Thursday, May 31, 2007

Gates and Jobs - Strange bedfellows come together

Having Microsoft chairman Bill gates and Apple CEO Steve Jobs in the same place for a public conversation is like a solar eclipse, it is a very rare event.

The two tech originals came together at The Wall Street Journal's "D: All Things Digital" conference this year and spoke about the future of the digital evolution.

Apple and Microsoft have worked together for years, but that has never stopped the Mac vs PC debates. Microsoft Office has always been available for the Mac, and several years ago Microsoft pumped US $150m into Apple to help it stay in business.

Bill Gates became a billionaire at the age of 31, making him the youngest self-made billionaire in history. His personal fortune now exceeds US$46 billion.

The philosophy of these two geeks sharing the stage could be: keep your friends close but keep your enemies even closer.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Who needs a life coach?

Coaching has become a big business in the world. Whether a person wants to succeed in sports, in business or in life, one can find any number of coaches, some of them giving band-aid solutions while others give professional counselling and training.

Coaching can be of great help because it provides the clarity and the focus of our actions. It helps us to stay on the right track to reach a desired goal.

Life coaches are are the new kids on the block, who are finding plenty of work in business, personal development and entertainment.

The entertainment profession with a high propensity for coaching — the acting coach, the voice coach, the writing coach — there appears to be room for one more coach, the one in charge of happiness, not to be confused with the old-school therapist.

"The difference between life coaching and therapy is that psychotherapy is about helping people heal their wounds," said Phil Towle, a psychotherapist and life coach, "and coaching is about helping people achieve the highest level of their fulfillment or happiness or success, whether they're wounded or not.

Monday, May 28, 2007

A great achievement by Kelly Lim

LA Times is reporting that a Michigan native Kelly Lim, 26 a triple amputee is graduating from medical school.

Struck with a ravaging bacterial infection that destroys limbs, she became a triple amputee at age 8 and soon faced a life of prosthetics, wheelchairs and often-painful rehabilitation.

Lim does not use a prosthetic arm and manages to perform most medical procedures - including giving injections and taking blood -with one arm. She walks on a pair of prosthetic legs.

Lim has defied all odds to achieve her dream. She always had the support of a strong family. Adding to her disability woes, her mother turned blind when she was twenty.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

A higher minimum wage for US workers

After ten years of wrangling in the Congress, the American workers surviving on minimum wages are going to get a raise. Democrats who promised to boost the minimum wage when they won control of Congress in elections in 2006 have delivered on that promise.

The US Congress has voted in favour of the rise, which was attached to a bill funding the Iraq war. The White House approves of the increase which will be phased in over a two-year period and will accompanied by tax breaks for small businesses to help employers pay the increase in wages.

The minimum wage in the US is to rise by $2.10 per hour, to $7.25 from its current level of $5.15.

Debates over raising the minimum wage usually pitch the proponents of the free market against those who want to lift up the poor.

In a free market economy, prices allocate land, information, capital goods, and labor to their highest use. Markets are truly free only if prices are free.

Wages are good indicators that direct people to employment and show businesses how to expand. Freely floating prices allocate resources efficiently to places where they will take root and boost economic productivity.

Currently, a person working 40 hours per week at the current minimum wage of $5.15 makes about $10,700 a year. An increase to $7.25 would boost that to just over $15,000 a year.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Never too late to graduate

This is an incredible achievement in learning. At the age of 95, Kansas resident Nola Ochs is now the world's oldest college graduate.

Nola Ochs also has broken a Guinness World Record, although she never intended to do so. The previous Guinness Record belongs to Mozelle Richardson, who at age 90 in 2004 received a journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma.

Ochs received her bachelor's degree in general studies and history during Saturday's graduation ceremony at Fort Hays State University.

Ochs is the proud matriarch of a family that includes three sons — a fourth died in 1995 — along with 13 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren.

Nola Ochs who majored in history brought an interesting perspective to her Soviet Union course. She recalls when the Berlin Wall was torn down. She also remembers the days before the Soviet Union was formed in 1917.

