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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The daily grind: Sex for a week boosts sperm quality

Would this finding help in producing better kids? Healthier? Cannot tell?

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AFP - Wednesday, July 1

A painting in the lobby of the world's biggest sperm bank, Cryos, which has its headquarters in the Danish city of Aarhus. Men seeking to become a dad should have sex each day, or ejaculate daily, for a week before their partner ovulates in order to maximise sperm quality, according to a study by Australian fertility specialists.

PARIS (AFP) - - Men seeking to become a dad should have sex each day, or ejaculate daily, for a week before their partner ovulates in order to maximise sperm quality, according to a study presented on Tuesday.

Australian fertility specialist David Greening recruited 118 men whose sperm had a higher-than-normal level of DNA damage.

Before the test, on average 34 percent of the group's sperm was rated as damaged, meaning that it was classified as "poor" in quality. Among individuals, this ranged from 15 percent to 98 percent.

The men were asked to ejaculate daily for seven days, but were not given any drugs or told to make any changes to lifestyle.

After seven days, their sperm was examined again.

The average of damaged sperm fell to 26 percent, placing it in the category of "fair" in quality.

Fourth-fifths of the men saw an increase in sperm quality, and many of them moved into the "good" range and out of the "poor" or "fair" categories.

However, one-fifth saw a decline in sperm quality.

Greening, an obstetrician and endrocrinologist at Sydney IVF, an Australian company that carries out assisted reproduction, said the improvements were "substantial and statistically highly significant."

Daily ejaculation not only boosted sperm quality for most of the men, it also helped sperm motility -- another big factor in successful fertilisation -- even though volumes of semen declined, he said.

Greening presented his findings at a conference in Amsterdam of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE), which provided details in a press release.

The research did not investigate whether the improvement in sperm quality led to better pregnancy rates. But previous work has shown that sperm that is less damaged and more mobile has a better chance of leading to a healthy baby.

"These results may mean that men player a greater role in fertility than previously suspected, and that ejaculatory frequency is important for improving sperm quality," said Greening.

Why this is so is unclear.

Greening said he suspected that the longer sperm stays in the testicular ducts, the greater its exposure to rogue oxygen molecules that damage cells.

His advice to couples would be to have sex, or to ejaculate, daily in the runup to ovulation or to sperm donation for in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).

"The optimal number of days of ejaculation might be more or less seven days, but a week seems manageable and favourable," he said.

"It seems safe to conclude that couples with relatively normal semen parameters should have sex daily for up to a week before ovulation date."

From Yahoo! News; see the source article here.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Dying seconds that will last for ever

by Cassandra Jardine The Daily Telegraph

05:55 AM Jun 26, 2009

Since finding its way onto the Web, the video of Neda's horrific death has opened the world's eyes to what's happening in Iran. AFP

THE death of a young woman on the streets of Tehran is caught on camera and viewed by millions. But should we be watching?

You tick the box saying you are over 18. You notice the warning that the material you are about to see could be upsetting. But nothing can prepare you for the horrible immediacy of watching a young woman die, as Neda Agha Soltan does on YouTube.

The moment you hit the "Play" button, you are pitched into the streets of Tehran, where a woman in jeans is lying on the ground while several men attempt to help her.

As the camera moves around the scene, away from her legs, past the striped T-shirt of a helper, we see the face of the 27-year-old philosophy student.

She is young and beautiful, but it is her eyes that are unforgettable. They stare at you with a look of animal panic, as blood begins to trickle out of her mouth.

The film lasts only 40 seconds, but it is enough to affect world opinion. Over the past few days, millions of people have sent links to each other, wanting to share the horror that brings home so vividly the violence which the Iranian authorities are meting out on innocent citizens.

United States President Barack Obama spoke about the clip: "We have seen courageous women stand up to brutality and threats, and we have experienced the searing image of a woman bleeding to death on the streets. While this loss is raw and painful, we also know this: Those who stand up for justice are always on the right side of history."

