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Know the Rules Of The Game

May 19th, 2017

Just imagine you've had enough. Had enough of getting up early in the morning, getting washed and dressed, gulping down some carb filled 'not good for you' cereal and spending a good portion of your unpaid time, commuting to some place where you spend your day dealing with irate customers, grumpy colleagues, unreasonable demands from superiors only to face that commute back again. That is it! You up sticks, find a wide open space that suits your soul and down sticks. How long you think you got before someone lets you know, you cannot stay there? Lets you know that you can't drink water from the clear stream that runs past nor eat the fruits from the trees around you? Other people have done it, so why can't you?

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The Forgotten Raison D'être

May 18th, 2017

Something sinister is happening to the Social Benefit Services in the UK. As Government officials' rhetoric and public opinion guided by sensational tabloid newspaper headlines and 'benefit' porn on television has vilified and even criminalised those who find themselves at the bottom of the social system, the services have lost the reason for their existence. Instead of helping, the system seems now geared to stopping as many people accessing help, a lot of times in a cruel and uncaring manner.

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Taxing Lies

May 16th, 2017

Have you been worried about all the tax policies of the potential new Labour Government? Well, for most of us, we don't need to be. For example, the truth is that if you are now nowhere near earning £80K a year, you are very unlikely to join ever join the 5% of the population that earns more than that and that includes the millionaires and billionaires! If you are a student, look at the salaries for your chosen profession on job sites to see just how you would fare getting to the salary.

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The 'Tell It Like It Is' Brigade - Liars

March 15th, 2017

There they are, the memes, the statuses and the quotes; “Only the truth comes out my mouth”, “I tell it like it is”, “You can't handle the truth” and all that other mambo jumbo. Here is a truth, most of those people are lying. I'll tell you why.

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Buddhism – the gentle religion?

March 6th, 2017

The most famous Buddhist, His Holiness the Dalai Lama whose famous quotes litter social media time lines, is the public face of the peacefulness of Buddhism. If you were looking to 'find yourself', you might have considered following the thousands of people from the West who head for Buddhist monasteries in the Far East particularly Nepal, Thailand and even Myanmar (formerly Burma). If you were to be converted, if such a thing exists in Buddhism, you would be joining the hundreds of famous people who have become Buddhists.

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Capita – Symbol Of What Is Wrong With Capitalism?

March 2nd, 2017

Capita, somewhat unlovingly called C*apita by mostly ex-employees of whom I am one (ex-employee that is), reports a 33 per cent drop in pre-tax profits as it loses its chief executive Andy Parker. After 3 years in charge, Mr Parker joins the additional 2,000 job losses announced in December after the second profits warning. To further cut Capita’s 69,000 staff headcount by about 3 per cent, plans are afoot to send some jobs to India - not the 1st time – and “introduce robotics and automation to parts of the business” amid another restructure.

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Love is not enough.

March 1st, 2017

♫♪♫♪♫Bitter-sweet memories, that's all I have, and all I'm taking with me. Good-bye, oh, please don't cry, cause we both know that I'm not what you need and … I will always love you...♫♪♫♪♫

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Customer Care - British Style.

February 27th, 2017

Since I am now over the age of 50, I am now part of the army of grumpy old men and bear my responsibility to complain with all that great British fortitude. Several incidents in the last few weeks have left me feeling that I need to have have a word about British customer care, so don't scroll past. I know that dealing with the public can be trying at the best of times – see this post Nightmare Clients And Customers about the matter but I digress.

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Is Our Bank Being Setup for A Cheap Takeover?

February 26th, 2017

Politicians are good at deflection – when they want us to get mad, they tell us its our money – as in immigrants are claiming your money – and when they want us not to take notice they say the government's money – as in the 'government' owned bank RBS – Royal Bank of Scotland. Working as a civil servant many years ago in Zimbabwe, one lesson I learnt was that the government does not have any money, we, the people or specifically the tax payers, trust the government to spend our money.

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Somehow, I Lost My Religion.

February 24th, 2017

Well that is not exactly true. Religion, as most know it, that I lost many, many years ago. What I am actually talking about is my spirituality. Confused? I will elaborate.

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That Time Again

February 6th, 2017

No trumpets sound when the important decisions of our life are made. Destiny is made known silently. - Agnes de Mille (1909 – 1993)

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A Mexican Lesson Of 'All Eggs in one basket' For Us.