She started taking classes occasionally at Dodge City Community College after the 1972 death of her husband of 39 years. She wanted to complete her studies and be productive.

Apperaring in NBC's the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, she came in as the second guest of the show after Simon Cowell, the blunt-talking American Idol judge. She said she has never heard about Simon and never watched the Idol.

She said she grew up on a farm where raising children was the most imortant duty.

After graduation, she has applied for a job and has received two responses. She is looking forward to serve on a cruise ship and go around the world as a storyteller.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Liverpool chasing the elites

As the Liverpool fans peer through the tears of defeat to AC Milan in Athens, Rafa Benitez- the Liverpool manager has started the post-mortem examination.

Benitez had already asked the club's new owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, to match the kind of transfer fees routinely made available at Old Trafford for Manchester United and Stamford Bridge for Chelsea.

Benitez has never been afraid to challenge a club's hierarchy. Benitez maintains a ruthless attitude to win. Looking back on his career, it is not surprising that he has called on his owners to put up the money even before the dust settled at the Olympic Stadium.

"If we don't change things now and understand how crucial this moment is, we will waste one month, maybe three months and then we will only be in a position to sign third-choice players," Benitez said. "Then, we will only be contenders for the top four."

Benitez drives a hard bargain with his players who are expected to deliver the results on the field. He showed no sentiment when breaking up the team that overcame AC Milan two years ago and he will show none now. The difference is that this time Benitez wants the reform to be fundamental and to affect every area of the club.

After three years of hard work Benitez is deeply disappointed that his team did not catch up with EPL champions Manchester United and failed to defend the European Championship.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Milan dazzle over Liverpool in sweet revenge

AC Milan celebrate a 2-1 win over the English flag holders Liverpool. AC Milan's revenge mission was in sight of being averted making another Greek tragedy come true between these two teams when the referee's watch ran out of time some 20 seconds earlier.

Two years after losing a 3-0 lead, AC Milan lost on penalties to Liverpool in what is considered as the most gut-wrenching final of the European Champions league.

There was no rude shock for AC Milan this time and there was no miracle for Liverpool to claim the the biggest prize in European club soccer in the Olympic stadium of Athens.

In a tightly contested match, it was spurts of sheer brilliance from Kaka and Inzaghi that made the difference for Milan.

On the night that belonged to Italy, Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrad did everything right except find the opponent's net.

Paolo Maldini, wearing the captain's armband for AC Milan set an important milestone last night.

The AC Milan captain appeared in his eighth European Cup final, matching the record of Francisco Gento - Real Madrid's legendary winger of the Fifties and Sixties.

This win proves that Kaka is the best player in the world.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Private equity is forcing capitalism to reinvent

Until recently, private equity seemed to have shed its bad-boy image of 20 years ago, summed up in "Barbarians at the Gate", a bestselling business book, a DVD and a film about the takeover battle by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) to buy RJR Nabisco.

The old arguments and criticism have surfaced again. Some commentators have begun to write about the death of capitalism. Strangely, the threat has come, not from some radical far-left group, nor from a major ideological opposite such as Communism or Fascism, but from capitalism itself.

In a recently concluded meeting of the 36 countries of the European Union Trade Confederation (ETUC), European trade unionists proposed a global fightback to counter the rapidly growing role of private equity in taking over established companies.

The call came as the ETUC demanded that British ministers end the favourable tax treatment for private equity, introduce new disclosure rules and protect the conditions of workers in takeover targets.

According to the Financial Times, "With the volume of buy-out activity across the world running at $667bn (£334bn) last year, large chunks of the global corporate sector are becoming less transparent. In jurisdictions such as the US, where there is no requirement for private companies to make accounts publicly available, much information about business activity is disappearing into a black hole."

Critics of private equity takeovers argue that the new breed of very large, highly leveraged deals manipulate rules to avoid paying tax.

Equity privateers thus stand accused of wielding power without responsibility.

Private equity is facing a backlash from trade unions and politicians who have to protect workers rights and their lay-offs. Therefore, private equity firms are coming under increasing pressure to improve disclosure and come closer to listed public company reporting standards.

