Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Selective Soldering Ode

Selective Soldering

Automated selective soldering is the fastest growing area within electronic assembly due to the ever increasing pressure to improve product quality and shorten cycle times in the manufacturing process.

With more complex, double-sided surface mount assemblies, the use of the traditional wave soldering process to solder through-hole components is no longer an option.

The higher density and lower ultimate cost of SMT makes it the preferred assembly technology. However, the mechanical strength of through-hole connections continues to make through-hole the technology of choice in assembling connectors.

As the number of through-hole components on boards has decreased, hand soldering is primarily used as an alternative. Hand soldering is a manual operation and, therefore prone to defects, such as excessive solder, inadequate hole fill, flux residues and thermal stresses at the solder joints. It is not reliable or repeatable and depends entirely on ability and skills of the operator.

Selective soldering is the process whereby specific through-hole devices on a board are selectively soldered using programmable selective soldering machines.

Unlike wave soldering, where a conveyor transports boards through a stationary wave, a selective-soldering procedure uses robotics to individually moves the board over a stationary soldering nozzles and tooling (see Fig:1 )

The robotic PCB support fixture is programmed to move the board in an ‘X’,’Y’ & ‘Z’ direction, precisely positioning the board over the solder fountain. Selective soldering uses two different techniques to drag or dip solder individual sites or components on the board.

John Dean, Customer Support Manager, Ultra CEMS. Web-Site: http://www.ultra-cems.com.

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Distance Learning Degrees Poem

Bogus Distance Learning Degrees - How Can You Tell?

With the rise in demand for online distance learning degrees, many bogus learning institutions have mushroomed over the internet with the sole intention of taking advantage of innocent students seeking for a genuine degree. These so-called “Colleges” often attract applicants with their attractive degree programs which are boasts of easy graduation, low tuition fees, no examinations and credit given for life experience, all of which just sound too good to be true. Some of them even go to the extent of prospecting for customers by sending out bulk email citing university degrees for sale.

Therefore, with all the confusion generated, how can students sieve out the genuine from the bogus? This may be especially difficult for distance learning programs when students practically make their choices based on what is shown on a website. In many cases, especially for international students, it may not be feasible to visit the physical site of a college before enrolling. With this, making choices will really depend on the appearance and content of a website, which sometimes may not be an accurate judge of the creditability of a college.

One of the qualifying factors that can be utilized by students to make correct enrolment decisions is by determining the type of college accreditation that has been received by their college of consideration. If the college vaguely states itself as having “nationwide or worldwide accreditation” without stating specifically which regional accreditation body it is accredited with, then most likely this college does not possess legitimate accreditation.

In the U.S., college accreditation is awarded by one of the following six accreditation agencies which are all appointed by the National Board of Education - New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), North Central Association of Schools and Colleges (NCA), Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges (MSA), Southern Association of Schools and Colleges (SACS), Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges (NWCCU). Each agency has been allocated responsibility for providing accreditation for schools in specific states. Therefore, it would be best to run checks on a particular online degree institution with the agency offering college accreditation for the state in which the college is registered in.

Another tell-tale sign of bogus degrees offered is when the university advertises itself through mass-mailing email featuring university degrees for sale. Many bogus distance learning institutions prey on people who are desperate for a degree, but don’t have the time and money to go for proper education. That is why these colleges boast of degrees without any examinations, classes, studying or even waiting. There are even websites that offer degrees for just a few hundred dollars which can be ordered and received within 7 days. Furthermore, some of them also have dubious URLs, stating accreditation from agencies which are not any one of the six listed above. Additionally, they offer fixed prices for their Master’s, Bachelor’s, and even Doctorate Degrees. Their justification for awarding degrees will be for giving credit to life experiences such as any type of work experience, any educational background, any workshops or community services attended as well as travel experience, hobbies and even on the number of books that a person has read!

In conclusion, as the awareness on bogus degrees increases amongst prospective employers, degrees obtained through a legitimate avenue of education can sometimes be mistaken for bogus degrees too. Therefore, the best approach to select a college would ideally be based on legitimate college accreditation awarded by the appointed authorities to the respective colleges.

Rose Musyoka is an article contributor at http://www.distance-learning-college-guide.com where you find answers, information and advice on distance learning colleges, accredited online degrees and online courses.

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Deja Googled Usenet Serenade

Deja Googled

The Internet may have started as the fervent brainchild of DARPA, the US defence agency - but it quickly evolved into a network of computers at the service of a community. Academics around the world used it to communicate, compare results, compute, interact and flame each other. The ethos of the community as content-creator, source of information, fount of emotional sustenance, peer group, and social substitute is well embedded in the very fabric of the Net. Millions of members in free, advertising or subscription financed, mega-sites such as Geocities, AOL, Yahoo and Tripod generate more bits and bytes than the rest of the Internet combined. This traffic emanates from discussion groups, announcement (mailing) lists, newsgroups, and content sites (such as Suite101 and Webseed). Even the occasional visitor can find priceless gems of knowledge and opinion in the mound of trash and frivolity that these parts of the web have become.

