Saturday, 14 November 2009

Interesting phrases

The wine trade.

The wine trade is faced with a massive oversupply of champagne due to overproduction. ITN's Ben King explains.

British Airways and Spain's Iberia Airlines

British Airways and Spain's Iberia Airlines have agreed to merge. ITN's Daisy McAndrew reports.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Demography, growth and the environment.

Astonishing falls in the fertility rate are bringing with them big benefits.

Google is tracking you.

Google releases a feature that lets users see and control data that the Web giant has collected about them.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Retail's New Normal

Senior Editor Diane Brady speaks with management writer Jena McGregor about how retailers are adjusting to the new reality in consumer spending.

Click here, please.

Weather 'shapes human body clock'

                             Weather 'shapes human body clock'

Our internal body clocks are shaped by the weather as well as by the seasons, scientists have discovered.

Researchers used computers to model the workings of internal biological clocks.

They found the mechanism had to be so complicated because it was able to deal with varying amounts of light from hour to hour, as well as changing seasons.

It is hoped the research, led by a team from Edinburgh University, could help tackle sleep problems caused by jet lag and shift working.

The researchers said the findings gave them a greater understanding of what drives the internal rhythms of people, animals and plants.

Environmental signals, such as hours of daylight, affect the daily rhythms which many plants use to control flowering and ripening.

The findings may also help scientists develop crops that can cope with climate change.

The study was led by the University of Edinburgh, and involved researchers from the California Institute of Technology and the University of Warwick.

Dr Carl Troein, of the University of Edinburgh's School of Biological Sciences, said: "By better understanding why biological clocks are so complex, we stand a better chance of controlling them.

"Our study goes some way to explaining how and why these in-built rhythms have developed. We hope it will be useful in informing treatments for sleep disorders as well as helping scientists develop crops that can survive in the long term."

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/10/20 07:16:29 GMT


                                                        Listening Activity:

Our internal body clocks are shaped by the weather as well as by the seasons, scientists have discovered.

Listen to the podcast in Scottish accent here, please.

Saturday, 24 October 2009


Professor Nick Epley from Chigaco Booth School of Economics talks about motivation.

Reset your body clock

CNN's Melissa Long reports on a clock we often don't think about - our body clock and how it works.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Friday, 9 October 2009

Investing in Brazil.

source: Bloomberg

Sunday, 4 October 2009

The Fox and the Hedgehog.

The fox knows many things; the hedgehog knows one big thing.
-Archilochus, 8th century BC

A short film based on the essay by Isaiah Berlin, who believed there were two 'types' of people in the world.

By Edward Carr
Created 01/10/2009

People who know a lot about a lot have long been an exclusive club, but now they are an endangered species.

Carl Djerassi is a polymath. Strictly speaking that means he is someone who knows a lot about a lot. But Djerassi also passes a sterner test: he can do a lot, too. As a chemist (synthesising cortisone and helping invent the Pill); an art collector (he assembled one of the world’s largest collections of works by Paul Klee); and an author (19 books and plays), he has accomplished more than enough for one lifetime.

Yet as human learning has flowered, the man or woman who does great things in many fields has become a rare species. Young was hardly Aristotle, but his capacity to do important work in such a range of fields startled his contemporaries and today seems quite bewildering. The dead cast a large shadow but, even allowing for that, the 21st century has no one to match Michelangelo, who was a poet as well as a sculptor, an architect and a painter. It has no Alexander von Humboldt, who towered over early-19th-century geography and science. And no Leibniz, who invented calculus at the same time as Newton and also wrote on technology, philosophy, biology, politics and just about everything else.
Although you may be able to think of a few living polymaths who rival the breadth of Young’s knowledge, not one of them beg¬ins to rival the breadth of his achievements. Over the past 200 years the nature of intellectual endeavour has changed profoundly. The polymaths of old were one-brain universities. These days you count as a polymath if you excel at one thing and go on to write a decent book about another.
Britain goes out of its way to create monomaths, by asking students aged 15 to choose just three or four subjects to study at A-level. Djerassi thinks this is a mistake. “There’ll be students here at age 16 or 17 who are much better than many Americans at French or maths or something, but abysmally ignorant in another area,” he says. “We really preach intellectual monogamy more and more in this day and age. That’s by necessity, but we’re overdoing it. And what we really ought to do is start with intellectual polygamy.”
In an age of specialists, does it matter that generalists no longer thrive? The world is hardly short of knowledge. Countless books are written, canvases painted and songs recorded. A torrent of research is pouring out. A new orthodoxy, popularised by Malcolm Gladwell, sees obsessive focus as the key that unlocks genius.

Just knowing about a lot of things has never been easier. Never before have dabblers been so free to paddle along the shore and dip into the first rock pool that catches the eye. If you have an urge to take off your shoes and test the water, countless specialists are ready to hold your hand.

And yet you will never get very deep. Depth is for monomaths—which is why experts so often seem to miss what really matters. Specialisation has made the study of English so sterile that students lose much of the joy in reading great literature for its own sake. A generation of mathematically inclined economists neglected many of Keynes’s insights about the Depression because he put them into words. For decades economists sweated over fiendish mathematical equations, only to be brought down to earth by the credit crunch: Keynes’s well-turned phrases had come back to life.
Part of my regret at the scarcity of polymaths is sentimental. Polymaths were the product of a particular time, when great learning was a mark of distinction and few people had money and leisure. Their moment has passed, like great houses or the horse-drawn carriage. The world may well be a better place for the specialisation that has come along instead. The pity is that progress has to come at a price. Civilisation has put up fences that people can no longer leap across; a certain type of mind is worth less. The choices modern life imposes are duller, more cramped.

