Friday, March 7

The role of gender and beauty in economics

We know that being beautiful helps in the workplace, yes? Or rather, if you are ugly (like me), then you face problems. Also, if you are a male (also like me, but that gets washed out because of the ugliness, see above), you benefit. So appearances do matter. But has anybody delved deeper into this? This paper has.

What they did was to create an experiment where they controlled various variables around the contribution by each member, gender, relative attractiveness, and that of the group. They found, when performance is not known to the respondents, they tended to reward beauty and females. So as long as you are in a group, then the eyes will normally fall to the beautiful females. On the other hand, when performance is known (even when it is the same) the female premium vanishes. The author's point to 3 factors behind this result.

  1. relative beauty is rewarded. So if you are attractive compared to others, then you will get more money. As as simple as that. If you are an ugly pugly, then you will get peanuts. 12% is the premium, and that's a huge amount! And this seems to be because you expect beautiful people to be more cooperative. But if you then let the respondents know about their individual contributions, the weight of defeated expectations actually works against the attractive people. So the lesson is, get dressed well and put on make up, but dont let anybody know about your salary.
  2. Second, women earn 7% more than men when individual contributions are not known. Simply because we think that women are more helpful! This is also because attractiveness seems to play a bigger part in the case of women compared to men!
  3. But this disappears when contributions are known, and the payoff for men is a startling 15%.

I quote a line from their conclusion: The most striking result from this research is that, on average, men and women did not behave very differently, and attractive people did not behave appreciably differently than unattractive people. Nonetheless, beauty and gender had significant effects on earnings. This happened because beauty and gender affect the way people were treated by others.

It is quite interesting how people behave to stereotypes. Now if you are a manager, you need to think about how to manage these bias's inside yourself, while if you are an employee (male or female), you need to make sure that you look attractive. And if you are female, enhance your visible contributions if in an open group. If you are male, stop ogling those attractive women!.

Harrow on the Hill Tube Station

Do not enter!!!

but 1 meter away, look left:

Look right:


Technorati Tags: ,

Is that an order, request or a plea?

I saw this green sticker on a big long package which was leaning against the wall of the office. Funny, eh? Do not break down, what the heck does that mean? Do not break it down? or are you pleading to the contents, please, for heaven's sake, do not break down!


Technorati Tags:

A trolley full of nuts

I sneak out from Liverpool Street Station from the back entrance which is also the taxi entrance. This is to avoid the assorted fag smokers, the newspaper sales people, the pamphleteers, the lot. But saw this trolley.

Take a closer look, its full of nuts!

Mildly amusing! :)

Technorati Tags: ,,

Nine immoral solutions for Gaza - a guide

One of the truisms of management as well as diplomacy is that one should never be pushed into a corner because if you are ever pushed into a corner, then all options are unpalatable. As is with Israel. Which is why I still say that Israel should speak to Hamas. But read this depressing article and I have taken the liberty to quote it in full here. What other way but to talk and choose option 5? After all, at one time, the PLO also wanted to chuck the Jews in the Med but they changed the charter, didnt they?


Nine immoral solutions for Gaza - a guide
By Bradley Burston

For a moral compass, Gaza is the North Pole. The needle spins so continually, and at such speed, that no reading is possible.

For Israelis, the quandary of Gaza is a powerful Rorshach of the role and the burdens of Israel, of mood and injury, of personal tragedy and official befuddlement, of social conscience, ethical outlook, and sense of history.

The Gaza Strip, unwanted by the world, unwanted by Israel, unwanted by the Arabs and even by many Palestinians, forlorn, violent, seething, unlivable, has become the great moral test for the Jewish people.

All it took was rockets.

Seven years of rockets. Rockets launched toward civilian populations, schools, a college, rockets that slammed through private homes, children's bedrooms in the blue collar Israeli town of Sderot. More than a thousand rockets a year for seven years, directed at kibbutzim which for decades had supported an end to occupation and the rise of a Palestinian state. Eight thousand rockets, fired when Israel had 25 settlements and 20,000 troops in the Gaza Strip, and when Israel expelled the settlers and withdrew its troops, rockets fired from the ruins of the settlements and former emplacements of the IDF.

