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Good begets good Taxing times for 
fat lovers

(WORLD WISE) / 31 March 2012

You know what they say about the power of love: it can transform almost anything and anyone. You have only to look at former heroin addict Peter Woolf to know it is actually possible to do that.

Woolf, who was caught by an ex-banker, Will Riley, when he broke into his home in Britain and attempted to rob it, was handed over to the police and bunged into prison for a 3-year term before his victim decided to help out with his rehabilitation in a restorative justice scheme.

When Woolf came face to face with his victim, Riley, he expected to be cursed and cussed at but what he got instead was a man who told him to give up alcohol and drugs and go back to school to complete his education, which he did.

The two kept in touch throughout his rehabilitation and Riley is a happy man that a former criminal is now living on a farm, happily married and off drugs and crime. He has also written an autobiography about his life before Riley turned it around.

He works in prisons teaching victim awareness and credits Riley with turning round his life. Riley says: “We’re now great friends and have a unique bond. Peter’s a fine man”.

BFF? No more

Meanwhile, schooling is not turning out to be such a pleasant experience for children in some schools in Britain because teachers in these schools are actually discouraging children from getting best pals, in a rather skewed attempt at preventing the heart break that comes when friends fall apart!

Instead, teachers are telling kids to hang around in big groups to that no one is overly attached to one particular person.

Educational psychologist Gaynor Sbuttoni said the policy has been used at schools in Kingston, West London, and Surrey. “They are doing it because they want to save the child the pain of splitting up from their best friend. But it is natural for some children to want a best friend. If they break up, they have to feel the pain because they’re learning to deal with it.”

Russell Hobby, of the National Association of Head Teachers said that while it is happening, the practice is not widespread: “It seems bizarre. I don’t see how you can stop people from forming close friendships. We make and lose friends throughout our lives.”

Parent groups, meanwhile, are not amused at this extra effort on the part of teachers. The Campaign for Real Education which lobbies for more parental choice in state education, said the “ridiculous” policy was robbing children of their childhood.

Spokesman Chris McGovern added, “Children take things very seriously and if you tell them they can’t have a best friend it can be seriously damaging to them. They need to learn about relationships.”

Marmite mania

Love someone or something in excess is not a good thing. It can get you into the realm of the obsessive.In New Zealand fans of Marmite, the popular English food spread, recently went into panic, raiding the stores to get jars of the stuff to hoard, because of what they thought was an impending shortage.

But it seems a bit tough to criticise the common folks when the Prime Minister of the country, himself a Marmite fan, added fuel to the fire saying he was running short of his stock of Marmite and was rationing his own use of the food spread.

The shortage, meanwhile, was caused after Marmite manufacturers in New Zealand dispatched their last supplies of the product after their factories were destroyed during the horrific earthquakes that rocked Christchurch last year.

Marmite lovers in New Zealand consume 640 tonnes of the spread every year but they will have to look for alternatives till the manufacturer, Sanatarium, is ready to start fresh production in July this year.

Distance makes the employee fonder

Having your employees constantly tuned in to what is happening at work through the latest Blackberry and other new age phones might not be the best thing for them. Or for the employers who gift them the gadgets, virtually making slaves out of them.

A new study by researchers at Harvard University is now saying that employee productivity might actually improve if they are given a couple of days of pre-decided time off from their gadgets so that they can focus on other parts of their lives, such as bonding with family and fulfilling their other personal commitments. In fact , they say, even just an evening off from having to check their phones and emails make for happier employees who have improved performance at work.

‘PTO’ – predictable time off – was tried out by Harvard Business School researchers on employees of Boston Consulting Group over three years. The study itself was a result of Professor Leslie Perlow when she realised that some 26 per cent of employees out of a sample of 1,600 managers and professionals slept with BlackBerrys or iPhones by their bedsides.

Initially, managers at BCG were wary of the experiment and warned it would be halted immediately if ‘there was the slightest concern about the quality of BCG’s work’. Some ‘workaholic’ consultants resisted PTO, while other teams only partially embraced it.

Those who took a break from their phones and emails reported greater job satisfaction, were willing to stay with the organisation for a longer period and said that their productivity improved when their work-life balance improved.

Over three years, 59 per cent of those who embraced PTO agreed with the statement ‘I am excited to start work in the morning’ compared with 27 per cent of those who dismissed PTO.

Asked if they ‘feel satisfied’ with their jobs, 78 per cent of those who had just one evening off a week said yes, compared with 67 per cent of those who partly accepted it, and 49 per cent of those who rejected it.

The study found that those who turned their phones off spent more time with their families and started making future plans.


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