The question is whether their loss has affected the course of human thought. Polymaths possess something that monomaths do not. Time and again, innovations come from a fresh eye or from another discipline. Most scientists devote their careers to solving the everyday problems in their specialism. Everyone knows what they are and it takes ingenuity and perseverance to crack them. But breakthroughs—the sort of idea that opens up whole sets of new problems—often come from other fields. The work in the early 20th century that showed how nerves work and, later, how DNA is structured originally came from a marriage of physics and biology. Today, Einstein’s old employer, the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, is laid out especially so that different disciplines rub shoulders. I suspect that it is a poor substitute.

Isaiah Berlin [12] once divided thinkers into two types. Foxes, he wrote, know many things; whereas hedgehogs know one big thing. The foxes used to roam free across the hills. Today the hedgehogs rule.

Berlin once made a distinction between two types of mind: the hedgehog, which knows one big thing; and the fox, which knows lots of little ones. Thinkers who fixate on one big idea - Plato, Dante, Pascal, Proust, Dostoevsky, Marx, Hegel, or for that matter someone who would investigate a subject such as humanism for decades - are hedgehogs.
However, those who have many little ideas, such as Aristotle, Goethe, Pushkin, Balzac, Joyce, and Turgenev are foxes. Tolstoy, he felt, was a fox who wanted to be a hedgehog.
Most of Berlin’s friends, wrote Michael Ignatieff (The New Yorker, 28 September 1998), saw him as an arch-fox - quick-witted, darting from subject to subject. Yet he also longed to be a hedgehog—to know one thing, to feel one thing more truly than anyone else. He had reached what he recognized was a critical stage: either he would go on to develop a serious intellectual engagement of his own or he would decline into being what he feared most - a “chatterbox.”


Feelings and adjectives.

UNIT 4 -

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Will Olympic budgets blow out?

The Olympic games

Rio’s sporting carnival
Oct 2nd 2009

Rio de Janeiro will host the 2016 Olympic Games, the event’s first visit to South America

THE founder of the modern Olympic games, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, insisted that taking part in the event was equally as important as winning. The gloomy delegations from Chicago, Tokyo and Madrid will find little consolation in the baron’s philosophy as they trudge from Copenhagen on Friday October 2nd. The members of the International Olympic Committee decided that the host city for the 2016 summer games will be Rio de Janeiro.

But is staging the Olympics such a great coup? The pluses may seem obvious. Big building projects will employ lots of people who will spend their wages in the rest of the economy. Railways and roads will be built that might otherwise have stayed on the drawing board for years. Visitors will come from far and wide, either for the games or as tourists afterwards. That all sounds especially alluring in a recession.
The pro-Olympics lobby tends to downplay the disadvantages. Building in the host city may push up wages and prices and crowd out investment elsewhere. Hurrying up building projects raises costs. What suits the games may not be best for the city afterwards. Not every visitor during the games is an extra one; tourists may time long-wished-for trips to watch the sport. Crowds or inflated hotel prices may deter others from coming.

By and large, economists have found it hard to detect the benefits of big sporting events. Robert Baade, of Lake Forest College, near Chicago, describes the Olympics as a “high risk, low reward proposition”, but concedes that the games may prompt spending; say in transport, which boosts a region’s economy in the long term.
The right event at the right time can give a city a lift: Barcelona, host in 1992, is a case in point. However, Stefan Szymanski, an economist at Cass Business School in London, suggests that hosting the Olympics may be a mark of recognition: the effect rather than the cause of change. If so that should also count as another reason for wild partying deep into the Rio night.

Copyright © 2009 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group. All rights reserved.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Thriving on adversity.

Thriving on adversity
Oct 1st 2009
From The Economist print edition

Some companies are finding opportunities in the recession.

JUST after Barack Obama was elected president, his incoming chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, told a conference of American captains of industry, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” Here’s hoping his audience was paying attention, because recessions provide as many opportunities for business people as they do for politicians. Although they are often called “slowdowns”, recessions shake things up rather than slowing them down. They reward strengths and expose weaknesses, create new opportunities and kill old habits, release energy and destroy old business models. Distressed assets can be bought for a song, talented people hired cheaply and new ideas given an airing.

The most striking example of this was the Depression. Most people think of the 1930s as an economic desert littered with foreclosure signs and unemployment queues. But for the canny few it was a huge opportunity. DuPont invested heavily in research and development (R&D) and hired unemployed scientists. By the late 1930s 40% of its sales were from products that were less than a decade old—including world-changing inventions such as nylon and synthetic rubber. Procter & Gamble (P&G) invested so heavily in radio advertising that it created a new artistic form, the soap opera. The list of companies which took off during the Depression includes Revlon, Hewlett-Packard (now HP), Polaroid and Pepperidge Farms, the last of which was founded by a society lady whose husband was a victim of the Wall Street crash.
More recent recessions have produced a similar pattern of creative destruction. Two studies by management consultants show that they dramatically rearranged the pecking order of companies in many fields. Bain & Company discovered that twice as many firms made the leap from “laggards” to “leaders” (ie, from the bottom quartile of companies in their industry to the top quartile) during the recession of 1991-92 than during non-recessionary times.

What about the current recession? A great deal is still up in the air, of course. But it is possible to get some idea of the sorts of companies that are doing well and the kinds of strategies they are pursuing. The most obvious winners are established giants: market leaders that entered the recession with cash in their pockets and sound management systems under their belts. These companies are reaping rewards from investors who are skittish about shakier rivals. They are also using their corporate muscle to squeeze their costs (for example, by negotiating cheap rates for advertising) and so win market share from their competitors. BCG, another consultancy, notes that 58% of companies that were among the top three in their industry had rising profits in 2008 and only 30% saw their profits decline. In contrast, only 21% of companies outside the top three had rising profits, and 61% had falling profits.

