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Category Archives: Travel

Owning the Long Commute

The volatile economy has forced more and more Americans to go where the work is instead of seeking jobs in their own hometowns. Long range commutes are no longer uncommon. Though everyone’s got to do what they can to survive it does put a strain on families when one parent is coming and going on a regular basis. Plus it isn’t too easy on the traveler, either. But here are a few simple ways to help ease the pangs of separation and travel.

Stay Connected

Thanks to technology there are plenty of ways to stay in the loop with each other. In addition to phone calls and texts don’t forget to set up specific times for video chatting with your family. If you have a young child maybe you can even be part of the bedtime rituals even if you’re across the country.

Also note that while traveling it’s easy to lose track of the days so be careful not to miss out on any important dates like birthdays and anniversaries. If you can’t be there in person still make a concentrated effort to have a presence by sending flowers or gifts and making phone calls no matter what the time difference. Keep communication open with family members and be as consistent and present as you possibly can.

Maintain Continuity

If your work takes you to many destinations in a short amount of time it is very easy to feel disconnected and confused. So wherever you are create some sense of ritual and continuity with photos, candles, a robe and slippers… any touches of home that your eyes can light on upon waking and going to sleep will have a stabilizing effect. There’s a reason high-end touring musicians have specific demands for dressing room continuity – not all requests are to be outlandish, some are to give a sense of home.

Make Use of Drive Times

If you’re driving long distances you’ve got ample time to listen to podcasts, language lessons or recorded books. And if you’ve got a hands-free arrangement you can tackle long talks as well. Just be careful that the stories you listen to aren’t snoozers that will make you sleepy.

And of course music was made for the road so don’t forget to create some spectacular playlists for your highways excursions. Feeling tired? Pump up the volume and rock!

Be Engaged When Home

If you’re away for long stretches at a time it can be difficult to fold yourself back into the daily routine back at home. It can be difficult for your family, too. If possible, try to talk about what you all need from one another, even if it’s just a few hours extra sleep or the chance to lounge by the pool for one quiet day. But as soon as you can start being engaged with the daily household events again. It would be easy to be too tired to attend band recitals or soccer games but these are times you can’t get back so be sure to make the most of them while you have them and to enjoy.

Long haul commutes aren’t easy but there are ways like these that can help smooth out the rough edges – giving you the chance to make the most of your time while away and when home again.

Written by Emily Rankin. Are you insured for those long drives? www.carinsurance.org.uk

 

Communication Skills for Business Across Cultures

If your company deals with international clients communication skills are invaluable to avoid translation or cultural differences. A gesture or phrase that is fairly common or positive for us could be seen as rude or impolite to other cultures; this is why it’s important to improve on communication skills.

Disagreement Requires Tact

For example, in western culture a respectful disagreement with a manager or boss is for the most part encouraged or welcome if you can back it up with a valid point however in other cultures an outright disagreement (respectful or otherwise) is considered inappropriate and rude. Which is why it’s doubly important to have good communication skills when expressing disagreement since it will take subtle tact and suggestion in order to effectively communicate; some western cultures will not even pick up on a disagreement expressed if they don’t understand it’s considered impolite to disagree outright in other cultures.

When Business Links Aren’t Enough

When it comes to western culture business relationships are merely business; it’s important to them to keep them professional. However, in other cultures it is expected that business and personal relationships are intertwined. Communication skills and techniques go far beyond the bounds of simple business; it’s often considered impolite to immediately begin work without inquiring about health or family for many cultures. We may think we’re being professional, but for many cultures business etiquette is not enough.

Addressing Authority

Key communication skills level the playing field when it comes to the all important addressing of authority. In western culture we may be comfortable calling our boss by their first name if we have a good repertoire with them, but this is not true for all cultures. When in doubt always properly address a client or potential partner formally. Keep in mind that while most western cultures have someone’s first name first and surname second, other cultures prefer to do this in reverse. Also nicknames may be common in the immediate workplace but it’s expected that formal addressing continues much longer than in other cultures than in western cultures.

Nonverbal Communication

Finally, skills for effective communication are not limited to verbal speech alone; there are many nonverbal gestures that need to be mastered before we attempt them. For example, our “thumbs up” is a positive sign of agreement or confidence, but it would be considered incredibly offensive to certain cultures. While we all know it’s important to maintain eye contact, depending on the situation this could be incredibly offensive. Standing close to someone, sitting down first at a meeting, reading a business card in front of the person presenting it and even using your left hand to give something is all gestures that are could be construed as negative; so keep this in mind.

All is not lost however; researchers have found that a genuine smile is universally understood to be positive; one does not need communication skills to show a good old fashioned free smile.

Eugene Calvini is a writer and an office expert; he has given pointers from serviced offices Hong Kong to serviced offices Canary Wharf and is happy to share his insight online.

 

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Here, Take my Wallet; a Cynic’s Guide to Travel

Do you ever get tired of having to chain your wallets to your belt to keep from getting hosed?

My wife and I are off tomorrow for a long deserved vacation at my favorite beach spot, which shall remain nameless, but you will all probably recognize.  We live near San Francisco; I have all my life, and have no illusion that there are banditos in every major city and vacation area we have ever been in.  I would say that it’s global, but there are places that they cut people’s hands off for that kind of thing, I just have never been there.

Having been a road warrior and international vacationer for 30+ years, and my wife been in corporate travel management almost as long, it seems like we’ve been screwed by just about every nationality from Cabo to Rome to Boston and back home.

This trip will be no different, were just getting smarter.  Last time we were down, we reserved a car from National, Paid the liability insurance, and arrived at the desk to pick up our car to be informed (again, it happens every year) that we were required to take their collision insurance as well.  This raised the price of our “economy” car from $16 a day to $45 a day.  $29 a day for insurance?  How is it that I can insure two $35,000 + cars in a major metropolitan area for less than $7 a day for two people, but in my favorite not so little resort area it costs $29 to insure a freeking five year old  Volkswagen Jetta?  Gotcha!

I tried my usual offer to the manager to leave a deposit on my credit card, which has worked for the last 30 years.  No dice.  They apparently have now unionized.  I looked at all the discount offers on the internet and they are all the same.  They offer really cheap car rates, then tack on the extra fees much the way airlines have started charging for bags.  To add insult to injury, to avoid the bandits at the airport we decided to take a transfer to our time-share, and then get a car a few days later from the concierge.  They now have a National Rent-a-Car in the lobby (it is a Sheraton property) and the car that the thieves at the airport wanted $45 a day for, is now being pimped for $65 a day.  Being that we have two golf courses, 6 pools, 3 restaurants,  two small stores with relatively reasonable prices, and we are bringing enough of our own food for several meals, I think we can whale watch for 3 or 4 days and then rent a car to go through the tourist corridor to have our Cheeseburger in Paradise next to Sammy Hagar’s joint.  We can get enough snorkeling in before we leave, and return home with the usual stories of the Marlin that got away.

Since we will be returning the car full to avoid their $10 a gallon surcharge, we will have the wonderful experience of the gas station once again.  Not only are you not allowed to pump your own gas, got forbid there is ANY action that does not involve at least three layers of tipping; there is always the payment game.  It is absolutely imperative to watch the gas pump.  Somehow if you don’t, your Jetta miraculously needed 30 gallons of gas in a 20 gallon tank.  No I am not confusing liters for gallons, I can do the math.

When you pay in the local currency the exchange rate is usually pretty simple, like 10:1.  If it is supposed to be 11.5:1, you still get 10.  Not a huge problem.  In several countries the denominations of bills are suspiciously colored for similar denominations.  In this case a 500 is the same color as a 50.  Be very very careful when you hand a 500 to someone, you make him acknowledge that you have indeed handed him the 500.  I’ve had this one pulled on me on three continents.  They take the red 500, go back to the cash register (always out of eye shot) and come back and hold out a 50 and tell you that indeed, that was what you had given them.  Easy 450 for them, and there isn’t a damn thing you can do about it.

