Saturday, 30 October 2010

Severe Drought Damages Brazil's Amazon Region

Severe Drought Damages Brazil's Amazon Region.
A severe drought pushes river levels in Brazil's Amazon region to record lows, isolating communities and strangling vital boat transport links.

Cartoon of the day.

Apple Working on Embedded SIM for iPhone?

Multisource political news, world news, and entertainment news analysis by


Is Apple about to dump carrier partners in Europe? Some sources seem to confirm, Steve Jobs and company are setting out on their own -- by partnering up with SIM-card manufacturer Gemalto-- in a move which would allow consumers to buy an iPhone via the web or at an Apple store -- and hook up service on their own.

We’re checking out the cord-cutting conspiracy from GigaOm, PC World, TechEye, and SlashGear.

GigaOm broke this story -- and has some of the details. It says, if Apple succeeds, it will do so where others have failed.

“ could do what Google with its NexusOne could not... Much like it helped cut operators out of the app store game, Apple could be taking them out of the device retail game.”

This could work well in Europe, where competition is stiff. PC World notes, if it DOES work, consumers would be the big winner.

“...[It] means users may be able to easily switch between carriers depending on which one is offering the better deal. ...[Consumers] would likely make the switch via iTunes or perhaps directly through Apple or their new carrier.”

But TechEye says, before consumers go dancing in the streets, they may want to think about the larger ramifications.

“... the downside of this is that it would mean that the Apple blessed SIM would be hardwired into the phone. It would make it much harder to jailbreak and mean that you could only run the phone on Apple blessed telcos.”

...A point one consumer protested quite strongly, in a comment on SlashGear’s coverage of the potential iPhone deal.

“I don’t think this move bypasses ‘carriers’, it bypasses ‘users’. 
Apple clearly isn’t a fan of the freedom of their users – first they made the sim card ridiculously hard to swap by requiring a metal clip to tear it out of the phone. Then they required you to physically cut your sim card (which effectively meant that putting a sim card in a iPhone 4 became a one-way operation).”

So what do you think? More freedom? Or more control for Big Bro Apple?

Liveability ranking.

Liveability ranking.

Cities in Canada and Australia are the most liveable in the world .

Canadian and Australian cities account for six of the top ten spots in the Economist Intelligence Unit's latest liveability ranking. All of the cities in the top ten scored well over 80.0, the threshold below which difficulties are apparent in day-to-day living. Vancouver is still the world’s most liveable city, with a rating of 98.0; Sydney and Zurich, sharing ninth place, achieved a score less than 2% lower than Vancouver’s. The worst-performing locations are in Africa or Asia, where civil instability and poor infrastructure present significant challenges. The unfolding political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe makes Harare the least desirable city in the survey. Locations within Afghanistan and Iraq are not included.
The Economist Intelligence Unit’s liveability rating quantifies the challenges that might be presented to an individual's lifestyle in 140 cities worldwide. Each city is assigned a score for over 30 qualitative and quantitative factors across five broad categories: stability, health care, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure. The categories are compiled and weighted to provide an overall rating of 1–100, where 1 is considered intolerable and 100 is considered ideal.


The job market's impact on millennials.

Not a Lost Generation, but a 'Disappointed' One: The Job Market's Impact on Millennials.

October 27, 2010.

They are one of the biggest generations in American history, and they are certainly the best educated. But for Generation Y -- a group of young people of about 70 million between the ages of 15 and 30 -- the future doesn’t seem bright.

With a national unemployment rate of 9.6%, many of them cannot find jobs. Some have had to move back home with their parents; others are forced to work with low-level jobs that is not enough to pay back the loans they took out for college.

The bad news for Generation Y, also known as the Millennial Generation, does not stop there: Numerous studies indicate that entering the job market during a recession has both immediate and long-term negative impacts. "We have seen from previous recessions that groups who enter the workforce during a downturn pay a persistent penalty in terms of wages and benefits," notes Bidwell. "It takes them longer to get into the workforce so they are not acquiring the skills they need. In addition, they are more apt to take a lower level job or an unpaid internship. And once the economy improves and they land a better job, it takes these workers longer to climb the ladder because they have to learn skills they should have been developing immediately out of college. In the meantime, they are at risk of being leapfrogged by new graduates."

The great fear of economists who study employment has to do with workers who are forced out of the labor market during a recession and never return. But with this particular generation, a more apt concern might be for those who never have the opportunity to enter it in the first place, Bidwell suggests. "If you don't get a decent job in your first five years in the workforce, do you ever? You don't develop the stable work habits or the self-esteem to move up the corporate ladder," he says. "It's a horrendous waste of human capital."