McDonald’s is simultaneously sharpening its appeal to its core customers, even introducing computer systems that allow its outlets to adjust their prices to local economic circumstances, and moving upmarket with lattes and salads. Asda, a British supermarket chain, is building 14 new stores and hiring 7,000 new workers. PepsiCo has taken direct control of two of its biggest bottling companies, at a cost of $6 billion. Many big companies are also taking advantage of bargain-basement prices to make acquisitions. That is wise: a BCG study of mergers and acquisitions in America in 1985-2001 found that deals done during a recession generated about 15% more return to shareholders than those that took place during a boom.

A second group of winners is made up of companies with a record of innovation. Despite seeing its revenues fall by 23% in the last quarter of 2008 compared with the last quarter of 2007, Intel is continuing to invest heavily in innovation. Craig Barrett, the company’s former boss, insists, “You can’t save your way out of a recession; you have to invest your way out.” P&G is launching its biggest expansion in its 170 years, opening 19 new factories around the world and investing heavily in new ideas, despite disappointing recent results. IBM is holding a series of “innovation jams” designed to squeeze ideas out of its employees.

A third group consists of companies which are using the recession to reposition themselves. Cisco is speeding up its transformation from a backroom network plumber into a much more versatile internet giant, using its cash reserves to snap up start-ups in new fields and expand its business portfolio. Repositioning is a strategy that has paid off dramatically in the past. When the Soviet Union collapsed, plunging Finland into economic turmoil, Nokia’s response was to abandon 90% of its businesses to concentrate on telecoms, particularly mobile phones.

There is also every reason to believe that the current recession will produce lots of upstarts. The Kauffman Foundation, which studies entrepreneurship, points out that about half of Fortune 500 and Inc. 500 companies (lists of the biggest and fastest-growing firms in America, respectively), including such household names as FedEx, CNN and Microsoft, were founded during recessions or bear markets. A disproportionate number of these upstarts produced industry-changing ideas that established companies failed to appreciate until it was too late. Indeed, business is more likely to take advantage of this “serious crisis” than the world’s politicians.

Copyright © 2009 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group. All rights reserved.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Article: The greatest and most expensive.

The World's Biggest and Most Expensive Yacht

Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich's new yacht, Eclipse, is 170,69 m. long and costs more than $1.2 billion

By Loz Blain

Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich rose from obscurity and successfully navigated the world of early Russian privatization to become one of the world's richest self-made billionaires. His 40-man private army of security personnel make him one of the best-protected businessmen in the world, and when his private yacht the Eclipse is handed over in time for Christmas this year, it will be the largest and the most expensive (at US$1.2 billion) private yacht the world has ever seen. Security will be as tight as you'd expect, with missile defence and intruder detection systems—but the Eclipse's most notable feature is a privacy system that can detect the digital cameras of paparazzi and blind them with laser bursts, ruining spy photos.
And while owner Roman Abramovich has lost an estimated 3 billion UK pounds in the current financial crisis, word is that he's still sparing no expense on his biggest and best toy yet.
Abramovich will need as many as 70 crew members to run the Eclipse, which also features two helipads, 11 guest cabins, two swimming pools (one of which can be drained and converted into a dance floor), three launch boats, an aquarium and a mini-submarine that can dive to 50 meters below the ocean surface.
The billionaire's master bedroom will be armor-plated and fitted with bulletproof glass, as will the bridge. Missile detection systems will warn the crew of any incoming rockets, and there's a bunch of anti-intruder, anti-bugging and other security systems on board. But it's the Eclipse's anti-paparazzi system that's stirring up the most interest. Abramovich and his ex-model girlfriend Daria Zhukova are so keen not to appear in tabloid spy shots that he has fitted the Eclipse with an innovative laser system that is said to be able to detect the CCDs of digital cameras and blind them with laser bursts—making any photos useless, presumably without destroying the cameras.
The anti-paparazzi system won't be permanently activated, so Abramovich's guests will be able to take happy snaps while on board—but if security personnel see a nearby boat and suspect that there are photographers on board, it can be quickly switched on.
This kind of protection, of course, will do little but stir up the interest of the most hardcore paparazzi—and presumably the system is useless against good old film cameras. But it's an indication of just how annoying such intrusions must be when you're one of the world's richest men, riding on the world's biggest private yacht with your supermodel girlfriend.

Copyright 2000-2009 by The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc. All rights reserved.

Saturday, 26 September 2009


Artificial success: click here, please.

Consumer goods in recession: click here, please.

Missionary man: click here, please.

Telecoms (audio)

Mobile phones have transformed lives in the poor world. Mobile money could have just as big an impact.

Telecoms in emerging markets

Mobile phones not only connect the developing world, they also make it richer.

Did you know?

The latest version of the "Shift happens" videos updated for autumn 2009, developed by XPLANE in partnership with The Economist. This Did You Know video focuses on the changing media landscape, including convergence and technology.

Travel industry under threat.

CNN's Richard Quest investigates how the worrying numbers of a global financial crisis could affect the travel industry.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Time for world currency?

Some say the time has come to have just one world currency.
CNN's Charles Hodson reports.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Biofuels: Beyond the headlines.

In "Biofuels: Beyond the Headlines," the first video produced by the Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota researchers Stephen Polasky and David Tilman attempt to clear up the confusion surrounding biofuels production.

The pros and cons of biofuels.

