Sunday, April 7, 2013

Wait... A War?


War. It's hard not to feel disturbed by the idea of war. Immediately, the word finds various meanings in the minds of random people; it involves violence in any of them, whatsoever. We are in the 21st century and, impressively, it's debated sort of frequently nowadays.

It's ten years now since US declared war over Iraq. It was an unsuccessful war, with no winners. Iraq is still feeling the sour effects till this day. No one would expect US would embark on another war. This time around with North Korea.

Kim Jong Un, self declared supreme leader of North Korea, claims US economic sanctions over a late North Korean nuclear test are a call for a war. He is kind of determined to influence leaders to attend his demands for oil, food etc. It's not that different from past leaders, such as the father, Kim Jong-Il and Kim Il-Sung, the first leader of the 'modern' North Korean peninsula.

No one would expect this type of behaviour from a person who has been in contact with the outside world. After studying in Berna, Switzerland, Kim Jong Un has returned to Pyongyang in 2000, and, to a surprising degree, in 2010 he has been awarded a four star general in the army, and vice president for the highest military comission in the country's Labour Party.

Although nerves are trembling in Asia (Japan) and in America - a little bit - experts consider he is showing his testoterone hormones to the world, in a way to be respected. It's not for real there's an impending war nearby; what is for real is the fact the whole world is getting to know more about this fellow, and his immature posture, while people in North Korea still suffers. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

It's Not Rock'N'Rio


In few weeks time I'm going to São Paulo for a big event: Lollapalooza. Well, it's a music event. Ok, I should have said I'm going to a MUSIC event, but, no problem. This is a big event for me. 

I always thought this would be the ultimate music event, since I started listening to rock music, probably, international rock music. I'm a fan of alternative music, mostly. It's rock, indeed, but, perhaps, it's more creative and I like it. 

Alternative is all you can find in Lollapalooza. The festival started out in 1991 as a farewell tour to Jane's Addiction - band of the festival's founder, Perry Farrel - and it is still on till this day, however, on and off over the years. The main thing about Lollapalooza is the fact it gathers different styles of music, which allures people with diverse music taste. This is my case.

The first Lolla in Brazil was last year, 2012, but I don't like Foo Fighters and Arctic Monkeys that much, also, didn't have the cash. So It's ok now. There's Black Keys, Planet Hemp, Nas, Killers among the main attractions. I hope it keep up to my expectations. 

I really like to watch bands live, and I've been to many concerts before. When there's nothing going on in your life, you know it's time to do something different and travel a bit, or go to a rock concert (pfff, if life would be that simple). If it's both combined then it's more than fine!

I should only take it easy because I did a knee surgery not long ago, and three days of fun call for attention to my health. Well, the doctor said to take pain reliever and apply some ice in case pain occurs. Thanks, Dr! See you all!



Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Survival

                            Man finds himself looking for survival. Illustration: trrent          

Yesterday I saw 'Life of Pi' and struck me the fact it is about survival. Not much about religion, perhaps, but the challenge of keeping yourself alive. Well, depends on your interpretation. Nevertheless, it's a tough subject. Actually, I'm a fan of the TV series 'Man Vs Wild' - which is in line with this concept. I sometimes find myself thinking what it would be to staying alive (no pun intended) in the wild.

This awareness probably is related to human genes; it's in our blood the past experiences from our descendants and stuff, and by this we develop hunches and attitudes for certain, and not rarely dangerous occasions. But the regular urban person seems not worried to survive in the wild, just in the city. The same case for people in rural areas, no longer pre-historical dangers scare them off. However, the interest in survival stories never fades. Hollywood has produced many films with survival themes.

'Cast away', 'Open Water', even 'Titanic' are examples of how films address our inner ancient fears of trying to staying alive. So I was glad to find on TV a regular show that would not only talk about survival, but exhibit it all. It is 'Man Vs Wild', aforementioned in the first paragraph. It is a shame, though, it has ended in 2012.

The show used to be aired on Discovery Channel, but I still tune in Brazil on a pay TV 24h news channel. It has lasted seven seasons, always presented by ex-Brittish Army Air officer, Bear Grylls. A really enticing entertainment show, it has never dropped the interest on the guy's adventures to escape from the wild and find civilization.  Maybe I needed to be a scout, or joined the army, to face the thrills which I feel so compelled by the show. Perhaps I like to learn what I see on the show in case I need.

Propably it is the case, I'm still not sure. I believe it's not a big deal to garner survivalist skills nowadays. How many of us are exposed to potential life threats every day? I'm not sure, and I'm not sure whether getting to know survival skills - on a TV basis - would help at all, but it would make a difference. Isn't that one of the reasons why I and others watch 'Man Vs Wild' at all?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2013 Forecast


Here it comes: the new year. It means people start to make predictions about the future and stuff. They fill up the air with illusions and stories about the events that 'will' take place in their lives and surroundings. If it would be that simple.