The emergence of search engines and directories which cater only to this (sizeable) market segment was to be expected. By far the most comprehensive (and, thus, less discriminating) was Deja. It spidered and took in the exploding newsgroups (Usenet) scene with its tens of thousands of daily messages. When it was taken over by Google, its archives contained more than 500 million messages, cross-indexed every which way and pertaining to every possible (and many impossible) a topic.

Google is by far the most popular search engine yet, having surpassed the more veteran Northern Lights, Fast, and Alta Vista. Its mind defying database (more than 1.3 billion web pages), its caching technology (making it, in effect, one of the biggest libraries on earth) and its site ranking (by popularity and links-over) have rendered it unbeatable. Yet, its efforts to integrate the treasure trove that is Deja and adapt it to the Google search interface have hitherto been spectacularly unsuccessful (though it finally made it two and a half months after the purchase). So much so, that it gave birth to a protest movement.

Bickering and bad tempered flaming (often bordering on the deranged, the racial, or the stalking) are the more repulsive aspects of the Usenet groups. But at the heart of the debate this time is no ordinary sadistic venting. The issue is: who owns content generated by the public at large on computers funded by tax dollars? Can a commercial enterprise own and monopolize the fruits of the collective effort of millions of individuals from all over the world? Or should such intellectual property remain in the public domain, perhaps maintained by public institutions (such as the Library of Congress)? Should open source movements gain access to Deja's source code in order to launch Deja II? And who owns the copyright to all these messages (theoretically, the authors)? Google, as Deja before it, is offering compilations of this content, the copyright to which it does not and cannot own. The very legal concept of intellectual property is at the crux of this virtual conflict.

Google was, thus, compelled to offer free access to the CONTENT of the Deja archives to alternative (non-Google) archiving systems. But it remains mum on the search programming code and the user interface. Already one such open source group (called Dela News) is coalescing, although it is not clear who will bear the costs of the gigantic storage and processing such a project would require. Dela wants to have a physical copy of the archive deposited in trust with a dot org.

This raises a host of no less fascinating subjects. The Deja Usenet search technology, programming code, and systems are inextricable and almost indistinguishable from the Usenet archive itself. Without these elements - structural as well as dynamic - there will be no archive and no way to extract meaningful information from the chaotic bedlam that is the Usenet environment. In this case, the information lies in the ordering and classification of raw data and not in the content itself. This is why the open source proponents demand that Google share both content and the tools to access it. Google's hasty and improvised unplugging of Deja in February only served to aggravate the die-hard fans of erstwhile Deja.

The Usenet is not only the refuge of pedophiles and neo-Nazis. It includes thousands of academically rigorous and research inclined discussion groups which morph with intellectual trends and fashionable subjects. More than twenty years of wisdom and erudition are buried in servers all over the world. Scholars often visit Usenet in their pursuit of complementary knowledge or expert advice. The Usenet is also the documentation of Western intellectual history in the last three decades. In it invaluable. Google's decision to abandon the internal links between Deja messages means the disintegration of the hyperlinked fabric of this resource - unless Google comes up with an alternative (and expensive) solution.

Google is offering a better, faster, more multi-layered and multi-faceted access to the entire archive. But its brush with the more abrasive side of the open source movement brought to the surface long suppressed issues. This may be the single most important contribution of this otherwise not so opportune transaction.


Sam Vaknin is the author of "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited" and "After the Rain - How the West Lost the East". He is a columnist in "Central Europe Review", United Press International (UPI) and ebookweb.org and the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory, Suite101 and searcheurope.com. Until recently, he served as the Economic Advisor to the Government of Macedonia. His web site: http://samvak.tripod.com.

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No Business Is Safe Opus

No Business Is Safe from Environmental Disaster

Protect Your Assets and Future with Pollution Liability Insurance

Fears that the environment will suffer under the Republican administration are misplaced, say the world's leading pollution liability experts. Thanks to privatization and the shift to state enforcement, pollution is being rapidly uncovered. Good news for Mother Nature -- devastating news for those footing the clean-up bill.

The fact is, nearly every business -- from farms and schools, to contractors and developers, to printers and manufacturers--is a potential polluter facing third-party liability claims, clean-up costs, business interruption, and damaging publicity. That's according to the environmental insurance experts at Assurex International, the world's largest privately held risk management and commercial insurance brokerage group.

Ironically, business owners who devote considerable resources building healthy organizations often risk it all by neglecting pollution liability insurance coverage. They mistakenly believe their companies are free of environmental exposures, or that pollution coverage is unavailable or unaffordable. Both assumptions are false and potentially costly to businesses large and small.

Former and current land and business owners, waste generators and transporters all can be held liable for environmental exposures. "Acquire a company that buried tanks 15 years ago, construct homes on arsenic-laced farmland, build a school on toxic land, and you'll share liability with the polluter--unless you have environmental liability insurance," notes Assurex President and CEO Thomas W. Harvey.

Environmental insurance helps offset costs associated with pollution clean-up, business interruption, lawsuits, construction delays and property value diminution. "Environmental insurance can mean the difference between business survival and devastating financial loss," says Harvey.