Several recent studies indicate that entering the job market during a recession has a long-lasting, negative effect on wages. One study, by Lisa Kahn, an economics professor at the Yale School of Management, found that for each percentage point rise in the unemployment rate, those who graduated during the recession earned 6% to 8% less in their first year of employment compared to people who graduated during a better economy.

The earnings gap that these recession-era graduates contend with will not have much of an overall impact on the U.S. economy. Economists say that one group amid a very big population does not have the power to greatly effect consumption levels. But, they say, the discrepancy will have significant implications for how these individuals carry out their adult lives. The Millennials will lack the spending power of more fortunate boom-time graduates, which means that many of their life milestones, such as buying a first house, getting married or even starting a family, will be delayed.

"Everything gets pushed back," Allen notes. "It's a problem that's not well appreciated. People's careers are being damaged. People who are in their 20s and 30s are not being promoted, they are not getting raises and they are not getting opportunities [to progress in their careers] because the people above them are not moving. They can't leave their jobs because they probably won't be able to find work elsewhere. So they're stuck. This is a serious issue: It's setting people back a few years and they never really recover."

Millennials are a generation that "expected the world would be the way it has been for the past 20 years," Allen adds. "They had expectations that they would find jobs and make lots of money. This will be a disappointed generation, but young people entering the labor market during good times tend to believe that all jobs come easy, and they count on big paychecks. Graduating into a bad economy is a more sobering experience, he says. "We saw that people who graduated during the boom of the late 1990s -- who had their pick of jobs, and were getting big signing bonuses and buying BMWs -- had a hard time adjusting to the downturn," he notes. "There is something quite important about entering a labor market in a downturn.... It shapes your worldview. It makes you more modest and more realistic."


Why women are losing ground on Wall Street.

Why Women are Losing Ground on Wall Street.

October 27, 2010 .

The recession has not been kind to women on Wall Street. Consider these recent reports in the financial press: Even though women hold a minority of financial sector jobs, five times as many women as men were laid off after the start of the recession, according to Bloomberg News. Meanwhile, the pay gap between men and women in the industry, Bloomberg adds, actually widened between 2000 and 2007. The result is that while women in the broader work force have made significant progress toward pay and opportunity parity, they have actually lost ground on Wall Street.According to The Wall Street Journal, 9.6% more men are working in finance now than 10 years ago, but 2.6% fewer women. Among young workers, the numbers are even starker: 16.5% fewer women aged 20 to 35 and 21.8% fewer women aged 20 to 24.

In short, the number of women even choosing to work on Wall Street has dropped, and many of those who do start out there are deciding to leave or are being pushed out.

Many back-office and administrative jobs -- those often held by women -- have been lost for good due to technology and outsourcing, according to the Journal.

Why, after so many years of Wall Street apologizing for its poor treatment of women and promising to do better, do things seem worse? And are there consequences? If women are not interested in these jobs and are finding more opportunities with better pay parity in other sectors of the economy, does it matter that they are not on trading desks, doing merger deals or managing IPOs?

The conventional wisdom is that women value work-life balance. Since they know they will not find that on Wall Street, they are steering clear of finance for careers that have less pressure, shorter hours and more time for family. But the reality isn't that simple. "I resist looking at this as an issue of 'women don't want to work as hard,'" says Monica McGrath, an adjunct professor of management at Wharton. "They do work hard and want to, but they want it to pay off." And on Wall Street, she notes, it's not clear that it will. "Women were less likely to say they identified with finance jobs, especially investment banking. [Because] these jobs were seen as macho, the women believed that companies would be looking for more macho attributes" and thus would be less likely to hire women. Instead, he notes, female MBAs gravitated toward business development and marketing. Those who studied finance tended to put that interest to work in general management jobs.


Germany's economic boom.

October 26, 2010
CNN's Diana Magnay reports on the bounceback of the German economy.

'Cell phone' spotted in silent film from 1928.

It's not shocking to see a woman talking on her cell phone while walking down the street. It is, however, shocking when the woman is an extra in a silent film from 1928.

Charlie Chaplin's "The Circus" is getting internet buzz with a clip from the black-and-white comedy spreading at viral speed.

The clip -- a DVD extra spotted by filmmaker George Clarke -- shows a woman holding what some say appears to be a mobile phone to her ear and talking.

The only explanation: She's a time traveler.

At least that's the word on the Web.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Road to Grammar.

A good site: Road to Grammar.

Thanks to:

Today's quote:

"There are obviously two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live."

~ James Truslow Adams, as quoted in "The Crisis of the Humanities and Obama's Town Hall" (New Yorker)


Big Mac index.

