Saturday, October 31, 2009

How Really Difficult Was the CPE Maths Paper?

Some are saying that it was at a difficulty level not seen in years. Others don't agree. To find out we should send the math papers of the last few years to psychometricians.

These professionals who are trained to sort out issues like the difficulty of tests could also shed some historical light on when the so-called CPE fever started rearing its ugly head if we submitted end-of-primary exam papers of the last 35 years or so to them.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

US Has Plan For the Too-Big-To-Fail Darlings

According to the New York Times, the United States are about to give themselves more options to deal with the gigantic risks that such firms create for the economy at large. These include kicking management out, taking control of the firm and playing around with their capital structure so as to minimise the risk to the system as a whole (the so-called systemic risk).

A fair response, I guess, to the uproar of throwing good taxpayers' money after bad behaviour.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Cachez-moi cette vérité que je ne saurais voir

Dans une interview, Nizaar Dowlut, un entrepreneur engagé dans la communication visuelle, met en évidence ce que la propagande, l'aveuglement partisan et la griserie dissimulent:

"Il n'existe pas d'encouragements pour aider les PME à se mettre en place à Maurice. Les banques ne prêtent qu'à ceux qui ont de l'argent, pas à des jeunes qui veulent lancer un petit business. Alors comment voulez-vous qu'un jeune se lance s'il n'a aucun moyen, s'il n'a aucune garantie à offrir à la banque en vue d'obtenir un prêt. Le système mauricien est tel que seuls les jeunes ayant des moyens peuvent se lancer dans le business."

Quid des discours officiels alors?

"Ce ne sont que des discours."

Saturday, October 24, 2009

One Place World's Biggest Brand Shouldn't Be

At USD68.7 billion, Coca Cola is according to Interbrand the biggest brand in 2009. Nokia is at the 5th spot while Google is, at no 007, a whisker shy of McDonald's. BMW is ranked 15 while Toyota is no 8. Samsung is a bigger brand than Sony just like J.P. Morgan is more valuable than Goldman Sachs.

Surprised? Me too. I wasn't expecting to see that plastic bottle in one of our National Parks.

Rich Germans Petition to Reintroduce Wealth Tax

Call it romantic or whatever, but the initiative "Vermoegende für eine Vermoegensabgabe" (Wealthy people in favor of a wealth tax) led by Dieter Lehmkuhl, a retired doctor, is laudable. The group claims that "the path out of the crisis must be paved with massive investment in ecology, education and social justice. Our aim is to send a political signal to the public and to raise consciousness for this issue in the long run". Sounds pretty proactive and common-sensical to me.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Big Apple Cuts Carbon Emissions By 3.5%

In 2008. You can click on the following image to download the very interesting and suitably titled report: Inventory of New York City Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

Norway Tax Returns Go Public

In a move that should prove highly controversial to implement elsewhere, tax authorities in Norway have made public a tax list showing the annual income and overall wealth of almost every taxpayer. For Christine Ingebritsen, a professor at the University of Washington, it reflects a typical Scandinavian custom of egalitarianism.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

How Much For A New Reservoir?

Since yesterday the CWA has started implementing water cuts on the back of the same old excuses. These cuts are a very good indicator of the average level of management of our country. See, our population was controlled ages back, we sit next to one of the rainiest spots on earth (Reunion Island) and we're a rich country so how difficult is it to make sure that water stoppages become history for all of us?

It definitely can't be as difficult as the water supply problems of Singapore which imports more than half of the stuff from Malaysia and yet it's one of the most competitive places in the world year after year. They've managed this one with NEWater (recycling waste water), desalination and increasing the water catchment area. That sounds like uber problem-solvers at work, doesn't it?

And how does going to ocean depths to run our air-con sound? Un plaisir, sans doute...

Chez Nous, Vous Etes Chez Vous

This is how our sister island is marketing herself these days. I saw the clip which seemed to come straight from Home. Unsurprisingly, I just found out that it had been produced by Yann-Arthus Bertrand. Nice. Nice. Nice. And, nobody had to explain anything to me.

The copy on YouTube is not that good. You're better off catching it in here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tiger Ready To Pounce, Again

Indeed Singapore's economy clocked a 14.9% growth in the third quarter after expanding at the impressive clip of 22.0% in the preceding one. Although that will be insufficient from preventing the economy from contracting between 2% and 2.5% in 2009 you can bet which Tiger will leap furthest once the world economy start picking up again.

The prognosis for the Tiger-wannabe is of course entirely different. The crisis we're in here has been created by the toxic policies of Sithanen and Mansoor. So that as long as they gonna be around we're not going to go anywhere.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

MSM Promises Second Miracle

If it finds itself in government again although we didn't see any between 2000 and 2005. Maybe we would have if we had not been stupid enough to kick Federation 2 out of office. Silly us!

