08 August 2008

A question that will change your life if answered properly

Once upon a time, there was a wise man. He was a very popular person then. Not popular for his wisdom, but because he was known to go to a village and single-handedly brought out the best of every person in the village. Everyone suddenly became more productive, more focus and happier.

All he did was only asking one simple question. One of the most powerful question ever created. The question is this

Is what you are doing right now, make your life any better?

/end story

I just made up the story. There was no wise man, no village. There is the question though. A very powerful question and I truly believe that this question is one of the most influential question ever. Just think about it.

If you are window shopping at the mall, ask that question. Is this activity making your life any better. If you were actually thinking of buying a computer and you need to survey which gives out the best price, then it is definitely will make your life better.

But if you are just killing time, you will immediately know that what you’re doing is just pointless. So why are you still there loitering?

Be honest. You are not answering the question to anyone. You are answering for yourself.

There will be two type of respond to the question. Both have opposite effect but equally life-changing and if we are not careful we may fall into the negative type. So identifying these two types is very important.

Type 1 - The one that actually become better.
These are the type of people whom the question is designed for. When they know that what they are doing is pointless, The first thing that will come to their mind is “why bother doing it”. They will immediately renovate their activity to achieve something from it.

One example is when you are spending time chatting on the net 10 hours a day. Yes, it is bringing you closer to so many people, but you are losing on so much more like real relationship, or socializing with neighbour. What you should do is to maybe limit the time of chatting to about half, and adjust from there.

Type 2 - The one that will feel more depressed with the question.
These are the pessimist approach. They will answer the question by saying that nothing they do can make their life better. When they study and they fail, they just assume that the whole studying is not making them any better. This is of course wrong. The failure itself is making them better. They should study what is wrong in the first place. Maybe their study method is ineffective, or they are friends to the wrong crowd.

Conclusion - Such a powerful question can bring so many different result if used wrongly. We are all smart people. Decide how you are going to benefit from the question :)

04 April 2008

Anger Management for Teens

12 Calm Down and Get a Grip Anger Management Tips for Teens

I get mad. You get mad. Your Mom gets mad. Your Dad gets mad. Hey, even God gets mad. Let’s face it, at one time or another EVERYBODY gets mad! Anger is a normal human emotion and it is the way that your subconscious mind releases mental and emotional pressure but sometimes this normal psychological function can run amok and lead you astray. Getting angry is normal, letting anger get the best of you is not. So how do you know if your anger is getting out of control and what can you do about it if you’re raging? Surprisingly enough recognizing and managing anger is relatively easy, here’s how!

Your anger is out of control if…

  • you find yourself getting angry at everything that inconveniences you, annoys you or otherwise gets in the way of what you want to be doing, it leads you to act out aggressively or violently as in yelling, ranting, hitting, shoving or plotting revenge, it consumes you long after the event has passed,
  • if you dwell on the things that make you angry then you’re in trouble because normal anger is only a temporary emotional response to unsettling eternal stimuli, things that didn’t used to make you angry are suddenly major issues worthy of a rant, this does not apply to times when you have suppressed normal anger only to times that anger really isn’t merited, for example when somebody gets a higher grade than you or when a person is taking too long in the bathroom,
  • you find yourself doing self destructive things to cope with your angry feelings, such as reckless driving, hazardous recreational activities, physical fighting, drugs and alcohol or, unsafe or random sexual activity.
You can manage that anger by…
  • recognizing the difference between an annoyance or inconvenience and a bona fide reason to get mad - somebody hurting you, hurting somebody you care for or damaging your property are all good reasons to get mad; somebody “disrespecting” you, getting in your way, slowing you down, being luckier than you, or doing something better than you do it are not reasonable causes of anger,
  • taking a deep breath, stepping away from the situation and asking yourself “Why am I really mad?”, often people misdirect anger caused by a valid yet bigger issue on to everyday annoyances and inconveniences,
  • know your triggers, if there are certain things that you know bother you or that you can’t accept know what they are, take steps to avoid them, and play out an appropriate reaction in your head when you're feeling calm to train your mind to react that way when the problem arises in real life,
  • plan your time wisely, one of the most common anger stressors is poor time management, when you’re in a rush and something slows you down even more you are very likely to react in anger, the simplest way to avoid this is to exercise effective time management,
  • exercising regularly, it’s true that exercise is an excellent way to de-stress body and mind, people who exercise regularly are less likely to overreact to annoyances and inconveniences,
  • talk it out, reacting in anger often causes the reasoning center of the brain to shut off for a time and the way you can turn it back on is to talk rather than act out when anger takes hold, it may sound crazy but taking a few minutes to gather your thoughts and speaking them out loud can do wonders to diffuse an angry situation.

