Saturday, July 30, 2011

Business English

JON: Hello, I'm Jon Brown.
ARIYA: Hello Jon. I'm Ariya from Planet Industries. I'm here to take you to our office.
JON: Thank you. That's very kind. Is it far to your office?
ARIYA: No, not far. It takes about 30 minutes if the traffic is OK. But we have some bad traffic jams sometimes.
JON: Yes, I've heard that.
ARIYA: So how was your flight, Jon?
JON: Not too bad. I managed to sleep for a few hours.
ARIYA: Is this your first trip to Thailand?
JON: No, it isn't. I came here two years ago on holiday with my wife.
ARIYA: Oh. Do you like Thailand?
JON: Yes. Very much.
ARIYA: Why do you like it?
JON: Oh, the people are very nice, the weather's great, and I love the beach.
ARIYA: That's really good to hear. 
JON: What do you do in Planet Industries?
ARIYA: I'm a marketing assistant.
JON: I see. How long have you worked there?
ARIYA: For about five years. Anyway, come with me. We'll drive to the office. My car is outside.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Child Brides

The practice of child marriage is far more common throughout the world than many might suspect. According to UNICEF, as many as 50 million girls in developing countries were married before they turned 18 and 100 million more are expected to marry in the next decade. Child brides can be as young as 5 or 6 when they enter marriages, often with much older men.

"Whenever I saw him, I hid. I hated to see him," Tahani (in pink) recalls of the early days of her marriage to Majed, when she was 6 and he was 25. The young wife posed for this portrait with former classmate Ghada, also a child bride, outside their mountain home in Hajjah.
This group of young brides in a village in western Yemen were quiet and shy—until talk turned to education. Most of the girls, who were married between the ages of 14 and 16, had never attended school, but all say they still hope for an education.
Asia, a 14-year-old mother, washes her new baby girl at home in Hajjah while her 2-year-old daughter plays. Asia is still bleeding and ill from childbirth yet has no education or access to information on how to care for herself.
Long after midnight, five-year-old Rajani is roused from sleep and carried by her uncle to her wedding. Child marriage is illegal in India, so ceremonies are often held in the wee hours of morning. It becomes a secret the whole village keeps, explained one farmer.
Although early marriage is the norm in her small Nepali village, 16-year-old Surita wails in protest as she leaves her family's home, shielded by a traditional wedding umbrella and carried in a cart to her new husband's village.
Nujood Ali was ten when she fled her abusive, much older husband and took a taxi to the courthouse in Sanaa, Yemen. The girl's courageous act—and the landmark legal battle that ensued—turned her into an international heroine for women's rights. Now divorced, she is back home with her family and attending school again.


Businesses use more automation, fewer workers

As more Americans are getting unemployed, one thing is clear: A lot of companies are doing just fine, with fewer workers. They're going automated. 

Ron Baysden owns a Georgia plant that is the picture of high-tech manufacturing. Robots do much of the welding, lasers cut through sheets of steel, and computers track productivity.What you don't see is a lot of workers.

Baysden's family-run Impulse Manufacturing makes customized steel parts for everything from tractors to industrial refrigeration systems. When the recession hit, orders dried up and the company laid off nearly half of its 170 workers. Now, business is booming. The workforce is back up to 177 and profits are up too by 60 percent. Baysden plans to spend $1.5 million of that profit on new technology and none on new jobs. 

The technology is proving its worth for Baysden. For example, a laser can churn out one part in 30 seconds -- work that used to take 18 men and 30 minutes to complete. "A lot of my competitors did not survive 2009," Baysden said. "We survived because we spent a lot of money and investments in technology."

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, over the past two years, company spending on employees has only grown by four percent -- a sharp contrast to the 25 percent increase being spent on new technology. The biggest question is, "What happens to all those people who don't have jobs now?"


Children destined to be poorer than their parents

Remember the future? The future was always a better place, in which one’s children could look forward to better education, higher incomes and better homes. They would have more money to spend on luxuries, take more holidays and at the end of it all enjoy a longer and more secure retirement. Unfortunately, the future isn't what it used to be.

Parents belonging to the baby boomer generation, the one born between 1946 and 1962, find themselves in the uncomfortable position of having to explain to their offspring why life is going to get tougher.  

