Sunday, December 31, 2006

Chairway to heaven

The Za-Ji Acrobatic Troupe was founded in 1956 in the Anhui Province of China, and have performed throughout China, winning many awards and titles in national acrobatic competitions.

In China, acrobats are revered much as prima ballerinas or opera singers are revered in the West, and it takes years of rigorous training to achieve the excellence demanded by this ancient art form. Children hoping to become acrobats begins their training as young as four or five years old.

The Ladies With Chairs act (seen in the photo)is an extraordinary feat. It involved seven young women building a strange and precarious free-standing chairway to heaven with wooden seats, and then doing handstands on it without either structure or acrobats toppling.

Chinese acrobatics is characterized by feats of strength and daring performed cleverly, precisely and accurately, and the ability of retaining balance in motion. They have to improve their bodies' strength and flexibility to achieve and maintain such high standards.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saddam's ignominious end

According to a CNN report the former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has been executed by hanging.

During Sadam's rule he used to be seen in the public often firing a gun, a symbol of the type of power that he weilded over his subjects.

Once an ally to the United States, he was supported by the US in the seven year war that he waged beginning in 1980 with his neighbour Iran which cost a million lives.

Kuwait had heavily funded the Iraqi war against Iran. By the time the war ended, Iraq was not in a financial position to repay the $14 billion which it had borrowed from Kuwait to finance its war. Frictions began to build up with Kuwait from this point on.

The table was turned against him when he invaded Kuwait in 1990. This time a coalition of military forces led by the United States defeated Sadam Hussein and liberated Kuwait.

Saddam's refusal to subsequently comply with the ceasefire terms of the Kuwait war and his refusal to allow to UN inspectors into his many palaces and his obstructions were provocative to the international community.

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States, the US decided to take pre-emtive action against terror. The US decided to regime change in Iraq as they believed Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, the central reason for a US- led international force to invade Iraq. This case has not been proven as no WMD was found.

Saddam's brutal arrogance and folly led to his own downfall. The man who was used to palatial extravegance was finally hunted down to a hole in the ground. He gave up without a fight.

Critics of the US foreign policy that deposed Saddam say that the execution of Saddam Hussein serves not justice, but the political purposes of the Bush administration. They argue that Iraq is worse off now than they were under Saddam.

Whatever is the merit of that argument, one thing is certain. More than two decades of distrust and violence under Saddam has left a legacy of bitter sectarian divide and age-old ethnic hatred among an impoversihed community that will experience his bitter legacy for a long time.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Thought from Andrew Carnegie

"The average person puts only 25% of his energy and ability into his work. The world takes off its hat to those who put in more than 50% of their capacity, and stands on its head for those few and far between souls who devote 100%." - Andrew Carnegie

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Gerald Ford- A man of extraordinary courage

Gerald R Ford Jr., 93, who became the 38th president of the United States as a result of some of the most extraordinary events in U.S. history has died.

The death of the United States 38th president has focused the media and public attention on his time in the White House. Over and over again you hear commentators saying that he was a good and decent man.

Ford was the only occupant of the White House never elected either to the presidency or the vice presidency.

He was sworn in as president Aug. 9, 1974, elected not by the people but on constitutional grounds when President Richard M. Nixon resigned in disgrace as a result of the Watergate scandal.

"With his quiet integrity, common sense, and kind instincts, President Ford helped heal our land and restore public confidence in the Presidency," President Bush said last night in a statement.

A month after Ford took over the Presidency, he gave Nixon the controversial, unconditional pardon, avoiding a divisive criminal trial of a disgraced president.

He managed to calm the anguish, of a deeply divided nation caused by the tumultuous period of the Vietnam War and the nasty politics of Watergate which brought down President Nixon.

In an embargoed interview with journalist Bob Woodward the former President Gerald Ford said that President George W. Bush and his top advisers made a "big mistake" in their justification for invading Iraq.

This news comes at a time when the Americans are debating the merit of invading Iraq. In the tape-recorded interview, Ford was critical not only of Bush but also of Vice President Cheney _ Ford's White House chief of staff _ and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who served as Ford's chief of staff and then his secretary of defense.

Ford had the ability to see beyond the moment. He lived his principles beyond the ambitions of politics, a quality that is in short supply in the US politics today.

He came from humble beginnings. Everything in his life, he had earned the hard way. He was an authentic person. He was uniter and a great leader.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Blind cricket tourist who sees the point of sport

This is an an inspirational story of a person's passion. Andy Gemmell who grew up in north London was interested in sport. He could talk about it all night.

Andy went to rock concerts or football matches like other patrons from the pub where he frequented, only more often.

He was a volunteer at the Islington branch of Britain’s Labour Party. Besides having a bit more substance to his opinions than the other drinkers, the main difference between Andy and the rest was that Andy was blind.

Andy, who is 54, is in Australia on a long holiday during which he’s going to the cricket and the races, and catching up with friends.

Andy says he’s always been entranced by sport. His interest began during the English cricket team’s tour of Australia in 1958–59, when he was six.

His fanaticism for sport led him to lie in bed at boarding school—he went to a school for the blind—with his radio under the pillow, listening to broadcasts of title fights from the United States.

He listened to the great fights of the 1960s between heavyweight champions Floyd Patterson, Sonny Liston and Muhammad Ali.

When asked whether his blindness frustrated him as a child, Andy says yes, of course it did. He had to learn to accept it.

Part of his acceptance was promising himself he would live life to the full. "You’ve just got to do it," he says. "You don’t get a second chance."

Islamic Jeans: Marketing for Religion

Photograph: Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images

There is nothing called an ISLAMIC JEANS or UNISLAMIC JEANS, these are the new strategies of marketing used by business firms to make money.

A company in Italy has begun selling jeans that are tailor-made for Muslims who find the regular jeans uncomfortable as they need to bend down to pray several times a day.

The trousers, licensed by an Udine-based firm named Al Quds, are the brainchild of Luca Corradi, an Italian stylist.

"The idea behind the jeans is not political, ideological or religious at all. It is a cultural act," said Susanna Cavalli, chief of product development for Al Quds Jeans.

This sounds a fascinating idea for market economy. 'Find a niche and build an image.' This is what this company has emabrked on. It remains to be seen whether this idea will catch on with the Muslim faithful.

Finally, Italy's 700,000 Muslims may have found their fit, jeans made by Muslim hands.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Power of Bono Performance

As a teenager playing the pubs and clubs of Dublin with his fledgling band, Bono became aware of the power of performance in tackling social and political causes.

Now after 20 years of charity work and lobbying on debt relief, the the global rock star and frontman of U2, Bono will be knighted by the Queen.

The 46-year-old will receive the honour in Dublin early in the new year.

In 2003, Bono was presented with France's Legion D'Honneur by President Jacques Chirac, while in 2005 he was voted Time magazine's person of the year for his work promoting justice and equality, along with Bill and Melinda Gates.

Officially, only British nationals can get the "Sir" when they're knighted.

For your great humanitarian work and inspiration, Well Done Sir Bono.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A unique way to raise funds for charity

With Christmas approaching, many people are in the spirit of giving including donating to their favourite charities to help the less fortunate.

The 21st century is a new “golden age of philanthropy” and in the year 2006 Warren Buffet, the world's second richest person revealed that he was donating about $37bn to Bill Gates' (the world's richest person) charitable foundation.

Warren Buffett has pledged to give more than double the lifetime total given away by two of the philanthropic giants of the past, Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, put together.

The picture on the right is the 23-year-old woman who has paid £210 in an eBay auction in August this year, for the privilege of slapping a stranger around the face with a wet fish.

Ben Fillmore,24, gave the opportunity, to raise money for charity. He had begun an auction on the eBay website to raise money for the UK Stroke Association.

As this example shows, you don't have be super rich to help, indeed there are some unique ways of doing it. Fillmore hopes to raise £10,000 for the charity.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Is Individualism leading to Narcissism?

An increasing emphasis on individualism illustrates the elevated position the self holds in Western culture. This prominence is often referred to as narcissism—the obsessive love of self.

Individualism refers to a moral, political, or social outlook that stresses human independence and the importance of individual self-reliance and liberty.

In modern culture, narcissism is fuelled by the obsessive focus on the realization of the self. Internet and blogs which is the citizen media has created a very personalized culture inflating individual egos.