30 March 2008

Fake A Beach Body

With the winter season coming to a close and spring quickly approaching, this only means one thing: Beach season is rapidly approaching, as well.
For some, beach season simply means warmer weather and more time playing golf; for others, it’s a time when they want to bare their bodies and show off what they’ve been working hard to achieve over the winter months in the gym. The problem that occurs for some, however, is that over the winter months, they’ve really let their diet slide and now have much more fat than they’d like accumulated over their freshly built muscles.
Since fat loss can be a slow process, particularly if you want to maintain as much muscle as possible, this could translate to trouble in terms of you getting that "ripped" beach body you covet.
Luckily, all hope isn't lost: As long as you know a few quick tricks, you can get yourself looking fully beach ready in time for summer.Here are the points you must consider when you try to fake a beach body.

The enhanced muscle-tissue buildup factor

Have you ever noticed that immediately after a workout your muscles look a lot fuller than normal? Most guys refer to this as a "muscle pump" and notice their confidence levels soar after a good session as they feel they’ve made some real progress.What this actually consist of is a buildup of muscular byproducts that were created during the lifting session. As time passes, your body will work toward removing this buildup and eventually your musles will return back to their usual size. If you’re smart, you can take advantage of this process when it comes to looking warm-weather ready when you want to fake a beach body.
If you know you’re going to be at the beach in a few hours, schedule your workout right before. If you aren’t able to have a full gym session beforehand, don’t stress about it too much; just drop down and do a quick set of 20 to 50 push-ups (depending on how many you can handle), some quick ab work, a few tricep dips, and a set of pull-ups, if you have a bar you can hang from. This will get the blood flowing to the muscle tissue, which also serves to help temporarily increase their size and add more definition.
The important thing to remember, regardless of whether you’re doing a quick few exercises at home or are going to the gym to do a full-fledged workout, is that you want to focus on slightly higher reps for this workout with less rest time between sets.
This is the best way to develop a maximum level of muscle byproduct accumulation, which is exactly what you’re going for at this point. Note that this will mean you're lifting slightly lighter weights, but again strength is not our primary objective at this point.

Get rid of water retention

If the situation is slightly different and you have about a week to prepare and fake a beach body -- maybe you're going on vacation somewhere warm and will want to you look your best -- then you can do a few more things to help get the look you are going for.
Everyone on a normal, mixed diet will generally have a fair amount of glycogen stored in their muscle tissue. This is normal and is needed to help maintain the intense workouts that got you your body like that in the first place.What you can do, however, is work toward reducing this amount of stored muscle glycogen because with every gram of muscle glycogen you lose, your body will also lose a corresponding four grams of water (muscle glycogen causes water retention in the body, which explains why you look bloated and your weight goes up after a very high carbohydrate meal).
So, in order to effectively get rid of some of this stored water, cut your carb intake the week prior to your beach appearance. Since you will not be taking as many carbohydrates in through your diet, your body will not replenish them to the same extent after each workout as it normally would, hence water will be excreted from the system instead of retained.
If you wish to speed up this process try and gear your workouts again to ones that are higher rep/volume in nature, since this will help utilize the most muscle glycogen (rather than, say, doing six sets of five reps, when you’re shooting for maximal strength production).Do keep in mind that while this process occurs you will start to feel more fatigued as the week goes on, since muscle glycogen essentially is fuel for the muscles, and without replenishment they will have less fuel to run off.