Oct 15th 2010

From The Economist online

A weak currency, despite its appeal to exporters and politicians, is no free lunch. But it can provide a cheap one. In China a McDonald’s Big Mac costs just 14.5 yuan on average in Beijing and Shenzhen, the equivalent of $2.18 at market exchange rates. In America the same burger averages $3.71. That makes China’s yuan one of the most undervalued currencies in our Big Mac index, which is based on the idea of purchasing-power parity. This says that a currency’s price should reflect the amount of goods and services it can buy. Since 14.5 yuan can buy as much burger as $3.71, a yuan should be worth $0.26 on the foreign-exchange market. At just $0.15, it is undervalued by about 40%. The tensions caused by currency misalignments prompted Brazil’s finance minister to complain last month that his country was a potential casualty of a “currency war”. The Swiss, who avoid most wars, are in the thick of this one. Their franc is the most expensive currency on our list.

Drugs in Portugal: Did Decriminalization Work?

Drugs in Portugal: Did Decriminalization Work?

Pop quiz: Which European country has the most liberal drug laws? (Hint: It's not the Netherlands.)

Holland has never actually legalized cannabis — the Dutch simply don't enforce their laws against the shops. The correct answer is Portugal, which in 2001 became the first European country to officially abolish all criminal penalties for personal possession of drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.

At the recommendation of a national commission charged with addressing Portugal's drug problem, jail time was replaced with the offer of therapy. The argument was that the fear of prison drives addicts underground and that incarceration is more expensive than treatment — so why not give drug addicts health services instead? Under Portugal's new regime, people found guilty of possessing small amounts of drugs are sent to a panel consisting of a psychologist, social worker and legal adviser for appropriate treatment (which may be refused without criminal punishment), instead of jail.

The question is, does the new policy work? At the time, critics in the poor, socially conservative and largely Catholic nation said decriminalizing drug possession would open the country to "drug tourists" and exacerbate Portugal's drug problem; the country had some of the highest levels of hard-drug use in Europe. But the recently released results of a report commissioned by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, suggest otherwise.

The paper, published by Cato in April, found that in the five years after personal possession was decriminalized, illegal drug use among teens in Portugal declined and rates of new HIV infections caused by sharing of dirty needles dropped, while the number of people seeking treatment for drug addiction more than doubled.

"Judging by every metric, decriminalization in Portugal has been a resounding success," says Glenn Greenwald, an attorney, author and fluent Portuguese speaker, who conducted the research. "It has enabled the Portuguese government to manage and control the drug problem far better than virtually every other Western country does."

Compared to the European Union and the U.S., Portugal's drug use numbers are impressive. Following decriminalization, Portugal had the lowest rate of lifetime marijuana use in people over 15 in the E.U.: 10%. The most comparable figure in America is in people over 12: 39.8%. Proportionally, more Americans have used cocaine than Portuguese have used marijuana.

Portugal's case study is of some interest to lawmakers in the U.S., confronted now with the violent overflow of escalating drug gang wars in Mexico. The U.S. has long championed a hard-line drug policy, supporting only international agreements that enforce drug prohibition and imposing on its citizens some of the world's harshest penalties for drug possession and sales. Yet America has the highest rates of cocaine and marijuana use in the world, and while most of the E.U. (including Holland) has more liberal drug laws than the U.S., it also has less drug use.

"I think we can learn that we should stop being reflexively opposed when someone else does [decriminalize] and should take seriously the possibility that anti-user enforcement isn't having much influence on our drug consumption," says Mark Kleiman, director of the drug policy analysis program at UCLA. Kleiman does not consider Portugal a realistic model for the U.S., however, because of differences in size and culture between the two countries.


Death of the Walkman.

After three decades and 200 million sold, Sony pulls the plug on the cassette Walkman. CNN's Zain Verjee reports.

Brazil's richest man builds port.

October 21, 2010
Brazil's richest man tackles a logistics bottleneck with a mega port project. Shasta Darlington reports.

What is the most popular name in UK today? And what does it mean?

CNN's Atika Shubert reports on the top baby names for boys in Britain.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Quiz: Face2Face Upper-Intermediate Review - Vocabulary - Unit 1 to 11.

face2face Upper-Intermediate - Vocabulary Review
Unit 1 to 11

A Story of Loss and Love .

A Story of Loss and Love:
In 2004 Deb and Dan Dunham lost their son Jason to an insurgent's grenade in Iraq. Now the Scio, N.Y., couple is healing -- and being healed by -- another wounded Marine: Gunner, a bomb-sniffing dog traumatized by war.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010


Technology Killed the Video Store.

Blockbuster's bankruptcy last week has made it official: Technology is killing the video rental store-and a piece of American culture with it. Jessica Vascellaro joins Simon Constable and Lauren Goode to discuss how services like cable on-demand, Netflix and even 3-D movies are impacting the video rental model.

