opinion

ASSERTIONS TO BEAR

September 14, 2018

We love to complain! Many times we don't have reasons at all to do so - but, we love to complain. Especially nowadays. Our world is full of mess - isn't it? Of course, somehow it is indeed if you look around. We bring many more assertions to bear: first, in the past we have been thriftier and economical, more religious and devout, more patriotic, industrious, more hard-working, keen and obedient. And, second, above everything and all: in the past we had more idealists. Third, nowadays we have (mostly?) material things in mind - what a disgrace.  Materialists or idealists? Materialism or Idealism? Whom or what do you love? Love most? I just quoted Vox Populi... . A "materialist" has indeed become a swearword. I don't mean with "material" the accumulated data out of which a writer creates a work of literary, historical, or scientific value. A materialist is being easily described as someone with an attitude, who ignores spiritual values, compared with an idealist, who has the tendency to seek the highest spiritual perfection. Idealism means the doctrine that appearance is purely the perception, the idea of subjects, and that the world is to be regarded as consisting of mind. The coquetry of higher philosophy makes it difficult to bear the ups and downs in our daily life. Sure, we all know, that "our last earthly dress has no pockets  any more". Striving for earthly and terrestrial possession, property and estate might be the hit-man of idealism. That's how we have been taught. "Wine, women and song", having the unpleasant feeling of fullness, egoism and bragging as well as showing-off - are these the materialist's real attitudes? Is the idealist, many times not being able stand on earth with both feet, the only one who occupies himself with religion and virtuousness - so to speak, with celestial and heavenly things? Is that really so? Can we make such a distinction? Sure, it's easy to so so: it's manageable and comfortable. But well, why is the enjoyment having a tasty meal BAD, and listening a recital composed by Johann Sebastian Bach BETTER? Why should art be better than roasted pork and a bottle of wine? Value judgements and moral concepts... . Owning a house and lot and a car  - or even more then one - are earthly properties, as well as bank saving accounts, profitable insurances, and invest advantageously stocks. Is a terrible underpaid nurse or a book author an idealist, because he or she doesn't work for the filthy lure but for higher values?  Has Jesus been an idealist, because He accepted renunciation and died without terrestrial possession? Has Jesus been a materialist, because He fed thousands of people on the breadline? Are we idealists, if we bequeath nothing to our families and might die without a single centavo, because earthly things are bad? Worth to think about it ... . Email: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me in Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter or visit my www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringscassicalmusic.blogspot.com .

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Shared concern for Tagoloan

September 12, 2018

I love Tagoloan town in Misamis Oriental located in northern Mindanao, Philippines. I was born and raised in Tagoloan town years ago. Today, we talk about my neighbor and a schoolmate from elementary to high school who achieved more in this life and still carried the desire to share his God given and acquired talents to the town we love.  Over the weekend I met Gregorio “Gerry” Paduganan, the son of Iyo Dodoy and Iya Denie Gaccion- Paduganan. Gerry, a retired general of the Philippine Air Force and a graduate of Philippine Military Academy's class of '78 is one of the best produced by Tagoloan town. He could have graduated in '76 but due to some circumstances he completed his studies two years later.  In our meeting, we dispensed with the preliminaries and talked about the state of Tagoloan town that he said had become messy and disorganized and I support his observation. It is dirty.  May I caution readers not to read too much on this. There is nothing political here, only two old Tagoloanon natives who want to help the old hometown. Gerry has no political ambition and he told me he would rather enjoy life with his family here and in the US.  He created a Facebook group page for Tagoloan natives where members can air their grievances on how the town is run by the local elected officials or maybe congratulate them on a job well done.  The FB group page of which I am a member also recounted the fond experiences and memories of those who lived and continue to live in Tagoloan. I read the posts of many members and most were complaints on garbage, vandaism, inadequate water, pothole roads and so on. I saw Gerry's open letter to the town mayor stating the observations of members with the goal of helping the local government address this.  Whether the mayor paid heed I don't know but he should if he considers himself the father of Tagoloan town.  If I am the mayor or the vice-mayor I should find time to know the grievances of the public. We listen to them since it is part of their work. Not doing so is a sign of not caring, of apathy that is dangerous to public welfare. At this time local officials should be more sensitive to the needs and demands of their constituents and they can do this by reading their social media posts.  As I said those the mayor should not take this the wrong way. I assume that you love Tagoloan that is why you are the mayor. I hope no one is dictating on you and that you are sensitive to the needs of your constituents.  There are so many ways you can manage the town and maybe you can ask help from the community, local leaders, church, non-government organizations (NGOs) and even each family. They are willing to help in improving Tagoloan. Any community is willing to share responsibility for building their town, city and province.  A simple case in point are the shanties or stalls across Tagoloan Central School which had become an eyesore. Surely even you cannot ignore their presence which had disturbed the teachers and students there.  The vendors and the settlers can stay so long as they help clean their area. And Gerry and I hope that the municipal council will do their share to enact ordinances that mandate constituents to keep their areas clean and habitable for themselves and their neighbors. It's so simple really if everyone works for it. There is nothing wrong in asking for everyone's help and cooperation, the good general opined. Well, I hope one Tagoloanon can read this and show it to the mayor. We mean well and it's nothing personal, just for the love of our hometown.

