Friday, September 28, 2007

Are you waiting for success?

If you are waiting for success to seek you out, you are headed for a big disappointment. Success is rarely forced upon anyone, and it will never overtake you unexpectedly.

You must prepare for it and actively seek it out if you ever plan to achieve any measure of success in your life. Constantly be alert to changes in your business or profession.

Subscribe to trade magazines and professional journals, join industry associations or professional societies, and get to know the experts in the field in order to keep abreast of new developments.

Source: Napoleon Hill Foundation.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

American men are happier than women?

A team of researchers released new findings on something known as a time-use survey.

According to a New York Times article, men are more relaxed and happier than women.

The research shows some interesting facts.

Since the 1960s, men have gradually cut back on activities they find unpleasant. They now work less and relax more.

Over the same span, women have replaced housework with paid work — and, as a result, are spending almost as much time doing things they don’t enjoy as in the past.

Two new research papers, using very different methods, have both come to this conclusion. Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, economists at the University of Pennsylvania (and a couple), have looked at the traditional happiness data, in which people are simply asked how satisfied they are with their overall lives. In the early 1970s, women reported being slightly happier than men. Today, the two have switched places.

This is quite paradoxical in that the women in the United States are doing more and have improved over the last thirty five years than they did before but yet they are feeling more unsatisfied.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Chris Gardener: From Homeless to a Millionaire

Chris Gardener with his young son was homeless. But he was determined to give a better life to his son. He never gave up on his will to do better. As Gardener and his son struggled with homelessness, he worked to become a top trainee at Bear Stearns. He would work long hours, persistently making calls to prospective clients.

In 1987, Chris Gardner established the brokerage firm, Gardner Rich & Co, in Chicago, Illinois, an "institutional brokerage firm specializing in the execution of debt, equity and derivative products transactions for some of the nation’s largest institutions, public pension plans and unions."

Chris Gardener published his biography which has now been turned into the movie 'The happyness purpose', starring Will Smith, and Smith's own son Jaden Christopher Syre Smith. The unusual spelling of the film's title comes from a sign Gardner saw when he was homeless. In the film, "happyness" is misspelled outside the daycare facility Gardner's son attends. The film focuses on Gardner's nearly one-year struggle with homelessness.

Today Chris Gardner is a philanthropist who sponsors charitable organizations, primarily the Cara Program and the Glide United Methodist Church in San Francisco, where he and his son received desperately-needed shelter. He has helped fund a US$50 million project in San Francisco that creates low-income housing and opportunities for employment in the area of the city where he was once homeless.

As well as offering monetary support, Gardner donates clothing and shoes. He makes himself available for permanent job placement assistance, career counseling and comprehensive job training for the homeless population and at-risk communities in Chicago.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Cyberbullying is a growing problem

Bullying in a school is an important social concern that has received increased serious attention in recent years. Its causes and effects have been under investigation by a number of researchers in the social and behavioral sciences. A new permutation of bullying, however, has recently arisen and become more common: Tech savvy students are turning CYBERBULLIES.

Cyberbullying is made a computer crime in several countries. For example, in the United States it is a federal crime to anonymously "annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person" via the Internet or telecommunication system, punishable by a fine and/or up to two years imprisonment.

The British Schools Secretary Ed Balls has said cyber bullying was "insidious" and had grown with technology and changes in society.

Schools in the United Kingdom are being sent a guide that explains the tactics used in cyberbulling and suggesting precautions to be taken.

It has been suggested by the BBC that cyberbullying may be influenced by videos that are uploaded to video sharing websites online which contain offensive content or examples of acts of bullying.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Freedom of speech and the power of Internet

A US student, Andrew Meyer, who was well-known on campus for his practical jokes, was tasered after jumping the queue to ask former presidential candidate US senator John Kerry a series of questions in a Florida University lecture hall on Monday.

The anguished cries Andrew Meyer, who was subdued using a Taser stun gun at a political meeting in Florida, has resonated worldwide in a matter of hours.