Alter your skin's appearance

Finally, the last step to take in your efforts to fake a beach body is to hit the tanning bed or invest in a good self-tanning lotion or spray.
Tanned skin naturally shows off more muscle definition, which gives you the appearance of looking leaner. If you think about it, all the bodybuilding competitors tan to a great extent and then slather their bodies in oil to increase the amount of definition.
While you shouldn’t go to this extreme since it looks obviously unnatural and frequent use of tanning beds pose a great risk to your skin, getting a slight tan will really go a long ways toward helping you make a few pounds seem to disappear.
Also, consider one of the many hair removal products available after you’ve become more tanned. While some guys do shy away from the thought of removing hair from their bodies, when you have nicely defined muscles and a dark tan, hairless skin really can up your sex appeal to women. Further, without the hair in the way, your muscles may look even more defined.Don’t think you should remove all your hair from a specific region either, consider strategically removing it in the areas you want to look most defined (lower abs for instance), while keeping the hair in place in the surrounding region (chest).

get ready for sand and sun

So, the next time you’re starting to feel panic set in because you are about to head into a situation where you’ll likely be topless and aren’t quite sporting the body you’d like, take comfort in knowing that if you follow these tips, you can dramatically change your appearance in a very short term.
Obviously, the better approach will always be planning ahead to ensure you have enough time to get to your desired body-fat levels through a proper diet and exercise program, but when time is working against you these factors become a great second alternative.

28 March 2008

7 Jobs Britney Should Avoid Like The Plague (and so should you).

Now that her music career is in the limbo of rehab, crazy public antics, violent behavior and inability to dress appropriately, Britney could be looking for another day job soon. Oh oh, bad news for the rest of us!

1. Spokesperson for underwear company

It''s not uncommon for movie stars and singers to use their celebrity status to sell things like cookware, cosmetics, soft drinks and lingerie. Britney Spears knows it - she''s done it for Pepsi. And oh boy did the multi-million dollar campaign pack some heat and fueled the imagination of little kids all over the world. Young boys thought of her in their sleep and girls looked up to her. And unfortunately, looking up to her isn''t something anyone should do. After her "commando" predicament got snapped by the photogs (one time with Paris and again after 2007 VMAs), left her feeling a little cold from the situation, it''s going to be tough convincing the consumers that she really loves her undergarments. Although we don''t doubt anyone would question if she says, "she''d rather go naked than go without her Calvins!"

2. Sell baby chairs

We all know Britney is really good with babies and kids. She''s even put her toddler on the wheel while she was driving off from Starbucks. She''s been seen texting while driving junior around. She''s also caught on tape for running a red light with her kid sleeping in the back seat. Nice. There''s nothing cooler in the world than a speeding mum, right? Who says women drive slowly and hog the road? In fact, Britney has proved that women are just as capable at running a red light as guys. And she upped the ante by gambling her baby''s life. Now wouldn''t it be perfect for her to promote infant food, kiddy chairs and Nintendos? After all, mama knows best? By the way, she only lost custody of her kids by accident!

3. Own a dating agency

Britney knows a thing or two about a good catch, since she''s gone through a lot of the scraps. Justin Timberlake fled the relationship ten years ago and probably found out early (thankfully) that it wasn''t right for him. While Justin''s gone on to date Cameron Diaz and Jessica Biel, Britney has settled for her manny (man nanny), looneybin manager Sam Lufti, paparazzi Adnan Ghalib and the classic father of the year, Kevin Federline. So if you want to hook up with someone your mum warned you about, look up Britney''s dating agency or better yet, just look through her MySpace friends list. You''ll surely find exactly what you''re not really looking for.

4. Acting

Crossroads is probably as good as it gets, I''m afraid. That was a good time for Britney - hit album, modest movie box office run and sober (or mentally sound, take your pick), and she had plenty of support from fans. Now, she can''t even get back to her lip-syncing form at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards or move her body to the rhythm to save her life. So we don''t recommend that she take on Tinseltown again, not even to play herself in a made-for-TV biopic of her own life. We''d rather Lindsay Lohan do the honour.

