Thursday, February 18, 2010

Welfare in Singapore - The stingy nanny

The city-state stays strict with the needy (from The Economist)
Fond of having the last word, Singapore's government can nevertheless be flexible. Who would have thought it would be building casinos? But one policy that shows no sign of reversing is Singapore’s antipathy towards public welfare. The state’s attitude can be simply put: being poor here is your own fault. Citizens are obliged to save for the future, rely on their families and not expect any handouts from the government unless they hit rock bottom. The emphasis on family extends into old age: retired parents can sue children who fail to support them. In government circles “welfare” remains a dirty word, cousin to sloth and waste. Singapore may be a nanny state, but it is by no means an indulgent nanny.
The aftershock of a deep recession, which pushed unemployment among citizens up to 4.1% in September—high for Singapore—has not altered the popular belief that the dole is bad for society. The casinos, which open on February 14th, have already helped reduce unemployment, which by December had fallen back to 3%, seasonally adjusted. The government does run a handful of schemes directed at some of the needy, from low-income students to the unassisted elderly. But these benefits are rigorously means-tested and granted only sparingly. The most destitute citizens’ families may apply for public assistance; only 3,000 currently qualify. Laid-off workers receive no automatic benefits. Instead they are sorted into “workfare” and training schemes.
Could really use a handApplicants complain that the process of seeking help is made tiresome and humiliating. Indeed that could be the point, supposing it deters free-riders. Officials take a dim view of European-style welfare systems, which are said to beget laziness. The Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS), which administers the various schemes, says theirs are designed as a “springboard” to self-reliance. Getting people back to work takes priority over relieving any temporary drop in income. In a fiscal stimulus unveiled a year ago in response to the financial crisis, S$5.1 billion ($3.6 billion) was allocated for employment measures, including grants to companies to retain staff. Those who remain out of work can join a government training scheme; by December, 169,000 unemployed workers had done so.
Many Singaporeans are wedded to their jobs and look askance at idleness of any kind. The government is leery of generous handouts, fearing they might undercut the work ethic while burdening taxpayers. But the thinness of the safety net also reflects a widespread article of faith, recited and reinforced over the years. Even among the social workers who work in hard-hit communities there is surprisingly little frustration at the meagreness of the handouts on offer or at the lengthy application process. One explains that Singapore needs to weed out undeserving claimants and shakes his head at the potential cost of a comprehensive welfare service. Yet in his next breath he mentions a number of local families who have been forced to sleep rough since mortgage lenders foreclosed on their flats.
Nobody doubts that wealthy Singapore could be more generous. In 2008 the World Bank rated it the third richest country in the world, in terms of GDP per head at purchasing-power parity. And the idea that its Big-Brotherly government might be outfoxed by conniving welfare queens seems odd. When a visiting news crew filmed an elderly woman scavenging in Chinatown and bemoaning her homelessness, the government promptly identified her as a miserly flat-owner who did not need to beg. Indeed, acute poverty is hard to spot in Singapore. Public housing is in good shape; no slums are allowed to fester. Soup kitchens do exist, but foreign labourers are often first in line.
But Singapore still faces the challenge of rising inequality in a society that is also rapidly ageing. By 2030, says MCYS, one in five Singaporeans will be over 65 (UBS, whose largest shareholder is Singapore’s sovereign-wealth fund, has estimated the date at 2020). Incomes have stagnated or even fallen at the bottom of the spectrum, as the rich pull further ahead of the middle classes. Long-term unemployment among middle-aged professionals, who do not qualify for workfare, is on the rise, says Leong Sze Hian, a financial expert and blogger.
Native resentment is also growing against the influx of migrant workers: 35% of the workforce of 3m is now foreign. It is often cheaper for companies to import semi-skilled and unskilled workers—there were 680,000 at last count—than to hire locals, who require pension contributions. Official reassurances that migrants create growth do not convince those competing for scarce jobs. Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s founding father and still its "minister mentor" has maintained that ambitious migrants help to keep citizens on their toes. In an interview given to National Geographic last July he said that if native Singaporeans lag behind “hungry” foreigners because “the spurs are not stuck on [their] hinds”, that is not the state’s problem to solve.
This nascent backlash may eventually soften the anti-welfare tone set by Mr Lee. The Economic Society of Singapore (ESS)—not exactly a radical cell—recently proposed to a government committee that it should build a more robust safety net, starting with unemployment insurance. This would promote social stability and help muster public support for Singapore’s open-door migration policies, it argues. Properly designed, such measures would not create disincentives to work and thrift. “While self-reliance is a good principle in general, it may be neither efficient nor just if taken to extremes,” noted the ESS.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Open eyes & minds wide when voting for this 1-party Singapore government again in 2010

Look all around you, foreigners are everywhere, any corner you go, foreign workers everywhere in this pathetic island-state known as Singapore. For every 4 persons in this island, 1 is a foreigner. Singapore opened gates so damn wide for these foreign workers from anywhere. Some called them foreign talent(FT) but I'll say most are foreign trash(FT)!
Seems like this governmt places more priority on those FT & PR(perm resident), than local natives who'r born in this island. We're being held hostage by greedy insensitive MNCs & those PR threatening to leave this island...

This island-state's all about meritocracy,darwin survival of the fittest, so it's all about those smartie alec,elites,rich,bright,intelligent,highly educated ego narcissists that this governmt care about. Those who've low/slow intelligent,disabled people,people with special needs,people from dysfunctional families, are all being left behind, fall to bottom in this social inequality ever-widening gap. The rich get richer & the poor get stuck/get poorer. This governmt focused everything for the economy, at the expense of integrating social fabric welfare of average midle-class, low income & underclass individuals & families...

Local natives're over-dependent & over-reliant on this 1-party governmt. That's because this system is created by this governmt! Their hard hand rule & control creates a culture of fear & false sense of security,obey our rules,governmt tell you to do what & you juz do,shut up & do,we're smarter than you,don't tell/question this governmt what to do, governmt tell U to show kindness,to b creative,to b entrepreneur,b a hub this/hub that,governmt tell you to jump & you jump?

Enough of more foreign trash & PR who can't even speak proper English!! I can't wait to see the day when this arrogant,elitism,complacent,comfort zone slackers in this 1-party governmt finally fall down in disgrace!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Singapore's Geylang, a place where authority/police doesn't matter

Geylang is a popular red-light district in Singapore. I've been to this place many times to eat some good food here, to look at legal & illegal prostitutes, to observe various illegal activities happening only in Geylang. Do go during night time as everything seems normal & boring during day time, it's when darkness sets in & the whole place becomes alive & exciting.

Very few local Singaporeans go to Geylang as it's a red-light area, but they don't know what they're missing out. There're more foreigners/foreign workers in Geylang than locals (can visually see that more than 85% are foreigners). Some of them live/work there & others gathered in Geylang for the food & other "activities". Geylang's very crowded during the weekends, filled with foreign workers streaming in. Take a look at the nearest Aljunied MRT train station & the open field next to this station, foreign workers everywhere!

It's good to observe how illegal activities are conducted in this place. Besides the legal commercial sex houses. There're also illegal prostitutes (mostly from China) on various streets, but most were caught. However there're still handful of these illegal prostitutes in some strategic dim-lighted places where they practised the art of cover & concealment damn well.

Police do keep close watch on illegal gambling right in the open backlane of shophouses. But once those police patrol go away, these various gambling pit stops pop up again, it's never ending. These illegal gambling have scouts watching out for police & they're well informed via their mobile phone/human networks.

Mainly young foreign runners (from Myanmar, Vietnam...) sell illegal duty-unpaid cigarettes in strategic locations all over Geylang. These young foreigners've nothing to lose, once caught & they're being sent back to their country. But the mastermind still remain at large, like loan sharks masterminds. These foreign illegal duty-unpaid cigarettes sellers (males & females) are good at what they do. They're highly mobile, they hide cigarettes in rubbish bins, behind shophouses or other well-hidden locations. They've scouts keeping a lookout for all these illegal activities. These scouts move around in Geylang, on the overhead pedestrian bridge watching for police. They communicate fast via mobile phone codes, so once the police arrive in their police cars & in uniforms, these illegal runners are long gone. These people are agile, they act fast, take risks & it's quick money for them...

Some other illegal activities in Geylang include:- illegal crap medicines/pills/lotions, DVD, clothes, etc.

Big groups of China foreign workers mainly go to Geylang to eat in those China national owned eateries & litter the ground with their leftovers. Other common foreign workers are from Bangladesh,Thai,Myanmar,Vietnam,Laos besides those from Malaysia & Indonesia... You can spot some ang mohs (caucasians) in Geylang, either go Geylang for sex, for sight-seeing, for food, some are tourists, some students.

