Tiger Woods look like he’s really in deep trouble; James Surowiecki traces the reason how Tiger Woods’ image is going down with the scandals and gave a thorough analysis on how the image of these celebrity figures are tied to products and firms they endorse or act as the public face for.
He even did a follow-up on his New Yorker blog to highlight the trouble Woods got into with the different firms and brands linked to him. He decided that Woods’ image is quite wrecked for the professional sponsorships from non-golf related stuff would probably cut back quite substantially.
John Cassidy did another analysis of what went wrong for Tiger Woods in the entire episode and explains why Tiger Woods need to get back into Professional golfing fast – assuming he’s able to maintain his focus and discipline.
Key states have announced what they call a “meaningful” agreement at the Copenhagen Climate Summit to tackle climate change. The agreement between the US, China, Brazil, India and South Africa would set a mitigation target to limit warming to no more than 2C and, importantly, to take action to meet this objective.
The five-nation brokered deal promised to deliver $30bn of aid for developing nations over the next three years, and outlined a goal of providing $100 billion a year by 2020 to help poor countries cope with the impacts of climate change. The agreement also included a method for verifying industrialised nations’ reduction of emissions. The US had insisted that China dropped its resistance to this measure.
However, it seems that only the US and China are supposedly “happy” from a meeting which seemingly had a “positive result”, or rather, what I term as a poor return from the 2 weeks worth of discussion.
In the face of a globalized world and the many challenges that we face, what the US and China put forth together seemingly only benefits them. For instance, nothing is done about limiting carbon emissions and on a legally binding treaty, something which sort of “liberalizes” the major powers in the form of US, China and India. With US out of Kyoto and the lack of a legally binding contract, China and India can be said to be free to do whatever they want, with all three nations insisting that national sovereignty comes first.
Now, I’m not saying national sovereignty should be ignored, but as we attempt to tackle a problem that we should have been engaged in long ago, we realize that the Copenhagen Accord, as Jo Leinen, chairman of the European Parliament’s environment committee described, is a completely “disappointment and below our expectations”.
Selfish interests of the global powers dominated the discussion table in Copenhagen, while the rest of the world are let down by their inability to co-operate and come up with a more radical approach to the problem. Yes, this is progress from what has come before, a necessity, but whether it will truly solve the problem, no. The roots of the problem ultimately lie in the countries’ inability to break out of their shell – their inability to come to a solid-enough compromise, and their covert belief that the economy should come first. This inability to commit to this cause from the US, China and India seemingly portrays them in a green limelight.
Progress has been made, yes, but it’s no longer about the ability to make progress, that almost didn’t happen, but rather, how fast we can reach humanity’s goal.
It saddens me to read in The Straits Times that at the end of the whole Copenhagen COP15 summit, the only statement issued was just a whimper, a short simple declaration that does not commit anything very much promising. The US$30b fund is an improvement that I found encouraging, but otherwise all the wrangling and politicking was disgusting and disappointing.
As an environmentalist, I guess I always had greater expectations about COP15 and what governments should be doing. But even as my expectations were lowered by the day as I tracked the summit through the newspapers, I am still disappointed that there will not be real leadership and guts to tackle climate change. Reading The Economist, in particular, seems to increase that pessimism. Local politics ultimately rules the day, and sadly local politics are heavily influenced by lobby groups like the oil industry, as well as naysayers who do not believe in the concept of climate change.
It does not help matters that recently there were <a href="leaked emails of data collected on climate science being ‘massaged’. It only proves the skeptics and naysayers that climate change is an agenda usurped by those against capitalism and the Western world, against development and industrialisation. It was already difficult to convince people, or to convince even ourselves, that the economy would not be affected by measures to fight climate change. This ‘Climategate’ might only sour perceptions about environmentalists, environmental scientists and those who support the climate change notion as rogues who are trying to stop the world from getting wealthier.
Very hard to feel very optimistic. I visited the Hopenhagen website, and on its index page it asks for input from visitors to its website for what hopes the visitors have for the environment / climate and what is it that keeps them optimistic. I could not think of anything positive to write about, knowing that the legal, political and economic hurdles were so huge. I closed the website window without typing anything.
So tell me, what keeps you optimistic about resolving climate change?
It’s been a while since ERPZ featured any Lifehack Tools and lately, I’ve found quite a lot of useful stuff so it would be great to share with readers and GTD enthusiasts.
Dropbox – File sharing/synchronization, online storage tool. Extremely useful for people with multiple computers and files to be shared between them.
Macheist – Mac Community that raise funds for charity and give you lots of great Mac Ware at amazing prices (sometimes free too).
Ninite.com – Multi-Apps installer; allows you to choose from a list of important “must-install” applications to be installed all at once on your computer. Especially useful when you just get a new computer or formatted your PC and want to have your favourite softwares installed fast.