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The right to disconnect

September 9, 2018

A LIFE WITHOUT CELLPHONE? I remember the time, when one of my first Japanese friends kept on complaining, why I didn't operate a cellphone. Believe me, during that time, sometime in 2000 or 2001, I was even typing my articles on an old typewriter from Germany. My Japanese friend then bought me a computer - and a cellphone! Some other friends congratulated me: "Welcome back to the world!"  Sometimes, I observed (business-)people operating with two or even more cellphones at the same time. I asked them: "How did you survive doing business before without these units?" Believe me or not. The answers have been mostly: I really don't know! Doing business nowadays without a cellphone? Even a very private life? I can't imagine it anymore. Philippines' cellphone companies really provide us with the widest distribution and the broadest coverage to very affordable charges. I really enjoy, for example, the unlimited call experience - just to mention one. Two handsets or even three. Ok lang, as long it keeps my business running.  But then it happened! I thought I have lost my cellphone. I got panic lossing all my important connections. This "thing" really got a special meaning for me. And here we are: not only for business. Just even for a short "Hi - kumusta ka?" I really felt lonely! Journalist Chris Stokel-Walker explained it very well: for the average working person, there’s no greater feeling than powering down your computer and kissing goodbye to your avalanche of work emails for the day. If we’re lucky enough to disconnect from the job on evenings and weekends, we’re overjoyed to leave work email and the stress that comes with it in the office. But experts say we’re increasingly failing to do so, instead bringing the burden home with us and fielding emails during our free time. Unsurprisingly, this routine has some serious consequences. Now, it is a reflex, like checking my Facebook or Twitter timeline. Yes, it's indeed so - but never 24/7. Working abnormal or long hours has long been linked with depression, anxiety and even coronary heart disease. Crucially, the importance of weekend recovery has also been correlated with weekly job performance and personal initiative. While further research revealed psychological detachment during off-work time, reduced emotional exhaustion caused by high job demands and helped people stay engaged. So, if we know all this, it begs the question: why are we still letting work invade our precious weekends?  According to Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology at Manchester Business School and president of the CIPD, the recent trend even spills into the way we access our work communications and projects. Today, says Cooper, work emails are just a tap of a smartphone away. “You don’t carry your laptop around when you’re out to dinner, but you do carry your mobile phone,” he says. “The smartphone changed everything.” If we don’t switch off from work we don’t recover from work. We should get the right being disconnected. At night or during weekends. Email: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me in Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn or visit my www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com .

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ARE YOU A WORKAHOLIC?

