[Review] Busy by Tony Crabbe (2014)

I did something rather unthinkable in my last post – I consciously took a break. This was an anti-example of my post on the Asian Financial Crisis and Japan’s Lost Decade (bursting of its property bubble). That post took 7 hours or so (with breaks in between). Ultimately, the works on this site should be bounded in joy even if it comprises elements of employment.

This book opened my mind like an earlier book by Abdul Hadi Bin Kamarolzaman <The definite guide to a healthier workplace in Singapore: how to transform your business by creating healthier and happier employees> Optimal Health. (2015).*

The First chapter begins with unlearning. Time management in the traditional sense is in fact counterproductive and unhealthy. (In later chapters, busyness is analysed as a brand and a defence mechanism.)

In chapter Two,  I am reminded of the various other titles that I have gone through this quarter (of 2016) on behavioural economics (Economics Demystified* from the prior post)/investment psychology [Behavioural Investing: Understanding the Psychology of Investing by Pauline Yong. (2013). Singapore. Trafford Publishing.] The key term is heuristics, which can be understood as ‘mental shortcuts’. Often, these and our emotions* drive our decision making. Notable role models in bucking the trend of being mindlessly busy include Dwight Eisenhower (United States President, 1953 – 61). He was described as the master of concretising opportunity cost. When considering the purchase of a heavy bomber (even during the Cold War and Korean War), he compared its cost against 30 brick schools back home for the people. Against this backdrop, was the bomber truly worth the investment?

Another learning point is to take a break (or ensure sufficient rest – true rest) before making tough choices. In a 2011 joint study between the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Tel Aviv University, a mere 10% of prisoners were found to be successfully paroled during late afternoon trial sessions. The inference was that the judges owing to their mental fatigue refused parole as they (biologically) took the path of least resistance and maintained the prisoners’ imprisonment.

One corporate Vice President (VP) at Microsoft presents a model for ‘boundaries’. This VP managed to celebrate all the birthdays of his wife and 3 children, as well as wedding anniversaries; joined the kids on their first and final day of school… This was only the tip of the glorious mountain! His ‘Rules of Engagement’ (ROE) to spend time with his loved ones guided his life. He would have refused a job position had his employer/supervisor rejected the ROE. However, as Crabbe rightly highlighted, this is predicated on a clear and specific vision of one’s life from an overarching, holistic perspective. You have to know what you desire before you can work towards it or negotiate for it.


The chapter on work-life balance asked the question – are the boundaries that I set making life more difficult for myself (and perhaps everyone else)? The author seems also to have have worked the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) as Programme Manager in 2013 and lectures at Ngee Ann Polytechnic (last updated 26 Sep 2014).

A government group was set up because of these beliefs. The Behavioural Insights Team of the United Kingdom was formed. It was nicknamed the ‘Nudge Unit’. It is as of 30 Dec 2016 (if not earlier): ‘…independent of the UK government.’ Plausibly, this was due to David Cameron stepping down from premiership post Brexit.

Gerry Spence, a well known North American lawyer, who had not lost a criminal case, and had not been defeated in a civil jury case between 1969 and 2005 likewise argues that our emotions are the hidden force behind our logical arguments. I either heard the audiobook for his <Win Your Case: How to Present, Persuade, and Prevail–Every Place, Every Time> (probably published in 2005) or read the book years ago.


Text Reviews -Economics and Finance

I can safely say that the two authors – Phil Thornton and Paul Knott are about the clearest and most engaging authors on the subject(s) to the extent of my reading.

Both are non-academic texts yet they are brimming with wisdom and clarity. Thornton as I understand used to be an economic correspondent. He has his own site aptly named Clarity Economics. (And yes, it is powered by WordPress.) Knott described himself as ‘one of us’, I can only recall (since I read his book a long while back) that he was in business. [Be prepared though if you intend to read his book <Ouch! : What You Don’t Know about Money and Why It Matters (More Than You Think)> for there are quite a few crude jokes… It’s published under Pearson at Harlow (2012).]

From Thornton’s book, I picked the chapter on Employment for more extensive review. [The book, <Economics Demystified> also hails from Harlow. Pearson Education. But it was produced in 2013; and reprinted in 2015.]

Before I go into that, the work truly made me understand the difference between Fiscal and Monetary economics/authorities/functions. The government decides tax rates and public spending. The central banks rule over (assuming central bank independence) interest rates and monetary policy. Hence why critics of the European Union (EU) argue that the EU would fail was conceivably due to the absence of fiscal union (uniformity). France and Germany (the continental powerhouses) therefore had to bail out Greece which had accumulated comparatively more debt. That the United Kingdom made a loss by its contributions to the EU aided too the case of Brexit proponents.


My unemployed father didn’t riot. He got on his bike and looked for work, and he kept looking ’til he found it.

Norman Tebbit, UK Secretary of State for Employment (1981-83)

The above quotation opened the chapter.

One other notable fact was Spanish unemployment was approximately 25% in 2011. This were the years of the subprime crisis and the global slowdown. (I still remember an article during those years from The Business Times, Singapore mentioning that youth unemployment was about 45%).