5. Walk the streets

Some people are dressed for success, while others are dressed like Britney Spears. Torn fishnet stockings, barely-there-shorts, trashy garbs and boots that''s made for ¡®walking'' are all signs of Britney''s stylist on a long vacation. Ok, she might have been fired since the single "Me Against The Music" and Britney has never looked back (or into the mirror) since. So no Britney, don''t take your music to the streets or parade your horrible fashion sense to the world. We don''t want the fashion felons of the world to think there''s hope in blue eyeshadow, shoulderpads and heaven forbid, fishnet stockings! You see, even our favorite American idle, Paris Hilton, doesn''t do much but at least she always does ¡®nothing much'' in style.

6. Barber-ian

Never trust Britney with the scissors and razor. Seriously, we wouldn''t. The last time she took hairstyling into her own hands, Sinead O'' Connor called and wanted her hair back. So if Britney ever opens a salon on Rodeo Drive or Fifth Avenue, we would tell you to stay out of it unless you''re Chris Daughtry, Michael Stipe from R.E.M. , Patrick Stewart or Kojak. See the bald pattern?

7. Being a POP STAR!

The thing is, pop stars are known for their sexual deviance (a la Madonna), spick and span image (a la Justin Timberlake) or arrested development (in the form Christina Aguilera voice and Jessica Simpson''s body). What successful pop stars never have are multiple DUI charges, psychological breakdowns and a career spanning a gazillion lip-syncing concerts (that kind of stuff is best reserved for Ashlee Simpson).

If she plans to continue to lead the destructive life she has now, she''d be better off setting off for the rock scene. Where drugs, rehab, alcohol and bad marriages are the stuff people come to expect with the territory. For example, it''s never headline news if Courtney Love takes a piss on stage and appears wasted in fake Chanel to red carpets, right? So we strongly recommend Britney to hook up with Noel Gallagher, and let her inner rockstar rule the mic. We can almost hear the rock interpretation of "Hit Me Baby¡­ One More Time" featuring Tommy Lee, already.

23 March 2008

Best Jobs To Impress Women

Contrary to what the leathery cougars of Wisteria Lane might have you believe, it takes more than attorney, doctor or pool boy credentials to get the girl, even if you do have six-pack abs. So let’s look at some of the best jobs to impress women. Sure, the leaders in these fields usually make decent money and have the kinds of personalities women dig, but these guys tend to back it up with genuine character and style.
Of course, it’s understood that this review can function as a road map for poseurs. You know, the average actor, rock star or -- if you’re George Costanza -- architect wannabe next door. If you can’t cut it as the real deal, we've provided tips to help you fake it; just hope she doesn’t do a little research and bust you for embellishing your resume for hormonal gain.

Let’s be honest: There are easier ways to get laid than by becoming a chef. You’re working when everyone else is out having a good time. For that matter, you’re working because everyone else is out for a good time. Survive culinary school, then the backstabbing and burnout on the way up, and you might just nudge six-figure territory someday. Clearly, you’re not doing it for the dough -- it’s about the passion you have for creatively and uniquely interpreting your dishes, and of course having a job to impress women.
Fake it: Adopt a charismatic, screw-you attitude like that of Anthony Bourdain, watch the Food Network for a week straight and don’t eat at chain restaurants -- ever.

So, you’ve just barely made it through another day of hell in a cubicle without strangling anyone. You’re in your boring car, crawling along in six lanes full of corporate drones just like you, with nothing to anticipate over the horizon other than a dull evening. This is about the time most people feel the urge to break out on their own as entrepreneurs. Most control these desires and fall back into their rut, only to repeat the same mundane process the next day. However, a few run with the urge for change and become entrepreneurs. These guys can come from different walks of life and have vastly different training and capital. Most, however, are willing to take risks and refuse to settle for less without giving it their all. Working nights and weekends, especially early on, is a given. If the early years don’t bury you or your venture, you’ll be in the minority. As an entrepreneur, you’re well aware of all this, but you have the vision to persevere. It may not be easy, but it is one of the best jobs to impress women -- they will admire your courage, independence and perseverance.
Fake it: Refer to your day job as a consulting gig.