Geylang's a place where different foreign workers mingle together, mixture of languages, cultures, behaviors, attitudes, mentalities... Really a diverse environment, but not totally a safe environment as there're bad nasty people, con man & it's smelly in some locations. But it's good to open your eyes to look at a different side of Singapore, other than the usual money-sucking tourist spots!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

How Old Do You Feel? It Depends on Your Age

The older people become, the younger they feel and the more likely they are to see “old age” as a time occurring later in life, according to a national survey on aging released on Monday. “There’s a saying that you’re never too old to feel young, and boy, have older Americans today taken that one to heart,” said Paul Taylor, executive vice president with the Pew Research Center and the survey’s principal author. He said this is the broadest survey the nonpartisan research center has ever done to gauge Americans’ views on aging. Currently, about 40 million Americans, or one in eight, are 65 and older. By 2050, one in five American will be in that age group. The center surveyed about 3,000 adults 18 and older via land and cellular telephone lines in February and March of this year. The survey found not just a gap between actual age and the age people say they feel, but also that the gap between reality and perception increases with age. Most adults over age 50 feel at least 10 years younger than their actual age, the survey found. One-third of those between 65 and 74 said they felt 10 to 19 years younger, and one-sixth of people 75 and older said they felt 20 years younger. On average, survey respondents said old age begins at 68. But few people over 65 agreed; they said old age begins at 75. Respondents under 30 said 60 marks the beginning of old age ...NYT

Cybercrime spreads on Facebook

Cybercrime is rapidly spreading on Facebook as fraudsters prey on users who think the world's top social networking site is a safe haven on the Internet. Lisa Severens, a clinical trials manager from Worcester, Massachusetts, learned the hard way. A virus took control of her laptop and started sending pornographic photos to colleagues. "I was mortified about having to deal with it at work," said Severens, whose employer had to replace her computer because the malicious software could not be removed. Cybercrime, which costs U.S. companies and individuals billions of dollars a year, is spreading fast on Facebook because such scams target and exploit those naive to the dark side of social networking, security experts say. While News Corp's (NWSA.O) MySpace was the most-popular hangout for cyber criminals two years ago, experts say hackers are now entrenched on Facebook, whose membership has soared from 120 million in December to more than 200 million today. "Facebook is the social network du jour. Attackers go where the people go. Always," said Mary Landesman, a senior researcher at Web security company ScanSafe ...Reuters

Global food supply far from secure-farming expert

Africa's farmers need help to access loans, fertiliser and export markets to avoid future food supply crises caused by climate change and commodities speculation, a top agricultural expert said on Tuesday. Wheat, rice and maize prices have fallen sharply from their 2008 highs, when protests broke out across the developing world over unaffordable staple foods and countries imposed export bans to ensure their people had enough to eat. Akinwumi Adesina of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, an aid group headed by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, said commodity markets dampened by recession were serving to mask "the next storm". "The global food supply remains far from secure," Adesina told the U.N. Conference and Trade and Development (UNCTAD). "We have not yet tamed the forces of speculation, climate change will yet trample our farm fields, crop diversity remains under increasing threat," he said in a speech. "Global grain reserves may be replenished for the time being, but global food security remains a goal, not a reality." One of the biggest problems, according to the agricultural economist from Nigeria, is the persistently paltry harvests from Africa's farms, most of which are tended to be "without access to basic farm inputs, finance or markets" ...Reuters

Why the BRICS like Africa

There is little doubt that the BRICs — Brazil, Russia, India and China — have become big players in Africa. According to Standard Bank of South Africa, BRIC trade with the continent has snowballed from just $16 billion in 2000 to $157 billion last year. That is a 33 percent compounded annual growth rate. What is behind this? At one level, the BRICs, as they grow, are clearly recognising commercial and strategic opportunities in Africa. But Standard Bank reckons other, more individual, drivers are also at play. In a new report, the bank looks at what each of the individual BRIC countries is trying to do. To whit: – Brazil’s immediate intererest in Africa is securing access to natural resources, particularly oil. But is also motivated by a desire to create a new “Southern Axis” with itself at the forefront. – Russia is also interested in Africa’s natural resources. But it faces a problem because of the sullied reputation of the Soviet Union during the Cold War. So Moscow has also embarked on a rebranding programme within the continent by ramping up its aid programmes. – India is attracted to Africa in part because of long historic ties. Commercial engagement, however, is also motivated by a need to guarantee the natural resources it needs for its own growth. Furthermore Africa is seen politically as a key ally in the pursuit of a competitive advantage over its Asian competitor China. – For China, Africa provides a long-term partner in its ongoing bid to gain global economic ascendancy, providing it with the resources, markets, geopolitical support, and, eventually, food and social security in the form of a growing and engaging diaspora ...Reuters

Google, YouTube Give Citizen Journalists New Tools

Google has a firm grip on the news industry. With Google News, its monstrous news aggregator, and examples such as the recent explosion of citizen journalism covering the conflict in Iran, Google is giving traditional print journalism a run for its money. Now it hopes to partner with some big names in news to create a community of journalists called The YouTube Reporters' Center, a project that may result in the industry contributing to its own demise. YouTube Reporters' Center hosts video content that includes a piece on how to interview well by CBS' Katie Couric; a piece on how to document a global humanitarian crisis by The New York Times' Nick Kristof; and even a piece with tips on investigative journalism by legendary Watergate reporter Bob Woodward. Purpose of this endeavor is to assist citizen journalists with effective means of stepping up his/her game when it comes to grabbing information as it unfolds and presenting it like a professional... PCW

Cool Search Engines That Are Not Google

How do you find a new search engine if all you know is Google? Typing “search engine” into the usual box might lead you to Microsoft’s newly launched Bing, the combined search at Dogpile, or the former king of search, Altavista. But for those willing to dig around, searching for search engines can reveal a treasure trove: The net is rich with specialized search services, all trying to find a way to get their slice of the billions of dollars Google makes every year answering queries. For this article, we surveyed some 50 specialty search services and picked out our favorites. What follows is not a systematic ranking or review, but a general guide to a very vibrant world that few have bothered to explore in depth. The variety of search startups is mind-boggling, and hints at the challenges Google may face staying on the bleeding edge of search innovation in the coming years. (There’s even something for micro-philanthropists: Good Search donates a penny to the charity of your choice for each search you run.) None of the sites we sampled are likely to replace Google as your go-to search engine for general queries, or dent Google’s growing sway as the world’s information broker any time soon. But even a cursory tour will make you start to think differently about what’s possible in search, and show up some of Google’s shortcomings. Take mobile. Google works fine on the iPhone, but for quick searches on the go, ChaCha can’t be beat. Simply text your question to 242242 and you’ll get an answer sent back to you. In the age of Twitter, there’s fierce competition to be the quickest indexer on the net — a feature even Google co-founder Sergey Brin admits his company can improve upon. IceRocket, OneRiot and Scoopler are typical of the trend... Wired

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Eye 'compensates for blind spot'

Partially sighted and registered blind people can be taught to read and see faces again using the undamaged parts of their eyes, say experts. When only the central vision is lost, as with the leading cause of blindness, age-related macular degeneration, peripheral vision remains intact. And patients can be taught to exploit this, the Macular Disease Society says. It has developed a training scheme and is calling for professionals to adopt the system across the UK. The macula is a small area of the retina at the back of the eye made up of specialist cells which process central vision as well as the fine detail of what we see. ur scheme has transformed lives - helping people to relearn basic skills they thought to have lost for good. People with macular degeneration rarely go totally blind but even those with a relatively mild version of the disease cannot drive and have difficulty reading, recognising faces and watching television. But studies show people can be taught to use their peripheral vision to fill in the gaps, using "eccentric viewing" and "steady eye techniques". When someone with central vision loss looks directly at an object it may disappear, go faint, blur or distort. But when they look above, below or to one side of it, they see it more clearly... BBC

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Singapore - What costs will go up next ?

Transport costs go up... Utility costs go up... Next to go up ? PM, ministers & MPs pay to go up again next ?
Electricity tariffs up 5 cents
Tue, Sep 30, 2008
my paper
New rate is 30 cents per kWh but rebates will more than offset rise. -myp By Marcel Lee Pereira
FROM tomorrow, taxi driver Amir Hamzah will keep his water heater switched off, and take cold showers instead.
That's when the highest electricity tariffs since 2001 will kick in, and Mr Amir, 33, his wife and three-year-old son - who live in a five-room flat in Sengkang - could end up paying almost $23 more a month for electricity. "We will try and save on electricity as much as we can, and the water heater uses a lot of it," he told my paper. The latest tariffs, announced by SP Services yesterday, mean households will need to pay 30 cents per kWh of electricity, an increase of about 5 cents over the existing tariff of about 25 cents per kWh. Electricity prices have been rising every quarter since last July. The latest hike was due to higher forward fuel-oil prices for the last quarter of the year, said the Energy Market Authority (see box). With the increase, the total utilities bill for families in oneto three-room flats will go up by between $90 and $223 thi year. However, they will receive rebates of between $310 and $330 this year, which will more than offset the rise, said EMA chief executive Khoo Chin Hean. Those in larger flats will pay between $316 and $433 more in total for utilities this year, but will get rebates of between $130 and $295. Fuel costs make up 60 per cent of electricity tariffs, with the remainder coming from the cost of transmitting electricity, as well as machinery and equipment costs, among others. Since 2004, electricity tariffs have been pegged to forward oil prices, instead of spot prices as was the case before, said Mr Khoo. Pegging tariffs to spot prices makes electricity prices very volatile, he explained. Mr Khoo said that though crude-oil prices seemed to be sliding now, it is actually forward fuel-oil prices that are used to set electricity tariffs. He said: "When the spot price comes down, the forward price will follow, but after a time lag."However, he added that in a situation when fuel-oil prices are rising, pegging tariffs to forward prices means they generally will be lower than when pegged to spot prices. Tariffs are reviewed every quarter, and if forward fuel-oil prices come down next month, the tariff for the January to March quarter next year will be reduced accordingly. Mr Khoo added that about 40 per cent of households here are using more electricity than the average household, and encouraged consumers to do more to cut usage. Mr Amir, who currently pays about $90 in utilities a month, said: "I'll ask my wife not to turn on too many lights at night, while I'm out driving."

