Understanding Science – Its Application in Daily Life

August 29, 2016

Science is derived from the Latin term ‘scientia’, which means ‘knowledge.’ It is a systematic explanation of every element present in the universe. To understand the subject, you simply have to look around you. Everything you see, whether it is your computer screen, a pen, papers, your pet, the sun, or other things are all elements of science. Science covers everything from the smallest particle in an atom present in the circuits of your computer, to the complicated electrical fluctuations and chemical interactions within our bodies that enable us to read and perform other normal activities.The Characteristics of ScienceScience helps in answering questions in a simple and logical manner. It can also lead to advancements in technology, and help us improve our knowledge on enormously useful and important topics, like the environment, natural hazards, our health, and others. Science is the reason for the developments in the modern world, and scientists across the world continue to work, to unravel the mysteries of the universe. A multi-faceted and complex subject, science has fairly straightforward basic characteristics.

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Science limits its focus to the natural world, avoiding supernatural explanation about any given matter. It educates us about the natural world, what it is made of, what it contains, and how it works. It is more than a collection of factual data, and science is a long road to understanding the universe. It identifies answers by carrying out tests rather than speculating results. Observations and ideas form an integral part of science. Scientific ideas are accepted because they go through rigorous testing processes, but the emergence of new perspectives and evidences make these ideas subject to revisions.Fields and Branches of ScienceScience is commonly classified under two major categories: Social sciences (study of societies and human behavior), and natural sciences (study of natural phenomena such as biological life). Other disciplines in the subject include applied and interdisciplinary sciences, such as medicine and engineering. Although these scientific disciplines have their own expertise and nomenclature, they often include other inter-related disciplines.

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Formal science is another branch of the subject, which includes mathematics, logic, and statistics. Formal sciences are crucial in the formulation of laws, hypotheses, and theories related to social sciences (the manner in which humans or animals think or act), and natural sciences (the explanation about how everything works). Each discipline of science has sub-divisions that focus on particular sections of the subject.Why Study It?Science offers wide scope for people who are interested in exploring the mysteries of the universe. Getting science help will ensure that you better understand the natural world and how it works. A good science tutor is greatly beneficial for students who find the study of science difficult.

Still More Anomalies: Another Top Baker’s Dozen

August 27, 2016

You may not be happy with the world as it is, but at least it’s orderly and makes logical sense. Walk, don’t walk, green yellow red; money trickles in, money flows out; friends and politicians come and go, enemies and stuff accumulate; the sun rises and sets, the moon waxes and wanes; people are born, people die; the days, weeks, months, seasons. and years come and go with regularity. But dig a bit deeper beneath the surface and the world and the cosmos it inhabits, is one anomalous place.THE BIG BANG EVENT: This is no doubt a concept that nearly everyone has heard about, and swallowed hook, line and cosmological sinker because scientists present this creation of the Universe scenario as fact. It’s not fact; just the most viable theory of many theories and it has serious flaws. The accepted theoretical account of the creation or event that kick-started our Universe off not only has that event a something that created all of matter and energy, but all of time and space as well, and this creation event, to boot, all took place in a volume less than that of a pinhead (something in the realm of the quantum) and for no apparent reason at all. First there was nothing; then there was something. Wow!At best observations that support this are indirect being made some 13.7 billion years after-the-fact. Those indirect observations that provide evidence for the Big Bang event are the fact that the Universe is expanding; the Universe has a temperature – the remnants from the hot Big Bang called the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMBR) and the amounts and ratio of hydrogen to helium. In reality there are no direct observations as nobody was present at Ground Zero all those billions of years ago.There are really a couple of anomalies present in the standard Big Bang account. 1) You have a violation of causality – something (space, time, matter and energy) created from nothing which is a violation of several conservation laws or relationships. 2) You have a violation of pure common sense that tells you that you can not stuff the contents of the entire Universe into the realm of the quantum, something actually way less in volume in fact than a pinhead. If that’s not anomalous, I don’t know what is!SPEED OF LIGHT: The anomaly here is that in any other scenario, velocities can be added and subtracted, except the velocity that’s known as the speed of light. Within Relativity Theory, if there is anything unintuitive it is the fact that in the entire Universe, it is the speed of light alone that is absolute or fixed, not something like space or time. It’s unintuitive in that all other bits and pieces that are in motion can be added or subtracted. So, if you are in a train that is moving at say 100 km/hour and you throw a ball at 10 km/hour in the direction at which the train is moving, to an observer outside the train, your ball is traveling at 110 km/hour. If you throw the ball towards the rear of the train, an outside observer will measure the ball as moving at 90 km/hour. If on the other hand, you shine a flashlight in the train, an outside observer will see the velocity of the resulting light beam moving at the speed of light – not the speed of light PLUS the velocity of the train, or the speed of light MINUS the velocity of the train, but at the speed of light! That’s nuts, but it’s scientifically nuts and been proven again and again in any experiment you care to devise.QUANTUM GRAVITY AND THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING: We have the Theory of General Relativity (gravity) and Quantum Physics. Both are bedrocks of modern physics. Both are accurate to a high degree of experimental precision. Both aren’t compatible – with each other. Apparently, one (or both) of these theories must be wrong, or at best incomplete. That’s why the unification of the two (a theory of quantum gravity) is physics’ Holy Grail. However, that Holy Grail is proving as difficult to find as the Biblical Grail itself! But for the moment, it’s like the universe has two independent sets of laws – one governing the very large (gravity); one the very small (the quantum). This makes no natural or scientific sense.We have observations of four physical forces yet no theory which unites the three quantum forces (electromagnetism, the strong nuclear force and the weak nuclear force) with the one classical force – gravity. Theory needs to be satisfied. All of the four fundamental forces should be interconnected; some sort of unification principle must be in operation that relates all four, one to the other. However, these four fundamental forces that govern the Universe show no signs of any obvious unification – well actually the three quantum ones do (known as the GUT – Grand Unified Theory), but that’s where the unification ends. Gravity remains the wallflower. If the Big Bang theory is to be proven correct as stated, scientists must of necessity come up with a viable theory of quantum gravity that is an acceptable unification of the trio of quantum forces with gravity. There is, to date, no viable theory of quantum gravity despite thousands of physicists searching for one over many generations now. Mother Nature is an anomalous bitch!