For Palestinians, Gaza was a prison before the disengagement, and a maximum security lockup thereafter. For Palestinians, the end of Israeli rule and the subsequent rise of Hamas were a human rights tragedy turned human rights catastrophe. For Palestinians, there is no more work in Israel, no more work in Gaza, no more hope anywhere.

When Israel ended its operation in the Strip on Monday, a Hamas radio announcer declared victory, saying that despite all of the destruction and death, Hamas gunners were still hitting Sderot and Ashkelon and even Netivot. Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar addressed a rally to mark what he called Hamas' success in the Five Day War. Taking the trouble to thank the news media in general for its coverage of Palestinian casualties, Al Jazeera and Hamas' own Al Aqsa TV in particular, he told a cheering, chanting crowd, in effect: We showed them. The Israelis?ll think twice before invading ever again.

He's right. Israelis will think twice, and many times again. This is why: Hamas, with the direct or inadvertent cooperation of Hezbollah, Iran, the Islamic Jihad, Fatah fatcats, Fatah rebels, the Bush administration, and, of course, Israel itself, has created a situation in which every one of Israel's moral and strategic options is a bad one.

This is the test for Israel: There is no way to ace it, and there are countless ways to fail. Here are a few.

Choose your poison:

1. A massive IDF ground offensive.

Arguments in favor: There is no alternative but to use overwhelming if tactically directed force to root out terror groups which fire the rockets, and to break the back of the Hamas government and remove it from power.

Marshalled example: Operation Defensive Shield, 2002

Arguments against: The risk-benefit equation suggests that large numbers of Gaza non-combatants as well as Israeli forces would be killed and wounded, without truly material success in curbing Qassam and Katyusha attacks.

International outrage could cause Israel great political, economic, even strategic harm.

2. Reoccupy the Gaza Strip

Arguments in favor: Israel cannot abide a terrorist state less than an hour's drive from Tel Aviv. Hamas, if allowed to rule, will eventually take over the West Bank and, effectively, East Jerusalem as well. Even a large-scale IDF offensive, if only temporary, will leave the field open to rearmament and continued attacks.

Arguments against: Israel militarily occupied the Gaza Strip for nearly forty years, but was unable to prevent the manufacture and firing of Qassams. Qassam firing continued under Israeli occupation for more than three years until the disengagement in 2005. Finally, Israel lacks the will and the forces to occupy Gaza indefinitely.

3. Shell sources of rocket fire

Arguments in favor: Use of long-range artillery will save the lives of soldiers who would be out at risk in a ground offensive. If Israel puts Gazans on notice that artillery will immediately and consistently shell any area from which rockets are fired, they will either prevent Hamas gunners from using their homes and yards, or will flee before the firing begins.

Arguments against: Artillery has proven markedly inaccurate as retaliatory fire against small crews of armed men, often with disastrous consequences. Cases of innocent civilians killed in error, tragic in themselves, have in many cases also made it impossible for the IDF to continue to pursue its military targets.

4. Assassinate Hamas leaders

Arguments in favor: Assassinations of commanders and political leaders can paralyze the organization, sending leading figures underground, cutting lines of communication, interrupting chains of command, while at the same time causing less danger to Palestinian civilians and to IDF soldiers. When Israel assassinated Hamas founders Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Abed Aziz Rantisi in 2004, threats os monumental retaliation never materialized, and the organization subsequently offered a limited truce.

Arguments against: Civilians are often killed by mistake in assassination attempts. Assassination is also a dangerous policy, as it invites counter-attempts, such as the murder of then-cabinet minister Rehavam Ze'evi in Jerusalem in 2001. Finally, it fails to address core concerns, and may cause deadly reprisals, as in the suicide bombings that killed 60 people in Israel after the 1996 assassination of Hamas bomb mastermind Yihye Ayyash.

5. Negotiate with Hamas

Arguments for: Hamas is not only the democratically elected ruler of Gaza, it also still enjoys broad, if somewhat dimished, popular support in the Strip. Because it trades on an ideology of martyrdom and steadfastness in the face of attack, it will be defeated neither by economic sanctions nor military confrontation. There is no alternative to talks toward a cease-fire, which Hamas has been proposing for years, holding out the offer of the return of captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit in an exchange for jailed Hamas men.