Growl – Mac Notification tool, it’s basically an alert programme that seamlessly integrate with your mac and several other popular programmes.
Picnik – In case you haven’t realised, there’s are web-based image-editing tools and Picnik just happens to stand out particularly because it is speedy and extremely user friendly.
Quicksilver – It’s not easy to describe what Quicksilver does exactly but it’s basically a graphical shell that allows you to perform stuff on your Mac more quickly.
We begin this week’s reads with an interview with Paul Samuelson by John Cassidy from The New Yorker. John Cassidy recently published a new book, How Markets Fail, which I’ll read some time soon. It won’t be that soon though – I’m still reading Thinking Strategically and moving on to Art of Strategy after that.
Eric Morris shared something about the cab industry in New York, which eventually concluded with urging for less regulation (ie. raising the supply of cab licenses or “medallions” as they’re called). One of the comments revealed a really humourous story of how the cabbie’s industry in Ireland got deregulated overnight; I shall reproduce it here:
A similar sitution existed in Ireland up to a few years ago. Change was brought about when the government went to issue more wheel chair accessable taxi licenses. The Taxi driver / owners group foolishly sued the government. They claimed that the government didn’t have the right to issue new licenses. They won but the court ruled that the government didn’t have the power to issue any licenses. The taxi ma[r]ket was deregulated overnight.
The current complaint from taxi drivers is that there are too many taxis etc etc. There were clear winners, the consumer and those new taxi drivers who are now free to ply their trade in a vastly increased taxi market.
The fact that GPS navigation on-board cars/cabs are widely available means that the tacit barrier to entry for the cab business have been significantly lowered. Anyone who can drive and have a car with on-board GPS navigation (and perhaps a meter) can technically offer good taxi services. Knowledge of the city and the different landmarks have become less of an advantage or requirement.
Finally, there’s something on mechanization of agriculture; the article reveals surprising labour shortage in this field of work. I thought the solution might be to move the unemployed people from the urban areas to these agricultural regions but well, they designed all sorts of machine to do the job so that means the unemployed will have to find something more complex to earn a living.
A while back, I was writing about LVMH because they were featured in a briefing on The Economist. One of the strategies that were highlighted in the article was Louis Vuitton’s effort in researching customer flows in malls:
In 2005, when Maurizio Borletti, owner of several prominent department stores in Italy and France, was preparing for the opening of a refurbished La Rinascente department store in Milan, he recalls, the Vuitton people built a scale model of the building in their offices to understand customer flows and get the best positioning. “In this they’re the most professional in the industry,” he says.
The design of Iluma is definitely pretty interesting; with all the glittery looking stuff on the building surface, some kind of balcony on the middle floors and fancy looking glass doors that looks as though they weigh a ton but opens automatically (at least some of them). The outside main entrance area, there are 2 escalators; one leading from and another leading to the second level of the building. The interior of the building is big, and the ground floor is capable of holding lots of people in the middle, perfect for events and normally used for cart-stalls giving it a bazaar feel.
There’s another pair of escalators there, leading to the fourth floor directly. Wait a minute, fourth floor? Yes, it leads you directly to the fourth floor, by-passing the second and the third, which totally explains why it’s hard to get crowds within the building to go to the shops on the second floor. The pair of escalators inside the building that leads to the second floor is absolutely hidden from the crowd standing in the middle of the interior of the building. Some pictures of the interior will help you see why. Even when it takes about 40 seconds or so to reach the end of that long escalator, it’s fun enough to attract people to hit that level where a bunch of other cafes awaits.
The Coffee Bean will largely have to rely on people entering from the escalators at the front main entrance for business (come on, who takes the lifts these days?). On 13 December when 8-Days Magazine was having their 1001 issue exhibition, people who are naturally drawn to the ground floor interior of the building will probably not take that escalator and so the crowd they anticipate at their cafe will probably not manifest. The only people who might patronize them are those who came over to Iluma via the newly built link bridge from Parcos Bugis Junction and unable to find the escalator that will lead them down to the center of activity at the ground floor…
The customer flows in malls are pretty important in this sense, the location of the escalators, the entrance/exits, the link bridges and the placements of your signboard. That will all be before your staff’s attitude. Studying these flows before you rent out a space in a mall is going to make a whole load of difference to the destiny of that shop/unit.
With the Subprime Financial Crisis, the global economy tumbled, trade flows scaled down rapidly as economies started contracting. Initially, during the boom, trade was growing faster than global income, implying that the global growth, mainly concentrated in the already developed parts of the world economy was gained from increasing specialization and division of labour through trade and exchange. And for a slight contraction in the global economy, a lot of these supply chain will face problems in-between and go bust, resulting in a huge contraction in trade since the businesses relied on each other heavily for business. Daniel Gross discusses the decline of trade, and the implied slowdown/reverse of globalization on Slate.com. The situation is probably not as serious as Gross makes it sound.