Military man (i.e., soldier)
You didn’t sign your life over to Uncle Sam in exchange for a life of luxury. You could advance to officer ranks and still not make as much as a kid in a call center. But that’s beside the point. To you, it’s far more important to protect that kid and defend your country. You’re compelled to do this by a fundamental sense of duty and honor. Fame and fortune may not smile upon you as a result, but you’ll still feel rich. And even if you won’t admit it aloud, you’re especially grateful for one of the few fringe benefits that come your way: Women really do love a man in uniform.
Fake it: If better judgment fails to stop you from doing this in the first place, you’d better be in great shape. Not only will it help you impress women, but it might also save your life if a real enlisted man discovers you’re a fraud.

The bond between people and their pets that can be stronger than a parent/child relationship. Often, pets aren’t just part of the family; they are the family (which can make dating a lot less complicated). Veterinarians understand this bond and take pride in their work, whether it’s a simple checkup or treating the ill and injured. Like human doctors, vets must spend a number years in training before they can become licensed. Unlike people docs, vets earn less (about $80,000, on average), but they still put in long hours. On the plus side, vets get to play multiple medical roles within their practices and get a great deal of satisfaction from their work.
Fake it: Go the New Age route and claim to be able to communicate on a conversational level with pets. You may just land a series on Animal Planet.


Bravery, danger, a sense of protection, physical conditioning: These are just a few of the many elements that make up a firefighter who, incidentally, responds to a lot more than just fires. These are often the guys assisting when there’s a car wreck or a medical emergency. When we were kids, we just thought it was all about sliding down poles and hanging off the backs of trucks. The grown-up understanding of the intense training and dedication required, combined with a modest salary (about $42,000 on average) causes many of us to respectfully take a step back. However, especially since this is one of the best jobs to impress women, a few do have the courage to take a step forward and accept the challenge.
Fake it: Lose the beer gut, consider growing a mustache, study and memorize every episode of Rescue Me.

Being a pilot was cool long before Tom Cruise hopped in an F-14. Even if you only command a commercial puddle jumper between small cities, you’re still cooler than the traveling salesman sitting in the cabin behind you. Make it to the big leagues flying the bigger birds, and you could make $150,000 while seeing the world. Plus, as passengers file toward the Jetway on your last flight of the day, you can make mental notes of the faces you hope to see in the hotel bar later. Fake it: Get a flattop haircut, a pair of aviators and chew gum vigorously.


Your camera is a window to the soul -- be it yours, your subject’s or both. A lot of women like that connection and appreciate a man with an artistic eye who can capture a moment in time and say it all with a single image. Others just lose their inhibitions for the lens. Of course, that’s once you’re established and making about $46,000 yearly or better. That only comes after a lot of formal and informal training, not to mention gigs you reluctantly accept to build experience: weddings, screaming inbred babies in discount stores, proms, you get the idea. But if talent and perseverance one day propel you to a photo shoot of swimsuit models on a Caribbean Island, it will all have been well worth it. Fake it: Randomly halt conversation, frame her or other things with your thumbs and index fingers and complain about the lighting, wherever you happen to be.

work that works ‘em

Like Ted Knight remarked in Caddyshack, the world needs ditch diggers too. The problem is that the ladies don’t dig diggers. Not the kind that should be dug, anyway. Jumping to the polar opposite career, like attorney or doctor, isn’t the answer, either. Aim for a job that makes a living, but that also offers elements of bravery, creativity and/or skill, and you will impress women every time.
Resources:www.bls.gov www.salary.com

09 March 2008

5 Things You Didn't Know: The Apocalypse

Peanuts cartoonist Charles M. Schulz once advised us: "Don't worry about the world coming to an end today; it's already tomorrow in Australia."

If only those words were enough to assuage the anxiety of the human heart. Instead, throughout history, the idea of an impending apocalypse has persisted. Throughout, it has changed costumes many times, wearing fires, floods, frog storms, and even catchy sayings -- remember Y2K?