September 2, 2018

What's really behind the global rise in working longer and longer hours? We are all workers whether we work in a plush carpetted office as executives and managers, in a hot and noisy assembly-plant as factory-hands or as house-wives at home. Why do we work? Why do we slug five or six days a week (or even more?) for eight or more hours at a stretch? The church has had quite a lot to say about work and especially, the rights of the workers. And when you get through the church jargon, you'll find statements on minimum wages for workers, needs for leisure and social benefits. It is the Book of Genesis which tell us that work is God's gift to human beings. God gave us the will, power and intelligence to "fill the earth and subdue it" and not just talk about seeing the wild beasts, the fruits and grains... . We are given the enormous task of shaping the earth, whether as machinist in a textile factory, or as clerk in court. The important message is: Work is for man (and woman) and not man (and woman) for work! Through work, man develops himself, his personality and his sense of self-worth. It is also through work that man produces goods and services contributing and participating in the development and society. Asking writer José Luis Peñarredonda about being a workaholic, he says: It makes accidents more likely, boosts stress levels, and even causes physical pain. But the real problem is that many people just can’t afford not to do it. According to latest International Labour Organization statistics, more than 400 million employed people worldwide work 49 or more hours per week, a sizeable proportion of the near 1.8 billion total employed people worldwide. In a recent interview with The New York Times, even entrepreneur Elon Musk felt moved to describe his 47th birthday spent locked in his factory, pulling an all-nighter. “No friends, nothing,” he said. It might have been just another day in another 120-hour work week. “This has really come at the expense of seeing my kids. And seeing friends,” he added. For some of his fans, this is just the price of being Silicon Valley’s current demi-god, the pioneer simultaneously pursuing the colonisation of Mars and creating an affordable and mass-produced electric car. A 2016 study found that the cortisol levels of people ‘on call’ rise faster in the mornings than those of people who are not required to be available. But wearing exhaustion like a badge of honor sets a dangerous precedent. Hustling over long hours and weekends has become a staple of start-up culture in Silicon Valley - hence, it has also filtered out to many parts of the world.  The problem is that this 'long hours' culture likely defeats the purpose of getting more things done, or at least puts a very hefty price on doing them. There is plenty of evidence that working overtime reduces your productivity, and makes you feel and actually be less healthy. It also make you more likely to develop a whole range of diseases. Still, millions of workers seem unable to take a stand against it, from medics to ‘gig economy’ workers and freelancers. What happens then? And, what can we – those who can’t help working on Saturday nights – do about it? Yes, in my opinion: this is going to hurt very much. It seems self-evident: an overworked person is tired; hence more likely to have an accident at work. But proving this is surprisingly difficult. It might be that riskier jobs also have more demanding hours, or simply that people who work more hours spend more time at risk, even if they don’t do overtime. But a study that analysed 13 years of job records in the US found that “working in jobs with overtime schedules was associated with a 61% higher injury hazard rate compared to jobs without overtime”. Have you ever heard about the algorithmic ‘whip’? Still, a lot of people feel trapped in the cycle – they rely on overworking to make ends meet and pay their bills. They are stuck in a system that incentivises them for clocking up lots of hours, or for working through the night if their clients live in another time zone. For example, this is often the case for ‘gig economy’ workers in Southeast Asia and Africa, hired by companies or entrepreneurs in the US, UK or Europe through freelancer platforms to do things like coding, blog post working, website building or social media management. Some recent research led by Alex J Wood, from the Oxford Internet Institute, reveals that the algorithms that assign jobs to these workers are a powerful driver to sustained overworking. As one interviewee on Wood’s research said, “I’m so broke, this is someone who’s ready to give me the money, so why don’t you want 18 hours in one day?” Basically, the higher your ranking on these platforms, the more likely you are to be hired. But to get these good reviews, workers have to accommodate everything their client wants, with little room for negotiating better conditions: “They have to be available to communicate whenever they are wanted. If the client has a very short deadline, they have to accept. Otherwise, they will be given a bad rating”, says Wood in an interview. If the worker is not in the top rankings, this pressure only increases. Some try to attract more gigs by charging extremely low prices, forcing them to work very long hours for little money. Furthermore, most invest a significant amount of unpaid labour too, on admin like setting up profiles, bidding for gigs on the platform, and acquiring skills to create a more attractive profile. All this adds up to a very long and exhausting routine. As one interviewee on Wood’s research said, “I’m so broke, this is someone who’s ready to give me the money, so why don’t you want 18 hours in one day?” Are you, my dear readers always on-call? Indeed, the era when work ended as people left the office is long gone. Checking and answering messages from work seems unavoidable – and even desirable for some people, as they feel it allows them to outperform competitors, or to spend more time with family without losing track of their jobs. Yes,  increases expectations are normal; nowadays: managers and colleagues alike expect staff to be almost always available to do work. But being ‘on call’ is not the same as being off work, and the way our body reacts to both situations is very different. A 2016 study found that the cortisol levels (the hormone that regulates the ‘fight or flight’ reaction and plays a role in raising stress levels) of people ‘on call’ rise faster in the mornings than those of people who are not required to be available, even if they don’t end up working that day. This hormone usually has its peak concentration when we wake up, and it decreases on the rest of the day. But scientists believe everyday stress factors tamper with its cycle in several ways: it rises faster when you expect a stressful day (researchers believe this may be the case here), its levels remain high if you are chronically stressed, and it does not rise if you are going through a ‘burnout syndrome’ – something usually preceded by a chronic stress period. As a result, people also find it more difficult “mentally detaching work from non-work” when they are ‘on call’, as well as choosing to do the activities that they really want – a trait researchers call ‘control’. In other words: workers don’t feel like the time they are ‘on call’ is really their own, and their stress levels rise accordingly. Hence, researchers conclude that days where availability is demanded “cannot be considered leisure time, because recovery – a crucial function of leisure time – is restricted under such circumstances”. Keep in mind that working for days at a time is not smart, even if you are Elon Musk. The news of his unhealthy work routine has not been well received by investors, and Tesla’s stock fell 8.8% shortly after the NYT interview, amid suspicions of Musk’s poor mental health. Take it as a sobering tale: if you can avoid working for days at a time, just do it, as it has no positive effects on your health, your well-being, or your productivity. Even if you think you are an exception, most likely you are not. I am happy to be be an exception! Email: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me in Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn or visit my www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com .