Singapore - Transport fares go up again!

Transport fares go uo in Oct 2008. Should SBS & SMRT ask themself this question - are their bus drivers & staff providing quality service to us, public taking transport daily to work... ? What do SBS & SMRT expect fare-paying public to do when drivers kept their golden mouths shut & don't even make the effort to ask people who are fearful of ghosts at the back of the bus ? When can the ghost at the back of the bus mentality be solved ? Don't the layout/design of those new double-deck buses make this problem worst ? The over crowded situation will still persist & the flood gates of this tiny island are allowing more foreign workers here. PTC, SBS, SMRT... shouldn't only just justify that transport fares need to go up because of higher oil prices. What kind of service quality these transport providers give us in the first place ?

Singapore transport fares - Why raise fares now ?

Why raise fares now ?
Mon, Sep 15, 2008
The Straits Times
Public Transport Council has announced new fares for transport from Oct 1. One journalist gets a few pressing questions answered. -ST Maria Almenoar THE Public Transport Council (PTC) yesterday announced new fares for public transport, which will take effecton Oct 1.
MARIA ALMENOAR gets the answers to commuters' pressing questions.
With inflation riding high, why must fares be raised now? Fares must be raised for the long-term viability of the public transport operators,so they can continue to make capital investments and provide the quality service expected. The amount of household income spent on public transport, expressed as a percentage of household income, dipped from 7 per cent in 2003 to 6.2 per cent last year. In other words, transport fares have remained affordable for most commuters at a time when the unemployment rate is at its lowest in five years. The PTC said, however, that it was mindful of the prevailing economic conditions and overall cost-of-living issuesthat commuters faced. By raising the transfer rebate this year and making operators absorb the bulk of the cost, thePTC said it had 'struck a balance' between the needs of commuters and the operators. Fares for nine in 10 journeys will change, ranging from about 7 cents less to 4 cents more, depending on the commuter's travel pattern. The average bus and rail fares here are still lower than those in Hong Kong,London and New York. How far do the fare changes affect the transport companies? The fare-cap formula the PTC uses puts a cap on transport operators' revenue from fares. The cap during this review was at 3 per cent but overall, the transport operators will earn just 0.7 per cent more in fare revenue. The PTC also checked the transport operators' Return on Total Assets or Rota a measure of how much profit acompany generates for every dollar of assets invested. The Rota for SBS Transit is 8.6 per cent, and for SMRT, 11.1 per cent. Holding these up to Rotas of other industries,the PTC said it did not think they were 'excessive'. A check against transport operators such as Hong Kong's Transport International Holdings and MTR, the multinational Stagecoach Group and Singapore Airlines, found them to have Rotas ranging between 2.8 per cent and 10.1 per cent. By absorbing a larger share of the transfer rebate, the operators here will jointly give up over $30 million in fare revenue. SBS will earn 0.9 per cent or $5.8 million more in revenue, and SMRT, 0.6 per cent or $4.3 million more. Why the 10-cent across-the-board increase for those who pay fares in cash? Cash fares have stayed unchanged since 2005, and the gap between them and those paid by ez-link cards have sincenarrowed. When the ez-link card was introduced,concessions were given to encourage their use because it costs transport operators more to handle cash fares. The new distance-based fares are supposed to address the current lopsidedness of making commuters who opt for transfer routes 'cross-subsidise' those who take direct routes. How does this work? Currently, a commuter who chooses a transfer route to get from Point A to Point B pays more than a commuter who takes a direct route, even for the same distance. The commuter taking the transfer route is thus being unfairly asked to keep the fare for the direct-route commuter lower than it should be. Eliminating the transfer 'penalty' will correct this imbalance. With the fare review, the transfer rebate was raised from 25 cents to 40 cents. Another 20 cents will be given in the next fare review. This article was first published in The Straits Times on Sept 13, 2008

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Running can slow aging process

Regular running slows the effects of aging claim scientists who tracked 500 running grannies for more than 20 years. The study found people who run are less likely to have disabilities in old age and will on average live longer than their non running OAP friends. In 1984 researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine started following 538 over 50s who ran average of about four hours a week. Fast forward 20 years and while 15 percent of the running grannies are dead, this figure is 34 percent in a control sample of non runners. The runners - now in their 70s and 80s - were also found to be living higher-quality lives and more able to perform everyday activities.On average both groups in the study became more disabled after 20 years of aging, but for runners the onset of disability started later with initial disability kicking in 16 years later than non-runners. "The study has a very pro-exercise message," said James Fries, MD, an emeritus professor of medicine at the medical school and the study’s senior author. "If you had to pick one thing to make people healthier as they age, it would be aerobic exercise." The OAP runners admitted the time they spent running each week had dropped from four hours to just 76 minutes ... and for some of them it now takes that long to to put their running shoes on...NewsLite

Running May Help You Live Longer and Healthier

Run for your life! It is never too late to start running, a new study finds. Running may help you to not only live longer, but also live free of disabilities. The study, performed by Stanford University School of Medicine, studied the benefits of running. The researchers based their study on two groups of people 50 and older, a group of runners and non-runners that were monitored for over two decades. Based on the study, if you aren't running already you may want to start. Running helped to widen the gap between the abilities of those in the running group and the non-running group, researchers found. The initial onset of disabilities, were seen 16 years later in the runners, than seen in the non-runners group. The study's senior author James Fries, MD, was surprised that the gap between runners and non-runners even continued to widen as participants reached their 90's, but felt the results may have been a result of the runners' lean body mass and healthier habits, in comparison to the non-runners.Researchers collected yearly questionnaires from the 538 runners and 423 non-runners that helped to explain their ability to perform daily activities, such as bathing, dressing, and walking. The questionnaire also asked questions in regards to their ability to grip objects and maneuver out of a chair. After nineteen years into the study, when most participants would have been in their 70's, the national death records indicated that only 15 percent of the runners had passed away, but 34 percent of the non-runners had passed away. During the beginning of the study, the runners were averaging around four hours a week running and by the end of the study their time running decreased to only around a quarter of that time. Though their time spent running decreased drastically, researchers still saw benefits from running. The study's senior author James Fries, M.D., stated "The study has a very pro-exercise message. If you had to pick one thing to make people healthier as they age, it would be aerobic exercise." Exercise seems to be very beneficial in promoting healthy living. Many doctors recommend some form of exercise for all ages, but in the elderly it is recommended to help stay mobile and independent, as well as promote a healthy heart, lower stress, help with weight problems, and it may even help with sleep problems. The study not only determined that exercise decreased disabilities as we grow older, but running also reduced deaths caused from cardiovascular problems. Regular running also decreased early deaths from cancer, heath disease, and even Alzheimer's and other neurological diseases, the study found...HealthNews

Prescriptions for Health, the Environmental Kind

In a bright studio at New York University, Natalie Jeremijenko welcomes visitors to her environmental health clinic. She wears a white lab coat with a rotated red cross on the pocket. A clipboard with intake forms hangs by the door. Inside, circuit boards, respirators, light bulbs, bike helmets and books on green design clutter the high shelves. In front of a bamboo consultation desk sits a mock medicine cabinet, which turns out to be filled with power tools. Dr. Jeremijenko, an Australian artist, designer and engineer, invites members of the public to the clinic to discuss personal environmental concerns like air and water quality. Sitting at the consultation desk, she also offers them concrete remedies or “prescriptions” for change, much as a medical clinic might offer prescriptions for drugs. “It’s a widely familiar script,” said Dr. Jeremijenko, 41, who has a doctorate in engineering and is an assistant professor of visual art at N.Y.U. “People know how to ring up and make an appointment at their health clinic. But they don’t really know what to do about toxins in the air and global warming, right? “So the whole thing is how do we translate the tremendous amount of anxiety and interest in addressing major environmental issues into something concrete that people can do whose effect is measurable and significant?” Visitors to the clinic talk about an array of concerns, including contaminated land, polluted indoor air and dirty storm-water runoff. Dr. Jeremijenko typically gives them a primer on local environmental issues, especially the top polluters in their neighborhoods. Then she offers prescriptions that include an eclectic mix of green design, engineering and art — window treatments, maybe, or sunflowers, tadpoles or succulents. “People are frustrated by their inability to cope with environmental problems in their apartments and their neighborhoods,” said George Thurston, a professor of environmental medicine at New York University School of Medicine. Dr. Jeremijenko, he continued, “provides a service that’s needed, educating people about what they’re up against and showing them that they can do something themselves while waiting for larger societal solutions.” Dr. Jeremijenko has worked with scores of individuals and community groups since starting the clinic last fall. “I call them impatients,” she said — meaning that they don’t want to wait for legislative action...NYT