America, as the land of diversity and promise, glorifies the 'individual', and praises those select few who can follow their own path, but in reality very few people ever choose to step away from society.

In 'Self-Reliance,' the famous American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson describes his vision of the individual as a man dependent on himself and refusing to conform to social standards and expectations.

Authoritarianism construed as the opposite of individualism is a far more dangerous form of social control characterized by strict obedience to the authority of a state or organization.

Clearly people like Emerson in a different time in history saw the importance of realising the individual value. It would be wrong to assume that in such thinking nothing outside yourself matters and everyone was unto themselves to do as they pleased.

There are universal values of what is considered as right and wrong, what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour and these traits will have to be borne out to rein in the excesses of the individual which can harm the society.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Tecumseh Quote

"Live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.Trouble no one about his religion.Respect others in their views and demand that they respect yours.

Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.Seek to make your life long and of service to your people.

Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.Always give a word or sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend,or even a stranger, if in a lonely place.

Show respect to all people, but grovel to none.When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light,for your life, for your strength.Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.

If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to foolsand robs the spirit of its vision.

When your time comes to die,be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death,so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more timeto live their lives over again in a different way.

Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home."

Tecumseh(1768-1813) Shawnee Chief

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Miss USA 2006 not fired but has to go to rehab

Miss USA 2006 Tara Conner was given a second chance Tuesday by billionaire Donald Trump who who co-owns the Miss USA and Miss Universe contests and was widely expected to fire Conner.

Allegations of blond beauty queen Conner partying and underage drinking at bars and nightclubs in New York -- where the legal drinking age is 21 -- began surfacing last week. The former Miss Kentucky USA turned 21 on Monday.

A teary Conner told reporters "I wouldn't say that I am an alcoholic that would be pushing the envelope a little bit. I don't have a problem with anything like that."

Donald Trump said Conner would enter rehab although he failed to say for what.

If she doesn't believe she has a problem with drinking then why is she entering a rehab? From what she said, she hasn't even come clean.

More importantly what kind of a message does this send to other young girls who aspire to walk down the same path.

It is certainly gracious for Trump to forgive but whatever to happened to personal responsibility and accountability of actions.

This sets up a contradiction that is both confusing and dangerous to young people, particularly women.

Donald Trump said he believed she could be a "great example for troubled people."

It remains to be seen what kind of a role model she turns out to be, given the prevailing commercial culture which glorifies sexist poses of Paris Hilton and the increasing popularity of Britney Spears who is becoming increasingly unclothed.

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?

Christmas is just four days away, one of the biggest annual holidays of Christmas that combines the celebration of Jesus' birth with various other traditions and customs.

Christmas is celebrated in most countries around the world, owing to the widespread Christianity and Western culture.

At this time of the year children look forward to the enduring red-faced Santa Claus to bring them gifts. The Christmas tree decorated with Christmas lights is a popular symbol that is seen in many homes and public places.

The United States has experienced a controversy over the nature of Christmas, and its status as a religious or secular holiday. Some considered the U.S. government's recognition of Christmas as a federal holiday to be a violation of the separation of church and state.

The phrases "Season's Greetings," or "Happy Holidays" as opposed to "Merry Christmas," have been made a popular form of greeting to suit the many non-Christians.

The US no.1 retailer Wal-Mart and other major stores who in the past greeted their customers with "Merry Christmas" resorted to the generic form of greeting such as "Happy Holidays."

But this year Wal-Mart has decided to go back to "Merry Christmas" again and told its employees that it's OK to greet shoppers by saying "Merry Christmas" this holiday season instead of the generic "Happy Holidays

Walmart's decision comes a year after religious groups such as The American Family Association and The Catholic League boycotted retailers including Wal-Mart last holiday season for excluding the word "Christmas" from products sold in stores.

In many countries, Christmas is the biggest shopping season, increasingly making it a commercial affair beyond the religious traditions.

So to many people, whether it is "Happy Holidays" or "Merry Christmas" what is important is the spirit of the message.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Oprah ventures into Reality

Media tycoon Oprah Winfrey is getting into reality TV genre for her latest project. Her production company Harpo is working on two prime-time series for US network ABC, titled Oprah Winfrey's The Big Give and Your Money or Your Life.

The Big Give will give out cash to 10 contestants who must use it to help other people. The challenge will be to find the most powerful, sensational, emotional and dramatic ways to give to others.

Your Money or Your Life, which is in development, features families who are confronted by a crisis and must change or risk being 'consumed by disaster'.

Oprah's media empire already expands into magazine publishing, film and radio broadcasting as well as her top-rated daily chat show.

Indian medalist fails gender test

Indian woman athlete Santhi Soundarajan, who bagged silver medal in the 800m race in Doha Asian Games has failed a gender test.

Reports said that Shanthi was picked up for a 'test' at the Games, after a fellow athlete 'doubted her of being a woman' and lodged a complaint.

The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) has decided to withdraw the medal from the Indian athlete causing embarrasment and gloom to the Indian athletics.

Santhi's failing the gender test came close on the heels of Doha-bound discus thrower Seema Antil reportedly testing positive in a dope test at a preparatory camp in Muscat a few days before the Asian Games.

The Tamil Nadu athlete had earlier competed and won the silver in the 800 metres in the Asian championships in Incheon, Korea, last year. In August this year, she also won the 1500m gold and the 800m silver in the South Asian Games in Colombo.

This is a sad ending for Shanthi's Doha games. Sportspersons are not subjected to gender verification tests before participation in major international competitions. In order to avoid this type of embarrasing and controversial decisions, sports organisations should do such tests upfront before athletes are allowed to participate in games.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Dead Sea is dying again

An ecological disaster is waiting to happen. Hidden in the world's deepest valley is the biblical Dead Sea which is the lowest point on the earth, 1300 feet below sea level.

You can never drown in the Dead Sea, you can only float there. The Dead Sea is facing massive evaporation and there are fears that the sea may dry up in another three decades. The river has lost so much volume because it is used to supply the farms and cities of Israel, Jordan and Syria with water.

There is a study to divert water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea but no one is sure what would happen if waters from two different bodies of salt water are mixed. The Dead Sea needs a fighting chance to survive. Increasing political tensions in a thirsty middle east may give no easy answers to raise the receding levels of this 'sacred river.'

‘YOU’ are Time’s “Person of the Year”

Time magazine has announced that ‘YOU’ are its ‘Person of the Year.’ Yes, you read that right. Time magazine has declared anyone using or creating content on the World Wide Web as the winner, making us all victorious.

Person of the Year is an annual issue of U.S. newsmagazine TIME that features a profile on the man, woman, couple, group, idea, place, or machine that "for better or worse, has most influenced events in the preceding year."

This is not a title of honour. It has had its controversial moments when people such as Adolf Hitler have been granted the title. The selection is not a democratic process. The Time editors mull over who or what has made the maximum impact that year and the managing editor makes the call.

Winners for 2005 were: The Good Samaritans: Bono , Bill Gates, and Melinda Gates.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Nostradamus' bewildering predictions

Imagine knowing what the future holds, that's exactly what Nostradamus seemed to know, as his secrets continue to be unearthed many years after his death.

In the recent times, the world has seen the rise of politics based on religious identity. The miidle east continues to remain the volatile hotspot.

Centuries old dormant battle lines are emerging as we see in the conflict in Iraq between sectarian factions, mainly between the sunni and shiite muslims.

Both the planet earth and the resident human species are facing tough challenges. Pollution of the atmosphere by man and ensuing global warming and sea-level rises pose serious threat to the survival of low lying countries.

In a recent interview Britain's Royal Society for scientific achievements' highest award winner, the distinguished Stephen Hawking said that humans will have to colonize planets in far-flung solar systems if the race is to survive.

"The long-term survival of the human race is at risk as long as it is confined to a single planet," he said. "Sooner or later, disasters such as an asteroid collision or nuclear war could wipe us all out. But once we spread out into space and establish independent colonies, our future should be safe."

Friday, December 15, 2006

Believing in the Individual

Today, human resource development has become a top priority for business organisations in a fiercely competetive world. Empowerment of the individual helps businesses succeed by unleashing the power of human creativity.

Every individual can make a difference and it does make an impact on the bottom line of financial statements. Hence, organisations are shifting from exploiting their workers not only for altruistic reasons but more importantly to increase their own profits and their survival.