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ONE DRINK A DAY

August 25, 2018

A study of drinking around the world warns that even an occasional glass of wine or beer can increase your chances of disease and an early death. Scientists say there's no such thing as a "safe level" of alcohol. Alcohol consumption caused almost 3 million premature deaths in 2016, according to the results of a major study of drinking in 195 countries.   The research, published yesterday (August 24, 2018) in the medical journal The Lancet, found that drinking was the leading factor in deaths of people between the ages of 15 and 49. It also concluded that any amount of alcohol consumption, even one drink every now and again, increased the risk of health problems like cancer, cardiovascular disease and tuberculosis.   One additional big reason: alcohol guidelines may not be safe in many countries, the study says. The health risks associated with alcohol are enormous. I quoted Emmanuela Gakidou, senior author and director at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) in Seattle.   The researchers drew on more than 1,000 studies to compile a picture of alcohol's health impacts and drinking habits among men and women around the world.    They reported that imbibing one standard drink — equivalent to a small beer, glass of wine or shot of spirits — each day, boosted the odds of developing at least one of 23 possible health conditions by about 0.5 percent.   That might not sound like much, but — at a global level — that daily drinking habit translates to about 100,000 additional deaths every year, Gakidou said.   Alcohol and the unforgiving liver... . "There is no safe level of alcohol," Max Griswold, lead author and IHME researcher, told the AFP news agency. "Overall, the health risks associated with alcohol rose in line with the amount consumed."   In addition to the prevalence of alcohol-related disease, the study also looked at injuries and death resulting from alcohol consumption, such as road accidents and self-harm.   Two drinks per day increased the chances of disease and injury by 7 percent, the researchers wrote. The risk climbed to 37 percent with five drinks.   According to the study, drinking was the seventh leading risk factor for premature death and disease in 2016, accounting for around 2 percent of deaths in women and nearly 7 percent in men. Alcohol was the most lethal factor in the 15-49 age bracket, responsible for more than 12 percent of male deaths.   This is how a global picture looks like: of the more than 2 billion people around the world who consume alcohol, about 63 percent are men, the researchers wrote. The biggest drinkers in 2016 were men in Romania, who put away an average of eight drinks a day. Portugal, Luxembourg, Lithuania and Ukraine followed with seven "units" per day. Among women, Ukrainians led with four drinks a day, followed by Andorra, Luxembourg, Belarus, Sweden, Denmark, Ireland and Britain, all averaging about three per day.   The most abstemious nations were those with Muslim-majority populations.   Alcohol is, as we all know, a depressant. It slows down the function of all the body's parts. Vital functions can be slowed down to the point of death. Under its influence people choke to death at family picnics, drown at the beach, fall asleep while driving a car, hurt and even kill other people. The devil alcohol creates a feeling of freedom without worries and euphoria. Our feelings are really free flowing, everyday worries are replaced with a carefree spirit. Wow, I really feel on top of the world today... . I joined the circle of many other fellows around, more or less regular social drinking, and/or habitual drinking drinking with meals (beer or wine!). When I stayed in France, I couldn't believe that for many Frenchmen a breakfast consists of bread (baguette), cheese, coffee - and red wine! Anyway, social drinking also means occasional drinks to relieve stress or boredom. Once we reach the addictive stage we are already in danger. Gulping drinks and secret drinking daily to relieve stress makes one lose control, and being unable to stop drinking creates drinking habits, Danger is with us, if we lose control over when, where and how much we drink. The memory blackouts don't let us remember any more, where we had been or how we get home. We loose our self-respect and the performance of our work is seriously affected. Loss of interest in everything (except in drinking) means loss of jobs, conflicts with the law, mental deterioration, and even death. The sad consequences should let us tremble with fear. A few people who decide to stop drinking find it easy. Having made the decision, they simply never drink again. And honestly, every time I enjoy a drink in really acceptable measurements I am trying to ask myself, if I could stop drinking right now. And I am pretty sure, the answer is YES. That's how I quit smoking almost 35 years ago... .    Let's face it: one drink a day is one too many.   "Who was woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long on the wine, those who go in search of mixed wines? Do not look at the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart will utter perverse words. Yes, you will be like one who lies down in he mist o the sea, or like one, who lies on top of  the mast, saying: 'They have struck me, but I wasn't hurt; they have beaten me, but I didn't feel it. When I shall awake, that I may seek another drink!'" (Proverbs 23:29-35).   +++   Email: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me in Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn or visit my www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com .

