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Vol. XV No. 17
Friday April 27 - May 3, 2007

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Updated every Friday
by Saichon Paewsoongnern

 

 

COLUMNS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Money matters

Snap Shots

Modern Medicine

Heart to Heart with Hillary

Learn to Live to Learn


Money matters:   Graham Macdonald MBMG International Ltd.

It’s enough to turn you green - part 1

There isn’t a day that goes by in which there isn’t another story on global warming and the devastating effect that it is going to bring upon the planet. Having read copious amounts of research on the subject, we no longer believe that these stories are scare tactics on behalf of “greenies” and in fact as the following paragraphs will attest, global warming is very real and something that is going to materially affect future generations.
However, if you still remain sceptical after reading this commentary, remember that in as much as one insures one’s house against the possibility of fire or flood, even though the event risk is pretty low, not to do so would be equally risky. The same applies to those today who ignore the risk of global warming, for surely it is far better today to change our habits than to wait for younger generations who will end up paying a much higher price. Just in case the doom-merchants are right we should, literally, clean up our act now. It is with this in mind that the following has been written, for whilst the old cynic in me doubts some of the figures bandied around these days no-one can really deny that there is a problem. As Lincoln once said, “You may fool all the people some of the time, you can even some of the people all the time; but you can’t fool all the people all the time”.


What is exactly is global warming?
Global warming is a phenomenon that refers to the fact that the planet is overheating, not as a natural consequence of time, but as a result of humans’ actions. The Earth’s surface has undergone unprecedented warming over the last century, particularly over the last two decades. Astonishingly, every single year since 1992 is in the current list of the 20 warmest years on record. The graph below highlights the steady rise in temperatures that we have been witnessing over the last 20 years.

What is the proof of global warming?
Many sceptics will argue that global warming is a natural event and one that has been happening since the dawn of time. It is true that the planet has experienced extremes in temperature over its lifetime, with the period of the ice age being a good example. However, what makes weather patterns different today is that man is exacerbating these natural events and causing large shifts in temperatures to happen much quicker than before.
In terms of proving this statement, patterns observed by meteorologists and oceanographers are compared with patterns developed using sophisticated models of the earth’s atmosphere and ocean. By matching the observed and modelled patterns, scientists can now positively identify the “human fingerprints” associated with the changes. The fingerprints that humans have left on earth’s climate are turning up in a diverse range of records and can be seen in the ocean, in the atmosphere, and at the surface. The following list a few of these “fingerprints”:
- Fingerprint 1: The Ocean Layers Warm
The world’s oceans have absorbed about 20 times as much heat as the atmosphere over the past half-century, leading to higher temperatures not only in surface waters, but also in water 1,500 feet below the surface. The measured increases in water temperature lie well outside the bounds of natural climate variation.
- Fingerprint 2: The Surface Heats Up
Measurements show that the average global temperature has risen by 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit in the last 100 years, with most of that happening in the last three decades. By comparing earth’s temperature over the last century with models comparing climate drivers, a study showed that, from 1950 to the present, most of the warming was caused by heat trapping emissions from human activities.
In fact, heat-trapping emissions are driving the climate about three times more strongly now than they were in 1950. The spatial pattern of where this warming is occurring around the globe indicates human-induced causes.
In its 2001 report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (a group of more than a 1000 scientists from dozens of countries), had the following to say “There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities.” Carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning and land clearing has been accumulating in the atmosphere where it acts like a blanket, keeping the earth warm and heating up the surface, ocean, and atmosphere. As a result, current levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are higher than at any time during the last 650,000 years.
The same report also noted that the Antarctic Peninsula has warmed five times more than the global average, with around 13,500 km2 of ice shelf lost over the past 50 years and 40% of this happening in the last decade.
Many smaller Antarctic glaciers have undergone significant recent recession (shrinking); while there is evidence that some of the large ice shelves are now in recession too.
At the time of the IPCC report, the major West Antarctic Ice sheet was thought to be stable for many years to come, but recent research has begun to question this assumption, and the likelihood of collapse now needs to be reassessed. Such a collapse could lead to rapid increases in sea level, of a scale up to seven metres if the sheet were to melt completely.
To be continued…