In today's complex financial markets, the central banks acting as watch dogs will find more difficult to determine the economic risks of the highly leveraged buy-outs.

Private equity firms buy struggling companies, fix them up, and sell them off, generating huge returns for their stakeholders. They do it away from public scrutiny.

The majority of investment into private equity funds comes from institutional investors.

The most prolific investors into private equity funds in 2006 were public pension funds and banks and financial institutions, which together provided 40% of all commitments made globally according to data from London-based Private Equity Intelligence Ltd.

Other prominent groups investing in private equity include corporate pension plans, insurance companies, endowments, family offices and foundations.

Capitalism will have turn on its head to get the private equity to become more transparent.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Warring Words

Former US President Jimmy Carter, a Nobel Peace Prize winner has lambasted George W. Bush's presidency as "the worst in history" in international relations, taking aim at the White House’s policy of pre-emptive war and its Middle East diplomacy.

In an interview with the BBC Radio, He also denounced British Prime Minister Tony Blair's blind loyalty to Mr Bush.

Carter's stinging rebuke to President Bush which some presidential historians have described as unprecedented, was given in an interview to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

In some equally strong words and blunt language, Carter accused the outgoing prime minister of Great Britain as being subservient to the United States president.

Carter also blasted the White House's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, which helps religious charities receive billions in federal grants.

"As a traditional Baptist, I've always believed in separation of church and state and honored that premise when I was president, and so have all other presidents, I might say, except this one," he said.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Dubai ventures to eradicate illiteracy

Speaking at the World Economic Forum being held in Jordon, the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, has declared that he is giving $10bn to set up an educational foundation in the Middle East.

The money is meant to improve the standard of education and research in the region, and aims to stimulate job creation, Sheikh Mohammed said.

It is thought to be one of the largest charitable donations in history.

He said the illiteracy rate in the Middle East is 18 percent for those under the age of 15, while for women in the region it is 43 percent. He also said the Arab world lags behind developed countries on scientific research spending.

Sheikh Mohammed who is also a successful racehorse owner is aiming to create "a knowledge-based society" in the Middle East.

Dubai is seen as the booming economic capital of the Middle East. This charitable gift will go a long way towards improving education.

Sheik Mohammed who is the oil-rich United Arab Emirates’ prime minister said, "Our region needs at this moment 15 million job opportunities, and our Arab world will need in the next 20 years between 74 to 85 million job opportunities."

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation will be based in Emirates and plans to begin handing out scholarships to students next year.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

For walking or running

New Balance 825. Photo credit: Wendy Bumgardner © 2007

Shoe manufacturers are putting the best design and technology into running shoe styles, while walking shoe styles are being designed primarily for market appeal rather than performance. More details here.

Friday, May 18, 2007

PCB plays the blame game

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has recently faced a barrage of scandals involving their international cricket team, starting with the infamous row with umpire Darrell Hair at England's Oval cricket ground in August 2006.

Pakistan's shock elimination from the 2007 Cricket World Cup, the mysterious death of the Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer, and a ferocious public backlash has forced the PCB to look for answers.

A commission set up by the PCB has blamed their legendary batsman and former captain Inzamam-ul-Haq, for their first-round exit from the World Cup.

"Inzamam's attitude was haughty and that of a dictator and more than one incident proved that," Ijaz Butt, head of the committee, told AFP. "Inzamam should have been removed from the captaincy. As a player he was world-class but his attitude was haughty during and before the tournament."

PCB's commission demonstrates a defeatist attitude. PCB's woeful management is at the heart of the problems faced by their team. Pakistan cricket has reeled from one controversy to another during the last eight months. The alleged ball tampering furore at Oval resulted in the only Test match forfeiture in cricket history.

From a doping saga involving key players, to captaincy issues, an overhaul of the cricket board, player-breakdowns and, of course, the age-old spectre of infighting, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong.

Inzamam was captain of the Pakistani cricket team from 2003 and blaming only him sounds like a cheap shot. It is a farcical gesture by an inapt PCB.

