because tuna muscle tissue contains greater quantities of myoglobin, an oxygen-binding molecule, than the muscle tissue of most other fish species.

Some of the larger tuna species such as the bluefin tuna can raise their blood temperature above the water temperature with muscular activity. This enables them to live in cooler waters and survive a wider range of circumstances.

According to the environmentalist group Greenpeace, the bluefin tuna population in the Mediterranean Sea may be on the brink of collapse and the fishery must be closed immediately.

In May, Greenpeace published a report which drew the world's attention to the serious depletion of bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean Sea and demonstrating that up to 45,000 tonnes of tuna may have been caught each year in 2004 and 2005, despite the fact that only 32,000 tonnes can be caught legally. During the past month the fishermen Greenpeace has spoken to admitted that quotas are not respected and that there is no effective control over the fishery.

Greenpeace is calling on the countries of the Mediterranean to protect bluefin tuna with marine reserves in their breeding and feeding areas. They would become part of a global network of marine parks across 40% of the world's oceans that are needed to give the oceans a chance to recover from decades of large-scale industrial exploitation.

Change-Management : the ubiquitious buzzword

Change management can take many forms and include many change environments. The most common usage to the term refers to organisational change management.

You hear this term so frequently and there are so many change-management programs, "change fatigue" is now a common organisational complaint.

Organisational change management is the process of developing a planned approach to change in an organization. Typically the objective is to maximize the collective benefits for all people involved in the change and minimize the risk of failure of implementing the change.

Today the corporate world supports 'out-of-the-box thinking.' Creativity has become the lifeblood of the new organisation.

Recognizing individual talent is the one of the key drivers of business value. Business organisations with a command and control structure have been consigned to history. In it's place has emerged the networked organisation with flexible work teams.

Innovation and customer satisfaction is not only corporate jargon but it is the means for survival and continued growth of the business.

We are at the edge of a series of breakthroughs to new technologies and more rapid changes are under way. It is said that organised chaos is necessary to propel the human mind to endless possibilties. We live in a breathtaking futuristic world.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

China and India will lead media growth by 2010

– The global entertainment and media (E&M) industry has entered a solid growth phase and will increase at a 6.6 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to $1.8 trillion in 2010, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Global Entertainment and Media Outlook: 2006–2010.

New revenue streams are growing rapidly, the growth of physical formats has slowed, and availability of licensed digital distribution now provides consumers alternatives to piracy, the report says.

Globally, Internet and Video Games Continue to be Fastest-Growing Industry Segments; Asia Pacific to Remain Fastest-Growing Region Led by Explosive Growth in China and India.

“Virtually every segment of the entertainment and media industry is shifting from physical distribution to digital distribution of content," said Wayne Jackson, global leader of PricewaterhouseCoopers' Entertainment & Media Practice. “As this shift continues, we see more revenue opportunities for entertainment and media companies. So while physical distribution of content is declining, that decline will be offset somewhat by digital distribution, which is driving and creating new growth opportunities.”

According to the report, the Internet will remain the fastest-growing advertising medium, at an 18.1 percent CAGR to $52 billion in 2010. The Internet will constitute nearly 10 percent of global advertising in 2010 compared with less than 3 percent in 2002.

More of this report here.

A hot dog eating championship

For the past several years Japan's Takeru Kobayashi has been more or less a one-man show in the world of competitive hot dog eating. Kobayashi, a 28 year-old from Nagano, Japan, has won the past five annual Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contests on July 4.

ESPN is providing live telecast coverage of the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest from Coney Island, N.Y., at noon Tuesday.

To some, it wouldn't be a proper Fourth of July if they didn't put the hot dogs and burgers on the grill, pass the potato salad and salute the flag. In this context, this man-eat-dog competition, though controversial seems a heck of a fun event.

Kobayashi's record, scarfing down 50½ hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Global economy heading for recession?

This Forbes InvesTech Research says today’s economy is on a collision course with a recession. And the most probable starting point is the fourth quarter of this year or early 2007. Since the stock market typically leads the economy by six to nine months, you can guess what that means for Wall Street this year.

The report also says, " we've been watching these pressures unfold for over a year now, with a tightening labor market, rising commodity prices, diverging consumer confidence, and the growing imbalances leaving little room for the Federal Reserve to maneuver. The recently-released FOMC minutes for May confirm both our insights and instincts."

For those seeking advice on how to diversify and build up a portfolio of stocks in a recessionary period, this may be a good time to follow the market trends.

Looking back into history, we know that there are cyclical patterns of ups and downs in the global economy. Recessionary periods are followed by periods of growth and prosperity.

Why do recessions come?

A recession is usually defined in macroeconomics as a fall of a country's real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in two or more successive quarters of a year.

A recession may also involve falling prices, called deflation; alternatively it may involve sharply rising prices (inflation), in which case this process is known as stagflation. A severe or long recession is referred to as an economic depression or slump. A recession can also be defined as two consecutive periods of negative growth.

In a developed capitalist / free market economy, recessions come and go at fairly regular intervals - often 5-10 years - in what is known as the business cycle.

Prolonged high oil prices in the world market or even a bird flu pandemic in one part of the world could cut economic growth drastically in many countries and such an impact could trigger a global recession.

Google- a phenomenal success story

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.

As a first step to fulfilling that mission, Google's founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin developed a new approach to online search that took root in a research project in January, 1996 in Stanford University where Page and Brin were PHD students.

Google is now widely recognized as the world's largest search engine -- an easy-to-use free service that usually returns relevant results in a fraction of a second.

Google adopts a relaxed corporate culture, reminiscent of the dotcom era. Google's corporate philosophy is based on principles like "You can make money without doing evil", "You can be serious without a suit" and, "Work should be challenging and the challenge should be fun."

