Friday, 31 December 2010

Happy New Year to all readers


My best wishes to all readers for great happiness and success in 2011, a year that will bring many opportunities in all areas of life.

[Image by wwarby under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Happy New Year to all readers


My best wishes to all readers for great happiness and success in 2011, a year that will bring many opportunities in all areas of life.

[Image by wwarby under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Is there a definitive cure for stress? (Part 3 of 6)


At any given time, most of us will be going through one or several of the above-mentioned situations. Since problems tend to succeed each other at an amazing speed, one will never lack excuses to resort to sleeping pills. Nevertheless, in each case, we will be much better off by using philosophy to achieve serenity.

The antidote to insomnia is peace of mind. No other alternative, cure, or remedy can address successfully the cause of sleep difficulties. All other options have failed and serenity is the only one that works. What is the process of acquiring and maintaining peace of mind? Which steps should one take?

Eliminating anxiety and stress permanently is equivalent to modifying the structure of a house. Such fundamental change can be carried out, but only with care and little by little. If done properly, it will not weaken the building. The resulting edifice will offer additional space and a more pleasant environment to live and rest.

To be continued in Part 4

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Marcus Schmahl under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Is there a definitive cure for stress?
(Part 3 of 6)


At any given time, most of us will be going through one or several of the above-mentioned situations. Since problems tend to succeed each other at an amazing speed, one will never lack excuses to resort to sleeping pills. Nevertheless, in each case, we will be much better off by using philosophy to achieve serenity.

The antidote to insomnia is peace of mind. No other alternative, cure, or remedy can address successfully the cause of sleep difficulties. All other options have failed and serenity is the only one that works. What is the process of acquiring and maintaining peace of mind? Which steps should one take?

Eliminating anxiety and stress permanently is equivalent to modifying the structure of a house. Such fundamental change can be carried out, but only with care and little by little. If done properly, it will not weaken the building. The resulting edifice will offer additional space and a more pleasant environment to live and rest.

To be continued in Part 4

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Marcus Schmahl under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Is there a definitive cure for stress? (Part 2 of 6)


Addressing the cause of insomnia is a much more demanding undertaking, since it requires introspection and personal growth. Contrary to what you might have heard, most people usually have little trouble figuring out why they cannot sleep well. Leaving aside environmental aspects such as noise or an uncomfortable bed, the most common causes of insomnia are these four:

1. An unpleasant job: too boring or too demanding, poor pay, too long hours, high risk of redundancy, an aggressive supervisor, nasty colleagues, professional health risks, excessive stress or fatigue, continuous travel, and so on.

2. Financial worries: for instance, excessive debt, poverty, investment losses, imminent mortgage foreclosure, risk of bankruptcy, difficulties to collect from debtors, negative cash flow, or being involved in litigation.

3. Family or personal conflicts: spouse with antagonistic values or interests, betrayal, exploitation, or abandonment, dealing with hostility or discrimination, social isolation, or lack of friends who share the same values and interests.

4. Health problems: facing heart surgery, awaiting results of critical tests, getting old, suffering from debilitating illness, cancer, or invalidity, extreme overweight or underweight, and any other serious medical condition.

To be continued in Part 3

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by chimothy27 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Is there a definitive cure for stress?
(Part 2 of 6)


Addressing the cause of insomnia is a much more demanding undertaking, since it requires introspection and personal growth. Contrary to what you might have heard, most people usually have little trouble figuring out why they cannot sleep well. Leaving aside environmental aspects such as noise or an uncomfortable bed, the most common causes of insomnia are these four:

1. An unpleasant job: too boring or too demanding, poor pay, too long hours, high risk of redundancy, an aggressive supervisor, nasty colleagues, professional health risks, excessive stress or fatigue, continuous travel, and so on.

2. Financial worries: for instance, excessive debt, poverty, investment losses, imminent mortgage foreclosure, risk of bankruptcy, difficulties to collect from debtors, negative cash flow, or being involved in litigation.

3. Family or personal conflicts: spouse with antagonistic values or interests, betrayal, exploitation, or abandonment, dealing with hostility or discrimination, social isolation, or lack of friends who share the same values and interests.

4. Health problems: facing heart surgery, awaiting results of critical tests, getting old, suffering from debilitating illness, cancer, or invalidity, extreme overweight or underweight, and any other serious medical condition.

To be continued in Part 3

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by chimothy27 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Is there a definitive cure for stress? (Part 1 of 6)


Sleeping pills have become an everyday accessory in modern society. In Europe or America, Asia or the Middle East, rare is the bathroom closet that does not contain some pharmaceutical product to induce slumber. The solution has become so commonplace that few dare to question it any more.

How did we arrive at such widespread social acceptance of chemical dependence? Certainly not because sleeping pills provide a fully satisfactory solution to the problem. If given a choice, the great majority of insomniacs would prefer to find a remedy for their condition that does not involve using chemical substances.