You don't have to be a chemical manufacturer or other big operation to be at risk of environmental liability. Businesses large and small are potential polluters. For a small, neighborhood grocery store, just one broken bottle of ammonia could release fumes, overcome shoppers, and create potential liability problems.

On a somewhat larger scale, take the case of the entrepreneur who bought an aging fast-food restaurant. While remodeling, the new owner discovered underground storage tanks buried 20 years earlier when a gas station sat on the site. The new and previous owners shared responsibility for removing the tanks at a cost of $20,000 to $1 million-plus. With an environmental liability insurance policy in place, clean-up costs might be covered.

Large organizations experience environmental surprises, too. When construction began on a $200 million school complex in Los Angeles, officials had no idea their state-of-the-art learning center sat on toxic land. Once environmental contamination was uncovered, construction on the nearly complete building stopped. Had a site survey been conducted prior to construction, this costly disaster might have been avoided.

While a site survey should be part of any merger, acquisition or real estate transaction, surveys sometimes fail to unearth exposures. Environmental insurance, on the other hand, is a certain way to transfer risks and mitigate financial losses.

According to Brad Maurer, an environmental insurance expert with New York City-based Assurex Partner Frenkel & Co., most business executives would be surprised to learn what's covered by an environmental insurance policy. "Insurance can cover existing exposures today, as well as future risks. Even known environmental conditions may be covered, if surveys indicate there is no immediate health threat," notes Maurer.

"Environmental insurance policies are becoming popular tools for real estate and business transactions," adds Maurer. "Environmental insurance allows buyers and sellers to transfer a deal's environmental risk to an insurer, rather than wasting time and money negotiating who will bear and fund the risk."

The Assurex environmental risk management experts identify six pollution-related losses typically covered by insurance:
1. Defense costs incurred when a third party files a lawsuit against the insured.
2. Defense costs related to government-mandated clean-up.
3. Internal business expenses, including business interruption costs related to clean-up.
4. Development delays when chemical drums or other environmental conditions are discovered on construction sites.
5. Property value diminution.
6. In addition, banks and other lenders may purchase insurance to pay off property loans after environmental conditions are discovered.

The pollution liability experts at Assurex offer tips to help business and land owners avoid environmental disaster:

- Consult with an experienced insurance broker familiar with the environmental risks facing your company and industry. A pollution liability expert will know what coverages exist, which insurers will underwrite your risk, and how to negotiate the best coverage at the most attractive cost. The benefit of consulting a knowledgeable professional is demonstrated by the experience one Assurex Partner had with a major food wholesale client. A food industry specialist, the broker contacted an underwriter who was equally knowledgeable of the client's risks. Because the Assurex Partner/underwriter team recognized ammonia as a common refrigerant and potential polluter, the wholesaler was covered when an ammonia cloud from the plant closed one of the East Coast's largest bridges, sending toll workers to the hospital and commuters to alternate routes.

- Don't let an environmental crisis blind-side you. Do the necessary due diligence, and look deeply into the past of any business or property you plan to buy. Before purchasing property, always hire an engineer to conduct a Phase 1 Environmental Assessment. Had residential developers surveyed the notorious Love Canal before constructing homes and a school on the site, children, teachers, and parents would not have been exposed to this deadly cancer cluster.

- Transfer your risk with environmental liability insurance. Quotes are free and coverage is broader and more affordable than ever. Environmental insurance offers an economic way to address uncertainty. The property that looks like a tranquil pasture today might once have been the site of toxic dumping. Current owners, former owners, waste generators, and transporters can all be held liable, retroactively to the 1920s. Environmental insurance offers peace of mind by transferring risk and liability away from you to the insurance company.

- Don't let an inexperienced insurance agent practice on your company. Environmental exposures and insurance coverages are complex. A novice, unaware of available pollution endorsements, might not realize that a pollution liability policy alone does not always offer adequate coverage.
For additional information about Assurex International, visit www.assurex.com.

Courtesy ARA Content, http://www.aracontent.com.

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Tire Retreads Verse

Tire Retreads Save Money and Resources for Many Industries

Retreaded truck tires represent a savings of more than $2 billion annually for truckers and trucking companies in North America.

For most fleets, tires represent the third largest item in their operating budget, right after labor and fuel costs. The lowest possible cost-per-mile is achieved with a good tire management program that includes the use of quality retreads.

Retreads are the replacement tire of choice for most truckers. Of the nearly 33.8 million replacement tires purchased by fleets in 2000, over 18.1 million were retreads and only about 15.6 million were new replacement tires.

Retreads are not only cost effective, but they are also dependable, reliable and safe. Truckers with scheduled delivery times, small package delivery companies with guaranteed delivery times, commercial and military jets and most school bus operators use retreads.

Retreads are also environmentally friendly. Tires are made of petro-chemical products. It takes 22 gallons of oil to manufacture one new truck tire. Most of the oil is found in the casing, which is reused in the retreading process. As a result, only seven gallons of oil are used to produce a retread.