Baby-boomers have had more financially carefree lives.

There are several factors, including unemployment, unsubsidised university education and increased price of housing. And then there is the burden of aging population. Over the next 18 years the majority will retire, placing a huge burden on those who come after them. 

Because of these circumstances, there is a general lack of optimism among the young generation today. Many are angered by this reality and find it unfair. Some just recognize that their parents were lucky.

There may have been a period of full employment for the baby-boomers in the 1950s and 1960s, but it wasn't the same case for people in the 1920s and 1940s. "We need to find our own satisfaction", says British financial consultant Alvin Hall. "People are less patient than they were. Parents are less patient for their children and children are less patient for themselves. We need to be more patient.”


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Japan considering Mt. Fuji and Kamakura as cultural heritage candidates

TOKYO, July 26 (AP) - (Kyodo)—The Japanese government is considering recommending UNESCO approve Mt. Fuji and Kanagawa Prefecture's Kamakura as World Heritage cultural sites, officials said Tuesday. A special team of the Council for Cultural Affairs will soon start its screening to decide whether to recommend the two sites as cultural heritages to the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, they said.

The draft recommendation for Mt. Fuji describes it as a beautiful mountain symbolizing Japan and its culture. Japan once attempted to have Mt. Fuji approved as a World Heritage natural site. Given a serious garbage problem on the mountain, however, the government gave up recommending Mt. Fuji as a natural heritage in 2003.

Kamakura, which was Japan's capital between the late 12th and early 14th centuries, features such famed assets as the Great Buddha statue, Tsuruoka Hachimangu Shrine and Enkaku Temple. The government also plans to consider 10 other sites as cultural heritages in the future, including a silk mill in Tomioka, Gunma Prefecture.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Photos of the Day: 7-26-11

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Japan’s latest humanoid robots are more realistic than ever

Japanese humanoid robots, called Geminoid and Actroid, are frightening examples of just how incredibly lifelike robots have become. These latest silicone puppets have the ability to replicate facial expressions (and even breathing) in a much more natural way than previous robots. They are also built with more efficient technology.

Geminoids and Actroids (which are slightly improved versions of Geminoids) are remotely controlled by a human operator via Internet link. They are equipped with a smart camera that tracks the remote operator’s behavior in real time while an audio speaker inside the body is used to project a human voice.

Kokoro sells these robots for about 10 million Yen and targets them primarily for use in museums and hospitals, according to the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper.

See video:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

China Bride Wears 2km-Long Wedding Dress

A Chinese bride has set a new world record for wearing the longest wedding dress. Lin Rong, a 25-year-old schoolteacher, walked down the aisle wearing the record-breaking 2.2km gown at her wedding in China’s Jilin province. It took the 200 wedding guests more than three hours to stretch out the 2,162-meter-long train. The special dress was handmade by her groom's family. Lin’s new husband Zhao Peng said he wanted to show how much he loved her but didn’t want to spend money on a gorgeous wedding banquet. He also wanted to break the previous record of 1,579 metres, set in Romania in April 2009. The record is not yet official. Zhao has sent a video and details of the dress to Guinness World Records in London.

The dress was an impressive sight. It took three months to create. There were 9,999 silk red roses pinned to the two kilometres of material. An additional decoration took the form of 608 crystals sewn into the garment, one for each day the couple had dated. Mr. Zhao added another personal touch to the dress by cutting the length down to 1,984.1022 meters. This number represents his bride's date of birth – October the 22nd, 1984. The dress cost 40,000 yuan (around $US 5,800) to make. At first, his family were against the idea but soon changed their minds. His mother said it was a waste of money, but understood that her son wanted to show his love for his bride on his big day.

China's bee-wearing contest

A"bee-attracting" competition was held in China's Hunan province. Lu Kongjiang (above) and Wang Dalin were fearless enough to join the contest.

They wore only a pair of shorts with a queen bee to attract the swarms. Both competitors stood on a weighing scale so the judges could determine who attracted more bees.

The Guinness Book of Records has a category for "most pounds of bees worn on the body," reportedly held by US animal trainer Mark Biancaniello who attracted 39.5 kilos (87lb) of bees onto his body.