Following an absurd system of "hierarchal" leadership - where the most senior man, irrespective of the leadership ability is made captain, Inzamam was made the captain.

He was never a strong leader. His careful style of captaincy, which has submerged his batting brilliance, has been catastrophic for him and the team.

To singly blame Inzamam for Pakistan's apalling world cup defeat is an unfair assault on the integrity of a person who has brought much joy to fans all around the world.

The incompetence lies with the PCB for failing to put the house into order.

Post script: Inzamam repudiates the commission report, as being biased since two of the three-panel judges that condemned him are paid members of the PCB. It appears they only managed to find a scapegoat.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Sarkozy vows to reverse economic decline

Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy, a conservative and former Interior minister known for his divisive rhetoric has won the French presidency in a tight race. He has pledged to remake France by a new style of leadership.

He has promised among other things, reducing unemployment, cutting taxes, keeping trains running during strikes, and moving away from an antiquated social welfare system. He wants to shrink the government bureaucracy and create new businesses opportunities.

An article in the Guardian draws a comparison between France and Germany. Both France and Germany have suffered economic stagnation and high unemployment.

In Germany, the conservative leader Angela Merkel, who promised sweeping reforms, has managed to control wage growth. This has helped to gain international competitiveness for German exports.

France is mired in a system of labour laws that work on fixed working hours, guaranteed benefits or lifetime employment. As a result productivity is down and French exporters have lost out in some of the international markets.

The British Guardian refers to a debate between "Anglo-Saxon" versus "European social model."

Anglo-Saxon economy or Anglo-Saxon capitalism (so called because it is largely practiced in English-speaking countries such as the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia) is a capitalist macroeconomic model in which levels of regulation and taxes are low, and government provides relatively fewer services.

In addition, Anglo-Saxon economies generally are more 'liberal' and free-market oriented than other capitalist economies in the world.

Countries in mainland Europe (such as France, Italy and Germany) possess a macroeconomic model called continental capitalism (also called Rhenan capitalism).

The debate amongst economists as to which economic model is better, circles around perspectives involving poverty, job insecurity, social services, and inequality.

Generally speaking, more liberal economies produce greater overall prosperity, while the continental models have lower growth, and a lower average standard of living, but lesser poverty at the lowest margins.

France has one of the world's largest economies and is a member of G8, the world's major industrialised democracies.

Mr Sarkozy is a an efficient administrator and the French will look up to him to bring them out of the economic quagmire.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Mining online opportunities

The Internet has changed our life in several ways. Education is now a vital part of our life and our career. Education is now a continuous process throughout our entire life.

The e-learning has emerged, making learning the lifeblood of the knowledge economy.

You can pick among many roles in the e-learning economy. You can specialize in teaching businesses large or small computer basics, management techniques, or high-end programming skills.

You might create guides that help employees in the workplace. You can create Web sites that help learning process with young people, or training that helps seniors tune their Internet skills.

You can provide content or marketing help or technical services to other online learning firms. You can resell products. You can broker classes on behalf of other businesses, recruit students, resell CD-based courses, or engage in other middleman activities in the online learning economy.

There are endless variations in audience demographics, delivery methods, content and learning styles. Online learning is new and wide open.

Your ability to seize these opportunities depends only upon how well your skill set and delivery abilities match with these opportunities. The market opportunities are really only limited by your imagination.

Microsoft takes on free software

Microsoft, one of the world's leading technology giants is no stranger to business controversy. Microsoft claims that free software like Linux, which runs a big chunk of corporate America, violates 235 of its patents. It wants users and distributors to pay royalties.

Patent licensing is a mega business in the United States. Patent licensing could earn companies hundreds of millions of dollars a year. It seems over half a billion dollars a year is spent on patent applications, and licensing revenues are in the tens of billions of dollars.

No wonder then Microsoft must have assembled hordes of lawyers to engage in patent litigation.

Since the US software patent system is a fervently contested idea, and patents are granted questionably, these lawyers make it their business to engage in court processes that are sometimes ridiculous.