Sleep difficulties, like any other health problem, can be treated by addressing its cause or its symptoms. Herbs and pharmaceuticals focus on the symptoms of insomnia. Their goal is to replace the natural process of falling asleep by a chemically-induced slumber that lasts a few hours.

To be continued in Part 2

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by MJorge under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Is there a definitive cure for stress?
(Part 1 of 6)


Sleeping pills have become an everyday accessory in modern society. In Europe or America, Asia or the Middle East, rare is the bathroom closet that does not contain some pharmaceutical product to induce slumber. The solution has become so commonplace that few dare to question it any more.

How did we arrive at such widespread social acceptance of chemical dependence? Certainly not because sleeping pills provide a fully satisfactory solution to the problem. If given a choice, the great majority of insomniacs would prefer to find a remedy for their condition that does not involve using chemical substances.

Sleep difficulties, like any other health problem, can be treated by addressing its cause or its symptoms. Herbs and pharmaceuticals focus on the symptoms of insomnia. Their goal is to replace the natural process of falling asleep by a chemically-induced slumber that lasts a few hours.

To be continued in Part 2

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by MJorge under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Monday, 27 December 2010

Why some accounts are better left unsettled (Part 4 of 4)


In a world where millions of people are thoughtless or driven by nefarious ethics, what sense does it make to focus on the unfairness of the day? Lamentations and wishful thinking can bring about certain psychological relief, but they are essentially a waste of resources.

The rational response to unfairness is not envy, but relentless action. Given sufficient time, intelligent persistence tends to weigh off the influences of inheritance and chance. In our example, the person who has not been chosen for the job would do better to put on a good face and start to look around, discreetly, for a better position for himself at a rival bank.

Your time on earth is limited and should be used promoting your own cause in front of rational, fair individuals. For what concerns other people's mistakes, prejudice, or arbitrariness, you will be better off if you shrug your shoulders and move on. In the long-term, life often has its own funny ways to settle accounts without your intervention.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by jpockele under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Why some accounts are better left unsettled
(Part 4 of 4)


In a world where millions of people are thoughtless or driven by nefarious ethics, what sense does it make to focus on the unfairness of the day? Lamentations and wishful thinking can bring about certain psychological relief, but they are essentially a waste of resources.

The rational response to unfairness is not envy, but relentless action. Given sufficient time, intelligent persistence tends to weigh off the influences of inheritance and chance. In our example, the person who has not been chosen for the job would do better to put on a good face and start to look around, discreetly, for a better position for himself at a rival bank.

Your time on earth is limited and should be used promoting your own cause in front of rational, fair individuals. For what concerns other people's mistakes, prejudice, or arbitrariness, you will be better off if you shrug your shoulders and move on. In the long-term, life often has its own funny ways to settle accounts without your intervention.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by jpockele under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Why some accounts are better left unsettled (Part 3 of 4)


The ideas described above seem irrefutable at first sight, but they fall apart if we subject them to rational examination. In reality, we all know that some people carry out their duties in an exemplary manner while others are as negligent as you can be. For every person who possesses a strong sense of justice, how many will you find who prefer to look the other way?

Even if you happen to be the best-qualified individual for that particular job, how much of that is the result of luck anyway? If you are reading this, I bet that you have not been born in appalling poverty, deprived of access to basic education, and neglected by your parents to the point of near-starvation. Do take a minute to assess if at least part of your success is the result of pure coincidence or good fortune.

My point is not to state that everything is relative, which is not. Equally, I am not trying to tell you that you shouldn't have ambitions, which you should, by all means. What I am arguing is that envy, a deep feeling of misplaced disadvantage, is mostly a logical illusion.

To be continued in Part 4

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Wolfgang Staudt under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Why some accounts are better left unsettled
(Part 3 of 4)


The ideas described above seem irrefutable at first sight, but they fall apart if we subject them to rational examination. In reality, we all know that some people carry out their duties in an exemplary manner while others are as negligent as you can be. For every person who possesses a strong sense of justice, how many will you find who prefer to look the other way?

Even if you happen to be the best-qualified individual for that particular job, how much of that is the result of luck anyway? If you are reading this, I bet that you have not been born in appalling poverty, deprived of access to basic education, and neglected by your parents to the point of near-starvation. Do take a minute to assess if at least part of your success is the result of pure coincidence or good fortune.

My point is not to state that everything is relative, which is not. Equally, I am not trying to tell you that you shouldn't have ambitions, which you should, by all means. What I am arguing is that envy, a deep feeling of misplaced disadvantage, is mostly a logical illusion.

To be continued in Part 4

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Wolfgang Staudt under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Merry Christmas


Merry Christmas to all readers: the perfect holiday to celebrate all good things achieved this year and make great plans for the upcoming months.

[Image by The Talented Mr.Nimo under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Merry Christmas


Merry Christmas to all readers: the perfect holiday to celebrate all good things achieved this year and make great plans for the upcoming months.

