日本社会はこれ以上悪くならないという幻想。そしてTPPの異常さ

オーストラリア国立大学のガヴァン・マコーマック名誉教授が、安倍総理の自己矛盾を突いてます。下に内容を要約します。

www.japanfocus.org/-Gavan-McCormack

国民に忠誠心を求める一方、個人の権利制限・剥奪しようとする、水面下での動き。憲法改悪(9条、教育法、靖国神社公式参拝、国防軍など)のもくろみ。過去の残虐行為・侵略戦争責任の否定、侵略美化。北朝鮮や中国敵視。先の戦争の首謀者であり、A級戦犯で首相となった祖父が、戦前たどった帝国(絶対・国粋)主義の足跡を追う安倍氏は、保守派でなく、過激派で歴史修正主義者である。

同時に、親米外交・同盟国を強調をしながらの対米従属。彼がめざそうとする「新しく」「美しい」国家像というのは、(彼の祖父や仲間の時代に)敵国であったアメリカ(がもたらした戦後民主主義、基本的人権の尊重、国民主権など)への敵意の暗示であると、マコーマック氏が指摘。

日本人も、マコーマック先生のように、政策や(民意を代表するために仕事をし給料をもらっている)政治家を大いに批判していいのだと思いますよ。

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Are you emotionally gifted?

Are you emotionally gifted?

Last week, in our Business English class, we had a role play on hiring the best person for a middle level position, i.e. choosing one of these 2 job applicants: A) a qualified person with little experience but is more likely to integrate well in the workplace; B) a highly experienced and technically savvy individual. Without hesitation, my 3 students explained why they would choose applicant A, who they described as “the more emotionally intelligent of the two.” When I asked for further explanation regarding emotional intelligence, they spoke vehemently about good interpersonal skills, ability to manage emotions, resilience, foresight, quick thinking, effective decision making and optimism – a cocktail of personality traits and cognitive & emotional intelligence.

Personality is one piece of the human triangle that defines us as a unique individual. It is made up of patterns of feelings, thoughts and behaviours that remain stable throughout our lives. Like personality, cognitive intelligence (Intelligence Quotient – IQ) doesn’t change. In my book “Intelligence, Giftedness: Pre-cradle to Post-grave” I explored the subject of IQ as ability and potential - the brain. In this article, I concentrate on the third side of the triangle known as emotional intelligence/quotient (EQ) - which is about awareness and 'touch'.

TPP世界支配の拡大をもくろんだ大企業独裁

一つ目のビデオは、アメリカのNGO「パブリック・シチズン」のロリ・ワラックさんが訴える「日本のTPP参加は主権の放棄」。この一分ほどのビデオにすべて、語られています。

www.citizen.org

二つ目のビデオは、カナダきってのアグリビジネスの批評家ブルースター・ニーンさんと妻のキャサリン・ニーンさん。TPP問題を大変心配しながら、日本人へ心のこもったメッセージです。ブルースターさんが端的におっしゃってるように、「TPPの目的は、人々の幸福ではなく、企業の幸福です」。TPPにサインでもしようなら、日本の食料自給も、国民皆保険も全部つぶされてしまいます。(製薬会社は高齢者が多く、原発事故の健康被害も心配される日本をねらってる訳です)

経団連は「いや、自分たちは大丈夫」とほくそ笑んでいるのでしょう。ですが、900ページのTPP文書を初めて見れるのがこの夏で、交渉参加の許可が9月というのですから、いまの日本の政治力・交渉力・英語力で、経団連にさえ有利な条件交渉は、到底不可能ですよ。

ramshorn.ca/visible-state-invisible-government

三つ目のビデオは、デモクラシー・ナウ!でのロリ・ワラックさんの包括的な説明。自由貿易とはタテマエで、TPPの内実は大企業のむきだしな利潤追求。日本が不平等で屈辱的な条件を受けいれないなら、ビスネスの邪魔をちょっとでもしようなら、日本政府相手に大企業が法廷闘争できるという仕組み。つまり大企業がさらに儲けやすいよう、TPPに合わせて国内の法規制や手続きを変えて、一度決まったらそれが最後(企業の裏には、高給で雇われた優秀な弁護士団が勢ぞろい)、無制限に賠償を求めていくという段取り。地域産業優先と国産品愛好を禁じ、はては地方政治・内政への干渉の権利。なにしろ、そんなに公正で、みんながモウカル協定なら、どこの参加国の国民もそっちのけでコソコソ秘密会議しません。おっそろしく手のこんだ組織的悪だくみです。