January 27th, 2017

One of the hardest lessons my colleagues and I learnt when we were running our small business was that it was a mistake to have one of your customers provide most of your income. This meant that we bent over backwards, sometimes to our own detriment, to ensure we kept their business.

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Plastic Carrier Bag Charge – Wasted Opportunity (#5p2recycle)

January 22nd, 2017

My local Tesco supermarket in their wisdom no longer provide plastic carrier bag recycling facilities. Facilities were removed 'since the 5 pence bag charge was introduced'. Following the example of many other countries, on 5th October 2015, England introduced 5 pence charges for single-use plastic carrier bags. Now maybe I should have taken more notice when the the charge was introduced but I assumed that the charge would go into 'plastic carrier bag' recycling facilities considering that only retailers with more than 250 employees are obliged to charge for bags. This leaves tens of thousands of shops – many in inner city areas – that still do not charge for carrier bags.

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Why I Fear Writing Again

January 20th, 2017

Isn't funny that societies that historically measured the level of their 'civilisation' based on their artistic appreciation and artistic creation, that in this day and age most all types of artists in the developed world have to hold down day jobs to make ends meet? Only a small fraction actually make any real money. The picture is what my second eldest child and daughter bought me as my present for my 50th birthday. I'm not sure but I may have inspired her choice of present by discussing my writing and other artistic issues at some point.

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Universal Basic Income

January 19th, 2017

This week's big new story is Oxfam's report on how the eight people own same wealth as half the world. Last year it was 62 people! The principle of 'Universal Basic Income' appears to be the idea that appears to be able to provide a workable solution against widespread poverty especially in countries where the 'extended family' support structures, important in poorer societies, have been eroded over the recent past generations.

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Expectations and Disappointments

January 3rd, 2017

"That's it, I'm done, from now on I will look after number one, me and mine."

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Resolutions resolved.

January 1st, 2017

Many years ago, at least over 25 years ago, my mother who was a 60 a day smoker at the time decided to stop smoking on New Year's day. I had never known my Mum to make a resolution before nor I cannot remember her doing it since. Many people will discourage you from making resolutions by saying why wait for New Year's day to make a change that you should make at the time you decide you need the change. I would argue that there is something memorable about the date – the 1st of January - that makes it special.

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Geo-tagging Photographs

June 25th, 2015

Recently I have been trying to get all the photographs I have taken over the last few years organised and shared on the web. The need to easily share the photographs led me to develop a simple PHP web based photo gallery browser which you can find here.

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Racial Identity and Happiness

September 18th, 2010

I want to let you in on something. My new project that has been keeping me from posting here as often as I should and want is called 'Mixed In Different Shades' and is about the history of inter-cultural relationships and mixed heritage people around the world. How are these two things related you might ask, a blog dealing with trying to find happiness and a history of various small populations around the world? Let me explain.

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'Mixed' History In The Making

September 16th, 2010

A recent study by Leeds University that spawned a score of news stories (BBC, Guardian) estimated that numbers of ethnic minorities in the UK will grow from 8 to 20 per cent of the population in 2051.  Apart from the 'other white' ethnic group which will be the fuelled by expected high levels of immigration from Europe, Australasia and the US, the percentage of people identifying themselves as being of 'mixed race' is expected to grow substantially.

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Self Doubting's Purpose

September 14th, 2010

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts."  Bertrand Russell (1872 - 1970).

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Worry About Our Education Sector

September 13th, 2010

My daughter just came back from her old college where she had been asked by them to attend to request a letter confirming her leaving date.  The letter is required by the Job Centre and you would expect it is a common request by ex-college students.  She was told it would take up to 2 weeks to have the letter issued.  Considering that fact that the letter is usually required by other bureaucrats to allow some to for example, sign on as unemployed, you would think they would have their act together.

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Zimbabwe: Predictions of Chaos After Mugabe

September 8th, 2010

Apparently Zimbabwe's President Mugabe's health is deteriorating and now the analysts are predicting a chaotic handover to whoever follows him.  You don't need to be an analyst to work that one out!  Any chance that the ZANU-PF factions would resolve the issue internally and relatively peacefully is no longer possible with MDC in the picture.  The army is likely to be the king-maker.

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China and India will make the west poorer?

August 25th, 2010

"The current financial crisis could bring about a change in the international economic order with countries like China and India becoming the dominant global economic powers."   The Chief Economist of one of the world's biggest banks, HSBC, believes Asia's rise poses a threat to prosperity in the West.

