Archive for the ‘news’ Category

Last Friday, BBC had an interesting article about Health concerns. It’s read: “Exercise ‘must be tough to work’! ” Sounds hard, isn’t it? After years and years of research, now they have concluded that an easy, gentle exercise (such as ‘a mere stroll to the car park’) might not be enough to keep you fit. As it’s said ‘No pain, no gain’, you need to break into sweat regularly to guarantee your fitness. Unfortunately, sometimes ‘pain doesn’t grant you gain’.

  • ‘Couch potato-ing’: Sitting in a couch, watching telly even sports wouldn’t help you. Seeing Micheal Johnson running at an incredible speed of 10m/s would make you extremely tired and feeling like out of breath, it’s actually not helping you at all. Even if from time to time, you might need to stand up and get some beer or snacks from the fridge, this wouldn’t assure you fitness. (Tough)
  • Going to the stadium for a game? Yes, this involves driving, walking, singing, shouting, etc. This might even make your heart pound extremely hard when your players almost score in the own goal or the penalty is granted for a dive of the ‘opponent team’… All this might be suffering. But it doesn’t mean you would be fit afterwards. (Not yet to mention, if your team wins, a lot of alcohol is consumed) (Tough & Sweat)
  • Going shopping: Going shopping involves a lot of activities, including physical and mental. It would be exciting for girls and exhausting for guys. You have to go in and out the changing rooms, elbow others out in the sale season, surf from one shop to another, even 3 hours of shopping doesn’t necessarily grant you fitness. For many guys, a lot of pain doesn’t mean gain here. (Well, it also depends what he might get from his beautiful companion :P) (Tough & Sweat)
  • Strolling on the beach: One of those sunny days on the beach, you and your pals (preferably of the same gender) have a walk on the beach. Having sneaky looks at people in trunks and tiny bikini might help you to break into sweat, but unfortunately, this doesn’t help you to be fit either. (Sweat)
  • Going to bars: After your roast dinner, you might fancy some pints? This is, surprisingly, a lot of work. You have to stand, order drinks, socialise with your mates or strangers in the bar, get out of the bar, walk a bit, find another bar, enter another bar, be a social charming guy, etc… This could be hard work. But unfortunately, it wouldn’t guarantee you anything healthy but a big beer belly… (Tough & Sweat)

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One of the most repeated apocalyptic scenarios through History has been that of a “superpopulated” world, exhausting resources in an unsustainable growth. Well, recent studies say that the End of the World is not any more. Well, not that way at least.

You might have heard about the Easter Island where, legend goes, a culturally and socially advanced society flourished before the European arrival. The population grew to such extent that they exhausted the resources that sustained them. The 3,200km that separate it from the Chilean shore prevented the emigration, which triggered the dawn of the civilisation, among cannibalism scenes (so the legend says). Some have found this to be the mirror of the Earth, meaning the end of Mankind.

The English economist Thomas Malthus coined the famous statement that says that food grows in arithmetic progression while population grows in geometric progression. In Leyman’s words: the population grows faster than the resources that sustain it. This means that there will be a moment when the Earth will not be able to sustain its population. He justified the population growth with the following words:

“[…]the passion between the sexes is necessary and will remain nearly in its present state”(1)

From this point “Malthusianists” appeared, and the Club of Rome, which proposed the “zero growth” as the pursue of continuous growth is unsustainable.

Malthus also favoured chastity as a way to control population growth (but he didn’t trust this option, as his best bet for population control was periods of famine). But how was he going to foresee that the anticonceptive industry would allow the guy next door to free his passion without that meaning a further burden for poor Earth? The Economist published some days ago that UN reckons that population will reach a peak of 10 billion around year 2050 and then will begin a low descent. Great! No end of the World. No Soylent Green for dinner.