Please, go to:

Household waste turned to car fuel

Household rubbish to be used to make 'cheap and green' bio-fuel to power cars

Rubbish: Household waste turned to car fuel

Household rubbish from millions of British homes is to be used as a cheap and "green" fuel to power family cars, the world's biggest car-maker has announced.
General Motors, which owns Britain's Vauxhall as well as Sweden's Saab, is backing a new system to create the bio-fuel from garbage - instead of having to grow it in the form of grain.
Instead of going to the local tip, rubbish-bin collections could be taken to special reprocessing plants where organic waste can be extracted and processed using special micro-organisms or "bugs" that turn it into ethanol fuel - a form of alcohol.
It will cost just 50p a gallon to produce the organic fuel under a tie-up deal between General Motors and a Chicago-based US bio-tech company called Coskata.
It will also reduce dependency on oil which recently soared above $100 a barrel, says the car giant.
A pilot plant is to open before the end of this year with a plant capable of producing up to 100million gallons a year up and running by 2011.
General Motors chairman Rick Wagoner said at the Detroit Motor Show where the new initiative was announced: "Coskata expects to be able to replicate this process almost anywhere in the world because it can use almost any source material - including agricultural waste, municipal waste, discarded plastics, and even old tyres."
Millions of cars which run on bio-fuel already exist - including a range of Saabs - and are being driven now by customers including Sir Richard Branson who has been a big supporter of the alternative fuel.
Supercar maker Ferrari surprised the motor show by itself unveiling a prototype model that runs on ethanol.
Ferrari chief executive Amedeo Felisa said the cutting-edge Ferrari F430 Spider Biofuel, with green stripes on its silver bodywork, was part of the firm's efforts to exhaust emission levels by 40 percent by 2012.
It was a spin-off of Formula 1 technology developed to comply with F1 rules that require race fuel to have a 5.75 per cent bio-fuel content.
The alcohol - called bio-ethanol - can be created from a range of vegetation including crops such as sugar cane, sugar beet and oil seed rape, or from forest clippings.
But environmental campaigners who once backed the idea of bio-fuels have, in recent times, attacked the strategy on the grounds that vast tracts of land used for food production will be taken up growing fuel for cars - causing food prices to soar and risking global food shortages.
Using household waste gets around this problem.
And with British householders facing the prospect of controversial "pay-as-you-throw" council taxes for rubbish collection, the idea could massively reduce costs.
Oil is itself a carbon-based organic fuel, formed from crushed animals and vegetation over millions of years.
With little adaptation, cars can also run off alcohol or ethanol from sugar-beet or wood chip, and even vegetable oil.
But this again is grown.
Independent scientific tests have shown that the process will produce nearly eight times the amount of energy that is taken up extracting the fuel.
General Motors' Mr. Wagoner said: "Coskata has developed a proprietary process to produce ethanol at a projected cost of less than one dollar (50p) per gallon".
His company and other car makers have developed cars that run off ethanol, a blend of 85 per cent ethanol and 15 per cent petrol, or that can switch between petrol and ethanol - so called "flex" for flexibility cars.
More than 6 million are already running in the United States alone with Sir Richard Branson being the most high-profile owner in the UK.
Mr Wagoner said: "Ethanol offers tremendous potential to reduce oil consumption."
He said that on just the flex-fuel vehicles that GM, Ford and Chrysler had committed to build in the next 12 years, America could cut its petrol consumption by 18 per cent - or 29billion gallons.
General Motors has pledged to double its annual production of ethanol flex-fuel vehicles to 800,000 by 2010. Bill Roe, president and chief executive of 18-month-old Coskata said it expects to be building 20 to 25 fuel plants a year around the world, including Britain.
The company says it can make more than 100 gallons of ethanol per ton of rubbish. The process uses a third to a quarter of the amount of fresh water needed to produce ethanol.
And it reduces emissions of carbon dioxide - the so-called "greenhouse gas" blamed for global warming, by as much as 84 percent compared with conventional petrol.
Mr Roe said: "General Motors is enabling us to produce the next generation of biofuels - without using a food source, making it economically viable and commercially available."

Find this story at

Ethanol from rubbish is the latest biofuel.

