“I am sorry, could you please repeat that?”

It is not often that something leaves me with my mouth gaping open as I struggle for something to say, but the following quote made by Jack Ablin succeeded.  The BBC news item is titled  ‘Dow industrials hit pre-crash 13,000 landmark’.  Mr Ablin’s astonishing intellect was bought to bear and the remarkable insight that has been reported, is as follows;

“I think it’s a momentous day for investor confidence,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank.

“What this number implies is that the financial crisis, that we were all losing sleep over, it never happened because now we’re back.”

I am sure that I heard a collective cheer echoing around the world from the millions of unemployed and homeless who suddenly realised that actually the financial crisis never happened and they can all go back to their previous lives.

Some final considered advice.  If you have any money in Harris Private Bank, it might be a good move to take out as soon as you can before Mr Ablin invests it.

To read the news article click this link.

To leave your thoughts on Jack’s Facebook page you can go here

Or you can read Jack’s bio here

Costa “Castrated”

First it was the Costa Concordia which had the side ripped out as the captain was “saluting”his friends, now it is the Costa Allegra floating without engines or electricity after a serious fire in the engine room.

The first incident cost the company a fortune in both lost future revenues for this year, passenger compensation and costs and of course the inevitable legal claims that will come.

 I can imagine that the CEO and the other company executives had just begun to regain some degree of sleep after the first farce had slipped from the front pages of the world’s news agencies.

I would have given anything to hear the first words to come from the CEO’s mouth when he answered the call 2 days ago about the Costa Allegra.  I suspect that they may have been something like “you have got to be fucking joking!” as he sat bolt upright from his bed or desk getting to grips with – another of his ships out of action, no refrigeration or air conditioning, no electricity, no entertainment, no cold beer, no engines, passenger compensation, helicopter provisioning flights, elite military squads to repel potential Somali pirates and more front page news than he can deal with.

You can only sympathise with the stakeholders and investors who must all be wondering what they have done to be so thoroughly “fucked by the fickle finger of fate”.

Laura Dekker – why Holland has no modern heroes

Laura Dekker the 16-year-old Dutch girl, is about to complete her circumnavigation of the world in her twin masted sailboat ‘Guppy’.  This young girl is remarkable.  At the age of 6 she was sailing a small boat across lakes, at 13 she sailed from The Netherlands to England, and back.  She is the youngest person to ever have completed this trip.

So why my comment in the headline?  When it became public knowledge that Laura, then aged 13 was planning this trip, in jumps Dutch authorities – Netherlands Youth Institute.  Without meeting her and without talking to her they made a court application to have her removed from her father and locked up in a secure facility to prevent her from leaving.  When this failed, they went back to court four more times.  Fortunately the judiciary had more intelligence than the Youth Institute.  So eventually, she is free to go and heads off on her adventure.  It would be reasonable at this point to expect that the authorities expended their energies on how to support this remarkable young girl, but no, earlier this month truancy officers issued her father with a summons claiming that the schoolgirl had been failing to complete her homework on time.  She doesn’t always have access to the internet and her time is usually preoccupied with storms, sleeping and the safety of herself and Guppy.  Frankly I find it amazing that the authorities here have not reached the conclusion that any 14-year-old that can learn all the skills needed to sail a boat single-handedly around the world, would probably not benefit from a standard Dutch education.

So having done something of this magnitude, you would expect that Laura is about to return to a heroes welcome in Holland.  Sadly not. Instead Laura chose the Dutch Caribbean island of St Maarten as the arrival point because she feared the presence of social services if she returned directly to her native Netherlands

The opportunity that Laura presents for this country as a symbol of determination, skill, intelligence, spirit and individual courage is clearly not as important as this years version of “Voice of Holland” where the country goes into a frenzy to vote and applaud someone who will slide into utter obscurity within 6 months.  It cannot come as any surprise that Laura says that although she loves the Netherlands, she is unlikely to return because she finds it too stifling – now there is a surprise!

I do have to point out that Laura was actually born on a boat in Whangarei Harbour, New Zealand 🙂

You can read the full news article on the BBC website.  You can also read her story on her own website here.

 

Let me write this before I forget!

I just read this and its something I hope not to forget 🙂

A recent study by the Yale School of Public Health and the National Institute of Aging in Baltimore conducted a long-term study following and testing hundreds of men and women over a period of 38 years.

Researchers assessed their memory every six years from 1968 until 1991 and then every two years.  They presented participants with 10 cards containing geometric shapes and then asked them to reproduce the figures.  They also presented participants with stereotypes such as “old people are absent-minded” and “old people can concentrate well” and asked to what extent they agreed.