[Image by The Talented Mr.Nimo under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Friday, 24 December 2010

Why some accounts are better left unsettled (Part 2 of 4)


What will be the feelings of the person who has seen his rightful expectations evaporate in a cloud of unfairness? On the one hand, irritation and perhaps anger. In addition, discouragement or even depression. Finally, envy, together with an overall sensation of futility. Let us examine in detail the thought sequence that generates these feelings:

1. The open position should be filled with the most competent candidate.

2. The people who will make the choice should strive to identify who the best candidate is.

3. The selection should be made exclusively on the basis of rational criteria.

4. People should display extra care when they make such crucial decisions.

5. When someone makes important choices for an organization, he should not let himself be influenced by personal interests and family connections.

6. Since I am the best-qualified candidate, I should obtain the appointment.

7. If a less experienced person is selected for the job, that would constitute a terrible injustice.


To be continued in Part 3

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by ed7929 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Why some accounts are better left unsettled
(Part 2 of 4)


What will be the feelings of the person who has seen his rightful expectations evaporate in a cloud of unfairness? On the one hand, irritation and perhaps anger. In addition, discouragement or even depression. Finally, envy, together with an overall sensation of futility. Let us examine in detail the thought sequence that generates these feelings:

1. The open position should be filled with the most competent candidate.

2. The people who will make the choice should strive to identify who the best candidate is.

3. The selection should be made exclusively on the basis of rational criteria.

4. People should display extra care when they make such crucial decisions.

5. When someone makes important choices for an organization, he should not let himself be influenced by personal interests and family connections.

6. Since I am the best-qualified candidate, I should obtain the appointment.

7. If a less experienced person is selected for the job, that would constitute a terrible injustice.


To be continued in Part 3

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by ed7929 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Why some accounts are better left unsettled (Part 1 of 4)


Unfairness is everywhere and, if you care to look, you will detect more than your equitable share. Some people are born in the right environment, others possess powerful connections, inherit better looks, or simply draw the lucky number in a lottery.

Occasionally, your valuable work won't be appreciated and, instead, people will praise worthless nonsense. You may at times have to endure discrimination or ostracism, with the accompanying financial drawbacks. Disappointment, self-pity, and envy are frequent reactions to those situations.

Those negative emotions result from complex thought processes, which are as widespread as they are illogical. Imagine, for example, the case of an inexperienced person who is appointed to a high position within a bank thanks to his family connections to the detriment of a much better-qualified candidate.

To be continued in Part 2

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Fr Antunes under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Why some accounts are better left unsettled
(Part 1 of 4)


Unfairness is everywhere and, if you care to look, you will detect more than your equitable share. Some people are born in the right environment, others possess powerful connections, inherit better looks, or simply draw the lucky number in a lottery.

Occasionally, your valuable work won't be appreciated and, instead, people will praise worthless nonsense. You may at times have to endure discrimination or ostracism, with the accompanying financial drawbacks. Disappointment, self-pity, and envy are frequent reactions to those situations.

Those negative emotions result from complex thought processes, which are as widespread as they are illogical. Imagine, for example, the case of an inexperienced person who is appointed to a high position within a bank thanks to his family connections to the detriment of a much better-qualified candidate.

To be continued in Part 2

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Fr Antunes under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

The way of self-reliance (Part 3 of 3)


In terms of results, the evidence is overwhelming. Stress, anger, and indignation are not worth the cost you pay and the time you waste. You have much better options at your disposal. Serenity and persistent action will bring you more advantages than unbridled emotions. Understanding this will radically change your view of the world.

When cheated, learn the lesson and start something new. When mistreated, move on and find better people to share your life with. When unappreciated, cut off your losses and join those who admire what you have to offer. Liberate your ship from the entanglements of dead waters, make a clean slate, and head for a friendlier horizon.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by rob.sandbach under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

The way of self-reliance (Part 3 of 3)


In terms of results, the evidence is overwhelming. Stress, anger, and indignation are not worth the cost you pay and the time you waste. You have much better options at your disposal. Serenity and persistent action will bring you more advantages than unbridled emotions. Understanding this will radically change your view of the world.

When cheated, learn the lesson and start something new. When mistreated, move on and find better people to share your life with. When unappreciated, cut off your losses and join those who admire what you have to offer. Liberate your ship from the entanglements of dead waters, make a clean slate, and head for a friendlier horizon.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by rob.sandbach under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

The way of self-reliance (Part 2 of 3)


1. Ongoing activities will be put on hold waiting for redress that might or might not come, but will sure not happen today. Life goes on and indignation keeps you focused on the past. Anger prevents you from using your hours in the best possible way.

2. Your expectations of obtaining reparation will often be unrealistic. Even if you possess all the good arguments in the world, your claim might have to face indifference and contempt, inefficiency and nepotism. Your resources will be exhausted and your patience eroded.

3. Most people do not care and few will even make the effort to listen, let alone understand what you are saying. Thinking in principles requires substantial mental concentration. Unless someone is already used to abstract reasoning, his perception of your story will not go beyond unconnected details.