Like-minded individuals are now acting to put pressure on their local officals or governments to formulate public policies that incorporate their aspirations to a fulfilling life. Individuals are no longer feeling overwhelmed by the top-down system which has itsef become obsolete.

Loyalty gets out-dated

In his book The World is Flat, Thomas L Friedman describes how our world is being flattened by historical events and forces that in the last 15 years have resulted in the globalised, connected, speed-orientated world in which we live.

Not only are the times changing, so is the workforce. Life-long learning has become a way of life. We now keep hearing that loyalty to a company is obsolete. The new generation has moved away from their forebearers.

Generations X and dot-com are also gender-blind and quite open-minded about racial and cultural diversity. In fact, many people in these generations feel they have more in common with their peers across the world than with their parents or people of the baby boomer/ World War II generations.

Competition is the buzzword. Companies and countries are competing against each other in a do-or-die situations. Individual entrepreneurship is in high demand, with talented individuals creating a world of work dependent on themselves, their skills, their networks and their own attitude.

As we move into an economy based on connecting with our customers, suppliers, shareholders and employees, we are learning that our businesses will succeed or fail on their ability to connect.

Jobs-for -life do not exist any more. The global trend is the emergence of what Tom Peters calls the "professional service firm" (PSF). The old loyalty-based contract is hindering the development of new opportunities that favour the talent inherent in our blue-collar workforce, creating tensions between blue-collar and white-collar employees.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Wikibooks- the open-content publishing.

Like Wikipedia, Wikibooks makes use of the "wisdom of crowds."

With the availability of Wikibooks, traditional publishers are now exploring this mechanism for delivering their products.

This project 'we are smarter than me' is a collaboration between MIT's School of Management, Wharton School of Management and Shared Insights.

Jimmy Wales the founder of Wikipedia is the advisor to this project. He believes the project may usher in a new model for how book publishers can acquire, create and market their content.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Empower the poor to reduce poverty

The world is digesting the news that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2006 has been awarded Bangladeshi Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank for their efforts to create economic and social development.

Grameen issues colateral-free loans to the poorest people. Grameen methodology is not based on assessing the material possession of a person, it is based on the potential of a person.

Grameen believes that all human beings, including the poorest, are endowed with endless potential.

According to an article on , personal wealth is distributed so unevenly across the world that the richest two per cent of adults own more than 50 per cent of the world’s assets while the poorest half hold only 1 per cent of wealth.

It appears that the free market by itself does not alleviate poverty. More social businesses such as the Grameen need to step up to help the poor to bring about their own development.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Bollywood gets a bad name with Malaysian media

The Malaysian media is not too happy about the antics of some Bollywood stars like Salman Khan who arrived Kuala Lampur for the world premiere of the Hindi movie "Baabul" as part of the three-day event of the second Global Indian Film Awards function that started on 7th December.

More than 1,500 Malaysians, mostly women, stood patiently for more than three hours on the first night waiting for the stars at the TGV cineplex, adjoining the Petronas Twin Towers, one of the world's tallest buildings.

Almost all events have started more than an hour late. The media, a majority of them from all local newspapers, TV channels waited for more than two and a half hours for the stars to address a press conference on Thursday at the Palace of Golden Horses Hotel.

Event organisers Entertainment Popcorn misjudged their planning by arranging three events involving the stars on a single day (Thursday). These included the press conference with the stars, red carpet walk of the stars at the TGV cineplex and later the world premiere of Ravi Chopra's Baabul.

"Apparently in Indian time, two minutes meant 20 and at close to 6 pm the all important Mr Khan - accompanied by about 10 burly men in black- deemed it a suitable time for him to come down from his suite," the widely read New Straits times paper said.

Adding insult to injury, just as the first question was to be asked by a journalist, Ravi Chopra's mobile rang and he decided to take the call, really upsetting all the media personnel in the room.

Bollywood produces about 1,000 films a year, making it the world's most prolific film centre, and markets them to a growing band of non-Indians who have fallen for the genre as well as the vast Indian diaspora.

Indeed, Bollywood is exporting their unique brand of entertainment, music and dancing and that is good. They certainly can do without the negativity that comes along with callous indifference to feelings of other people.

Their event organisers will have to much better than how the Malaysian media has felt this time, if they are to be taken seriously by a worldwide audience.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A super project: Roving library

The City and County of San Francisco is the fourth most populous city in California and the fourteenth-most populous in the United States.

San Francisco is also one of the most visited cities in the world, luring travellers with its inviting landscapes, including beautiful hillsides, accompanied by a mild climate.

All the modern amenities for fast living from fast foods to convenience stores and postal services are available at every corner.

One person is also bringing books to the homeless who get barely enough food to eat. Mr. Challa an imigrant to the US from Cameroon who also knows what it is to be homeless is giving something back to the community.

The Roving Library is a project of the Tenderloin Reflection and Education Center (TREC), which is located on that ninth floor of the main San Francisco YMCA at Golden gate and Leavenworth.

People can donate books, or help in any other way. Mr. Challa is available at the TREC during the working hours unless he is carting away books to the folks who can't afford the books to read. He gives the books free to them.

One man's dream and a determination to help is a real inspiration.

Friday, December 08, 2006


The problem of power is how to achieve its responsible use rather than its irresponsible and indulgent use - of how to get men of power to live for the public rather than off the public.
Robert F. Kennedy

Starbucks new Chiefs

Britain's popular casual dining cafe, 'the hard rock cafe'- known for the collection of music memorabilia displayed at its restaurants worldwide- has been bought over by native American tribe, The Seminole.

The British owner, The Rank Group has sold the Hard Rock chain of cafes for $965m .

The Seminole, which earns 90% of its revenues from gaming, already owns two Hard Rock concessions in Tampa and Hollywood which have made it one of the richest native American tribes in the US.

Hard Rock International operates 124 Hard Rock Cafe restaurants, seven combined hotels and casinos and one stand-alone casino in 45 countries.

The Seminole tribe's first contact with white men was when a Spanish slave ship reached the Florida peninsula in 1510.

Recognised as a sovereign nation by the US in the 1950s, it now numbers 3,300, some living on reservations scattered across Florida's inland swamps. Since 1979, it has built bingo halls and casinos - outlawed elsewhere in the state.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

New York wants to ban trans fats

Trans fats, which have been linked to heart disease, are being removed from many fast food kitchens across the United States as companies try to improve offerings to health-conscious diners.

Wendy’s International Inc. and Colonel's KFC have already switched to a zero-trans fat oil, and McDonald’s Corp. is considering the change.

Trans fat is made when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil -- a process invented in the late 19th century to help lengthen the shelf life of food products. The added hydrogen also makes frying oil last longer.

Partially hydrogenated oil "raises the bad blood cholesterol (LDL) while lowering the good cholesterol (HDL)," says Marion Nestle, the author of What to Eat and a professor in the nutrition department at New York University.

New York is the city that banned smoking in restaurants three years ago. Now they are going another step further. Health officials are talking about prohibiting something they say is almost as bad: artificial trans fatty acids.

The New York health department unveiled a proposal Tuesday that would bar cooks at any of the city’s 24,600 food service establishments from using ingredients that contain the artery-clogging substance, commonly listed on food labels as partially hydrogenated oil.

The dangers of self-pity


The most insidious problem with drugs is that the human body develops a tolerance for them and requires larger and larger doses to achieve the same effect.

The same is true with self-pity. The more you allow yourself to indulge in it, the more you will require. Soon, self-pity will become a habit, one so debilitating that you will rob yourself of all the potential you possess.

Happily, there is a cure. If you truly analyze the situation, most often you will find that the problems that have driven you to pity yourself are mostly of your own creation.

It follows, then, that the best person to remedy the problem is the person who created it: you yourself.

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

Monday, December 04, 2006

Volunteerism is on the increase

Volunteerism is the willingness of people to work on behalf of others without the expectation of pay or other tangible gain.

According to a report from The American National and Community Service, a Federal Agency, the number of Americans who volunteer to mentor students, beautify neighbourhoods and pitch in after disasters is at a 30-year high, fueled in part by a boom in teen participation.

According to World Volunteer Web, in Europe, Wales has the highest level of volunteering in Europe with around 54 per cent of all adults engaged in some kind of volunteering activity.