。。。下につづく

Horse meat and lies on our plates

Indians eat snakes, Thais - insects (such as crickets), Japanese - sharks, Chinese - dogs and cats, Filipinos - balut (fertilized chicken embryo) and bagoong (putrid-smelling fermented fish or shrimps). So, what’s the fuss about horse meat?

About a kilometer from where we live there used to be a butcher that specialised on horse meat. Coming from Australia, I thought it was weird to think of horse as “la viande”. I supposed this butcher shop closed down because of declining consumption and competition from less expensive meat products. This lean source of protein and iron was from horses bred and killed in France for human consumption. As we know, with globalisation anything can find its way from and to any parts of the world. For example, between the Romanian abattoir and the French supermarket, there are: food brand Findus, food manufacturer Comigel, meat processor Spanghero and a Dutch trader.

As well, with the economic crises some companies look for supply chain opportunities that may include unethical practices. Accordingly, it is vital to impose international food labelling standard that provides a level playing field for food producers and sellers, and for consumers (wherever they are) to get information about their food that is clear (i.e. easy to understand, legible and visible) and not misleading.

Innovation and Luxembourg, Suffering a Brain Drain!?

Ten years ago, when I started going to the Bibliothèque Nationale de Luxembourg (BNL - the National Library of Luxembourg), the “poverty” of the library (e.g., infrastructure, resources, services, etc.) of the world's richest (if not mistaken) country shocked me. The BNL was so underdeveloped, when compared to many public and private libraries in the USA. More surprisingly, many libraries I had visited in Brussels, Paris, and other cities were not so nice, either.

(Just note that some BNL librarians appear to be cold and distant at first. But, when they get to know you, they can be friendly, very helpful, and even sweet.)

Over the last ten years, the BNL has improved dramatically, and has become one of the best/favorite libraries I know in the region so far. Although I still miss some aspects of American libraries – for example, specialized librarians (e.g., law librarians) and more conducive, competitive, extremely intense, and intellectually stimulating atmospheres for studying, I am OK with the BNL. Hope that it keeps improving in coming years.

However, talent management in Luxembourg concerns me/us greatly.

It is obvious that Luxembourg has an advantage in attracting people because of competitive salaries, benefits, etc. But, it may not be so good at retaining their top talents in some sectors (though, of course, there are really talented people in Luxembourg, but some of friends have been disenchanted. They have moved to other companies and countries with better opportunities).

There seems to be something dysfunctional: something does not ignite, but undermine the passion of people.

Lying vs Optimism

There have been fascinating comments, especially through Facebook, on my previous article on lying to others, e.g. lying doesn’t equate to absence of love, many parents lie to make their children behave better, and men find it more difficult to deal with lying and liars than women (about 75% of men apply for divorce due to their partners' extra-marital affairs; 75% of women forgive their unfaithful husbands and stay married).

We have excuses for lying to others (refer to previous article), but why do we lie to ourselves (Psychologists call this self-deception)? Self-deception, i.e. not acknowledging the truth about ourselves, can be conscious or unconscious. For example, an employee is consciously lying to himself when he takes a day’s sick leave once a month and stays at home in his pyjama behaving like he has colds (he has convinced himself that he doesn’t lie to his employer and that he has the right to these 10 days/year sick leave). Some managers lie to themselves unconsciously to boost self-esteem and self-confidence; for instance, they believe they are more skilled and knowledgeable than what they really are in order to be respected and admired.