I’ve had two camera bags actually cut off of my person, or someone I was with.  They come up behind you on a Vespa motorcycle, silent and small, slice the strap, grab, and are gone.  They don’t even have to slow down much to do it.  I’ve been pick-pocketed by a five year old while stopped to give a supposedly dying old lady a dollar.  We’ve endured the slums of Mumbai and Bangalore and grossly physically deformed beggars in Bahia del Salvador.   I’ve had a knife pulled on me near Haight-Ashbury in my own home town.  Has that ever stopped me from travelling? No, I just have become a bit more cautious in my old age.

Enough of my whining.  It’s time to pack my tequila, salt, and ice chest so I can be sipping from my $18 quart bottle of Hornitos while I watch the bloated turistos from Milwaukee drinking their $10 watered down margaritas by the pool.  I fear we have watched far too much Tony Bourdain to not have become somewhat jaded.

 

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Megacities and the Scale of the Future

  by Mike Macartney

Demographic trends in society are pointing towardsmegacities, defined as populations of 10 million or more, as the future for how most people on the planet will live. There are 21 such cities today and they include Cairo, Mexico City, Lagos, Los Angeles, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Manila, Moscow, Tehran, London, Paris, and others, growing every day. Tokyo was at 34 million in 2011. These cities and what supports them are at the core issues of scale and sustainability.

  • How large will these cities grow?
  • How will people in the future supply them with energy, food, water, transportation, jobs, housing, education, health care, and not least of all, entertainment?
  • How will these cities fit into national models – will they become city-states like earlier times in human history?

Scientific groups like the Santa Fe Institute are studying that very sustainability. Other, informal web based groups of people like New Geography are also thinking about what cities and human society will become.

The issue of scale may be the defining issue of the 21st century. The solutions are not simple or even invented yet. For example, it is well known in investment circles that alternative energy does not scale like the Information Age cornerstones of semiconductors, telecommunications, and software. Because of the laws of physics in the universe we live in alternative energy requires large investments in land, labor, and raw materials. These are needed to provide grid energy systems like the current fossil fuel and nuclear powered electrical grids. Innovation in alternative energy is not information or knowledge based. It is execution and implementation based. Even if we think we know how to do it, we still have to get it done. Very large physical scale collection and distribution systems are required to implement alternative energy solutions. Presently, the profit for investment in large-scale energy systems ties to large-scale tax systems. These are linked to government subsidies and government funded infrastructure build-out to solve the scale problem. Will the same go for alternative energy?

The scale needed for alternative energy competes directly with the scale needed for agriculture, housing, environmental preservation, and transportation. One example is the Three Gorges Dam project in China that displaced over 1-million people. Hydroelectric power systems are solar energy systems. The water behind a dam is stored solar energy. Very large amounts of land are required for hydroelectric systems just like for proposed solar, wind, and biomass systems. All the systems require very large solar collectors to operate in a grid power model. Efficiency can never be greater than one. There is no Moore’s Law of exponential growth hidden in the current efficiencies of a few tens-of-a-percent and 100-percent in alternative energy collection components. Are grid power systems the future of alternative energy?

The solutions to the scale problems of megacities with high consumption rates of food, energy, and living space are complex and competing. Complexity is one of the areas of study by scientific think tanks like the Santa Fe Institute and government funded institutions like Harvard University and MIT. How do you think scale will be achieved to support megacities in the future?

About the Author

Mike Macartney

Mike holds a BS and MS in mechanical engineering with emphasis in heat transfer and computational fluid dynamics. As a staff system engineer he developed advanced cooling systems for more than 15 different spacecraft and missiles, ranging from cryogenically cooled sensors and pre-amplifiers to on-orbit problem resolution of failing spacecraft. Mike has managed over 200 proposals for advanced aerospace systems, and terrestrial IT systems and custom code development for corporate customers.

Mike has advised start-up companies and high-tech incubators wishing to “spin-in” technologies from NASA and the National Laboratories as well as helped Russian enterprises do business in Silicon Valley. Mike has been a founder in three start-up companies for enterprise SW and publishing as well as a trade show manager for NASA technology transfer activities, and an executive liaison manager to facilitate business cooperation between aggressive Fortune 500 competitors. Mike has developed reengineered business processes for quality control, proposal development, and lean manufacturing.