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QUASARS: Quasars are ‘quasi-stellar objects’. They are ‘stellar’ because they aren’t all that large (like a galaxy). They are ‘quasi’ because they give off energy way, way, way more times greater than any star known in any astronomical catalogue. They seem to be primordial objects – they formed long ago and are now far away. Quasars, like stars or galaxies, are their own entities and if two or more show a very close and special causality relationships then they should show identical recessional velocities (since the Universe is expanding and they are part of the Universe and that expansion). Recessional velocities are measured by an object’s red-shift. Theory identifies red-shift with velocity. However, you apparently have some observations of causality connected quasar pairs with vastly differing red-shifts (measurements of their recessional velocities). The anomaly, in an analogy, is that you can not have a runner running at 15 miles per hour holding hands with another runner running at 3 miles per hour!MASS: There are three fundamental properties of particles (like the electron, neutrinos, the numerous quarks, etc.) and their anti-particles (like the positron). They are charge, spin and mass. As the song goes, two out of three ain’t bad, but that still leaves one out of three out of joint. In this case, it’s mass. Nobody can predict from first principles what the masses of the fundamental particles should be. That’s fairly disturbing for something as fundamental as mass. Despite the relatively large number of particles (including their equal and opposite anti-particles), there are only a few allowed values for charge and spin, values pretty much confined to the physics infield. But, for some reason, the mass (usually expressed in equivalent energy units – Einstein’s famous equation) of the various particles are not only scattered throughout the physics ballpark but are all over the city map and beyond. They take on values (albeit one value per type of particle) over many orders of magnitude without any apparent pattern or regularity or relationship between them – and nobody has the foggiest idea why, not a validly theoretical idea, or even a ‘far out’ idea. Why should mass differ so greatly from the other fundamental properties part and parcel of those elementary particles? It’s like someone just drew a few dozens of numbers out of a hat containing multi hundreds of thousands of values and assigned them to the few dozens of particles willy-nilly. Something is screwy somewhere because something so fundamental shouldn’t be so anomalous.PHYSICAL CONSTANTS: There are constant reports of physical constants that aren’t – constant that is. Physical constants are just that – a constant. They have just one value, everywhere, every-when, and no exceptions. But apparently some ‘constants’ have more than one value depending of where and/or when. Theory and observations (if correct) are yet again not in harmony and that’s totally nuts!TIME TRAVEL: Time travel to the past is a staple of science fiction, but surprisingly has actual viability in modern general relativity physics. In general relativity physics, time travel to the past is theoretically possible – though damned difficult in practice. However, that means that those time travel paradoxes are possible, even likely.The anomaly are those lovable paradoxes like going back in time, say ten years, and killing yourself (which is a novel way of committing suicide), which means you couldn’t have existed to go back in time in the first place in order to kill yourself, which means you’re not dead so you can go back in time and murder yourself, etc. What kind of physics is that?The second anomaly however is that no time travelers have been observed from our future. You would think various significant historical events would be swarming with historians and tourists from the future where time travel is possible. Nobody from our present or past has time traveled back in time and left a proof-positive calling card that we’ve ever found in the fossil record or recorded in the history books.If something is possible, especially something as interesting as time travel, we would expect to see either people from our future in the here and now, or evidence that we’ve traveled to the past, like finding a human skeleton buried inside a T-Rex skeleton, as in inside the area where the T-Rex’s abdominal cavity would be! We don’t.CATTLE MUTILATIONS: There’s no disputing the bona-fides of this gruesome reality. It has been observed – after-the-fact – photographed, documented, and investigated by all manner of officialdom, as well as unofficial private investigators. And though oft referred to as ‘cattle’ mutilations, all manner of wildlife and other domestic livestock have been targeted too, the first reported case being a horse. Like the crop circle phenomena, there are three possible explanations: natural, human or alien.If natural, why has this phenomenon only become an issue since the 1960′s? Predator-prey relationships, scavengers, etc. have existed and been observed ever since humans have inhabited the continents. There should be no anomaly here if animal mutilations are just the normal continuation of Mother Nature in tooth and claw. But there is an anomaly. If predators or scavengers, why are there no footprints, and especially if predators, why no signs of a struggle? How can predators account for precision removal of just certain body parts with razor sharp incisions? Since there’s no blood associated with the mutilated carcasses, did predators drink up their entire victim’s blood like an animal version of Dracula?If humans or cultists are responsible, why hasn’t anyone claimed responsibility? Why hasn’t anyone been caught, tried, convicted, fined and/or imprisoned for trespass, animal cruelty, destruction of private property, etc.? Why no signs of human activity like tire tracks and footprints and litter (say a cigarette butt or beer can or two). Again, why no signs of a struggle?Some have suggested this is the work of government, or government departments, taking samples to monitor for various bovine nasties, like diseases, or other types of contamination that could endanger human health if these livestock were consumed. Really! There are vastly easier ways of legally gathering up tissue samples than sneaking around in the dead of night and killing/mutilating animals for a few body parts.So of course it has to be extraterrestrials! How can aliens mutilate cattle (and other livestock and wildlife), decade after decade, without ever being seen? Why would aliens be interested in wildlife and livestock in the first damned place, or at least some of their highly selected body parts?HUMAN CULTURE & CIVILIZATION: There are two relatively unexplained turning points in the evolution of modern man when contrasted with our more primate-like ancestors. One is the acquisition of what we call culture. Culture (like art appreciation and abstract ideas like an afterlife) happened within a fairly narrow timeframe, roughly 50,000 years ago, wherever nomadic bands of hunter-gatherers gathered. Why the sudden transition? The second great leap forward, again, within a narrow timeframe, some 9000 years ago, was the transition from nomadic lifestyles to settlements – farming crops and herding now domesticated wildlife. Settlements rapidly became villages became towns became cities. While some nomadic hunter-gatherers still roamed the plains, like the Australian aboriginal, what was once that nomadic rule now became that exception to that rule. In both cases, culture and civilization, the observational evidence is rock-solid; theory can’t really explain the transition, or at least the relatively rapid transition, around the world, from the tried-and-true before-the-fact pre-cultural nomadic lifestyle to the unknown leap of an untested experiment with culture and settlements.ANCIENT EGYPT: LIGHTING THE PYRAMIDS, etc. We all are aware that many of the ancient Egyptian structures, like pyramids and the tombs in the Valley of the Kings, contain vast numbers of deep and twisting passageways inside. Many of those interiors have been elaborately decorated with all manner of paintings and carvings of hieroglyphs, etc. Whether or not the interiors were decorated, there must have been a requirement for lighting. There were no glass windows. There were no battery-operated torches or flashlights. There was no electric lighting back then, though of course that’s how these structures are illuminated today for tourists and/or archaeologists. Neither source of available luminescent technology back then really holds a candle as it were to how they could have been actually employed. The obvious sources were burning torches, oil lamps, candles, etc. Now you don’t really want to undertake construction, detailed painting or carving stone by candlelight. In any event there are no traces of soot residue on the walls and ceilings. The alternative method was to position bronze or copper mirrors that reflect sunlight onto another mirror which in turn reflected that light onto another mirror further inside the structure which in turn reflected the light it received onto the next mirror down the line, etc. The physics problem is that the original sunlight gets so diluted so quickly after just a couple of mirrors in, that it becomes an impractical ways and means. If you have to penetrate very far inside the structure, and some passageways are indeed, very, very far inside, lighting with mirrors fail. The anomaly is you need adequate lighting yet there’s no really adequate source.

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EXODUS, BOOK OF: There are multi-dozens of anomalies, things that just can’t be, reported in the Bible. Of all of these, the most anomalous is the Book of Exodus, because some of the events recorded there can be checked against another independent historical source. If the history in the Book of Exodus is found wanting, and it is, then if one holy book goes down the gurgler, then all the rest of the books are suspect too.The anomaly here is that the Book of Exodus features the land and peoples of ancient Egypt fairly prominently. A couple of key Biblical characters play leading roles there – Moses and Joseph – not to mention thousands of alleged Hebrew slaves. Nasty things happen to that land and those peoples like the ten plagues and the drowning of pharaoh’s army. The anomaly here is that you’d expect ancient Egyptian records to verify and collaborate and substantiate the Book of Exodus, but you don’t find anything of the sort. It’s as if the Biblical version took place in a parallel universe – or in the imagination of the all too human author.BIBLICAL MIRACLES: Then there’s this Biblical bit about Joshua commanding the sun to stand still (at least that’s the way I recall it). That’s a tall tale or myth but whatever, it can’t be a physical reality. But wait, there’s more! There’s Jonah and the whale; Eve’s creation from a rib; walking on the waters; the walls of Jericho tumbling down at the sound of no doubt out of tune trumpets or rams horns. In the Bible we have this tale of the multiplying of loaves and fishes out of virtually nothing.Miracles are part and parcel of any and all supernaturally based religions. Miracles of the supernatural kind (and that’s the only kind of miracle that counts here) violate one or more laws, principles or relationships established by science. There can be no such thing as a supernatural miracle in theory. However, there have been numerous reports of supernatural miracles.Reported events cannot violate the natural state of things. If they do violate that natural state of things, then they must be supernatural. There’s no known theory that can accommodate supernatural events. That’s part of the conflict between science and religion. The conflict is an anomaly.THE AFTERLIFE: A concept that closest to the hearts and minds of nearly all humans and human cultures past and present is what happens to us after we kick the bucket. The answer is we transcend into another life – an afterlife. Every culture, past and present, has an afterlife concept, a life after death concept, or some sort of an eternity or immortality worldview. Not all of the versions of the theoretical afterlife can be correct however. Idealistic theoretical expectations that when you die you won’t stay dead, versus practical reality that observations show that dead things stay dead, are indeed conflicting, therefore anomalous. However, nobody has ever come back from the dead to prove the reality of an afterlife to the satisfaction of any unbiased referee.From the examples above, I conclude that it almost seems as if someone (something) is ultimately responsible for our Universe, but he / she/ it / they didn’t quite think things through sufficiently. Methinks an all knowing, all powerful supernatural God type being wouldn’t have stuffed things up. So either the Universe is naturally stuffed up, or it was created stuffed up!

Using Consumer Information on Wrinkle Creams

September 30, 2016

Consumer information on wrinkle creams can be found in magazine, newspaper, television and internet advertisements. It can also be found on consumer websites. Websites of the manufacturers’ of the products you are interested in should be checked out well. A reputable company will back its products’, be willing to back up the claims with real research. Such a company will offer free samples and trial period.Some of the claims made by wrinkle cream products are that their product(s) are the best and say things such as “1 out of 10 doctors recommend this.” They claim that you can get immediate results, something that has a grain of truth. When applied to your skin products can give you results but when the product is removed there is no improvement. True results happen over time and are much longer lasting.

