Friday, April 10

Gay elephant sparks anger in Poland

I do not know what is more bizarre, the poor elephant or the bunch of moronic Polish politicians. I quote:

Michal Grzes, a conservative councillor in the city of Poznan in western Poland, said the animal preferred male company and would probably not procreate.

He said it meant the city's massive investment in a new home for the animals had been a waste of time.

"We didn't pay 37 million zlotys (£7.6 million) for the largest elephant house in Europe to have a gay elephant live there," said Mr Grzes, who is from the right-wing opposition Law and Justice party.

"We were supposed to have a herd, but as Ninio prefers male friends over females how will he produce offspring?" said.

The head of the Poznan zoo said 10-year-old Ninio may be too young to decide whether he prefers males or females as elephants only reach sexual maturity at 14.

Somebody explain this to me, why do the brains of all conservative politicians dribble out of their backside whenever it comes to sex? And usually its these bloody conservative politicians who are usually caught up in sex scandals. Much more bizarre than a so called gay elephant.

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Spanking 'brings couples together'

Sounds like an igNoble award winner straight off. I dont believe that somebody actually did this, but seems like they did. I quote:

SPANKING is stressful at first, but it could bring consenting couples closer together. That's the implication of two studies of hormonal changes associated with sadomasochistic (S&M) activities including spanking, bondage and flogging.

Brad Sagarin at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb and colleagues measured levels of the stress hormone cortisol in 13 men and women at an S&M party in Arizona, before, during and after participating in activities. During S&M scenes, cortisol rose significantly in those receiving stimulation, but dropped back to normal within 40 minutes if the scene went well. There was no change in those inflicting the activity.

At an S&M event in Colorado, testosterone was measured in 45 men and women. It increased significantly in receiving women only. Donatella Marazziti of the University of Pisa, Italy, says the boost may help women cope with the aggressive nature of S&M activities, or that it could be another sign of stress. In both studies, couples who said the party went well also reported increases in relationship closeness (Archives of Sexual Behavior, DOI: 10.1007/s10508-008-9374-5).

It's important to note that levels of both hormones dropped back down in couples who enjoyed the experience, Marazziti says. "When sexual intercourse is consensual it is not stressful - even if it is extreme sex."

Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield, UK, adds that almost any shared activity is likely to promote interpersonal closeness. "It doesn't have to be tying up your partner or placing clamps on their nipples, it could be something as simple as cooking a meal together or even doing the housework as a duo," he says.

Nick Neave, a psychologist at the University of Northumbria, UK, says the results are interesting, but future studies should control for whether participants experienced orgasm, which is associated with reduced stress and an increase in hormones associated with partner-bonding and affection.

The number of puns that I can relate to on this topic are absolutely blinding but will avoid them, lol

Monday, April 6

There ARE some people who like Israel

I was gobsmacked and I am sure its a world wide Zionist conspiracy now. Apparently, the engines of the future of the world, Russia, China and India love Israel, besides the USA. I quote from this survey.

58 percent of Indians surveyed said that they support Israel. 56 percent of U.S. citizens expressed support for Israel, as did 52 percent of Russians, 50 percent of Mexicans, 48 percent of Chinese and 39 percent of Italians.

I am just waiting for the penny to drop and then it would be fun, lol. The very idea of people actually liking Israel and supporting it will go down like a lead balloon in many quarters, hehehehe. Although the inclusion of Italians made me scratch my head a bit…

The power of the youth

Aston University invited me to deliver a lecture, so thought of using the time to go visit SIFE.

Meet a bunch of very enthusiastic and passionate young people who are members of the SIFE community. Quoting from their website:

Working with leading corporate partners and member universities, SIFE establishes student programs on campuses around the world. With the support and encouragement of their faculty advisors and a local business advisory board, SIFE students apply business concepts to develop community outreach projects that improve the quality of life and standard of living for people in need.