The above data and research was compiled from sources believed to be reliable. However, neither MBMG International Ltd nor its officers can accept any liability for any errors or omissions in the above article nor bear any responsibility for any losses achieved as a result of any actions taken or not taken as a consequence of reading the above article. For more information please contact Graham Macdonald on [email protected]@mbmg-international.com.com



Snap Shots: by Harry Flashman

The moon is not made of green cheese

Having seen a dreadful movie about space travel the other evening, it reminded me of when the Americans successfully sent John Glenn up into space again at the ripe old age of 77 years. It also reminded me of the spectacular photographic images that the astronauts brought back with them, all those years ago.

The cameras they took up into space were film cameras, much the same as we used to take on family picnics. The concept was to record what life was like for our early space travelers and in fact some of these images were artistically so good that the pictures became a photography exhibition that toured the world in 1984.
Unfortunately, they left quite a few of these cameras on the moon’s surface - so if you’re looking for a cheap Hasselblad it’s there for the asking. The trip could be a little expensive however! Hell, if you’d thought about it you could have asked John Glenn to bring you one back. Would have been duty free too!
Yes, the cameras they took to the moon were mainly Hasselblads - legendary cameras used by most professional photographers the world over. The moon cameras had titanium bodies as well! (Titanium is the second most expensive metal after Unobtanium.) In my pro studio days, I had two Hasselblad ELM’s and a 500 CM for back-up when I was heavily involved in commercial photography. And it was ELM’s the spacewalkers left behind. Weep!
Those cameras are notable in the fact that the back is removable and holds the film inside it. You can shoot one roll and just clip on another back and keep on shooting. You can also rip off a shot on color print film and then take the same picture with a different back loaded with black and white and another with color slide, for example.
The lenses are among some of the very best in the world. Great big chunks of optically perfect glass, which can cost well over 200,000 baht in some cases. Hasselblads are no “point and shoot” cameras, but very serious instruments to record life on earth (and in outer space) forever.
Interestingly, professional photographers are not in the habit of running “automatic” cameras, and some of the Hasselblads are totally “manual” cameras. In this way you can set any of the parameters of shutter speed or aperture size independently.
Another very different aspect of Hasselblad photography is the size of the negatives. Instead of the usual small rectangular 35 mm negatives that we have come to accept as “normal”, Hasselblads produce a square negative 6cm by 6cm. The advantage here is when making enlargements. You can blow up a 6 x 6 negative to the size of the side of a house before you lose sharpness. That’s more than you can do with even the best 35 mm ones! A lot of advertising agencies would only accept the larger negative format (usually on slide film) for commercial photography for that reason.
But back to the moon. If you can ever get hold of one, try and grab a copy of the book called “Sightseeing A Space Panorama” with the ISBN number 0-394-54243-6. Published in 1985, it has 84 of the most stunning space photographs you will ever see. Shots of life in space for the astronauts, views of our world as the space shuttle passed many miles above us, views of the moon. All of them pin-sharp pictorial documents of our exploration of space. The final shots should, in my opinion, be made compulsory study for all of our children and our children’s children. They record the milestones we, as a species of life, passed on our way to hereafter. And what’s more they did it on Kodak film and Hasselblad cameras! A triumph for photography.