Waste not, want not

Sep 18th 2009 From

Ethanol from rubbish is the latest biofuel

OVER the past decade, biofuels have been a disappointment. There is no denying their promise: clean-burning fuel that could reduce a country’s dependence on foreign oil. But America’s attempts to produce biofuels from corn and soyabeans—hoping to replicate Brazil’s success with sugar cane—have failed. All the ethanol subsidies for Midwestern farmers ever did was raise food prices globally.
Moreover when all the environmental factors were taken into account, using biofuel made from corn or soyabeans proved to be worse environmentally than burning an equivalent amount of petrol refined from oil. In some studies, it actually increased carbon emissions by as much as 50% over that produced by fossil fuels.
Attention has now turned to more benign feedstocks for biofuels—including wood-chips and other forms of agricultural waste. But most still need lots of energy or expensive enzymes to work. Meanwhile, using designer bugs to tailor-make low-emission fuels is still in its infancy.
What, then, is the most abundant feedstock for making ethanol which does not cause damage to food supplies, is environmentally friendly, economic and has all the enabling technologies in place? The answer, in a word, is rubbish. Ethanol made from waste—and used neat or as a blend in a “flex-fuel” petrol engine—is currently the best deal in town.
Last year America produced 8.5 billion gallons (32 billion litres) of ethanol from various sources. The latest version of the government’s
Renewable Fuels Standard calls for 36 billion gallons of biofuels to be produced annually by 2022. Municipal waste could supply at least half of that in the form of ethanol for motor vehicles.
Actually, most petrol-engined cars will run happily on 20% ethanol without the driver noticing any difference. With a few tweaks under the bonnet, a petrol engine will burn 85% ethanol or even 100% ethanol with little loss of performance. The big plus is that it produces anything up to 85% less greenhouse gases, depending on how the ethanol was brewed.
Unfortunately, ethanol-powered cars get 25% fewer miles to the gallon than their petrol equivalents. As a fuel, ethanol has a lower energy density and therefore needs more of it to do the same job. Another problem is that existing petrol engines cannot take advantage of the much higher octane rating. Ideally, an ethanol engine needs a compression ratio of 19:1 instead of the 10:1 typical of petrol engines. But then it would no longer be a flex-fuel vehicle capable of running on petrol, ethanol or blends of both.
Carmakers have begun to take flex-fuel vehicles more seriously. Ford, General Motors and Chrysler, along with a handful of German and Japanese manufacturers, are now bolstering their ranges of petrol-powered vehicles that can run on blends of ethanol as well. That has created openings for a number of bright sparks.
One of the brightest your correspondent has come across to date is
Fulcrum BioEnergy of Pleasanton, California. Fulcrum is building a $100m plant near Reno, Nevada, to make over 10m gallons of ethanol a year from municipal solid waste. James Macias, the company’s boss, has identified 26 sites around the country with municipal rubbish supplies capable of supporting similar or even larger plants. Together, they could produce over a billion gallons of ethanol annually at roughly $1 a gallon.
A scaled up version of Fulcrum’s Reno plant could produce as much as 95m gallons of ethanol a year—all from useless landfill that would otherwise emit copious quantities of methane (the most potent greenhouse gas). Environmentalists reckon that using the ethanol produced over the lifetime of such a plant would cut carbon emissions by 75% compared with burning the equivalent amount of petrol. That would be like taking 100,000 cars off the road.
The second ethanol venture your correspondent has been impressed by recently is much more down-to-earth.
GreenHouse International, a San Diego-based eco-house-builder and provider of alternative fuels for the home, is on the verge of establishing a network of ethanol filling stations that are literally in people’s backyards. By law, private individuals in America are allowed to store up to 50 gallons of ethanol on their premises. So far, the only people to do so have been farmers who make ethanol to fuel their tractors and harvesters.
The refuelling station that GreenHouse installs at people’s homes is actually a micro-refinery that makes its own ethanol on the spot from organic waste. The feedstock—mostly beer and soft drinks that have passed their best-before date, and other waste containing lots of sugar—is supplied free by GreenHouse.
Drinks firms such as Coca-Cola, as well as big breweries, currently pay large sums of money to have their waste and date-expired products taken away and processed for disposal. So far, Chris Ursitti, GreenHouse’s founder, has signed contracts for 29,000 tons of liquid waste and spent beer. After blending, a fleet of the company’s trucks deliver the feedstock to customers’ doors.
GreenHouse has an exclusive contract to install the so-called
MicroFueler made by E-Fuel of Los Gatos, California. The MicroFueler is the brainchild of Tom Quinn, the inventor of the motion-controller that made the Nintendo Wii such a runaway success, and ethanol scientist Floyd Butterfield. The technology solves two of the headaches that have plagued ethanol production: the reliance on corn as a feedstock and the difficulty of distributing it.
The MicroFueler comprises a 250-gallon feedstock container and a separate unit holding the still, fuel tank and pumping station. With its internet connection, the MicroFueler calls GreenHouse automatically whenever it needs more feedstock or maintenance. The equipment sells for $10,000 but tax credits in effect halve the cost. After that, owners will be billed monthly for only the ethanol they pump into their flex-fuel vehicles. The fuel is expected to cost $1-2 a gallon, depending on the volume used.

Copyright © 2009 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group. All rights reserved.


Chaos theory attempts to explain the fact that complex and unpredictable results can and will occur in systems that are sensitive to their initial conditions. A common example of this is known as the Butterfly Effect. It states that, in theory, the flutter of a butterfly's wings in China could, in fact, actually effect weather patterns in New York City, thousands of miles away. In other words, it is possible that a very small occurance can produce unpredictable and sometimes drastic results by triggering a series of increasingly significant events.

A fascinating look at how a little girl walking in the sand of the African desert could cause a hurricane 4000 miles away in the USA. Great video from BBC show The Science of Superstorms.

Saturday, 19 September 2009


Vocabulary Review
Face2Face Intermediate

Friday, 18 September 2009

Best Global Brands 2009

More than a year into the recession, some brands are thriving, but most are not. Interbrand's Jez Frampton speaks with BuinessWeek's Burt Helm about the brands that topped the list.

BusinessWeek's David Kiley explores the importance of trust when it comes to the reputation of brands as part of BusinessWeek's Best Global Brands 2009.

Monday, 14 September 2009

The Power of a Name

Interbrand's Jez Frampton reveals what it takes for a company to land a spot on the 2008 BusinessWeek/Interbrand Best Global Brands list.

Best Global Brands

Familiar names, solid brand recognition: Here's a look at BusinessWeek's annual list of the world's top brands and why they fare so well with consumers.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Business English in use.

Friday, 11 September 2009


Face2Face Elementary - Unit 1 to 10.
Vocabulary Review

Sunday, 6 September 2009

An old friend!

Face2Face Elementary - Unit 10

Facebook Manners And You

Social merchandising in Brazil

A new study shows surprising health benefits of Brazil's TV novellas.
CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports.

Saturday, 5 September 2009


Friday, 4 September 2009

Macy's New Strategy

Find out in this interview with Macy's Chief Financial Officer Karen Hoguet.

Monday, 31 August 2009


Close-to-home vacations now have a name — staycations.

