As I write one final graduate program application, I imagine the pool of admissions officers at the university sieving through piles of paper. How does this group possibly determine who should have the opportunity to attend a program from hundreds of applicants, all of whom hold much the same qualifications? What sticks out from the stack that screams ‘accept me!’?
I have had a nagging sore throat the last few days. At home, things are even worse: both kids have had a horrible cough for over a week and both complain about the same painful symptoms. So when I mentioned this to my doctor during my regular allergy treatment, she immediately suggested a brand new medication.
The debate on raising UK university tuition fees to among the highest in Europe has inflamed tempers even beyond the simple vote on whether students should pay more for their own tertiary education. Yet, forming a clear opinion on the matter is complicated by the tendency of interested parties to frame their arguments in such a way that observers are almost bullied into the viewpoint of the presenter.
Dan Buettner wrote about countries and societies with the longest life expectancy in the world for his first book, The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest. Buettner’s new book, Thrive, focuses on happiness found in the ‘blue zones’ and elsewhere, and what makes those societies different from others.
Asda, the UK supermarket chain owned by retail behemoth Wal-Mart, has been the latest major company to axe its final salary pension scheme. The scheme had already been closed to new members for five years so the news will only affect some 3,800 of the 175,000 employees. But the news that the decision was spurred by a ballooning deficit – it has almost doubled to £400m since the start of the year – and the company’s stated desire to ‘protect the business in the future’, is hardly inspiring for those who must take responsibility for their own retirement outcomes.
Fortune magazine announced this year’s list of the 50 most powerful women in the world yesterday. Seeing that Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo’s CEO was #1 for the fifth time and Oprah was installed at number 6, fellow blogger Unwonted Candor raised the question: what is power?
I have to admit the news that Michael O’Leary, the outspoken boss of low-cost airline Ryanair, wants to run the company’s fleet without any co-pilot sent a shiver down my spine. It is not that I recall any incident where a pilot suffered a mid-flight heart-attack or some other malaise and the plane had to be brought safely to the ground by the second-in-command; my perceptions about in-flight safety are more influenced by 70’s disaster movies where the pilot ‘ate the fish’. Still, a co-pilot – a back-up – just seems to be a sensible thing to have. Am I wrong?
The more high-profile economists line up on one side or the other of the austerity vs. stimulus divide, the more observers are seduced into framing the entire debate along these lines. As we focus on the pros and cons of one or the other policy, all other possible solutions are squeezed out of the discussion.
As many as two million people are being called out by French unions today to demonstrate against proposals to reform the French pension system. The contentious issue is the raising of the retirement age from 60 to 62. The unions label any change to this threshold as ‘unjust’, a stance that may puzzle most Europeans outside of France, as retirement ages are typically higher elsewhere.