Mr Wang (above) won the competition after he attracted 26 kg (57lb) of bees onto his body in 60 minutes. His opponent was engulfed by 22.9 kg (50lb), local media reported. The winner did not, however, beat the Guinness World Record.

Slut Walk

The SlutWalk protest marches began on April 3, 2011 in Toronto, Canada and became a movement of rallies across the world. Participants protest against excusing rape by referring to any aspect of a woman's appearance. The rallies began when Constable Michael Sanguinetti, a Toronto Police officer, suggested that to remain safe, "women should avoid dressing like sluts." The protest takes the form of a march, mainly by young women, where some dress in ordinary clothing and others dress provocatively, like "sluts."

Since the protest in Canada, the rest of the world appears to be following. Women in Sweden, Australia, Argentina, London and Amsterdam, among others, have done the Slut Walk. The message is simple: Sexual assault is an act of violence by the perpetrator, and never something asked for by the victim – no matter what she is wearing, or how she behaves.

There have been a number of responses to the SlutWalk phenomenon, not all of them positive. For example, Australian commentator Andrew Bolt observed that guidance on how to dress is simply risk management, and such advice shouldn't be interpreted as blaming the victim. British Conservative Louise Bagshawe has objected to SlutWalk on the grounds that it promotes promiscuity, which she says is harmful. She also added "promiscuity is not equality."

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Let's Go Swimming!

Free divers Maric and Bonin kiss to set the new world record for the longest underwater kiss in an oceanic tank at the Gardaland Sea Life Aquarium.

A South Korean man dips in a mud pool during the Boryeong Mud Festival at Daecheon Beach in Boryeong, South Korea.
Men performing synchronized swimming at The Olympics.
Meet Rajan, the swimming elephant from Andaman Islands.
A boy swims in the algae-filled coastline of Qingdao, Shandong province, China.


Take a yummy look at these!  


Japanese businessmen's tie which doubles as a pillow

Japan's overworked businessmen will soon be able to catch up on some sleep in the office – following the invention of a tie that doubles as a pillow. 


The new "Nemuri Tie" – which translates as Sleep Tie in Japanese – is a unique inflatable device enabling tired office workers to nap in comfort and style on their desks. It is disguised as an ordinary tie but contains a hidden air vent discretely located at the back of the neck, which when blown into inflates it like a pillow. The tie is made from silk and special micro fibres, which will help to cool skin during the stifling summer humidity, according to the Asahi newspaper. 

The Sleep Tie, which was invented by KTM Co, is targeting office workers who are keen for a quick nap on their desk and is currently on sale for around just under £20 (2,500 yen). Japan is famously home to a corporate culture of long working hours and one of the few places in the world where a word was created to mean "death from overwork" – karoshi.

The Sleep Tie is the latest in a string of sartorial inventions specifically designed to make the life of a Japanese worker a little more comfortable, particularly during the summer months.

Mexican couple take the plunge with underwater wedding

Over 200 certified scuba divers attended the wedding of two shark enthusiasts in Cancun, who said their vows five-metres under water. 

Alberto dal Lago, 41, and Karla Munguia, 43, decided to hold their wedding underwater to raise awareness of the plight of endangered sharks.Wearing a white gown, the bride floated next to the groom who sported a bow tie over his scuba outfit. The couple exchanged rings, signalled their vows and kissed before swimming to the surface.

The pair met when Mr dal Lago, a scuba instructor, and Ms Munguia, a real estate agent, attended a dive and realised they both had a common love for sharks. He said he was drawn to a woman who was so at ease in the water and shared his passion.

The wedding was officiated by Civil Judge Jorge Denis and his secretary, who had to learn scuba diving to lead the ceremony. Over 300 guests from South Africa, Egypt, Brazil, France and Italy were invited to the watery wedding but only 205 were able to attend, dashing the couple's hopes of breaking the world record for the largest attendance at an underwater wedding. The current record was set by an Italian couple who had 261 guests at their ceremony in 2010.

Shark populations are being depleted by overfishing and changes in their ecosystem brought on by human activity. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, 50 of the world's 300 shark species are listed as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered.