Current affairs, Past events & Future trends

The 21st century is seeing the impact of globalisation in many forms. International citizens of mixed parentage, universities promoting distance learning, affordable air flight and the digital and genetic revolutions.

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Read the blog.See my mind. Just a post-graduate student and entrepreneur.

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Saturday, October 21, 2006

Lubricate the wheels of government

Human resources are not enough to deal with the issue of natural resources. As the planet becomes apparently more polluted and less forthcoming when it comes to new oil fields, it appears the best politicans can do is bluff and bluster. Some amazing statistics come to the fore when reading up on such matter. The United States is still the big player when it comes to consuming oil for the gas-guzzling cars, but China is coming in at a close second (like in everything these days it seems). China itself is using dirty coal for the majority of its energy needs. It gets better. The remainder is from oil, that well known cleaner alternative...but the government has a great trick up its sleeve: building many new nuclear power stations. Not quite what the environmentalists and conservatists had in mind, but oh well.

In the minds of many the motor car industry has so much clout that they do not wish to see a switch away from gasoline - ditto the oil industry - that may threaten their sales. There does exist many alternatives, not least sugar. Yes, rather than eat it, one can configure engines to consume a derivative of it. The highlight of the series of reports had to be the Swedish government coming out with a white paper titled 'making the nation oil free'. In fact upon closer inspection of the document, the actual aim is just to reduce oil dependence as opposed to getting rid of all oil use. Please explain what the difference is, someone.

It must have seemed much more simple in the old days just after the Middle Ages when one of the European regents ordered oil from the Latin American region, the first oil 'trade'. How times change.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Bloody students


It has come to the attention of the authorities in US that certain other countries apart from its own are rising up the popularity list for potential destinations. Many international students have, in the light of the terror attacks and its aftermath, decided to head to continental Europe and South-east Asia for learning. This they attribute to greater restrictions and delays to visa's and what not; such is to be expected in the security backlash. There was even a delegation recently organised to fly out to various parts of the world for the purpose of reversing this trend and encouraging the aspiring graduates of the local population to apply to American colleges.

The most interesting aspect of this recruitment drive was the selection of the team. Heads of the various reputable institutions were commisioned to act in unison, refusing to promote their own university. Instead all were to fly the 'spangled banner' for the good of the country. Leaving aside any intial cynicism, it must be said it may be nigh impossible to remain neutral, even with the best intentions. Imagine the anxious teenagers, eager to aim in a particular direction. It cannot be long surely before someone pops the question, 'so which college do you actually belong too'. The MC introducing the delegates could probably mention the name, but value judgements would immediately be taken.

An obvious omission is the UK. The language helps and London has the largest student population in the world. Bit of advice: always research the place before attending.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

If this is not it, what is?

The men of power who control a great deal of the economy are well-known to be whisked by plane around the world to attend high-level talks. It is not often crucial the actual content, but they must be seen to be working, making deals. Often what they say is crucial and can move markets, causing share prices to fall/rise. At the top it is often a merry-go-round, but a journey that starts from the top. For one is sent to a good school, reputable university, accepted onto a good company graduate scheme and then works way up to some sort of authority position.

In this case the quote was not one which will necessarily determine in any sort of way the fortunes of a certain sector of the economy. However, as always, this was a peach of a quote. For the departing executive of a major bank said, 'I never expected this [position as director] to be the pinnacle of my career'. So understated yet true nevertheless. And however one puts that it must hurt a little for the remaining chief officer. It is hardly a shot across the bows yet no ringing endorsement. The fact is that there are higher challenges in the eyes of this leaver.

This blog is rather satisfying in the way one can express opinions in a personal fashion for others hopefully to digest. I am not currently willing to divulge whether or not this is the pinnacle of my career. For a start, the career has hardly started.

What's the weather to be?


I read yet another incredible quote from an article discussing the incredible power of the natural occurrences of weather. Apparently 'if you're on the coast, you are toast'. Florida unsurprisingly has the worst effects of the hurricane, and close behind is Texas. And no one needs reminding of the damage done by Katrina to New Orleans. It is clear the citizens suffered, especially those with no insurance, which is probably a significant proportion of people. The insurers also as a corollary have to pay out big sums. In the 1980s the 'names' in Lloyds Names suffered greatly from many fluctuations in the market. Now many insurers having had a year away from the bad side this year, are feared to have become complacement.

The issue now facing such organisations is the extent to which they wish to expose themselves. For the fact is insurers make money from the relative rarity of catastrophes and accidents. Most customers pay the insurance premium, by direct debit unthinkingly, while the odd unfortunate fellow has to be backed up financially in the event of misfortune. However the scale of a certain happening may be so beyond that predicted by the complex mathematical models published on computers that the capital held by the organisation is insufficient.

Let me make clear that I am not asking you to feel sorry for the large insurers and underwriters. They make a fair sum, and are now trying to up the image by a major graduate recruitment drive. One who blogs should perhaps be careful in case of alleged defamation. I mean how many of them could afford to fight a lawsuit?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

No chance, mate


If you had gambled on gambling stocks to fall over the last month, a lot of cash would now be sitting in your account. The online gambling companies in the US recently received a battering, with it now being illegal to use electronic means of payment to place bets. The mainly UK-originated firms have swiftly removed themselves from operations over the pond. It got to the stage that even well-respected gambling company executives (no that's no oxymoron) were caught on the way to the airport on internal flights within North America.

As a continuation, it shows you the influence of the net. Rather intangible in a way, people are sending electronic pulses across networks, playing on virutal portals and taking winnings in an electronic format. If they then pay by credit/debit card for the groceries, the whole process from registering to realising their earnings has not even involved one hint of hard cash. Truly amazing, and add to that the fact that the most powerful government arguably in world history has taken to legislating on the private fiddlings of the computer user says much for the increasing fusion of virtual and 'reality'.

It must be added that this piece of legislation was tagged onto the end of a Bill concerning national security, a perceived former strong point of the Bush administration. One final point. Is it coincidence I wonder, that online gambling has been severely restricted just around the time the scandal about Abramoff's associates develpos further. For it has been found he lobbied the White House on behalf of online gambling sites. His lobbying firm had received money from the sites in turn. Just down to chance?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Hello again,OK?

The title you saw above said 'hello again? Ok, I did not exactly reproduce the above, but the fact you notice most of us take the ability to read for granted. Now switch to a slightly alternative topic. Personal Video Recorders (PVR) threaten to undermine part of the fabric of society we have taken for granted for a long time. Now one does not even have to bother reading television guides, or even owning that piece of equipment itself. Missed a program? Then simply 'rewind' the schedule and replay. This extends to even pausing shows at crucial moments, just as if you had a DVD. This can all be automated so that you watch only what you want, when you want. And the driving force behind this? Technology, that simple.

The social comment I was making is most relevant. Many are taught the three R's around the world - reading, writing and arithmetic - and while you try and work out where the r's are, it must be said that with the revolution under way only a little bit of common sense would suffice. With so many things to help with even the most basic of tasks, bothering to read a manual a book must seem like such an effort. The growth of online communities I mentioned earlier this week point to the important skill of being comfortable with technology. If one is not, there are always the likes of The Tech Guys to help you with your technology fix. The only reading these IT people require is maybe the programming language, which is very different from ordinary words and more to do with patterns and symbols, a way of thinking quite removed from the airport novel perusal.

With all that in mind, remember not to take it too literally and return to READ the next installment next week, tomorrow in fact.

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