Last month, our family doctor reminded me that I should have a regular physical activity (in addition to sufficient calcium and Vitamin D) to prevent osteoporosis later on. I told her that I do an hour of Zumba every Thursday and another 3 hours of gym exercises per week (in which I added the almost one hour of walking to/fro). I didn’t lie to her as walking is a form of exercise, but I felt like did to myself because I would like to be in the gym for 3 hours per week but couldn’t due to other commitments. Meanwhile, I’ve a friend who maintains that she has only coffee for breakfast, doesn’t snack and blames her extra weight solely on genetics instead of admitting the truth that she has always have a second serving of food for lunch and dinner.

Philosophy of Lying to Others

After lying for many years, on 18th January 2013, Lance Armstrong (7 times winner of Tour de France) admitted taking performance-enhancing drugs.

What is lying? It involves giving information you know is untrue for the purpose of misleading or deceiving someone or an organisation. Why do people lie? Some of the reasons why we lie are: to save one’s reputation; to try to salvage a situation; to minimise consequences of bad decisions or actions; due to a low self-esteem and psychological-related issues, such an unhappy childhood; to hide unacceptable behaviour or an embarrassment; and to exploit someone’s trust in order to achieve a selfish end.

Is there such a thing as lying for a good reason, like “White lie”, -- not intended to harm the person being lied to but instead to do the opposite, which is to make him/her feel good or save her/him from a forthcoming emotional catastrophe?

We all have heard about “big and small” lies, and that the former (e.g. case of L. Armstrong) is wrong but the latter is not. An example of a small lie is a parent telling his child that there’s no more chocolate when in fact there are some in the cupboard. Why doesn’t a parent say “You’ve enough and can’t have more because eating too much chocolate is not good for your health”?

Aider les personnes atteintes de démences de type Alzheimer - RECHERCHE DE SPONSORS et FORMATION

Dans le cadre du projet GRAND AGE SNOEZELEN, l’association « MÉMOIRE QUI FLANCHE »

  • recherche des sponsors pour la mise en action du projet (dossier du projet en pièce jointe ci-dessous);
  • organise la formation d'intervenant(e)s aux pratiques « Snoezelen » (dossier de candidature en pièce jointe ci-dessous).

Si vous avez les moyens d'agir et de nous aider, ou que vous vous sentiez simplement concernés, n'hésitez pas à nous contacter.

Présentation de l’association « MÉMOIRE QUI FLANCHE »

L’association est née en décembre 2012 de la rencontre de Fabiola De Falco, Pauline Delattre et de Florence Davrout.

Un des buts de l’association est :
- l’accès aux espaces « Snoezelen » pour les personnes âgées qui vivent à leur domicile et qui sont atteintes de démences de type Alzheimer (DTA).

SNOEZELEN vient des deux mots néerlandais suivants :

Opinion and Decision Making

I’m writing this at La Bresse, a skiing town in the north-east of France, while waiting for my husband and sons to descend from the slopes so that we can have a late lunch together. From time to time I glance at the constant queue of skiers at the automatic machine and “caisse” (where you pay your half or day pass). An hour ago, a male staff came and advised the waiting men and women that there’s another automatic machine at the other side of the building next to the restaurant. No one moved and it’s because either they didn’t believe him or thought that the situation next to the resto could change any minute and the queue would even be longer.

Why did they decide not to go to the other automatic machine which didn’t have a queue? Every day we decide on food, clothes, words, what to do with whom, where and when, etc. We make decisions on matters that range from simple routine to usually significant issue. Generally, our decision making is a product of our intuition (what we feel and believe is right at the moment), experience (heuristic approach) or knowledge (acquired from learning, objective information from experts and experience).

For nearly a month now, the French media have been having a party reporting on the immigration of its world-famous actor, Mr. Gerard Depardieu, to Belgium where taxes are lower than in France. Some French nationals have the opinion that Mr. Depardieu should be strapped of his citizenship as it’s unpatriotic to deprive your country of its needed financial resource at the time when it needs it most. Such an opinion is subjective with moral and philosophical dimensions, which is not shared by the majority of the residents.