Sorting Out Coffee’s Contradictions

When Howard D. Schultz in 1985 founded the company that would become the wildly successful Starbucks chain, no financial adviser had to tell him that coffee was America’s leading beverage and caffeine its most widely used drug. The millions of customers who flock to Starbucks to order a double espresso, latte or coffee grande attest daily to his assessment of American passions. Although the company might have overestimated consumer willingness to spend up to $4 for a cup of coffee — it recently announced that it would close hundreds of underperforming stores — scores of imitators that now sell coffee, tea and other products laced with caffeine reflect a society determined to run hard on as little sleep as possible. But as with any product used to excess, consumers often wonder about the health consequences. And researchers readily oblige. Hardly a month goes by without a report that hails coffee, tea or caffeine as healthful or damns them as potential killers. Can all these often contradictory reports be right? Yes. Coffee and tea, after all, are complex mixtures of chemicals, several of which may independently affect health. Caffeine Myths Through the years, the public has been buffeted by much misguided information about caffeine and its most common source, coffee. In March the Center for Science in the Public Interest published a comprehensive appraisal of scientific reports in its Nutrition Action Healthletter. Its findings and those of other research reports follow. Hydration. It was long thought that caffeinated beverages were diuretics, but studies reviewed last year found that people who consumed drinks with up to 550 milligrams of caffeine produced no more urine than when drinking fluids free of caffeine. Above 575 milligrams, the drug was a diuretic. So even a Starbucks grande, with 330 milligrams of caffeine, will not send you to a bathroom any sooner than if you drank 16 ounces of pure water. Drinks containing usual doses of caffeine are hydrating and, like water, contribute to the body’s daily water needs...NYT

To Stretch or Not to Stretch? The Answer Is Elastic

They’re like one of my running partners, Claire Brown, a 35-year-old triathlete. “I always feel like, well, athletes should do yoga,” Claire said. “It’s supposed to be really good for running, and when I do it regularly, it does loosen up my hips and make me feel better for running.” Yet she puts off going to yoga. “It shouldn’t feel like an obligation, but it always does,” Claire said. “The good classes are often an hour and a half long, and I’m thinking: ‘I could be running, I could be biking. But here I am, stretching and breathing.’ “Isn’t it funny, though, that something that should be calming can actually cause stress because you think you have to do it?” For the bottom line on stretching, there is an official government review by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published in the March 2004 issue of the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Its conclusion, that the research to date is inadequate to answer most stretching questions, still holds. The best that Dr. Julie Gilchrist, a medical epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and one of the study’s authors, can offer is a few guidelines and observations about why studies have yet to answer the stretching questions...NYT

Bill Gates: Privacy a 'challenge' as software advances

As software gets more powerful, privacy issues pose an "interesting software challenge," says Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates. Recounting a short history of software development, Gates said innovations in natural interaction technology are making technology more pervasive. "When interaction gets more natural, computers can be everywhere to listen to you," he said, adding that "society will have to have more explicit rules" governing privacy boundaries around software as technology develops. Gates was speaking here to mark the 10th anniversary of Microsoft Research Asia, one of the software giant's research arms. Explaining the company's focus on software research and development, he said its $7 billion investment in that direction is necessary to push innovation in a market that is "increasingly software driven." "Even in a field like astronomy, it's not just looking through an eyepiece but testing theories, and software lets you do that," he said. Noting that software is extending beyond PCs, Gates said mobile software is a market that is growing rapidly in importance. He added: "Mobile phones are increasingly becoming software-driven platforms, although they were just for voice before." But it is a hardware innovation that will make mobiles more accessible for high-end functions. Amid developments in phone processors and mobile applications, it is screen technology that holds the key to bridging the divide between mobile devices and PCs, Gates noted. "As we get screens that can roll or fold out to be bigger, or mobile devices that have small screens but can project larger images on walls, that line between what's a PC and a mobile will keep getting grayer," Gates said. Another device that is expected to overlap with PC capabilities is the TV, he noted. "Software innovation will be pervasive; it will happen to other things in our lives, like our cars and our TVs," he said. Microsoft is working to place its R&D efforts in speech recognition technology to make TV watching more interactive, according to Gates. In a demonstration shortly after his address, a Microsoft executive showcased a TV that was pulling a video clip from the Internet. He performed a search through the video content by way of speech recognition. This provides more comprehensive search results beyond current methods of running a text query through a video's title and summary, Beyond these developments, more important for the developing world is in putting computers within reach, he added. "Digital access is almost becoming like literacy...Children in poor countries need to get it too," Gates said...CNET

Intel 'Turbo Memory' tries to speed up Windows

Intel's newest version of Turbo Memory is trying to do what Windows doesn't do: transparently optimize Windows for flash memory storage. At the Flash Memory Summit in Santa Clara, Calif., Intel will be demonstrating its latest version of Turbo Memory based on flash memory to accelerate application performance in Windows. Intel is offering a "dashboard" for Windows that allows the user to choose and control which applications or files are loaded into the Intel Turbo Memory cache (based on flash memory chips) for performance acceleration. Intel calls this "User pinning." Custom pinning profiles can be created to pin applications or files that match the user's activity, according to Intel. Data intensive programs, gaming, digital media editing and productivity software are examples of applications that will see the most benefit, according to Intel. Intel is trying to address a longstanding shortcoming of Windows: its inability to take full advantage of flash storage devices. "There are issues related to taking full advantage of the speed of a (flash drive)," said Troy Winslow, marketing manager for the NAND Products Group at Intel, in an interview at the Flash Memory Summit. Avi Cohen, managing partner at Avian Securities, said he believes this should be an innate part of the operating system. "The more interesting way is to have it built into the operating system," said Cohen. "I don't think it gains much traction because I don't think users want to sit there and start selecting what goes where," he said. "It was a valiant effort by Intel to accelerate the move toward solid state on PC," Cohen added. Winslow, however, said that Intel "has shipped million of units" of Turbo Memory and that he expects some notebook makers to integrate it into high-end lines. Interestingly, Windows Vista does have a feature called "ReadyBoost" that can "use storage space on some removable media devices, such as USB flash drives, to speed up your computer," according to Microsoft documentation. This documentation can also be found in "Windows Help and Support" as part of any copy of Vista...CNET

Olympic Games take the gold in the workplace

Olympic Games in Beijing is proving to be a hit in the workplace. Traffic to Olympics-related Web sites soared Monday, the first full workday after the official opening of the games Friday, according to numbers released Wednesday by Nielsen Online. More than 2 million people visited the video section of, up nearly 140 percent from Sunday when the site had about 858,000 visitors, according to Nielsen. Overall visits to the site increased 40 percent to 4.6 million compared with Sunday's 3.3 million. Traffic to Yahoo's Olympics site also skyrocketed, up 86 percent to 5.2 million visitors compared with Sunday's 2.8 million. Mobile usage also saw a significant boost, increasing from 210,000 on Friday to 476,062 on Monday. NBC, which said it polled users, said it was "stunned" at the number of users who were using mobile video download for the first time. Meanwhile, Nielsen Media Research reported that NBC's TV coverage averaged more than 30 million viewers for the first three days of the games, a 26 percent increase compared with the same period during the Athens Games in 2004. The opening ceremony was last week's most-watched program, attracting nearly 35 million viewers. As well as NBC is doing both on TV and on online, it begs the question of whether NBC's policy of delaying popular events online until they have run on TV in prime time was a wise move or overly restrictive...CNET

China Steps Up Scrutiny of a Minority in Beijing

Every morning at 9 a.m., they are at his door. The police come to the small room the young Uighur cook shares with several other Uighurs to check their papers — and to see if there are new arrivals from his homeland of Xinjiang. He has lived here for six years, peaceably and happily. But in the days preceding the Olympics, things changed. The police had been watching him even before recent violent attacks in Xinjiang but when the Chinese authorities began to warn that a Uighur separatist group was trying to disrupt the Games, the scrutiny intensified. The Olympic opening ceremony contained traditional Uighur song and dance. But most of the several thousand Uighurs who work here have left. The Uighurs are an ethnic group of Turkic-speaking Muslims who live in China’s far west. Most who are in Beijing come to make money for a time and then ride a two-day train back to Xinjiang. Many longtime Uighur residents here own halal kebab restaurants. Seasonal workers sell sweet melons grown in the oasis towns along the western deserts, or peddle fruitcakes from rickshaws. In recent weeks, Uighur assailants have been involved in three separate attacks, with targets including border police officers, government buildings and a Xinjiang checkpoint. Because of the increasing tension, some Uighurs interviewed in recent weeks requested anonymity and others gave only a first name. In a neighborhood of warehouses and foreign textile traders, Muslims come to a small mosque to pray. “The Uighurs all went home,” said Ma Yiqing, 55, a Chinese Muslim from the northwestern province of Gansu, standing in the mosque’s courtyard after evening prayers. “During the Olympics, they are getting squeezed tighter.” A young Uighur from central Xinjiang also works in the neighborhood. He has spent most of his life in Beijing, and, unlike some Uighurs, he has grown accustomed to life among Han Chinese. He has Han Chinese friends. His Mandarin is colloquial. He wants to learn Russian, too, so he can do business with traders in the neighborhood. Beijing is his town. Now he has become a target of surveillance, it appears, because of his ethnic background. “There must be some misunderstanding,” he said. Officers often check his identification. Recently he was detained for several hours because he was not carrying his identification, he said. Because he has a steady job he has been allowed to stay, while Uighur traders have disappeared. “It’s not fair,” he said. “They were here to do business — not to attack the Olympics.” Many Han Chinese support the security measures that have included encouraging migrants to leave town. They say it is China’s duty to protect foreign dignitaries during their stay. China has labeled Uighur separatist groups as the top threat to the Games...NYT

