Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia

… a psychologist’s expression for the fear of long words. Originally a scientific joke, it has now become a sysnonym for the slightly less thrilling sesquipedalophobia.

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Published in: on October 9, 2007 at 8:31 am  Leave a Comment  

Comfortably numb.

Yesterday, in a big but presumably peaceful city’s metro, I suddenly found myself in the line of fire. Police stormed the wagon and one officer determinedly pointed his gun at the guy sitting behind me. Some passengers left the scenery quite rapidly, but I remained seated and gaped at (or should I say into?) the gun. Am I brave? I don’t think so. What if the guy behind me had had a gun as well? I did not think about it. 

Today, I am rather surprised about this apathy. It was the first time for me to be in such a situation and I would have expected a bit more adrenaline. Come to think about it, I’d like to argue that media coverage about wars and crime, action movies and first person shooters are slowly making us more indifferent than we like to admit to ourselves. You decide whether that is a good or a bad thing. But consume with caution. Or change the world.

Published in: on September 13, 2007 at 10:31 am  Leave a Comment  

Equine socialisation, workplace success, happiness and indifference

 

It seems that, to climb all the way up the slippery slope of corporate hierarchy, one has to acquire a kaleidoscopic set of behaviours. Chameleonic personality is warranted. It is about appearance towards those who decide –be it directly or indirectly—on the future of our careers. Being rebellious in the eyes of our bosses hardly ever augments the speed at which we would relocate from the torture chamber (a.k.a. ‘our cubicle’) to our dream 50m2 office in the 30th floor. Therefore, obedience is vital, even if it implies incurring in unreasonable behaviour, such as going through those ridiculously irrelevant ‘team-building’ obstacle courses or caressing, hugging and kissing a horse. Yes, you read it right: a horse. It is the latest advancement in corporate idiocy.

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Belgian talent scout Sofie Van Eemeren interacts with a seven-year-old palomino called Spirit during a corporate training session organised by the company Equi-RH at stables in Lesve, southern Belgium, August 27, 2007 (Source: Reuters/Francois Lenoir).

In a Reuters article titled ‘Want a pay rise? Use your horse sense, located under the ‘In depth news’ section, Mark John reported that Belgian trainer Thierry Verwaerde and his wife, Bernadette Delvaux, are “pioneering a corporate training technique they call ‘equi-coaching’, whose tool is the highly strung nature of horses” (for more information –or should I write ‘disinformation’?—visit www.equi-rh.be). The ‘in-depth’ article continues saying that “Delvaux says many clients only notice changes in their outlook some time after the training, and even then these are quite subtle. But she argues the experience is more memorable than a day spent in front of a blackboard learning management techniques.” Equine language lessons: more memorable than a day in front of a blackboard laden with good ol’ management bullshit? That’s too close to call. But, if a memorable–yet pointless—day is what you’re seeking, try teaching your dog to solve the Riemann hypothesis right in the middle of La Rambla on a summer Sunday morning!

It is remarkable how much HR departments spend out of shareholders’ money (and general citizens’ money if taken into account the tax deductions that the authorities might award for those ‘training’ expenses) in irrational courses that teach us nothing more than how high our stupidity levels can go just to please our bosses, to whom we tend to be their pathetically unconditional bitches. The things we are capable of doing just to climb up the socioeconomic ladder! The irrationalities to which we are accomplices just to nourish our bank accounts!

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Belgian finance executive Philippe Delvaux interacts with a seven-year-old palomino called Spirit during a corporate training session organised by the company Equi-RH at stables in Lesve, southern Belgium, August 27, 2007(Source: Reuters/François Lenoir).

Nevertheless, I wish our selfishness-fuelled complicity was limited to this type of irrationality rather than being extensive to greater irrationalities, such as war, famine, curable yet uncured diseases and other forms of widespread human suffering, all of them longstanding dishonourable disgraces, nurtured by centuries of the most common display of utmost selfishness: indifference. While too many millions live with hunger, perfectly curable yet deadly medical conditions, illiteracy, war, homelessness and other manifestations of irrationality – as all this is taking place, we can be insane enough to centre our concernedness on trivialities such as where to spend our next holiday or what cologne to spray on us prior this Saturday night outing. As Catalan humorist Jaume Perich (1941-1995) once said or wrote –who knows?—, “Everyone wants happiness yet not happiness for everyone”. We, the economically better off part of humanity, would anaesthetise our mental soundness by submitting ourselves to ridiculous ‘equi-coaching’ courses just to improve our already decent financial outlook. Unfortunately, we are never eager to propose, design and execute a historic equalising exercise of human brotherhood, even if doing so eradicates –or at least attenuates significantly—the still alive and well socioeconomic consequences of centuries of genocide, slavery, colonialism, deliberate segregation, independent thought suppression, among other despicable means of material wealth consolidation. 