"Don't Tase me, bro!" was uttered by Andrew Meyer as he was pinned to the floor by police. 'Don't tase me' T-shirts are now being sold in the United States, earning Andrew Meyer a place in the American pop culture.

After a video of the incident was posted on the Internet, the officers responsible have been suspended on full pay while the debate rages over whether the student was a victim of police brutality or an attention-seeking prankster who got what he deserved.

Students at the university organised a protest yesterday and marched on the police station shouting “Don’t Tase me, bro” and demanding that stun guns were banned from campus.

Critics of Andrew Meyer have suggested that the entire incident was a planned attempt to win attention for Meyer who has already posted dozens of videos of himself on his website

Meyer has instantly become an Internet star for interrupting a political meeting.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Killing off small business

Pharmacist Dave Redden stands for a photo outside his closed store in Sweet Home, Ore., Friday, Sept. 14, 2007.

Redden joined a growing trend among small-town pharmacists this past summer and closed down Home Town Drugs and Gifts after 25 years--he largely credits the Medicare drug benefit program for the demise of his business. (Credit AP Photo/Don Ryan)

Dave Redden as the proud owner of Home Town Drugs and Gifts in Sweet Home, Oregon, United States, closed down due to competition from mail-order pharmacies and larger retailers played a role in his decision.

Redden, 62, said before the Medicare drug benefit started on Jan. 1, 2006 many customers paid cash.

Now the insurance companies who pay him demand bigger discounts and often payments came after months. Hence it was better for him to give up ownership of his store and go behind the counter as an employee.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Simpson's killer saga

O.J. Simpson (born July 9, 1947) is a retired American football player who achieved stardom as a running back, subsequently as an actor and broadcaster.

Simpson achieved notoriety for having been tried for the murder of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman in 1994. He was acquitted in criminal court in 1995 after a lengthy, highly publicized trial, called the "Trial of the Century" in America.

In 1997, Simpson was found liable for their deaths in civil court, but to date has paid little of the $33.5 million judgment. He gained further notoriety in late 2006 when he wrote a book titled 'If I Did It', withdrawn by the publisher just before its release, which purports to be a first-person fictional account of the murder had he actually committed it.

Human morality could not have been brought to a lower standard than this. For Simpson to write a book on how he would have killed his ex wife with whom he has two children and profit from publishing the book, brings this man's bizarre behaviour to a dangerously pathological level. Because of the public furore in America, the publisher decided last minute not to publish the book.

In August 2007, a Florida bankruptcy court awarded the rights to the book to the Goldman family to partially satisfy an unpaid civil judgment. The title of the book was expanded to If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer, and comments were added to the original manuscript by the Goldman family. The book has become No.1 on the Barnes and Noble best seller list.

Simpson's criminal and civil trials saw some of America's best lawyers battling it out in the court with the American public and the world watching every move in the court. The power of the media was on full display, with Simpson having considerable pull of public opinion in his favour because of his celebrity status and adoring fans.

On September 14, 2007, Simpson was questioned with regard to missing memorabilia at Palace Station Casino. He admitted taking the items, which he said had been stolen from him, but denied breaking into a room, as well as the allegation that he or people with him carried weapons. Now Simpson has been arrested and this morbid saga continues after ten years.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Greenspan's Memoir critical of Bush

Alan Greenspan who retired in early 2006 after 18 years as chairman of the Federal Reserve has some harsh words for his fellow republicans especially the Bush White House in his memoir 'The Age of Turbulence.' He had served under six presidents as either Fed chairman or adviser. He now runs a private consulting company; his only formal public role is adviser to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

From the 1980s stock market crash to the bursting of the tech bubble – he used a deft hand in managing the US economy. But some economists have begun to question his wisdom of cutting short-term interest rates to 1% in mid-2003 and keeping them there for a year, the cause that they attribute helped foster a housing bubble that is now bursting.