Yahoo - Fire Eagle

Yahoo executive Tom Coates recently went to England and rendezvoused with more than 100 random friends who just happened to be in Old Blighty as well. Coates found them thanks to Fire Eagle, a new database service Yahoo launched Tuesday. Fire Eagle scoops up real-world location information the way Web crawlers swallow Web pages and dishes it out to whatever services an individual selects. It is an open platform that will hook up data providers with application makers all over the world. ''Fire Eagle is designed to make every site on the Web, everything that is connected to the network, 'geoaware,'" Coates said. Right now, Fire Eagle is part of the technology behind just a handful of services, including Dopplr, a social network for frequent travelers, and Pownce, an e-mail substitute. But in the future, it could feed information about where you are and where you have been to everything from Internet search engines to coupon providers to your employer or HMO — if you let it. Geolocation services tend to alarm privacy advocates because they make it trivially easy to track individuals and could endanger people who are vulnerable to abuse, such as women who are trying to escape domestic violence. "For individuals who do not want their location to be known, these services could be harmful," said Beth Givens, director of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. Coates, who heads product development at Yahoo's Brickhouse incubator, where Fire Eagle was born, said the service is designed to protect users by giving them control of who can see what information, by allowing them to hide and by making it easy for them to delete their data from Fire Eagle.But critics wonder if users will realize that copies of their data will be stored by virtually every application that connects into Fire Eagle as well, making it extremely difficult for anyone to completely erase their tracks...Mercury

Olympics Are A Waste Of Money

Communist regime has spent billions on lavish sports venues, the world's biggest airport terminal, and a huge security operation. All this while sweatshop conditions are widespread and millions are still homeless after May's deadly earthquake in the region. Of course, the official line is the country’s 1.3 billion people are delighted that the Games have arrived. And the groundswell of pride and nationalist fervour in China is obvious. But privately there is anger from some that the leadership continues to declare that running a successful Games is its "number one priority". Speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, some in the capital told Sky News the money would have been better spent on helping the country's poor. A 21-year-old student, gazing out across the futuristic cityscape at the "Bird's Nest" centrepiece, said: "It's terrible the money they wasted. "Millions of people live and work in terrible conditions, but the government doesn't think of them. "They have spent our taxes on buildings – and who does it help? It does nothing for the people of this country." A taxi driver, who has family in the impoverished Guizhou province, said: "It’s all for Beijing – but what about the rest of the country? "What about those who lost their homes in the earthquake? What about the people who try to feed their families and send their children out to work?"...Sky

Social Networking Sees Worldwide Growth

Facebook, MySpace and Friendster are all seeing significant growth in their subscriber base -- just not in the United States. According to a report conducted by comScore, a company that measures online digital growth, world-wide growth of social networks has grown by 25 percent, compared to just nine percent in the United States. The region driving the most growth in adapting social networks like Facebook and MySpace is classified as The Middle East-Africa region. In June 2007, comScore recorded 18,226,000 unique visitors in that region. In June 2008 that number jumped to 30,197,000 unique visitors, a jump of 66 percent from the previous year. While North American social network users may have been early Friendster, MySpace and Facebook adopters, the domestic numbers have leveled off. Compared to the Middle East-Africa region, North American network growth was recorded at nine percent. "While the social networking trend first took off in North America, it is beginning to reach a point of maturity in the region," said Jack Flanagan, comScore executive vice president. "However, the phenomenon is still growing rapidly in other regions around the world -- especially as the established American brands turn their focus to developing markets."...CRN

Beijing Olympics 2008 - Chinese Join World Record Swimming Fun

Before Thursday, the National Aquatic Center was a source of national pride for its unique, bubble-wrap architecture. The exploits were largely by foreigners, chief among them American Michael Phelps, who has treated the pool at the so-called Water Cube as if it sat in his back yard in Maryland. Yet Thursday morning, over the final length of the pool, entire sections of the crowd stood, waving red Chinese flags. One Chinese swimmer, Liu Zige, was under world record pace in the women's 200-meter butterfly. Here came another, Jiao Liuyang. Suddenly, Australian favorite Jessicah Schipper was an afterthought. Suddenly, at the fastest swimming meet in history, the home team finally had its moment -- gold and silver, and another world record. On the only day when Phelps didn't swim for what could be a total of eight medals, Liu's world-record swim of 2 minutes 4.18 seconds -- more than a second better than Schipper's old mark -- injected the competition with a new electricity. The morning was capped with a world record for Australia, and a third gold for Stephanie Rice, in the women's 4x200-meter relay, a race in which the United States team, anchored by Katie Hoff, took bronze behind China's silver...WP

Rice says Russia faces isolation

US secretary of state has warned Russia that it risks isolation abroad if does not observe a ceasefire with Georgia and withdraw its troops. "We expect Russia to meet its commitment to cease all military activities in Georgia," she said. Condoleezza Rice is to visit France for talks with President Nicolas Sarkozy, who currently chairs the EU, before visiting Georgia itself on Friday. The US has begun delivering aid by air to the ex-Soviet republic. Washington is showing unwavering support for Georgia in its conflict with Russia, a BBC correspondent notes. Russian forces briefly moved out of the breakaway Georgian province of South Ossetia on Wednesday to destroy military hardware at an abandoned Georgian military base in the nearby town of Gori. Thousands of Russian troops remain in South Ossetia since they drove out a Georgian force which tried to regain control of the de facto independent province in a surprise attack one week ago. They are also deployed in force in Abkhazia, Georgia's other breakaway province, where separatists ejected Georgia's remaining troops this week. Dispatching Ms Rice to Europe, President George W Bush called on Moscow to withdraw its forces from Georgian territory...BBC

Hollywood tickled by 'Tropic Thunder'

The industry crowd at Monday's "Tropic Thunder" preem proved they can certainly take a joke, even when the joke is on them.New Regency's Hutch Parker said the pic "nails it as an action comedy while also delivering on the highest level as a satire of the movie culture." Tom Sherak said the film was "so well cast, it's scary." One industry lawyer said, "Some of the movie stuff is inside, but it's fun to watch Tom Cruise swear." Another attendee noted Robert Downey Jr.'s Oscar-winning-Aussie-doing-blackface role and said, "I wonder if Russell Crowe will see it?" And while developmental disability activists were picketing outside the Village Theater over the use of the word "retard" in the script, a number of guests joked that it's SAG that should be protesting because if anyone gets ridiculed, it's the thesps. Producer Stuart Cornfeld said he saw industry reaction this way: "Hollywood understands it's walking through the room larger than life and loves to see itself as a backdrop for comedy."... Link

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Co-workers who drive you crazy

For many people, bad habits are unconscious. Does he know that his obnoxious cell phone talking is driving you nuts? Experts say to address the issue quickly. John might not realize that clipping his fingernails in the lunchroom is repulsive. Suzy is clueless that coffee was not made to be slurped, and Ed doesn't know that showering only three times per week is unhygienic (and stinky!). Let's be honest: Nobody's perfect; not even you. Results from a recent MSN Zogby data poll show that 20 percent of workers say their co-workers have at least one habit that drives them crazy. So while your co-worker might have a more obvious bothersome tendency (like always talking on speakerphone), maybe your constant complaining about everyone else's behaviors has the same effect. In fact, 15 percent of workers agreed their co-workers' constant complaining drives them crazy, and 13 percent say colleagues passing off their work is frustrating, according to the poll. Other irritants included gossip, talking too much and eating smelly food. "You really only have one option when it comes to being annoyed by a fellow employee," says Donna Flagg, president of The Krysalis Group, a business and management consulting firm in New York City. "Simply let your co-worker know how you feel and politely ask them if they would mind curtailing their annoying habit.""The sooner you address an issue you have with a co-worker, the more likely you are to be willing to work with the other person to resolve the issue," she says. "The longer the issue exists, the more you tend to be resentful of it." We asked our readers to tell us what drives them nuts about their co-workers. Here are a few of the most aggravating habits we found: • "I have an employee who is a Packers fan; I am a Bears fan. Every once in a while, I receive an e-mail that varies from photos of Brett Favre or just plain text that says, 'PACK.' It drives me nuts, and I have to pretend it doesn't bother me one bit." -- Gini D., Chicago, Illinois* • "Sharing an office with somebody who just cruises the Web all day long and adds no value to client work." -- Noah B., Washington, D.C. • "I have a co-worker who doesn't bathe nor wash her clothes and subsequently smells. I bought a bottle of Febreeze, which I frequently spray on the fabric-covered chairs and carpet. She also drinks beverages and regularly spills or leaves coffee rings on the console or computer and doesn't bother to clean it up; so I also bought a bottle of Windex cleaner and brought in rags to clean up the messes before I do my shift. In addition, she throws away her used tissues and often misses the garbage can, leaving them on the floor for "whomever" to pick them up. She NEVER misses work, so whenever she is sick, she coughs all over the microphone, uses the computer mouse and presses the buttons with her germy hands; so I bought a container of Antiseptic wipes to wipe down the console and mics to try to prevent illness. Her office should be condemned." -- Karen W., Mankato, Minnesota. • "I have a co-worker who I've worked with for more than 10 years. She slurps her coffee -- all day. I'm not sure if she just loves coffee so much that she can't wait for it to cool or what, but she dives in and sluuuuurrrpps every drink until it's gone. It drives me crazy." -- Corinne Z., Avon, Massachussetes. • "I had an employee who used to scratch her back using her ruler. Sometimes she'd stare at her cube mates. My colleagues would come and tell me this, and I wouldn't have a clue how to deal with it. We both quickly realized this company wasn't a good fit for her and she left a couple of months later. To this day, some of my former colleagues remind me of my back-scratching and staring employee and wonder what happened to basic etiquette." -- Megy K., Chicago, Illinois. • "So, I sit next to this crazy woman. She talks to herself out loud as if someone is going to join in her conversation, which they don't. Anytime a co-worker comes to my desk to ask a question, or just to chat, she feels the need to interrupt my conversation and make it about her every time. She eavesdrops on other co-workers if they have an issue with their own work; she complains about the light over her desk being too bright and made another co-worker loosen the bulb above her desk so it's not 'shining right on her head.'... CNN

