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Happy Independence Day Finland!

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320px-Flag_of_Finland.svg1917 – The Russians have a revolution and Finland takes the opportunity to declare independence.

Well , the story is a bit more complicated than that. From Wikipedia:

From the 12th until the start of the 19th century, Finland was a part of Sweden. It then became an autonomous Grand Duchy within the Russian Empire until the Russian Revolution. This prompted the Finnish Declaration of Independence, which was followed by a civil war where the pro-Bolshevik “Reds” were defeated by the pro-conservative “Whites” with support from the German Empire. After a brief attempt to establish a monarchy in the country, Finland became a republic. Finland’s experience of World War II involved three separate conflicts: the Winter War (1939–1940) and Continuation War (1941–1944) against the Soviet Union and the Lapland War (1944–1945) against Nazi Germany. Following the end of the war, Finland joined the United Nations in 1955, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1969, the European Union in 1995, and the eurozone at its inception in 1999. During this time, it built an extensive Nordic-style welfare state.

Finland was a relative latecomer to industrialisation, remaining a largely agrarian country until the 1950s. Thereafter, economic development was rapid, such that today, Finland has a nominal per-capita income of over $46,000 (2012).According to some measures,Finland has the best educational system in Europe and has recently been ranked as one of the world’s most peaceful and economically competitive countries. It has also been ranked as one of the world’s countries with the highest quality of life.

What will you find in my new book?

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Book coverSo, what are you going to find in my new book? Take a sneak peek at the contents page and find out just how many things you will need to know before you step up in front of that audience. Learn from my own experience that it won’t be OK to just climb up on that stage, or stride into that conference room and read from those slides you were given by your boss. The great art of giving a presentation involves so much more forethought and preparation. READ MORE:

Days away from publication!

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Book cover

Screenshot of provisional cover

Countdown to publication! My new book is only days away from publication. Watch this space!

This 50-page pdf book will help you do precisely what the title suggests – create and deliver great presentations!

“This  concise  guide  has  been  designed  with  you,  the  busy  expert,  in mind.  It  is also for those who do not have English as their first language, which is the situation for the majority in international and global business. To  this end, I  have  tried  to  keep  my English simple and straightforward. I  have  not  tried  to  impress  you  with  my  massive Latin­-based  technical
vocabulary;  I  have  tried  to  impress  you  with  my  clarity  and  simplicity.”

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The Mathematics of Money

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500 euro notes

Probably the most fashionable word in the business world at the moment is ‘resources’. We talk about energy resources, raw material resources, human resources and, of course, financial resources. This does give the impression that they are all pretty similar and to be used wisely, as they are all, apparently scarce. My purpose in writing this little essay is to actually pinpoint some of the ways in which these resources are not quite so similar as we are led to believe, particularly financial resources.

Money is a somewhat different resource in this way – all the money in all the world is already owned by someone. READ MORE

Antonyms – Dystopia and Utopia

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Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in Hunger Games

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in Hunger Games

A dystopia is a community or society, either real or fictional, where most of us would not like to live because it is either undesirable or frightening – the opposite of a utopia. Obviously, there is a certain amount of subjective leeway involved in the definition, as almost any society can be a utopia for some, but a dystopia for others. However, in the real world, there is pretty general agreement that, for vast numbers of people at least, the former Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Idi Amin’s Uganda and the current North Korea totally fail in the utopia department, and qualify to be described as dystopias.

In fiction, the creation of a dystopia is often used, for example, to warn us of where our politics or use of resources may be leading us, or simply to create a background where the heroes can triumph over the villains. George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson’s Logan’s Run and Susan Collins’ The Hunger Games all depict the kind of societies which, although fun for some, are the kind of places where there is serious room for improvement.

Examples of utopian ideals in fiction include Aldous Huxley’s Island, but after remembering that book my mind went blank so after a little research I realised that most books set in fictional Utopias are from antiquity, and don’t seem to be such a popular genre in modern times. To some extent this is not so surprising, as a good story needs that essential element of conflict, followed up by some kind of resolution. Perhaps in a utopia the greatest conflict might be boredom, but then it wouldn’t be utopia any more.

Finally, as regards a utopia on Earth, I think even the most beautiful places are only a utopia for some, or for some time. The palm-fringed beach-side property on the friendly Caribbean island, most people’s idea of heaven on earth, is still a worrying place; the possibilities of hurricanes, tsunamis or human aggression are always there, and many rich people in beautiful places have to live behind protective walls. However, a utopia is a fine goal and if we all pitch in and try to make our own societies a little more utopian, then surely that is a step in the right direction?

What, for you, is your most glaring example of a dystopia, and your next-best thing to utopia? I’d love to hear your feedback on this.

Rules, regulations and laws

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These three words are often used wrongly, but actually they are quite easy to get right.

Rules are made by just about any group of people that are brought together:
Families may create rules so that life can proceed smoothly.
Clothes only get washed if they are in the laundry basket.
Dinner is to be eaten together at the table, not in front of the TV or computer.

Clubs usually have rules to govern behaviour:
Guests must be signed in by a member.
Membership fees must be paid by a certain date or membership lapses.

Companies often have rules for employees:
All employees must clock in at the start of work, and clock out before they go home.
Travel expenses claims must be filed before the 5th day of the following month.

Regulations are created by official government departments:
Vehicle construction regulations ensure vehicle safety.
Public health regulations control how restaurants store and prepare food.
Parking regulations serve to raise revenue and annoy drivers.

Laws are created at top government level.

Labour mobility in the European Union – with subtitles

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Within the European Union, labour mobility is vital to allow skills to flow to the areas where they are needed. Language is less and less a barrier to such movements, although English skills are becoming more and more important.

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