Why So Many People Can't Make Decisions.

SEPTEMBER 27, 2010

Why So Many People Can't Make Decisions.

Some people meet, fall in love and get married right away. Others can spend hours in the sock aisle at the department store, weighing the pros and cons of buying a pair of wool instead of cotton.

Seeing the world as black and white, in which choices seem clear, or shades of gray can affect people's path in life, from jobs and relationships to which political candidate they vote for, researchers say. People who often have conflicting feelings about situations—the shades-of-gray thinkers—have more of what psychologists call ambivalence, while those who tend toward unequivocal views have less ambivalence.

High ambivalence may be useful in some situations, and low ambivalence in others, researchers say. And although people don't fall neatly into one camp or the other, in general, individuals who tend toward ambivalence do so fairly consistently across different areas of their lives.
Now, researchers have been investigating how ambivalence, or lack of it, affects people's lives, and how they might be able to make better decisions. Overall, thinking in shades of gray is a sign of maturity, enabling people to see the world as it really is. It's a "coming to grips with the complexity of the world," says Jeff Larsen, a psychology professor who studies ambivalence at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.

If there isn't an easy answer, ambivalent people, more than black-and-white thinkers, are likely to procrastinate and avoid making a choice, for instance about whether to take a new job, says Dr. Harreveld.

Researchers can't say for sure why some people tend towards greater ambivalence. Certain personality traits play a role—people with a strong need to reach a conclusion in a given situation tend to black-and-white thinking, while ambivalent people tend to be more comfortable with uncertainty. Individuals who are raised in environments where their parents are ambivalent or unstable may grow to experience anxiety and ambivalence in future relationships, according to some developmental psychologists.

Culture may also play a role. In western cultures, simultaneously seeing both good and bad "violates our world view, our need to put things in boxes," says Dr. Larsen. But in eastern philosophies, it may be less problematic because there is a recognition of dualism, that something can be one thing as well as another.

One of the most widely studied aspects of ambivalence is how it affects thinking. Because of their strongly positive or strongly negative views, black-and-white thinkers tend to be quicker at making decisions than highly ambivalent people. But if they get mired in one point of view and can't see others, black-and-white thinking may prompt conflict with others or unhealthy thoughts or behaviors.

People with clinical depression, for instance, often get mired in a negative view of the world. They may interpret a neutral action like a friend not waving to them as meaning that their friend is mad at them, and have trouble thinking about alternative explanations.

Ambivalent people, on the other hand, tend to systematically evaluate all sides of an argument before coming to a decision. They scrutinize carefully the evidence that is presented to them, making lists of pros and cons, and rejecting overly simplified information.

Ambivalent individuals' ability to see all sides of an argument and feel mixed emotions appears to have some benefits. They may be better able to empathize with others' points of view, for one thing. And when people are able to feel mixed emotions, such as hope and sadness, they tend to have healthier coping strategies, such as when a spouse passes away, according to Dr. Larsen. They may also be more creative because the different emotions lead them to consider different ideas that they might otherwise have dismissed.

In the workplace, employees who are highly ambivalent about their jobs are more erratic in job performance; they may perform particularly well some days and poorly other times, says René Ziegler. Positive feedback for a highly ambivalent person, such as a pay raise, will boost their job performance more than for someone who isn't ambivalent about the job, he says.

Every job has good and bad elements. But people who aren't ambivalent about their job perform well if they like their work and poorly if they don't. Recognizing that a partner has strengths and weaknesses is normal, says Dr. Mikulincer. "A certain degree of ambivalence is a sign of maturity," he says.


Cartoon of the day.

Market Leader - Business Vocabulary in Use.

Career coaches: worth the investment?

Face2Face Pre-Intermediate - Unit 8

Career coaches: Worth the investment?

By Rachel Zupek,

( -- In the current state of our economy, more than 15 million people are unemployed. That's 15 million people who are all looking for a little help in the job search, writing a résumé, interview advice, networking or even finding a new career.

Many times, people who need job-search help hire a professional. Career coaches and counselors are usually certified professionals who focus on career exploration or choice, changing careers or helping you improve your résumé and perfect your interview skills.

In the 2009 International Coaching Federation Global Coaching Client Study, 15 percent of coaching clients said career opportunities are the most important reason to hire a coach, compared with business management (14 percent) and self-esteem or self-confidence (13 percent).

The study, which included input from more than 2,000 coaching clients in 64 countries, also cited more than 80 percent of respondents indicating a positive change in areas such as interpersonal skills, work performance and team effectiveness.