The UK takes employment rate for those from ages 16 to 64. (Now with lengthened life expectancy and less children, the upper limit should be increased…) From an ethical/moral perspective Nobel Prize laureate James Tobin actually posited 0 or NIL unemployment. After spending 15 (or 20) minutes verifying this claim from Thornton, I found two pieces online that support its veracity. One was from Murtaza Haider (who studied in the University of Toronto as an engineer and is himself now an academic at Ryerson University. The 1 Mar 2009 article was entitled <Tobin’s view on unemployment>. The second originates . (13 Oct 2011). <Whatever happened to full employment?> Thanks again BBC! And yes, I confirm, Tobin’s ideals are the minority.

There are several types of unemployment.


 With that I call a temporary halt  :  )

You might also visit the pages on Investopedia <What is the difference between structural unemployment and cyclical unemployment?> (7 May 2015); and EconomicsHelp <Definition of Unemployment> (3 Jun 2010) for extended research!

Literary Devices – Assonance and Onomatopoeia

Well, this is one of those moments where I never expected teaching English to be so fun!

My knowledge and experience in writing had been limited more to alliteration, apt vocabulary and the use of punctuation. But now there are actually things like Assonance (the clever repeated use of vowels) – see the entries from American Rhetoric and Literary Devices.

I now realise that there is a formalised term for words that imitate or replicate sounds. They are called Onomatopoeia. And yes, I agree with the Literary Device piece that it pulls the reader right into the scene of the passage!

Sleep and Epilepsy

Brief note – for preliminary research – from Epilepsy Society UK (The National Society for Epilepsy – registered charity number: 206186)

The society with inputs from Dr Sofia Ericsson of UCL Institute of Neurology put up a page of the same name. https://www.epilepsysociety.org.uk/sleep-epilepsy#.WFYzUnQZ6Bb. The page and PDF is dated July 2016.

  • Insufficient sleep can increase incidence of seizures.
  • Nocturnal/asleep seizures occur in and around sleep.

Dyslexia – Miscellaneous notes

Avoid this reading strategy!

Reading aloud, as a reading strategy, (after my recent research) should be avoided. It is something that brings ‘absolute terror’ to people with dyslexia. Embarrassment is more acute when the child is young. (One student endured taunting partly due to his poor verbalised reading…)

Letters or words can veer off. For instance, ‘saw’ becomes ‘was’.

‘a b’ can seen as ‘a d’.

But Mrs Okey (a teacher of dyslexia and ADD sufferer Molly Sumner) asked her students to read only the dialogues of books while she read the non-dialogue segments and this worked very well. It was learning by experiencing the story I would say.

Spelling challenges (and related items)

Consider educating child/student in prefix/suffix; word roots/ root words.

Aim to restrict new words for learning per lesson/unit of learning. Another site stated ‘Limit the introduction of new information to reduce confusion.’ And extra time helps! (Anecdotal evidence from the Singapore education system, students with dyslexia are given 15 to 30 minutes additional time for their examination papers).

Similarly, Sumner was aided by instructors who highlighted the most critical parts of the texts to be read during her college/university years. Reduced class sizes likewise seemed to make learning enjoyable for her. (This worked for Dale S. Brown too).

Break down words into syllables.

Exposure to spelling exceptions may well be the better way to help dyslexics learn.


[Side note: Love is most important teaching technique. p.68] Ed. Sharon Gunton. (2008). Learning Disabilities. Farmington Hills. Greenhaven Press.

Elaine K. McEwan. (2008). Root Words, Roots and Affixes. http://www.readingrockets.org/article/root-words-roots-and-affixes. Reading Rockets.

International Dyslexia Association. (2008). Spelling and Dyslexia. http://www.readingrockets.org/article/spelling-and-dyslexia. Reading Rockets.

The Regents of the University of Michigan. (2016). How should spelling be taught? http://dyslexiahelp.umich.edu/professionals/dyslexia-school/spelling/how-should-spelling-be-taught. Dyslexia Help.

Ed. Sandra Hargreaves. (2013). Second Edition. Study Skills for Students with Dyslexia. Singapore. SAGE Publications Asia-Pacific Pte. Ltd.

Another post on this site.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

I was initially frustrated with searching for more information about ADD via the online search engines. Many of the searches came back with ADHD instead. Providentially, I was able to find the site provide by the (US) Cleveland Clinic (Glossary Page, last updated on 27 Jul 2007) which clarified (in some senses) that ADD was a subset of ADHD. People with ADHD display “inattention, distractibility, hyperactivity, and impulsivity” whereas people with ADD is described as: “A label with the same meaning as ADHD. At one time, ADD referred to a disorder involving difficulty paying attention or focusing attention without hyperactivity.”

It can be daunting and confusing (especially if one is a parent of a child showing similar symptoms – think of the emotional flux) conducting research on this topic. The definition of ADHD had been revised ‘many times’ (Shea, p. 5). Further, ADD and ADHD had been considered one and the same at certain junctures (Shea, p. 6). [Again, I highlight and show the need for cross-referencing. This is practiced in History and Social Studies.]

With regards to interventions, one can consider:

  • exercise (one success story raised was Michael Phelps, the Olympic swimmer)
  • organisational aids like smartphone/tablet/electronic organisers (this is similar to sufferers of dyslexia)

These can help affected people better manage the condition.


Book reference and notes:

Therese Shea. (2014). ADD and ADHD. New York. The Rosen Publishing Group.

A recent US survey by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that in excess of 5 million children (ages 3 to 17) were diagnosed with ADHD: in other words, 9% of that age group. CDC likewise stated that 4% of US adults suffer from ADHD.