Caught in the middle of this court argument are big corporate Linux users like Wal-Mart, AIG, and Goldman Sachs. Free-worlders say that if Microsoft prevails, the whole quirky ecosystem that produced Linux and other free and open-source software (FOSS) will be undermined.

Microsoft counters that it is a matter of principle. "We live in a world where we honor, and support the honoring of, intellectual property," says Ballmer in an interview. FOSS patrons are going to have to "play by the same rules as the rest of the business," he insists. "What's fair is fair."

Monday, May 14, 2007

Facing sharks to create winning mind-set

An aquarium in Rimini, Italy is offering business executives the chance to swim with sharks to help them combat boardroom stress.

With 11 bull sharks around, people will have to face up to their fears. They will have to be assertive and attentive at all the times.

This isn't a game for sheer thrill. It is a course in personal development, rising above personal inhibitions.

After suitable training, daring executives were lowered, one by one, into a tank filled with 11 bull sharks in order to "overcome their personal limits".

The participants were instructed to "look into the sharks' eyes" from behind the safety of their steel cage.

This is not the kind of situation where a person can allow the mind to wander into fantasy land. He has to maintain focus and the right attitude, in order to overcome innate fears.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Howard obstructs Australian cricket tour

This is politics clashing in the businsess of international sports.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard has ordered Australia's cricket team to pull out of their proposed tour of Zimbabwe, protesting the human rights record of Robert Mugabe's dictatorship.

The Australian Prime Minister said it was not fair to leave the decision up to Cricket Australia and the Australian players.

Cricket Australia is a member of the International Cricket Council, the ICC which is the governing body for international cricket.

The primary property of the ICC and its members is international cricket. The game is played for commercial purposes and does not have any political agenda.

Sponsorship and television rights of the World Cup brought in over US$1.6 billion between 2007 and 2015, by far the ICC’s main source of income.

Whether Zimbabwe is a country suitable to play international cricket is a matter that should be decided by the ICC.

Australian Prime Minister's intervention in this matter defeats the purpose of the ICC.

Cold War between Manchester United and Chelsea

An interesting article in the BBC carries the title, "The Glazer family v Roman Abramovich."

Manchester United have won over Chelsea in the English Premier League, an event being referred to as the English football's own version of the Cold War.

American-owned Manchester United has fought with Russian-backed Chelsea in a conflict full ideological differences and tension reminiscent of the superpower rivalry between the United States and Soviet Union.

The United States has the capitalist economy and a free and open society while the Soviet Union was the one-party communist state with a controlled economy.

These differences are apparent in the style of management between American Glazers who own the Manchester United and the the tighter control imposed by the Russian Roman Abramovich over Chelsea.

Both owners are out to make money using the EPL as a robust product. The American approach of supporting one of the best football manager's with the financial resources and trusting him to do the job has won the day.

Chelsea's uninspiring football played with ruthless efficiency has lost out in the battle of winning the hearts and minds of passionate supporters.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Greenspan warns of gloom for US economy

According to the former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, the world's largest economy, the United States could be heading for recession.

New figures released showed retail sales in the U.S. unexpectedly tumbled last month, hit by a double whammy of higher petrol prices and a slowing housing market.

American consumers spent $372bn last month, a figure that is less than had been expected, giving rise to speculation that the Fed, under new chairman Ben Bernanke, may start cutting interest rates later this year.

The higher gasoline prices, combined with a weakening housing market and a softer job market, are weighing on consumers.

Friday, May 11, 2007

A Quote on Personal Development

Promise Yourself:

To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel that there is something in them

To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.

To think only the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.

To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.

To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world, not in loud words but great deeds.

To live in faith that the whole world is on your side so long as you are true to the best that is in you.

-Christian D. Larson

Thursday, May 10, 2007

What's going wrong with Paris Hilton?

Socialite Paris Hilton, right, arrives for her probation-violation hearing at the Metropolitan courthouse last Friday with her parents Kathy Hilton, left and Rick Hilton, right. (AP Photo/Dan Steinberg)

Paris Hilton has been sentenced a 45-day jail term. Paris was given the jail sentence on Friday after being found to have violated her probation for drink-driving by twice taking to the wheel and speeding while her license was suspended.