In his book, Greenspan defends the policy. "We wanted to shut down the possibility of corrosive deflation," he writes. "We were willing to chance that by cutting rates we might foster a bubble, an inflationary boom of some sort, which we would subsequently have to address....It was a decision done right."

Greenspan, who was the leading Republican economist for the past three decades, levels unusually harsh criticism at President Bush and the Republican Party in his new book, arguing that Bush abandoned the central conservative principle of fiscal restraint.

While condemning Democrats, too, for rampant federal spending, he offers Bill Clinton an exemption. The former president emerges as the political hero of "The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World," Greenspan's 531-page memoir, which is being published Monday. He describes Bill Clinton as "a fellow information hound" with "a consistent, disciplined focus on long-term economic growth."

Friday, September 14, 2007

Surrogate parenting by fish

A salmon embryo gets a dose of immature trout reproductive cells. Credit: Science

Japanese researchers have taken a step closer on surrogate parenting as they engineered one fish species to produce another, in a quest to preserve endangered fish.

The new method is "one of the best things that has happened in a long time in bringing something new into conservation biology," said University of Idaho zoology professor Joseph Cloud, who is leading the U.S. government-funded sockeye project.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Knowledge and globalisation

Nayan Chanda's book 'Bound Together' attempts to show that globalization stems, among other things, from a basic human urge to seek a better and more fulfilling life and that it has been driven by many actors who can be classified, for the sake of simplicity, as traders, preachers, adventurers, and warriors.

Listen to the podcast of an interview with Nayan Chanda.

Answering a question put to him by Manuel Gilberto Rosas, Columbia, he relpied:

Throughout history, knowledge has been power that its owners have always guarded jealously. The Chinese learned how to make silk from cocoons and paper from tree bark and succeeded in keeping that know-how secret for several centuries. Yemen lost its centuries-long monopoly in the coffee trade and Brazil its rubber when those plants were spirited out by competitors. The American industrial revolution was launched with stolen textile technology from Britain. But in recent decades, patents and copyrights have been protected more tightly than ever.

The consequence has been hard for developing countries, especially in the arena of pharmaceuticals. This knowledge gap has been growing, caught as it is in a vicious cycle. The technology needed to bridge the gap is itself out of the reach of many because it contains proprietary information.

While the originators of technologies are right to demand that they be paid for the time and money invested in developing them, there have to be limits to how much and how long they can carry on claiming an exclusive right.

Alternatives also have to be found to bridge the digital divide, and make certain basic technologies like computers and the Internet available to people of developing countries. One such effort comes from the non-profit One Laptop Per Child project, which plans to sell computers with wireless capability for $100 in developing countries.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Boutique hotels make good business

Small luxury hotels with individual character are beating the big chains and small gems seem destined to go from strength to strength, as described in an article on showing the Pita Maha Spa and Resort in Bali in the picture.

Small luxury hotels are becoming one of the fastest-growing sectors of the tourist industry.

They set standards, without imposing uniformity.

These trends suggest that the big boys can no longer take the needs of their customers for granted. Discerning travellers are spoilt for choice now.

"There's no doubt about the trend against standardised hotels, especially at the luxury end," comments Sydney-based Select Hotels & Resorts International founder Richard Rosebery. "Bland is no good any more. People want to feel they're in Thailand or Fiji, or wherever they might be."

Internet marketing plays an important role in connecting potential customers with the small hotels who do not have the kind of budgets that big chains can afford. Thus technology has helped to bring about a promising change where the customer is emerging as the king.

The direct online marketing will continue to be the main focus for hoteliers in the next several years. The industry as a whole has realized that not only has the Internet become the preferred channel for travel consumers to plan and book lodging, but the direct online channel is the cheapest form of distribution.

The same Internet can be used to raise awareness about social issues, help mentor children or provide information to further education and find productive opportunities aimed at improving the quality of life of the people who are struggling in poverty.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Big companies win on US patent reform

This is a fight between the big companies and the small companies who make their living licensing patented inventions to larger firms or directly to the public.