Modern Medicine: by Dr. Iain Corness, Consultant

Your keyboards don’t play music

I received an email from Dr Michael Moreton, the Senior International Medical Coordinator at the Bangkok Hospital, who wrote, “I was reminded while reading Dr Iain’s column on the dangers of computer use of another hidden hazard,” and enclosed the following article that I am happy to print this week…
It used to be thought that respiratory diseases were transmitted primarily by droplet infection. You cough or sneeze and bacteria spray out of your mouth into the air and other people breathe them in; this is one possible method of infection but that it is not the only method. Touch is equally important, when you cough, being the well-brought up person that you are, you cover your mouth, trying to stop you from spraying your bacteria into the world and onto those around you. Where do the bacteria go? Onto your hand, of course. Then when you shake hands with a friend, the viruses are transferred to his hand; he touches his mouth and bingo, scores another victim for the nasty viruses.
Bacteria and viruses differ in their ability to survive outside the body, some die in a few seconds; others can survive for long periods. There are bacteria and viruses everywhere, on clothing, on our skin and on all surfaces. Money, where do people keep this stuff, in their underwear? No wonder people launder money - it really needs it.
People under-rate the dangers that on the surfaces that they touch all the time, furniture, desks, counters, hand rails and when they worry, they worry about the wrong ones. Work has been done recently looking at where bugs gather and which surfaces are the most disgusting. The location of the surface is obviously important, it should be no surprise that hospitals and doctor’ offices actually tested very badly, as did accountants and bankers. Lawyers’ offices were much less infested; even bacteria hate to visit a lawyer. The group of professionals most at risk was teachers; those coughing, sneezing spluttering kids can really contaminate a place.
There are a few surprises as to which surfaces are dangerous; door knobs and elevator buttons that have long been thought to be potent sources of infection were found to be surprisingly clean. It should not surprise us that the old hand-held telephones are just teeming with microbial life; perhaps another reason to use your mobile. In the home the bathroom has some obvious hazards not necessarily from the toilet; sinks are also full of bacteria, as are over-used towels. But guess what the researchers found to be the MOST disgusting place, where the highest concentration of nasties lived, where is the cesspit of infection in our everyday lives? Computer keyboards, particularly when they are shared, are the most germ ridden places in the home or office, a veritable Sunday brunch for bacteria. Here is a jolly little fact - there were more harmful bacteria and viruses on an average computer keyboard than on the average toilet seat.
My first thought is that you should take your keyboard and plunge it into a cauldron of boiling water for five or ten minutes; that will definitely kill all the bugs. Unfortunately my IT guys just told me that that is not good for the electronics and is not a method recommended to clean keyboards; a more gentle technique should be used. Start by vacuuming the board, there are probably enough crumbs and pieces of food down there to make lunch and that is what the bacteria have been doing. It is also good to vacuum the outlet from which the hot air is evacuated. There are some commercial sprays that you can use to clean the keys; spray and wipe clean. Disinfectants can be applied with a brush or a cloth; they can clean up keyboards and prevent them from spreading diseases that will end human life on the planet.
Ed’s Note: If you want to use a vacuum cleaner around your keyboard, make sure that the vacuum cleaner is a “static safe” vacuum cleaner.
(Dr Michael Moreton is the Senior International Medical Coordinator at the Bangkok Hospital. His keyboard which had previously been named by the World Health Organization as a plague hazard is now a model of cleanliness.)