Arguments against: Negotiations would constitute a major victory for Hamas, and tacit Israeli recognition of the organization, further undermining the standing of Mahmoud Abbas and the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority and perhaps paving way for future Hamas control of the West Bank.

The Hamas charter continues to call explicitly for the violent destruction of the state of Israel, and any expansion of Hamas hegemony to the West Bank could put large swathes of central Israel, the bulk of Israel's population, in range of Katyusha-Grad rockets.

6. Tighten the economic siege over Gaza

Arguments for: How can a nation at war justify supplying its enemy with fuel, electricity, water, and even supplies which may be used for producing rockets and other armaments?

Arguments against: The people of Gaza as a whole should not be punished for the actions of a small number of armed men. Collective punishment, moreover, increases hatred toward Israel and will, in the end, persuade more youths to become terrorists.

7. Lift the economic siege over Gaza

Arguments in favor: Such a step could, if carried out in cooperation with Abbas and the PA, strengthen Abbas' hand. (Also see arguments against, numbers 6 and, if carried out in cooperation with Hamas, 5 above)

Arguments against: Such a step could bolster Hamas, whioch could list it as a strategic victory and an indication that its policies were correct all along.

8. Increase IDF operations in the West Bank

Arguments in favor: Israel must do everything it can to confront and contain Hamas in the West Bank, to keep it from taking over.

Arguments against: Such operations sap the limited sovereignty of Abbas and the PA, which has taken action of its own against Hamas in the West Bank. Such operations also cast Abbas in the role of collaborator with Israel, cutting his support among Palestinians.

9. Do nothing

Arguments for: This stance, which, while it may have adherents in practice, has no proponents.

Arguments against. Israel does not have the option of doing nothing. To do nothing is, in effect, a violation of the human rights of the people of Sderot and the western Megev, who are the targets of Hamas war crimes.

Technorati Tags: ,,

Wednesday, March 5

Women supporting female genital mutilation

This totally blew me apart. Remember what I had said before on this? That it will be difficult to remove? Well, this will make it even worse, if the women themselves support FGM, what's the world going to do?

I quote:

FREETOWN - Some 800 women in the Sierra Leone town of Kailahun have paraded in favour of genital mutilation and told donors opposed to the practice to keep their money, demonstrators and witnesses said.
Women wearing colourful beads and adorned with seashells chanted songs in the local dialect that warned authorities and foreign organisations against "any attempt to take away our traditional ritual."
Kailahun is a dusty town about 300 kilometres east of Freetown, in a part of the west African country regarded by human rights groups as the heartland of female genital mutilation (FGM).
The United Nations World Health Organisation says FGM - the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia and related injury - is recorded in 28 African nations and opposes the practice on medical grounds.
The traditional Bondo Society organised the rally as a "show of strength", said executive member Mamie Banya. "Any organisation that has accepted funds from overseas donors to wage war against FGM is fighting a losing battle. Let donors keep their money, we will keep our culture."
A group called the National Emancipation for Progress has led workshops and seminars to have FGM banned in Sierra Leone, but faces opposition from people who hold the practice is harmless, promotes marital fidelity and is in tune with religious values.
"We have inherited this culture over 100 years ago and it has made us women be responsible housewives to our husbands," one demonstrator in the noisy march told AFP by telephone.
Another demonstrator, teacher Sally Kwapika, said "we love FGM as a culture in the past, today and tomorrow. I am appealing to the president that if he wants us to stop supporting him, let him advocate for an end to FGM."
Asked how the Bondo Society would respond if the Freetown government outlawed the practice like several others in Africa, Banya said: "We will become uncontrollable. Past governments have not interfered directly in our society. Why only now?"

All this to be taken with a grain of piquant salt!!!

Today's perfect wife: a good cook who argues

This was funny. I quote:

The perfect wife is a good cook but is happy to stand up to her man, according
to new research.

Using what was purported to be a 1950s "Good Wife's
Guide" as a template, the study looked at what men look for in their ideal woman
today, and found that while a lot of things have changed, the quickest way to a
man's heart is still through his stomach.

The days of the
subservient wife are long gone, most men now believe chores should be shared

While women's role as housekeeper may have moved on over the
past 50 years, almost half of men still believe that being able to cook is the
most important skill a woman can have.