Maybe not because they claim the first miracle started right in 1983. Wait a second. If Labour got hammered in June 1982 and MMM-PSM started fighting almost immediately till their break-up nine months later in March 1983 what exactly did they do for the miracle to begin as soon as Berenger was dumped?

And if miracle indeed there was, why did Obeegadoo have to build all these schools 17 years later and traffic was to become a ten-headed monster?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Une incursion en Sarkozie

"Désormais le monde des affaires sera au cœur du système politique français. Nous sommes face à un népotisme de nouveau riche." C'est ainsi que s'expriment deux sociologues, en l'occurence Monique Pinçon-Charlot et Michel Pinçon, dans le sillage de la cooptation avortée de Jean Sarkozy, "fils de", à la tête de l'Etablissement public d'aménagement de La Défense (EPAD).

Si, pour le constitutionnaliste Dominique Rousseau, "cet usage n’est pas symbolique de la Ve République, mais plutôt de la culture monarchiste française latente dans notre pratique politique et constitutionnelle depuis 1789", le sarkozysme, en revanche, incarne une nouveauté: il déballe son fonctionnement sans états d'âme.

Comme en témoigne d'ailleurs cette déclaration devant des lycéens quasiment au même moment: "ce qui compte en France pour réussir, ce n'est pas d'être bien né, c'est de travailler dur et d'avoir fait la preuve, par ses études, par son travail, de sa valeur".

Mais les citoyens auront quand même l'opportunité de sanctionner un tel mépris aux prochaines élections. "Aujourd'hui, je suis d'avis qu'ils ne sanctionneront pas", rétorque Monique Pinçon-Charlot. Ainsi voguent les "valeurs républicaines", la "démocratie" et patati et patata.

Cette schizophrénie qui marque aussi une "amnésie collective" n'est malheureusement pas une tare française uniquement. En effet, le népotisme s'est infiltré et s'est installé confortablement dans beaucoup de systèmes à travers le monde. Bien que, de toute évidence, le degré varie selon les pays. N'est-ce pas?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

How To Tell That the Branding Exercise Has Failed

Easy. One of the persons closely associated with it had to explain it all in a full-length interview. If the job had been well done no explanation would have been necessary. When you see Nokia, Connecting People do you need an idiot's paragraph to understand what it means?

One of my buddies who is a graphic designer is of the opinion that c'est un plaisir has probably been inspired by BMW's Sheer Driving Pleasure. He may have a point here.

Now, if we Mauritians don't understand what the payoff line means who will?

Sorry, Home Away From Home is Taken Already

Ask the world and they will associate it with Starbucks and not Mauritius. There was even a book published about this some... 5 years ago. Which gives you an indication of how long it takes for news to travel to some quarters in Mauritius. And ask most of our fellow citizens and they will not associate living in Mauritius with un plaisir. A growing number will instead associate it with un enfer.

The branding exercise that has just ended seems to have been created with the same kind of rare intelligence that produced the stimulus package and the daylight savings time and about half that of the concept of Maurice Ile Durable.

Mauritius, I think we have a problem.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Self-confessed Smart CEO Explains Rip-off

As newly-minted Chairman of MK. Blame it on our non-stop flights he says. So I guess the prices for the 20-minute flights to Reunion island will go down to more reasonable levels once they stop over on Ile de la Passe for a couple of hours. Why didn't we think of this before?

How then does he explain that it costs Rs5,500 to fly from Mauritius to Rodrigues and back but Rs8,300 if you start in Rodrigues instead?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Why Branding Exercise Should Start Afresh

First of all because Mauritius, c'est un plaisir sounds pretty lame. We should have come up with something more telegraphic like Incredible India, Amazing Thailand or Connecting People like Nokia did. And the brand messaging could also have been in kreol.

I don't see how this is gonna resonate with us or foreigners. And as Samad mentioned, branding is like a wrapping. People will be fooled only once.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Spoiled Brat Returns to Hindu House

Probably out of increasing desperation. And to run away, a little further, from the problems he was elected to solve back in 2005 and those he has created since then. Contrast that with Obama dealing with the burning issues head on.

So, given that Yes, Navin Can't it doesn't really matter when he calls us to the polls because nothing really positive will happen between now and then. And if you thought the way he lost power back in 2000 was really pathetic, you ain't seen everything yet.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Dodoland:The Branding of

According to Simon Anholt, founder of the National Brands Index, "the best way for a country to generate a good image is not by conducting clever ad campaigns, but by implementing good policies. The most important thing is to tell the truth".