Sunday, 30 August 2009


Saturday, 29 August 2009

Quiz: Pronouns and Possessives

Article: JetBlue

David Neeleman thinks Brazil is just as good a place to do business as America.

Read the article here, please.

Tipping in tight times


Qualified students 'wasted talent'

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

TOEFL Speaking question 6 part 1 (4 samples)

Here are 4 samples of the TOEFL ibt Speaking question 6. In this question, you are asked to summarize a lecture on an academic topic.

TOEFL speaking question 2 sample answers

Complete speaking TOEFL final test 01

WARNING: There is a mistake in question number 5. The question reads "What is the Woman's problem?" But she is not the one with the problem, the MAN is. So the question should be as follows:

Question 5:
"The students discuss two possible solutions to the Man’s problem..."

Here are the reading passages

Question 3:
University announcement.

This is a notice for students.
Based on the result of our recent survey, we are opening a Thai restaurant on the school campus.
Students will be able to enjoy delicious meals at the brand new Thai restaurant starting from the new semester.
We will always use the best ingredients in our healthy and tasty food.

Breakfast: 6:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. (Except Sunday) - $7 for visitors and $5.50 for students

American Breakfast: 8:00a.m. (Monday-Wednesday and Friday only)- $6 for visitors and $4.50 for students

Lunch: 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Except Saturday) - $12 for visitors and $9.50 for students

Dinner: 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. -$13 for visitors and $ for students.

Question 4

Meaning of Dreams.

Everyone dreams every night. Those who claim they don’t dream simply don’t remember their dreams.
Some people easily remember their dreams; however, many of us lose our ability to recall our dreams as we grow older due to stress from our everyday lives.
Getting enough sleep at night is essential to improve your ability to recall your dreams.
If you’re well rested, you’ll find it easier to recall your dreams.

Tips on Writing.

This site has useful ideas for getting started on writing and fine tuning your writing style. It can be very challenging to choose a topic that inspires you to write!

So look over this section of the site and try some of the suggestions to improve your writing.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Internet addiction rehab.

An online detox program opens in Washington State.

Sunday, 23 August 2009


Face2Face Elementary - Unit 9
Making business telephone calls.

A link between wealth and breeding

It was once a rule of demography that people have fewer children as their countries get richer. That rule no longer holds true.

Read the article here, please.

Saturday, 22 August 2009


Retraining the Work Force

Retraining the Work Force:

Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio, is part of an unheralded force of community colleges that are enabling laid-off workers to re-enter the work force.

Watch the video here, please.


Enjoying the ritualistic cup of tea can be relaxing, both mentally and physically.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Japan's shrinking population.

Japan struggles with low birth rate and shrinking population.
CNN's Morgan Neill reports.

Quiz: Exceptions and Curiosities of the language.

Common errors in English.


All the sentences below contain common errors.
Rewrite the sentences in good English.

1. I have twenty years old.

2. This is Fred. He is my older brother.

3. William and me enjoy playing tennis.

4. Let’s go to a Chinese restaurant, let us not?

5. What did your grandfather die from?

6. There is a supermarket in front of my house.

7. Where can I take passport photos?

8. Have you ever been in Turkey?

9. Kevin is married with Helen.

10. I prefer tea than coffee.

11. In the end of the concert, there was a standing ovation.

12. To swim is healthy.

13. Could you make me a favour?

14. I wish I was taller!

15. I am overweight, am I not?

16. Paris is two times more expensive than New York.

17. Could you borrow me your car for a day or two?

18. In the years 20, women could not vote in England.

19. Have you seen Brad Pitt’s last movie?

20. Robert is older than I.

21. Everyone are excited about the trip.

22. Greg is a friend of my wife.

23. I have got a 4 doors car.

24. My dead uncle used to ride balloons.

25. The thief stole the bank.

26. I’ll keep this secret between you and I.

27. She remembers me of an old friend.

28. It’s three years that I saw you.

29. It was expensive but I finally painted my house.

30. I wish I have a car!

31. I’ve never been to Iceland. How is it?

32. Sorry to make you waiting.

33. Is this pen your?

34. She pretends to visit Spain next year.

35. It was kind of yours to help me.

36. Don’t arrive late, do you?

37. She told me don’t arrive late anymore.

38. I borrowed money to Peter but he hasn’t paid me back yet.

39. William is living in a flat with two bedrooms now.

40. She goes to the movies at least three times in a month.

41. The news were depressing.

42. Rome is worth to visit at any time.

43. Do you want that I give you a hand with those heavy packages?

44. Help me! I’ve been stolen!

45. They say she married her husband for interest.

46. Neither Robert nor Peter are American. Both of them are English.

47. Was it not for the blizzard, my flight would have taken off on time.

48. Thanks, this is the exact book I had in mind!

49. I’d rather you don’t smoke here, please.

50. He likes driving fastly!

51. Robert robbed his sister’s pocket money.

52. This is the second time I watch this movie.

Click here for the answer key, please.

Monday, 17 August 2009



Sunday, 16 August 2009

Chinese Christmas exporters hit by global recession


Various people share the qualities of a good leader.

Listen here, please.

Renting or owning a house?

Various people consider renting or owning a home.

Listen here, please.

Saturday, 15 August 2009


You have 3 minutes!

Entrepreneur Ricardo Bellino on how he turned a hostile greeting from Donald Trump into a lucrative business relationship.

Social Intelligence.

Daniel Goleman, the best-selling author of 'Emotional Intelligence' talks about new research on how social interaction affects the brain, and the perils of the electronic age.

Rethinking Outsourcing.

NCR CEO William Nuti on why his firm stopped outsourcing production of automated teller machines and can bring innovative new products to market faster by building them itself in the U.S.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Linking Words - Full List.



