Thursday, September 5

bravery, this is the quiet bravery which makes Britain Great Britain.


Here’s the group of our volunteers holding their certificates and the staff members & trustees. Every year, we celebrate the awesome contribution they do. And at the back is the Lord Mayor of Hillingdon, who very kindly agreed to felicitate the volunteers.

Each of them have worked with a family with young children in distress over months and in some cases over years. They have recovered the family in distress, helping them over issues ranging from alcoholism, ill-health, unemployment, mental illness, etc. etc. all on their free time. Despite them having their own families who need them. Amazing. And they volunteer for this. Can you imagine devoting a huge proportion of your week? day in day out, week in week out, knowing that you have to manage your family as well as try to recover another family which is falling apart?

bravery, this is the quiet bravery which makes Britain Great Britain.

A heartfelt thank you.

Wednesday, September 4

Pakistan’s polio war

This was a painful article to read.


Just this bit was painful

This is especially true among Pashtun parents like Usman. A father of four living in the Karachi slum of Bhains Colony, he contracted polio as an infant in the early 1980s. It has left him visibly disabled, his loping gait the result of an almost useless right leg that he must lock out with a rigidly tensed right hand at every step. As a polio victim himself, he insisted that his eldest children be vaccinated. But by the time workers came to inoculate his youngest child, Musharaf, reports of Dr Afridi’s activities on behalf of the CIA had reached him.

“If the incident in Abbottabad did not happen,” he admitted ruefully, speaking of his fellow Pashtuns in general, “and these rumours didn’t spread to us, we would have continued the vaccinations as we had been.” But Usman refused the vaccine drops for Musharaf, and one morning in January the two-year-old woke crying and unable to move his leg. “I was trying to get him to sit and I remember what my mother told me: ‘When you were little I was trying to get you to stand and you couldn’t stand.’” His face is pained as he recounts the episode. “With my mother’s words in my mind I tried to make him stand, but he couldn’t and it hit me hard – that, God forbid, something has happened to him.” Just weeks after the deaths of those vaccination workers, the young child with a winning smile had become Pakistan’s first confirmed polio case of 2013.

“I know if I had given him the vaccine this wouldn’t have happened,” Usman confesses, admonishing himself. “You shouldn’t have been fooled by people.” I follow him as he clambers slowly down the rough concrete stairs out of his house and stops to watch a hobbling Musharaf join a group of children playing with a pink balloon.

What can you say? What can you do? just one of the little tragedies that we have to thank so many people from, ranging from Obama to Osama.

Monday, September 2

How Poverty Taxes the Brain

To paraphrase Maugham son, poverty is a dull dreary affair and my earnest advise is to have nothing to do with it. It's really soul destroying son. It does reduce brainpower and it really does pain the mind. Hunger ruins everything. Poverty removes any kind of rational decision making. Which is why I keep on telling you to learn to save and invest. 

But I disagree that you can separate the poor out of the context. Both are entwined and both need to be addressed. A welfare state helps but too much can breed complacency and sloth as we have see. Do you know there are 3 million households in this country where nobody has a job? So you can say that it's because of a recession or rise of single households. Or that there are a million households where nobody ever held a job? Or hundreds of thousands of households where nobody in 3 generations ever held a job? Living in benefits? That's Jo life. That's a life for cattle. 



How Poverty Taxes the Brain

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How Poverty Taxes the BrainShutterstock

Human mental bandwidth is finite. You’ve probably experienced this before (though maybe not in those terms): When you’re lost in concentration trying to solve a problem like a broken computer, you’re more likely to neglect other tasks, things like remembering to take the dog for a walk, or picking your kid up from school. This is why people who use cell phones behind the wheel actually perform worse as drivers. It’s why air traffic controllers focused on averting a mid-air collision are less likely to pay attention to other planes in the sky.

We only have so much cognitive capacity to spread around. It’s a scarce resource.

This understanding of the brain’s bandwidth could fundamentally change the way we think about poverty. Researchers publishing some groundbreaking findings today in the journal Science have concluded that poverty imposes such a massive cognitive load on the poor that they have little bandwidth left over to do many of the things that might lift them out of poverty – like go to night school, or search for a new job, or even remember to pay bills on time.

The condition of poverty imposed a mental burden akin to losing 13 IQ points

In a series of experiments run by researchers at Princeton, Harvard, and the University of Warwick, low-income people who were primed to think about financial problems performed poorly on a series of cognition tests, saddled with a mental load that was the equivalent of losing an entire night’s sleep. Put another way, the condition of poverty imposed a mental burden akin to losing 13 IQ points, or comparable to the cognitive difference that’s been observed between chronic alcoholics and normal adults.