Retreaders, like trucking companies, have experienced considerable consolidation. Today, the most successful retreaders are those with the highest quality products, delivering the best possible return on the investment to the fleets. Because of the competitive nature of the retreading industry, truckers can expect to see continuous improvement in the quality, durability and reliability, as the major retread suppliers annually invest millions of dollars in research and development.

Imagine a world without retreads:
* Groceries would cost more, since virtually all grocery delivery trucks use retreads.
* Our dependence on oil would rise. Since tires contain a very high percentage of synthetic rubber, which is petroleum based, we would have to import huge additional amounts of oil.
* New tire prices would probably rise significantly. Retreads act as a brake on tire price increases.
* Airline tickets would cost more. Virtually all commercial airlines use retreads. Surprised?
* Scrap tire piles in landfills would skyrocket with about 30 million additional tires every year. Every time a tire is retreaded there is one less tire for our already overloaded landfills.
* Construction costs for roads, bridges, factories, housing, etc., would rise dramatically if the large tires used on earthmoving vehicles were not retreaded.

In fact, just about everything we buy would cost more since practically everything we eat, wear, use at home or at work is delivered on trucks using retreads.

For more information about the many economic and environmental benefits of retreaded tires, contact the Tire Retread Information Bureau toll free, at (888) 473-8732 or by e-mail at info@retread.org.

Courtesy ARA Content, http://www.aracontent.com.

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Persuasive Ad Triggers Ode

10 Persuasive Triggers To Plug Into Your Ad

1. Most people want to win over others. Tell your prospects how their family or friends will admire them if they buy your product.

2. Most people want to associate with others that have the same interests. Give your prospects a free membership in a private chat room just for them.

3. Most people want a clean environment. Tell your prospects that you'll donate a percentage of your profits to help clean the environment.

4. Most people want to eat good food. Give your customers free coupons to a nice restaurant when they purchase your product.

5. Most people need or want new information to absorb. Give your customers a free ebook or tip sheet when they purchase your product.

6. Most people want to avoid or end pain. Tell your prospects how much pain and problems they will avoid or end if they buy your product.

7. Most people want to gain pleasure. Tell your prospects how much pleasure or the benefits they will gain, if they purchase your product.

8. Most people don't want to miss out on a major opportunity that they could regret in the future. Tell your prospects you'll be raising the price shortly.

9. Most people want to have good health and live longer. Give your prospects free coupons to a fitness club when they buy your product.

10. Most people want to belong to something or a select group. Give your prospects a free member-ship into your club when they buy your product.

Larry Dotson - Over 40,000 Free eBooks & Web Books when you visit: http://www.ldpublishing.com.

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Florida Summer Vacation Poem

Florida Is The Mythical Endless Summer

A complete break from routine - with guaranteed sunshine, sand and surf - is the only way to get a genuine taste of the mythical endless summer.

During July and August when the kids are at loose ends, when the corporate world finally slows down and our pace of life allows a little more time for relaxation, consider exploring a lot more of Florida at your leisure - and for as long as you like.

Daytime air temperatures in summer will hover around 30 C. The Gulf waters will be tepid, the Atlantic, fantastic. And once you're off the beach, air conditioning is second nature to switching on the light. There are other reasons to go during the summer as well.


The Canadian Sand Dollar program in Daytona Beach. It's a coupon booklet containing discounts at area attractions, golf courses and hotels. Call 1-800-854-1234 or visit www.daytonabeach.com.

The We Love Canadians program in St. Petersburg/Clearwater. Save up to 30 per cent on travel costs with this program. Call 1-727-464-7200 for details or download the information at www.floridasbeach.com.

The Canadian Friends Special at Cypress Pointe Resort in Orlando. Condominium accommodation rates are around $125 per night. Offer expires August 15th. Call 1-800-874-8770 and ask for the Canadian "At Par" Program or visit www.vrivacations.com.

Family Summer Schools:

Family Sleepovers at Sea World, Orlando: Two days of camping out with Beluga whales, polar bears and harbour seals lets you learn everything about them. Lots of fun and activities are planned too. Restricted to families with children in kindergarten through grade 5. Call 1-800-406-2244 or 1-407-363-2380.

Space Camp Parent-Child Program at the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame, just west of the Kennedy Space Center, near Cocoa Beach. This is non-stop fun and education for families interested in space technology. The program takes place on most weekends. Call 1-800-637-7223 or 1-321-267-3184.

Highlights Any Time of Year:

In North Central Florida, don't miss Devil's Millhopper State Geological Site near Gainesville. It features a giant sinkhole with cascading waterfalls and unusual flora.

In the Northeast, don't miss the Jacksonville Zoological Gardens.

Visit Tarpon Springs in Central West Florida - a Greek fishing town where an entire industry flourishes on the netting, production, and sale of deep-sea sponges.

In Central Florida, enjoy nature and learn more about these sub-tropical eco-systems on the Boggy Creek Airboat Rides.

In the Southeast, look for turtles on the beach at Port Everglades, or go snorkelling at the three-tiered reef off Lauderdale-By-The-Sea Beach.