Heart to Heart with Hillary

Dear Hillary,
As usual your column continues to inform and amuse us Pattayaphiles by both the questions asked, and the answers that you supply. In the April 6th issue there was an interesting letter from ‘Getting Annoyed’ where he stated his friends were giving him a hard time and intimating he must be ‘Gay’ because he wasn’t getting involved with some female company. His comments about how his workmates are regularly ‘cleaned out’ by their latest girlfriend/mia noi, reminded me of a gay guy I knew years ago in London. Each time I saw this guy he was full of the tale of how some new ‘boyfriend’ had cleaned out his flat, after he had left them at home whilst he went out to work. I wonder if the ‘ladies of the 2nd category’ in Pattaya are as bad as their female counterparts? Strange how few times (if ever), that relationships between consenting males seems to require your wisdom. Not that I’m leaning that way, but it makes one wonder, don’t you think?
Hope you got some chocolate for Easter,
David
Western Australia.
Dear Westralian David,
With your queries and references as to the gay community, you weren’t Michelangelo’s David were you? Just joking, my Petal, don’t get your fig leaf in a twist. I believe that there is just as many broken hearts in all sections of the community; however, the heterosexual one is more prone to bemoaning its collective fate in public than the homosexual or women of the second category, who tend to be less demonstrative in the public gaze. Thank you for asking about the chocolate over Easter. Not even a Mars bar, let alone chocolate eggs! Next time, please don’t ask, but just send some instead.
Dear Hillary,
I asked my Thai girlfriend to marry me, but she said that she could not because her family did not agree. I found this amazing as the girl, a woman really, is 28 years old and surely old enough to make up her own mind. We have been dating for the last three months, and I thought everything was sweet with her parents. I have been married before and have grown up children, but she does not. Do you think it is because I am a foreigner? Or is there something else I am missing here? I had intended taking her back to my home country after we were married.
Totally Dumbstruck
Dear Totally Dumstruck,
I think there is lots that I am missing in this equation too. Where do her parents live? Which stratum of society? What are their occupations, including that of the daughter? Where in the family hierarchy does the daughter come? All these can have an enormous bearing on the response by the family, as well as the woman’s adherence to family traditions. You also have to remember that you are probably more than twice her age, and again, as you have realized, you are a foreigner. What would your response be to a daughter of yours who had a boyfriend twice her age, and a foreigner as well, who might take her away to a foreign country? You have not been dating very long either, Petal. You may think you know this woman after three months, but I doubt it. Understanding Thai society and Thai minds can be a very difficult process for foreigners. Finally, it could really just mean that she didn’t want to disappoint you, so used the usual excuse. Sounds like a lost cause. Better start looking somewhere else.
Dear Hillary,
What do you do about house guests that keep on arriving from the old country? I’ve had five sets this year and it looks like there are more coming for Xmas. If I had nothing else to do other than entertain old friends then it would be fine, but I have work I have to do as well. I don’t want to give old friends the cold shoulder, but I’m at my wits end, honestly! What should I do?
Guest house Gertrude
Dear Gert,
This is a very common problem when you live in a place that other people save for 11 months to come and visit. It is also very normal for your old friends to want to see you, and possibly save some money by staying with you. You actually have the answer already when you called yourself “Guest house” Gertrude. I suggest that you run your home more on the guest house lines. Tell your friends that as you have other work to do, you will leave everything out for them for their breakfast and then you will meet them for dinner at 7 pm and do things together from there. I am sure your friends will appreciate that even though they are on holidays, you are not. They need time to themselves too and will be grateful for the chances to explore on their own. Have some brochures in their room with suggested tourist day trips and let them take it from there. They will be happy, you can do your work, and you can enjoy each others company at night. Just think about it, you can even get one of those nice wooden signs with “Gerties Guest House” carved into it.