Big companies in information technology depend on squashing small companies, buying intellectual property on the cheap from small companies, and buying pioneering companies on the cheap. They can easily do this when the small companies either don’t protect their intellectual property (a problem in many small software companies) or open source their technology in unwise ways.

Big companies are now trying to weaken the patent system before the small companies wake up to its value.

The House of Representatives on Friday passed 225 to 175 with strong bipartisan support, the most comprehensive patent reform in half a century. It delivered a victory for computer technology and financial services companies and leaving drug companies, small inventors, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office bracing for a bigger fight before the bill hits the Senate floor.

The legislation, would make patents harder to obtain and easier to challenge and is intended to curtail litigation by limiting where patent owners can file suit and how much they can collect in damages.

"This patent reform will help speed up patent decisions, clear up disputes and clarify the jurisprudence behind these lawsuits," said Jonathan Yarowsky, policy counsel for the Coalition for Patent Fairness, the powerful lobby group which represents technology companies such as Microsoft and Google as well as financial services companies, including Capital One. "This will streamline innovation."

Microsoft, Intel and Cisco Systems have been lobbying for changes for more than five years. They say they have been under siege from lawsuits seeking high royalties on small features.

These companies are subjected to “legalized extortion,” said one sponsor of the bill, Representative Lamar Smith, Republican of Texas. “Too many patents of questionable integrity have been approved, and owners of these patents have found a unique way to make money.

The creation of inventions and intellectual property is a vital element of the development of the US economy to become a global economic superpower.

Experts in the intellectual rights field argue that America’s economic future depends on creating and licensing intellectual property. Strong worldwide patent rights are the foundation for American economic survival in a fast changing globalised world.

One sticking point passed by the House is the new set of guidelines for calculating patent infringement damages.

Currently, damages can be awarded based on the entire value of a product that includes a component that infringes on a patent. Under this legislation, judges can instruct juries in certain cases to award damages only for the value of the component. If a computer contains a chip that is patented, for example, the chip patent's owner would be awarded damages based on the value of the chip rather than the computer.

The bill would also change the rules at the Patent and Trademark Office so patents would go to the first person to file an application, not necessarily the first inventor.

Intense lobbying has surrounded the patent issue, reflecting the importance of patents to the American economy. Intellectual property in the United States, dominated by patents, is valued at as much as $5.5 trillion, more than 40 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, according to a 2005 study by USA for Innovation, a Washington group that advocates free trade.

The US has the best patent system in the world, and is the world’s leader in innovation. As the bill passes through the Senate, opponents of bill the are horrified against the implications of the bill. The consequences of the bill will become clearer after the dust settles down.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Overzealous prosecutor is jailed

"Justice works!" a woman shouted.

"I hope your family gets what you gave those families, you scumbag,'' a man said loudly.

These highly charged emotions were directed at the former district attorney for Durham County, North Carolina in the United States of America.

Nifong who pursued sexual assault charges made by Crystal Gail Mangum, an African American woman who was working as an escort and stripper, against members of the Duke University lacrosse team has been barred since he with held material evidence in a widely publicised case.

Now Mike Nifong has walked into jail to serve a 24-hour contempt sentence on Friday, soon after it was revealed that the three players he falsely accused of rape are seeking $30 million from the city.

The three falsely accused players are now seeking a $30 million settlement and reforms in the legal process, two people close to the case told The Associated Press on Friday.

If the terms aren't met, they will sue early next month, the sources said on condition of anonymity because the proposed settlement wasn't complete.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Too big to send to jail

The chairman of Hyundai Motor Group, Chung Mong-Koo, arrested in South Korea early this year on embezzlement charges has escaped jail ... for cash.

Chung and three other Hyundai Motor executives were accused of setting aside 103.4 billion won without proper accounting and of using 69.6 billion won for illegal political donations, undeclared employee bonuses and to attract an international expo to the city of Yeosu. There were also charges of manipulating share prices of an affiliate to benefit the Chung family, which founded the conglomerate. He was found guilty of all charges by a lower court.