In almost all modern societies, the most basic of all values is people helping people and, in the process, helping themselves.

But tensions do arise between volunteerism and the state-provided services, so most countries develop policies and enact legislation to clarify the roles and relationships among stakeholders, and to identify and allocate the necessary legal, social, administrative and financial support.

The increasing influence of volunteer agencies such as the NGOs (non-governmental agencies) has made it necessary to hold them accountable under acceptable guidelines. They still remain independent and flexible making it possible for far greater outreach into different areas of the community unlike the beauracracy of the state organs.

Volunteering helps to build more cohesive communities, fostering greater trust between citizens, and developing norms of solidarity and reciprocity which are essential to stable communities.

The social capital represented by volunteering plays a key role in economic regeneration, as activities undertaken by volunteers would otherwise have to be funded by the state or by private capital.

Where poverty is endemic to an area, poor communities have no friends or neighbours to ask for help, so voluntary mutual aid or self-help is their only safety net.

So it is heartening to know that volunteerism is on the increase reflecting a modern society that is not only economically vibrant but on a more humane level it is also becoming more caring.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Panacea of IMF

Peter Nicholson's 'pocket' cartoons appear daily on page one of The Australian.

Purpose Of Your Life


Not having a major purpose for your life is like trying to navigate without a chart. You may eventually get somewhere you like, or you may drift aimlessly, always hoping-but never finding-the place where you would like to be.

As you grow as a person, so will your major purpose. It is the natural order of things that, when you reach the top of one mountain, you will look around for higher peaks to climb.

In life, either you are moving forward or you are going backward. When you plot your course carefully and thoughtfully, you can ensure that you are going in the right direction.

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

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Emerging trend: Banks for Ideas

Peter Drucker, the leading guru of management has advocated that we are in the middle of a great social transformation, akin to the Renaissance, which is symbolized by the computer.

Knowledge has become the means of production and creates value by "productivity" and "innovation" through its application to work.

The new class of post-capitalist society is made up of knowledge workers and service workers.

According to Drucker, we are witnessing a radical change, from the Age of Capitalism and the Nation-State to a Knowledge Society and a Society of Organizations.

More than labour and capital, the world needs fresh ideas to fascilitate the so called 'out of the box' thinking to help solve social probelms, to drive productivity and create future growth for business.

The Institute for Philanthropy, a non-profit making organisation has an ideas bank where dreamers can send their ideas seeking projects and wider participation.

Today companies need blockbuster ideas to continue the process of innovation which in turn helps create new products and new capabilities.

Innovation is the new currency of success in the post-capitalist world and ideas have become more important than ever before.

Top companies like the Microsoft and others are empowering people with the tools to push various ideas into the marketplace. It makes good business sense for these companies to collaborate with others who can help to drive innovation.

Modern technology and the tools it provides, alone cannot provide the fast growth that business needs. What counts more is how that technology is put to work. This is where the humans come in, in the form of knowledge and service workers.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Want to own a franchise?

Here's some useful tips from Businessweek.

Racism is Evil

The United States, being the only superpower has vast economic, social and political influence on the global stage. The United States is the beacon of democracy and a bastion of capitalism, for the rest of the world.

The US also has a chequered history of race relations among its migrant community of ethnically diverse racial groups.

From time to time racism rears its ugly head, as we have recently seen when the academy award-winning actor and producer Mel Gibson was caught in a drunken anti-semitic rant.

Now the three-time Emmy Award winner and comedian, best known for playing Cosmo Kramer in the popular TV series 'Seinfield' has let loose a racist tirade on a couple of hecklers at the Laugh Factory in L.A. two weeks ago. Here's this unbelievable outburst on YouTube.

One would wonder, what was he thinking to blow his head off in such a manner. It had to be something more than just a momentary loss of guard to bring out the most repressed feelings to the fore.

With a certain amount of humility, these stars that have a priviledge of appearing in many living rooms should look into their own souls. They should communicate mutual respect and harmony in relationships for they can reach audiences far and wide, thanks to the modern communication today.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Meaning of Sport

Sport has always been a fascinating cultural, social and competitive event.

So what is the meaning of sport? The meaning would vary depending on who you ask: from the sportsman to the fanatical fan to spectators who would watch when there is nothing else better to do and everyone in between. There are also legions of others who make it their business to be involved with sport.

In his book "The Meaning of Sport (Short books)" the Times chief sports writer Simon Barnes wades through a lifetime of his eminent journalistic experience to show us new meaning in today's sport. Look up his blog here and listen to him describing true greatness in players.

Largely thanks to television, sport has become part of human culture to an extent once inconceivable. As Mihir Bose, the Daily Telegraph columnist, puts it: 'We have lost religion and found sport.'

Friday, November 24, 2006


1) Exercise ferments the humors, casts them into their proper channels, throws off redundancies, and helps nature in those secret distributions, without which the body cannot subsist in its vigor, nor the soul act with cheerfulness.
Joseph Addison, The Spectator, July 12, 1711English essayist, poet, & politician (1672 - 1719)

2) Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very far.
Thomas Jefferson 3rd president of US (1743 - 1826)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Here's the positive spirit of cricket

Pakistan players applaud Brian Lara of West Indies reaching his century, Pakistan v West Indies, 2nd Test, Multan, november 21, 2006


Public pressure beats checkbook journalism

Public pressure does count as the OJ Simpson saga has shown in the United States.

In a rare move for the chief executive of an international media conglomerate, News Media Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch, has weighed in on the O.J. Simpson controversy.

The book and programme "If I Did It", in which Simpson describes how he would have killed his ex-wife and her friend, had caused public outrage.

Simpson was acquitted of murdering ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman on 12 June 1994.

Rupert Murdoch called the O.J. TV interview and O.J. confession book an "ill-conceived project" and cancelled both of them.

Mr. Murdoch's News Corp is the parent company of publisher Harper Collins which would have published the book, slated to be released on November 30. Judith Regan, publisher of ReganBooks, had said she considered the book Mr Simpson's confession.

Several affiliates of Mr Murdoch's Fox TV had refused to screen the interview on the grounds of bad taste.

The book and TV interview deal with Mr Murdoch's broadcasting and publishing companies was worth $3.5m. This time public outrage has killed the deal which was rediculous and in poor taste in the first place.

During the interview, Mr Simpson describes how he would have carried out the murders at his ex-wife's home in Los Angeles "if he were the one responsible for their killing."

This incident shows how low some media companies will scoop for financial gains. It also shows in an interconnected world of instant communication, the peoples voice is the real power.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Macha green tea gaining popularity

Here's a picture of the popular Japanese macha green tea set.

Macha is green tea powder, which is made from green tea leaves raised in the shade.

Macha, which is used in Japanese tea ceremony and has been drunk for centuries, is different from traditional tea in that it is not infused but ground. It is also grown differently, and is noticeably more expensive.

Now macha is being promoted in Europe and America, primarily as a luxury tea flavour and is in the same league as champagne.

In North America, macha is being sold in Starbucks as a sort of 'healthy coffee' alternative. The macha frappe is the new trendy drink, and the ingredient is visible in numerous smoothie chains.

This trend is also catching up in the United Kingdom, the most famous tea drinkers in the western hemisphere.

Macha green tea also has obvious health implications. Consumer awareness of the health properties of green tea has become fairly well established, and is backed up by a number of studies.

A Japanese study earlier this year for example found that Japanese adults drinking five or more cups of green tea daily were 16 per cent less likely to die from a range of illnesses, and particularly heart disease, than those only drinking one cup per day.

Crackdown against junk food adverts

In the United Kingdom, health campaigners claim that new rules to be published restricting the advertising of junk food to children on television will be too weak to halt the soaring levels of obesity.

Ofcom, the media regulator, conducted research that showed consumers oppose such a move.

Representatives from the food and drinks sectors and the advertising industry yesterday welcomed Ofcom's research as a "counter-balance" to the arguments of ban supporters such as the National Heart Forum.

The governments food watchdog, The Food Standandars Agency (FSA) wants a ban on TV commercials advertising junk food before 9pm. They say the proposals drawn up by Ofcom to reduce the effect of junk food ads on children do not go far enough.

Campaigners for the ban argue that around 80%-90% of television advertising is junk food advertising - food that is high in fat, sugar and salt.