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Consumer information may provide data about the ingredients including how they work and the effects they have on your skin. There are some ingredients that are very harmful and others that are extremely beneficial. The ingredients of wrinkle creams and other skin care products are listed on the label. The only problem is that this can be deceptive. For example, collagen is used in injections of the lips but this type is made of ground up chicken feet and beaks and ages your skin. You may see a couple of ingredients that are beneficial but they are only in minimal amounts – just enough so companies can legally list them.Petroleum and petroleum based products are linked to the break down of your skin. This includes alcohols and mineral oil. Nitrosamines can from when amines (DEA, MEA, TEA) become mixed with preservatives that release formaldehyde (bronopol or quatemium-15). They are known carcinogenic agents. Paraben, a preservative is used because it’s cheap and may be linked to cancer as well. Talc, found in cosmetics and powders has been linked to ovarian cancer when it’s used on the genital area.There are natural ingredients that are both safe and effective. There are plant based alcohols. They are very soothing to your skin. Aqua is not tap water. It is water that has been purified using reverse osmosis and high heat sterilizing processes. Active Manuka honey from the manuka bush is both antimicrobial and antibacterial.A group of three active ingredients are used as a base of skin care products. Phytessence Wakame heals dry skin and irritations. It helps to strengthen collagen and also strengthens elastin. It might aid tissue repair. Nano-lipobelle H-EQ10 is used because it can penetrate as deep as the seventh layer of skin easily. Anew agent called Cynergy TK lets the body to make its own collagen and elastin again. They all promote the necessary hydration of your skin.

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There are other natural ingredients such as grape seed oil, macadamia oil, and avocado oil. Beeswax is harvested from honeycomb and twice purified to get rid of all toxins and impurities. Witch hazel extract is astringent . It is also an antioxidant.Consumer information on wrinkle creams can be very helpful in choosing skin care products. It can also provide information on product recalls. It is advisable to check it out before purchasing anything.

The Difference Between SEO and SEM

October 4, 2016

SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization. This is how a website purposefully designs it content, including their titles, content and meta tags, for the sole purpose of getting the attention of search engines like Google, Yahoo and the lesser known Bing. What SEO wants to achieve is an organic or natural flow of traffic to their websites that is not bought or paid for like we do when we pay for advertising. A search engine result is free.SEM is an acronym for Search Engine Marketing. It is a concept often associated with SEO, sometimes even confused with SEO. They have some goals in purpose but are very different in technique. SEM has come about because large search engine websites like Google have offered fees to show case ads on the top of their page listing. These are pay per click or PPC ad campaigns. SEM is closer to traditional advertising in that you pay for the direct exposure you are receiving. SEM has made it possible to be a website with high visitor content just because they pay more to be advertised and promoted by Google. Both SEM and SEO are sets of strategies to bring in visitors. Except you pay up front for SEM, it is a direct advertising strategy. While with SEO, you look for indirect ways to get noticed.Optimizing a website for search engines, will mean evaluating particular keywords and keyword phrases the internet users may type into search engines to look for service and products that an ecommerce based business may offer. The grit of SEO is editing website content with keywords. Including keywords and keyword phrases in tags and meta tags. Even links and HTML is edited to suit SEO. HTML and links are worked out in a way to get the website user to move a certain way within your website. Ideally, the website visitor is presented with links around the website, going from page to page to read information they are interested in. This design makes it so the website user does not leave the website immediately.

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SEO works best when the SEO professional does not try to find underhanded ways to cheat the search engine system. Such tricks will get a website flagged by the search engines, since they use practices that are discouraged. Even if the website does rise to prominence for a moment on the Google rankings, reading content over peppered with keywords will get the website pulled down even faster. SEO tricks like link farming, keyword abuse and page cloaking get picked up by the search engine algorithms and they push the website to the top of search results. You can trick the machine. But after people start reading your content, it becomes apparent that the website is a fraud.The best way to climb to the top is by following ethical SEO guidelines. Write good content with proper technical guidelines. You can learn to do this yourself. You can also hire a writing service who will do this for your. But if you want to really get out there the fast way, consider SEM. A Pay Per Click ad campaign means that you only get charged for clicks on the link to your website. You know exactly what you are getting for your money.Search Engine Marketing is guaranteed promotion for any business. Pay per click is one for few guaranteed strategies for success in attract the coveted targeted consumer. But you can and you should use both SEO and SEM at the same time. Both are invaluable resources. Here is a list of benefits that will be available to your website with the help of SEM:1. When somebody types in a query into a search engine, the search engine will present them only ads and banners in the same industry or interest of the query.
2. Pay Per Click is great for corporate awareness, aside from online sales. It increases the value of the brand name.
3. Pay per clicks and sponsored links are transparent. You know what your money is paying for, as presented by the numbers.
4. Keeping well written and informative landing pages will lead readers to explore your website and see what else is available.
5. You only pay for the traffic volume that the pay per click ad has brought in. And this traffic is select, meaning they have interest in your service or product.

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In a way SEO and SEM are the same concepts wrapped in different presentations. SEO will last longer because it is content based. You do not pay for it every time it shows up in search engine results. If the competition is low, your website will be highly ranked for a very long time. SEM operates with the same traffic volume objective buy in a different way using paid Ads, banners, sponsors and Pay per click services. It brings in traffic too over a shorter period of time, unless you can keep payments indefinite. But the websites that gain the most use both SEO and SEM aggressively.1. They get more traffic that increases exponentially if they keep up content.
2. They keep up with rankings over a long period of time.
3. They keep it innovative and fresh, so loyal visitors have something new to see and come back to visit again.
4. Content keeps up with relevance to search engine guidelines.
5. They cultivate repeat visitors who also become repeat customers.Being SEO ready means your website is easy to access, user friendly, and easy to navigate for the average user. There are gimmicks, games, polls, promos to entertain the internet user and keep them coming back. This attracts visitors and other websites to link to your own website.

National Center for the Performance Arts

September 3, 2016

The newly opened National Center for the Performance Arts, formerly named the Chinese National Grand Theatre, is the largest performing art center in the world. It is shaped like a massive, silvery dome in the heart of China’s capital that offers Chinese and international art performances of the highest standards. It hosts opera, ballet, musicals, dance, dramas and traditional Chinese performances.Situated west of Tiananmen Square in Beijing, the National Center for Performance Art occupies an area of over 149,500 square meters. There are three gigantic halls located inside: a 2,416-seat opera house, a 2,017-seat concert hall and a 1,040-seat theater. Its goal is to become the center of Chinese performance art culture. The National Center for the Performing Arts took nearly five years to build at a cost of over 2.69million RMB.Designed by the famous French architect Paul Andreu, this imposing building is a fine example of modern architecture. It has been thought of as resembling an eggshell, a baozi (Chinese steamed bread), or even a giant bubble. The National Center for Performance Arts has been listed among the top ten architectural miracles by the USA, for its energy-saving and environmentally-sound design. The center has three firsts: it is the largest sky dome in the world, the deepest building in Beijing, and is home to the largest pine organ in Asia. As its prompters have said, the National Center for Performance Arts has a lush dazzling interior, sophisticated acoustics and a design that that is superior to most of Europe’s or America’s performing arts centers. This building is so unique that it stands out amongst the nearby government buildings in central Beijing and the imperial grandeur of the centuries-old Forbidden City.

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The interior design of National Center for Performance Arts, it is quite spectacular. The dome’s interior is paneled with long Brazilian mahogany spans, giving the expanse an amazingly warm feeling. While the walls of the theater, the smallest of the performance spaces, are covered in thick padded silk which is divided into red, purple and tangerine strips. The ceiling of the grey-white color-schemed concert hall consists of undulating waves of acoustical panels that resemble abstract art. On the exterior shell of the center, there are over 500 lights that shine like the stars in the sky, making the National Center for Performance Arts looks like a visitor from the outer space.Even though the exterior appearance of National Centre for Performance Arts is futuristic in design, it does not clash with nearby buildings. Surrounded on one side by a large pool of water, the reflections in the water form an impressive sight day or night. For this reason, National Centre for Performance Arts is said to appear like a “bright pearl resting in a lake.Most visitors to the National Center for Performance Arts, come for the performances, but there is much more to this beautiful building than just the three gigantic halls. There are also many smaller places located inside the National Center for Performance Arts such as: an underwater hallway, an exhibition hall, olive hall, library center, Press-release hall, souvenir shop, and a coffee house. In these locations, visitors or audience members can enjoy other aspects of this amazing building other than just performances.The Center’s management has hired the best performers from throughout China to perform. Musicians such as pianist Yundi Li, and Lang Lang are regulars to the National Center for Performance Arts’stage. Many foreign troupes are vying for a chance to perform during the center’s opening season. The first foreign troupe to perform on the stage of the National Center for Performance Art was the Mariinsky Ballet Troup of St. Petersburg(still marketed in the U.S. under its Soviet-era name, the Kirov Opera and Ballet). Although the center’s musical groups,ballets, symphony orchestras, and Chinese opera have received far less attention, they are also performed by some of the best artists in China.

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To allow each audience to fully and comfortably appreciate each performance, the National Center for Performance Arts has makes great effort in its design of the opera house, concert hall and theater. The materials used in the construction of the opera house were chosen for their ability to control sound. The ceiling of the concert hall is designed so that each audience member will enjoy an unforgettable experience. The theatre, the place with the most distinctive Chinese characteristic, has the most advanced stage facilities and the largest auditorium. Each seat in the National Center for Performance Arts is placed over an air vent which will allow each audience member to enjoy perfectly controlled temperatures, and each seat is designed with a muffling devise so that no sound will be made when audience members stand up,or sit down. These many different features of the center has been put in place to insure each audience member will receive the most from each performance they see.Even if visitors to Beijing have no interest in watching a performance at the National Centre for Performance Arts, a visit to the center will leave a deep impression on them. It is one of the most brilliant architectural designs in the world, and worth a visit.