この素晴らしき世界

先日、日本では衆院選がありました。その翌日、ここフランスでもニュースになるかと思いきや。日本の政権交代はnon-event、つまり公然と無視される、話題にもならない期待はずれの出来事だったようです。

翌朝のラジオ(France Info) が伝えた主なニュースは、オバマ大統領が小学校乱射事件の追悼会で銃規制の強化を訴えたこと、エジプトの国民投票、フランス内政、重税をのがれようとベルギー国籍取得に動きだした俳優ジェラール・ドパルデュー、アフガニスタンの話題、そして最後に天気予報。

一時間ほど聞いてましたが、日本では政権交代があったにもかかわらず、全く報道されませんでした。反対に、その10日前くらいに東北地方で起きた比較的大きな地震のニュースは、何度も報道されてました。その報道の仕方が、フランスおよびヨーロッパでの日本の政治に対する期待度を物語っている気がしました。

ですが私たち日本人は、政治に無関心ではいられません。日本・日本経済の先行きに不安を抱いている人が多いようですが。ここで二点だけ、私も不安に思うことを書きます。

まず、日本は軍事・外交戦略に対応できる高度なIT(情報技術)専門家を、早急に多数育成する必要があると思います。領土問題で争うのは19~20世紀の政治で、緊迫性がやや欠ける過去のことでした。現在、国の中枢機関、陸・海・空・宇宙、機密情報はすべてコンピューターでコントロールされています。銀行も、病院も、企業も、飛行機・飛行場も、交通網も、そして原発も・・・。以前のように直接現場に行かず、サイバー攻撃や遠隔操作で(口にするのも恐ろしいような)大被害・大事故やテロを引き起こすことが可能になってきています。抜きんでたITなくして、日本の経済も危機突破も、国防軍もへったくれもありません。

無駄吠え、警戒吠えする小型犬のように不要な摩擦を起こすのでなく。首相には日本・世界中の優秀な人材を集めたチームをつくり、そのアドバイスに耳を傾け、平和・非戦を維持できる真の外交的・軍事的実力のある世界レベルの政治をなさっていただきたい。

Eco-friendly Christmas Decor

We posted the blog on the christmas markets in Strasbourg last Thursday.  But, of course, I wish the Christmas lights were powered by renewable energy.

If those markets have existed since Medieval times when there was no nuclear power, we can certainly make fabulous Christmas decorations without wasting too much energy.

Necessity is the mother of invention....  See the photo (with my folding bike).

電気を浪費しなくてできる、エコなクリスマスのデコレーション!こういういう町っていいなあ。

What a Wonderful World...

I would like one of my last blogs this year to be something hopeful and positive (although I am not happy at all with the current political situation of Japan).

Here are nice photos of the Christmas Markets in Strasbourg taken by our French friend, Cyril Hazotte. He kindly shares the photos under a Creative Commons license. Cyril has captured the spirit and the charm of the Christkindelsmärik there: all kinds of colorful gifts and ornaments; smells of hot wine, choucroute, and chocolates; all kinds of regional and foreign accents; dazzling lights; and a festive atmosphere.

The Christmas markets in Strasbourg were far nicer and more enchanting than I ever expected. I think they are nice for all ages: magical for kids, romantic for the couples, friendly and welcoming to the tourists and families, and appetizing to their dogs.

Now I am determined to learn to say “Hot wine, please” in German to visit Nuremberg's Christmas markets in the future!

Of course, we can use the title above with heavy sarcasm. For those who are interested to learn about the current Japanese issues, see below, for example:

... click here to read more ...

Environmental and economic factors contribute to racism and xenophobia

«You told us Australians are cool, considerate, welcoming and simply easy-go-lucky. Have you seen today’s newspaper L’essentiel?” my Belgian student said while taking off his jacket. After he had sat down, he added, “You will be shy, as an Australian, of what they did to the French tourists.” (I suggested the word “embarrass” instead of shy).