If businesses wish to be good corporate citizens, which is one of the mantra of their social responsibilty, they should voluntarily restrict showing such junk food ads targeting children. Also food vendors should be pressured to reduce the unhealthy fat, sugar and salt in their foods.

Almost 14 per cent of Britain's children were obese in 2003, compared to 9.6 per cent in 1995, and doctors have warned half of the countries kids could be obese by 2020.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Beatles release ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE

Three years in the making, and a masterclass in studio creativity has produced a new mash-up album, "Love" is made up of 26 Beatles tracks as they have never been heard, put together by the band's producer, Sir George Martin, and his son Giles.

This latest rehashed "Love" collection is a Beatles catalogue of an endlessly milked cash cow for EMI.

With EMI’s latest six-month profits down by a whopping £22.4 million from last year, to just £18.6 million, the company is relying on Love to perform well — though just how much of those royalties Martin and Giles stand to receive for an album which so blurs the line between production and wholesale reconfiguration is open to speculation.

Commenting on this project George Martin said, "It`s been an odyssey, a journey and it`s been a lot of fun along the way. This music is to convey the unanimity of the Beatles. It was a great privilege for me."

It will be interesting to see how other artists take this concept and recreate their own works.

Love will be released on 20 November just in time for the christmas market.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Milton Friedman: An economic grandmaster dies

Legendary Milton Friedman, a champion of free-market economics and individual freedom died yesterday in San Francisco. He was 94.

Mr. Friedman was considered a leading economic thinker of the 20th century. His many prescriptions for policy, notably on managing the nation's money supply and curbing the welfare state, influenced US presidents and presidential candidates starting in the 1960s.

Mr. Friedman promoted laissez-faire capitalism. Friedman, an economic giant himself and a Nobel Prize winner, had opposing views to another illustreous economic giant of the 20th century: John Maynard Keynes, the famous British economist who died in 1946.

Keynes advocated an interventionist government policy to smooth out the business cycle by stimulating and managing demand for goods and services through such mechanisms as public-works programs, deposit insurance and deficit spending.

Friedman felt the more efficient approach is for government to cut taxes, curb regulation and focus on the supply of money in circulation. Keynes's prescription was that global finance can be stabilized through fixed exchange rates while Friedman's formula is to use floating exchange rates.

Milton Friedman is not simply the most influential economist since Keynes, but a worthy successor, building on Keynes's insights even as he discredited key aspects of Keynesian economic management.

Larry Summers, the former Treasury secretary and Harvard president has said that Keynesian theory was not so much wrong as incomplete.

With his focus on the overall demand for goods and services in the economy, Keynes overlooked the importance of the supply of money in circulation. Friedman argued that controlling that supply was a better tool for managing the economy than taxation and spending policies.

Friedman's belief in free markets sometimes bordered on the fanatic — he has called for drugs and prostitution to be decriminalised. And while he never formally advised Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, he did visit Chile and helped lay the foundations for that country's economic revival.

Friedman's critics argue the fact that Pinochet applied free-market policies while running a military dictatorship is evidence that free markets don't necessarily result in freedom.

An adage frequently associated with Milton Friedman is "There is no such thing as a free lunch." This view has certainly influenced his approach to public policy.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A Picturesque Lake

It's the crater lake in Oregon, USA. This lake was formed about 7500 years ago, when a volcanic mountain collapsed on itself. Its incredible blue color comes from its depth and clarity. Sunlight penetrates deep into the water and only blue light is reflected back.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Master Mind Alliance


A Master Mind alliance involves two or more people working together in perfect harmony toward the attainment of a common purpose.

Such a partnership creates a superpower that enables each of its members to do far more than either would have been able to achieve separately.

Choose your Master Mind partners carefully. Align yourself with people whose strengths complement yours.

If you are a right brain person, for example, a logically-driven left brain person may be a perfect counterbalance to your creative bent.

Above all, choose to associate only with people who share your positive values and your commitment to similar levels of achievement.

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

Fish philosophy for nurses

It's an unlikely name for a management parable for motivation in the workplace; the fish philosophy is being used by King's Colledge Hospital in London.

Nurses in the hospital are being offered free coffee and biscuits as part of a incentive scheme to improve patient care in the hospital.

Ms Trueman, the hospital's head of nursing for medicine, said the scheme was based on the US philosophy Fish which has four basic principles; Be there, Play, Make their day and Choose your attitude.

The fish have an attitude that has inspired us and given us a remarkable path to boost morale and improve efficiency.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Economic populism has won for Democrats

The last time US Congress changed hands, the Republican freshman class of 1994 roared into town under the leadership of Newt Gingrich as speaker and quickly advanced a conservative agenda of exceptional ambition.

In the just concluded mid-term elections for the House of Representatives and the Senate, the Democratic Party, the present minority party in both houses of Congress, campaigned hard bringing focus to the failed policy of an unpopular war in Iraq.

The Democrats also higlighted the "middle-class squeeze" and "median wage stagnation" by economists, the incomes of median American households have barely shifted since George W. Bush was elected on a ticket of "compassionate conservatism" in 2000.

The American electorate have resoundingly spoken at the ballot box. Six States voted Tuesday on initiatives to raise the minimum wage. All six endorsed those initiatives, mostly by solid or overwhelming majorities (The states were Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, and Ohio).

This news may come as little surprise--boosting the minimum wage always polls well--but it did signal an Election 2006 trend: Economic populism was a big winner.

In his post-election column, Pat Buchanan, a conservative columnist who ran for presidential election in 2000 wrote of the results as proof that "economic nationalism" is returning.

"With the 2006 election, America appears to have reached the tipping point on free trade," Buchanan wrote. "Anxiety, and fear of jobs lost to India and China, seems a more powerful emotion than gratitude for the inexpensive goods at Wal-Mart."

Many leading Democrats, including Mr Brown and Mr Webb, campaigned for "fair trade" and "putting Americans first", which is code for including labour standards in bilateral trade agreements and being more critical of companies that "outsource" manufacturing jobs to China and service sector jobs to India.

They are likely to be aggressive in pushing for tougher scrutiny of explicit and hidden tax breaks for large energy and pharmaceutical companies – known as "corporate welfare".

As the world focuses on the brewing debate over Iraq between the Bush administration and a Democratic Capitol Hill, the battle to define America's response to globalisation is also hotting up.

"Both the Democrats and the Bush administration will want the other side to get the blame if their mutual promise of bipartisanship falls apart," said a senior Democratic strategist. "It could be over Iraq, it could be over the economy."

It is said that when US sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold. So now the rest of the world can watch to see what gets done or not done in the US Capital.

Friday, November 10, 2006


"Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire: you will what you imagine: and at last you create what you will."
-George Bernard Shaw

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Can the green-eyed monster be tamed?

Jealousy is an enduring topic of interest for psychologists and theologians since ages.

Jealousy is a reaction to a perceived threat--real or imagined--to a valued relationship or to its quality.

Unlike envy, feelings of jealousy always appear to stem from one's sense that something about their life is not secure, e.g., is uncertain or in danger.

In some cases, the insecurity is not founded on realistic dangers to the relationship.

When a person is jealous, the lines of communication gets murky and problems begin to stem from the lack of appropriate communication.

The best way to overcome jealousy is to face your feelings and openly talk about it with the intention to bring about a positive outcome.

According to this Discovery article, human jealousy has roots in our reproductive past and has probably endured because it serves its ultimate purpose, to help ward off potential rivals.

Jealousy produces tremendous pain and distress for people and it is important to quickly turn to positive communication in order to avoid lasting damage to relationships.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Human Relationships


Discord in any relationship often has unpleasant financial implications, but it is far costlier in human terms. When you are involved in a fractious relationship, physical and mental energy that could be directed toward positive achievements is dissipated needlessly, squandered upon stressful, unproductive activities.

Unfortunately, whatever the cause of friction between individuals, it adversely affects each person involved. When you find yourself in a contentious relationship, there are few acceptable alternatives. You can work out your problems or leave the team.

Only you know which is the best solution for you, but if you objectively evaluate your reasons for becoming involved and find that they are still valid, your best course of action may be to swallow your pride and find a solution that is acceptable to everyone involved.

If you cannot do this, perhaps it’s time to get out of the partnership and find another course toward your objective.