4. The financial and personal cost of pursuing old claims can be extremely high. Stress, preoccupation, uncertainty, fees, and deposits will eat up your savings and weaken your health. Would you not rather use your energies for better purposes?

To be continued in Part 3

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by RA_photography under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

The way of self-reliance (Part 2 of 3)


1. Ongoing activities will be put on hold waiting for redress that might or might not come, but will sure not happen today. Life goes on and indignation keeps you focused on the past. Anger prevents you from using your hours in the best possible way.

2. Your expectations of obtaining reparation will often be unrealistic. Even if you possess all the good arguments in the world, your claim might have to face indifference and contempt, inefficiency and nepotism. Your resources will be exhausted and your patience eroded.

3. Most people do not care and few will even make the effort to listen, let alone understand what you are saying. Thinking in principles requires substantial mental concentration. Unless someone is already used to abstract reasoning, his perception of your story will not go beyond unconnected details.

4. The financial and personal cost of pursuing old claims can be extremely high. Stress, preoccupation, uncertainty, fees, and deposits will eat up your savings and weaken your health. Would you not rather use your energies for better purposes?

To be continued in Part 3

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by RA_photography under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Monday, 20 December 2010

The way of self-reliance (Part 1 of 3)


There are reasons enough in the world to feel worried and concerned. Nonsense and injustice, ignorance and prejudice, just to name a few. Mistakes are made day after day, frequently out of kindness and in good faith, although such excuses are poor consolations to people on the receiving end.

Should one choose to feel stressed? The answer to this question will depend on what you want to achieve. Let us not underestimate the appeal of rightful indignation. Complaining makes you feel important, gives free rein to your emotions, and gets you closer to like-minded plaintiffs or outraged defendants.

Anger increases your energy and keeps you alert, but it has substantial drawbacks. More often than not, obfuscation will blind you to reality and lead you to discard relevant facts. You will misjudge people and situations, attributing ill-intent where only negligence exists. In most cases, strong emotional reactions will result in waste. This is how it happens.

To be continued in Part 2

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Andreanna under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

The way of self-reliance (Part 1 of 3)


There are reasons enough in the world to feel worried and concerned. Nonsense and injustice, ignorance and prejudice, just to name a few. Mistakes are made day after day, frequently out of kindness and in good faith, although such excuses are poor consolations to people on the receiving end.

Should one choose to feel stressed? The answer to this question will depend on what you want to achieve. Let us not underestimate the appeal of rightful indignation. Complaining makes you feel important, gives free rein to your emotions, and gets you closer to like-minded plaintiffs or outraged defendants.

Anger increases your energy and keeps you alert, but it has substantial drawbacks. More often than not, obfuscation will blind you to reality and lead you to discard relevant facts. You will misjudge people and situations, attributing ill-intent where only negligence exists. In most cases, strong emotional reactions will result in waste. This is how it happens.

To be continued in Part 2

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Andreanna under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Blogging: why, what for, how long (Part 2 of 2)


Marketing virtuosity might quickly attract visitors to a blog during the initial months, but in my view, the critical element in blogging is not the short-term reading, but the long-term writing. If you have nothing to say, if you are not driven to make yourself heard, why on earth do you want to write in the first place?

In contrast to most internet businesses, such as a website selling personalized birthday cakes, a blog is deeply marked by the personality of its author. The bakery that produces birthday cakes wants to achieve its sales target for the week. What a difference with a writer who orchestrates his blog with a time horizon of decades, possibly his whole lifetime.

A hundred million people go daily on-line. In the near future, the number might grow to five hundred million. Many of them would gladly read more blogs if only they found something that appealed to them, something original, sharp, daring perhaps. Write about what you truly like. Given enough time, people with the same interests will find you. Forget about marketing and let your blog speak for itself.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by rayced under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Blogging: why, what for, how long (Part 2 of 2)


Marketing virtuosity might quickly attract visitors to a blog during the initial months, but in my view, the critical element in blogging is not the short-term reading, but the long-term writing. If you have nothing to say, if you are not driven to make yourself heard, why on earth do you want to write in the first place?

In contrast to most internet businesses, such as a website selling personalized birthday cakes, a blog is deeply marked by the personality of its author. The bakery that produces birthday cakes wants to achieve its sales target for the week. What a difference with a writer who orchestrates his blog with a time horizon of decades, possibly his whole lifetime.

A hundred million people go daily on-line. In the near future, the number might grow to five hundred million. Many of them would gladly read more blogs if only they found something that appealed to them, something original, sharp, daring perhaps. Write about what you truly like. Given enough time, people with the same interests will find you. Forget about marketing and let your blog speak for itself.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by rayced under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Blogging: why, what for, how long (Part 1 of 2)


Most books and articles about blogging concentrate on the marketing aspects. Potential bloggers are advised to choose a subject that is not already taken by someone else. At the same time, they are told to avoid themes that do not connect with an already existing group of avid information seekers.

Under this perspective, the whole undertaking is presented as a platform from which the blogger can preach to those who are already convinced. The idea is that a blog should aim at becoming the focal point of a compact community in a specific field, such as practitioners of extreme sports or lovers of horror movies.