He currently operates a small publishing company, Shoot Your Eye Out Publishing

 

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What’s the Deal with the Northern Lights?

You see them displayed in Christmas movies as a phenomenon of the North Pole. But the Aurora Borealis, as they are scientifically referred to, are actually visible from areas of the earth much farther south than the north pole. If you want to enjoy the beauty and wonder that is the Northern Lights, here are a few interesting things you should know:

  1. The name Aurora comes from the name of the Roman goddess of dawn.
  2. An Aurora in northern latitudes are called aurora borealis (northern lights). An Aurora in the southern latitudes are called aurora australis (southern lights).
  3. The plural of aurora is aurorae.
  4. An aurora occurs when highly charged particles from space collide with atoms in the earth’s atmosphere. This makes the atoms excited, meaning they start moving at a rapid pace. The way they release this energy is to accelerate along the earth’s magnetic fields, which will emit the energy in the form of light.
  5. Solar flares are the most common occurrence that induces an aurora in the atmosphere.
  6. Solar wind is constantly blowing past the earth, contained in this wind are particles that agitate the atoms in our atmosphere. When the sun flares, the wind become stronger so aurorae are most likely to occur then
  7. Norther and southern aurorae mimic each other.
  8. From a distance, the aurora will appear as a greenish glow or even a faint red. From a closer location, the light can appear as a vivid green color.
  9. The green color is due to the emission of oxygen as the atoms begin to slow down from their excited state.
  10. Blue colors come from nitrogen atoms gaining an electron (becoming excited) and red colors occur when the nitrogen atom slows back down to it’s normal state.
  11. Often they look like a curtain of light in the sky that can change shape every few seconds, or even hold their shape. They can also emit it a simple reddish or greenish glow in the sky, without any movement at all.
  12. Aurorae can occur on other planets.
  13. The sun has an 11-year sunspot cycle during which sunspot activity first increases than decreases. Aurorae are most commonly seen at the peak of that cycle and during the three years afterwards because of the increased strength of solar wind produced. The last solar cycle started in January 2008. The max of this cycle is expected to hit in 2011 and 2012.
  14. Pictures taken by space ships of the aurora are even more amazing than what you can see from earth. NASA’s website has a good array of options.

About the Author

Natalie Clive is a writer for MyCollegesandCareers.com. My Colleges and Careers is a useful website that can help students find the best online universities where they can earn a college degree. Individuals with a college degree are more likely to have a higher quality of life.

 

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Will All of You Writing Apps and Forming Social Group Pages Send Them all to me and THEN BE DONE!

My girls got me started on FaceBook after informing me that email was “so 90’s.” I never did get into the My____ thing, because I could never figure out what the heck the ____ was until they too were obsolete. Glad I didn’t invest any time there. After “friending” the entire family, the congregation of our church, half of Woodside High School and most of my kids friends, I was labeled as a lurch. Apparently overtly spying on your children’s activities by looking at the weekend beer-pong photos and tables filled with bongs is frowned upon in the current “hip” social circle. Too bad, I’m a parent – not their best buddy.

My first exposure to LinkedIn came from an ex girlfriend sending me an email that simply stated “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” That seemed simple enough. She was a colleague in a marketing role within a well known software company, so there seemed to be some value there. I’d never heard of LinkedIn but have been a relatively early adopter so I jumped on it. I signed up and promptly forgot that it even existed.

Having been around for a while (I actually remember key-punch cards, CP/M, Lotus 123, and DB5) I have seen lots of things come and go. My first desktop computer was an Apple II with a 2MB external drive – hot stuff back then. It was no earth shaking event to find a platform with a bit more professional atmosphere than the “well he was all.. oh my God, and she said…” banter that was FaceBook at the time.

I took a quick class on “social media” and came back stoked at the business implications of LinkedIn. I set a goal to acquire 100 professional contacts, and began emailing everyone I had ever worked with. The more I played with it, the more applications I found for connecting with associates, groups, chats, conversations, etc. It became kind of an obsession. I started teaching classes on the business/job search applications of LinkedIn and got even better at it. You know what they say: if you really want to learn something, teach it. I began broadening out with my associates at ProMatch and expanded the course work to include FaceBook and Twitter. I was asked to write for a social media blog with the State of California EDD, and taught a few additional adult education courses for the county. That was when the real fun began.