This is an apalling situation. The 26-year-old US celebrity and party girl is seen as a role model by many younger women. She has been living a roller coaster life as an adult, at times insanely out of control.

Her mother Kathy Hilton was 19 when she gave birth to Paris in 1981, just two years after marrying Rick Hilton, a real estate developer and an heir to the Hilton Hotel fortune.

When a homemade sex tape called "One Night in Paris" surfaced on the Internet, Kathy Hilton who is active in various charities characterized her daughter as a victim.

Kathy Hilton has publicly defended Paris before, calling her "vulnerable."

"She's eccentric, she's herself and she never hurts anybody," she told the London newspaper The Guardian in December 2005. "It upsets me that she gets taken advantage of, but I think we've all learned to deal with it."

It appears that Paris Hilton does not understand the meaning of responsibility. She also has to learn to accept the consequences of her actions.

Her misbehaviour is being perpetuated by the actions of her mother whose support is sending the wrong signal.

Paris Hilton has used her MySpace site to post a blog urging visitors to sign an online petition that asks California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for leniency regarding her drink driving conviction. It seems the petition has received almost 12,000 signatures so far.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Manchester United stumble against AFC's ego

The FA of Malaysia (FAM) have caved in to pressure from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), the governing body of football in Asia.

FAM has ruled out Manchester United who enjoy huge support in Malaysia from playing in the country in July, during which time the Asian Cup will be played.

This decision comes as FIFA president Sepp Blatter called for the newly-crowned Premier League champions show some respect for Asian soccer .

The fear is that a tour by a big club as big as United will divert attention from the Asian Cup. In other words the fans will go to watch only Man United and not the Asian Cup matches.

Manchester United plan to kick off their tour against J-League champions Urawa Red Diamonds on July 17 in Saitama in Japan before travelling to the South Korean capital for a showdown with FC Seoul on July 20.

Alex Ferguson's team are then due to head to Macau for a match against Shenzhen on July 23.

They are due to end the tour agaionst a Malaysian XI in Kuala Lumpur on July 27, few days before the Asian Cup final will take place in Indonesia.

FA Malaysia had arranged the the United game, as part of the “Visit Malaysia 2007” campaign.

The high-handed approach taken by AFC towards the visit of one of the biggest clubs and the opportunity to play with the world's top players cannot be good for the game in Asia.

According to reports, when asked what message he had for United fans disappointed by any cancellation or rescheduling, AFC president Mohamed Bin Hammam said: “I would say Asia for Asians.”

That sounds like a xenophobic statement.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Kim Clijsters hangs up her racket

The former U.S. Open champion and former world no:1 player, Kim Clijsters announced her retirement from international tennis last Sunday.

At the age of 23, Clijsters is one of the youngest tennis players to retire in an era when records, money or the cult of celebrity have driven many athletes to prolong their careers.

With the daily grind of keeping her body match-fit becoming more and more unbearable, she earmarked 2007 as her final season on the tour more than 20 months ago.

Her announcement did not come as a surprise especially since she did not want another injury to ruin her wedding to American basketball player Brian Lynch in July.

Clijsters earned nearly $15 million in prize money, during a ten year career.

Explaining why she decided to quit, the popular player said, "Money is important, but not the most important thing in my life," she added. "Health and a private life are so much more important."

Her glowing smile and friendliness has always drawn her admirers, but it has also led many to say she lacked the killer instinct and the mean attitude needed to win more slams.

She goes into retirement at the top of her game as she is currently ranked fourth in the world. She also has left the 10,000,000 plus inhabitants of Belgium with a lasting legacy after helping the country to win their first Fed Cup title in 2001.

Looking back on her career, commentators say that she believed in a fair go for everybody. She fought hard in every match but would still applaud with her racquet when an opponent hit a great shot.