For me, working at home is preferable for many reasons. First and foremost, I can do my work in my own time and quietly. Besides, it offers me flexible time to do other things as well, such as listening to music or taking a break for coffee or a quick nap. However, many people prefer to work far from regular offices because they are shy. Moreover, it seems to me that some people cannot bear the pressure of their peers or the competitive environment of a workspace. Therefore, working at home sounds perfect. On the other hand, it is common knowledge that not having a boss or superiors around you may leave you too slow to meet a deadline or even be productive. As for me, it is the other way round. First of all, I do feel more productive, taking my time and being responsible enough to do my duties and thus, accomplish the same excellence of any office worker. Yet, a person who decides to work at home must bear in mind that distractions may happen and disturb your work, having kids around or visitors, for instance. In short, I have found the perfect way of achieving a good level of excellence in my work on my own.


In my opinion, summer is the best season of the year. To begin with, it is the time when we can go out more often and meet friends for a drink outdoors and therefore, be more social and friendly. Besides, it is hot enough to enjoy going to the beach or swimming pools. It is clear how cheerful and happier all of us get in summertime. As a matter of fact, there are studies showing that the light of summer can actually make people happier. Thus, it is probably everyone’s favorite season. No wonder foreigners run away from the winter in their countries to enjoy the heat in countries like Brazil. Despite fears of skin cancer or tropical diseases, sun and beach in summer still seem to be what encourages tourists. Besides, wearing fewer clothes and getting a suntan also seduce everyone. Above all in a hot country such as mine where it is summertime mostly all year round. To sum up, the pleasures and well-being that summer can offer make it mine and everyone else their favorite season of the year.


As far as I’m concerned, reading a paper book is far better than e-books. First of all, it seems that some people can concentrate more and thus understand better the stories. In addition, the convenience of being able to carry it around wherever you go makes paper books more seductive. Some readers even claim that the smell of a paper book is part of the pleasure of reading it. On the other hand, it is perfectly understandable that e-books are successful today, due to its practical use and affordability. As for me, reading on the screen of a computer not only loses its charm but it also discourages me as my eyes get tired and teary. However, as long as people are still reading, it doesn’t matter the format. Though I still and stubbornly prefer paper books rather than e-books. Nevertheless, thanks to the speed and real-time availability found on the internet, I actually prefer to read the news on the computer. Yet, when it comes to a book, I do enjoy reading in the old fashion way.


Wednesday, 12 August 2009

A formal letter/email - Unit 9

Face2Face Elementary - Unit 9.

Formal letter/email: do a gap-fill exercise here, please.

The New Google.

Read the article and do a quiz here, please.

Monday, 10 August 2009

GM Cars sale via eBay. - BBC News

eBay to start selling new GM cars

General Motors (GM) and eBay are launching a trial scheme in the US that will allow customers to buy new GM cars via the auction website.
More than 225 of GM's 250 Californian dealers have signed up to the scheme, which will allow consumers to either pay a fixed price or try to haggle.
The trial will run from 11 August to 8 September and is part of GM's continuing efforts to boost sales.
All four of GM's brands - Buick, Chevrolet, GMC and Pontiac - will be available through the eBay scheme.
Customers buying a car via the website would then have to pick it up from one of the participating GM dealerships.
Lorrie Norrington, president of eBay marketplaces, said that if the trial is successful, it could be extended across the whole of the US, and that similar schemes with other carmakers may also be launched.
Some GM dealerships in the US already sell second hand cars via eBay, but this is the first time new vehicles have been put on sale through the website.
"I think they should have done this a long time ago," said Inder Dosanjh, one Californian GM dealer.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2009/08/10 15:04:34 GMT© BBC MMIX

Sugar Price - BBC News

Sugar price reaches 28-year high

The price of raw sugar has increased to its highest level since 1981, as supply concerns grow.
Raw sugar futures added 3% on Monday, to finish the day at 22 cents a pound.
"The main problem is a deficit in sugar supplies," said Nick Penney, a trader with Sucden Financial, a firm that focuses on sugar trading.
Growing demand in Brazil for sugar to be turned into ethanol, coupled with a sharp fall in Indian production, have both prompted worries, he explained.
Sugar production in India for 2008-09 fell 45% year-on-year, according to a report by Sucden.
And a "drastic fall" is expected for the coming Indian crop, it said. India had less rain in the monsoon season and it was also uneven, damaging a number of agricultural crops.
There are concerns that the pending sugar crop, which will be ready around November, will be inadequate.
"This [sugar market] train is running express," said Alex Oliveira, senior sugar analyst for Newedge USA in New York.
"It's feeding on itself."

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/08/10 19:42:39 GMT

Signs in English.

Grammar Quiz - Advanced level - TOEFL

Do the quiz here, please.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Face2Face Elementary.

Review of Unit 1 to Unit 9.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

A day in London

Read the prompts below and make sentences using Present Simple or Continuous as the images appear on the video.

walk around London
go up the stairs
take pictures
look at London skyline
Paula / come / Italy
David / come / Bath
They / think / London is beautiful
buy newspapers
Paula / think / difficult
pay for the newspapers
give the change
go to the underground
look at the map of London
buy the tickets
tickets / expensive in London
wait for the train
take the train
get off the train
go down the stairs
Paula / make a mistake
David / correct Paula
David / like coffee
Paula / like cappuccino
David / prefer chicken sandwich
Paula / not like coffee
pay for the bill
buy tickets
wait for the river bus
take the river bus
look at the view
have a good time

Preliminary English Test (PET) Reading Practice

Do the Reading Practice here.