In the Northwest, look for dancing dolphins in the shallows along Santa Rosa Sound and Destin Harbour.

News Canada provides a wide selection of current, ready-to-use copyright free news stories and ideas for Television, Print, Radio, and the Web.

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Web Site Serenade

Transforming A Site From Good To Excellent

One of the challenges of moving a web site up from good to excellent is transforming it from just a bunch of web pages and graphics to an interactive experience. Another term for this is community - a place where people can come to communicate with others. The very best web sites have mastered this transformation, thus attracting return visitors again and again.

The whole point of a web site is to communicate ideas and concepts to other people. If you are just putting up pages and graphics, then you are performing half of a communication. You are telling people what you think, want, desire or need.

The other half of communication is listening. That's why merely adding an email form (or link) and a guestbook go a long way to improve your visitor's experience with your web site. You are giving them the opportunity to tell you what's on their mind. If you also take the time to answer their messages and perhaps even get involved in an online communication - then you may very well have a friend for life.

You can add even more value (and get a few more visitors as well) by adding a "tell-a-friend" capability to your site. This adds a third and very interesting (although seemingly trivial) element to your site: the ability to add others to the communication.

Look at it this way. Someone surfed to your site and actually found something that was interesting. That's actually not an incredibly common occurrence on the internet (consider how many stupid, boring or just plain silly sites you've visited). Okay, they've found something interesting, perhaps very interesting, and they want to tell someone. You would be very wise to give them this capability. This is not just because it gains you another visitor, but it makes people feel better. Why? Because people like to share good experiences with each other.

You want to increase the ante? Include a message board! Now you've added another form of conversation to your website. People can jump on your board and leave messages for each other, answer questions and generally have discussions about whatever subject appeals to you. Some advice about message boards: be sure and actively moderate the board. Why? Some unscrupulous people have a tendency to leave advertisements, pornography, curses and flames on message boards. Unless that's what your board is about, none of this serves your purpose: to get people to talk about your subject and come back to your website.

Another good reason to moderate the board is it puts you in control, which is where you should be. It's your board and naturally conversations should be about subjects in which you are interested. The purpose of the board is to improve your site and your visitor experience - not ruin their good time.

Another great interactive feature which is not so obvious is running an awards program. What this accomplishes is simple: you are inviting people to submit their sites to you for review. By giving them the opportunity to apply for the award you are increasing the value of your site to them, and improving your chances of getting them back for more.

Perhaps one of the very best interactive features is hosting your own custom made e-cards. These are extremely popular and greatly improve your visitors experience on your site. Better yet, they give your visitors an opportunity to communicate (by sending cards) with their friends - and their friends may visit your site also.

Other features which increase your site's desirability even more is polls and surveys, interactive stories (to see our own interactive story, visit http://www.internet-tips.net/cgi-bin/story/story.pl - and add your own chapter), ezines and even chat rooms.

By adding these and other features, you are increasing your value to people who visit your site. If there is one thing that people like to do (and must do to survive well) it's communicate. By giving people many different ways to communicate, you are making it more likely that they will visit your site, stick around, and recommend it to their friends.

Richard Lowe Jr. is the webmaster of Internet Tips And Secrets. This website includes over 1,000 free articles to improve your internet profits, enjoyment and knowledge: http://www.internet-tips.net.

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Feminism or Femininity Opus

Women in Transition From Post Feminism to Past Femininity

"[In]... the brothels off Wenceslas Square, in central Prague, [where] sexual intercourse can be bought for USD 25 - about half the price charged at a German brothel... Slav women have supplanted Filipinos and Thais as the most common foreign offering in [Europe]." (The Economist, August 2000, p.18)

"I'm also wary of the revolutionary ambition of some feminist texts, with their ideas about changing present conditions, having seen enough attempted utopia's for one lifetime" (Petr Príhoda, The New Presence, 2000, p. 35).

"As probably every country has its Amazons, if we go far back in Czech mythology, to a collection of Old Czech Legends, we come across a very interesting legend about the Dévín castle (which literally means 'The Girls' Castle'). It describes a bloody story about a rebellion of women, who started a vengeful war against men. As the story goes, they were not only capable warriors, they had no mercy and would not hesitate to kill their fathers and brothers. Under the leadership of mighty Vlasta, the "girls" lived in their castle, "Dévín", where they underwent a severe military training. They led the war very successfully, and one day Vlasta came up with an shrewd plan, how to take hostage a famous nobleman, Ctirad. She chose the lovely Sárka from the body (sic!) of her troops and had her tied up to a tree by a road with a horn and a jar of a mead out of her reach, but in her sight. In this state, Sárka was waiting for Ctirad to find her. When he actually really appeared and saw her, she told him a sad story of how the women from Dévín punished her for not following their ideology by tying her to the tree, mockingly putting a jar and a horn (so that she would be always reminded that she is thirsty and helpless) near by. Ctirad, enchanted by the beautiful woman, believed the lure and untied her, and when she handed him the mead, he willingly drunk it. When he was drunk already, she let him blow the horn, which was a signal for the Dévín warriors to capture him. He was then tortured in many horrible ways, at the end of which, his body was woven into a wooden wheel and displayed. This event mobilized the army, which soon afterwards destroyed Dévín. (Very significantly, this legend is the only account of radical feminism in Czech Lands.)" ("The Vissicitudes of Czech Feminism" by Petra Hanáková)