But while a compliant and
submissive wife was expected back in the post-war years, modern men actually
respect a woman who will stand up to them, with 59 per cent rating it as an
important feature of their relationship.

Two-thirds of the men
questioned said they appreciated women with a head for figures, with 69 per cent
saying they wanted a wife who could manage the family finances for them.

The infamous Good Wife's Guide, which was allegedly published by
"Housekeeping Monthly" in 1955, gave tips to women such as to plan meals the
night before, and to have their husband's dinner ready when he came home from

It said: "Don't complain if he's late home for dinner or even if
he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone
through that day."

The new survey of 2,309 men and women, conducted by
ICM on behalf of the Ideal Home Show, also found that what today's women think
their partners expect from them differs vastly from what men actually want.

For example, although 72 per cent of women thought men hated being
dragged around the shops, 63 per cent of the men said they did not mind it. And
while 65 per cent of women thought men expected household chores to be left to
them, almost 75 per cent of men said they believed they should be shared

The survey also showed that some things will never change -
more than half of men expect to be able to go out with their friends and come
home late without their partners complaining.

All this to be taken with a grain of piquant salt!!!

What is the financial valuation of blogs?

Very interesting article here which evaluates the value of a blog:I quote:

Take the Huffington Post. It attracts 1.7m unique users per month a nearly 200% increase over its traffic a year ago according to comScore. That may look modest compared with the 13m readers who flock to the New York Times%u2019 website each month but it's more than half the number visiting the Wall Street Journal's subscription site. The demographics of these users are just as attractive. The Huffington Post's readers make more money than the average internet user and nearly twice as many have gone to graduate school according to rating service Quantcast. And eyeballs aren't the only thing that top blogs are bringing anymore.

So the article says, it is actually not that much, but inflated expectations are still there. Dont purchase the blog itself, but hire the blogger. For the blogger, dont give up your day job!

All this to be taken with a grain of piquant salt!!!

EU majority backs clampdown on tax havens

So the EU majority does not like tax havens, eh? and they are squealing about the fact that citizens are hiding their income from the tax collecters, eh?

btw, what do you think of corrupt thieves who hide their expenses and commit fraud in hiring and do not want their expenses and costs to be made clear so that we know if they are doing well? oh! sorry, its a case of do as I tell you, not do as I do.

Hypocrites, no wonder tax avoidance happens.

All this to be taken with a grain of piquant salt!!!

Tuesday, March 4

Being religious in Malaysia

Why do I get the feeling that it has become a magic kingdom? First see this story. A woman has been jailed for joining a tea-pot worshiping cult. I quote:

Kamariah Ali, a 57 year old former teacher, was arrested in 2005 when the government of the Muslim majority country demolished the two storey high sacred tea pot and other infrastructure of the "heretical" Sky Kingdom cult.

Woman jailed for worshipping teapot

The religious cult believe the tea pot symbolises purity of water and love from heaven. For the eccentric sect, which emphasised ecumenical dialogue between religions, the tea pot symbolized the purity of water and "love pouring from heaven". But in Malaysia, despite constitutional guarantees of freedom of worship, born Muslims such as Mrs Ali are forbidden from converting to other religions.

Passing sentence, the Sharia judge Mohammed Abdullah said: "The court is not convinced that the accused has repented and is willing to abandon any teachings contrary to Islam. I pray God will open the doors of your heart, Kamariah." Mrs Ali has already been jailed once for apostasy, for 20 months in 1992.

"This has to stop. They can’t be sending her again and again to prison for this," her lawyer, Sa'adiah Din, told reporters.

"She informed the court that she is not a Muslim. She doesn't come under Sharia court anymore."

Now check this other story out where Indian origin Malaysian Muslims do not want to be called as Indian origin Malaysians because all Indians origin Malaysians are considered to be Hindu's. I quote:

KUALA LUMPUR: Members of the Malaysian Indian Muslim Youth Movement (Gepima) want to be known as Malays and not Indians.