Traditional visions of the apocalypse share at least a couple of general traits. For one, predictions are set for the near future. We are a selfish, self-serving life form, so if the end isn’t in our near future, we don’t care. To that end, the apocalypse becomes a handy tool of manipulation.

The second trait is the most obvious: Every apocalyptic prediction that has been made has failed to come true. When this happens, true believers are fast to explain why, often suggesting that the world took various steps, such as prayer, to curtail or delay the event. Sadly for them, if any prophecy alleged to be the word of God can be upended through simple human intervention, there’s only one conclusion: God sucks at executing his will.

Here are five things about the apocalypse that you may not know.
1- The Jehovah’s Witnesses have been wrong the most
The Jehovah’s Witness began in 1876 as a ”Bible Student” movement, but today it’s operated by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (WTS), a mess of a prognosticator. The WTS has predicted that the apocalypse would arrive in 1874, 1878, 1881, 1910, 1914, 1915, 1918, 1925, 1932, 1941, 1975, 1994, and 2004. In case you weren’t counting, they’re 0-for-13.

You might imagine that just one failed prophecy -- much less 13 -- would spell the end of any group, but according to Leon Festinger’s cognitive dissonance theory, the opposite is often true. Festinger’s study found that a failed prophecy has the tendency to strengthen groups like the WTS. He argued that it can be impossible to convince someone with real devotion to their convictions that those convictions are somehow flawed, regardless of how unimpeachable the evidence. One reason is because the devotee is so invested in his convictions that any challenge to them is perceived as a call to arms to defend them. They can even begin to see this challenge as part of the prophecy.

2- 2012 looks like one hell of an eschatological year
A brief, incomplete survey of these prophecies includes the following:
An aspect of the polar shift theory claims that on December 21, 2012, a shift of the axis of the Earth’s rotation will bring a host of devastating natural disasters.
The Orion Prophecy is a book that claims the Earth’s magnetic field will flip-flop in 2012, causing mass chaos. The truth is that the magnetic field will in fact reverse at some point (it has done so many times), but this does not happen overnight.
According to algorithms extracted from the bible and mentioned in The Bible Code, a big asteroid will strike the planet in 2012. The Bible code is the belief that messages, warnings and predictions were encoded in the Hebrew bible by E.T. and his friends (who also gave us our genetic code). The decoding technique was described in a paper entitled "Equidistant Letter Sequences in the Book of Genesis" by Professor Eliyahu Rips of the Hebrew University in Israel. Incidentally, supporters claim The Bible Code gives proof of Oswald’s destiny as JFK’s killer, and it also predicted the apocalypse… in 2006. Remember that one? Me neither.
More 2012 predictions and Nostradamus' views on the apocalypse…

Some Hindus regard 2012 as the year an avatar -- a god in human form -- will appear on earth and usher in a new age, one presumably favorable to the Hindu faithful.
Meanwhile, alien devotees believe that 2012 is the year when those aliens who first gave human civilization a kick start will return to see how we’ve done. Some believe they’ll give us another boost or two if we haven’t lived up to potential, while others expect mass slavery as punishment for our slacker ways.
Finally, Nostradamus predicted the apocalypse for 2012, but you’ll have to wait until 2013 to see how it ends. What a cliffhanger.

3- Nostradamus never accurately predicted an event
Nostradamus, the 16th century apothecary, gets a lot of press for making accurate predictions on virtually every major event since he died in 1566. But his followers consistently commit three overwhelming flaws. The first is that some of them work from poor French translations. The second lies in interpretation -- Nostradamus was no idiot, and his quatrains are so ambiguous that they allow for the extraction of virtually any event. The third, and most damaging to his status as a ”seer,” is that his followers engage in “postdiction” -- it is only after a major world event occurs that his believers begin to search his works for the ”prediction.”

If Nostradamus can’t be understood prior to an event, he can't be said to have predicted it. An alleged, loosely interpreted prediction ex post facto is not only without any merit, it also fails to qualify as a prediction.

