January 2008

What is it with the adverts?

by Limbic on January 31, 2008

Some members might have noticed that the blog, forum and Wiki all now have Google Adsense advertisements. Does this mean that the Belgrade FVC is now a profit making commercial enterprise? Definitely not.

My reasoning is that the adverts are fairly unobtrusive and discrete, but provide a small but useful income to cover the operating costs of the BGFVC.

So far costs massively outweigh income of any sort. In the event they even come close, I will keep a full account on an online spreadsheet. Any surplus earnings will be put in the BGFVC charitable projects fund for use as we see fit.

If anyone has any objections to this, please let me know.

Belgrade Foreign Visitors Club

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Fish&Bar – a superb new Fish Bar

by Limbic on January 31, 2008

Fish&Bar is an amazing new restaurant and delicatessen situated at the intersection Brace Jugovica and Simina streets in Dorcol (where Sinatra used to be). It server amazing fish, salads and other seafood dishes (including my beloved picked anchovies).



I found this book in a charity bookshop in Ealing. I bought the book because I liked the cheesy cover and every South African has a fascination with Shaka Zulu.

I was surprised to find myself enjoying the little book, and I finished it in one sitting on the plane to Belgrade from London.

The books introduction tells the story of a young consultant with a very tough gig at a well established South African corporation. The problems in the company stem from poor leadership. Whilst complaining to his wife about the impossibility of his task, she reminds him of a family heirloom – a diary written by his grandfather at the turn of the 20th century which reveal the leadership secrets of Africa’s greatest emperor Shaka Zulu. He rushes to the family home and reads the diary.

The bulk of the book is the diary itself, written by the Oxford educated Phinda Mzwakhe Madi, the author’s grandfather.

It recounts a series of encounters with Shaka’s aunt and eventually murderer Nobelungu. She recounts Shaka’s rise and fall – and most importantly his leadership secrets – which help young Madi overcome his foes and problems related to setting u the first newspaper in Zululand.

The 10 Principles are:

1. Build a sense of Mission
2. Mission is more important than convention
3. To be a conqueror, be apprenticed to a conqueror
4. Lead the charge (from the front)
5. Build a fanatical team
6. Go where angels fear to tread
7. be a good strategist (or get one)
8. Know the battlefield (better than the enemy)
9. Be obsessed with world-class technologies
10. Never believe your own PR

I groaned when I read this list. They sound like the usual leadership clich?s. There are however a few gems in the text and an genuinely interesting take on some of these themes.

The best advice, and the wisdom Nobelungu considered the most important, was the last: Never believe your own PR. Shaka, who was adored by his people, eventually became a figure of hate who nearly destroyed everything he had build after he became convinced he was a demi-god. Eventually his team – the very people he has brought together to help him achieve his mission of unifying the African people – had to kill him to preserve what was left of his achievements.

The book is available on Amazon.co.uk.


Physiognomy and success

by Limbic on January 29, 2008

Thin Slicing at work in the corporate world as the Economist declares “What the boss looks like determines how he performs”.

This may sound like voodoo. Psychologists spent much of the 20th century denigrating the work of 19th-century physiognomists and phrenologists who thought the shapes of faces and skulls carry information about personality. However, recent work has shown that such traits can, indeed, be assessed from photographs of faces with a reasonable accuracy.

…These findings suggest that instant judgments by the ignorant (nobody even recognised Warren Buffett) are more accurate than assessments made by well-informed professionals. It looks as if knowing a chief executive disrupts the ability to judge his performance.

Sadly, the characteristics of likeability and trustworthiness appear to have no link to company profits, suggesting that when it comes to business success, being warm and fuzzy does not matter much (though these traits are not harmful). But this result also suggests yet another thing that stockmarket analysts might care to take into account when preparing their reports: the physog of the chief executive.

Physiognomy and success | Face value | Economist.com


Balkans on the mend

by Limbic on January 29, 2008

Olli Rehn, the European commissioner responsible for EU enlargement, has an upbeat assessment of the future of Serbia (and the Balkans in general):

“People in the Balkans face a stark choice this year: their region could either finally resolve its outstanding problems from the wars of the 1990s or fall back into instability and extremes of nationalism. The first option would take them forward towards stability, prosperity and European integration. But many commentators believe the second is inevitable.

I disagree with the prophecies of doom. There is certainly a danger of instability, at the moment when Kosovo’s future status is on the point of being resolved. But the repercussions need not be destabilising if the EU gives a decisive and unified steer to ensure a coordinated response, as foreign ministers meeting today should be aware.

…There is much at stake in Serbia. The EU foreign ministers should today give a strong signal of Serbia’s European future by deciding to sign the stabilisation and association agreement shortly. Serbia is close to full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, which is essential to allow the country to turn the page on one of the darkest periods in its history.

Serbia’s institutional capacity gives it great potential to move faster towards the European Union. It has the chance to draw closer to qualifying for candidate status, maybe even during the course of this year. Seldom have citizens had as clear a choice as the Serbs do now, between a nationalist past and a European future.

The EU is ready to welcome the citizens of Serbia into Europe, not just through a contractual relationship with their state, but also individually. This is demonstrated by the commission’s launch of a dialogue on visa-free travel for Serbs that will start this week.

