Friday, 29 May 2009

Diving risks

Carly Spencer,a very experienced diver, specialised in photographing wrecks on the ocean floor such as the Britannic liner in the Aegean, sunk by a mine in 1916. He also participated in medical trials and decompression tests run by universities in Europe and the US.

He commented on the risks that he faced,saying" I am not reckless, my wife and kids are the most important things in the world to me. But I do get a kick out of knowing that I am putting myself at the edge."

Sadly when filming the Britannic on May 24th he had an attack of the bends, which occur when divers come up from the depths too soon and nitrogen bubbles form in their blood. The attack was fatal.

Risks like deep sea diving require very, very strong discipline, extremely reliable equipment and close study of how currents may affect the divers.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

The oldest Builder in Enlgand

The building trade has ever been subject to violent fluctations of supply and demand with many famous companies going to the wall when times got tough.

My favourite builder is a local one, Durtnell Ltd in Brasted Kent. It is a remarkable example of risk management over the centuries having been founded in 1591 and its first acknowledged building, Poundsbridge Manor, built for the Rector of Penshurst William Dartnall the father of the owner of the building company is still standing with a date on its front of 1593.

The company has its offices on land owned by the family since 1496 and is managed by three members from the 12th generation of Durtnell's to run the company. It has a staff of 170 and a turnover of £40,000,000 and as a building business specialises in high quality work.

It is the oldest builder in England and long may it prosper.

Monday, 11 May 2009

More "gai-atsu" please

Sometime ago I wrote about how "gai-atsu" outside pressure was often needed in Japan to get people to reach a consensus and that without such pressure, usually in the past from the US , nothing got agreed.

It showed up when Spitzer pressured the US brokers into revealing hidden commissions and now we see a fine specimen of "gai-atsu" in the British parliamentarians being forced to apologise and admit that the system of expenses that they have enjoyed so long is indefensible and a waste of public money. Have the revelations come officially from inside the House of Commons? No they have been leaked to the Daily Telegraph in greater scope and well before their agreed publication date.

The resultant "gai-atsu" from the general public who are clearly fed up with the freeloading has forced all parties to apologise. Yet they are still hoping to limit the damage and return to something resembling their old ways. Would that we could apply "gai-atsu" to MEPs' expenses who operate at an even higher level of obfuscation.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

The Benefits of Practice

There has been a lot of coverage in the media regarding the H1N1 influenza and the possibility that it will soon be declared a pandemic. Some are questioning whether it is overdone.

From a medical prespective the new strain of flu seems relatively mild, from a business continuity perspective the world is having to mobilise its defences and watch the results of various initiatives, most notably what impact closing down Mexico for a week will have.

It is far too early to draw conclusions except to say that SARS helped to get people to take pandemics seriously and H1N1 will have the same effect, with the result that if it does mutate into something more lethal or when another strain comes along we will be better prepared to manage the situation so that it does not get out of control.

Do not underestimate the benefits of practice for emergencies.