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

Monday, November 06, 2006

Silents Jets to curb noise pollution

A team of researchers in Britain and the US has come up with a revolutionary new aircraft design (in the picture above) that could make a dramatic contribution to curbing climate change.

The radically redesigned passenger jet could alleviate a major complaint of people who live near major airports -- the deafening sound of planes taking off and landing.

The "silent jet," which from outside an airport would sound about as noisy as a washing machine or other household appliance, would carry 215 passengers and could be in the air by 2030.

The body shape of the "silent aircraft" would allow for a slower landing approach and takeoff. We won't, however, be queuing up to board the silent planes before 2030 at the earliest.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Global Fisheries Face Peril

Fisheries experts have raised the red flag.

The world's fish and seafood populations will collapse by 2048 if current trends in habitat destruction and overfishing continue, resulting in less food for humans.

The unsustainable over-fishing together with pollution and other forms of over-exploitation is having a disaterous effect on the marine ecosystem.

Fisheries experts are recommending the establishment of "no-fishing" zones and ocean reserves, and banning destructive fishing practices.

They also want to promote commercial fish farming that can take the pressure off fisheries habitats, giving time for the depleting fish stocks to recover.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

An Empire's Mixed Legacy

This article from the Economist provides some insights about the British Imperialism that had ruled India, during the glory days when the sun never set on the empire.

Economists are studying and theorising why under the Imperial Rule, some countries succeeded while others failed. The current favourite is theme is that those that have succeeded had strong “institutions”.

In rich economies institutions—meaning the formal laws and unwritten rules that govern society—function rather well on the whole. In poor ones they don't. That much is indisputable.

In a speech last year at Oxford University, Manmohan Singh, India's prime minister, acknowledged a few “beneficial consequences” of India's years under British rule, including its free press, its civil service and its “notion” of the rule of law.

But the Indian Prime Minister also pointed out a biting irony. India, one of the world's biggest economies in 1700, was impoverished by the time the British left India.

technorati tags: India, Britain, Institutions.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Halloween becoming more gory

Halloween is a peculiar annual celebration beleived to have started in Ireland. Some people claim that it reflects a kind of demon worship.

The custom of Halloween was brought to America by Irish immigrants and now 31st October is marked as the Halloween Day. This is the time when children dress in different costumes ranging from fancy to bizzare to outrageous.

A Brooklyn high school student caused a stir this Halloween when he showed up for class dressed as Adolf Hitler. Walter Petryk, 16, defended his costume Tuesday, insisting it was a satire of the Nazi dictator.

School administrators ordered the junior honors student to remove his beige coat bearing a red swastika armband but Petryk refused, saying his parody was protected by his right to freedom of expression.

Sadly, in this particular case, the freedom of expression to look-alike Nazi Hitler who has killed 6 million Jews, is a reflection of insensivity and poor taste.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Money and what else can buy success.. for ICC

Lalit Modi, the vice-president of the Indian board (BCCI), has criticised the The International Cricket Council, ICC for selling its marketing rights and has said that the BCCI's bid to acquire those rights for the period between 2008 and 2015 was aimed at offering world cricket a better deal, in terms of both finances and players' interests.

ICC's chief executive Malcom Speed, while refusing to be drawn into the specifics of criticism has said that success of sports organisations are judged on the basis of three things:

1. How the team performs.

2. How the board looks after its stake-holders in terms of facilities on the grounds, and

3. How well they use resources like population to produce great cricketers.

Looking at these three things ICC has failed to look after stake-holders interests and that is the reason why Indian Board has to get involved to protect their interest better.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Carter builds homes in India

Former US President Jimmy Carter (L) looks on as wife Rosalyn (back to camera) speaks to actor Brad Pitt (R).
Photograph: STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images

On October 30, former US President Jimmy Carter invited Brad Pitt to the hill-station of Lonavala -- approximately 100 kilometres from Mumbai, India -- to build houses as part of the 23rd Jimmy Carter Work Project (JCWP) in association with Habitat for Humanity.

A day before, the former President and Nobel Peace Prize-winner inaugurated the project at a grand ceremony in Patan, near Lonavala.

Brad Pitt is currently on a film shooting schedule in India and people were surprised to see him turn up and volunteer in the building process, as did many other volunteers assisting in President Carter's project.

Monday, October 30, 2006

A grim warning on climate

Sir Nicholas Stern, an eminent economist with the UK Treasury, who was commissioned by Britain's Cabinet Office to review the economics of climate change has issued a 700-page STERN REPORT today.

Prime Minister Tony Blair said the report was the most important one received by the government during his period in office.

Stern's review shows the world needs to spend 1% of gross domestic product to combat global warming.

For Britain, that would be £11bn a year from industry, government and ordinary people. The British government has already started to give grants for ordinary people to install energy-saving technology in their homes.

The review calls on the international community to sign a new pact on greenhouse emissions by next year rather than in 2010/11, when they had planned to agree a successor to the Kyoto agreement on cutting carbon dioxide and other gas emissions.

Even if immediate action is taken to cut pollution, slow acting greenhouse gases will continue to have an effect on the environment for another 30 years, the report adds.

It is also time for the biggest polluters like the USA, to cut down greenhouse gases, for without action the report says 200 million people could become refugees as their homes are hit by drought or flood.

The Stern report gives a stark warning , reminiscent of the Great Depression that was a worldwide economic downturn which started in 1929. The rich nations are now put to the test to avoid another great depression, mass migration and untold human suffering.

US debates to ban trans fats

Trans fatty acids, also known as trans fat, is an artery-clogging fat that is formed when vegetable oils are hardened into margarine or shortening. It is found in many other foods besides margarine and shortening, however, including fried foods like french fries and fried chicken, doughnuts, cookies, pastries and crackers. Read more about dangers of trans fats here.

As public debates are being held in the United States to ban trans fats, The City of New York's health department is pushing its 20,000 restaurants and fast food outlets to remove trans-fats from the food they serve.

The push to legally prevent individuals from having a french fry may prevail, given the dire health risks and the health care costs and politics that shape public opinion.

This debate has brought forward two passionate groups of people with opposing interests.

Advocates for the ban present evidence that trans fats clog arteries, cause death and cost billions in tax dollars in medical care each year.

Civil libertarians accuse the other side of promoting a nanny state — that is, an intrusive government that dictates how people may live under the guise of taking care of them.

In a country where both public and private health care have become increasingly expensive, the best choice for most people would have to be, to eat right and avoid clogging up arteries in the first place.

Those fighting for civil liberties needn't hold their breath, they can grab their soft drinks or eat whatever food they want, for they have a right to do so. But they can also make better informed choices when the suppliers of food are required to provide more nutritional information perhaps also alerting the health risks.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Your Privacy Vs. Your Security

When business executives go jet setting around, losing their laptops is one of the biggest concerns. These laptops contain valuable data including private corporate information that their employers really do not want outsiders to see.

Now there's a new worry for travellers to the US.

At a meeting in Barcelona of travel industry officials, it was found out that almost 90 percent of its members were not aware that customs officials have the authority to scrutinize the contents of travellers' laptops and even confiscate laptops.

While many would be unhappy with this intrusion into privacy, think again. This is a reflection of the reality of the times we live. The nature of the beast of terror is such that this precautionary action has to remain a welcome inconvenience.

MAHARAJAS: Glorious Parisites??

Glorious Parasites is the headline in a Time article reflecting the lavishes and the insane extravagences of an era gone by.

Before India became independent from the British in 1947, India consisted of more than 600 princely states, many of them ruled by the Maharajas or the great kings.

The world's richest man in 1937 was His Exalted Highness the Nizam of Hyderabad, a princely state. TIME featured him on its cover that year, estimating his fortune at $1.4 billion, including "$150,000,000 in jewels [and] $250,000,000 in gold bars."

During the period of the Indian struggle for freedom in 1939, Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru, India's future Prime Minister, lamented that most of the princely states were "sinks of reaction and incompetence."

After independence in 1947, the first act of its new leaders was to demand that the maharajas hand in their crowns. While many princes withered away into poverty, a few adapted to democracy, refashioning themselves as politicians and diplomats.

Others, such as the enterprising Kings of Rajasthan, converted their palaces into magnificent five-star hotels and turned themselves into successful businessmen. But as The Unforgettable Maharajas shows, India's royals will be best remembered for their pomp—and pomposity.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Friends and Acquaintances


There is nothing like money to make you attractive and appealing to others. But, of course, the kind of people who are attracted to you only because of what you can do for them may be acquaintances, not friends.