"We myself...and many others are not in search of global sisterhood at all, and it is only when we give up expecting it that we can get anywhere. It is each other's very 'otherness ' that motivates us, and the things we find in common take on greater meaning within the context of otherness. There is so much to learn by comparing the ways in which we are different, and which the same elements of women's experience are global, and which aren't, and wondering why, and what it means" (Jirina Siklová)

"It is difficult to carry three watermelons under one arm." (Proverb attributed to Bulgarian women)

"The high level of unemployment among women, segregation in the labour market, the increasing salary gap between women and men, the lack of women present at the decision making level, increasing violence against women, the high levels of maternal and infant mortality, the total absence of a contraceptive industry in Russia, the insufficiency of child welfare benefits, the lack of adequate resources to fund current state programs - this is only part of the long list of women's rights violations." (Elena Kotchkina, Moscow Centre for Gender Studies, "Report on the Legal Status of Women in Russia")

Communism was men's nightmare and women's dream, or so the left wing version goes. In reality it was a gender-neutral hell. Women under communism were, indeed, encouraged to participate in the labour force. An array of conveniences facilitated their participation: day care centres, kindergarten, daylong schools, abortion clinics. They had their quota in parliament. They climbed to the top of some professions (though there was a list of women-free occupations, more than 90 is Poland). But this - as most other things in communism - was a mere simulacrum.

Reality was much drearier. Women, however mettlesome, groaned under the "triple burden" - work, marital expectations cum childrearing chores and party activism. They succumbed to the lure and demands of the (stressful and boastful) image of the communist "super-woman". This martyrdom - now threatened by the dual Western imports, capitalism and feminism - served as a fountain of self-esteem and a source of self-worth in otherwise gloomy circumstances.

Yet, the communist inspired workplace revolution was not complemented by a domestic one. Women's traditional roles - so succinctly summarized by Bismarck with Prussian geniality as "kitchen, children, church" - survived the modernizing onslaught of scientific Marxism. It is true that power shifted within the family unit ("The woman is the neck that moves the head, her husband"). But the "underslippers" (as Czech men disparagingly self-labeled) still had the upper hand. In short, women were now subjected to onerous double patriarchy, both private and public (the latter propagated by the party and the state). It is not that they did not value the independence, status, social interaction and support networks that their jobs afforded them. But they resented the lack of choice (employment was obligatory) and the parasitic rule of their often useless husbands. Many of them were an integral and important part of national and social movements throughout the region. Yet, with victory secured and goals achieved, they were invariably shunned and marginalized. As a result, they felt exploited and abused. Small wonder women voted overwhelmingly for right wing parties post communism.

Yet, even after the demise of communism, Western feminism failed to take root in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). The East Coast Amazons from America and their British counterparts were too ideological, too Marxist, too radical and too men-hating and family-disparaging to engender much following in the just-liberated victims of leftist ideologies. Hectoring, overly-politicized women were a staple of communism - and so was women's liberation. Women in CEE vowed: "never again".

Moreover, the evaporation of the iron curtain lifted the triple burden as well. Women finally had a choice whether to develop a career and how to balance it with family life. Granted, economic hardship made this choice highly theoretical. Once again, women had to work to make ends meet. But the stifling ethos was gone.

Communism left behind it a legal infrastructure incompatible with a modern market economy. Maternal leave was anywhere between 18 and 36 (!) months, for instance. But there were no laws to tackle domestic or spousal violence, women trafficking, organized crime prostitution rings, discrimination, inequality, marital rape, date rape and a host of other issues. There were no women's media of any kind (TV or print). No university offered a gender studies program or had a women's studies department. Communism was interested in women (and humans) as means of production. It ignored all other dimensions of their existence. In sputnik-era Russia, there were no factories for tampons or sanitary bandages, for example. Communism believed that the restructuring of class relations will resolve all other social inequities. Feminism properly belonged to the spoiled, brooding women of the West - not to the bluestockings of communism. Ignoring problems was communism's way of solving them. Thus, there was no official unemployment in the lands of socialism - or drugs, or AIDS, or unhappy women. To borrow from psychodynamic theories, Communism never developed "problem constancy".

To many, women included, communism was about the perversion of the "natural order". Men and women were catapulted out of their pre-ordained social orbits into an experiment in dystopy. When it ended, post communism became a throwback to the 19th century: its values, mores and petite bourgeois aspirations. In the exegesis of transition, communism was interpreted as an aberration, an interruption in an otherwise linear progress. It was cast as a regrettable historical accident or, worse, a criminal endeavour to be vehemently disowned and reversed.