In years to come, the bloodied face of Neda - already called the Angel of Freedom - will be the image that lingers of the Iran uprising, just as the naked, napalmed girl running down the road has come to encapsulate the Vietnam War.

Neda never set out to be a martyr: Her boyfriend has said that she was with her music teacher when she briefly stepped out of the car, only to become caught up in history. Yet, she is already on her way to becoming Iran's Joan of Arc.

These images, as the great war photographer Don McCullin has said, are our modern version of religious icons.

The footage of Neda's death certainly has the ring of truth about it: The panic-stricken voices, the blood that spread with shocking speed over her face (as it would since she had been shot in the heart) and the testimonials of relatives. This looks like an image that we can trust. But should we be looking at it at all?

Generally, the British media steer clear of such shocking images because they contravene one of our last taboos - that the moment of death is private and should be witnessed only by those who care for that person. In the YouTube age, that principle is being eroded.

And yet, Mr Stuart Franklin, president of Magnum - a cooperative representing many war photographers - believes that there "is a difference between Neda's death and voyeurism. It's about drawing attention to an issue". He feels that images force change.

"I was in Tiananmen in 1989, when gory photographs of students were glued to lamp posts. It was the only way people could see what was going on. The photographs taken at the Heysel stadium (where 39 football supporters died in 1985) focused attention on inadequate design and police practice."

At the time there were protests about the Heysel publication. Upsetting as the results may be, the alternative is worse.

Many appalling atrocities of recent years have passed relatively unnoticed because there are no images to which the public can attach their outrage.

Repression in Burma and Tibet has been helped by the lack of reporting and filming. And who remembers the deaths of rioting Mexican students before the 1968 Olympics? Few, because no images exist.

What Neda's death does not do is shed any light on the nuances of the conflict. For that, words and thought are more reliable than pictures and emotion.

From TODAY, Comment – Friday, 26-Jun-2009; see the source article here.

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Household electricity tariff to go up from July 1

By Lee Siew Hoon, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 26 June 2009 1604 hrs

SINGAPORE: After two quarters of downward adjustment, household electricity tariff will go up by 6.93 per cent or 1.25 cents per kilo watt hour (kWh) from July 1 to September 30.

Electricity supplier SP Services said the increase is due largely to higher average fuel oil prices from April to June which hit S$76.24 per barrel.

This is a 26 per cent increase from the S$60.47 per barrel used in setting the previous quarter's tariff.

The tariff is calculated based on a new formula which kicks in next month.

Under the revised formula, the electricity tariff for the next quarter will be based on the average fuel oil prices in the preceding three months instead of the fuel oil price in the first month of the previous quarter.

SP Services said the tariff revision is mitigated by a reduction in the cost recovery fee which it collects to cover the costs of billing and meter reading.

The fee which forms part of the overall tariff will go down from 0.28 cents per kWh to 0.22 cents.

SP services said this reduction is due to its productivity improvements and cost reductions. - CNA/vm

From ChannelNewsAsia.com; see the source article here.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Traffic Lights: Is Green A Safe Color?

Based on this video, green light on your lane... hmmm... it's not 100% safe... at least, when a driver from the other intersecting lane is not following his traffic light color...


video


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Office Stress 4

Ever been stressed in the office? See this video... 4th one


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video

Office Stress 3

Ever been stressed in the office? See this video... 3rd one


video

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Office Stress 2

Ever been stressed in the office? See this video... 2nd one


video

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Office Stress 1

Ever been stressed in the office? See this video...


video

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On Being A Father

06/21/2009 | 08:10 PM

"By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he's wrong."Charles Wadsworth, classical pianist and music promoter

From GMANews.tv; see the source article here.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Jackie Chan to son: Don't wish me "Happy Father's Day!"

Xin.sg - Tuesday, June 16

A "Big Brother" who passionately shows the roots of showbiz to his juniors, Jackie Chan is different as a daddy.