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Junk Food & Drugs

August 13th, 2010

Fast food outlets should hand out  a statin pill, a cholesterol-lowering drug, to customers to combat the effects of fatty food, say an Imperial College London team.

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Dancing Happiness

July 21st, 2010

When you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance. [Lee Ann Womack - I Hope You Dance*]

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Rent A Friend Week

July 20th, 2010

“I am available on most weeknights, not degree educated but well versed in matters of politics, economics, religion and the like. Personal disasters like career disappointments and failed romantic encounters can be discussed and I am not too averse to bouncing balls, kicking balls and hitting balls with a bat but much prefer the kind of play available at the local night club. I can hold my liquor quite well and am unlikely to return any curries eaten under the influence. Being a little on the large side enables me to fireman lift any friend to whom the excitement becomes too much. All this for the price of a taxi ride home! Bookings being take now, form an orderly queue please, we’re British.”

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Racism, Tribalism, Classism - Prejudice without Substance

July 19th, 2010

My 60 year plus mother holds some very set view about certain sections of society that may have some basis in experience but most likely does not. Since she comes for the generation of the great –isms, I assumed that my siblings and I just brushed off these prejudices, sometimes with argument. Imagine my surprise when discussing a certain serious family issue with one of my siblings when they strongly expressed an opinion consistent with one of my mother’s which I know is not based in their experience.

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Child Maintenance Arrears over £3,761 million

July 18th, 2010

Single parent charity Gingerbread recently published a nationwide league table of child maintenance debt showing a child maintenance ‘debt mountain’ of £3,761 million owed to children by non-resident parents, mostly fathers, across the country. Gingerbread’s Chief Executive Fiona Weir urged the ‘Child Support Agency has to do its job too in collecting debts and enforcing payment’.

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The Changing Face Of Marriage

July 16th, 2010

We do not need to look for statistics to prove that the rate of marriage breakdowns is growing. Many of us have many have experienced it ourselves or have close family and friends who have and those of us with children will know that a significant proportion of their classmates come from ‘broken homes’. Some of those classmates will come from ‘single parent’ families where a marriage was never entered into in the first place but may have been a co-habitation or ‘break-up before marriage’ scenarios.

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When The Oppressed Become The Oppressors

July 13th, 2010

“Set me free so that I may do to others what you did to me.”

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The Simple Things....

July 9th, 2010

Here is one man's view of how the simple, not necessarily the easy, can make you happy.   Though written from the sense of the simple home in the Brazilian favelas compared to the high life in the USA, it is the emphasis on simplicity, difficulty and community that the sense of wellbeing is being found - What is Home?

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XXX-iting Fundraising

July 6th, 2010

A "big budget" pornographic film was shot in a London hospital when it hired out one of its wards to a film company.  The movie generated "substantial income" for the hospital, Conservative MP Penny Mordaunt said  BBC News - 'Big budget' porn film shot in London hospital.

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People Died For This!

July 2nd, 2010

"MPs in Kenya have voted to boost their own salaries, making them among the world’s best paid politicians."  http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/10476388.stm.  Apparently 'the vote has provoked anger from the general public and the media, correspondents say'.  Well I’m not surprised.  The Kenyan PM will earn more than the Uk Premier and the US President and this is a third world country with much lower costs of living.

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Nairobi - One Of The Most Expensive Cities

July 1st, 2010

Nairobi has made it into the list of the worlds most expensive cities for expatriates, according to a new survey.  The continued slide in the Nairobis ranking, experts warn, could make the East Africas hub less attractive to international workers.The cost of living index compiled by Mercer, an international human resource consultancy, has ranked the city at position 88 of the most expensive cities in the world-- the first time it has made it to the list of the top 100. It was ranked at no. 114 last year, meaning it has dropped 26 places to edge closer to the most costly city among the 214 polled. (allAfrica.com: Kenya: Nairobi Ranked Among Most Expensive Cities).

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Hate Father’s Day.

June 21st, 2010

On Father’s Day (at least in most parts of the world) , one of the popular hashtags on Twitter was #FuckFathersDay and a search of the words ‘hate’ and ‘father’ or ‘daddy’ would have displayed a frighteningly growing results list.

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Jailed for breaking into Jail

June 19th, 2010

A Mozambican man, Macamelo Antonio, 28, was sentenced to 1 year for destroying state property after he used a hammer and crowbar to break back into prison. Mr Antonio had just been released for good behaviour from a 10 year sentence.