I took a Masters Certificate in Internet Marketing from USF and figured out how to integrate all this wonderful social media with websites to generate leads and attract business through the internet. I haven’t made a “cold call” since.

In the following years of helping my clients generate traffic to their sites, I developed a pretty good, tight little grouping of sites that I feel relevant. I use WordPress to create my blog/content, twitter to broadcast it, and my LinkedIn and FaceBook fan pages (FB is not just for High School students any more) as my portfolio sites. There are videos that need to be posted on YouTube, Slide Shows on Slide Share, we need to use Google alerts to monitor the feedback on our products and services, Yelp to express our opinions of others goods and services, and after a daily review of Search Engine Land and weekly webinar with the Internet Marketing Club, it is exhausting to keep up with it all.

Google + looks like it is going to be a “must have” in the professional quiver, and Stumble Upon, Digg and Redit, gain more attention by the day. Google + really looks like a good more intuitive knock off from FaceBook, except that adoption is still very sparse now and there really isn’t much on it.

Enough is Enough! Slow down and let me catch my breath. There are now 15 “share” icons below some of the articles I read, and more coming every day. To set up a social media suite there are 10 different sites, avatars’, and registers to complete profiles in to get a client started. I can consolidate all the proliferation through Postling, but for crying out loud! I spend 5-10 hours a week just keeping up with what I need to understand to help my clients, and the other 40 doing the work. I need a maid!

 

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What Are the Most Difficult Languages to Learn?

The debate has raged for years what the most difficult language in the world is to learn. In trying to ascertain which language actually is most difficult, we need to establish firstly what your 1st learnt language is. For example, if you native language is English, you are going to struggle to learn Korean more than a Japanese person, as the languages share a number of characteristics. Often you will find in interpretation services that professionals often speak more than one language and the languages spoken will share common base qualities. In this discussion of difficult languages, you’ll also come across languages that are niche, or in many cases almost extinct, the most interesting case being the inhabitants of North Sentinel Island who do not welcome visitors of any kind often killing off those unfortunate to come across them! Many of readers of this article may have English as their native language and extensive research and opinions abound about which languages are the most difficult for them to learn, so that will form the basis for our discussion.

Asian languages are classified as being the most difficult languages to learn for a number of very daunting reasons. Mandarin and Cantonese for example require you to take into account a wide array of tonal options for different meanings, five in fact for each sounding word. Japanese is a difficult option to learn as a complete language as the written and spoken word has no relation to each other at all. Japanese also have 3 different written alphabets; Kana, Hiragana and Katakana, which all have very different purposes in the language. Katakana alone has over 20000 unique characters which are based on old Chinese symbols, which can only be learned through memorisation strategies.

Once we move out of the arena of Asian Languages, Arabic is high on many professionals lists as one of the most difficult languages to learn. Reasons behind this are that it has no links to any Germanic language system and dialects can often cause problems for language learners. The alphabet system has 20 symbols, but each one has four different forms, making them very difficult to understand as well as the spoken system focusing on the VSO organisation; meaning that the verbs come before the subjects and objects in a sentence. For this very reason there is a lucrative amount of professional translation work done with the amount of international business done in Arabic countries and its difficulty to learn.

Lastly languages of Finno-Ugric origins are some of the most difficult to learn and even make heads or tails of. Hungarian for example has 35 cases and is almost impossible to practice outside of Hungary. There are more exceptions than rules to the language and sentence structures for these languages have no Anglo or Germanic roots to speak of. Finnish has 15 noun cases and six verb types which can all be conjugated in multiple forms. The good news is that the written word is easily converted to the spoken word, and it sounds exactly like it should.

Sally Roberts is a freelance writer with a keen interest in diversity and difference. Through her articles she hopes to draw attention to the similarities and differences between people for happier coexistance.

 

Hang up and fly right: More evidence of in-flight interference

 

By Rob Lovitt, msnbc.com contributor

Maybe you really should turn off your cell phone when the flight attendant tells you to. No, really.