Taking the education of his son, Jaycee, into his own hands, Chan instilled so much fear in his son that the latter would never dream of offending his dad for fear of the consequences.

Chan said, "I've never taken care of my son nor sent him to school. For the first and only time that I went to pick him up from school, I went to the wrong one. I am not a good father but definitely a responsible one. My son is utterly afraid of me; he respects and listens to me. I don't think that I will be called a good daddy just by fetching my son to and from school. It's hard for someone like me. If I had sent him to school everyday, I don't think I will be who I am today."

090616-JackieChan Jackie Chan to son: Don't wish me "Happy Father's Day!"

He added, "There was once when I received a call from him while I was filming in Hengdian. You have to understand that he seldom calls me. And when he does, he is either asking for a ticket to watch the NBA match or that he has crashed my car.

"That day he called me to wish me Happy Father's Day! I sprouted some vulgarities and shouted at him: "Next time don't call me! Don't call me on Father's Day; don't call me on my birthday! Call me on usual days, do you get it?" And I hung up the phone immediately. I don't remember my parents' birthdays and I am not exceptionally nice only on Father's Day and Mother's Day. Everyday is like an occasion to me."

Last year, Jaycee told Xin.sg in an exclusive interview that he would be "digging his own grave" to be seeking his parents' advice on work issues. Ever since he was a child, his father only compliments him for one out of the hundred things he does.

Jaycee also said that he has a few of his father's songs in his car only for show and plays them when his dad is with him. On hearing this, Chan laughed, "If it's true, I'll slap him twice on his face when I return home."

From Yahoo! News; see the source article here.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Hey Dad!

By Susan Ferroa, channelnewsasia.com Posted: 19 June 2009 2216 hrs

090619-FathersDay1 Tien Court restaurant at Copthorne King's Hotel

There are some dates on the calendar that we all can’t miss since everyone from florist to restaurateur won’t let us forget, like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.

But when it comes to Father’s Day, “somewhere in June” is probably the best answer most would hazard to offer.

To be precise, Father’s Day always falls on the third Sunday of June and this year, it’s on 21 June.

The date changes each year for Father’s Day, and if it fell on the first Sunday of the month, like Mother’s Day in May – that would make Father’s Day easier to remember.

Could that be one reason why Father’s Day gets less attention?

Or maybe it’s a guy thing wound around the father figure.

When Channel NewsAsia’s website users were asked in a poll here how they would describe their father, it turned out to be a close finish between the choice of a distant parent and a hard-working one.

Some also saw their father as the disciplinarian who is also nice.

Perhaps it’s that ‘big boys don’t cry’ image that most fathers work to uphold along with that nonchalant air he maintains whether he gets attention or not, that tell us that Dads don’t want any fuss on Father’s Day.

However, that's all on the surface.

Each day when I see a certain well-worn mug, I recall the pride and love shining in the eyes of a father as he recounted how his little girl bravely went up in public to say “I love my Dad” to earn the mug emblazoned with the same words which she presented as a Father’s Day gift.

090619-FathersDay2 Penang Laksa from Princess Terrace Cafe at Copthorne King's Hotel

You can't match that, so what else could you do for your Dad this Father's Day?

For starters, you could offer an Apple - not the fruit of course.

You could tap on the special engraving service offered by the online Apple store so you can let Dad know how you feel and have it etched forever on an iPod touch.

Students or faculty staff could also take up the back-to-school offer where the purchase of a Mac and an iPod comes with a S$365 rebate.

The offer which covers the latest MacBook Pro means you get for just a few dollars, an 8GB iPod touch with the latest Operating System as it’s shipped after 17 June.

Alternatively, the book-loving Dad could enjoy a coffee-table book filled with family photos and special notes which you can compile and create through iPhoto and send to the Apple online store for the publishing work.

As the way to a man’s heart has always been said to be through his stomach, a number of restaurants have come up with special menus for Father’s Day.