And they do not think this is an outrageous request since the Federal Constitution states that an Indian is a Malay "if he professes the Muslim religion, habitually speaks Malay and conforms to Malay custom".
These traits are practised by Muslims of Indian origin today, claimed Gepima president Mohamed Kader Ali.
"I am a second generation Malaysian and I can safely say that from wedding rituals to the food we eat and the language we speak, we conform to Malay customs all the way.
"As such, Gepima is appealing to the government to streamline the laws and recognise Muslims born after independence as Malays in their birth certificate.

"We have been facing this problem for the past 50 years.
"We have written several letters to the National Registration Department but it keeps saying that it can't do anything about this."
Kader's son, 24-year-old Syed Osman Mohamed, cited an incident last August when he went to the Registrar of Companies to apply for a business permit.
"In the forms that I filled up, I stated Malay as my race and Islam as my religion. But the officer called me up and asked me to change it to Indian, based on how I looked.
"He only had my MyKad and it does not state there whether I am Indian or not," Syed Osman said.
"We feel uncomfortable to be known as Indians, because people automatically think we are Hindus when we are actually Muslim."
Kader added that Muslims of Indian origin suffered an inferiority complex by being regarded as Indians.
"Our children do not even know how to speak Tamil.
"They only converse in Malay and our wives wear baju kurung or kebaya nowadays, no more the saree."

Say what?

What is the military covenant?

So many people forget this basic bargain and covenant that we civilians sign with our armed forces, and it is like the Hippocratic Oath, we should read it once a year at least!, are you hearing, Parliament? which is playing fast and loose with our squaddies? I quote:

The phrase "military covenant" refers to the contract that is supposed to exist between servicemen and women and the civilians on whose behalf they are willing to die.
It is an informal understanding, rather than a legally-enforceable deal, but it is nevertheless treated with great seriousness within the services.
The army doctrine publication says: "Soldiers will be called upon to make personal sacrifices – including the ultimate sacrifice – in the service of the nation.
"In putting the needs of the nation and the army before their own, they forgo some of the rights enjoyed by those outside the armed forces.
"In return, British soldiers must always be able to expect fair treatment, to be valued and respected as individuals, and that they (and their families) will be sustained and rewarded by commensurate terms and conditions of service.
"This mutual obligation forms the military covenant between the nation, the army and each individual solider; an unbreakable common bond of identity, loyalty and responsibility that has sustained the army and its soldiers throughout history."
Military historians point out that the notion that society owes a special debt to soldiers goes back centuries.
As an early example of the covenant, they cite an act passed in 1593 ordering parishes to make special provision to help sick and wounded veterans.

All this to be taken with a grain of piquant salt!!!

MEPs reject EU move to publish expenses

Now why am I not surprised. You are actually asking turkeys to vote for christmas? what do you expect them to say? Asking MEP's to be transparent about their pig in the snout behaviour is frankly silly. They would not do it willy nilly. See the numbers:

And what data protection concerns? what about protection of my money which you are spending, you useless morons?

All this to be taken with a grain of piquant salt!!!

God is not a woman? what on earth?

This is bizarre, I always knew that God was a woman. And the proof is simple, just figure out every time you said, "oh! God" or "Oh! my God!" and you will know that it was 90% related to women. So it HAS to be a woman. Who else but a woman can come up with a woman? and a man, while you are at it. A man would have come up with an ambulatory beer drinking penis while women, well, ok, you get the idea. But obviously because of the chastity requirement, the Pope does not know all these interesting factoids hence thinks that God is a male.

I quote:

The Vatican has cracked down on feminist interpretations of the liturgy, ruling that God must always be recognised as Our Father.
In a move designed to counter the spread of gender-neutral phrases, the Holy See said that anyone baptised using alternative terms, such as "Creator", "Redeemer" and "Sanctifier" would have to be re-baptised using the traditional ceremony.
The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith said yesterday: "These variations arise from so-called feminist theology and are an attempt to avoid using the words Father and Son, which are held to be chauvinistic."
Instead, it said that the traditional form of "Father, Son and Holy Ghost" had to be respected.

All this to be taken with a grain of piquant salt!!!

A compelling case for a do-nothing Budget

This is the most shameful commentary on the current Labour government. The fact that business is basically telling the chancellor to just shut up and do nothing means that we all think he is basically incompetent. Since we cannot fire him, the best we can hope for is that he does not damage the country any further by doing anything. Just sit there, quietly, do nothing.