Learn to Live to Learn: with Andrew Watson

Driving at high speed

Leadership of international schools can be variously described as like driving at high speed on an uncertain surface, like being the conductor of the orchestra, or as Huberman (1992, in Blandford & Shaw, 2000) suggests, like being the leader of a jazz band, “constantly improvising within the bounds of implicit understandings, even rituals, among its members”. To expand the analogy, at the heart of jazz there is intimate knowledge of the rudiments of music and years of learning chord structures, scales, risk taking, exploring and experimenting. Together, they allow a virtuoso freedom of interpretation. So it is with educational leadership.
Are leaders born or are they made? According to legend, Wellington pronounced that “The Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing field of Eton” (Oral tradition, 1856), suggesting that experience and education combined can result in effective leadership. It seems fair to say that knowledge can be regarded as that which is formally ‘taught’ and ‘learned’ in whatever style or medium and that which is lived through the senses.
Murgatroyd & Gray (1984, in Law & Glover, 2000) describe personal qualities that enable and encourage others to follow. Handy (1993) alludes to power relationships in what might be termed a structural communication context, “Power is only effective if the relationship between leader and follower is understood”. Greenfield (1991, in Shaw, 2001) maintains that; “School Principals rely much more extensively upon leadership than do their administrative counterparts in other settings” (Wellington might disagree!), which could be said to be due to operational differences.
School leaders interact with an incredibly varied range of interest groups. Further, it can be argued that leading larger international schools requires commensurate knowledge and skills and attitudes, on the basis that the greater the diversity, the more complex and the greater the number of situations that will arise.
Mintzberg (1973, in Morrison, 1998) says managers need to fulfil interpersonal roles, informational roles and decisional roles. Greenfield (1991) defines leadership role demands slightly differently as involving managerial, instructional, political, social, moral, knowledge and skills. In the quest for the elusive, the essential elements of leadership are variously referred to as attributes, traits, leadership qualities, abilities, competencies and behaviours. Fullan & Hargreaves (1992) promote the idea of “interactive professionalism”. Adair (1983, in Law & Glover, 2000) cites five “leadership characteristics”, Shackleton (1914) lists ten “Leadership strategies” and Brighouse (1991) identifies three kinds of school leader and lists seven “characteristic traits” of leadership. The UK National Education Assessment Centre lists “personal characteristics”, which according to consultants Hay McBer (2000) refers to “how the person does the job”.
I propose that these lists are all putting forward the same kind of views in terms that differ only slightly and which invariably stress innovation, initiative, imaginative, intelligence, integrity and inspiration. For example, Adair speaks of a leader needing to ‘Build Teamwork’ whereas Shackleton speaks of the need to “Continually restate the importance of the team identity”. Brighouse writes of the “ability to celebrate others and blame themselves” and the NEAC speaks simply of ‘Teamworking”.
What appears to be beyond doubt is that effective leadership requires multi skilled, knowledgeable and flexible attitudes at all levels, which echoes the chaos and complexity theory espoused amongst others, by Morrison (1998). Following on from the idea that leaders need to reflect global reality, reject insularity and prepare students for life outside schools, it seems logical to expect that leaders should have significant knowledge and experience of life outside education. How prevalent these kinds of leaders are, is open to question.
The Blanchard et al (1985) model of “Situational Leadership” is an interesting example of a strategy for leading that can be learned in so far as it provides a map of appropriate response strategy. However, this map reminds me of the film ‘Dead Poets Society’, where students are asked to quantify poetry by line graph, with degree of feeling on one axis and rhythm and on the other. Poetry defies this kind of quantitative measurement and surely to some extent, leadership does too. I suggest that putting behaviours in ‘boxes’ can only function if you are willing to step outside the box when appropriate. The question of how to know when that time has arrived remains.
If “effective communication is essential for effective management” (Law & Glover, 2000) then so is the understanding that communication happens in lots of different ways. Effective leadership must establish a way to present a consistent message. It can be strongly argued that in an international school, language alone cannot bring the kind of communication that effective leadership requires, due to multilingual and culturally diverse representation.
Mehrabian’s (1971) admittedly western orientated research reinforces this claim. If speech is used to convey information, and the non-verbal channel is used to convey attitudes, then leaders have to be aware of the dangers of cross cultural confusion (Shaw, 1998) and on the basis that international schools originate from the west, Orientalism (Said, 1979). Aspects of western centric corporate culture such as partnership, teamwork, delegation and decentralisation are by no means transferable to all cultures. Leadership needs to cross cultural boundaries by communicating inspiration through ideas and enthusiasm, essentially abstract qualities which might be the result of education and experience, but cannot be taught per se. Leadership it would appear, is often a matter of personality.
Leach (1969, in Walker, 2000) speaks of the hope that international school students will “find themselves ‘at home’ in all cultures and human situations”. Renaud (1991, in Jonietz and Harris in Walker, 2000) speaks of equipping students with the ability “to live in a complex multicultural society”. In order to understand what knowledge, skills and attitudes are required for effective leadership in international schools in the 21st century, it is critical to keep the objectives of international schools in mind. Their objectives should be mirrored in their mission statements, pedagogy and practice and reflected in their choice of leader. Ideally, a leader’s own life experience should reflect their objectives, it should surely be broad, multilingual, academic?
There was once a man who had arrived in a senior position in a school by accident and delighted in proclaiming, without any sense of irony, to anyone who would listen (which admittedly wasn’t very many), “I’m not an academic!” Begging the question, “Well what are you doing in a school?” A new leader should be conscious of the school’s identity before they arrive, (Fullan & Hargreaves, 2001) and should surely possess the necessary sense and sensibility to juggle the multifarious aspects of intercultural communication with alacrity.
Please support the Esther Benjamins Trust. www. ebtrust.org.uk email: info@ ebtrust.org.uk
Next week: “Third Culture Kids – the Pioneers”



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