Life as a Proletariat

SAS Logo
Paradise for the Proles

Slightly less than three-quarter of a person’s lifespan nowadays is spent on work and so it is really important to love your work. And while internal motivation is important at sustaining you, the environment that you work in, the boss that you work for and the people you work with are all going to affect the way you see your work.

Of all these factors, your employers can mould quite a substantial portion of your experience. They might not control working culture but they have a great influence over it; they might not be able to dictate your life but they can create circumstances to urge you to do as they see fit. That makes choosing your employers important and the recent ranking published by Fortune Magazine is particularly valuable for that purpose.

SAS top that list of ‘2010 Best Companies To Work For’. You can see from the perks how the employer really ‘cares’ in the real sense (no sarcasm intended). Although the title of this entry is somewhat demeaning, I do believe that treating your worker well makes great business sense. In fact sometimes I think that there should be Human Resource Consultancies that help check companies’ books and then find out how to improve performance through treating workers better – the military around the world are in need of that. Maybe there’s already such firms and they probably borrow tricks from SAS as well.

So if you’re intrigued by Google and want to work for them, maybe you should consider SAS if you treasure job security above remuneration.

Eggs and Bacon

Breakfast Only...

I got this from a friend, who is passionate about Economics very much like me.

A hen and a pig are negotiating to solve the food shortage. The hen makes a suggestion: “I will supply the eggs if you will supply the bacon.” The pig ponders this for a moment and replies: “But yours is a contribution, mine is a total commitment.”

– Kofi Annan

The Feast

French Laundry
Burger Stuffing?

The Economist Lexington reports on The Fat Plateau, highlighting that Americans are no longer getting fatter. This is the point of time when American Healthcare is a core concern of the Americans’ lives and obese might penalize the healthier individuals in a system that pools all their risks together. Either the number of people who can’t quite control their diet has reached the peak of their obesity potential, or that all the complex forces that pushes weight up and down for the general populace has finally reached a point where both forces cancel each other out – at least temporarily.

On food and eating, Mark Vanhoenacker compares the French Laundry, a 3-Stars Michelin Guide restaurant with McDonald’s on moreIntelligentLife. He harps on the interesting similarities between them and points out the curious fact that no one seems to bother about nutritional values of gourmet cuisine:

The mere mention of nutrition in any discussion of haute gastronomie is a cheerless business. Still, I’m certain that my waistline and arteries were affected more by our French Laundry feast (did I mention that the foie gras had chocolate on it?) than the day I had a Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit for breakfast ($4.49 with hash brown and coffee), the Angus Burger meal for lunch ($6.19) and a Chicken Selects dinner ($7.39).

Of course, it’s probably because we don’t have foie gras with chocolate for breakfast as often as we have a Sausage Muffin with Egg. And comparing French Laundry with McDonald’s simply shows how universal our preferences might be whether it’s for expensive gourmet cuisine or plain junk food.

Package for the Week

Hidden from sight
Hidden from sight

Reads for this weekend are here. Farhad Manjoo muses whether anyone would be able to stop facebook. From expanding, that is. The site has really amassed a huge group of user in a short time and people have been wondering if it would be able to generate revenue and such. Truth is, Facebook has really changed the stuff we do online quite very much and helped the Internet leap ahead as a tool for social networking.

Daniel Gross wrote about his tour to China’s most important dam and muses over his inability to find a chocolate bar there. He got readers to send in excuses for not being able to find a chocolate bar in China. Examples included:

“Your quest for chocolate at the Three Gorges would be like me looking for Chinese dumplings at the Hoover Dam,” wrote one Beijing resident.

Jokes aside, for your watching pleasure, check out Shashi Tharoor’s recent talk on about soft power, with particular reference to India.

Food for Thought

Twigs & Feathers, nothing weird...
Twigs & Feathers, nothing weird...

If the recent entries suddenly appear to be skewed towards recommending readings from The Economist, I’ve to admit that this is happening because I’ve got the chance to stick around the computer as much as the previous week and have come to make more use of the stuff I read on my hardcopy of The Economist.

And strangely, the magazine is pretty obsessed with the food industry this couple of days. It could well be a result of the recession, which has made the food industry a little less boring compared to the days when finance was hot and occupying too much coverage on papers (both the times when they were bubbling and when the crisis came). Perhaps more importantly, it was the trend that the food giants were transforming. And these transformations are catching the attention of regulators. The Economist discusses how the line between food and drugs are blurring as manufacturers are slapping health and nutritional claims on what they call ‘functional foods’. A briefing on Nestlé reveals how these food giants are now operating. In many ways these industries’ methods and Research and Development expenditures are fast resembling those of Pharmaceutical industries. For some, it is probably comforting to know that our food is going to do more than keep us full and alive; for me, I think it’s pretty scary to be munching with foods that promises too much (“to improve nature”) and yet claims to contain “no weird stuff”.

Beyond the boring regulatory stuff and operations of the food giant, the big players appears to be engaging in some rather interesting competition and some potential integrations. Hostile bids are somewhat frowned upon in these times of business especially when Cadbury is growing faster than Kraft (that’s if you read the article that is linked) and I’m pretty confident that Kraft will not be able to acquire the British chocolatier without revising their bid.