Yet again women proved to be the prime victims of historical processes, this time of transition. They saw their jobs consumed by male-dominated privatization and male-biased technological modernization. Men in the CEE are 3 times more likely to find a job, 60-80% of all women's jobs were lost (for instance in the textile and clothing industries) and the highest rates of unemployment are among middle aged and older women ("unemployment with a female face" as it is called in Ukraine). Women constitute 50-70% of the unemployed. And women's unemployment is probably under-reported. Most unrecorded workers (omitted from the official statistics) are women. Where retraining is available (a rarity), women are trained to do computer jobs, mostly clerical and low skilled. Men, on the other hand, are assigned to assimilate new and promising technologies. In many countries, women are asked to waive their rights under the law, or even to produce proof of sterilization before they get a job. The only ray of light is higher education, where women's participation actually increased in certain countries. But this blessing is confined to "feminine" (low pay and low status) professions. Vocational and technical schools have either closed down entirely or closed their gates to women. Even in feminized professions (such as university teaching), women make less than 20% of the upper rungs (e.g., full professorships). The tidal wave of the rising cost of education threatens to drown this trend of women's education. Studies have shown that, with rising costs, women's educational opportunities decline. Families prefer to invest - and rationally so - in their males.

Women witnessed the resurgence of nostalgic nationalism, neo traditionalism and religious revival - social forces which sought to confine them to home, hearth, spouse and children and to "liberate" them from the "forced labour" of communism. Negative demographic trends (declining life expectancy and birth rate, numerous abortions, late marriage, a high divorce rate, increasing suicide rate) conspired to provoke a "we are a dying nation" outcry and the inevitable re-emphasis of the woman's reproductive functions. Fierce debates about the morality of abortion erupted in bastions of Catholic fundamentalism (such as Poland and, to a lesser degree, Lithuania) as well as in citadels of rational agnosticism, such as the Czech Republic. Curiously, prostitution and women trafficking were accepted as inevitable. Perhaps because they catered to masculine needs.

Indeed, in feminist lore and theory, both nationalism and capitalism are "patriarchal". Nationalism allocates distinct and mutually exclusive roles to men and women. The latter are supposed to act as homemakers and have babies. Capitalism encourages the formation of impregnable male elites, disseminates new technologies mainly to male monopolies, eliminates menial and low skilled (women's) jobs and puts emphasis on masculine traits such as aggression and competitiveness. No wonder female political representation in parliaments and governments diminished dramatically since 1989. When powerless, under communism, CEE parliaments were stacked with women. Now that they are more potent elected bodies, they are almost nowhere to be seen. The few that infiltrated these august institutions are relegated to "soft" committees (social issues, usually) devoid of budgets and of influence. It is very much like under communism when the decision making party echelons were predominantly male. The only influential women then were dissidents but they seem to have rejected the fruit of their labour, democracy, in favour of tranquility and peace of mind - or to have been usurped by an emerging male establishment. Despite an education in economics, they are under-represented among business executives, the owners of privatized enterprises and the beneficiaries of favourable pay regulations and tax systems.

This erosion of their economic base coupled with the drastic decreases in child benefits, in the length of maternal leave, in the number of public and, thus, affordable child care facilities and in other support networks led to a swift deterioration in the social status and leverage of women. With their only effective contraceptive - abortion - restricted, maternal mortality exploded. So did teenage pregnancy - a result of the curtailing or absence of sex education. The rate of sexually transmitted diseases went through the roof. Violence against women - rape, spousal abuse, date rape - became epidemic. So did skyrocketing street prostitution. Widowed women - an ever more common phenomenon in CEE - are destitute and reduced to begging as the pensions of the lucky ones are ground to nil by a rising cost of living and IMF prodded stinginess. There are also more quotidian problems (often neglected by the media hungry and soundbite craving feminists) like pitiful divorce maintenance payments or decrepit maternity wards in crumbling hospitals.

Yet, women's reaction to all this was notable in its absence. After decades of forced activism and imposed altruism, the imported Western individualism mutated in CEE to malignant egotism. A sliver of the female population did well in local government and as entrepreneurs. The rest (especially the old, the rural, the less educated) stayed at home and seemed to fancy this novel experience of dependence. A generational divide emerged. Younger women discovered the joys of conspicuous consumption and mind numbing pop "culture". They constituted the masses of career opportunists, the new managerial class, shareholders and professionals - a pale imitation of the yuppies of America. Older women retreated - heaving a sigh of relief - into home and family, seeking refuge from the intrusion of tedious public matters. Economic realities still forced them to seek a job and steady income (often in a family business or in the informal economy, with no job security or regulated labour conditions) but their activism vanished into newfound and demonstrative reclusiveness.

Yet, even the young entrepreneurs often fare badly. They lack the necessary business skills, the knowledge, the supportive infrastructure, or the access to credit. The older women cannot work long hours, lack skills and, when officially employed, are expensive, due to the burden of the still effective social benefits. Thus, women can be mostly found in services, light industry and agriculture - the most non lucrative sectors of the dilapidated economies of CEE. And speaking of the social benefits not yet axed - their quality has deteriorated, access to them has been restricted and supplies are often short. The costs of public goods (mainly health and education) have been transferred from state to households either officially (a result of the commercialization of services) or surreptitiously and insidiously (e.g., patients required to purchase their own food, bed sheets and medication when hospitalized).