While career coaches can definitely be a useful resource, good advice doesn't come cheap. In a 2007 study by the coaching federation, which focused on coaches rather than clients, the average fee for a career coaching session was $161 per hour. Depending on your financial situation and employment status, considering you want more than one session, that's a high investment.

Although some people think their investment in a career coach was a waste of money, others think it was money well-spent.

Sixty-eight percent of individuals surveyed indicated that they had at least made back their initial investment in coaching in increased earnings from personal salaries or investments, or through increased savings through debt reduction, according to the coaching foundation study, which was conducted by Association Resource Centre and PricewaterhouseCoopers.


World Bank President on Global Economy.

October 4, 2010
World Bank president Robert Zoellick talks to Richard Quest ahead of the annual World Bank meeting in Washington.

Is a rented friend a real friend?

5 October 2010.

Is a rented friend a real friend?
By Claire Prentice New York

Claire and Jenny: good friends - for a fee 

Friend rental services are launching in more and more countries, including the UK. But would you rent a friend for the day?

Waiting in a cafe in Greenwich Village, New York, I wonder how I'll recognise my friend Jenny. She's running late and I'm starting to feel nervous. The truth is I've never met her before. All I know about Jenny Tam is that she just turned 30 and she rents herself out as a "friend" in her free time.

"Hi, I'm Jenny, it's good to meet you," says a woman smiling and extending her hand. After the waitress comes over and takes our order, we start chatting.

"I moved to New York from Los Angeles a year ago and I thought this would be a good way to make friends," says Jenny.

Over lunch we chat about where we're from, our families and our interests, just as you would on a first date. It feels like a strangely formal way to get to know a complete stranger, but in New York people are forever striking up conversations with people they've just met.

As the weirdness of the situation subsides and we start to chat about everything from astrology to literature and politics, it becomes apparent we have a lot in common.
It could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship, but it was all arranged online via And if I want to see her again it'll be in the knowledge that I have to pay for it.

"There are so many ways to meet people now. People marry people they meet online, so why not friends," says Jenny. "Rentafriend opens me up to meeting new people that I otherwise wouldn't meet."

She says she rarely charges the people who hire her. Instead she opts to let them pay for whatever social activity they get up to - bowling, dinner, the cinema, drinks.

"I guess some people who use the site are losers and maybe disconnected from a regular social life, but most people I've met seem normal. In a big city like New York it's not always easy to meet people," she says.

Rentafriend is the brainchild of Scott Rosenbaum. He got the idea after reading about similar websites in Asia, where people would hire someone to take to a work or family event. In transplanting the idea to North America, he decided to make it more of a friendship-cum-social networking site, designed to take advantage of the fact that nowadays people often live far away from where they grew up and work long hours, leaving limited time to meet new people. After starting in America and Canada, Rentafriend is now in countries as far afield as China, Chile, Israel, India and Italy. A UK site was launched earlier this year. Rosenbaum says there are an estimated 285,000 friends available for rent worldwide on his sites, and 2,600 paid members.

It is not, he insists, a form of escort or dating service, something which is explicitly stated on the site. But by getting people to pay for friendship, aren't you just exploiting their insecurities?

"No, we are helping people," says Mr Rosenbaum. "As the internet has replaced face-to-face time, there are a lot of people out there who want to get out and socialise with new people but it has got harder to meet people."

So what do the sites say about our changing attitudes to friendship?

"With new technology, we've expanded the definition of friendship," says Keith Campbell, a professor of psychology at the University of Georgia, who has conducted studies on the changing nature of human relationships. 'Friend' has become a word we use unthinkingly and it's almost ruined as a result. It started before we had 'friends' on Facebook whom we've never met. But the abuse of this crucial part of human existence surely sinks even lower with the notion that you can rent a friend. "You just need to look at Facebook where people have hundreds, even thousands of friends. They are not true friendships as defined in the past."

Though they might offer the benefits of convenience and efficiency, some question the effects on your self esteem of paying people to spend time with you. In Manhattan, some "friends" rent themselves out like personal assistants to do tasks like collecting laundry or walking the dog. Others are a hired shoulder to cry on.


Monday, 4 October 2010

Why does Starbucks want to be your friend on Facebook?

More and more companies are using social networking to connect with their customers. Starbucks, for example, has over 14m 'friends' on Facebook and BP joined Twitter in the wake of the Louisiana oil spill.

Rory Cellan-Jones reports.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

FACE2FACE Pre-Intermediate - Unit 8 - Work Stress

Work stress.

By Nick Triggle
Health reporter, BBC News

Employers need to pay more attention to the levels of stress and anxiety in the workplace, key NHS advisers say.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence said the cost of work related mental illness was £28bn - a quarter of the UK's total sick bill.

Bad managers were the single biggest cause of problems, the group claimed.