At his core, Nostradamus was little more than a thief and a plagiarist who stole from the likes of classical historians Livy and Plutarch, medieval chronicler Jean Froissart, and every contributor to the Mirabilis Liber, a book of predictions that dealt with Christianity and the French Revolution.

4- Many scenarios feature an ambiguously evil duo
Talk about your major, high-profile players. I don’t care who you are, if you run into either Gog or Magog, say your prayers. Variously represented as people, monsters, demons, or nations, Gog and Magog are a force to behold.

Although first appearing in the Hebrew bible, they’re featured heavily in the New Testament, which provides what is by far the western world’s most influential apocalyptic vision. Revelations (20:7-8) defines them as the nations in the four quarters of the earth, which Satan sets out to attack and destroy by deception (sounds a lot like Ezekiel in the Old Testament).

In Islam, their arrival is one of the major clues of the coming apocalypse. Once again, according to scholar Gharm-Allah El-Ghamdy, "Gog and Magog (two hidden tribes of people) will break free of the dam that holds them back and ravage the earth. They will drink all the water, and kill people until Allah sends against them a worm which will wipe them out."

Other scholars have identified Gog and Magog as Koka and Vikoka, servants of an apocalyptic demon in a minor purana in Hinduism called the Kalki Purana. They have also been identified, with some challenge from the research community, as representing Russia, the Mongols, the nations of Europe, the Goths, the Khazars, and the Jews.

All told, Gog and Magog most often are situated as the fall guys, the greatest enemies against whichever organization is making the prophecy.

A hairy animal is a definite sign of the apocalypse…

5- The end is near when a hairy animal approaches
In Islam, both hadith (hadith is a collection of oral tales that relate the life of Mohammed) and the Qur'an feature numerous clues to the coming apocalypse.

One of the major clues in the Qur'an is the arrival of an animal so hairy that you can’t tell if it’s coming or going (in Arabic, he is described as Dab-ba). His appearance coincides with a large number of Muslims who have turned away from Islam (apostasies) and this animal will beckon them “back to Islam,” according to the scholar Gharm-Allah El-Ghamdy.

Folks are naturally curious about the future. Will I get married to a supermodel? Will I drive a Ferrari? Will a hairy Gog from Mars call me back to the Watchtower Society… again? The point is that many people really believe in these prophecies, while others read or write them for kicks. On the darker side of the moon, sociopaths use them as tools of manipulation, claiming that the predictions provide justification for actions that range from hatred to bigotry to outright murder.

We suspect two factors influence the length of the public’s interest. The first is that this interest will last until each member meets his or her own apocalypse (personal death). The second is more basic: When a particular society is thriving economically, its interest in seeing the world end is very low. Yet, when it hits hard times, interest skyrockets and people begin filling the churches and synagogues, hedging their bets on the best possible scenario.

Ultimately, the most important thing offered by an apocalyptic scenario is the one thing people want the most, but ostensibly cannot have: They want to survive death, in some form, and greet their loved ones on the other side because the alternative -- a long, dark, unconscious nothingness -- is somehow intolerable.

All this man-made madness recalls the 19th century transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson. Sick with grief as Ralph sat in front of the tombstone of his recently deceased young son, he bemoaned these words into his journal, “The blazing evidence of immortality is our dissatisfaction with any other solution.”


08 March 2008

5 Things You Didn't Know: OPEC

Formed in 1960, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is a powerful and controversial international oil group composed of 12 nations: Algeria, Angola, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela. Since its inception, the organization has been responsible for generating vast sums of wealth for its member nations.

By definition, OPEC is a cartel -- a group of producers which tries to restrict output in an effort to keep prices higher than the competitive level. Vilified in the West as a staunch defender of its own interests, yet still not fully understood by the most of the public, we think it’s time to introduce you to five things you didn’t know about OPEC, your friendly neighborhood oil cartel.

1- It no longer sets crude oil prices
OPEC admits to setting crude oil prices in the ‘70s and’ 80s -- they would look ridiculous to try and deny it. However, the oil market underwent a transformation in the 1990s and today, prices for crude oil are established according to three markets: 1) The New York Mercantile Exchange; 2) The International Petroleum Exchange in London; and, 3) The Singapore International Monetary Exchange.