090619-FathersDay3 Mussels at Azur, Crowne Plaza Hotel

If you want to give Dad a treat along with the rest of the family, Tien Court, the Chinese restaurant at the Copthorne King’s Hotel is offering a special set menu which includes a number of its signature dishes such as Braised Lobster with Egg Noodles, as well as Steamed Yam dessert at S$48 per person.

Also at the Copthorne King’s is the Princess Terrace café which offers a Penang Buffet featuring favourites such as Fried Kway Teow, Laksa and Prawn Noodles done the way that would pass the muster of most Penangites.

If you relish dishes from Gurney Drive, head for this buffet priced at $38 for adults and $23.80 per child which also includes an aromatic Nasi Ulam which is not often found offered on restaurant menus, as well as Penang-style desserts.

The best part about this delicious spread is that even if you find the buffet booked out on Father’s Day, you could make it up to Dad on another day as the buffet is available daily, even in the evenings.

A chance visit on a Friday evening to the buffet found it well-stocked and none-too-crowded. But it's a good idea to make a reservation as the Penang buffet is popular as it is scrumptious.

Even if you've saved on making that eating trip to Penang, you could still take Dad and the family out to the airport.

At Terminal 3 is the one-year-old Crowne Plaza hotel.

Although it is a favourite among travellers making a short stay in Singapore, locals diners find it a worthwhile trip to make for some good wining and dining at the hotel.

The Azur restaurant has put together an International Buffet for Father’s Day which features a vast array of mussels from Sardinia, New Zealand and France, alongside freshly shucked oysters and poached Boston lobster.

There are three different $48 menus for the Father’s Day spread which offers both Asian and Western styled dishes.

If all else fails, a hug does go a long way, and so does a simple “thank you”.

So here's to da, Jock and the guy with the black mug - father figures who've made a difference to their kids and who have reminded me that no matter how old you get, you'll always remain Daddy's Little Girl or Little Buddy (even if he doesn't say so).

From ChannelNewsAsia.com; see the source article here.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Study shows minorities face job discrimination in Australia

I was thinking of migrating to Australia… I'm an Asian… will that be a problem? I possess the skills they need? Will that help? Who knows?

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Posted: 18 June 2009 1308 hrs

Pedestrians pass through central Sydney.

SYDNEY: Job seekers in Australia face a tougher time finding work if they have non-English sounding names, with Chinese and Middle Eastern applicants facing the worst discrimination, a study has found.

Researchers from Canberra's Australian National University (ANU) sent out 4,000 fake job applications in response to employment advertisements in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane using ethnically distinct names.

They found Chinese applicants needed to send 68 per cent more CVs than those with English names to get the same number of interviews, with Middle Eastern job-seekers requiring an additional 64 per cent and Aborigines 35 per cent.

The information about the applicants' qualifications for the advertised position was identical, leaving the name as the only variable for employers to decide whether to grant an interview.

"We found clear evidence of discrimination... job applicants find it easier to get an interview if they have an Anglo Saxon name," ANU researcher Alison Booth said.

The researchers suggested recently arrived migrant groups faced the most prejudice, pointing out that Italians – well established since the 1940s – needed to send only 12 per cent more applications than Anglo Saxons.

Researcher Andrew Leigh admitted he was surprised the results pointed to widespread job-market discrimination in Australia, a country where one-in-four residents was born overseas.

He said the study showed major differences between Australian cities. In Sydney, Chinese had to send out 92 per cent more CVs than those with English names, with the figure set at 80 per cent for Middle Eastern applicants.

In Melbourne, the figures dropped to 61 per cent and 64 per cent respectively, falling to 57 and 51 per cent in Brisbane.

"As a Sydney lad, I was confident its bosses would be the most tolerant and cosmopolitan of the three cities, while Brisbane employers would be a bunch of rednecks," Leigh told the Australian newspaper. "It was, in fact, the other way around."