According to a confidential report obtained by ABC News, interference from cell phones and other personal electronic devices (PEDs) may, in fact, present serious safety concerns for aircraft.

The report from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the global industry trade group, surveyed commercial pilots and crewmembers and cited 75 incidents in which the respondents believed PEDs may have created electronic interference that impacted flight systems.

Twenty-six incidents affected flight controls, while 17 affected navigation systems and 15 affected communication systems. Thirteen, says ABC, produced “engine indications” and other warnings. According to respondents, activated electronic devices caused GPS and altitude-control readings to read incorrectly and change rapidly.

Live Poll

Do you think cell phones and other PEDs interfere with flight controls?

“It could be that you were to the right of the runway when in fact, you were to the left of the runway,” Dave Carson of Boeing told ABC.

Although the report doesn’t confirm that the incidents were caused by PEDs, it does note that in several instances, instrument readings returned to normal after crewmembers made passengers turn off their devices.

“We can’t say categorically that these devices cause interference,” IATA spokesman Chris Goater told msnbc.com, “but there are enough anecdotal reports from pilots to raise the question.”

Finding that direct link may only get more difficult, especially as the number and variety of PEDs increase and airplanes rely more heavily on “fly-by-wire,” or electric systems that may be more susceptible to interference than the mechanical systems found in older planes.

“The upshot is that those PEDs emit energy that could interfere with the signals from the control column to the control surfaces,” said aviation safety consultant Steve Cowell of SRC Aviation LLC. “There’s quite a bit of shielding, but it’s also possible that it may not be enough.”

 

A Sure Fix for the Economy – Revolution

Why Iceland Should Be in the News, But Is Not

by: Deena Stryker, The South Africa Civil Society Information Service | News Analysis

An Italian radio program’s story about Iceland’s on-going revolution is a stunning example of how little our media tells us about the rest of the world. Americans may remember that at the start of the 2008 financial crisis, Iceland literally went bankrupt.  The reasons were mentioned only in passing, and since then, this little-known member of the European Union fell back into oblivion.

As one European country after another fails or risks failing, imperiling the Euro, with repercussions for the entire world, the last thing the powers that be want is for Iceland to become an example. Here’s why:

Five years of a pure neo-liberal regime had made Iceland, (population 320 thousand, no army), one of the richest countries in the world. In 2003 all the country’s banks were privatized, and in an effort to attract foreign investors, they offered on-line banking whose minimal costs allowed them to offer relatively high rates of return. The accounts, called IceSave, attracted many English and Dutch small investors.  But as investments grew, so did the banks’ foreign debt.  In 2003 Iceland’s debt was equal to 200 times its GNP, but in 2007, it was 900 percent.  The 2008 world financial crisis was the coup de grace. The three main Icelandic banks, Landbanki, Kapthing and Glitnir, went belly up and were nationalized, while the Kroner lost 85% of its value with respect to the Euro.  At the end of the year Iceland declared bankruptcy.

Contrary to what could be expected, the crisis resulted in Icelanders recovering their sovereign rights, through a process of direct participatory democracy that eventually led to a new Constitution.  But only after much pain.

Geir Haarde, the Prime Minister of a Social Democratic coalition government, negotiated a two million one hundred thousand dollar loan, to which the Nordic countries added another two and a half million. But the foreign financial community pressured Iceland to impose drastic measures.  The FMI and the European Union wanted to take over its debt, claiming this was the only way for the country to pay back Holland and Great Britain, who had promised to reimburse their citizens.

Protests and riots continued, eventually forcing the government to resign. Elections were brought forward to April 2009, resulting in a left-wing coalition which condemned the neoliberal economic system, but immediately gave in to its demands that Iceland pay off a total of three and a half million Euros.  This required each Icelandic citizen to pay 100 Euros a month (or about $130) for fifteen years, at 5.5% interest, to pay off a debt incurred by private parties vis a vis other private parties. It was the straw that broke the reindeer’s back.