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MSP quits over 'attractive girl' remark

June 17th, 2010

"To be blunt, it is the job of the convener to ensure his committee is running smoothly and efficiently - not to ogle members of the audience." Brian Taylor,Political editor, BBC Scotland BBC News - Frank McAveety quits over 'attractive girl' remark.

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Get A Life, It Is The World Cup!

June 15th, 2010

"Allowing people to take time out to watch football during working hours is simply too costly, untimely, and unfair," so says Willem Smit, a researcher at the Institute for Management Development (IMD) in Switzerland. Smit has reckoned that if just half the workforce in contending nations knocks off to cheer their side on during the World Cup games, the cost to the global economy could be $10.4 billion in lost production time alone - Soccer’s Bad Influence on Brazil (notice the soccer reference in the title).

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Headline Figures Don't Make Happy People

June 8th, 2010

Exactly who are these people? Who are these analysts, forecasters and experts that come up with this kind of talk that dominates our news stories?

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Self Help Begins At Home

June 4th, 2010

If you walked into one of the most successful people in the world's home or office, would you expect to find row after row of self help DVDs/CDs and books? Have you seen any on MTV's ‘Cribs’ and 'Who lives in house like this?' Thought not.

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Stocktake Time Again - Big Changes on the Horizon

June 3rd, 2010

In exactly one month’s time, I will change my status once again from employed to self employed. Since it has been a long time since I have took stock of where I am, now would seem to be an appropriate time to do so.

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Lighting Woes - Funny World

June 2nd, 2010

As Swansea council have decided to switch off around 1,500 street lights in in search of savings up to £100,000 a year (BBC News - Swansea Council begins street light cut backs), Cape Town in South Africa’s city bosses are to keep the lights on round the clock to deter thieves of a surging crime wave involving the theft of electricity cables blighting the city (Cape Town lights stay on in daylight to deter theft)

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Africa Must Find Its Way Out Of Poverty

June 1st, 2010

Namibia’s Bishop Zephania Kameeta recently said "the poor and unemployed, who make up half of the Namibian population, still cannot believe that President Pohamba said we cannot dish out money for free to people who do nothing." The bishop was commenting on Namibia’s President's comments on the Basic Income Grant (see allAfrica.com: Namibia: A Way Forward for Big Initiative).

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Brazil - Party Country of the World Cup

May 28th, 2010

"Brazil, the world's fourth largest beer consumer, has slashed imported beer duties to avoid shortages during the World Cup, after local brewers warned they would be unable to meet surging demand despite sharply increasing production."

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Dieting Misery

May 9th, 2010

Apparently Naomi Campbell goes on the maple syrup diet – syrup mixed with cayenne pepper, lemon juice and water – three times a year. Beyoncé is said to have done that one as well adding laxative tea every night and a sea-salt water in the morning. Jennifer Aniston is, allegedly, on a new baby food diet and Liz Hurley once lived on a bowl of cabbage soup a day. These tit-bits cam to me courtesy of Naomi Campbells maple madness and my favourite quote in the article is “The awful thing about these diets is the joylessness of them. The sheer, sapping unhappiness they must involve.”

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The Money Obsession

May 8th, 2010

"This disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and powerful, and to despise, or, at least neglect persons of poor and mean conditions, though necessary both to establish and to maintain the distinction of ranks and the order of society, is, at the same time, the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments." (Theory of Moral Sentiments 1759)

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Brazil's Sexy Image

May 7th, 2010

Someone told me in the recent past that Brazil and in particular Rio, wished to clean up their 'sexy' reputation as it gave foriegners the impression that Brazil is full of sex crazed people, especially the women. Not sure that President Lula'sreinforcement of theBrazil Health minister's call to have sex for better health (http://en.mercopress.com/2010/04/29/more-sex-to-combat-high-blood-pressure-recommends-brazilian-minister) will help that reputation much. Couple that with my earlier post 'Sexy Brazilian Males Need Help!', this is a country where sex appears to be a national obsession.

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Reading and Driving Bus Driver Suspended - Next Taxi Drivers

May 6th, 2010

A bus driver has been suspended after a passenger filmed him reading while driving.The West Midlands Travel driver steering with his elbows while holding a small boook. (BBC News - Bus driver filmed reading while driving in Birmingham).

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Mexico’s Immigration Dilemma

May 5th, 2010

Immigration, the world over, causes no end of unjustified hysteria and problems. Our politicians and newspapers in the UK love to take a swipe at immigrants every time they need someone to blame or just to give a good kick.

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