The results were striking.  The more positive people were about ageing and the fewer negative stereotypes they held, the more they retained their powers of memory.  Those with gloomy views of old age lost their memory earlier.  When negative participants were 70, their memories were only as good as the optimistic 73 year olds.  By 80 the gap had widened to six years and by 90 they had the same recall powers as the cheerful 99 year olds.  Overall there was a 30% greater memory decline for those aged 60 and above in the more negative stereotype group.

The study found another effect.  Researchers asked participants when they thought people became old.  Those who believed that they were not old yet had better memories.

Perhaps there is truth in the old saying “You are only as old as you feel”.

DragonDictate is so cool

Well this is going to be an experiment. Yesterday I got a copy of Dragon Dictate 11 and decided to install it on this computer. I was extremely curious to understand how this program worked after reading an e-mail sent to a friend of mine that was dictated entirely using this program. At one level it’s extremely easy to use, you just need to talk. However the truth is that the real trick to controlling this program and to become productive, is to understand the command structure. Not only are there commands for controlling punctuation, corrections, editing and formatting text and moving around your document, there are also hundreds of commands for controlling your desktop writing e-mails, sending e-mails, using your address book, using calendars, using the web, searching on the web, copying text, pasting.

What I’m also finding the challenge is that after years and years of using a keyboard input text your brain is wired to actually create sentences in such a way that you can write them quickly and easily.  What I am finding with this program is that you have to learn to create your sentences completely differently, probably using a different part of your brain, and to speak these sentences in away that requires minimal changes, and minimal editing. This is clearly going to be quite a steep learning curve. I have to admit that I really am quite amazed at the accuracy of this program. The amount of spelling errors is really minimal and correcting them is actually quite easy. All you need to do is tell the program to select certain word, which it does really quickly and then it also displays a drop-down list of all the alternative words that you may have meant. Each of the suggestions is numbered and then all you have to do is choose the correct number and it automatically corrects the word.

Within any application you can choose the file commands at the top, you can select the sub commands, and the sub commands below that. I can also switch between open programs on the desktop, take certain actions by voice, and then minimise that program or switch between another one.

All in all, I’m really quite amazed by this program. In truth writing this post would have been a lot faster using a keyboard but I can see that with some practice, learning the commands and knowing how to use them correctly, I think it would be a much faster alternative to using a keyboard. This entire post has been written and corrected just using my voice.

If anyone else is using DragonDictate, I’ll be really interested to hear your feedback, your experience, and how long it took you to become proficient in its use.

Only $2bn???

The last few days has provided interesting reading.  Poor Kweku, he has clearly fucked up.  There is debate about whether he lived a flashy lifestyle, there is discussion about what this might mean for UBS, there is discussion about risk management, but no where has there really been any discussion that puts this into context.

Consider this – there are 39 countries whose 2010 annual GDP was less than $2bn (CIA World Fact book).

$2bn would support 66,000 unemployed, uninsured Americans for a year.

or, provide education to 10 million underprivileged children for one year in Africa.

So the question really is, how can everything be so completely fucked up that when we read that poor Kweku has blown $2bn, the world essentially shrugs it shoulders and reacts in a manner that would suggest that Granny lost her purse containing her $100 pension money?  Why have we collectively learnt to tolerate this?

We are living in world that is on a knifes edge of falling of a precipice and will impact our children’s children, solely because of human avarice and greed.  In almost every country and society if a person enters your home and forcibly removes your money and valuables, people react with shock and express the pain they have suffered from having their personal space invaded and of having something forcibly removed from them.  How is it that a single profession has executed the largest theft of value in human history and we shrug our shoulders and run to the local Starbucks for our next coffee (and in the process get scalped again, but that’s a different story)?

If you think that it isn’t really about human greed and that it doesn’t really concern you, spend one minute and think properly about the quote in the FT this morning related to the impact of Kweku’s trading – “The big concern for all my UBS friends now is that they are not going to get their bonuses” 

Well fuck me.

 

My advice: Wear Sunscreen

Doing some research last night I came across this clip and ended up watching it 7 times in the space of a couple of hours.  The repetition came from showing it to my two daughter as well as my friends who were eating with us, however I did watch each time because the video had a real impact by reminding me (again) that life is indeed very short and how easily we waste it.  Above everything else I want my daughters to be free.  Free in their minds to embrace life in a manner similar to this clip.  When I pick them up or drop them off at their home I see people who have been born in that area, grew up and went to school, got married and then repeated the whole process sitting in their little houses not really understanding that life has just passing by.  Now it is definitely not my place to judge nor criticise, I just know that for myself that concept freaks me out and I sincerely hope that my daughters continue to use this video as a benchmark for their young lives.

 

If you are interested, Ki’une has an interesting website called Risingbean which provides a lot of thought and inspiration.