But it said simple steps such as giving positive feedback, allowing flexible working and giving extra days off as a reward could cut the impact by a third.

Professor Cary Cooper, an expert in workplace psychology from Lancaster University who helped draw up the recommendations, said: "You cannot overestimate the importance of saying 'Well done' to staff, but so often it does not happen.

"Managers will tell you when you are doing something wrong, but not when you are doing it right."

As well as taking measures like these, NICE urged employers to invest in training for managers and mentoring for staff to help career development.

More than 13 million working days a year are lost because of work related stress, anxiety and depression. Once the pay of staff, lost productivity and replacing ill employees are taken into account, the cost to employers hits £28.3bn a year.

But he said the problem was not just to do with staff taking time off.

"Presenteeism, where people come to work but add no value, is if anything more of a problem, especially during a recession.

"People are so scared that they go to work when they are not fit to," said Prof Cooper.

His remarks are supported by a recent survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development which revealed a quarter of UK workers describe their mental health as moderate or poor, yet nearly all continued to work regularly.

The NICE report said with the right environment work can even be a force for good as it can offer stability, purpose, friendship and distraction.

But a spokesman for the Confederation of British Industry said: "The mental health of staff is something firms should, or better, make a priority.


Why men hurt worse after breakups.

Why Men Hurt Worse After Breakups.

The good people over at the Journal of Health and Social Behavior have recently published a report stating that it's men, not women, who tend to suffer more after a breakup.

Their reasons make sense; women are more likely to confide in close friends and family members after a breakup, talking through their emotions, whereas men are more likely to confide in bottles of Jameson. I happen to know, from personal experience, that this study is absolutely, 100 percent true.
After all, when I broke up with a woman I really liked, all I did was move clear across the country. Such is the power of heartbreak: It can make a man who is horrible at cleaning, organizing and packing spend hours cleaning, organizing and packing his entire life.

I think the idea of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior study isn't that men lack people to talk to after a breakup -- God knows I had plenty of people to chat with -- but that we're unwilling or unable to talk about the way we feel. I talked incessantly, in fact, to whoever would listen -- my sister, my female friends, and girls at work.

Note, however, that I felt I couldn't really talk about it with any of my male friends. There is some sort of genetic coding there that prevents dudes from getting to the heart of matters of the heart with other dudes. Not that my guy friends weren't willing, it's just that I was uncomfortable/unsure/nervous about my pale and naked suffering.

What happened was fairly typical, really. Over the course of about 16 months, I harbored intense feelings for a co-worker. Then, like magic, one night at around 2:30 a.m. she texted me. Those moments in life, so rare, so beautiful, when you know -- you just know -- something big happened. I remember standing in my bedroom looking at myself in the mirror, a moment before I left to take a late-night cab and head to her place, that everything was about to change. In the beginning, it almost seemed like she liked me more. There was this strange reversal at the start where I had that all-important edge in the relationship, because equality in feelings between two people is pretty much a myth; one person always likes the other just a little bit more.

We broke up on New Year's Eve. I was pretty much inconsolable. She was promising me it would be OK, that everything would eventually be OK. I became enraged with conviction that I was supposed to marry her.

Every bar, the names of streets -- it all somehow felt like a memory of her.
So I cleaned and organized and packed. I moved from the west coast to the east coast and started a brand new life in New York, as far away from her as I could get in the continental United States.

I still think of her from time to time. Good thoughts, mostly. She's now married, with a daughter, and I'm happy for her. I just wish that when our relationship ended, I had not suffered so much.


Quote of the day.

Selected articles.

US issues travel alert for Americans in Europe

Intelligence sources say al-Qaeda plans to carry out attacks in the UK, France and Germany
The US government has warned its citizens in an official travel advisory to be vigilant travelling in Europe, amid fears of an al-Qaeda commando-style attack.

Sinopec of China buys $7.1bn stake in Repsol Brasil

Chinese oil firm Sinopec is to pay $7.1bn (£4.5bn) for a 40% stake in the Brazilian energy projects of Repsol.

Not depressed, just sad, lonely or unhappy

Cases of depression have grown around the world. But while awareness of the illness has helped lift the stigma it once attracted, have we lost touch with the importance of just feeling sad, asks Mary Kenny.

Mid-life crisis begins in mid-30s, Relate survey says

A receding hairline may be the least of a 30-something man's worries
Work and relationship pressures make the mid-30s the start of many British people's unhappiest decade, a survey suggests.

Student kills himself after gay sex footage put online

Tyler Clementi was a first year student at Rutgers University in New Jersey
A New Jersey college student has leapt to his death a day after authorities said two students secretly filmed him having sex with a man and broadcast it over the internet.