The fact is, after reading The Zurich Axioms, book about investments, I currently understand people can't predict the future. We would always wonder, 'he's good at what he's saying, he studied', but the future is decided by a scramble of events, people included. So, where you find human beings, you may know unpredicted things happen.

People make decisions without much sense sometimes, and there are a whole lotta planet full of people, each person different from the other. It's not hard to think what it causes. Markets, wars, elections are all transformed by people. 

There are others who think it is, yes, possible to predict future. Nate Silver, the author of The Signal and the Noise: Why Most Predictions Fail - but Some Don't celebrates the fact that investigation of a matter - from all sides - can bring up the solution, as I read in a book review this week. Nate gets better in predictions if the organizations he consults are liable and honest, because he knows all people fail!

Hence we know there are two ways of thinking related to forecasting. I'm sticking to the first one for the moment; it's easier not to predict right, mostly because I'm not in the business of antecipating events for a living. But who knows what the future holds?  

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Awareness



                                           Friends find solace on each other.

The World AIDS Day was yesterday and I saw no awareness amidst the people I know, or the community I live in. It is kinda strange not to consider this day as an important reminder of prevention we all should indulge. I don't know whether people would keep their minds on spending - Black Friday/ Xmas - or just take it for granted.

Although there are parts of the world where HIV numbers are decreasing, there are parts where people are unaware of the problem. In UK, for example, a quarter of 90.000 people infected don't even know they have the virus. The UN recently released 2011 statistics which showed newly infected reaching 2.5 million. If we consider the UN program for AIDS, 'Getting To Zero', there is still a lot of ground ahead of everyone.

The campaign to get AIDS down to zero has 10 goals for 2015; many of them are quite difficult to deliver,  such as preventing all drug users from getting infected. It's extremely positive to have goals and follow them, but when you are speaking on behalf of other nations, it gets difficult to manage. What people need to know is that everyone can make the change, not leaving the burden to medical organizations around the world.

It could be as easy as using a condom or a new syringe. The condom promotion investment, for example,  in low and middle income countries is currently US$ 100 million, but it is needed more US$ 190 million to increase awareness till 2015. Investments are a bit low now than they are requested. So at least what people can do right is act aware - in fact that is the campaign idea by World AIDS Day organization in UK.

Hopefully in between this World Day and the next I can see people discussing and thinking more about this topic around me. If you are thinking on donating blood, one thing leads to the other, and then next time you see,  you are having the HIV test. It is as simple as that, and it can be part of everyone's lives too.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Multitasking Me


The other day at work I got in trouble while talking to a person and loading information into the computer. I thought I could multitask well, but I couldn't. Well, nobody can, according to specialists. At this exact moment, I'm opening another browser window to check a total different subject.

Tsc, tsc, we always want to do multiple things at once, in a way we wouldn't waste time, or better saying, we would save time. Indeed, it's quite logical thinking, but we forget our brain capacity. If we do an analogy with a computer, we remember the computer's processor can only do things in a sequence, not altogether. 

Actually, we can do things together, if we consider mechanical tasks, like sweeping the floor, changing the lightbulb, with talking, singing, for example, because the former tasks are rote tasks. No problem at all. The thing is when we consider doing highly demanding tasks; they take up most of our brain functionality. The brain goes through two stages normally: goal shifting and role activation. The first one is the decision of which activity should be focused, and the other is the rule changing when a new activity is started. Those are the processes our brains regularly follow.

It's a good idea, though, not to obliterate our inner programming. Multitasking used to be well considered in job interviews, and I even said I was a good multitasker in many occasions! It is at work where people attempt to multitask the most, and it is there where employees get more into trouble, like me. So, as a matter of fact, I will try not to forget this valuable lesson, not at least for tomorrow!

Friday, November 2, 2012

US Tough Electorate Decision


Although it's not much my business, US elections run next week, and all eyes turn to this country. As we all live connected, probably most of world's population, these elections matter indeed. Maybe there's only the ingenious curiosity of who's gonna win, but the future (or present) is set at this moment, and what comes next defines the next four years, for many people.

Both candidates are fit for the job, but their plans are quite different from each other. It seems to be an easy decision for the electorate, but it doesn't. Romney and Obama have been debating with many ups and downs, trying to convincing whoever is on their way. However, there are lots of undecided people, and it's not on US alone - in Brazil, France, and other places, voters feel great disbelief on politicians, and it's surmmounting.

Obama, according to the critics, turned down points from his own oath of office, only closing in on things for a new four-year-term. Romney changes his ideas from time to time; he has a doubtful foreign policy, inclined to hostility and combativeness with other countries. He would rather cut funds from public programs than the army budget. Again, it seems like an easy decision to pick the best candidate, but America is divided at the moment. 

There are flaws in both presidentials, so maybe is the reason for doubt. Obama failed in some issues, Romney is a new candidate with no coherent speech. People wouldn't like this election to be difficult to vote. I assume it's because Barack Obama and Mitt Romney don't offer nothing new. And at the end, during tough times, it makes a lot of difference.