‘Sexting’: A New Crisis for Relationships?

September 25, 2016

‘Sexting’… So what is it anyway? ‘Sexting’ by definition is sending or receiving sexually explicit messages or photos by mobile phones or other social media. This is a trend that has increased steadily through the years as more and more people have utilized phones as their main method of communication. In fact, 88% of adults have engaged in some kind of ‘sexting’ within the context of a relationship according to a paper called: “Reframing Sexting as a Positive Relationship Behavior.” 2Is ‘sexting’ more common than we believe or are these research studies just turning up coincidences with this type of behavior? Emily Stasko, at Drexel’s University in Philadelphia, surveyed 870 heterosexual individuals and found that more ‘sexting’ was associated with a higher level of sexual satisfaction. 2These are just two studies, you might say, and don’t represent the population at large. Well, another way to look at this is that technology is something that most people (in larger cities or suburban areas) concentrate on daily. People are very involved with social media on mobile phones, computers & tablets. They are using these social media applications for various reasons (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, Tumblr, Vine, Snapchat, etc). Is there any reason to think, even for a minute, that people are not using technology to date or enhance their present relationships? People all over the country (and the world) have access to texting/messaging, social media, and video chatting (Facetime, Viper, etc.). It is extremely easy to use any of these modalities in the context of a relationship.So how do people view ‘sexting?The problem is that not everyone defines ‘sexting’ the same way. Is it the sending of sexually explicit or provocative messages? Is it primarily the sending of sexual images? Some people see it as one, the other or even as both. This has been unclear because there have been various opinions about the subject. ‘Sexting’ may not be limited to just messaging but could also include the use of Twitter, Facebook, Skype and Facetime, as well as, other social media platforms. This could also mean sending sexually explicit video or showing nude body parts while video conferencing. This complicates matters even more and broadens the current definition.Most people have really warmed up to the idea of ‘sexting’ and according to the research, previously cited, a very high number of people have engaged (and continue to engage) in this behavior. These research studies and surveys have focused on how ‘sexting’ can improve relationships and rekindled sex lives. However, there is a darker side as well. This article focuses on those individuals that use ‘sexting’ as a way of seeking excitement, sex, and/or attention outside of their present relationship. The lines are sometimes blurred with regards to virtual or internet relationships because they are not viewed as being “real.”Is ‘Sexting’ outside of a relationship considered cheating?That is a good question. We already know that ‘sexting’ or sending these sexually provocative messages can really enhance a committed relationship. However, what happens when people send these types of messages outside of a committed relationship? How is ‘sexting’ viewed among the general population?”A 2013 Huffington Post article of 1,000 U.S. adults found that 85 percent of women and 74 percent of men consider ‘sexting’ a form of cheating.” 1′Sexting’ outside a relationship can be exciting especially for those individuals that are looking for ‘that extra something’ in their lives. Perhaps these individuals love their spouses or partners but seem to have ‘lost’ the passion or excitement in their relationship. For other individuals, maybe they are looking to find someone else online or in a virtual sense (i.e. via texting, online websites or other media) that they can flirt with and is considered “safe.” That could fall into the “grass is greener on the other side of the fence” scenario. A person may be very happy or mostly satisfied with their partner but think that they might be able to find something better outside their relationship.Other scenarios could include men or women that seem to feel as if they are invisible to their partners or spouses due to over demanding careers, children, mental illness, physical illness, alcoholism, etc. These individuals may find that through ‘sexting’ with a 3rd party that they can feel loved, desired and even sexy. It is through this media (and possibly other reasons) that people justify their actions and tell themselves that they are not cheating because there is no physical relationship.Is this behavior wrong? Is it cheating? There are various reasons why an individual may decide to engage in ‘sexting’ outside of his/her relationship but what is the intention exactly? Some people may believe that due to the virtual nature of ‘sexting’ that it isn’t necessarily wrong. ‘Sexting’ doesn’t have to involve physical contact and it could just be chalked down to a simple fantasy (or something that they don’t intend to pursue). It may have started as something very innocuous (like work-related messages sent to a colleague, coworker or fellow student) but then it moved forward to a more sexual type of relationship.However if a person is deleting texts, hiding cell phone bills, or being secretive about this virtual relationship then it seems that he/she has become more involved with someone other than a spouse or partner. This person is now thinking about another person, sending pictures to that person, and possibly wishing he/she could spend time with that other person. If we are looking at the health of a marriage or relationship, any time someone else becomes involved, that health has now been compromised. We could also argue that the commitment toward the relationship or marriage has waned because of the 3rd party that is now part of the equation.Case Examples:Maria and Thomas (not their real names) have been married for 3 years but have been together for about 12 years. Thomas had been dealing with anxiety issues for his whole life but had developed a drinking habit to numb the intense feelings that he dealt with on a daily basis. This drinking problem had become so bad where Maria had found him passed out on the couch a few times after work and he spent a good amount of time drinking with colleagues. This situation caused her to feel very detached and distrustful of Thomas. She didn’t feel as if Thomas loved or desired her and that his drinking had become his new relationship. Maria decided to contact a former male friend from school with which she began a ‘sexting’ relationship. She never sent any sexually explicit photos of herself to this other person but the messages they shared were very provocative.Maria never had any intentions of actually cheating on Thomas but she just felt lonely and unattractive. She sought companionship with someone that showed interest in her and chose to continue this ‘sexting’ relationship for a couple of months. She mentioned that this person made her feel sexy and desirable. She also felt good that someone was interested in her and although this person requested to meet her in person, she never did. Maria had some guilt that she was busy sending messages to someone other than her husband yet she continued. She got so frustrated with Thomas that she even ‘sexted’ this friend of hers while her husband was next to her on the couch.Now, although this behavior of Maria’s was not having a physical affair it was an emotional affair. Maria was tired of trying to get through to her husband about his drinking and lack of interest in her. She spent a good amount of time looking for affection outside her relationship because her husband was not available to her. When Thomas found out about this ‘sexting’ relationship that Maria had started, he was devastated that she would do such a thing.Maria made the decision to seek therapy to discuss her concerns and disappointment in herself and her relationship. Obviously she realized that while her marriage was not in the best state that she needed help to put things into perspective. After a few sessions, Maria wanted to bring her husband to join in the sessions. These sessions were spent having both of them discuss their feelings and how they were each disappointed with one another. Maria was able to discuss how she felt undesirable and lonely while Thomas received validation for his anxiety issues. Thomas was confronted for his alcohol abuse and how that was affecting their relationship. This couple was able to communicate, forgive each other and move forward.—A second couple, Julio and Gabrielle (not their real names) were not so lucky. Julio started ‘sexting’ with another woman he met online just after the birth of his daughter. He had been unhappy with Gabrielle for some time however just didn’t know how to communicate his feelings. He had come from a family in which communicating feelings was highly discouraged. So while his wife was pregnant and tired a good portion of the time, Julio was online looking for some attention.At first, things were very mild. He sent a few texts here and there just looking to see if other women were interested. However, once his daughter was born, Julio spent a lot of time on his phone. He ‘sexted’ with a particular woman with whom he had a connection at work and in the car. He also deleted all of the messages because he didn’t want his wife to become suspicious or to find them ‘by accident.’ So he was able to keep up this front for some time…a good 6 months.However, one day he wasn’t so careful. Julio forgot to delete some messages and his wife looked at his phone while she was up in the middle of the night feeding the baby. She was appalled and devastated at what she found. Gabrielle chose not to say anything right away because she wanted to see if she could catch him or get him to admit to this behavior. And one day she was able to do just that. She found him in the bathroom taking pictures of his genitals and sending the pictures & messages. She confronted him on the spot and but he denied ever meeting up with this woman. Gabrielle realized that they needed some serious help and sought therapy.She communicated that she loved Julio and wanted to keep their marriage intact but was not going to accept this type of behavior from him. Julio was able to finally, after some encouragement, to communicate that he had been unhappy with Gabrielle for years. He stated that he only married her because she had become pregnant with his daughter but he didn’t feel that the two of them were very compatible. She also found out in therapy that Julio had lied about meeting up with the woman that he was sending messages to and that they had been dating. It was at this point that Gabrielle and Julio decided to separate because their relationship was not reparable.So what should you do?If you have found yourself interested in finding attention outside your marriage or relationship, it is important to ask yourself some important questions.What do you want to accomplish? What are your intentions? Have you found that you are not interested in maintaining your marriage or relationship? What is the reason you are trying to connect with someone else? Are you looking for some attention because you are not getting it at home? Are you seeking out something more exciting or compatible than your partner/spouse? Or is your relationship salvageable with the help of someone who can encourage better communication and engagement? Are you just looking to make you’re your partner/spouse jealous? These questions need to be answered before the relationship deteriorates past the point of no return.If you decide that you are simply not interested in continuing with your present relationship, then some honest dialogue needs to occur with your spouse or partner. It is important to communicate your feelings and to allow this other person the opportunity to hear that the relationship is over. This allows your partner to start the process of grieving the relationship and eventually moving on. Hopefully, you are able to provide some support and compassion for your spouse or partner and allow for a more amicable separation.————-However if you have recently found out that your spouse or partner has been involved in a ‘sexting’ relationship, it is important for you to maintain composure. It is completely normal to have intense emotions regarding the situation however it will not help in the communication process. Please ask questions about this other relationship and find out about your partner’s intentions. It is important to know if your spouse or partner is interested in continuing with your relationship and ending the other one or not. It is helpful to have an objective 3rd party there to help both of you to determine in which direction you both want to travel.Emotions will be high in either situation especially for the person that has just found out about this outside relationship. If you are too deeply hurt by your spouse or partner’s ‘sexting’ relationship to stay with him/her, then this must also be addressed. Each person deals with highly emotional situations in different ways. One couple might be able to communicate effectively even in difficult situations while another couple might not be able to be in the same room together. So it is important to know how your spouse or partner will react in this situation and find a way to come to a workable conclusion that best fits both of you.ConclusionSince ‘sexting’ has become such a popular activity among adults in monogamous relationships and with those that are dating based on the research provided in this article, it is important for everyone to be more knowledgeable regarding the topic. The research shows that ‘sexting’ can enhance a monogamous relationship. The case examples show two different scenarios that can ensue. If people are unhappy in their present relationship and choose to utilize ‘sexting’ to find excitement with another person, the end result could be relationship or marital dissolution.Couples are encouraged to seek out help. A counselor, therapist or psychologist can help couples to find their way through this situation. If a relationship has been extensively damaged by ‘sexting’ (through which a physical relationship may or may not have begun), there are important feelings on both sides that need to be addressed. Depending on the desires of both people involved, these relationships can be saved but does take time to rebuild trust and confidence. Since most of these relationships consist of one (or both) persons seeking out someone else, it is vital to encourage verbal communication about the things that each person views is lacking in the relationship. Feelings need to be communicated and each partner or spouse needs to have the opportunity to express him/herself. Forgiveness plays a HUGE part in this type of situation. Each person has to ask him/herself if forgiveness is an option and if so, they can proceed toward creating a new relationship together. They can do this by spending time together and discussing how to satisfy each other’s needs. Only after these important issues have been brought up can the couple begin to move forward on a new path toward happiness.References:1. Rebecca Adams, “A Look Inside The Insidious and Adulterous World of Sexting,” Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/02/sexting-cheating_n_6185288.html?utm_hp_ref=sexting2. Rachel Zimmerman, “Sexting Among Adults May Be More Common Than You Think, Survey Suggests,” WBUR’s Common Health Reform & Reality, http://commonhealth.wbur.org/2015/08/sexting-adults-relationships