The verdict was appealed and now the appeal court has ruled that his imprisonment would badly damage South Korea's economy, so it was better to let him go free.

Chung was allowed to go free on the promise of restitution, to be paid by building a concert hall and opera house in Seoul and 12 cultural centers in other provinces over the next seven years.

The suspension of a three-year prison sentence for Chung Mong Koo, convicted of embezzlement in February, if he donates $1 billion to charity, is the latest and most dramatic example of a uniquely Korean form of justice.

South Korea has an unusual system of justice. The ultra rich pay large sums of money to a variety of causes that “aid society,” and are able to escape jail terms because they are too important for the national economy.

Chung is Korea’s second-richest man and heads Hyundai, which appeared to be sliding down and losing customers until the court freed him. The logic is that now he can have more time to concentrate on winning customers from Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co., Hyundai's rival competitors.

“Sending Chung to prison is not necessarily the best solution. He must be ordered to pay for the wrongdoings he actually committed,” presiding Judge Lee Jae-hong of the three-judge panel ruled. “If the ruling is criticized for showing leniency to white-collar crime, I will accept it.”

It was not immediately clear if prosecutors planned to appeal to the supreme court.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Pavarotti, king of tenors passes on

Luciano Pavarotti, The world famous Italian opera singer who used his unforced tenor voice to become a 20th-century celebrity, died Thursday at his home in Modena, Italy, after a yearlong battle with pancreatic cancer, according to The Associated Press. He was 71.

The maestro took opera outside the concert hall: performances before 150,000 people, including the Prince and Princess of Wales, Charles and Diana, in London's Hyde Park in 1991; 500,000 on the Great Lawn of New York's Central Park in 1993; and 300,000 in 1994 at the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Pavarotti shared the stage with rock and pop singers, including Elton John, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, Sting and Bono of U2, to raise money for charities.

The portly bearded singer at times 300 pounds or more retired from staged opera in 2004, but was on a "farewell tour" of concerts when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2006 and underwent emergency surgery to remove the tumor.

Pavarotti was planning to resume his singing in 2007, but to the sad loss of millions of his fans around the world, his farewell tour has now turned out to be his swan song.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Tension in US-China relationsip over espionage

Incidents of espionage are as old as human history itself. Traditional methods mostly included human spies and wire tapping for eavesdropping purposes.

Now technology is helping in this age-old industry. Satellite surveillance of all electronic transmissions including cell phone logs, voice mail, email, packet sniffing, trace routing and wireless transmissions are standard techniques. The boundaries are pushed farther by the advances in new technology.

Computer hackers believed to be associated with the Chinese government are being blamed for a breach of computer security at the Pentagon in which some information may have been stolen.
China denies the allegations, but it's the second time in recent weeks that the Chinese government has been linked with cyber-spying allegations. Two weeks ago, an attack on German government computers was attributed to China.

The robust Chinese response followed a front-page report in the Financial Times saying Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) hackers broke into a US defence department network in June, taking data and causing the shutdown of a system serving the secretary of defence, Robert Gates.

Although Chinese authorities blame US of going back to the cold war thinking, it is believed that both the Chinese military and the U.S. defense bodies are active in probing into one another.

The compromise of the U.S. defense system has forced officials to reconsider the type of information that is transmitted via email or with BlackBerry mobiles.

US and China have differing ideologies and values. Fundamental ideals such as promoting democracy, good governance, and rule of law, upholding human rights, encouraging the spread of free market ideals and institutions, which form the basis for U.S. alliances with Great Britain, Japan, and Australia, as well as cooperation with other democratic security partners, are not shared by China.

Foreign policy analysts believe that in the absence of a greater convergence of values and agreement of the international system, a comprehensive strategic security partnership with China is fraught with difficulties.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Teaching hard lessons

Malaysia has announced on Monday it is considering re-introducing the previously banned act of public caning in schools as a way of disciplining wayward students.