5 symptoms men shouldn't ignore

Ask doctors if their male patients ignore big and obvious health symptoms, and they'll respond with laughter -- huge peals and guffaws. Some doctors say men are more likely than women to ignore symptoms or deny that they even exist. Once they regain the ability to speak, these doctors will say things such as "I don't even know where to start," and "You don't have enough room in your story for all the symptoms men blow off." Conventional wisdom, they say, is true. Women listen to their bodies and go to the doctor when something isn't right. Men tend to seek medical attention when they're at death's door -- or when their wives prod them into going. "I think it's a macho thing," says Dr. Barron Lerner, professor of medicine and public health at Columbia University. "Or maybe it's denial. Maybe they think if they deny a problem, it doesn't exist." "I call it the ostrich phenomenon," says Dr. Harvey Simon, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and editor of the Harvard Men's Health Watch newsletter. "Guys are very prone to sticking their head in the sand and hoping when they emerge everything will be back to normal. It's a very, very bad idea."While the list, according to these physicians, is endless, here are the top five symptoms men ignore -- sometimes until it's too late. 1. Chest pain You'd think this would be the last thing a man would ignore, but our men's health experts say it happens all the time. "They think, 'Oh, I'm just out of shape, or I'm having a little indigestion, or I'm under pressure,'" says Dr. Joseph Scherger, a clinical professor of family medicine at the University of California, San Diego. "It's quite classic for men to do that." Simon says, "I tell my medical students that the most common symptoms of a heart attack is chest pain, and the second most common one is denial." Bottom line: Anyone experiencing chest tightness, chest pain or shortness of breath needs medical attention. 2. A big belly "Belly fat is the worst fat you can have," says Dr. Harry Fisch, a professor of clinical urology at Columbia. "A big belly is a sign a man has low testosterone levels. And the lower the testosterone, the greater the risk of diabetes and coronary artery disease." While a woman might go on every diet in the world to lose weight, men often have a different solution: They lower their belts. "I've had men say to me, 'See, my pants size hasn't changed.' I say, 'Baloney. Your belly is still there. It's just above your belt,' " says Simon... CNN

Power of Praise

Positive reinforcement works — on children, on work colleagues, even on pets So why don’t you use it on yourself? Take a moment to revel in your own successes and those of others, says life coach Gail Blanke. Everyone will feel better for it.“Good girl to sit!” “Good girl to come!” “Good girl to tinkle outside!” “What a good girl! Yes, you are!” That’s me talking or, rather, cooing, clucking, and sometimes shrieking to our golden retriever, Willa. Willa is 10 months old, breathtakingly gorgeous, and nothing short of a total terror. To say that she has a mind of her own is like saying Rosie O’Donnell is more or less opinionated. She is our third golden (golden-retriever owners refer to their dogs as “goldens”), and although both of her predecessors were greathearted, neither was known for being particularly well behaved. In fact, Molly, whose paws Willa hopes to fill, never did stop jumping up on people, grabbing hors d’oeuvres out of guests’ hands, stealing whole chickens off the kitchen counter, or pulling my arm out of its socket when she was on the leash. “This one will be different,” I said when we picked up the seven-week-old dumpling Willa from the breeder. “Yeah, right,” said our older daughter, Kate. Although Kate lives on her own now, she was already anticipating bringing friends to our apartment and having them knocked to the ground by what would undoubtedly be, judging from Willa’s giant puppy feet, a very, very large golden. “Well, I have a book that tells you how to train a golden-retriever puppy,” I said, “and the key thing is positive reinforcement.” Kate looked even more dubious. I continued, “It says that you have to keep catching her doing something right — not something wrong — and praising her. You’re supposed to start each sentence with ‘good girl’ for whatever good thing she does and make a big fuss over her.” “Hey, go ahead and try it,” Kate said. “You sure don’t have anything to lose.” So I started using the “good girl” method of training, and you know what? It works. A few nights ago, my husband was standing outside calling Willa, but she wouldn’t come. “Willa, come — darn you!” he said. “Watch this — I’ll get her,” I said. I yelled, “Willa! Good girl to come! Good girl!” and she came flying down the hill behind our house and into my arms... RealSimple

Pondering Windows XP's demise

While Windows XP will soon become scarcer on PCs and drop entirely from retail shelves, the fact of the matter is that the software is going to be a mainstay--particularly in businesses--for some time. Microsoft can wave its magic wand and force PC makers to stop offering the operating system, but corporations have a lot more leeway. Microsoft's influence is considerably less when it comes to convincing businesses to upgrade or swaying developers to write Vista-specific programs. Still, the end of XP sales by big-name computer makers is an important symbolic step for Microsoft as it tries to convince even Vista's critics that the operating system is really the only Windows game in town. It also helps Microsoft in the all-important numbers game. Vista actually has a fair amount of features that could be exploited by developers. Under the covers, the operating system has a new graphics engine, a peer-to-peer mechanism, and other features that really only come to light when developers start targeting them. The problem is that, so far, there's been darn little Vista-specific software. The best examples I've been able to find in more than a year's time are a new version of Print Shop and a Vista-specific incarnation of Yahoo Messenger. A new study says that Vista is still attracting very little developer attention, a point that underscores Microsoft's need to nudge the discussion away from Windows XP. For more on the subject, check out this video in which I discuss the matter with colleague Charlie Cooper in our Daily Debrief video talking about that issue, as well as a report that Vista is still not attracting very many developers... CNET

Windows XP era draws to a close

After a long-announced transition, June 30 marks the end of an era at Microsoft. Well, really it's the end of two eras. Most people think of Bill Gates, of course, and I'll have plenty more to say about his impending shift to part-time work in the coming days. But another epoch is also really coming to an end--that of Windows XP. Windows XP: Get it while you can. (Credit: Microsoft)As of June 30, large PC makers will no longer be able to sell Windows XP-based PCs, at least on mainstream notebooks and desktops. Retailers will also have only until their current supply is exhausted to sell boxed copies of the operating system. Despite a brief "Save XP" movement (and continued criticism of Windows Vista from many corners), it appears that Microsoft is not going to change the deadline, which is now just two weeks away. Although XP will disappear as an option for most computer buyers, the operating system will live on in several key ways. • XP will be available on PCs from smaller computer makers known as "system builders" until January 31, 2009. • XP will be available for so-called ultra-low-cost-PCs until June 30, 2010. • The low-end Windows XP Starter Edition will continue to be available in emerging markets until June 30, 2010. • Windows Vista Ultimate and Windows Vista Business come with downgrade rights. Some computer makers are using this option to offer machines that appear as Windows XP products but are "factory downgraded" to XP. The downside is that only pricier versions of Vista qualify, but the benefit is that the machines come with the option to eventually move to Vista for no added fee. Microsoft says it will continue to make XP discs available to computer makers to enable downgrade rights through at least January 31, 2009. • Microsoft is not ending support for Windows XP. Mainstream support continues until 2009, while extended support is not due to end until April 2014... CNET

Making roads safer by reading drivers' moods

If current research pans out, the car of the future could figure out not only where you drive, what sort of music you listen to, news preferences, what you like to eat, or whom you are calling--but it might also know how your mood affects your driving. And eventually, it could turn into the ultimate backseat driver, taking full control if it's not satisfied with the way you're manning the steering wheel.It might sound like something from the distant future, but researchers at Stanford University are working on all manner of technological improvements to the automobile. They're hoping features like camera detection of face movements, voice analysis, and sensors in the steering wheel will result in cars that can accurately detect a driver's mood and make appropriate adjustments if it's affecting their driving.Clifford Nass, a professor at Stanford and director of its Communication between Humans and Interactive Media (CHIMe) Lab, believes autonomous driving will not be limited by the technology itself, but rather how much responsibility people are willing to outsource to their cars. We have already seen them give up some control. Antilock brakes and stabilization systems, for instance, are already standard features, and the next step could manage everything from imposing speed controls for lead-footed drivers to using sensors trained on road surfaces to guide the car by itself... CNET

Making roads safer by reading drivers' moods

If current research pans out, the car of the future could figure out not only where you drive, what sort of music you listen to, news preferences, what you like to eat, or whom you are calling--but it might also know how your mood affects your driving. And eventually, it could turn into the ultimate backseat driver, taking full control if it's not satisfied with the way you're manning the steering wheel.It might sound like something from the distant future, but researchers at Stanford University are working on all manner of technological improvements to the automobile. They're hoping features like camera detection of face movements, voice analysis, and sensors in the steering wheel will result in cars that can accurately detect a driver's mood and make appropriate adjustments if it's affecting their driving.Clifford Nass, a professor at Stanford and director of its Communication between Humans and Interactive Media (CHIMe) Lab, believes autonomous driving will not be limited by the technology itself, but rather how much responsibility people are willing to outsource to their cars. We have already seen them give up some control. Antilock brakes and stabilization systems, for instance, are already standard features, and the next step could manage everything from imposing speed controls for lead-footed drivers to using sensors trained on road surfaces to guide the car by itself... CNET