Advancing the Next Big Idea in Animal Health

August 29, 2016

Smallpox, polio and even influenza-these deadly diseases once ruled the earth, killing by the millions. Today, thanks to scientific research, their impact is far less. The same holds true for animal diseases such as canine parvovirus and feline leukemia. One day, a host of other diseases that affect humans or animals, and sometimes both, may meet the same fate.When major medical breakthroughs happen, such as the promising bone marrow treatment for humans with sickle cell anemia announced last December, we often don’t realize the time and effort behind a new prevention, treatment or cure. The reality, though, is that medical advancements usually take years, even decades, to come to fruition-and along the way hundreds of ideas are attempted before one of them opens the doors. Morris Animal Foundation (MAF) is committed to finding and funding the next big ideas in animal health research.We know that a novel idea goes nowhere without proper funding-and funding for the unknown is often tough to come by. The Foundation is one of the few organizations helping cutting-edge scientists gather data and test promising concepts that could one day lead to major health breakthroughs for animals.Innovative Ideas Take Flight:
Through its pilot-study program, MAF provides funding up to $10,800 for one-year studies that test a new idea and gather preliminary data to determine if the idea merits further investigation. This program provides timely funding for innovative ideas, speeds up scientific discovery and advances the Foundation’s mission to improve the health and welfare of animals.

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“Pilot research study grants are designed to support innovative research ideas and early-stage projects where preliminary data may not be available,” says Dr. Wayne Jensen, MAF chief scientific officer.One benefit to the pilot-study program is that MAF accepts these study proposals multiple times per year rather than through the traditional grant cycle of once per year. As a result, the program helps researchers respond more rapidly to emerging diseases and contemporary questions in animal health research.Funding for pilot studies is desperately needed to advance veterinary medicine for companion animals and wildlife. Dr. James Moore, chair of the Foundation’s large animal scientific advisory board, explains that most funding agencies only support proposals that already contain a sufficient amount of preliminary data to suggest that the expected outcomes will be achieved. But scientists need funding to gather preliminary data. So it was no surprise that MAF received an overwhelming response-161-to its two 2009 calls for proposals. Yet the Foundation can fund only 12 to 18 projects each year.”The greater than expected response to the request for proposals for pilot studies suggests that there are a lot of good, untested ideas out there,” Dr. Moore says.A History of Funding Health Breakthroughs:
The Foundation has a long history of funding breakthrough projects. For example, in 1999, MAF was the first to fund research to look at why California sea otters were dying off. Over the next decade, we funded several grants looking at disease risks in sea otters. What scientists learned from these projects helped them win a $1.86 million grant from the National Science Foundation. In an interview for AnimalNews 6.4, lead researcher Dr. Patricia Conrad noted that, “the Morris Animal Foundation grants were critically important. Without that support in the project’s infancy, we wouldn’t have been able to compete for bigger grants.”Beyond uncovering information about the infectious diseases that were killing sea otters, these studies also led to increased state legislative protections for the playful creatures and trained numerous up-and-coming wildlife health researchers.A current study funded by our Canine Cancer Campaign is testing a new drug therapy for bone cancer in dogs. This major project encompasses multiple facets and institutions and could eventually save the lives of thousands of dogs-yet it began as a small pilot effort. Additional pilot projects may soon lead to a promising treatment for eye cancer in horses, improved nutrition for brook trout and better pain management for reptiles.

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Current pilot studies address gastrointestinal problems, urinary infections and heartworm in dogs; osteoarthritis pain in cats; laminitis in horses and overpopulation and drug-resistant infections in pets.”Pilot studies like these are important for moving veterinary medicine forward, primarily because they can be accomplished relatively quickly and relatively inexpensively,” Dr. Moore says.Who knows where this year’s pilot projects may lead. Perhaps they will give veterinarians a tool to help them diagnose and manage osteoarthritis in cats or an inoculation that prevents certain strains of Escherichia coli from causing recurrent urinary tract infections in dogs. Or maybe equine veterinarians will get an inexpensive method for treating laminitis, a painful, life-threatening condition.The possibilities for advancing animal health are truly endless as long as we continue to support pioneering scientists with innovative ideas. These promising projects may one day change the face of veterinary medicine and help create a healthier tomorrow for animals.Learn more about the current pilot studies.