SIFE teams’ projects address a variety of topics, such as market economics, entrepreneurship, financial literacy, personal success skills, environmental sustainability and business ethics. Rather than mandating a uniform set of projects, teams are encouraged to work within the framework of these topics while adapting their approach to the diverse needs of people in different communities. The result is a program that is global in scope and purpose with the flexibility and responsiveness of a community-based organization.

Being a sort of a volunteer in this organisation, a representative of the bank sponsoring quite a lot of their work. Hence, I go about the various universities in the world speaking to the students, assisting and guiding them on their projects and generally being a pain in the patootie. I also assist in the judging of competitions and stuff.

The students were really good. I found their eyes alight with enthusiasm. Here’s what the SIFE website says:

SIFE provides university students with the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to their communities while also discovering their potential to achieve an even greater impact as the business leaders of tomorrow. It’s this balance between immediacy of results and the continual development of effective, responsible leaders that defines the SIFE program and is essential to creating truly sustainable change.

By using the business concepts they are learning in the classroom to help others, SIFE students develop stronger business and leadership skills, as well as a sense of service and responsibility to the community and world around them. They’re emerging as leaders who understand the opportunity for business to make a positive economic, social and environmental impact. It’s the reason so many top companies have identified SIFE as a leading source of socially responsible business talent.

And yes, I saw these students. You know what? I find that seeing them fills me with hope for the future. They were smart, enthusiastic, dedicated and have been doing this for the past so many years, passing the torch from student to student, always being engaged and really making a difference to the common person down in society. I met them and listened to their competition presentation, which had some very interesting initiatives. I gave them some hints on how to improve the initiatives and how to better give the presentations. However, what was more important was the initiatives that they are doing. I am liberally borrowing from their presentations with due apologies :)

It's not like that the student were from business studies, but gratifyingly, I saw students from a variety of disciplines, such as management, French, German, International Relations, Strategy, Politics, English language, and international business. A good smattering of subjects.

The first initiative was to work with The Children's Hospital to see,

“How can we motivate these children to become environmentally aware, whilst giving them the courage to succeed in the business world?”

These students are working with the kids to reduce, recycle and reuse. The next initiative is

“How can we encourage young people to learn more about how businesses trade on an international scale, if they have no prior knowledge of the subject? “

Look at the progress they made in terms of understanding complex concepts after the students got engaged with the children?


The next initiative was:

How can we expect disadvantaged young people to survive in an increasingly competitive environment without the essential skills?

Disadvantaged sounds like such a simple non-threatening word, no? But these students are working with Children in Care, children whose family lives have been shattered, completely spoilt by their parents, who are either drug addicts or in prison for sexual assault or what have you. Then we also have the homeless young people, who have run away from home to escape from abusive parents or those who have simply fallen through the cracks. And finally they work with youth offenders, children who have started engaging in criminal activities or have been sentenced to jail terms. How do you fix these issues? These university students are actually doing something about them. They are giving them training and sacrificing valuable time of their own so that they can do some productive work.

They started small, with only 22 young people who had 23 sessions spread over 6 weeks. They learnt about bank accounts, budgeting and budgets and interest rates. Each one of them went through guidance on how to write a CV and cover letters and practiced with mock interviews. And 3 were actually invited to a real interview for a job. Not much, you might think, but I believe that this is a huge improvement. That’s civil society in operation and each took one of them away at least something in terms of knowledge gained.

The next initiative was

With a fall in graduate jobs how can we give graduates another route to success?

They invited 300 graduates and worked with various local firms and banks to arrange for entrepreneurship training and opportunities. Jobs are disappearing these days, but that doesn't mean that the graduates should do nothing. Thankfully the firms assisted in pushing the graduates to think about working through opportunities to start their own business.

But what impressed me most was that these students actually asked a basic question:

How can we expect our projects to have a significant impact without ensuring our own sustainability?


This is crucial! Public service does not mean sucking on government largesse, but should be self sustainable. So the students themselves actually arranged for ticketed events (a gruesome hideous jelly bath event. A picture is shown above.) They are also seeking sponsorships from firms to make sure that their work and funding is sustainable. Very creditable indeed.

I was reminded of Swami Vivekananda’s speech on the wonderful world of youth and I am taking the liberty to quote segments of it:

Supreme value of youth period is incalculable and indescribable. Youth life is the most precious life. Youth is the best time. The way in which you utilize this period will decide the nature of coming years that lie ahead of you. Your happiness, your success, your honour and your good name all depend upon the way in which you live now, in this present period. Remember this. This wonderful period of the first state of your life is related to you as the soft wet clay in the hands of the potter. Skilfully the potter gives it the right and correct shapes and forms, which he intends to give. Even so, you can wisely mould your life, your character, your physical health and strength, in short your entire nature in any way in which you make up your mind to do. And you must do this now.

O fortunate youth, recognize this great duty. Feel this wonderful privilege. Take up this adventure. God watches you graciously, ever ready to help and guide. I wish you to be great. The world has put its faith in you. Your elders keep their hopes in you. Now youth means to place your firm confidence in yourself and exercise your hopeful determination and resolution and willing good intentions in this beautiful task of self-culture. This will truly bring supreme satisfaction and fulfilment not only to you, but also to all concerned. The shaping of your life is indeed in your own hands.

To imagine that a whole host of these teams across the world are working towards similar goals makes me feel alive. What a wonderful collaboration of students helping others! When I saw the enthusiasm and motivation of these young folks, I was humbled and I can only wish them the best.

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Sunday, April 5

Christian Far Right terrorism in the UK

This chap, Neil MacGregor, apparently threatened to blow up Glasgow Central Mosque and behead one Muslim per week till all Muslims are gone. Now curiously, this news item was not flashed on any of the media. I wonder why? And as many have inquired, if a British Muslim had actually planned to blow up Westminster Cathedral, what do you think the reaction would have been?

He belongs to the National Front, a particularly detestable, hideously stupid bunch of morons. Take a look at their website, a bunch of more intellectually challenged morons will not be found anywhere, but then these kinds of religious and/or ideologically skewed idiots seem to be particularly potent in this country.

Islamophobia is pretty much rife here, institutionally racism anybody? And no, I am not exaggerating, what else explains the lack of any form of media coverage whatsoever? I Google News searched for Neil MacGregor and Glasgow Central Mosque and all I could find was ZERO, Nada, nothing, not a sausage mention of this case. Blogs yes, news items no. This blogger asked about it and he got this response from STV. This never stopped other terrorism trials to be covered before sentencing now, did it?

Dear Mr Ahmed

Thank you for your email. stv have not covered the story in any detail so far as the case keeps being deferred. We are aware of the date of his sentencing and may cover it accordingly.

Thanks for your interest.

Kind Regards

Some links here and here. I searched for the case on the Scottish Court’s Website , but could not find anything. It might be that the case is still running, so dont know if its up. Mind you, the story seems to be broken by The Digger, a bit of a rag, by the sounds of it here and here.

Anyway, worth keeping a beady eye out on this.

Mecca mosques 'wrongly aligned'

Whoops, presumably that means that prayers offered at 200 mosques are potentially misplaced. The story says:

Some worshippers are said to be anxious about the validity of their prayers

Say these mosques are about average 25 years old. Each having say the average capacity of say 500 people, with 5 prayers a day. That’s a total of 12,500,000 or 12.5 million prayers which have gone astray. And worse, if they aren’t aligned, they might be aiming those prayers at say Rome, or Varanasi or Lord only knows where. Bit silly, no? Plus remember, the direction changed, previously the recommended direction was Jerusalem and then the Prophet changed the direction to Mecca. And if Allah is everywhere, how does it matter which direction you pray in? Some people are just too literal.

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