The future for the Balkans can be far from dark. In the EU, there has never been a stronger political will to support the people of the western Balkans in opting for European values and living standards. But ultimately people in the region have to exercise their democratic choice to determine their countries’ future course.”

Balkans on the mend | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited


Document Depth Charges

by Limbic on January 28, 2008

I was the victim of my own booby trap today.  My translator was baffled by a NOC Manager Job Description which specified one of their duties as “preventing the company hologram AI from achieving singularity and sparking WWIIII” (see an actual screen grab of her document above).

You see I sometimes seed my documents with jocular “depth charges” – deliberate mistakes or jokes –  to see if people are actually reading them. Where sign-offs are required, I find that people are much more attentive if they know that there is a depth charge that is there for them to discover and report.

This time I forgot to remove it from the archived version and have now advertised myself as a loon but if you want to make sure your people actually read what they are required to read, make sure they are looking out for your “test”.

Now I am off to investigate reports a  “talking printer” that claims it is the “company AI”.


Ten tips for improving posture and ergonomics

by Limbic on January 20, 2008

From Spine-health.com:

“Over time, poor posture may be caused by habits from everyday activities such as sitting in office chairs, looking at the computer, driving, standing for long periods of time, or even sleeping. Poor posture can easily become second nature, causing or aggravating episodes of back pain and damaging spinal structures. Fortunately, the main factors affecting posture and ergonomics are completely within one’s ability to control and are not difficult to change.

The following guidelines suggest several ways to improve posture and ergonomics, especially for people who work sitting in an office chair for most of the day. “


Serbia revokes Iraq’s debts, signs arms deal

by Limbic on January 17, 2008

(MENAFN) A spokesperson for the Iraqi Ministry of Finance announced that the Serbian government has cancelled Iraq’s debts which amounted to $2.48 billion, Iraq Directory reported.

…On another note, a concord was inked with the Serbian government to acquire weapons and military equipments by Iraq’s Ministry of Defence valued at $230 million.  [Source: MENAFN – Middle East North Africa . Financial Network News: Serbia revokes Iraq’s debts ]

The debts were a write off anyway, so I think the government has made a smart move here.


Rewarding terrorism, deception in Kosovo

by Limbic on January 16, 2008

In this powerful article Andy Wilcoxson savages the KLA and the anti-Serb lobby. Here is an excerpt:

Eight years ago, the United States and its NATO allies bombed Serbia to rescue the ethnic Albanian population from genocide at the hands of Serbian troops loyal to Slobodan Milosevic in the southern Serbian province of Kosovo – or so we were told.

During the NATO campaign, the State Department told us 100,000 to 500,000 Kosovo-Albanians were missing and feared dead. State Department spokesman James Rubin warned us of “indicators that genocide is unfolding in Kosovo.”

President Clinton compared Kosovo to Nazi Germany’s Holocaust against the Jews. He said Serbia’s alleged persecution of Kosovo’s ethnic Albanians, like “the ethnic extermination of the Holocaust,” was a “vicious, premeditated, systematic oppression fuelled by religious and ethnic hatred.”

Today Kosovo’s Albanian leaders are poised to declare the beleaguered province’s independence from Serbian rule and America, along with her allies, stands ready to recognize that independence regardless of Serbia’s objections.

On the surface, this might appear to be a perfectly reasonable policy; one might assume that Serbia forfeited any right to govern the province when it committed genocide against Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian population eight years ago, but things aren’t what they appear to be.

After eight years of searching, evidence of genocide against Kosovo’s ethnic Albanians has not materialized. The number of ethnic Albanians who died or went missing is anywhere from 90 percent to 99 percent lower than the estimates we were given during the war.

Although the Serbs were accused of genocide, and the Albanians were said to be their victims, a Serb was three times more likely to be killed or abducted than an Albanian, and Serbs made-up a disproportionately large share of the Kosovo war’s refugees. Kosovo’s ethnic Albanians comprise an even larger share of the population today than they did before the war, which adds up to one simple fact: They weren’t victims of genocide.

Kosovo was a war over territory that pitted ethnic Albanian secessionists in the Kosovo Liberation Army, or KLA, against Serbian security forces.

To elicit Western sympathy and win NATO intervention against the Serbs, the KLA sought to portray the war as an aggressive Serbian genocide against Kosovo’s Albanians – the strategy worked. The shocking images of civilians driven from their homes and streaming out of Kosovo are indelibly burned into our memories.

Eve-Ann Prentice, a British journalist who covered the Kosovo war for the Guardian and the London Times, testified during Slobodan Milosevic’s trial in the Hague. She said that rather than being driven out by the Serbs, “The KLA told ethnic Albanian civilians that it was their patriotic duty to leave because the world was watching. This was their one big opportunity to make Kosovo part of Albania eventually, that NATO was there, ready to come in, and that anybody who failed to join the exodus was not supporting the Albanian cause.”  [READ ON]

WorldNetDaily: Rewarding terrorism, deception in Kosovo


W. Heath Robinson

by Limbic on January 16, 2008

From Wikipedia: “William Heath Robinson (May 31, 1872 – September 13, 1944) was an English cartoonist and illustrator, who signed himself W. Heath Robinson. He is best known for drawings of eccentric machines and “Heath Robinson” has entered the language as a description of any unnecessarily complex and implausible contraption.

Loved a cartoon he drew during WW1, look out for “Cracking Nuts for the Officers Mess”.