- AFP/so

From ChannelNewsAsia.com; see the source article here.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

When age is the limit

MATURE WORKERS

Older jobseekers cite qualifications and skills as other obstacles

Leong Wee Keat , weekeat@mediacorp.com.sg

05:55 AM Jun 16, 2009

THE 48-year-old made the journey from her home in Boon Lay to an office in Middle Road for a job interview - only to be told she was “too old”. The job Ms Jennifer De Souza was applying for?

A telemarketer.

“I was so angry I demanded my bus fare back,” she told Today. “Age should not be a factor in this line of work. If I’m willing to work, what’s the problem?”

Mature workers, like Ms De Souza, have found it harder to get employment in the first quarter of the year, according to labour market figures released by the Manpower Ministry yesterday.

Nearly six in 10 who were unemployed for more than six months were such workers. Compared with the same period last year, the number of long-term jobless people has doubled from 7,500 to 16,600 this year. And familiar faces have been turning up at meet-the-people-sessions, Members of Parliament have stated.

These jobseekers cite a combination of age, skills and education qualifications as obstacles to their re-employment.

Those with secondary education or lower are the hardest hit. Ms De Souza, who has O-level qualifications, for example, sent out more than 600 job applications over six months before she finally landed a job as an administrator in April.

To help mature workers overcome any physical limitation, labour MP Halimah Yacob suggested employers consider reducing working hours - from eight to six or even to four hours - to allow flexibility.

However, even as various options - such as re-training, job matching and highlighting vacancies - have been made available to mature jobseekers, some have been adamant as to the kind of jobs they would do.

MP Cynthia Phua said some insist on being hired as security guards even though jobs as cleaners are readily available.

At Punggol Central, residents not matched with job offers are given other helping hands: The Sengkang Community Club lent out 14 pushcarts and also entrusted its car park to four elderly residents to manage. The residents take home any profits.

Mr Goh Cher Chye, 53, takes home between $70 to $300 a month selling toys from a pushcart. Even though he is grateful for the help provided, Mr Goh’s wife had to re-enter the workforce to supplement the family’s income.

Ms De Souza, who is single, is slightly better off - her $800 monthly salary helps to cover the monthly $500 HDB mortgage.

“It is not great, but it beats sitting around at home,” she said.

From TODAY, News – Tuesday, 16-Jun-2009; see the source article here.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Glitches seen in China's web filtering software

Posted: 15 June 2009 1621 hrs

090615-1621hrs An internet bar in Beijing.

BEIJING: The designers of controversial Internet filtering software that China has ordered shipped with all new computers said they were trying to fix security glitches in the programme.

"Yes we are trying to fix it. But this is normal. Any software has bugs," Bryan Zhang, head of Jinhui Computer System Engineering, told AFP.

The code problems are the latest blow to the plan to include the filtering software with all PCs sold here from July 1, which has been criticised overseas and even in China as a bid at mass censorship and a threat to personal privacy.

The government says the Green Dam Youth Escort software is a vital tool needed to prevent young people from having access to pornographic websites.

Chinese authorities have a history of blocking sites that feature porn or politically unacceptable subjects such as the Tiananmen pro-democracy protests in 1989 and the banned spiritual group Falungong.

Last week, researchers at the University of Michigan who examined the software said it contained serious security vulnerabilities that could allow outside parties to take control of computers running it via remote access.

It also added that the software's text filter blocked words that included obscenities and phrases considered politically sensitive to China's ruling Communist Party.

"Other parties can say what they want. But I don't care what they say," Zhang said, declining further comment.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued a notice to computer makers saying the software could either be pre-installed or included with PCs on a separate disc, and that users were not required to use it.

The move received an unusual amount of criticism in the state media last week.

An online poll by popular Chinese portal Sina.com last week found 81 per cent of respondents felt the move threatened their privacy, while nearly 72 per cent thought it would be ineffective in keeping youths from viewing pornography.