Published in: on September 9, 2007 at 6:59 pm  Comments (1)  

Coping with infidelity

Don’t know how to deal with your not-so-better half’s infidelity? Here’s a smart and sexy way to handle it.

Published in: on September 8, 2007 at 5:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

Thank you very much, South Carolina.

I don’t see why people laugh at this girl. In retrospect, her answer turns out to be the perfect explanation for the problem posed in the question.

Published in: on August 26, 2007 at 11:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Hub and Spoke off Somalia.

Pirates! The waters off the Somalian coast are among the most dangerous in the world. Some 20 warships  in the region are trying to “endure freedom”, but they have not been able to prevent 17 piracy attacks in 2007. Even though the Danish “Dancia White” was sailing a full 240 nautical miles off the coast,  it was still hijacked.

Such kind of operations are now possible because pirates are increasingly switching to the hub and spoke system: motherships cruise deepsea and release many small and quick “Volvos” to attack in formerly save waters.

Normally, one can get a ship and its crew released for a ransom of $ 500.000.   The “Dancia White”, however, was three times as much.  Some say that was due to her European crew. But it can also be argued that organizing and maintaining the hub and spoke network has proven to be more expensive than expected. So it has yet to be seen if pirates will return to direct calls, making the high seas more secure and ransoms affordable again.

Published in: on August 24, 2007 at 8:50 am  Leave a Comment  

Italian restaurant owners clear their names

On the aftermath of the Duisburg incident (see previous post titled “$47 billion tax-free”), Italian restaurant owners from all over Germany highlight the sharp decrease in clientele they have been experiencing since the massacre. Some owners claim decreases in customer visits up to thirty per cent (EFE).

Seeking to ameliorate their cash flow levels, Italian cuisine entrepreneurs in Germany launched a nationwide campaign condemning mafia-related activities.

I would bet that this isolated event will not mutate irreversibly Germans’ gastronomic preferences for their world-renowned intelligence would prevent them from prejudicing a whole Mediterranean nation –or any other nation for that matter—because of a few rotten apples. It will be business as usual, or should I say “lasagne and Chianti as usual”?        

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It reads: “People who tolerate mafia are people without dignity”.

Source: AFP

Published in: on August 22, 2007 at 3:29 am  Leave a Comment  

Celebrating information society

They call it information society. Increase the number of personal computers per capita, make internet access cheaper, crank up connection speed a bit, and you will produce better informed citizens, right? Cyberspace allows virtually anyone –even anonymous rookie ‘bloggers’ like me—to express publicly and instantly, and in a theoretically widespread fashion, whatever he or she has to say to whom it may interest, no matter where in the globe both ends of the communication chain are located. Assuming the rest of the variables constant, advancements in communication technologies should lead to increased awareness potential for the user. It is up to the user to administer said potential, bestowed upon him or her every time he or she sits in front of an online computer. Therefore, I feel flattered by you, fellow reader, visiting consciously or quasi-accidentally this budding ‘blog’ in your relentless quest for awareness or boredom killing. It is up to me and my two fellow editors to embed this humble ‘blog’ in your web surfing habits.     

Published in: on August 16, 2007 at 10:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

$ 47 billion tax-free.

The Italian N’drangetha group generates an annual turnover of $ 47 billion – more than Italy’s biggest corporation, Fiat. The value is only an estimate though, since N’drangetha doesn’t publish its figures. 

Latest news: Yesterday, two members of the Calabrian mafia clan shot six Italians in Duisburg (Germany).  

Published in: on August 16, 2007 at 12:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

Diseconomies of network.

Are you linked in a virtual contact management network? A professional, business-oriented one? Of course you are, and it feels so different from the “I have more and more beautiful friends than you” networks alá myspace and facebook. Guys like you and me know that we have 37 direct contacts and, as a consequence, 1001 secondary contacts. 3rd and 4th level? You do the math.

Let’s stick to the secondaries. Ever contacted one of them? Yes? Good. Impressive. And did he or she only reply because you knew someone he or she knew? Wouldn’t he or she have replied otherwise? Give us all a break. Down to the direct contacts. Ever browsed through them and found that there are only three or four real close contacts among them?

Everyone wants to know everyone and increasingly, everyone does know everyone. Now we just have to get sexy and fashionable. Off towards myspace (requests welcome).

Published in: on August 14, 2007 at 3:38 pm  Leave a Comment