You may have many acquaintances if you become wealthy, but whatever your station in life may be, you will never have true friends unless you are a friend to others.

Be very selective in your choice of friends. Choose to associate with positive people who like you for the person you are, who encourage you to be yourself and to be the best you can be.

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

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Can one succed with just 'sweat equity'?

Sweat Equity refers to work, especially manual labor, performed in return for a share in ownership, as of a home.

Some of the best businesses in recent entrepreneurial history are those that have been started with little or no money. Dell Computer, MicroSoft, Apple, HP and tens of thousands of others started in dorm rooms, tiny offices or garages.

With these illustreous names to look upto, the answer to my title question is a resounding 'yes.'

With plenty of sweat equity and with minimal capital equity, anyone can create their own business that could rival the likes of EBay, even if the sweat equity entrepreneur chooses to work with EBay.

Technology and communication has thrown up endless possibilities for those daring to innovate, even on some old ideas.

These are the best times for entrepreneurs who are dedicated and committed to achieve results of long term goals.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

PCB should not interfere with players' religiosity

According to an article in Cricinfo, The Pakistan Cricket Board,(PCB) Chairman Dr. Nassim Ashraf has commented on Pakistani players religiosity saying that, "There is no doubt their religious faith is a motivating factor in the team. It binds them together. But there should be balance between religion and cricket."

Ashraf has called up Inzamam-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain, who has strongly denied accusations that he was putting players in the team under pressure to pray.

Inzaman hit back saying all those talking about our religious activities have never offered prayers and nor do they have any link to Islam.

PCB has had enough problems recently, their team forfeited a test match at Oval and their captain has been banned 4 ODI matches for bringing the game to dispute. Two days before the Pakistan team left for the current world cup in India, the incident of a revolving captaincy finally ended up with the Board Chairman's resignation.

In comes Dr. Nassim Ashraf as the new chairman of PCB and many thought things would turn out for the better.

Two days before the Pakistan team began their campaign in India, the two fast bowlers Akhtar and Asif were declared to have tested positive for drugs and were sent home.

Clearly PCB has enough problems on its plate. PCB should support the team , inspire and motivate the players to perform at their best without worrying about why they are praying.

Wall Street reaches new record highs

The Dow Jones Industrial Index or the Dow the tracks the performance of 30 of the largest and most widely held public companies in the United States.

The Dow is reaching record highs. It rose 10.97, or 0.09 percent, to 12,127.88, eclipsing the record close of 12,116.91 set Monday. The Dow also set a new trading high of 12,133.80, edging past a day-old record of 12,125.16 before giving back some of its gains.

These record highs of the stock market are coming at a time of increased investor confidence, looking at how hard the US Courts are cracking on white collar crime.

Enron is one of the biggest corporate financial scandals in US history. Jeffrey Schilling, the former CEO has been sentenced to 24 years and 4 months in federal prison, for his role.

Pundits and investors are watching The Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee which began a two-day meeting Tuesday. Many investors expect the central bank's policymakers to leave interest rates unchanged for the third straight meeting.

If interest rate remains unchanged, it is good for the stock market.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Australia moves to curb global warming

Like the United States, the world's biggest polluter, Australia has refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol on climate change saying that it will adversely affect the Australian farming industry.

Now under pressure from academics and experts, the Australian governmnet has established a special $500 million fund to be used in partnership with companies and state governments to invest in new technologies designed to produce cleaner fossil energy and also renewable energy.

Starting this week, the Australian Government will announce the first projects to be supported out of this fund.

The wine industry is Australia's fastest growing rural enterprise with an annual gross value of more than $5 billion, including $2.7 billion in export earnings.

According to a scientific study, global warming will hit Australian winegrowers hard, possibly reducing the area suitable for vineyards by more than 40 per cent by 2050.

The grape growers will need to adapt, perhaps moving to cooler areas while they keep pressure on their government to introduce measures and cut down greenhouse gases in line with the the Kyoto accord.

Click to see greenhouse effect.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Caution on white bread

Those who eat five slices a day are almost twice as likely to develop the most common form of kidney cancer compared to those who have one and a half slices.

Scientists put the cause down to refined cereals triggering a surge in blood sugar and insulin levels, which is thought to fuel cancer cell growth.

Now experts are recommending what we should eat and what we should not eat, as they always do.

People should particularly cut down on white bread, which causes the biggest rise in blood glucose levels, and opt for wholemeal varieties instead.

The study also adds to the mounting evidence of the health benefits of following a low GI diet.

Whole grain foods are classed as having a low GI value as they lead to slower release of sugar into the blood stream.

The new study published in the International Journal of Cancer set out to investigate potential triggers of Renal Cell Carcinoma.

Click here and read the Glycaemic Index of some foods.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

A picture that took nine years to obtain and was almost deleted at the last minute has won the prestigious Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year award.

Goran Ehlme's shot of a walrus feeding on clams on the sea floor is a whirl of grey; the animal's face is seen poking through a cloud of disturbed sediment.

Technorati tag: Wildlife photography

The world's most polluted cities

A US-based environmental charity The Blacksmith Institute says three of the hotspots are in Russia, with the remainder dotted in various countries as marked on the map above.

The institute surveyed scientists and environmental bodies across the world to compile its list, and is running clean-up projects in some of the sites.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Happiest Countries !!!

Researchers at Britains University of Leicester have used an array of statistical data, plus the subjective responses of 80,000 people worldwide, to map out well-being across 178 countries.

Denmark and five other European countries, including Switzerland, Austria, and Iceland, came out in the top 10, while Zimbabwe and Burundi pulled up the bottom.

Countries that are happiest are those that are healthy, wealthy, and wise. The most significant factors were health, the level of poverty, and access to basic education. Population size also plays a role.

Smaller countries with greater social cohesion and a stronger sense of national identity tended to score better, while those with the largest populations fared worse. China came in No. 82, India ranked 125, and Russia was 167. The U.S. came in at 23.

Why have Asians done poorly on this happiness chart?

It is hard to understand without knowing all the details of what went into the survey.

Most Asian countries have strong collective identity, family bonds and all members of the family pull together for each other. This may be changing because of the pressures of modern-day life of materialism and intense competition.

Drive Global Poverty to Extinction

Yesterday millions of people around the world who leapt to their feet to support an end to world poverty may also gain a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

The STAND UP campaign is an event organised by the Make Poverty History coalition.

Unfortunately, just a one-minute leap up on the feet is not the solution to combat global poverty even if it creates a Guiness Record.

The root causes of poverty will have to be addressed and action taken on those problems can only help to alleviate poverty.

One example of a success story to empowering the poor stands out, thanks to the Norwegian Nobel Committee who recently awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize to Professor Mohammad Yusuf of Bangladesh and the Grameen Bank that he founded to help the poor.

Bangladesh is a country that suffers an image crisis in addition to the problems of poverty that it shares with many other countries.. All the negative attributes like pervasive corruption, weak governance and political leadership, widespread poverty and backward economy conditions are the same problems that many other countries continue to experience.

Though poverty, corruption and economic backwardness are no stranger to many other countries of the world, the poverty of political leadership is not so conspicuous elsewhere as it is in Bangladesh. As a consequence, Bangladesh has remained a perennial and convenient whipping boy.

Its time for the international community to wake up to this reality and call for accountablity from those who are entrusted with the responsibilty to help the poor. The world has more than sufficient resources and wealth to let everyone live a dignified life.

Technorati tag: poverty, make poverty history

Sunday, October 15, 2006

When is a cross not a cross?

A row has emerged between British Airways (BA) and one of its staff Nadia Eweida who is adamant that as a Christian, it is her right to wear a cross, just like a muslim women is allowed to wear a veil or a sikh man is allowed to wear a turban.

British Airways says their policy is that all jewellery and religious symbols on chains must be worn under the uniform.

BA has made an exception for Sikh turbans and Muslim hijabs because they cannot be covered up.

The debate of the cross is coming as a time when rumblings over the muslim veil is raging across Britain and its muslim community.

Discrimination over religious symbols of different faiths is a sensitive matter. Some may argue that the display of the cross is more than a religious symbol to some, who may well regard it as statement of fashion.