And what makes brand Italia so mamma mia? Simon Anholt argues that "in the end it's the Italian people who brand Italy, and they do it so damn well."

So if we take into account how the image of Mauritius and the self-confidence of its citizens ought to have benefited from the years of "miracle" and "reform", there should not be any justification for a branding campaign!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Drama in the Mara

But not the kind that gets played there every day. Nope. Eastern Africa is two rainy seasons short so that many animals are dying and livelihoods are under attack. Which would explain why the wildebeests pictured above safely travelled between the Mara River and the Serengeti several times a day without meeting any ton-heavy Nile crocodiles.

Crispation, quand tu nous tiens!

Dans un essai, La Peur du déclassement, Eric Maurin, Directeur d'études à l'Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) en France, tente d'expliquer le cercle vicieux qui fige toute tentative de changement. Il postule que "la société française a peur et cette anxiété induit des stratégies individuelles et des politiques publiques qui, en fin de compte, alimentent et entretiennent la peur."

Et ce blocage découle du fait que "depuis quarante ans, gouvernements, syndicats et entreprises ont fait le choix, collectif, de défendre d'abord ceux qui sont les plus protégés dans la société. Au détriment des plus fragiles. Comme le fossé entre les "insiders" et les "outsiders" n'a jamais été aussi profond, la peur de chuter n'a jamais été aussi forte dans les classes moyennes et supérieures."

Un tel climat favorise inévitablement un repli identitaire qui finalement renforce aussi l'affirmation ethnique.

N'est-ce pas Dodoland?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Avis: recherche intelligence pratique désespérément

Le citoyen avisé Raj Roy nous éclaire la voie à suivre pour fluidifier la circulation urbaine tout en évoquant la voie à éviter:

"Il nous faut adopter le concept de nouvelles gares en périphérie. À ce moment-là, des navettes qui effectuent des trajets entre différents points précis et la nouvelle gare pourraient effectivement grandement alléger l'artère principale.

Quant aux autres modes de transport en commun, cette initiative reste dans le domaine du wishful thinking car les soi-disant solutions proposées par les différents gouvernements sont toutes des inepties et ne reposent que sur des contrats juteux qui, outre de ne rien résoudre, nous endetteraient encore plus.
De même pour le Dream Bridge et le Bus Way qui à lui seul revient au coût inimaginable d'US $ 10,9 millions au kilomètre. De quoi rentrer dans le Guiness Book of Records...

Le débit de passagers d'un Bus Way ne pourra jamais rivaliser non plus avec un Mass Transit System, car le premier requiert beaucoup trop de surface au sol et se limite au nombre d'autobus/vans pouvant emprunter ces corridors de déplacement."

Don't Wait for Fat Cats and Tinawallahs to Agree

On a dissenting note on the financial system bailout and the too-big-to-fail smokescreen, Jean-Paul Fitoussi, Professor of economics, wrote:

"The free-market doctrine, which has become almost a religion, reinforced this belief: markets are efficient, and if they pay me so much (a potentially mind-boggling amount, as seen in recent cases), it is because my own efficiency warrants it. I also participate indirectly and abstractly in forging the common good, by creating value through my work, and I am rewarded for it."

Before concluding:

"The crisis reminds us what each person owes to others, highlighting an ethical truth that we were quick to forget: the rich benefit more than the poor from their coorperation with other members of society."


"But don’t hold your breath waiting for them to agree."

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Pour ou kontre?

Selon Jean-Pierre Jaffré, linguiste au Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) en France, "l'orthographe est là pour véhiculer du sens. Il faut accepter une variation orthographique, aussi longtemps que le sens n'est pas altéré." Néanmoins, il prône un "libéralisme orthographique raisonné".

Le défi est d'autant plus immense pour le français qui est "sans doute l’une des langues les plus compliquées au monde" et qui "n’a pratiquement connu aucune réforme profonde depuis qu’il s’écrit, c’est-à-dire le XVe siècle". Comme toujours, le réalisme finira par surmonter l'"exception française". Peu importe si c'est dans la douleur.

Par ailleurs, même si l'anglais s'est imposé comme la lingua franca du "village global", en grande partie peut-être grâce à sa plus grande latitude à se multiculturaliser, plusieurs chercheurs voudraient rendre son orthographe beaucoup plus phonétique. Un peu comme les Américains.

Alors, faut-il sacraliser l'orthographe d'une langue ou au contraire lui donner des ailes pour s'épanouir et dresser davantage de passerelles aux quatre coins du monde?

Monday, October 5, 2009

How Safe Are Burgers in Mauritius?

Here is a video you must watch absolutely and share with your loved ones: how one burger destroyed Stephanie Smith's livelihood.