While she will be remembered for her tennis, it is her courtesy and dignity that place her above many athletes.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Build Sound Character


Without Positive Mental Attitude or PMA, life might be described as long periods of uncertainty punctuated by occasional emergencies that shake you to the very core of your being.

The emergencies may be financial, personal, or health related, but each must be dealt with separately and swiftly.

The surest way to deal with any crisis is to focus on solutions, not on the probable cause of the problem or who should be blamed for it.

Conduct a quick damage assessment, take the time to think through the alternatives and their consequences, and then act to implement the best solution.

If you deal with life’s emergencies as they occur-on your own terms-you will be a stronger, better person for having looked them in the eye and conquered them.

This positive message is from the Napoleon Hill Foundation.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Humanizing a chimpanzee

Early this year, a group of animal rights activists in Austria took up an unusual case to the court to get a 26-year-old male chimpanzee legally declared a "person."

A chimpanzee named Hiasl was kidnapped from Sierra Leone in the jungle and illegally brought to Austria in 1982 as an infant after his mother was killed by poachers.

He was sold to a vivisection lab, forced to live alone in a cage, and experimented on for many years before finally being released to a sanctuary.

However, the sanctuary has recently declared bankruptcy and Hiasl now faces the possibility of being sold back into the vivisection industry.

Hiasl's supporters argue that he needs the status to of a legal entity who can receive donations and get a guardian to look out for his interests.

They argue that the chimpanzee has the right to life, the right to not be tortured, the right to freedom under certain conditions.

According to reports on this groundbreaking trial, the judge has handed down a verdict rejecting the chimp's right to a legal guardian and its status of person hood.

The judge stated her concern that if she was to appoint a legal guardian for Hiasl, she feared that this would set a precedent, putting humans with legal guardians on the same level as animals.

Chimps share 99.4 percent of their DNA with humans but they are not homo sapiens. That does not mean they don't have rights. They do have rights that need to be protected.

Human beings can protect the rights of other species and provide stewardship where necessary even without going through a court procedure. Man is an ingenious creature and must stand up for the rights of others.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

120 Million for losing job

Controversial American shock jock Don Imus, 66, was dismissed April 12 after describing the Rutgers women's basketball team as "nappy-headed hos" on his nationally syndicated radio program.

He was barely three months into a five-year, $40 million contract with CBS, and his attorney has said Imus would sue for the contract's unpaid portion.

Reports suggest Imus will seek $120 million in unpaid salary and damages from CBS.

This case would involve 'free speech' which is a sacred right in the United States. If Imus engaged in racial abuse or hate speech in which criminal intent is alleged, a court should decide whether action is warranted against Imus.

A source told that Don Imus’ lawsuit highlights language in his contract which encouraged him to be confrontational and irreverent on the air. The contract also supposedly stipulates that Imus receive a warning prior to being fired.

CBS Radio has a delay button and if the host makes a racist remark that is unacceptable, the dump-button guy has to bleep out the remark before the content hits the airwaves. Apparently CBS failed to do this with the Imus incident.

Therefore in dismissing Imus, it appears that CBS caved into the emotions of some public pressure rather than go by contractual obligations.

It will be interesting to see how this case gets played out in the court.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Mixed singles- a new brand of tennis

Claycourt king Rafael Nadal wins in the battle of the surfaces. Photos: Reuters, AP

The organisers of this novel event experienced no problems save the worms that attacked the grass side of the court.

The only other difficulty- both players were allowed extra time during change overs to change shoes to suit each surface.

This is a nice try to put some fun back into the game apart from the brutal competitive spirit to win.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

AC Milan crush some dreams

Football is a magical game. It arouses passions like no other game does.

Milan, which has never lost to Manchester United over two legs, knocked the English team out of the European Championship as it did in the semifinals in 1958 and 1969, only with a superb performance.

The result ended United's hopes of repeating its 1999 treble of the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup titles.

With history on its side, Milan has also crushed Manchester United's hopes of creating the first ever English final, were they to advance to the final and face familiar rivals Liverpool who beat Chelsea to book their berth in the final.