Officials fear design of nuclear bomb went to others

Four years after Abdul Qadeer Khan, the leader of the world's largest atomic black market, was put under house arrest and his operation declared over, international inspectors and Western officials are confronting a new mystery left by him, this time over who may have received blueprints for a sophisticated and compact nuclear weapon found on his network's computers. Working in secret for two years, investigators have tracked the digitized blueprints to Khan computers in Switzerland, Dubai, Malaysia and Thailand. The blueprints are electronic and rapidly reproducible for creating a weapon that is relatively small and easy to hide, making it potentially attractive to terrorists. The revelation this weekend that the Khan operation even had such a bomb blueprint underscores the questions that remain about what Khan, a Pakistani metallurgist and father of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, was selling and to whom. It also raises the possibility that he may still have sensitive material in his possession. Yet even as inspectors and intelligence officials press their investigation of Khan, officials in Pakistan have declared the scandal over and have discussed the possibility of setting him free. In recent weeks, American officials have privately warned the new government in Pakistan about the dangers of doing so. "We've been very direct with them that releasing Khan could cause a world of trouble," a senior administration official who has been involved in the effort said last week. "The problem with Pakistan these days is that you never know who is making the decision — the army, the intelligence agencies, the president or the new government." The illicit nuclear network run by Khan was broken up in early 2004. President George W. Bush declared that shattering the operation was a major intelligence coup for the United States. Since then, evidence has emerged that the network sold uranium enrichment technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya. Investigators are still pursuing leads that he may have done business with other countries as well. Khan is an expert in centrifuges used to produce enriched uranium for bomb fuel, and much of the technology he sold involved enrichment. But it was only in recent days that officials disclosed that they had found the electronic design for a bomb itself among material seized from some of Khan's top lieutenants, a Swiss family, the Tinners. The same design documents were found in computers in three other locations connected to Khan operatives, according to a senior foreign diplomat involved in the investigation. American officials and inspectors at the International Atomic Energy Agency say they have been unable to determine if the weapon blueprints were sold to Iran or the smuggling ring's other customers. The bomb blueprints bear a strong resemblance to weapons tested by Pakistan a decade ago, said two senior diplomats involved in the investigation. Pakistani officials have balked at providing much information about the newly revealed warhead design, just as they have refused to allow the CIA or international atomic inspectors to directly interrogate Khan, who is still considered a national hero in Pakistan for helping it become a nuclear weapons state... IHT

Korea's new generation of 'Web 2.0' protesters

June 1987, Seoul's City Hall Plaza reverberated with a chant that signaled the end of military rule in South Korea: "Dokjetado!" or "Down with the dictatorship!" In June this year, the plaza has once again become a rallying point for crowds calling for the removal of an unpopular government: "Out with Lee Myung Bak!" But the similarity ends there. And in those differences is the challenge for President Lee and anyone else engaged in politics in this highly wired country, where the Internet has merged with the South Korean penchant for street demonstrations. "The Internet fits Koreans' quick-paced temperament," said Kim Il Young, a political scientist at Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul. "As you have seen recently, when the nation's world-class Internet infrastructure, its nationalism and its hot temper all come together, you have a major conflagration." In the 1980s, streets around the plaza lit up with orange flames as students clashed with the police, trading firebombs for tear gas. The military dictators had a clear-cut enemy; they arrested activist leaders. In contrast, the people jamming the same streets this month looked almost like cheerful vacationers on a mass picnic - teenagers in school uniforms, mothers pushing baby carriages, fathers with children on their shoulders, singing and shouting slogans. And the police investigating who organized the country's biggest antigovernment protests in two decades ended up rummaging in cyberspace. When Lee agreed in April to lift a five-year-old import ban on U.S. beef, despite widespread fears that the meat might not be safe from mad cow disease, it quickly became a hot topic on the Internet, first among teenage girls gathering at fan Web sites for television personalities, and later at Agora, a popular online discussion forum at the Web portal Daum. There, people suggested that they stop just talking and take to the streets. When a high school student began a petition on Agora calling for Lee's impeachment, it gathered 1.3 million signatures within a week. The police were caught off-guard on May 2 when thousands of teenagers networking through Agora and coordinating via text messages poured into central Seoul, holding candles and chanting "No to mad cow!" The mainstream media and the government ignored them at first. But protesters stepped forward as "citizen reporters," conducting interviews, taking photographs and, thanks to the country's high-speed wireless Internet, uploading videos to their blogs and Internet forums. One video showing the police beating a female protester caused outrage on the Internet and prompted even more people to join the demonstrations... IHT

United Nations a "talking shop" of 192 nations

More than just talk By Ban Ki Moon Monday, June 16, 2008 Detractors often call the United Nations a "talking shop" of 192 nations where, it has memorably been said, "no issue is too small to be debated endlessly." But the real UN, almost invisible to the general public, is the action-oriented UN. This real UN feeds 90 million people in more than 70 countries - forming a thin blue line between hungry people and starvation. It wipes out debilitating diseases like smallpox and polio and vaccinates 40 percent of the world's children. It provides $2 billion annually in emergency disaster relief and maintains the second-largest army in the world - a global peacekeeping force of 120,000 men and women who go where others can't or won't go. In my travels, often to the world's most difficult places, I always try to meet the faces behind these facts and figures. At a film festival in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, I recently introduced a few of them to Hollywood screenwriters and directors who wanted to learn more about the UN. One was a young Canadian woman from Unicef, the UN agency dedicated to the protection, well-being and rights of children the world over. Her name: Pernille Ironside. Her job: to go with a small team into the eastern wilds of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There she confronts warlords and demands that they give up their "child soldiers," boys and sometimes girls as young as 8 or 10 who have been recruited or kidnapped to fight in the country's long-running guerilla wars. Often as not, she succeeds. Over the past few years, the UN mission in the DRC has secured the release of 32,000 of an estimated 35,000 such children. Pernille hopes to win back the rest by the end of this year. Another was Kathi Austen, a UN arms-trafficking expert who has spent much of the past decade tracking illegal weapons smugglers operating in the DRC and other conflict zones across Africa. Partly as a result of her dogged efforts, the alleged leader of one of the world's largest trafficking networks, Viktor Bout, was recently arrested on terrorism charges in Thailand. Ishmael Beah, a Unicef advocate for children affected by war, told of his life as a child soldier during the decade-long civil war in Sierra Leone. Thanks to a UN rehabilitation program, he not only survived but thrived, eventually finding his way to America where he attended Oberlin College and wrote a best-seller about his experiences. A young woman from Sierra Leone, Mariatu Kamara, told her story, as well. At the age of 12, rebels killed her parents and, as happened to many thousands of other children, cut off both her hands. With the UN's help, she too survived. She is now living with an adoptive family in Toronto and going to college. She returns periodically to her homeland to share her story and raise awareness about the work Unicef does around the world. In my job I meet many other faces of this real UN, seldom so famous but no less selfless or dedicated. Indeed, our most important work is often the least visible. Visiting West Africa this spring, I saw UN teams in Liberia struggling to help the government restore the most basic social services after years of war: electricity, water, sanitation, schools. In Ivory Coast, I met with UN advisers helping a nation divided by conflict to hold elections and usher in an era of genuine and enduring democracy. In Burkina Faso, just south of the advancing Sahara desert, the UN has been bringing diesel generators to rural villages without power. The machines are used to grind grain, alleviating hunger; they can recharge cell phones, allowing farmers to be in touch with regional markets and help them decide what and when to plant. Usually these small enterprises are run by women's collectives, giving them new authority and status in their communities. Through such small actions we change the world. Sometimes, I wonder how it is that I, growing up as the poorest of Korean youngsters in a village destroyed by war, not always knowing where my family's next meal would come from, could one day be part of this noble enterprise. As for the Talk Shop on Turtle Bay, site of UN headquarters in New York, let us remember that talking sometimes achieves things, too. It's the talk that put UN peacekeepers on the ground in 18 countries on four continents. It's the talk that raises the money and mandates the programs that feed so many of the world's hungry. It's the talk that marks the world's first steps toward dealing with climate change, the global food crisis and a daily array of humanitarian crises. The convening power of the UN is the ultimate "soft power" on the globe. Ban Ki Moon is secretary general of the UN. IHT

Dr Mahathir's 'racist remarks' draw flak

Educated but irrational, narrow-minded & dumb, this person? Read on... He claimed Malaysia was the only nation in the world where the main ethnic group had admitted other races and endowed them with rights. The Malays have every reason to fight for their rights, said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, as non-Bumiputera groups again lamented over the former prime minister's apparently racist line.He claimed Malaysia was the only nation in the world where the main ethnic group had admitted other races and endowed them with rights."We (the Malays) are not the type to protest and have accepted those who came to the country."We even accorded them rights unlike other countries," he said at a talk titled "The Future of Malaysian Malays" organised by Warisan Pekembar, a non-governmental organisation, in Teluk Intan on Saturday.Some 2,000 people attended the hour-long event.In an immediate response, Gerakan secretary-general Datuk Seri Chia Kwang Chye said national unity was crucial to meeting the challenges of the present day."It's time we thought like Malaysians and as Bangsa Malaysia to work together to forge a united country and face future challenges as one."Global challenges like the fuel and food crisis are best tackled and handled together. In light of these challenges, it is inappropriate to start questioning each other's contributions and rights."It is more important to treat everyone as Malaysians, regardless of race, in order to contribute effectively to the country's development."Dr Mahathir expressed sadness at being termed a racist each time he spoke on the rights of the Malays."When they speak of their rights, people say it is all right as we live in a multiracial country."I am extremely sad but we have every right to speak in defence of the Malays," he said.Malaysian Associated Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry president Datuk Kenneth Eswaran said the special rights of the Malays had never been questioned, at least in Barisan Nasional."There is no basis whatsoever to Dr Mahathir's claims. The Indian community, at least those in BN, has never questioned the economic rights of the Malays."Dr Mahathir should know this better as he was part of the system at one time," he said.The former prime minister also demolished the notion of a Bangsa Malaysia, which he had proposed."We have failed to create a Malaysian race and must accept the fact that we are made up of different races and religions."Malaysia is not like other countries. We have come up with policies to help the Malays without sidelining the interests of other races."The New Economic Policy was designed not to deny others of their rights but to improve the economic status of the Malays."He said peace and harmony in the country could only be achieved when the economic divide between the races was narrowed."If the gap is too big, it might lead to dissatisfaction by certain groups and to untoward incidents like the May 13 riots in 1969."MCA vice-president Datuk Seri Dr Fong Chan Onn said: "Now is not the time to distinguish between Malays and non-Malays."We are first and foremost Malaysians and we (MCA) articulate our views as Malaysians."As MCA leaders, we are responsible for everyone and are constantly aware of the sensitivities of Malaysians and the multiracial context we live in," he said. Asiaone