Right after leaving his company, I rushed to get the copy of L’essentiel, the most read newspaper in Luxembourg because it’s free and easily accessible (it’s in stands and distributors in strategic places, such as bus stops, train stations, airports, shopping centres and supermarkets). Page 2 of its 23/11/12 issue had an article about the verbal harassment of xenophobic nature against a young French woman by bus passengers in Melbourne. It had a photo with this caption, “La video de cette aggression sur www.insultes.lessentiel.lu. I did watch this video and, in the beginning, felt embarrass. As the video was coming to an end, however, I started to reminisce on positive Aussie qualities and multiculturalism. I salute the fellow who filmed the incident! Xenophobia (fear of people who are different from the majority in the population) exists Down Under, but it’s not widespread and not tolerated by the general Australian population.

The last 4 years of my public service job in Australia, before moving to Europe, were spent participating in many working parties, policy development, debates and activities geared towards eradicating racism and discrimination. Though governments and many Australians endeavour to have a just, fair and tolerant society, there’s still a lot that can be done.

Appraisal, Performance Review, Bonus and Rewards

November and December are appraisal months, and I was not surprise to receive an email from our Director of Studies about my face-to-face, one-to-one, formal appraisal tomorrow afternoon. Yesterday, an acquaintance complained how his manager waited for the yearly appraisal to tell him that he can only take smoking breaks twice a day instead of thrice. The day before, I was invited to lunch by a friend who spent an hour talking about her disappointment in getting a C in her appraisal. Hoping for a B, she was even more disenchanted when her manager said, “80% of the staff got C”. She thought her boss considered her as a valuable employee belonging to 10% of the efficient and loyal personnel.

As the day turned to night, I heard more appraisal-related stories. For instance, one of my trainees reported his manager saying, “It’s going to be the same for everybody — no promise of a bonus and no negative feedback”.

Most employers use appraisal (annually, semi-annually or quarterly) to assess performance, give employees the opportunity to discuss work-related issues in confidence and motivate them to link their performance to their organisation’s objectives and goals. Some companies use appraisal outcomes to reward financially or promote employees. Some employees use the positive results when applying for a job or promotion.

Appraisal is not only about previous achievements but defining new objectives in the coming year, especially with changes in economic situation, staffing level, market forces, etc. People I have spoken to are either optimistic or cynical about appraisals. Generally, an employee on a trial period, contractual arrangement or in an insecure position takes the appraisal seriously as it is a formal process with documented results that can be used to rehire or fire. However, those who have been in their job for a long time may find it “more of the same” or a “self-fulfilling prophecy”.

【京都雑感】 愛情の振り子・時代祭り・日本とヨーロッパ、どっちも好き

Japan women manifestation1.「何がなんでも、日本に帰るんじゃないよ。」
「政治家選びは、52枚のカードをつかい回すトランプと同じ。時々、絵札や呼称や構成が変わったりはするけど。日本の場合は52枚じゃなくて、24枚の中から転用してるのね」と義母が笑った。

そんな彼女が「さちえを絶対に日本に帰らせるんじゃないよ」「日本はもう終わりや」と、何度も夫に言ったらしい。外国人の彼女が首相になった方が、まだマシなのかなと思うほど日本の政治は逆進的で「20世紀」の感じがする。

欧米の友人たちの警告を胸に、機上の人となった。帰国してみると拍子抜けするように、関西はフツーに機能し、人々は勤勉に働き以前と変わりなく暮らしていた。それにしても、電気会社や政府やマスメディアによる情報操作があまりにもひどいと感じた。放射能が漏れ続けている危機的な現状にもかかわらず。よるべなき基準のない日本の日常。在日の外国人の友人は「みんな、(原発が)危険なことは知ってるでしょ」と言うけれど。福島以前のように、ショッピングや美食にと刹那的に、それでいて厭世的に生きる人たちがシュールに気味悪くうつった。フランスに帰ってみると、日本の原子力規制委員会のメンバーたちが電力会社などから報酬や寄付金などを受けていたニュースを何度も報じていた。2週間半の浅い夢から現実に引き戻された気がした。

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