This paradigm dominates the internet scene to such an extent that most blogs have become one-idea shows. No wonder that, after a couple of weeks, their texts become short and consist mainly of references to what other people are doing. Under this point of view, producing content is tantamount to filtering reality.

With this approach, is it not surprising that blogs rarely last longer than a year. Popular recommendations about blogging tend to forget the spirit that moves the machine. Text is made of words. Sentences are made of ideas. Without fresh, wide-ranging philosophical subjects, boredom will eventually take over, followed by intellectual starvation.

To be continued in part 2

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Leo-setä under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Blogging: why, what for, how long (Part 1 of 2)


Most books and articles about blogging concentrate on the marketing aspects. Potential bloggers are advised to choose a subject that is not already taken by someone else. At the same time, they are told to avoid themes that do not connect with an already existing group of avid information seekers.

Under this perspective, the whole undertaking is presented as a platform from which the blogger can preach to those who are already convinced. The idea is that a blog should aim at becoming the focal point of a compact community in a specific field, such as practitioners of extreme sports or lovers of horror movies.

This paradigm dominates the internet scene to such an extent that most blogs have become one-idea shows. No wonder that, after a couple of weeks, their texts become short and consist mainly of references to what other people are doing. Under this point of view, producing content is tantamount to filtering reality.

With this approach, is it not surprising that blogs rarely last longer than a year. Popular recommendations about blogging tend to forget the spirit that moves the machine. Text is made of words. Sentences are made of ideas. Without fresh, wide-ranging philosophical subjects, boredom will eventually take over, followed by intellectual starvation.

To be continued in part 2

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Leo-setä under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Friday, 17 December 2010

Participating in the growth of the Asian economies: New Zealand Telecom


At the current price of USD 8.04, New Zealand Telecom seems an interesting investment. The yield is more than 5% and the price /earnings ratio around 13. The profit growth forecast for the year 2011 is higher than 10%. This company offers, in my view, the possibility of participating in the growth of the Asian economies at a moderate risk.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by kevin.wailes under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Participating in the growth of the Asian economies: New Zealand Telecom


At the current price of USD 8.04, New Zealand Telecom seems an interesting investment. The yield is more than 5% and the price /earnings ratio around 13. The profit growth forecast for the year 2011 is higher than 10%. This company offers, in my view, the possibility of participating in the growth of the Asian economies at a moderate risk.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by kevin.wailes under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Thursday, 16 December 2010

In praise of Maimonides (Part 2 of 2)


Beyond those basic rules, other prescriptions of Maimonides have also been confirmed by modern medicine as highly beneficial. For instance, the recommendation that a man should sleep on his side instead of lying on his back or face. In our age, a common remedy against back pain consists of sleeping on the side, with one leg stretched and the other in the foetal position.

Another guideline from the Middle Ages encourages eating small fish. During the last decades of the twentieth century, this prescription has been confirmed by marine biology studies. Apparently, in areas of the sea polluted by chemicals, large fish, due to their size, are more likely to be contaminated than small sardines or anchovies.

Amazingly, even the contemporary exhortation against saturated fat finds some precedents in Maimonides' writings. Nine hundred years ago, although the chemistry of the different types of fat had not yet been discovered, olive oil was already being recommended as a healthy food. At the same time, man was being advised against eating old cheese.

Most of the great physicians of Antiquity and the Middle Ages spent a good part of their lives working for kings and princes. This fact explains why, in their writings, they placed so much emphasis on recommending a balanced life as the best way of preventing disease. Nowadays, when workers are wealthier than ancient monarchs, such advice remains as valuable as in the times of Maimonides.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by polandeze under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

In praise of Maimonides (Part 2 of 2)


Beyond those basic rules, other prescriptions of Maimonides have also been confirmed by modern medicine as highly beneficial. For instance, the recommendation that a man should sleep on his side instead of lying on his back or face. In our age, a common remedy against back pain consists of sleeping on the side, with one leg stretched and the other in the foetal position.

Another guideline from the Middle Ages encourages eating small fish. During the last decades of the twentieth century, this prescription has been confirmed by marine biology studies. Apparently, in areas of the sea polluted by chemicals, large fish, due to their size, are more likely to be contaminated than small sardines or anchovies.

Amazingly, even the contemporary exhortation against saturated fat finds some precedents in Maimonides' writings. Nine hundred years ago, although the chemistry of the different types of fat had not yet been discovered, olive oil was already being recommended as a healthy food. At the same time, man was being advised against eating old cheese.

Most of the great physicians of Antiquity and the Middle Ages spent a good part of their lives working for kings and princes. This fact explains why, in their writings, they placed so much emphasis on recommending a balanced life as the best way of preventing disease. Nowadays, when workers are wealthier than ancient monarchs, such advice remains as valuable as in the times of Maimonides.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by polandeze under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

In praise of Maimonides (Part 1 of 2)


The principles of preventive medicine have remained practically the same for centuries. The idea behind those guidelines is that individuals, barring birth defects or misfortune, should stay healthy if they lead a balanced life. Sickness is an exceptional status arising from wrong behaviour or from wounds received in combat or by accident.