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FOLLOWING THE WRONG ROAD?

August 21, 2018

Which road do you take right now, my dear readers? Are you sure, you're on the right track? Many times, we compare our life with a path. We talk about "the way". We describe a determined man as, "He's on the right (or wrong ?) track". We go about our tracks, but we are reproved if we take a short-cut and not the path across a rice-field. We learn that there are many ways of solving problems. We also don't want to stand in other people's way. Sometimes, we prefer to keep put of someone's way and plan to avoid getting in their way. Often we try to find the golden middle course... .Often - but not always. Sure, that's life! Many different ways have been offered to us during our whole life. How can we be able to choose the right and correct one? Which signs at our way can be trusted blindly? These are urgent and vital questions for all of us, and, especially during this time, very important like never before. In the past, traditions and customs are the paths, we took. Nowadays, we make decisions and long for the correct path - mostly on our own. Are traditions and customs still important for us? The German atom-physician Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976) described it very impressively. The man of today is like a ship's captain. This ship is made out of iron. The compass needle is no longer able to show the Northern direction, as expected, because of the ship's iron inflexible body. You have one choice only: look up to the stars and study their guiding support!" We're all happy and proud, when we have every need at our disposal. On the other hand, it only confuses our aims, goals, and objectives in life. "I am the way" is NOT ONLY a traffic sign - or a shepherd without responsibility - or a religious founder, who thinks, that "only he is the right way, if one follows him"... . HIS way is the only right way. Only His deeds colored our fates. Let's keep our eyes open for the important signs at our way. Think about an unselfish participation in the life of others! Do you show courage to uncover prejudice in your surroundings? Are you ready to help the unprotected and defenseless? Where is your struggle for freedom and justice as well as your commitment for peace? Most of all: Show and exercise love, which does not calculate and count. Love without measurements, boundaries and limits! If you can share with others, you'll know one day in future, that someone walked this way - earlier then you - and FOR YOU! Email: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me in Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter or visit www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com .

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