The crisis is leading to a re-organization of globalization, towards greater degrees of cooperation and perhaps with less imbalances. With economists finding a better means of carry trade, and more reasons for Asia to get together, the world won’t be drifting apart that soon. In the latter article from Banyan column, The Economist highlights the strengths of a more integrated Asian economy and the challenges facing Asia.
The world seem to have accepted the global multilateral trade isn’t exactly going to be possible with all that decline in trade and rise of calls for protectionism and so regional multilateral trade and economic integration is the second best thing. Forming trade blocs or even common markets would do a great deal to help further globalization and put it on a path with more supranational bodies’ control. The idea is that having authorities in the process of globalization might help make it a better force in this world.
In an entry with the same title on my blog, I detailed my experience at The Coffee Bean recently that didn’t quite start nicely but ended off pretty intellectually. I’m quoting the gist here:
I approached the counter with a maths worksheet in my hand (I was planning to work out some problems there while I sipped on the tea since I had some spare time on my hand and needed to exercise my mind) and made my order. The young man serving me immediately asked if I intended to sit around to study.
I commented that I’ll probably be around for half an hour and asked if it’ll be a problem. He replied that there’s an event downstairs and they anticipate a crowd so they discourage people from studying at the cafe. I kept quiet and took my receipt. I thought that the Large Chai Latte should at least buy me 30 minutes of time at the cafe.
This post is a discussion seeks to answer the question: “If a cafe wants to maximize their profits from a crowd and yet is limited by their available seats, how do they discourage people from studying there besides using attitude (which I assume is something I experienced)?” So before answering that question, we list out the factors that would encourage one to study at the cafe and see if there’s anything we can do to manipulate them:
Things that encourage one to study at a cafe
Good lighting; makes reading comfortable
Extremely hot or cold drink; takes you longer to drink and the taste of the drink don’t change that rapidly over time which means more excuse to stay at the cafe longer
Quality drinks; makes for nice beverage while you study and you probably won’t mind ordering one more and staying longer
Comfortable seats; allows you to study comfortably and sit at the cafe for longer time without feeling discomfort physically.
Technically speaking, removing any of these would help to reduce the time people stay around the cafe and also discourage studying. On the other hand, attitude (on part of the service staff) won’t help to reduce the determination of people studying at the cafe. In fact, it turns off people who genuinely just want to chill at the cafe for a while without discouraging the studying students. When one plans to stay at the cafe for a long time to study and sip on drinks, service at the counter makes up only a small part of the experience, whereas for customers who are interested to get a good drink and sit for a while, the service at the counter makes up half of the experience. In other words, giving people attitude is the worst possible solution compared to removing any of the above.
I strongly recommend the dimming of lighting, which doesn’t harm people out to relax but makes studying tedious and difficult. But this is not always possible since The Coffee Bean that I went to utilizes the in-building lighting that they probably have no control over. It’s not wise to compromise the quality of the drinks since it sends out the wrong messages and is disastrously difficult to control. That leaves us with modifying the seats.
I got this idea when I was at Saizeriya Restaurant at Liang Court; they feature a drinks bar where you pay about $6 bucks or so and get to drink lots of different drinks and it’s free flow – literally a drinks buffet. At first, I wondered why the seats there were so narrow and small; the cushion were thin and not exactly comfortable with prolonged sitting. Later I rationalized it as a means to get people out of the restaurant as soon as they’re done with the food. Of course it’s not going to put off people determined to try all the drinks, but at least they’ll finish with their affair and get out fast.
So here’s some prescription for cafes who hopes to attract people there for a drink and to sit around for a while (after all, if the cafe was empty you might think the drinks suck) but discourage students from spending their entire day studying there, the best move would be to adjust lighting according to your needs to adjust demand. Where this is not possible, modify the seats to make prolonged sitting uncomfortable.
I’ve got loads of friends looking for tuition jobs and I thought I might as well advertise for them here. I’ve included their contacts and subjects to be taught under our services page (in case you didn’t know we have one). But here’s a reproduction for readers:
Other Tutor’s Services (former students of top JCs)
Wei Si is interested to give tuition for Economics, Chemistry and General Paper at JC Level. English, Chinese and Chemistry available for Secondary School student too! Interested students, please contact her via email: stardustt.14 [at] gmail [dot] com
Ruiyuan is hoping to give tuition for Economics and Geography at JC Level. Geography and Chemistry available for Secondary School student too! Interested students, please contact him via email: stainless.rui [at] gmail [dot] com
Jia Hao hopes to give tuition for Chemistry at JC Level. Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry available for Secondary School student too! Interested students, please contact him via email kel_ojh [at] hotmail [dot] com
Yan Min is providing tuition services for Chemistry at Secondary School level. Chinese (and Higher Chinese) and Mathematics for Primary school student too! Interested students, please contact him via email: dwellerz [at] hotmail [dot] com or call him at 97293953.