In Antiquity, Hippocrates formulated the precepts that a man should follow in order to maintain a good condition. In the Middle Ages, Maimonides compiled and commented Hippocrates' writings, confirming their effectiveness. Here is a summary of those principles:
  1. Ensure proper rest everyday at least for eight hours.
  2. The ideal sleeping time is between sunset and dawn.
  3. A man should not eat more than he strictly needs.
  4. Foods that are difficult to digest should be avoided.
  5. The most healthy drinks are water and wine.
  6. Bowels evacuation should take place at least once a day.
  7. Fruits, legumes, and nuts should be eaten regularly.
To be continued in part 2

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by jonboy mitchell under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

In praise of Maimonides (Part 1 of 2)


The principles of preventive medicine have remained practically the same for centuries. The idea behind those guidelines is that individuals, barring birth defects or misfortune, should stay healthy if they lead a balanced life. Sickness is an exceptional status arising from wrong behaviour or from wounds received in combat or by accident.

In Antiquity, Hippocrates formulated the precepts that a man should follow in order to maintain a good condition. In the Middle Ages, Maimonides compiled and commented Hippocrates' writings, confirming their effectiveness. Here is a summary of those principles:
  1. Ensure proper rest everyday at least for eight hours.
  2. The ideal sleeping time is between sunset and dawn.
  3. A man should not eat more than he strictly needs.
  4. Foods that are difficult to digest should be avoided.
  5. The most healthy drinks are water and wine.
  6. Bowels evacuation should take place at least once a day.
  7. Fruits, legumes, and nuts should be eaten regularly.
To be continued in part 2

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by jonboy mitchell under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

A stock worth looking at: Veolia


At less than USD 29, the stock of the water utility Veolia looks interesting. The current dividend yield is about 4.7% and the price-earnings ration about 15. The profit growth forecast for the year 2011 is about 10%.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by fPat under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

A stock worth looking at: Veolia


At less than USD 29, the stock of the water utility Veolia looks interesting. The current dividend yield is about 4.7% and the price-earnings ration about 15. The profit growth forecast for the year 2011 is about 10%.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by fPat under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Monday, 13 December 2010

The essential entrepreneurial dilemma (Part 4 of 4)


That assumption proved catastrophically wrong, since with the passage of time, all other works of Aristotle have been irrecoverably lost. The last copies of those other Aristotle's manuscripts may have burned down in the fire of the Alexandrian Library, together with many other writings of Antiquity.

In our days, few students realize that, when they study Aristotle's ideas, they are mostly relying on Andronicus of Rhodes as historical source. In fact, a good part of what we consider Aristotle's works might have been written by Andronicus himself or by one of his colleagues in the Lyceum.

Had Andronicus not undertaken the arduous task of editing and compiling dozens of disparate manuscripts written by Aristotle, later centuries would have taken a different path, no doubt, for the worse. As it frequently happens, one man's long-term vision changed the course of History.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by flavouz under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Sunday, 12 December 2010

The essential entrepreneurial dilemma (Part 3 of 4)


Although the Lyceum was not a modern corporation listed in the stock market, we should not underestimate the pressures on Andronicus to decide in favour of short-term advantages. Suffice to say than in the preceding two hundred years, under much better economic conditions, no one had undertaken the task of editing and compiling Aristotle's works.

Luckily, Andronicus of Rhodes took the long-term view and decided to concentrate the Lyceum resources on producing a compilation of Aristotle's writings. You might not know that, by the time they began their task, already half of Aristotle's manuscripts had been rendered illegible by decay or eaten up by worms.

The compilation of Aristotle's writings made in the Lyceum under Andronicus' supervision consisted of 47 books. In addition, about thirty books by Aristotle available at that time were left out of the compilation, possibly considering that, since they were so many copies in circulation of those other thirty books, there was little risk of them disappearing.

To be continued in Part 4

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Jule_Berlin under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

The essential entrepreneurial dilemma (Part 3 of 4)


Although the Lyceum was not a modern corporation listed in the stock market, we should not underestimate the pressures on Andronicus to decide in favour of short-term advantages. Suffice to say than in the preceding two hundred years, under much better economic conditions, no one had undertaken the task of editing and compiling Aristotle's works.

Luckily, Andronicus of Rhodes took the long-term view and decided to concentrate the Lyceum resources on producing a compilation of Aristotle's writings. You might not know that, by the time they began their task, already half of Aristotle's manuscripts had been rendered illegible by decay or eaten up by worms.

The compilation of Aristotle's writings made in the Lyceum under Andronicus' supervision consisted of 47 books. In addition, about thirty books by Aristotle available at that time were left out of the compilation, possibly considering that, since they were so many copies in circulation of those other thirty books, there was little risk of them disappearing.