What a tragedy, 8 months of incompetence and dithering and the reputation moving towards mud status!

All this to be taken with a grain of piquant salt!!!

Monday, March 3

Counting cash

Now I never realised how cash is counted in different ways around the world! How interesting! Teller Training?

People videos

Sometimes I do think the death penalty is justified

Sometimes when I read stories like this, I do think that the death penalty is justified. What kind of an animal is this man? How can a man do something like this to his 15 MONTH old nephew?

Technorati Tags:

Tata to use Virgin Mobile brand in India

I am puzzled, why would Tata want to use Virgin as the brand-name? Tata has a very good brand name in India and rapidly across the world. The only reason I can think of is that its too fuddy duddy, too quality.. etc. etc. and so they went for the Virgin Name. "Virgin" gives the frisson of fun, excitement and slightly risque image to the entire exercise.

But I bet some moron somewhere is going to get upset and launch a legal case against the name stating that its against some bloody culture or something. Frivolous lawsuits, thy Elysian fields are in India. You just wait...

The education of a child starts 100 years ago

I read that quote last week and was deeply influenced and impacted by it. I have been thinking about it ever since. It makes perfect sense, what my daughter is reading now or what my son is studying now is based upon things which started centuries ago.

Then comes this article in today's FT, which I support fully. It asks for a world education bank. I quote some snippets:

Education is a well-established global development priority. This was reiterated in 2000 when, at the UN millennium summit, the goal of “universal primary education for every child” was enshrined as the second of the eight millennium development goals the international community set itself to attain by 2015. This is a goal that we are very unlikely to meet.

A World Education Bank would raise the profile of education as a development goal. Its sole purpose would be to promote education at all levels in any country that asked for help. Developing countries would be prime beneficiaries....

While the concept is too wooly at this moment and it is not clear as to how the PISA work or the UNESCO institution will work, but it is a step in the right direction. It is a severe indictment of UNESCO that it is now reduced to a bureaucracy which can easily be shut down and replaced with this nice, tight World Education Bank.


Sunday, March 2

EU joins UN in slamming use of 'disproportionate' force in Gaza

What exactly is proportionate force? Should Israel just fire up an unguided rocket for every unguided rocket which comes across?

Or perhaps unguided bombs dropped in a carpet bombing pattern across Gaza?

How about random artillery fire, and since proportionality demands ratio's and proportions, so measure the strength of the rockets and then use that size.

Sometimes I wonder why these politicians are allowed to get away with saying such fatuous sayings? Journalists should challenge them.

And more importantly, if you cannot influence the outcome, then do everybody a favour and shut up because you become part of the problem not the solution.

Linking small farmers to retailers

Now this is a great idea and perhaps one of the only ways that small farmers can work together to align with the large agronomic value chains ending with the large or small retailers. By linking the small farmers with technology, it removes one of the biggest hurdles in the sustainability of small scale farming, and that is the element of scale.

Whether it is purchasing fertiliser or selling at the local shops, small quantity traders and farmers will always be penalised. I quote:

NEW DELHI: IT major Infosys Technologies on Tuesday said it has entered into a partnership with ACDI/VOCA, a non-profit organisation, for providing an application to improve efficiency of the country's agro supply chain.

The information and communication technology-enabled application minimises inventory requirement, reduces waste and facilitate better integration between retailers and farmers, Infosys said in a statement.

The application manages the supply chain from the level of profiling of farmer clusters, crop planning, scheduling, tracking and forecasting. It also enables farmers to access technical information such as data and images, access to region-specific weat her updates and market information such as daily sales volumes and average prices.

Currently, 1,700 small farmers are integrated into organised retail supply chains through this application and over the next 5 to 8 years the usage is expected to increase to a million farmers, it added.

"This solution gives the organised retail sector access to a reliable small holder production base," Mr Binod H R, Senior VP and Head (India Business Unit), Infosys Technologies said, adding that it decreases farm-to-market losses, currently estimated at 30- 40 per cent on certain products.

ACDI/VOCA is an international development organisation that promotes broad-based economic growth. This application falls under its growth-oriented $6.3-million Microenterprise Development Programme, a USAID-funded initiative. - PTI