China has the world's largest online population at nearly 300 million Web users.

- AFP/yt

From ChannelNewsAsia.com; see the source article here.

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Strike a balance

A 2x3 segment panoramic view of Kings Cross Ra...Image via Wikipedia

A note that is struck, and rightly so, for, if all things are in place, we as humans will surely find the 'place that suits us' – our family…

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Economic progress is great - just don't leave your family behind

Subana Hall

I WAS getting my daily dose of world news when I read the headlines on the disruption to London Underground services. Ah yes, here we go again.

The Tube strike brings back memories of seven years ago, when I had to walk from St Paul's to King's Cross train station because of a strike. (The Tube is the London underground train service, the equivalent of the MRT service here - but with strikes and without clean seats).

I remember that day very clearly. I was seven months pregnant and had to walking home after a full day's work at Fleet Place, where I was working as a TV news producer. The taxi queues were long and the traffic was a nightmare.

Under such circumstances, most Londoners would tell you that it is quicker to walk home than to drive or wait for a cab. That day, I got home at 10pm, four hours after I had left my newsroom.

I love London for many reasons but a strike, especially one that affects the public's day-to-day lives unfairly, is not certainly one of them.

The London Chamber of Commerce has said that six out of 10 London businesses have been hit by the latest strike and that it would cost the capital's economy more than £100 million ($240 million). Even in normal times, such losses would be deemed as unnecessary, let alone in our current unprecedented economic climate.

I am a great believer of people's rights; however, during the Tube strike seven years ago, my rights as a civilian preceded that of the Tube workers. I was more concerned with my right to be able to return home on the Tube without any disruption.

Human rights are important; then again, so are human responsibilities.

Rights and responsibilities are two sides of the same coin.

Back here in Singapore, we have several debates about human rights, freedom of speech and other aspects of the Singaporean life. Recently we have been thinking about our political future after 50 years of achieving what we proudly term as "Merdeka", or self-rule.

I am one of many critics of the way of life here, including our level of graciousness and education. However, I am also one who appreciates the numerous perks Singapore has to offer to its people and its visitors, one of which is the reliability of the essential services such as public transport, education and health. The buses and trains here may be late, but they do not go out of service because of workers' strikes, leaving hundreds of commuters stranded.

Such reliability is one of the signs of a maturing nation.

Essentially there has to be a fine balance between rights and responsibilities. While such balance is a difficult one to strike - no pun intended - the most important thing is for a society to never stop trying to achieve that balance.

In Singapore, there are many areas of progress that still need to be addressed.

Perhaps we could start by striking a balance between work and family, such that people are not stuck in situations where they have to work long hours at the expense of their family time.

After all, what is the point of the trains running on time ... if we can't leave work on time?

From TODAY, Voices –Monday, 15-Jun-2009

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Whither the personal touch?

Costello's anti-Job Network weapons discovered?Image by publik15 via Flickr

EMPLOYMENT AGENCIES

Now would be a good time to raise levels of professionalism

Letter from Gilbert Goh

I HAVE sought out the services of employment agencies before, but have been disappointed, to say the least. I have since given up relying on employment agencies for a job. Many ask you to lower your salary range to ridiculous levels or ask whether you are willing to do something totally different from your area of expertise. Most offer part-time clerical work at around $5 an hour.

I have found, in general, their service to be terrible. Many simply do not respond to you at all after asking you to send a resume. Even if you attend their interviews, many do not get back to you thereafter.

To me, employment agencies here lack professionalism and the personal touch. They are merely interested in clinching sales, oblivious to the feelings of the jobseeker.

Due to the agencies’ focus on meeting sales targets, many of their staff move on when they are unable to meet sales targets so there is no continuity of service. A client could well be served by a few different consultants over a short period, say three to four months.

The consultants here are mostly in their 20s and can hardly be expected to be able to empathise with a middle-aged jobless person. They do not understand the struggles a middle-aged worker has and can be insensitive when trying to coerce someone to enter a totally new field of work.