To blame it all on a botched transition is now in vogue. Yet, many of the problems facing the wretched women of CEE were evident as early as 30 years ago. The feminization of poverty is not a new phenomenon, nor is the feminization of certain professions and the attendant decline in both their status and their pay. Under communism, women felt as exhausted and as guilt-ridden as they feel today. They were considered unreliable workers (which they were, what with a lifetime average of 10 abortions and 2 children). Their offspring endured an alienated childhood in the brutal and faceless gulag of day care centres maintained by indifferent bureaucrats. Juvenile delinquency, a high divorce rate, single motherhood and parasitic fathers were all swept under the ideological carpet by communism. Even communism's only achievement - the inclusionary workforce - was an elaborately crafted illusion for consumption by wide-eyed Western intellectuals. In the agrarian societies which preceded communism, women worked no less. And women were not allowed to work night time or shifts or in certain jobs, nor were they paid as much as men in equal functions. Job advertising is sex-specific and sexist to this very day (in stark violation of dead letter Constitutions).

Discarding the baby with the leaking bathtub has been a hallmark of transition. Communism has done a lot for women (one of its very rare achievements). Some of these foundations were sound and durable and should have been preserved to build upon. Yet the apathy of women and the zeal of power hungry men converged to yield an old new world: patriarchal, discriminatory and iniquitous. The day of CEE feminism will come. But first, CEE has to become more Westernized.

Sam Vaknin is the author of "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited" and "After the Rain - How the West Lost the East". He is a columnist in "Central Europe Review" and the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory, Suite101, Go.com and searcheurope.com. He is the Economic Advisor to the Government of Macedonia. His web site: http://www.geocities.com/vaksam/.

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Proofreading Verse

An Inside Look at Proofreading

This is the ideal topic for us all to think about. We do it everyday, especially those of us that use the Internet the majority of the time. Web pages, business letters, articles, news releases, documentation and most certainly, advertisements.

I have at times found myself proofreading our local newspaper... and suspect their proofreader isn't necessarily paying attention to his or her work. I have found scores of web sites with the same problem. Terrible spelling and common grammatical errors are high on the list. Of course, some of us do not pay attention to these little details, but entrepreneurs look for imperfections in a web page.

Do we all know how to proofread? Not necessarily. Looking for misspelled words is scarcely enough to polish your workmanship and neither is applying capital letters where needed.

I am touching the surface with the most common proofreading DO's. You might think a little differently the next time you do the job.

1] Always proofread when you are at your daily peak. In other words, do not try it, if you are sleepy or distracted.You will definitely miss a number of errors. Proofreading requires concentration.

2] Read the selection through and then read it aloud. Read it to a friend and have them read it to you. Read it backwards..that's what I said. You'll be amazed at the errors in spelling you will encounter.

3] Use your computer's spell checker,but do not rely on it.Often, there are times the checker will find errors but the word meaning is different, such as "there" and "their". Use a dictionary to be sure of the correct meaning of a word. 4] The thesaurus is helpful,but again the range of words are limited,a book offers a broader list. Your choice of words does make a difference when others read what you have to offer, so go ahead and be choosy.

5] Be sure all beginning letters of a sentence are capitalized.Names of importance, within the sentence are a must to remember.

6] Look for sentence fragments, run ons and match subjects with verbs.

7] Check those simple small words, such as: of, it, in, is,for, be, and I.[I, should be a capital, regardless of where it is.]

Other important points in addition to the ones above are included below. These are not to be excluded and you may think this is a lot of unnecessary work, but isn't your piece important. You wouldn't be writing it, if it wasn't.

1] Do you have enough ideas incorporated into your selection?

2] Be sure you are not wandering away from the thesis.

3] Are you proving your point and is it interesting?

4] Is the content in order and does it flow smoothly?

5] Answer the following questions when you are proofreading.
A. Who?
B. What?
C. Where?
D. When?
E. Why?

If one of these are missing, then you need to go back and revise.

All of the above tips for proofreading are of the upmost importance even on a web page of your web site. The following tips are also helpful in the finishing touches of your site.

1] Start your inspection by checking to make sure all links work.

2] Look at the text and see if it is readable. If you can't see it,others cannot read it. The background may not be suitable.

3] Verify that all your information is up to date.

4] Is all the information in a sensible order, and delete or add information.

5] Use the scroll bar on the side to view one line at a time, either from the bottom or top. I find this very useful when reading, etc.

Proofreading has a nature of time consumption and if you do not have the time, find someone that does. It will boost your sales and your site will have a look of a professional.

I am not a professional and never claim to be, but I will proofread the following types of content, sent by email if you want a little help. I am not charging a enormous fee for the service. I have an Associate Degree in Accounting, and extensive courses in English, Business Communications, Ethics, and Public Speaking.

Donna Sweat, Publisher/Editor. Dee's Helpful Info: http://dsweat.bizland.com.

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