Greek authorities who have allotted to deploy 20,000 police officers from Athens and other Greek cities to control any violence at the final, would have a sigh of relief now that two English sides would not face each other.

Going up to defend a 3-2 lead from the first leg, United was acutely aware that they would have to play at their best to prevail over Milan .

As United manager Alex Ferguson ruefully said, "We never came out of the blocks.''

An Italian commentator wrote that it was an evening to remember both for Milan and Italian football as a whole for Milan's exhibition was majestic. He couldn't have been more true for this performance.

So the two most famous clubs in English football will not meet on the pitch of the Olympic Stadium in Athens, and neither will their followers have a chance to add to the existing ruins in that ancient city.

To the United manager's enduring credit, he acknowledged that his side was outclassed this time. There is no finger pointing at a refereeing conspiracy or an injury crisis.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Chelsea's stars woes

Chelsea's manager Jose Mourinho is putting up a brave face. With Chelsea's loss to Liverpool last night at Anfield, Chelsea has been eliminated from the European Championship.

Liverpool have vanquished Jose Mourinho again and have booked a place in their seventh European Cup fnal. This is a soaring triumph for Liverpool and the Anfield faithful exploded with joy.

Chelsea's grasp on the English Premier League also looks out of their reach when they were held to a draw by Bolton last Saturday, on a day when rivals Manchester United won emphatically over Everton extending their lead at the top.

There has been talk of tension between the Russian billionaire Abramovich and his Portugese manager Mourinho all season. Losing the European Championship that the Chelsea owner craves most doesn't make Mourinho's job easier who already has enough problems of player injuries .

Chelsea's high-profile players have not delivered the results yet.

There were reports that Ukraine striker Shevchenko had refused to travel to Anfield after being told by manager Jose Mourinho he would not start the game, but Chelsea insisted the player was injured and played down rumours of a rift with the manager.

Another star player midfielder Michael Ballack, has reacted furiously at suggestions that he was putting Germany's international matches in June ahead of his club's end-of-season games.

Chelsea has star power, but as a team they haven't got the best out of the rich talent available. Under pressure Chelsea has crumbled to Liverpool, dashing their hopes of glory in Europe.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Cleaning up dirty Rap

Every generation has had groups of people who were off beat and who set radical and exciting trends that gained momentum against the established norms.

The baby boomer generation will remember the 1960s as the decade that brought the world the famous music group 'The Beatles' from England. A hippie counter culture started as a dissenting youth movement that opposed the Vietnam War and the corrupting influence of the institutional monolithic power.

In the 1980s, to young people the world over – from kids in the American ghettoes where Hip Hop started, to the white suburban middle class – gangsta rap is a way of rejecting their parents’ values, in the age-old tradition of Rock and Roll, and Punk.

At its worst, G-rap is itself racist, sexist, and glorifies violence. To people who promote this form of music, it describes real life, real problems of the underprivileged black community. Their music bring in to focus differences between black and white, rich and poor, male and female. They say that rap brings to white audiences the uncomfortable awareness of black suffering, anger and violence.

Of all the issues around Hip Hop, gangsta rap has the most power to ignite heated debate. There is even dispute over whether, as a sub-genre of Hip Hop, gangsta rap still exists in its original form. But to many young people today, this historic debate means nothing - gangsta rap is their music of choice.

While highlighting the plight of the underprivileged black community, the gangsta rap has sunk deep into the loathsome rut of the ghetto life. Some of them rap on poetry that incite racial hatred and use expletives glorifying mistreatment of women.

The problem is compounded as big businesses have jumped on the G-rap bandwagon, taking it across the airwaves into a huge money spinner.

Recently, CBS abruptly fired the controversial shock jock Don Imus from the radio show that he has hosted for nearly 30 years. His exit came a day after MSNBC said it would no longer televise it when it became clear that major sponsors pulled out from the show. CBS did not act on any moral conviction, but it was a business decision. Thus big business influenced this dramatic result.

Imus' description of the Rutgers women's basketball team as "nappy-headed hos" set off a national debate about taste and tolerance.

Hopefully some good can come out of this incident.