But it seems that this is not reason for happiness. Now, an ageing society will need young brains to keep on creating and more important, pay for the pensions. All this time hoping that the “one child” policy in China worked out to control the population, and now we will have to import qualified labour. Will some countries be left empty? Like those towns where only old people remain. Immigrants, instead of coming in illegal lorries or precarious boats will arrive in business class, paid by the developed countries, to save Humanity. “And do not forget coming with your wives and do not stop making children”.

So long worrying about a crisis for superpopulation, and now I will have to worry about a n infrapopulation crisis. Please, let’s make up our mind!

(1) An Essay on the principle of population, by Thomas Malthus

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Yes, it is a mental game. Mental, I mean a Crazy Mind Game. It’s a game between the employer and the candidate. I’ve been in these two positions. The game is always the same.
And here’s my conclusion: It’s just a matter of who’s more desperate!

Ideal case:

If the company is having good reputation, rewarding jobs, good budget for the employees, a lot of applications of potential calibre candidates will be received. And they can choose the most suitable ones for the job. Perfect! Everyone’s happy. That’s the ideal situation. It happens in life, but not so often, I’m afraid.

More realistic cases:

Tom, for example, might be so fed up of his current job. He can breathe no more in his office. He wanted to get away as soon as possible. But he couldn’t afford staying out of job. He saw an advert of a potentially good job for him. And the salary read: Negotiable. He applied. He liked the job, but the salary turned out to be so unbelievably low. After thinking, and thinking, and thinking… He decided to get the job. In this case, he’s the desperate one. After working there for sometime, he realised he was so underpaid and the job eventually might not be worthy. He decided to leave.

The company is now advertising the position again. Of course, with a tight budget. Calibres ask for good money, so not many will apply. The so-so apply but also want more money. Just the not-so-competent ones are happy. So many have been rejected because the company doesn’t want to pay more. Alright. Tom’s leaving day is coming closer. The company needs to get someone to replace him, and quick! That’s when the employer is desperate. Finally, they would accept anyone, who might have half of his brain and ask for almost twice as much Tom’s earning. And the company has no other choice but say Yes.

So, here’s the tip:

If you can avoid desperate situations, do it. Desperation normally doesn’t bring wise decisions.

Otherwise, bring your Good Luck in your interview 🙂

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Co-writers: Sirventes & Liliane

They said: Economic bubbles were about to be burst. It dragged down stock markets and the world wide Economy. A Depression as bad as 1929 was about to happen. But whom was it to be blamed? Or really, was there such a crisis?

Last week, we witnessed volatile market movements. All the electric boards in the City were red, share prices dropped, newspapers were talking about a financial crisis and compared it with the 1929 Great Depression.

Reasons??? Obsession, Sub-prime, Panic.

Obsession to have a house in the US is as high as anywhere else in the world, the house where they live in, a second house for lending, that’s even better. The normal thing was a middle class retiree tries to hold on at least one property.
Before granting the credit, in US and UK, what the banks/ lenders do is that they “run a credit check”, which means, they are using a third party to check if the borrow is able to repay the loan or not. Normally, if it’s a “not good credit rating” or “not enough credit history”, borrowers are rejected.
So, sub-prime lenders appear as a hero for those who have been rejected by the banks with “credit checking” procedures. These sub-prime lenders agree to lend those with poor or no credit history, but of course, with higher interest rate – due to higher risk.
And what would happen? Default! Sub-prime borrowers cannot repay the loans. And when the level of bad debt is rising, the news comes out. And there it spreads on the news. Several hedge funds collapse, bailouts are needed…

Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke warns that the crisis in the US sub-prime lending market could cost up to $100bn

Alright. Another sector crisis. It happens. The worse thing starts the news spreads this and a market panic is inevitable. In front of every house, there is a now a “For-sale” sign.

And to make it even worse, in the City, brokers are not fundamentalists. They don’t pay much attention to a company ‘s yield or performance during the year. What they are using is called Technical Analysis, which, in simple word, is: They look at the graph of share price. When it goes up to one point, they sell. When it goes down to a certain point, they buy. But if the price continues going down, instead of analysing the situation of “sub-prime” panic, they sell, and other brokers see that, they also sell, and the price is therefore plunging like a stone…
The banks are now doing the same thing, sell as much as they can, and stop granting more credit… Which, in turn, worsen the situation.