Today Google is no longer just a search engine. The latest project in its portfolio of services is an online payments system which aims to compete with auction giant eBay.

The service, known as Google Checkout, is just one of a series of online products launched by the California based company.

However, none of the new ventures launched over the past four years have established themslves as a market leader, reported online magazine Business Week.
1. Google Earth
3. Google Picasa
5. Google Spreadsheets
2. Google Talk
4. Google News
6. Google Video

Click on above and learn about this booming empire.

Postmortem on Brazil's sorry exit from the world cup

Brazilians are unanimous in criticizing their team in going out of a World Cup at the earliest stage in 16 years.

Quite how the champions failed to live up to their billing as one of the hottest favourites in the history of the competition will be a matter of debate for weeks, if not years.

Brazil's coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, who won the World Cup in 1994 with a much less talented squad, admitted "something" was lacking from the team on Saturday. They played, "without a tactical plan, without moves, without standards, without attack, without colour, without heat, without zeal.

Anyone who has seen Brazil play this world cup, wouldn't be surprised they they lost out to France. From the very beginning they never played to their full potential.

Against Ghana a linesman's error got them out of trouble. Against France they were beyond saving.

Brazil's magic quartet built for the counter-attack that beat Argentina in the final of the Confederations Cup one year ago was missing in action in this world cup.

Ronaldinho who helped Barcelona win Spanish league title and European Championship this year, selflessly struggled to provide the counter-attack momentum. For the first four games he dropped deeper and tried to thread passes through to the strikers. He had some success but it was clearly a sacrifice.

At Barcelona he has won over the world operating higher up the field, on the left flank. The ball arrives at his feet some 40 metres from goal, a distance that always gives him a chance to cut in and hit the penalty area.

The problem began with coach Carlos Parreira, who said his team did not have a tactical plan. It was part of his job and he failed even before the world cup contest began.

Brazil used to parade central midfielders such as Didi, Gerson and Clodoaldo, Toninho Cerezo and Falcao.

They have not been replaced, a development that Brazilian football treats with an alarming passivity. The reasons for the change are complex - but some of it has to do with money.

Nowadays even a promising eight-year-old is dreaming of the move to Real Madrid, the house he will buy his mother and the big car he will drive.

The easiest way to catch the eye and fulfil the dream is to play up front and score the goals.

Unlike any other nation, Brazil could field two teams with superstar celebrities in them but they lacked the midfield maestros who should have provided the imaginative and pinpoint passes that makes this the 'beautiful game.'

Much of the criticism of Parreira has been down to his preference for veterans over younger players. "Brazil has seemed much more bothered about breaking individual records rather than playing good football," wrote one columnist.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

A tall ship in Belfast Maritime Festival

The organizers of the inaugural Belfast Maritime Festival over the weekend of July 1 and 2 – the largest event of its kind staged in the city since the visit of the Tall Ships Race in 1991 are celebrating eight of the world’s most spectacular ships.

The Jeanie Johnston (in the picture above) will make an appearance - the replica ship tells the story of the Great Famine which swept Ireland in the middle of the 19th century.

Click here and see the other magnificient tall ships.

Casual gamers are also hardcore gamers

Macrovision, operators of the PC games digital distribution portal Trymedia Network, have announced the results of a worldwide survey that examined the playing habits of casual gamers.
Conducted online by Trymedia last week, the survey looked at 789 participants who have played casual games through the company's site (which offers a catalog of 1500+ core and casual PC titles).

As it turns out, casual gamers are actually more like hardcore gamers in that these people have been playing more and longer gaming sessions than previously thought. In fact, casual gamers are spending close to 20 hours per week playing games, with 37 percent playing 9 or more sessions each week. 66 percent said that each session lasts for at least one hour, while 31 percent play for more than two hours in each session. The survey also noted that the majority (73 percent) of playtime occurs at night.

China opens world's highest railway

China opened the first railway to Tibet on saturday, celebrating China's strength and etnic harmony while critics have decried it as a threat to Tibet's culture and environment.

The trains will pass spectacular icy peaks on the Tibetan highlands, touching altitudes as high as 5,000 metres (16,400 feet) above sea level. Lhasa, which leaves many visitors gasping for breath, lies at about 3,650 metres (11,976 feet).

The railway, sometimes referred to as the "Sky Train'' in Chinese, is the world's highest, crossing mountain passes at speeds of 100 kph (60 mph).

To counter the harsh conditions, passengers will have pressurised cabins and the option of oxygen masks, and double-layer glass windows that cut harmful ultra-violet rays.

The 33.9 billion yuan (US$4.2 billion; euro3.3 billion) rail line, which took four years to build, links Tibet's capital of Lhasa to Golmud, a small city in Qinghai province already connected to China's vast rail network.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Koizumi visits the king at Graceland

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has visited the home of his musical hero, Elvis Presley, as a guest of US President George W Bush.

Mr. Koizumi sang a few bars of "Love Me Tender" in the Jungle Room of Graceland on a private tour led by the singer's ex-wife.

After Thursday's meetings in Washington enroute to Memphis, President Bush and Prime Minister Koizumi flew aboard Air Force One where the two leaders were served fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches - a favourite of Elvis.

Mr. Koizumi is a lifelong fan of Elvis Presely.

In his toast, Mr Bush hailed Mr Koizumi's similarities with the rock and roll icon.

"Like you, he had great hair," he said to laughter from the guests. "Like you, he was known to sing in public. And like you, he won admirers in countries far from home."

Since Mr. Koizumi is stepping down in September, this is seen as a sayonara (goodbye) summit.

Two years ago Mr Koizumi, who shares his birthday with Elvis, released a personal selection of his favourite Elvis Presley songs on CD seen above.