J.K. Rowling hints to Oprah there could be more 'Harry Potter'

Latest unemployed: Stimulus-subsidized workers

Tens of thousands of low-income workers lost their jobs Thursday as a stimulus-subsidized employment program came to an end.

Creative Management Practices for Making Work Work

Smart companies are coming up with bold ideas to keep employees engaged, while offering them ways to faciliate career and lifestyle changes

Is modern life a bar to marriage?

New Labour leader Ed Miliband has said he intends to marry partner Justine Thornton but that political events have prevented them setting a date. So, does modern life get in the way of marriage?

Teen slang: What's, like, so wrong with like?
Actress Emma Thompson says young people make themselves sound stupid by speaking slang outside of school. But while the use of the word "like" might annoy her, it fulfils a useful role in everyday speech.

Proverb of the day.

Once bitten, twice shy.

When something or someone has hurt you once, you tend to avoid that thing or person.
Something that you say which means when you have had an unpleasant experience you are much more careful to avoid similar experiences in the future.

 e.g. After he left her she refused to go out with anyone else for a long time - once bitten, twice shy, I suppose.
        I once sent in money for something I saw advertised in the back of a magazine, but the merchandise was of such poor quality I was sorry I'd bought it. I'll never buy anything that way again; once bitten, twice shy.


Cartoon of the day.

Words in the news: Bid.

Tens of thousands of people accused of crimes from minor assault to criminal damage would no longer be locked up awaiting trial under plans to ease prison overcrowding, says The Times.

The free alternatives below show different meanings of the word 'bid', They are all correct but in the context of the newspaper headline, what does 'bid' mean?
a) An offer or proposal of a price, as in: "He tried to buy the painting at the auction but his bid was too low."

b) The amount offered or proposed, as in: "They lost the contract because their bid was too low compared to others."

c) an attempt or try, as in, "a bid to save the trapped miners in Chile."

'You're Never Off The Phone!'

'You're Never Off The Phone!'

People are spending almost half their waking day using some form of technology, Ofcom research shows.

Cheap Clothing Future Hangs By A Thread.

Cheap Clothing Future Hangs By A Thread
It may be the start of a new fashion season, but cheap clothes could be scarce with cotton prices reaching a 15-year high - as Sky News' Jane Dougall reports.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Internet and cyber bullying.

Internet safety experts talk about cyber bully prevention in the wake of Tyler Clementi's death.

Emerging markets may be the next bubble.


Bubble: An economic bubble occurs when speculation in a commodity causes the price to increase, thus producing more speculation. The price of the good then reaches absurd levels and the bubble is usually followed by a sudden drop in prices, known as a crash.

Equity issuance: In financial markets, an equity issuance is the sale of new equity or stock by a firm to investors. Equity issuance can involve a private sale, in which the transaction between investors and the firm takes place directly, or publicly, in which case the firm has to register the securities with the authorities and the sale takes place in an organized market, open to any registered investor, a process more akin to an auction. Two common types of public equity issuance are initial public offerings (IPOs) and seasoned equity offerings (SEOs). This is one of the ways firms finance themselves, that is, they obtain funds from investors in order to engage in business.

No-brainer: something which requires little or no mental effort.

Outperformance: To outperform: To surpass (another) in performance.

Counter-intuitive: Contrary to what intuition or common sense would indicate.

Rule of thumb: a rough and practical approach, based on experience, rather than a scientific or precise one based on theory.

Boom-and-bust cycles: A type of cycle experienced by an economy characterized by alternating periods of economic growth and contraction. During booms an economy will see an increase in its production and GDP. During busts an economy will see a fall in production and an increase in unemployment.

Displacement: act of taking the place of another, a replacement, a substitution.

High-yielding: Description of investments with high rates of return.

Inflow: Increase in the amount of money available from external or foreign sources for the purchase of local capital assets such buildings, land, machines.

The last great hope.

Emerging markets may be the next bubble .

Sep 30th 2010 .

THE internet allowed people to pay lower prices for books but also encouraged them to pay stratospheric prices for shares in lossmaking dotcom companies. During the subprime boom Americans believed the illusion that they could get rich by buying each other’s houses.

Those dreams may have been shattered. But hope springs eternal. There is still one great hope left for investors: emerging markets. Fund managers have been making the case for emerging markets on a regular basis over the past 20 years. Developing countries offer higher economic-growth rates, have younger, more dynamic populations and are under-represented in the global stockmarket. Buying a stake in emerging markets is like buying a stake in the future.

Goldman Sachs, for example, reckons that the total capitalisation of emerging markets will rise from $14 trillion today to $80 trillion by 2030, increasing from 31% of the global total to 55% in the process. Even allowing for new equity issuance, that will still translate into an annualised return of 9.3%, Goldman estimates, compared with just 4% for developed markets. It seems like a no-brainer.