The central banks – the Fed, ECB, Bank of England, Bank of Canada, etc… have been injecting money into the market (approx $323 billion) in just two days, and are ready to take actions to intervene. The markets are now recovering. Relief! No more crisis!

Hmm… So where was the fuss?

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A 17 year old girl was rushed to hospital last Wednesday after taking seven double espressos!!! (BBC News)
The funny thing is she’s a student, but maybe that day, she forgot how to count or measure.
Espresso might be great, but with that amount of caffeine, well, I think it might be a tiny bit more than too much?! 🙂

Her symptoms were:”began laughing and crying for no reason while serving customers at the shop”, she was also recalling: “I was having palpitations, my heart was beating so fast and I thought I was going into shock.”

I think it would be good for us to learn from this, whenever we start to laugh or cry wildly without a good reason…

In this case, apart from calling the ambulance, I heard these immediate treatments should help:

(Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or GP, so this is what I heard from others as a tip. It might be true or false, I haven’t tested it myself. Just for your reference.)

  • Maintain the airway and assist ventilation
  • Induce vomiting or perform gastric lavage

But the best thing is you avoid falling in this situation, I suggest.

btw, I’m going to do everyone in my team now another round of coffee. Oops, I think this is the 6th round of the day! (Hmmm…)

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The free London business newspaper City A. M. published last Tuesday that the consulting firm Ernst & Young is to implement a scheme so its employees can take as many holidays as they want. Forget about 20 working days. If you want to take 30, do so. 40? No problem. That’s a good place to work.

The objective is ending the “attendance culture”. That is, in spite of being eight hours at the office, you might actually be working less than somebody else who is there just six hours. The aim is changing the concept of “going to work” by “doing work”. It is not about being in the office, but doing your duties and doing them well.

This brings me memories of when at school the teachers told us that we were not having compulsory homework anymore, but optional. Great! No more homework. But at the end of the term, the students who had been doing homework had better marks, and the teachers would help them more. Anyway, that wasn’t a big problem, because it was enough with a “pass”, and we weren’t there to make friends with the teachers.

As far as I know, working Saturdays and even Sundays is quite common in big consultancy firms such as Ernst & Young, or getting to the end of the year with some holidays still remaining. They have a pyramidal structure, with many junior employees and fewer seniors. That means when promotion time comes (so called Round Table), it is not enough with a pass. You have to be better than the rest. I am sure knowing that, you are going to take many holidays (!?!)

And while you are lying on the beach, sipping your Caipirinha, you will be thinking about Smith and Johns sitting in their chairs at the office, working like little ants, working six days a week, receiving taps on their back by your managers, covering your duties, talking to the clients assigned to you. And when the promotion comes, guess who is going to get promoted and who is going to get permanent holidays.

When I started my work at a smaller consulting company my manager informed me that they started at 9 AM in the morning. Naively, I asked “and what time do you leave?”, to which he replied with a wide smile. Clearly, this scheme of taking as many holidays as you want is a great idea… but I do not know for who.


(Sirventes is the author of the blog Un mundo perplejo (in Spanish), who is joining us from time to time to share his experience in London)

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Panic gripped the streets of London this morning when patches of sky took on an unusual blue colour and a ball of fire appeared above the city. The phenomenon, known as ‘The Sun’ and commonly found in Mediterranean countries, unleashed a terrifying heat and brightness upon the capital, causing many pedestrians to take off their hats and scarves, while motorists were able to turn both their headlights and wipers off. Gordon Brown urged people to be calm and return to work as normal stating: “We’ve seen this sort of thing before but it never lasts.” There are forecasts that ‘The Sun’ could be seen throughout the weekend but a spokesman for No.10 said, “I wouldn’t hold my breath”.

(collected – to share a smile)

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