Insurance Law – An Indian Perspective

October 25, 2016

INTRODUCTION”Insurance should be bought to protect you against a calamity that would otherwise be financially devastating.”In simple terms, insurance allows someone who suffers a loss or accident to be compensated for the effects of their misfortune. It lets you protect yourself against everyday risks to your health, home and financial situation.Insurance in India started without any regulation in the Nineteenth Century. It was a typical story of a colonial epoch: few British insurance companies dominating the market serving mostly large urban centers. After the independence, it took a theatrical turn. Insurance was nationalized. First, the life insurance companies were nationalized in 1956, and then the general insurance business was nationalized in 1972. It was only in 1999 that the private insurance companies have been allowed back into the business of insurance with a maximum of 26% of foreign holding.”The insurance industry is enormous and can be quite intimidating. Insurance is being sold for almost anything and everything you can imagine. Determining what’s right for you can be a very daunting task.”Concepts of insurance have been extended beyond the coverage of tangible asset. Now the risk of losses due to sudden changes in currency exchange rates, political disturbance, negligence and liability for the damages can also be covered.But if a person thoughtfully invests in insurance for his property prior to any unexpected contingency then he will be suitably compensated for his loss as soon as the extent of damage is ascertained.The entry of the State Bank of India with its proposal of bank assurance brings a new dynamics in the game. The collective experience of the other countries in Asia has already deregulated their markets and has allowed foreign companies to participate. If the experience of the other countries is any guide, the dominance of the Life Insurance Corporation and the General Insurance Corporation is not going to disappear any time soon.
The aim of all insurance is to compensate the owner against loss arising from a variety of risks, which he anticipates, to his life, property and business. Insurance is mainly of two types: life insurance and general insurance. General insurance means Fire, Marine and Miscellaneous insurance which includes insurance against burglary or theft, fidelity guarantee, insurance for employer’s liability, and insurance of motor vehicles, livestock and crops.LIFE INSURANCE IN INDIA”Life insurance is the heartfelt love letter ever written.It calms down the crying of a hungry baby at night. It relieves the heart of a bereaved widow.It is the comforting whisper in the dark silent hours of the night.”Life insurance made its debut in India well over 100 years ago. Its salient features are not as widely understood in our country as they ought to be. There is no statutory definition of life insurance, but it has been defined as a contract of insurance whereby the insured agrees to pay certain sums called premiums, at specified time, and in consideration thereof the insurer agreed to pay certain sums of money on certain condition sand in specified way upon happening of a particular event contingent upon the duration of human life.Life insurance is superior to other forms of savings!”There is no death. Life Insurance exalts life and defeats death.It is the premium we pay for the freedom of living after death.”Savings through life insurance guarantee full protection against risk of death of the saver. In life insurance, on death, the full sum assured is payable (with bonuses wherever applicable) whereas in other savings schemes, only the amount saved (with interest) is payable.The essential features of life insurance are a) it is a contract relating to human life, which b) provides for payment of lump-sum amount, and c) the amount is paid after the expiry of certain period or on the death of the assured. The very purpose and object of the assured in taking policies from life insurance companies is to safeguard the interest of his dependents viz., wife and children as the case may be, in the even of premature death of the assured as a result of the happening in any contingency. A life insurance policy is also generally accepted as security for even a commercial loan.NON-LIFE INSURANCE”Every asset has a value and the business of general insurance is related to the protection of economic value of assets.”Non-life insurance means insurance other than life insurance such as fire, marine, accident, medical, motor vehicle and household insurance. Assets would have been created through the efforts of owner, which can be in the form of building, vehicles, machinery and other tangible properties. Since tangible property has a physical shape and consistency, it is subject to many risks ranging from fire, allied perils to theft and robbery.
Few of the General Insurance policies are:Property Insurance: The home is most valued possession. The policy is designed to cover the various risks under a single policy. It provides protection for property and interest of the insured and family.Health Insurance: It provides cover, which takes care of medical expenses following hospitalization from sudden illness or accident.
Personal Accident Insurance: This insurance policy provides compensation for loss of life or injury (partial or permanent) caused by an accident. This includes reimbursement of cost of treatment and the use of hospital facilities for the treatment.Travel Insurance: The policy covers the insured against various eventualities while traveling abroad. It covers the insured against personal accident, medical expenses and repatriation, loss of checked baggage, passport etc.Liability Insurance: This policy indemnifies the Directors or Officers or other professionals against loss arising from claims made against them by reason of any wrongful Act in their Official capacity.Motor Insurance: Motor Vehicles Act states that every motor vehicle plying on the road has to be insured, with at least Liability only policy. There are two types of policy one covering the act of liability, while other covers insurers all liability and damage caused to one’s vehicles.JOURNEY FROM AN INFANT TO ADOLESCENCE!Historical PerspectiveThe history of life insurance in India dates back to 1818 when it was conceived as a means to provide for English Widows. Interestingly in those days a higher premium was charged for Indian lives than the non-Indian lives as Indian lives were considered more risky for coverage.

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The Bombay Mutual Life Insurance Society started its business in 1870. It was the first company to charge same premium for both Indian and non-Indian lives. The Oriental Assurance Company was established in 1880. The General insurance business in India, on the other hand, can trace its roots to the Triton (Tital) Insurance Company Limited, the first general insurance company established in the year 1850 in Calcutta by the British. Till the end of nineteenth century insurance business was almost entirely in the hands of overseas companies.Insurance regulation formally began in India with the passing of the Life Insurance Companies Act of 1912 and the Provident Fund Act of 1912. Several frauds during 20′s and 30′s desecrated insurance business in India. By 1938 there were 176 insurance companies. The first comprehensive legislation was introduced with the Insurance Act of 1938 that provided strict State Control over insurance business. The insurance business grew at a faster pace after independence. Indian companies strengthened their hold on this business but despite the growth that was witnessed, insurance remained an urban phenomenon.The Government of India in 1956, brought together over 240 private life insurers and provident societies under one nationalized monopoly corporation and Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) was born. Nationalization was justified on the grounds that it would create much needed funds for rapid industrialization. This was in conformity with the Government’s chosen path of State lead planning and development.The (non-life) insurance business continued to prosper with the private sector till 1972. Their operations were restricted to organized trade and industry in large cities. The general insurance industry was nationalized in 1972. With this, nearly 107 insurers were amalgamated and grouped into four companies – National Insurance Company, New India Assurance Company, Oriental Insurance Company and United India Insurance Company. These were subsidiaries of the General Insurance Company (GIC).The life insurance industry was nationalized under the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) Act of India. In some ways, the LIC has become very flourishing. Regardless of being a monopoly, it has some 60-70 million policyholders. Given that the Indian middle-class is around 250-300 million, the LIC has managed to capture some 30 odd percent of it. Around 48% of the customers of the LIC are from rural and semi-urban areas. This probably would not have happened had the charter of the LIC not specifically set out the goal of serving the rural areas. A high saving rate in India is one of the exogenous factors that have helped the LIC to grow rapidly in recent years. Despite the saving rate being high in India (compared with other countries with a similar level of development), Indians display high degree of risk aversion. Thus, nearly half of the investments are in physical assets (like property and gold). Around twenty three percent are in (low yielding but safe) bank deposits. In addition, some 1.3 percent of the GDP are in life insurance related savings vehicles. This figure has doubled between 1985 and 1995.A World viewpoint – Life Insurance in IndiaIn many countries, insurance has been a form of savings. In many developed countries, a significant fraction of domestic saving is in the form of donation insurance plans. This is not surprising. The prominence of some developing countries is more surprising. For example, South Africa features at the number two spot. India is nestled between Chile and Italy. This is even more surprising given the levels of economic development in Chile and Italy. Thus, we can conclude that there is an insurance culture in India despite a low per capita income. This promises well for future growth. Specifically, when the income level improves, insurance (especially life) is likely to grow rapidly.INSURANCE SECTOR REFORM:Committee Reports: One Known, One Anonymous!Although Indian markets were privatized and opened up to foreign companies in a number of sectors in 1991, insurance remained out of bounds on both counts. The government wanted to proceed with caution. With pressure from the opposition, the government (at the time, dominated by the Congress Party) decided to set up a committee headed by Mr. R. N. Malhotra (the then Governor of the Reserve Bank of India).Malhotra CommitteeLiberalization of the Indian insurance market was suggested in a report released in 1994 by the Malhotra Committee, indicating that the market should be opened to private-sector competition, and eventually, foreign private-sector competition. It also investigated the level of satisfaction of the customers of the LIC. Inquisitively, the level of customer satisfaction seemed to be high.In 1993, Malhotra Committee – headed by former Finance Secretary and RBI Governor Mr. R. N. Malhotra – was formed to evaluate the Indian insurance industry and recommend its future course. The Malhotra committee was set up with the aim of complementing the reforms initiated in the financial sector. The reforms were aimed at creating a more efficient and competitive financial system suitable for the needs of the economy keeping in mind the structural changes presently happening and recognizing that insurance is an important part of the overall financial system where it was necessary to address the need for similar reforms. In 1994, the committee submitted the report and some of the key recommendations included:o StructureGovernment bet in the insurance Companies to be brought down to 50%. Government should take over the holdings of GIC and its subsidiaries so that these subsidiaries can act as independent corporations. All the insurance companies should be given greater freedom to operate.
CompetitionPrivate Companies with a minimum paid up capital of Rs.1 billion should be allowed to enter the sector. No Company should deal in both Life and General Insurance through a single entity. Foreign companies may be allowed to enter the industry in collaboration with the domestic companies. Postal Life Insurance should be allowed to operate in the rural market. Only one State Level Life Insurance Company should be allowed to operate in each state.o Regulatory BodyThe Insurance Act should be changed. An Insurance Regulatory body should be set up. Controller of Insurance – a part of the Finance Ministry- should be made Independent.o InvestmentsCompulsory Investments of LIC Life Fund in government securities to be reduced from 75% to 50%. GIC and its subsidiaries are not to hold more than 5% in any company (there current holdings to be brought down to this level over a period of time).o Customer ServiceLIC should pay interest on delays in payments beyond 30 days. Insurance companies must be encouraged to set up unit linked pension plans. Computerization of operations and updating of technology to be carried out in the insurance industry. The committee accentuated that in order to improve the customer services and increase the coverage of insurance policies, industry should be opened up to competition. But at the same time, the committee felt the need to exercise caution as any failure on the part of new competitors could ruin the public confidence in the industry. Hence, it was decided to allow competition in a limited way by stipulating the minimum capital requirement of Rs.100 crores.The committee felt the need to provide greater autonomy to insurance companies in order to improve their performance and enable them to act as independent companies with economic motives. For this purpose, it had proposed setting up an independent regulatory body – The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority.Reforms in the Insurance sector were initiated with the passage of the IRDA Bill in Parliament in December 1999. The IRDA since its incorporation as a statutory body in April 2000 has meticulously stuck to its schedule of framing regulations and registering the private sector insurance companies.Since being set up as an independent statutory body the IRDA has put in a framework of globally compatible regulations. The other decision taken at the same time to provide the supporting systems to the insurance sector and in particular the life insurance companies was the launch of the IRDA online service for issue and renewal of licenses to agents. The approval of institutions for imparting training to agents has also ensured that the insurance companies would have a trained workforce of insurance agents in place to sell their products.The Government of India liberalized the insurance sector in March 2000 with the passage of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) Bill, lifting all entry restrictions for private players and allowing foreign players to enter the market with some limits on direct foreign ownership. Under the current guidelines, there is a 26 percent equity lid for foreign partners in an insurance company. There is a proposal to increase this limit to 49 percent.The opening up of the sector is likely to lead to greater spread and deepening of insurance in India and this may also include restructuring and revitalizing of the public sector companies. In the private sector 12 life insurance and 8 general insurance companies have been registered. A host of private Insurance companies operating in both life and non-life segments have started selling their insurance policies since 2001Mukherjee CommitteeImmediately after the publication of the Malhotra Committee Report, a new committee, Mukherjee Committee was set up to make concrete plans for the requirements of the newly formed insurance companies. Recommendations of the Mukherjee Committee were never disclosed to the public. But, from the information that filtered out it became clear that the committee recommended the inclusion of certain ratios in insurance company balance sheets to ensure transparency in accounting. But the Finance Minister objected to it and it was argued by him, probably on the advice of some of the potential competitors, that it could affect the prospects of a developing insurance company.LAW COMMISSION OF INDIA ON REVISION OF THE INSURANCE ACT 1938 – 190th Law Commission ReportThe Law Commission on 16th June 2003 released a Consultation Paper on the Revision of the Insurance Act, 1938. The previous exercise to amend the Insurance Act, 1938 was undertaken in 1999 at the time of enactment of the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority Act, 1999 (IRDA Act).The Commission undertook the present exercise in the context of the changed policy that has permitted private insurance companies both in the life and non-life sectors. A need has been felt to toughen the regulatory mechanism even while streamlining the existing legislation with a view to removing portions that have become superfluous as a consequence of the recent changes.Among the major areas of changes, the Consultation paper suggested the following:a. merging of the provisions of the IRDA Act with the Insurance Act to avoid multiplicity of legislations;b. deletion of redundant and transitory provisions in the Insurance Act, 1938;c. Amendments reflect the changed policy of permitting private insurance companies and strengthening the regulatory mechanism;d. Providing for stringent norms regarding maintenance of ‘solvency margin’ and investments by both public sector and private sector insurance companies;e. Providing for a full-fledged grievance redressal mechanism that includes:o The constitution of Grievance Redressal Authorities (GRAs) comprising one judicial and two technical members to deal with complaints/claims of policyholders against insurers (the GRAs are expected to replace the present system of insurer appointed Ombudsman);o Appointment of adjudicating officers by the IRDA to determine and levy penalties on defaulting insurers, insurance intermediaries and insurance agents;o Providing for an appeal against the decisions of the IRDA, GRAs and adjudicating officers to an Insurance Appellate Tribunal (IAT) comprising a judge (sitting or retired) of the Supreme Court/Chief Justice of a High Court as presiding officer and two other members having sufficient experience in insurance matters;o Providing for a statutory appeal to the Supreme Court against the decisions of the IAT.LIFE & NON-LIFE INSURANCE – Development and Growth!The year 2006 turned out to be a momentous year for the insurance sector as regulator the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority Act, laid the foundation for free pricing general insurance from 2007, while many companies announced plans to attack into the sector.Both domestic and foreign players robustly pursued their long-pending demand for increasing the FDI limit from 26 per cent to 49 per cent and toward the fag end of the year, the Government sent the Comprehensive Insurance Bill to Group of Ministers for consideration amid strong reservation from Left parties. The Bill is likely to be taken up in the Budget session of Parliament.The infiltration rates of health and other non-life insurances in India are well below the international level. These facts indicate immense growth potential of the insurance sector. The hike in FDI limit to 49 per cent was proposed by the Government last year. This has not been operationalized as legislative changes are required for such hike. Since opening up of the insurance sector in 1999, foreign investments of Rs. 8.7 billion have tipped into the Indian market and 21 private companies have been granted licenses.