This isn’t to suggest that OPEC has no influence on prices; quite the contrary. Prices established by the exchanges are based on supply and demand; therefore any decision OPEC makes concerning restricting production, for example, will have some effect on prices. These decisions, however, can have a direct consequence on profit margin, so it isn’t always in their best interests.

2- Its practices are considered to be illegal
Simply put: Cartels are illegal in many countries. In the U.S., for example, OPEC is in direct violation of antitrust laws, such as the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 -- the same act that broke up Standard Oil, American Tobacco and Ma Bell. Antitrust laws don’t criminalize monopolies per se, only if the monopoly is used to eliminate its competition through methods of production or price-fixing.

Ordinarily, U.S. antitrust laws explicitly prohibit dealing with cartels. What makes OPEC so special? Simple: Congress grants OPEC diplomatic immunity from prosecution and in essence treats it as though it were a sovereign nation, even though this is not remotely the case. This status was tested in 1978, when the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), a non-profit labor organization in the U.S., filed suit against OPEC under the Sherman Act. In 1981, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the case, claiming OPEC was protected by its sovereign immunity status.

In 2007, a pair of controversial bills were introduced in Congress designed to amend antitrust laws to include OPEC. If the measures are approved in both houses and the president doesn’t veto it, individuals harmed by OPEC in the U.S. can begin to sue the organization. If this were to happen, few expect OPEC to continue doing business with the U.S.

3- It isn’t the only game in town
If one only paid passing attention to the media, you might get the impression that OPEC is the only oil game in town. Granted, its member countries control anywhere from two-thirds to three-quarters of the world’s proven oil reserves and over 40% of the globe’s oil production; however, there are other sets of somewhat substantial oil-producing groups.

Originally formed as an agent of the Marshall Plan following World War II, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is a vast and all-encompassing organization with all sorts of arms and legs. Of its 30 member countries, a minority are oil producers, including the USA, Canada, Mexico, and the UK. Together they account for about 23% of the world’s oil production.

Additionally, the Russian Federation and a handful of former-Soviet states, such as Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, are responsible for about 15% of global oil production.

4- It was formed to fight the “Seven Sisters”
The world’s wealthy oil barons have not always resided in the Middle East. In fact, for most of the 20th century, the member nations of OPEC were at the mercy of the so-called “Seven Sisters,” a non-organizational set of oil producers and distributors which, perhaps due to that non-organizational status, somehow eluded antitrust prosecution. The Seven Sisters was composed of Standard Oil of New Jersey, Royal Dutch Shell, Anglo-Persian Oil, Standard Oil of New York, Standard Oil of California, Gulf Oil, and Texaco.

By 1960, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela had grown tired of exporting their oil and then having to buy it back at higher prices. They formed OPEC to assert their “legitimate rights in an international oil market,” and by the 1970s, thanks in part to strategic maneuvers such as the Arab oil embargo, began to dominate the market.

5- Its “customers” see bigger oil profits than its members
Oil taxes by countries that regularly import oil from OPEC, such as the U.S., the UK, Japan, and Italy, are often as much to blame for high oil prices as OPEC. Such taxes allow some countries to see oil-related revenues that are three or four times higher than some OPEC members see from exports. In addition, the production and development of oil requires huge investments, a fact that further chips away at OPEC-member profit margins.

As gasoline prices soar, more and more attention gets paid to OPEC. In the Western press its easily vilified and is a common ”fall guy’“ for every issue related to oil and oil prices -- not always unjustifiably so.

More than a few people would be pleased to see OPEC’s influence reduced or even made moribund. However, proven oil reserves are defined in the industry as the amount of oil that can be recovered and produced using today’s technologies, and as of 2006, the world total was 1,195,318 million barrels of crude oil; OPEC’s share of that amount was 922,482 million barrels or 77.2% (if you accept OPEC’s figures; hardly everyone does). Thus, unless a drastic change occurs in the energy-consumption habits of much of the world’s oil-hungry population, interest in OPEC is unlikely to recede for some time.


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