But experience should teach investors to be suspicious of no-brainer decisions. The same arguments were advanced in the early 1990s, after all. But between 1991 and 2000 emerging markets delivered a total return of just 38% and developed markets returned 171%. Outperformance came only in the decade just gone, with emerging markets almost quadrupling investors’ capital since the end of 2000.

Elroy Dimson, Paul Marsh and Mike Staunton of the London Business School examined their database of 17 national stockmarkets since 1900. Using a variety of tests, they found virtually no correlation between an individual country’s GDP growth rate per head and the returns to investors.

What is the explanation for this rather counter-intuitive result? One answer is that a stockmarket is not a perfect facsimile of an economy. Many companies are unquoted. Those businesses that have floated on the market may be mature, or slower-growing, or simply overweight in one sector. In 1900 Wall Street was dominated by railroad stocks, for example.

A second answer is that growth countries may behave like growth stocks. A period of strong performance leads to overvaluation, from which subsequent returns are inevitably disappointing.

Has that stage arrived? The old rule of thumb was that emerging markets were pricey when they traded at a higher multiple of profits than their developed counterparts, as they did in 1999 and 2007 just before sharp falls in prices. At the moment they trade at a modest discount.

But emerging markets are prone to boom-and-bust cycles. They have suffered three 25%-plus losses in the past 20 calendar years, and five years in which annual returns have exceeded 50%. International investors have probably been behind much of the volatility, pushing the markets this way and that as they switch between enthusiasm and risk aversion.

It is quite possible that another boom is on its way. Bubbles, as described by Charles Kindleberger, a financial historian, usually involve an initial displacement, followed by rapid credit creation and then a phase of euphoria.

The displacement may have been the financial crisis of 2007-08 which undermined the solvency of the developed world. As governments propped up their banks, their debts soared. On average emerging-market governments now have much lower debt-to-GDP ratios than their developed peers. Economic power seems to have made a decisive shift.

The crisis was followed by the slashing of interest rates in the developed world. These have had a limited effect in reviving lending in Western economies. But they have encouraged Western investors to buy higher-yielding assets, like emerging-market equities. Emerging-market equity funds have already received inflows of $45 billion this year, according to EPFR Global, a research group. And low rates will also boost credit creation in those developing countries that import American monetary policy via managed exchange rates.

Euphoria will follow as cheap money drives up asset prices—this may have already happened in parts of the Asian property market. Investors probably have no option but to ride the wave, if only because the outlook for developed markets looks so flat. There is, at least, more solidity to emerging markets than there was to dotcom stocks.


Quiz: Market Leader Pre-Intermediate - Reported Speech.

FACE2FACE Pre-Intermediate - Unit 8

Face2Face Pre-Intermediate Reading and Writing Portfolio - Unit 8

Face2Face - Pre-Intermediate - Unit 8

Connecting words: comparisons, similarities and differences.

  1. Compared ___ the UK, the USA is a lot cheaper.

  2. with

  3. Many Americans are _____ people in other countries.

  4. as

  5. Spanish food is _____ French food.

  6. like

  7. Houses in the UK are much smaller, especially compared __ the houses in the USA.

  8. by

  9. ____comparison with the British, Italians dress much better.

  10. In

  11. The British accent is different ______ the American accent.

  12. from

  13. The cost of renting a flat in London is similar ____ the prices in New York.

  14. to

  15. Compared ____ my city, yours has a much better quality of life.

  16. in

  17. Salaries in my country are _____ those in yours. They're much lower.

  18. like

  19. In comparison ____ Paris, London is cheaper.

  20. to

Social networking.

Jun 15th 2010

From The Economist online

THE world's internet users spent 110 billion minutes on social-networking sites in April, double the amount of time compared with a year earlier, according to the most recent monthly data from Nielsen. Nearly a quarter of all time online is now used to keep up with friends (and sometimes strangers). In Brazil, 86% of all internet users logged on to a social-networking site in April, the highest proportion of the ten countries surveyed. The Italians and Spanish also like to keep in touch. An average internet user in Australia spends the most time (7.3 hours) on social-networking sites each month, perhaps keeping in touch with friends abroad.

The cost of living in cities.

PARIS is the most expensive city to live in, according to the latest survey from The Economist. The survey assesses the cost of living by comparing housing, food, clothing, transport and bills in 132 cities around the world. Tokyo comes second, up from sixth place a year ago. The fall in Russia's currency against the dollar has made Moscow cheaper than it once was.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Quiz: Face2Face Upper-Intermediate Review - Vocabulary - Unit 1 to 11.

Cartoon of the day.

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