To be continued in Part 4

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Jule_Berlin under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Saturday, 11 December 2010

The essential entrepreneurial dilemma (Part 2 of 4)


Diodorus had been the head of the Lyceum during the preceding decades. Despite his efforts, the school had progressively lost ground to its main competitor, the Academy founded by Plato. Shortly after Andronicus became head of the Lyceum, the Roman legions invaded Greece and the economic situation in Athens turned from bad to worse.

A few years later, the state of affairs had barely improved and Andronicus was faced with the most difficult decision of his life. The implications were so far-ranging that no one could have foreseen all consequences. The Lyceum was going through difficult times, which called for swift action and strong leadership.

For Andronicus, there were two choices. On the one side, he could concentrate all resources on expanding the school curriculum in order to attract new students from Greece, Rome, Libya, and Egypt. On the other side, he could devote the available manpower to compile and edit the works of Aristotle, whose manuscripts were rapidly deteriorating and risked being lost forever.

To be continued in Part 3

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by jet200nyc under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

The essential entrepreneurial dilemma (Part 2 of 4)


Diodorus had been the head of the Lyceum during the preceding decades. Despite his efforts, the school had progressively lost ground to its main competitor, the Academy founded by Plato. Shortly after Andronicus became head of the Lyceum, the Roman legions invaded Greece and the economic situation in Athens turned from bad to worse.

A few years later, the state of affairs had barely improved and Andronicus was faced with the most difficult decision of his life. The implications were so far-ranging that no one could have foreseen all consequences. The Lyceum was going through difficult times, which called for swift action and strong leadership.

For Andronicus, there were two choices. On the one side, he could concentrate all resources on expanding the school curriculum in order to attract new students from Greece, Rome, Libya, and Egypt. On the other side, he could devote the available manpower to compile and edit the works of Aristotle, whose manuscripts were rapidly deteriorating and risked being lost forever.

To be continued in Part 3

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by jet200nyc under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Friday, 10 December 2010

The essential entrepreneurial dilemma (Part 1 of 4)


Whenever you move to a new job, chances are that you will have to spend the initial months clearing up the mess left behind by your predecessor. Resources are always limited, in particular time, and your new position might require you to make some tough decisions. Will you maintain the old routines or will you take the risk of antagonizing your colleagues and subordinates?

Entrepreneurs face the same dilemma everyday. Actually, the choice between proven systems and risky innovation has to be made by every person in business, often on the basis of incomplete information. When college students pick up their major subject of study, how many of them have a clear picture of the long-term consequences?

Around the year 70 B.C., Andronicus of Rhodes was elected head of the Lyceum, the school that had been founded by Aristotle in Athens two centuries before. After taking over his new responsibilities, Andronicus must have made an inventory of the assets and liabilities of the Lyceum and concluded that the school was in a sorry state.

To be continued in Part 2

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by mikebaird under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

The essential entrepreneurial dilemma (Part 1 of 4)


Whenever you move to a new job, chances are that you will have to spend the initial months clearing up the mess left behind by your predecessor. Resources are always limited, in particular time, and your new position might require you to make some tough decisions. Will you maintain the old routines or will you take the risk of antagonizing your colleagues and subordinates?

Entrepreneurs face the same dilemma everyday. Actually, the choice between proven systems and risky innovation has to be made by every person in business, often on the basis of incomplete information. When college students pick up their major subject of study, how many of them have a clear picture of the long-term consequences?

Around the year 70 B.C., Andronicus of Rhodes was elected head of the Lyceum, the school that had been founded by Aristotle in Athens two centuries before. After taking over his new responsibilities, Andronicus must have made an inventory of the assets and liabilities of the Lyceum and concluded that the school was in a sorry state.

To be continued in Part 2

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by mikebaird under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Thursday, 9 December 2010

How to manage the unmanageable (Part 4 of 4)


The sun descended in the horizon and, when the night fell, Hammed turned again to Krishna. "How long do you think that it is going to take before a white butterfly arrives?" he inquired. Krishna must have been asleep at that point, since Hammed had to repeat his question several times before he obtained an answer.

"That is also written in the book," retorted Krishna in a low voice. "For the pure of heart, a white butterfly appears within a day, but the waiting of the impure will be forever in vain." Since darkness was complete, Krishna could no longer see Hammed, but shortly after, Krishna heard him stand up and walk tiredly towards the house.

Krishna went away at dawn, leaving behind the presents that he had received from Hammed´s wife and children. Before his departure, they all asked him how he had managed to convince Hammed to resume his normal life. "I just confirmed to him that a white butterfly was coming," said Krishna, "and then I asked him if he was ready."

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by dano272 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

How to manage the unmanageable (Part 4 of 4)


The sun descended in the horizon and, when the night fell, Hammed turned again to Krishna. "How long do you think that it is going to take before a white butterfly arrives?" he inquired. Krishna must have been asleep at that point, since Hammed had to repeat his question several times before he obtained an answer.