Maybe there are too many jobseekers then and too few jobs available for matching; still, it would be nice to be treated as a person, not a statistic or sales target.

Now would be a good time for employment agencies raise their level of professionalism. For starters, a templated response should be provided to every email and enquiry over any job opening. This is simple professional courtesy.

There was one positive experience I had with a woman from a small recruitment company. Not only did she exhibit understanding and provide encouragement, she also took time to go through my resume and suggested some changes so it would appear more professional. Though she did not manage to get me a job, I still remember her many years on as one of the rare few to stand out.

I am not here to run down all employment agencies. I am sure some are well run, professional outfits. Nonetheless, I urge all jobseekers to try all avenues and spread your resources around, so that you can benefit from several job search vehicles.

From TODAY, Voices – Friday, 12-Jun-2009

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Many facets to road safety

Closeup of parking violation sticker.Image via Wikipedia

I wanted to tell about this… already told, so I'll wait for the reply…

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Indiscriminate parking puts other motorists at risk

Letter from David Zaccheus

05:55 AM Jun 11, 2009

I REFER to "Don't be a road menace" (June 10), a letter from DSP Paul Tay.

Another group of road users who endanger others are those who indiscriminately and illegally park their vehicles. This happens almost every day from noon to 2pm, and sometimes for the entire day. It doesn't matter what the road markings are - continuous white lines, zig-zag lines, double yellow lines ... It is an act that is committed deliberately, regularly and persistently.

The Land Transport Authority website, www.onemotoring.com.sg, states: "Parking illegally might save you a few minutes or a few dollars. The few minutes or dollars will not help when precious lives are lost.

"Drivers who violate parking restrictions may receive a parking ticket and get demerit points. However, do you know that illegal parking may have more serious consequences than fines or demerit points? "

According to the non-profit Association for Safe International Road Travel, "parking violations can contribute to congestion and may be some factors in road crashes".

The "hot spots" of chaotic, illegal parking are well known to most drivers, yet continue to exist. The road menace must be holistically dealt with, not selectively. I hope the police will address this nuisance.

From TODAY, Voices – Thursday, 11-Jun-2009


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Someone has it worse than you

Home and Family Life StudentImage by Lower Columbia College via Flickr

And we were thinking of the gizmos that we don't have, while we are already up and above the 'necessities of life'?

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by Esther Ng

Updated 11:11 AM Jun 11, 2009

ON BOTH occasions, she was one-and-a-half months overdue when she gave birth to her two sons, now aged three and one. Mary (not her real name) told me that she did not once see a doctor when she was pregnant because she had no money.

"I checked myself into KK when I felt my stomach was too big," she said. She had to have a Caesarean each time.

Hers was one of the more startling anecdotes I came across while researching my story "It's not always easy" (May 30) about broken or dysfunctional families.

It was a humbling experience speaking to people who get by on less than $500 a month. Some of them live in a rental flat, others in a shelter. How do they do it? Especially with children in tow?

Something has to give. In Mary's case, it's her health - she looks anaemic.

Mary has just one meal a day so she can feed her three kids. Besides her two sons, she also has a 14-year-old daughter from a previous relationship.

There is a ray of hope. Mary has started working as a telemarketer; she speaks English well and is quite articulate.

Mary's daughter - despite living in a one-room rental flat with four other family members - is smart enough to get into a mission school in the east. Her grades are average and who knows what they might have been with a different home environment?

Recently, Mary's three-year-old has been bugging her to send him to school. "When he sees other kids going to school, he wants to go, too," she said.

The problem is, she needs $100 to register him in a childcare centre. She also needs money to buy him shoes and a school bag.

When I heard that, I thought about the $200 bill I recently racked up when I was feeling down - I had splurged on a bag, necklace and earrings.

Mary's troubles and those of others like her really put mine in perspective.

From TODAY, Voices – Thursday, 11-Jun-2009


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