Malaysia's Education Ministry is to issue specific guidelines on how teachers should discipline students following an outcry over several recent cases that were condemned as student abuse.

Currently, school principals are allowed to cane trouble-making students but only in a private room with another teacher present as a witness.

Today, in most countries rather than punishing students for their bad behavior a reward system is being used as a tool to promote good behavior in the classroom. The classroom reward system was designed to be an effective tool that helps students to focus, get work done, and behave favorably.

In some cases, punishments such as canning are still neceassry as a deterent measure to reinforce the value of good conduct.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Republican's failing private virtue

American Idaho Senator Larry Craig (Republican) opposes gay marriage and has a strong record against gay rights.

A fiscal and social conservative, Craig sometimes broke with his party, notably on immigration, where he pushed changes that many in his party said offered “amnesty” to illegal immigrants.

For the last one week, Sen. Craig's name has been linked to a bathroom sting operation and the senator has succumbed to calls for his resignation from members of his own party.

Craig, 62, said he would resign effective Sept. 30, ending a career in Congress spanning a quarter-century.

Craig was arrested June 11 in a police undercover vice operation. Craig is accused of trying to solicit an undercover officer in an adjoining stall, using signals "used by persons wishing to engage in lewd contact," including tapping his toes, moving his foot over to touch the officer's foot and swiping his left hand under the stall divider.

Craig has faced rumors about his sexuality since the 1980s. He has called assertions that he has engaged in gay sex ridiculous.

Other lawmakers who broke foul of the law include former Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., quit last fall over sexually explicit Internet communications with male pages who had worked on Capitol Hill.

Sen. Bob Packwood, R-Ore., resigned in 1995 amid allegations he had made unwanted sexual advances to 17 female employees and colleagues and altered his personal diaries to obstruct an ethics investigation.

These incidents reveal the hypocrisy and dishonesty of those who legislate on personal conduct, and ironically fall victims of seeking sexual encounters from the very men they actively legislate against.

America is a secular country but the republican conservatives have always portrayed them holding a higher moral ground over the liberal democrats and these incidents show the human failings regardless of the party affiliation. These scandals also bring out their double standards and homophobia.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Internet has given a new life to a 95-year-old blogger

Maria Amelia, the lively 95-year-old Spanish grandmother has achieved global fame as the oldest of the world's 63.2 million bloggers.

She was introduced to the world of blogging by one of her grandchildren just eight months ago, and now she receives posts in languages as strange and impossible for her to understand as Russian, Japanese and Arabic.

At 95 years old and with a worldwide following that has seen more than 340,000 hits on her blog, Spaniard María Amelia López has achieved the kind of status that millions of younger internet chroniclers can only dream of.

"My name is Amelia and I was born in Muxía (A Coruña - Spain) on December the 23rd of 1911," she wrote as her first post on "Today it's my birthday and my grandson, who is very stingy, gave me a blog."

With a mix of humour, warmth, optimism, nostalgia and feisty outbursts of leftwing polemic, she has won a regular readership of people keen to find out just what this Spanish great-grandmother is going to say or do next.

"You have to live life," the silver-haired blogger said in her most recent post. "Not sit around in an armchair waiting for death."

Her blog tracks not just a nonagenarian's day-to-day battles against aches, but offers musings on everything from politics and religion to broadband and death.

Among her chief hates are old people's homes, which she criticises for drugging their clients so they spend their final days snoozing quietly in front of the television.

"I blame the children, who don't want to help them," she said yesterday from the house beside the Atlantic Ocean in Muxía, in the rugged north-western corner of Spain, where she stays during the summer.

Some of her own words

"Old people need to wake up a bit. Get your act together!"

"Life has to be lived. Don't take pills and fall asleep in the armchair."

"Scientists and inventors should try to create something to help the workers rather than inventing cannons and machines that kill and destroy."