Cash for Clunkers

RARE is the policy innovation that catches on so fast. Indeed, “cash-for-clunkers” is the policy of offering a subsidy to car owners to trade in their old gas-guzzler for a new, less thirsty model. The American scheme started out with $1 billion to pay for rebates of $3,500 or $4,500, depending on the difference in fuel efficiency between the old car and the new. It has burned through this in its first month, so on July 31st the House of Representatives voted to give it a further $2 billion. Germany’s €5 billion ($7.2 billion) scrappage scheme has also proved highly popular: within two months of its start, in February, 1.2m motorists had applied, twice the expected number.

Ford reported its sales rose 2% in July. BusinessWeek Detroit correspondent David Kiley reports on which models are doing well and the impact of the incentive program on sales.

BusinessWeek Senior Writer John Carey on whether the cash-for-clunkers program will result in lower consumption of gas.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Vocabulary in Use #1

Face2Face Intermediate Unit 2
Vocabulary in Use in THE SUN newspaper.

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Backchannel signals.

Why do recyclers spend more? - Quiz

Sunday, 24 May 2009


Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Monday, 18 May 2009

LCP: Staying Connected

Tom and Jess talk about e-mail, social networking sites and time on the computer

Click here, please.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Quiz - Adjectives

Past Simple - Mike's day.

Do the exercise here, please.

Do the second exercise here, please.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009


Face2Face Elementary Unit 6

Do the Listening Activity here, please.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Quiz: What is this?

Face2Face Elementary Quiz - What is this?

What do you like shopping for?

Listening Activity:

What do you like shopping for?

Click here, please.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Article and Questions: St Paul's School

To know more about St Paul's School, read the article and do the quiz here, please.

Now, do the quiz:

Questions to Paul, from England.

This is part of the amazing collection of:

also found on youtube.

Teachers can use these videos in many ways:
a) for a quiz
b) for a dictogloss
c) listening activity

It's important that a pre-listening activity be done. The same question is asked to the student, and then the student 'predicts' what Paul is going to answer.

Friday, 8 May 2009

IELTS Listening Test

Please, do the activity here .

Article and Quiz: The sweet sound of success.

Read the article and do the quiz here, please.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Quiz: Social Expressions in English

Reading and Quiz: Electric cars and noise.

Article: It's ok Ma, I'm only T-ching English

It's ok Ma, I'm Only T-ching English

Having set out my manifesto for autumn last month, I urged alacrity in response: "come on," I cried, "we only have three days!", writes Luke Meddings
Well I almost had less than that; nagging abdominal pain as I completed the piece (I'll make the gag about it having the same effect on readers, thanks) turned out to be appendicitis. "The future's bright," I heard docs say as I came round from emergency surgery, only to discover they were talking about my suture. Yep, they had me in stitches.
Is there a lesson in it all, I have since been asked? Eat and drink a little more moderately, perhaps - oh, that kind of lesson. Trauma dogme. Well there is, I'd say, but only while the wounds are fresh.
If something is news, it has real currency in every day conversation. So it is with lessons that feed on the detail of our every day lives, and this particular one would start quite naturally as someone asks: "How are you?" Or, more pragmatically: "Where were you?" Or perhaps, if you have been away for a while: "Who are you?"
Answer in a chatty way that encourages more questions. By all means contribute correct form and vocabulary in the course of the conversation, but don't make this explicit - students may echo you, but they may not, and telling them to do so won't make it any easier. Remain seated, ideally away from your desk; make notes unobtrusively as people are speaking.
When there is a natural pause in the conversation, go to the board. Use your notes from what has been said, and match your interventions to the language needs of the people in the room.
Build outwards from any vocabulary that comes up, and work with what you have. If all you have for starters is "how are you?" and "fine, thanks," there is enough to work with. What about a synonym for "fine"? An antonym? Stronger or weaker words for the same? More or less friendly or formal ways of having this conversation?
Ask students to write down the original exchange they heard at the very start of the lesson, as far as they remember it. Ask them to compare notes in small groups and read a version back to you. Write it on to the board and compare their memory of what was said with your own. What can be learned from the differences?
Keep the language moving from speech to notebook to board, and back again. Fold in some idioms.
How might the exchange proceed by email? By text message?
How again might such an exchange proceed between two people talking about a third party who is either really not very well, or not half as ill as they think or say they are? How do people express real concern, how do they express scepticism? What intonation do they use to do this (there is a lot of fun to be had with this - exaggerate it, make it absurd, and people will remember the vocabulary that goes with it: intonation as an integral part of chunking).
Invite students to write down some other examples of (not very) bad luck, which might prompt a conversation of this sort - different reasons for someone being away from work for a day or two - then invite pairs of students to role play a brief exchange on the subject.
If much of this sounds familiar, you're right. Strategies learned from "delivery" teaching, from the best course books and materials writing, will serve you well in the unplugged classroom. The opportunity is to allow the conversation to arise from real life, the language to emerge from the conversation, and to match the language development, analysis and practice to the needs, interests and abilities of the people in the room.
Of course, one doesn't have to wait for big news to start a conversation. In fact it is important to establish a class dynamic where the bar for "interesting" input is explicitly set very low. Ask students on a Monday to share the most enjoyable thing they did over the weekend, rather than an enjoyable one. It allows everyone in - people who are shy, people who can't think of anything off the top of their head, and people who had a rubbish weekend.
Relish banality, and enjoy each other's company. In this atmosphere, people will feel able to talk about each other's lives with a degree of openness, with some seriousness where it is appropriate, and with general good humour.
Managing this atmosphere, as much as the conversation and the language it generates, is your responsibility. It demands the most constant attention to the detail of how we ordinary human beings respond to ordinary things: the expressions on our faces are as important as the expressions on the page. Don't you agree?

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