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The involvement of the private insurers in various industry segments has increased on account of both their capturing a part of the business which was earlier underwritten by the public sector insurers and also creating additional business boulevards. To this effect, the public sector insurers have been unable to draw upon their inherent strengths to capture additional premium. Of the growth in premium in 2004-05, 66.27 per cent has been captured by the private insurers despite having 20 per cent market share.The life insurance industry recorded a premium income of Rs.82854.80 crore during the financial year 2004-05 as against Rs.66653.75 crore in the previous financial year, recording a growth of 24.31 per cent. The contribution of first year premium, single premium and renewal premium to the total premium was Rs.15881.33 crore (19.16 per cent); Rs.10336.30 crore (12.47 per cent); and Rs.56637.16 crore (68.36 per cent), respectively. In the year 2000-01, when the industry was opened up to the private players, the life insurance premium was Rs.34,898.48 crore which constituted of Rs. 6996.95 crore of first year premium, Rs. 25191.07 crore of renewal premium and Rs. 2740.45 crore of single premium. Post opening up, single premium had declined from Rs.9, 194.07 crore in the year 2001-02 to Rs.5674.14 crore in 2002-03 with the withdrawal of the guaranteed return policies. Though it went up marginally in 2003-04 to Rs.5936.50 crore (4.62 per cent growth) 2004-05, however, witnessed a significant shift with the single premium income rising to Rs. 10336.30 crore showing 74.11 per cent growth over 2003-04.The size of life insurance market increased on the strength of growth in the economy and concomitant increase in per capita income. This resulted in a favourable growth in total premium both for LIC (18.25 per cent) and to the new insurers (147.65 per cent) in 2004-05. The higher growth for the new insurers is to be viewed in the context of a low base in 2003- 04. However, the new insurers have improved their market share from 4.68 in 2003-04 to 9.33 in 2004-05.The segment wise break up of fire, marine and miscellaneous segments in case of the public sector insurers was Rs.2411.38 crore, Rs.982.99 crore and Rs.10578.59 crore, i.e., a growth of (-)1.43 per cent, 1.81 per cent and 6.58 per cent. The public sector insurers reported growth in Motor and Health segments (9 and 24 per cent). These segments accounted for 45 and 10 per cent of the business underwritten by the public sector insurers. Fire and “Others” accounted for 17.26 and 11 per cent of the premium underwritten. Aviation, Liability, “Others” and Fire recorded negative growth of 29, 21, 3.58 and 1.43 per cent. In no other country that opened at the same time as India have foreign companies been able to grab a 22 per cent market share in the life segment and about 20 per cent in the general insurance segment. The share of foreign insurers in other competing Asian markets is not more than 5 to 10 per cent.The life insurance sector grew new premium at a rate not seen before while the general insurance sector grew at a faster rate. Two new players entered into life insurance – Shriram Life and Bharti Axa Life – taking the total number of life players to 16. There was one new entrant to the non-life sector in the form of a standalone health insurance company – Star Health and Allied Insurance, taking the non-life players to 14.A large number of companies, mostly nationalized banks (about 14) such as Bank of India and Punjab National Bank, have announced plans to enter the insurance sector and some of them have also formed joint ventures.The proposed change in FDI cap is part of the comprehensive amendments to insurance laws – The Insurance Act of 1999, LIC Act, 1956 and IRDA Act, 1999. After the proposed amendments in the insurance laws LIC would be able to maintain reserves while insurance companies would be able to raise resources other than equity.About 14 banks are in queue to enter insurance sector and the year 2006 saw several joint venture announcements while others scout partners. Bank of India has teamed up with Union Bank and Japanese insurance major Dai-ichi Mutual Life while PNB tied up with Vijaya Bank and Principal for foraying into life insurance. Allahabad Bank, Karnataka Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, Dabur Investment Corporation and Sompo Japan Insurance Inc have tied up for forming a non-life insurance company while Bank of Maharashtra has tied up with Shriram Group and South Africa’s Sanlam group for non-life insurance venture.CONCLUSIONIt seems cynical that the LIC and the GIC will wither and die within the next decade or two. The IRDA has taken “at a snail’s pace” approach. It has been very cautious in granting licenses. It has set up fairly strict standards for all aspects of the insurance business (with the probable exception of the disclosure requirements). The regulators always walk a fine line. Too many regulations kill the motivation of the newcomers; too relaxed regulations may induce failure and fraud that led to nationalization in the first place. India is not unique among the developing countries where the insurance business has been opened up to foreign competitors.The insurance business is at a critical stage in India. Over the next couple of decades we are likely to witness high growth in the insurance sector for two reasons namely; financial deregulation always speeds up the development of the insurance sector and growth in per capita GDP also helps the insurance business to grow.