What happened next was extraordinary. The belief that citizens had to pay for the mistakes of a financial monopoly, that an entire nation must be taxed to pay off private debts was shattered, transforming the relationship between citizens and their political institutions and eventually driving Iceland’s leaders to the side of their constituents. The Head of State, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, refused to ratify the law that would have made Iceland’s citizens responsible for its bankers’ debts, and accepted calls for a referendum.

Of course the international community only increased the pressure on Iceland. Great Britain and Holland threatened dire reprisals that would isolate the country.  As Icelanders went to vote, foreign bankers threatened to block any aid from the IMF.  The British government threatened to freeze Icelander savings and checking accounts. As Grimsson said: “We were told that if we refused the international community’s conditions, we would become the Cuba of the North.  But if we had accepted, we would have become the Haiti of the North.” (How many times have I written that when Cubans see the dire state of their neighbor, Haiti, they count themselves lucky.)

In the March 2010 referendum, 93% voted against repayment of the debt.  The IMF immediately froze its loan.  But the revolution (though not televised in the United States), would not be intimidated. With the support of a furious citizenry, the government launched civil and penal investigations into those responsible for the financial crisis.  Interpol put out an international arrest warrant for the ex-president of Kaupthing, Sigurdur Einarsson, as the other bankers implicated in the crash fled the country.

But Icelanders didn’t stop there: they decided to draft a new constitution that would free the country from the exaggerated power of international finance and virtual money.  (The one in use had been written when Iceland gained its independence from Denmark, in 1918, the only difference with the Danish constitution being that the word ‘president’ replaced the word ‘king’.)

To write the new constitution, the people of Iceland elected twenty-five citizens from among 522 adults not belonging to any political party but recommended by at least thirty citizens. This document was not the work of a handful of politicians, but was written on the internet. The constituent’s meetings are streamed on-line, and citizens can send their comments and suggestions, witnessing the document as it takes shape. The constitution that eventually emerges from this participatory democratic process will be submitted to parliament for approval after the next elections.

Some readers will remember that Iceland’s ninth century agrarian collapse was featured in Jared Diamond’s book by the same name. Today, that country is recovering from its financial collapse in ways just the opposite of those generally considered unavoidable, as confirmed yesterday by the new head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde to Fareed Zakaria. The people of Greece have been told that the privatization of their public sector is the only solution.  And those of Italy, Spain and Portugal are facing the same threat.

They should look to Iceland. Refusing to bow to foreign interests, that small country stated loud and clear that the people are sovereign.

That’s why it is not in the news anymore.

 

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Cross Culture Communication

Different cultures have different ways of expressing and communicating their thoughts and feelings, which means that many people who try to cross culture communicate get lost and confused. If you have tried before you have probably learned that to communicate to people who are not of the same culture can be very difficult. There are some strategies that you can use that will help you better cross communicate, unlike the futures trading secrets course you can learn the strategies for cross cultural communication right now.

Here are some tips and strategies to help you out when you need to communicate with someone from a different culture:

  • Assume. Always assume that the differences in cultures could cause communication problems. However, because this is the case, you should never assume that you know what is being thought and said by someone from another culture. When you jump to conclusions about what is being said things could get aggressive over a simple misunderstanding.
  • Stop and think. If things do not seem to be going very well while you are trying to communicate with someone from another culture stop and think. Stop and slow down to think about what is going on. Usually if things start going wrong it is because of a misinterpretation.
  • Actively listen. Listening actively means that you repeat what you think you heard. That way, as you are telling the other person what you thought they were saying, any misinterpretation can be straightened out. All misinterpretation can be eliminated when you actively listen to each other.
  • Get help. If all else fails and you are really having a hard time understanding each other; find someone who knows both cultures and languages. These people are called intermediaries. Intermediaries are people who help with cross-cultural communication because they are familiar with both cultures. The intermediary can be very important because the differences in one culture can make a person from another culture feel uncomfortable and the intermediary can help explain or control this. However, when using an intermediary who is the same culture as one of the people trying to communicate it can make it look like there is a bias when there is none.

When you are trying to cross communicate with someone just remember to be careful with your words and try to explain what you mean as you are speaking. Cross culture communication can be difficult but it is not impossible.

Madison Hewerdine is an author who writes about the futures trading secrets course and has a passion for Latin dancing.

 

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