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Unacceptable trait - China’s quake throws up an ugly side of Singaporeans that frequently makes them disliked abroad

The disastrous Sichuan earthquake has sparked off a re-look here at a Singaporean characteristic that overshadows his economic achievement. In a TV interview, a tourist who just returned unhurt complained angrily about his encounter with airport delay and telephone breakdown at a time when the Chinese were frantically rescuing people. One viewer commented: “He kept complaining bitterly as if the whole world owed him an explanation about the airport delay.” Another added: “the man was practically shouting at the camera. His behaviour was really shocking.” In the face of the terrible suffering, the middle-aged Singaporean’s insensitive complaint about his personal inconvenience spread consternation and a sense of shame among viewers. It highlighted a trait often attributed to affluent, educated Singaporeans that they have become too self-centred and insensitive to other people’s plights. After years of social campaigns, tales still abound of people rushing for train seats or refusing to give one up to the elderly, ill treatment of maids, littering or inconsiderate driving. Many of the offenders are middle-class, young and educated who seem to have little interest in other people’s feelings. The Singaporean tourist, instead of lending a helping hand, was fuming about his own safety – even after he was safely back home. “Typical ugly Singaporean the sort that makes other people dislike us – totally self-centred,” said a blogger. Others disagree, with one defending it as a normal reaction for a foreigner desperate to escape quickly. “He may have put it badly, but he was scared and obviously wanted to return to his family,” he said. “Realistically speaking, not every one can be highly principled about helping in a disaster in a foreign country,” he added. Most, however, condemned his insensitivity. “It reflects the overall selfishness and self-centredness of middle-class Singaporeans,” said ‘investor’. “My general impression is that they are the second most selfish and self-centred people in Asia, next only to Hong Kongers.” The debate raised the question whether Singapore could be considered a First World city with such boorishness. A mature, developed country isn’t defined only by wealth and education; it is also about humanity and concern for others. Several days earlier, a girl who refused to give up a seat (meant for the elderly and the handicapped) to a pregnant woman, called her a “bitch” because she had stared at her and shook her head. Some blame it on the environment, especially an elitist, each-man-for-himself mentality. “There’s no such thing as a free lunch” is a theme that has been drilled into every child and adult. A whole generation has grown up believing that if Singaporeans get into trouble, they can expect no help from anyone. It may be a good teaching for a small city without resources, but it has also spawned an antithesis: If you can expect no help from others, you also do not need to care for others. “Living in a society where only money talks makes all of us less human and less caring,” says ‘Anonymous’. Another writer said he was a typically an apathetic, uncaring Singaporean until he went to live in the United States. “Two years into my stay there and having been offered help by plenty of strangers on the street, I found myself doing the same,” he said. “The typical Singaporean reaction when they are offered unsolicited help is a suspicious glare. Certainly not encouraging to would-be helpers,” he added. The person who has the single biggest influence on how Singaporeans think and behave is Lee Kuan Yew. Many of the current leaders and civil servants as well as older Singaporeans, emulate him. The Minister Mentor has never been too concerned about his own – or Singapore’s – popularity as much as its interests. Giving charity to countries in need, for example, has rarely been its forte. The political elite, followed by and large by the citizenry, takes after Lee’s generally no-welfare, harshly competitive and unsentimental leadership. Last year, the “survival of the fittest” type view, believed to prevail among the top elites, burst into a public furore following remarks made by the scholar-daughter of a government MP. Condemning a young professional, Derek Wee, who wrote about the pressures faced by the common people, the student, Wee Shu Min lambasted the critic as wretched, an idiot and “leech”. She appeared to be defending the class divide in Singapore or “a tyranny of the capable and the clever” saying that “the only other class is the complement.” She ended by telling Derek: “Please, get out of my elite uncaring face.” Her MP father criticised her intemperate language, but supported some of her sentiments expressed. A nationwide condemnation ensued. The issue would have ended there if it were just regarded as a teenager’s rants. It was more than that. Because Shu Min was a scholar designed for a possible leadership role and daughter of a People’s Action Party MP (from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s constituency), it instantly became a political hot potato. The critics said it reflected a government perception that a class divide was inevitable and may even be necessary to encourage people to strive harder in life. The target of her invective, Derek Wee, was actually echoing a popular public sentiment when he said Singaporeans were suffering partly because the government failed to understand their plight. Shu Min’s message was that failures were caused by laziness or lack of capabilities, which the persons themselves were responsible – with no words of support or care for those in need...LittleSpeck

Browsers: The OS for SAAS

Yours is a typical modern company. You have sales and customer management systems, advanced project management tools, extensive network and system security infrastructures, collaboration tools, and a heavily customized enterprise content management system. What's not so typical now--but will be in the near future--is that none of these applications is run in-house. All of these core applications are delivered over the Web in a SAAS (software-as-a-service) model. As such, the applications are accessed via a Web browser that is basically acting as the operating system. There's nothing wrong with that. Right? Right?The idea of the browser as the operating system has been around since the early days of the Web. In fact, it is generally accepted that Microsoft went after Netscape so hard because it feared that the Netscape browser would become more important than the operating system it ran on. That fear may have been unfounded at the time, but we are much closer now to being able to access everything--from e-mail to office applications to image editing to essential enterprise business applications--from the confines of the humble Web browser...eWeek

Employee Monitoring: It's Not Paranoia—You Really Are Being Watched!

Your employer could be watching you. We tell you how to know whether you're being monitored and what you can do about it.It's possible that someone has been reading your e-mails, listening to your phone calls, and tracking your Internet use. No, it's not a foreign spy. It's not even your ex—it's your employer. And she doesn't even need to tell you she's doing it. Employers can legally monitor their workers however they want. They can log and review all computer activity as long as they own the machines. The most popular method of keeping tabs on employees is to track Internet use: A whopping 66 percent of companies monitor employee Internet activity, according to a survey released in February by the American Management Association and the ePolicy Institute. What are they looking for? Frequent visits to sexually explicit sites, game sites, and social-networking sites like Facebook on company time. Almost a third of those who said they monitor their employees have fired someone for inappropriate Web surfing. Some companies monitor employees—tracking keystrokes, reviewing computer files, and reading e-mail—to ensure they're staying loyal. Press leaks of confidential information and trade secrets are of legitimate concern to employers, and many will go to great lengths to make sure that their employees aren't using company computers to pass on information to outside sources. How They Do It...PCmag

5 Google-Whacking Ideas for Microsoft

It's dress-down Friday here at Microsoft Watch and good reason to dress down Microsoft with suggestions for gaining search share against Google. w00t! w00t!Microsoft is so desperate to get ahead in search, it has pushed out some crazy strategies: Hostile Yahoo takeover No, just buy Yahoo search Cash back for purchases through Live Search Seeing as how it's a holiday weekend here in the United States—and so a somewhat slow news day—I am making some Google-killing suggestions for Microsoft's consideration. Surely, I can do no worse suggesting lame ideas for beating Google than Microsoft already has. So, without fanfare, I humbly offer five wacko ways Microsoft could increase search share against Google. The list is in no order of importance...eWeek

Let's not fight! Peace psychology is a a relatively new field of study

For the sake of argument, imagine a world without conflict. That's the full-time job for members of a relatively new field called peace psychology who focus on problems like the genocide in Darfur, hatred in the Middle East, gang warfare in our cities, and rape everywhere. Wondering what lessons they've learned in the trenches that we could use in our daily lives, "O" asked five top peace psychologists for their best advice on waging harmony. "We often figure that other people see the world in the same way we do and overestimate the degree to which they understand our approach and actions. Rather than making assumptions, ask for clarification; even ask about their intention to harm you ('Did you realize when you did that, it affected me in this way?' They might not be aware of it). Be willing to take the first step in opening up such conversation. Also, when we think we'll be rejected, we tend not to smile, we make less eye contact and stand farther away. The other person may perceive these gestures as a brush-off. Go out of your way to say hello. Or smile or make eye contact. We have to take a deep breath and try to recognize that we all feel anxiety. Go in and learn."Sometimes, a difference runs so deep that talking about it just won't help. In this case, having a third person present may neutralize the tension and balance the bully's power. It can be a friend of both parties. Mediation is a possibility. When both parties need to maintain a working relationship...CNN