"That is also written in the book," retorted Krishna in a low voice. "For the pure of heart, a white butterfly appears within a day, but the waiting of the impure will be forever in vain." Since darkness was complete, Krishna could no longer see Hammed, but shortly after, Krishna heard him stand up and walk tiredly towards the house.

Krishna went away at dawn, leaving behind the presents that he had received from Hammed´s wife and children. Before his departure, they all asked him how he had managed to convince Hammed to resume his normal life. "I just confirmed to him that a white butterfly was coming," said Krishna, "and then I asked him if he was ready."

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by dano272 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

How to manage the unmanageable (Part 3 of 4)


"We have tried everything," Hammed's wife explained to Krishna, "we have asked him a hundred times to stand up." Hammed's children confirmed that their father always replied that he was waiting for a white butterfly to appear because it was written in some book.

One of the family friends shook his head and whispered to Krishna, "I think that Hammed has lost his mind. Is there anything you can do?" Krishna requested them to leave them alone, sat down on the ground beside Hammed, and looked intently at the sky, without saying a word.

An hour of silence went by and Hammed, intrigued, turned to Krishna. "What are you doing?" he asked. "I am waiting for a white butterfly," answered Krishna without looking at the old man. After a long silence, Hammed, puzzled, retook his questioning. "Why?" he wanted to know. Krishna ignored him, but Hammed insisted. "Because it is written in the book," said Krishna.

To be continued in Part 4

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by sophiea under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

How to manage the unmanageable (Part 3 of 4)


"We have tried everything," Hammed's wife explained to Krishna, "we have asked him a hundred times to stand up." Hammed's children confirmed that their father always replied that he was waiting for a white butterfly to appear because it was written in some book.

One of the family friends shook his head and whispered to Krishna, "I think that Hammed has lost his mind. Is there anything you can do?" Krishna requested them to leave them alone, sat down on the ground beside Hammed, and looked intently at the sky, without saying a word.

An hour of silence went by and Hammed, intrigued, turned to Krishna. "What are you doing?" he asked. "I am waiting for a white butterfly," answered Krishna without looking at the old man. After a long silence, Hammed, puzzled, retook his questioning. "Why?" he wanted to know. Krishna ignored him, but Hammed insisted. "Because it is written in the book," said Krishna.

To be continued in Part 4

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by sophiea under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

How to manage the unmanageable (Part 2 of 4)


On the following day, Hammed's five sons and three daughters came to visit him. One after the other, they attempted to convince their father to stand up and resume his normal life, but Hammed refused to move. To every question, he gave the same answer in a firm voice. He was waiting for a white butterfly to appear because it was written in the book.

Hammed's wife decided to ask friends and neighbours for advice. "One of them will surely know," she told her children. Nevertheless, when she inquired about the butterfly and the book, nobody was able to provide any useful information. A week passed and, on the first day of autumn, Hammed was still sitting on the ground in front of his house.

Increasingly worried, Hammed's wife called her eldest son. "If your father continues like this, I fear that he will fall sick and die," she said, "I want you to run to the forbidden woods, find Krishna, and beg him for help." Her eldest son obeyed and, three days later, he returned to the house, accompanied by Krishna.

To be continued in Part 3

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by samlavi under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

How to manage the unmanageable (Part 2 of 4)


On the following day, Hammed's five sons and three daughters came to visit him. One after the other, they attempted to convince their father to stand up and resume his normal life, but Hammed refused to move. To every question, he gave the same answer in a firm voice. He was waiting for a white butterfly to appear because it was written in the book.

Hammed's wife decided to ask friends and neighbours for advice. "One of them will surely know," she told her children. Nevertheless, when she inquired about the butterfly and the book, nobody was able to provide any useful information. A week passed and, on the first day of autumn, Hammed was still sitting on the ground in front of his house.

Increasingly worried, Hammed's wife called her eldest son. "If your father continues like this, I fear that he will fall sick and die," she said, "I want you to run to the forbidden woods, find Krishna, and beg him for help." Her eldest son obeyed and, three days later, he returned to the house, accompanied by Krishna.

To be continued in Part 3

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by samlavi under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Monday, 6 December 2010

How to manage the unmanageable (Part 1 of 4)


We all love to give advice to friends who face unusual situations. We tell them to be flexible and break down problems into manageable parts. We encourage them to listen, ask questions, and above all, to be patient. However, when we have to deal with uncommon problems ourselves, we often realize how little our recommendations are worth.

Legend has it that, one summer afternoon, precisely on his 60th birthday, Hammed went out of his house, looked at the sky, took in a deep breath, and sat down on the ground. When his wife returned from the market and found Hammed sitting motionless on the ground, she ran to him and asked him if he was sick.

To her surprise, Hammed answered that he was waiting for a white butterfly to appear. His wife did not understand what Hammed was talking about and was deeply alarmed. She tried to reason with him and convince him to go into the house and have dinner, but Hammed wouldn't listen. "It is written in the book," he explained.

To be continued in Part 2

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Klearchos Kapoutsis under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]