Five Similarities Between Religion and Spirituality

September 1, 2016

When we were children we were asked, Which came first, the chicken or the egg? If we based our answer on the creation story in the Bible, we would answer, Chicken. But if we based our answer on our experience in raising chickens, our answer would be, Egg.The same can be said of the answer to the question, Which came first, Religion or Spirituality?In terms of our experience with religious books and discussions, religion came first. It is only now that more and more people are talking about spirituality and writing about it. In terms of the origin of the reality behind those words or in terms of the object of our understanding, spirituality came first. The spirit was there before there was any religion. God was there before there was anybody to worship him.We can even say that spirituality is an offshoot of religion. For many centuries people professed religion. Some of them fiercely opposed religions other their own. Christians for many centuries opposed paganism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and any other religion. This has happened also with paganism, Islam, and the rest with respect to the other religions. They too opposed other religions.

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But more and more people discover that mere religion cannot answer their deeper yearning for a better experience of life. So, they turned to something deeper and better than religion. They found this in spirituality.Because spirituality in a sense is an offshoot of religion, there is bound to be some similarity between them, just like the similarity between the egg and the chicken.First, both believe in a higher power of some kind. Religion believes in God the Father or Jesus, or Allah, or Brahman, or Tao. Spirituality believes also in this God or it may conceive of God as a universal or primal energy. Both believe that such being possesses power higher and greater than what we have.Secondly, both religion and spirituality desire to have a relationship with this higher power. Although the nature of the relationship is different in religion than in spirituality, the desire for this relationship is there. Religion connects with this higher power with fear and trembling. Spirituality connects with this higher power with love and affection.Thirdly, both religion and spirituality have rituals and practices which deepen one’s religiosity or spirituality. Religion usually has sacred rites or sacraments. Spirituality has meditation or yoga sessions.

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Fourthly, both have respect for the sacred, the other worldly. This is not just respect for God. This is respect for the reality that is beyond our senses and reason. When religion pushes this respect to its extreme, it becomes superstition. When spirituality pushes this respect to its extreme, it becomes religious spirituality.Fifthly, both have fear of failure. In religion this failure is punished by hell fire or repetition of existence or some other worse fate. In spirituality this failure is the inability to realize one’s true worth or value and the destiny of a life of meaninglessness. Hell, repetition of existence, non-existence, meaninglessness are forms of punishment for failure, either in religion or in spirituality.

Systems Thinking in ‘ORGAN’-Izations

October 1, 2016

What is systems thinking? Systems thinking is the process of understanding how things influence one another within a whole. That definition and many like it are found all around the internet, but do we know what it looks like in action? I found it confusing in many cases due to these same resources stating that a systems thinking approach is the opposite of breaking a larger system down into its parts to be analyzed and/or improved. It is my opinion that using a systems thinking approach in an organization is a balance of both.I’ve read a lot about tearing down these functional areas as if they are some kind of barrier standing in the way of a systems approach. I am going to disagree with this and state that we simply need to work with them differently. I strongly agree with the need for these teams, but the information within should be openly available to all other teams and the communication paths should be directly available.In every business we have a product, service, solution, etc… to provide to someone and in many it is important to have expertise organized into functional teams within the organization. These functional teams need to be in place for organizations to provide important pieces such as expertise, accountability and responsibility. Building a culture of relating these functional teams to systems that are part of a larger system and promoting collaboration between these systems is how I would describe getting your organization to a systems thinking approach.A systems approach provides many things from efficiencies and cost savings to feedback loops and product improvements. It can even have a positive influence over morale.After recent discussions on systems thinking I was looking for an example of an organization that utilizes a systems approach effectively. What I realized is that not only is the human body a great example of many things working together for a common goal, but that we study and teach on this subject recognizing each of these parts as systems working together.If you were to look up the Human Organism and write down the highlights, you are probably going to write something like skeletal system, muscular system, nervous system, etc… See the common factor?

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Now hold that thought and let’s look at the human body as we look at our own organizations. Imagine a standard org chart with organ systems breaking down into each system (nervous, muscular, digestive, etc… ), then to the organs themselves (heart, lung, liver, etc… )From atoms to molecules to organelles that form cells which form tissue which leads to organs that make up an organ system and results in an organism.If the body worked vertically it probably wouldn’t function let alone be what it is today. The body maintains our functional groups that allows for expertise, responsibility and accountability; but still has many interworking systems.Notice that when we speak of the functional teams that make up the body, we refer to them as systems. The body has 11 major organ systems, but what you cannot display in such a standard org chart representing the body is the overlapping of these systems. Nearly all of the major organs of the major systems have other organs from other systems connected to them. Notice that I said there are 11 ‘major’ systems. Choose your belief here, but whether fantastic evolution or a genius creator, the need for interworking systems was obviously not overlooked. I listed some organs that fall under their organ system, but what happens when I ask you where the hypothalamus resides? It is a gland so let’s say its functional area is the endocrine system, but it’s function is being responsible for the activities of the autonomic nervous system. This happens to us everyday right? Your software developers are not writing software to develop software.We’ve decided that with the org chart of the human body if you will, it needs a system to link the system, hence we have what is known as the neuroendocrine system. This is found again and again throughout the human body where functional areas overlap. The muscular and skeletal systems work so closely and are dependent on each other for optimization of movement and support that we have a musculoskeletal system. Genius right?The musculoskeletal system is not a whole new functional area of the business with new management, etc… Consider instead that it is a space where representatives from both systems come to collaborate on their ideas of how to reach the common goal and then returns to their own system.Aside from not addressing dependencies from multiple functional areas to optimize the outcome, silos cause other issues in the organization. Regardless what your functional area is, it is better than the others right? If you are an installation tech, you could meet your goals if development had it together and if you are in development your product is fine if only your installation guys were smart enough to implement it.We’ve got to tear down these silos and interact. Every decision made in a functional system is going to change the overall system. If your change is not matched and/or countered by other changes the result has changed. What a standard org chart (silos) doesn’t do is help us identify where a problem is or visually instill the idea that what one does has a greater consequence to the common goal. As an example, let’s assume you have hypoglycemia.Well, hypoglycemia is a condition that occurs when your blood sugar (glucose) is too low. Now you have double vision, fast heart, nervous, shaking, sweating, etc… Each system is reacting. If you take medicine to rectify the symptoms without understanding the true cause you could damage your pancreas or cause other systems to work harder to counter the new effects while not actually curing the problem.Hypoglycemia can be caused by medications or alcohol so it could be the fault of the mouth. If not the mouth maybe the overall digestive system for not breaking down the carbohydrates or back down in that functional system to the pancreas for not producing insulin. Maybe it’s the blood stream and maybe it’s that the liver and/or muscles aren’t storing glucose properly. It very well might be a digestive system problem, but unless we understand how systems overlap you might of just replaced your director of digestion when in fact the problem could of been any one of circulatory, muscular, or endocrine systems.Similarly, defects in the muscles and bones can be the result of neurological problems, metabolic or vascular disorders, nutritional imbalances, etc… If any one of the systems that make up the human body were to over/under produce or change what it does all together, it can drastically change every other system and the overall result of what they were previously working together to do.

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The body has 5 vital organs being the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, and pancreas. Scroll up if you need to, but I’ll just tell you that the blocks are red and each resides inside of a functional system. What?! The brain isn’t higher than bones? All of these systems work together and due to this the information uses the nervous, muscular, circulatory, and other systems to share information where they overlap and transport it to another system it interacts with. If you were to put your hand on a hot surface the body reacts by sending signals to other parts of the body. Your muscles contract to pull away, it notifies your brain of the incident, your blood pressure increases while you breath heavier, your pupils dilate, and you start releasing hormones like adrenaline.Many systems in the body just worked together to notify, react and rectify and it did so by communicating within interworking systems rather than all information leaving the critical areas and coming back via the same point it went it out. Good thing or you might just still have your hand on a hot surface waiting for that single point of communication to be available.Any living organism is amazing, but remove any one system or even tamper with it without proper communication to the others and if you are still alive, you’ve just caused cancer.To do this an organization needs to instill a culture of collaboration and team building so that the vital organs can work together while the functional manager acts as a servant leader to keep his experts focused, trained, and with the tools they need to do what they do.With all of the communication that the body has going on, you can provide it with the right nutrients and not only is it healthy, it becomes self healing when the unknown arises. Shouldn’t your organization be self healing?