Whatever the case may be, Christians have a right to dislpay their religious symbols just like other religions.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

A Victory For The Poor

Professor Mohammad Yunus, and economist and his Grameen Bank have won this year's Nobel Peace Prize, and I have already posted that news yesterday.

Mr. Yunus's drive and insight was simple, and is worth quoting: "Charity is not the answer to poverty. It only helps poverty to continue." He realised that, even if the vast amount of Western aid reached its intended targets, it would merely create dependency and suppress initiative. His solution was to start at the bottom – to offer small loans, at commercial rates of interest, to those in his native Bangladesh with no collateral and no credit rating. It was, in essence, a gamble on the goodwill and industry of humanity."

Now small has become big. Yunus is a great organiser. He mobilised support not just with his own government in Bangladesh but also from international development agencies.

Although not a household name in the west, Mr Yunus is a familiar name on the international development circuit where he is known as "banker to the world's poor". Such was his reputation that in 1987, when Bill Clinton was the governor of Arkansas, he approached Mr Yunus to help them replicate its model in his state.

Yunus passionately believes that, like freedom of speech, credit is a fundamental human right and everybody should have access to it.

It is not the fault of poor people that they are poor. The West and the International Community can learn a lesson from Yunus, a lesson on how to pull the world’s poorest out of destitution and beat poverty.

Man Of The Year

Can the freeworld be led by a comedian- Robin Williams. Make the call.

Politics is serious business. The trailer here reveals a political thriller. It certainly wouldn't be politics as usual at a time when most politicians in the world's only superpower, the USA, are trying hard to speak in politically correct language.

How else can it be explained that they have 12 million illegal aliens, many of them working in plantations and other jobs that the native Americans will not take up. Perhaps the minimum wage being paid is too low to attract locals.

With Robbin Williams in it, this film may turn out to be good political satire.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Nobel prize winner is 'Micro Credit Team'

Bangladeshi microcredit pioneer Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for their work in advancing economic and social opportunities for the poor, particularly women.

The bank for helping the poor, Grameen Bank which Yunus founded gives out loans toward buying items such as cows to start a dairy, chickens for an egg business, or mobile phones to start businesses where villagers who have no access to phones pay a small fee to make calls.

Here are some facts that hold exciting promise in reducing poverty.

1)Realising that small amounts of credit could revolutionise the fate of poor communities, Yunus started by lending the equivalent of $27 to a group of female basket weavers to expand their businesses.

The idea was the seed for the Grameen Bank, which was formed in 1983 to extend banking facilities and improve the provision of credit to the rural poor.

2)Yunus' philosophy is to help the poor help themselves. He never responds when a beggar holds out his or her hand for money. His dream is the total eradication of poverty from the world.

Yunus and Grameen Bank have shown that even the poorest of the poor can work to bring about their own development.

Grameen Bank has helped millions of poor Bangladeshis, many of them women, improve their standard of living by letting them borrow small sums to start businesses.

Technorati Tags: Poverty, Grameen Bank, microfinance

Calling Confucius

After having being frozen over the last several decades, Confucian thinking is making a comeback in China, as witnessed by the lavish official celebrations marking the great sage's 2557th birth anniversary on September 28th this year.

Confucian values such as unity, morality, and respect for authority are being seen by Chinese leaders as the key to the country's future.

The Chinese government is setting up several Confucius Institutes based on the model of the British Council of Great Britain or the Goethe Institute of Germany, which promotes knowledge of the respective language abroad and fostering international cultural cooperation.

In recent years more and more people have put great emphasis on materialism. This has led to morality losing it's rock solid status of guiding people in determinig what is right and wrong, fair and unfair.

Now it is time, to look back and emulate the values that made China a great civilisation.

Here is a golden rule that Confucius applied:

"What one does not wish for oneself, one ought not to do to anyone else; what one recognises as desirable for oneself, one ought to be willing to grant to others."

Technorati tag: Confucius, morality

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A Booker Prize for Kiran Desai

Kiran Desai's ``The Inheritance of Loss,'' a novel about globalization and its impact on a small Himalayan village, has won the United Kingdom's leading literary award 50,000-pound ($92,773) Man Booker Prize for fiction.

The Man Booker Prize for Fiction, also known as the Booker Prize, is one of the world's most prestigious literary prizes, awarded each year for the best original full-length novel written by a citizen of the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland in the English language.

The 35-year-old, India-born author Kiran Desai defeated competition from five other finalists including the bookmakers' favorite, ``The Night Watch'' by Sarah Waters, and ``In the Country of Men,'' a first novel by Hisham Matar set in Gaddafi's Libya.

Desai is the youngest female winner of the prize. She dedicated the novel to her mother and fellow novelist Anita Desai who has herself been nominated for the Booker prize three times, but has never won.

Walnut is better than Olive Oil

Walnut is known to be a healthy food, rich in nutritional value and energy.

Just released new research from a Barcelona's Hospital Clinico which appears in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, says eating walnuts at the end of a meal may help cut the damage that fatty food can do to the arteries.

The study recommends eating an ounce (28g) of walnuts a day.

Researchers added five teaspoons of olive oil to the meal of one group of voulnteers. For the other, they added eight shelled walnuts.

Tests showed that both the olive oil and the walnuts helped to reduce the sudden onset of harmful inflammation and oxidation in arteries that follows a meal high in saturated fat.

Over time, this is thought to cause the arteries to start to harden - and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

However, unlike olive oil, adding walnuts also helped preserve the elasticity and flexibility of the arteries, regardless of cholesterol level.

Arteries that are elastic can expand when needed to increase blood flow.

Walnut is a wholesome super food. Previous studies have concluded that omega-3s contained in walnut help reduce the potential for heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and clinical depression.

Nuts in general are high in calories, so moderation is the key. The best approach is to reap the health benefits of eating walnuts but not add excessive calories to your daily intake.

Technorati tags: walnut, health foods, heart disease

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A lesson on forgiveness from Amish

The Amish in the United Sates are from a christian denomination and they reject many types of modern technology in their effort to lead a life true to holy scriptures. The Amish separate themselves from mainstream society for religious reasons. They restrict the use of cars, telephones and television to varying degrees. The Amish emphasizes plainness and piety above modernity.

Last week there were three incidents of deadly school shootings in the United States. The Amish schoolhouse attack in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania was the deadliest and the most horrendous which sent shock waves through out the United States.

Charles Carl Roberts IV, a 32-year-old truck driver who lived in the area, carried a shotgun and a handgun into a rural schoolhouse, state police said. Then he lined the Amish girls against the blackboard, tied them together by their feet, and shot them in the head, execution style at point blank range. He sent his last bullet into his own head.

Three girls died in the classroom. Seven others, some severely wounded, were rushed to nearby hospitals. Two other children died later.

Roberts had nothing against the Amish community. He chose Amish schoolhouse because it was close by and there was no security. Roberts was bent on killing young girls as a way of “acting out in revenge for something that happened 20 years ago” when he was a boy, the police said.

Roberts had brought violence to a peace-loving community who live mostly by crop farming and dairy farming and they believe that violence is evil.

Within hours of the shooting the Amish community reached out to Roberts' wife and his three small children. They told Roberts' wife that they will forgive him and that they pray for the victims that he killed as well as his wife and children.

Whenever there is a school shooting in the US, hordes of journalists, TV and cameramen converge on the site to report the news. In the same manner an army of people who came to report the Amish schoolhouse shooting were surprised to find the calm and dignified manner in which the Amish handled this tragedy.

They look like something from another world. Their simple clothing never changes with the trends, and their humble demeanour makes you feel that time has stood still in this place.

As is so often the case when such tragedy strikes, they do not torment themselves with the endless questions of how and why and pointing fingers of blame. Instead, they will turn their eyes to the future, and not waste time seeking an answer to the inexplicable.

What is most remarkable is that several persons from the Amish community were at Roberts' funeral. They have forgiven him and they prayed for him.

Amish refuse to turn their hurt to hate. They allow their faith to carry them to forgiveness. The Amish have shown the Americans how to heal even in the face of the worst calamity.

The Amish have responded to violence with love, to rage with forgiveness. This is truly a moving experience, and a demonstration of how this community hold's firm to the rock of their values when they are faced with such a horrible situation.

Technorati tags: America, Amish, faith, school killings, forgiveness