Thursday, October 18, 2012
Friday, May 7, 2010
In the horror show of American financial statistics these days there is a social sideliner that should give women a real fright and cause them to invest in some alternative bedside reading.
Take the following dismal snapshot:
•47 per cent of women over the age of 50 are single.
•50 per cent of marriages end in divorce.
•In the first year after a divorce, a woman's standard of living drops an average of 73 per cent.
•Of the elderly living in poverty, 3 out of 4 are women and 80 per cent of them were not poor when they were partnered.
•Nearly 7 out of 10 women will at some time live in poverty.
Admittedly, state supports in New Zealand are a considerable cushion to separation and divorce but domestic purposes benefit, Working for Families tax credits and NZ Superannuation aside, it still isn't a pretty picture.
On both sides of the Pacific, the majority of single-parent families are led by women. And regardless of geography, women all over the world still get paid less than men.
Those two facts alone would suggest that as a woman, it is not a bad idea to get a grasp on financial markets or at least learn the difference between equities and fixed interest investments and their varying rates of return.
Finance books tailoring to this particular social issue are becoming increasingly popular, as are women-only networking groups and clubs dedicated to advancing financial literacy.
Stockbroker Craigs Investment Partners (formerly ABN AMRO Craigs) is the latest to get in to the financial sector's equivalent of the publishing industry chick-lit trend.
Last year, the investment house began offering free seminars for women to help feed the appetite for financial acumen that extends beyond household budgeting.
Since the bi-monthly breakfast sessions first kicked off in Auckland, they have since spread to three other locations; Tauranga, Palmerston North and Christchurch.
Last Thursday marked the first in the South Island when more than 35 women turned out for a 7.30am financial primer in Christchurch.
After a light breakfast, stockbrokers Jennie Moreton and Alexandra Dalzell served up a buffet of investment tidbits, from basic terminology to their favoured equity picks.
"It's gaining quite a bit of momentum because everybody's finding it to be a success in their region," Ms Moreton says of the initiative.
The investment adviser suggests the popularity of the women's wealth seminars is partly because they are led by women – except in Palmerston North where, ironically, they couldn't find a female advisor to do it.
Another reason is that women want to become more empowered when it comes to their financial affairs.
So what does a woman bring to the table that a man doesn't in a profession that is based solidly around numbers?
"I think it's an empathy," says a reflective Ms Moreton.
"I think that women advisers – and this is no detriment to my male colleagues – may be a bit more interested in building relationships beyond the advisory relationships."
Not necessarily on a buddy- buddy level, but in terms of a dialogue that cuts beyond dollars and cents and goes to the heart of the nitty-gritty personal issues that determine our financial requirements in life.
"In this industry, one of the things that is emphasised is the get- to-know-your client thing," says Ms Moreton. "It's knowing your client's whole situation so the advice you are giving them isn't in isolation to the rest of their life. If they want to travel every year in their retirement, then you've got to make sure they're investing in things that give them enough income to.
"And I think we have a really good understanding of their needs, objectives and situation to give them appropriate advice."
Andrew Withers, an investment advisor with Forsyth Barr in Christchurch, challenged the notion that women were inherently more empathetic as advisers.
"It's personality, not gender," mused Mr Withers.
"In our industry, it's not one size fits all. In a lot of cases they might be right, women might be more comfortable talking to another but you find a space in the markets where there are people who you will get on with and those who you don't.
"I don't think it's necessarily down gender lines at all."
If the alleged female proclivity to memorise birthdates and grandchildren's names is an asset, so too is Ms Moreton's and Ms Dalzell's capacity to translate the financial jargon without being patronising.
They take the fear factor out of investing by explaining the principles and concepts underlying their investment philosophy approach in everyday terms.
"It's not rocket science," Ms Dalzell tells the crowd, reading from an overhead outlining the importance of a diversified portfolio.
In the course of their 90-minute session, they review the three main asset classes from which investors can choose and their related risk and returns. They also discuss market ups and downs and the benefits of staying invested long- term as opposed to trying to pick the "next big thing."
The crowd, consisting of women ranging in age from early 20s to late 60s, was keen and inquiring – asking about the prudence of overweighting one's portfolio in cash given declining interest rates and the value of rural investments.
Business owners Amy Carter, 32, and Rosa Carter-Holt, 29, said they were interested in increasing their financial literacy for personal and professional reasons.
Ms Carter, who runs her own PR and marketing firm, said she had hit a point in life where she wanted to move beyond property investment.
"From my perspective, it more about learning on my own right. My husband has some very strong ideas about it, I'd like to have a bit more information to be able to argue the point I suppose.
"It's an interesting market at the moment with everything in recession and it's a good time to talk to people who know what they are doing rather than guessing it yourself."
Friend Ms Carter-Holt, owner and manager of a real estate franchise, said in her line of business it paid to know what advisers were saying about the property sector.
"I come from a financial background and was always interested in this topic but being in business ownership and the real estate sector, I am very curious to hear what they have to say property markets and where people should be investing."
And as could be expected, Ms Dalzell and Ms Moreton spent a fair deal of time assuring would-be investors that despite current conditions, there was reason to remain hopeful – and invested.
"It has been a horrible year, there is no denying it but there is also good opportunity," says Ms Moreton.
"People are more inclined to retreat when the market is going down, when it's all doom and gloom and all the rest of it, then advance when it's positive. So they think when the market goes into negative territory, like it is now, that people always lose money on the markets, but that's not necessarily the case."
But is this kind news more credible coming from a woman, or is a female adviser more trustworthy?
"We see it more as a partnership," explains Ms Moreton.
"Not as we tell them what to do and they follow our advice blindly. We make sure they're fully informed and they can make a decision based on that. So when you have difficult times, like at the moment, the clients understand we made these decisions together, that nobody's at fault, but that we can work together to move through these difficult times."
As we age, hormone levels decline, creating a severe hormone imbalance that may contribute to many of the diseases associated with aging including depression, osteoporosis, coronary artery disease, and loss of libido.
THE DANGERS OF HORMONE LOSS
By the time a woman enters menopause, she may already have experienced two decades of hormonal imbalance. After menopause, when all her hormone levels decrease significantly, risk of major diseases increases. These include:
Heart disease - Rates of heart disease in postmenopausal women gradually climb until they equal the rates typically seen among men. According to the American Heart Association, coronary heart disease is the leading killer of American women (American Heart Association 2008).
Osteoporosis - Hormone deficiencies are clearly associated with bone loss and osteoporosis, beginning even in the third decade of life. By the time a woman reaches 50, her risk of an osteoporotic bone fracture is significantly increased.
Alzheimer's and dementia - Loss of hormones is associated with neurodegeneration and increased risk of dementia, such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.
ANTI-AGING BENEFITS OF HORMONE SUPPLEMENTATION
Many physicians accept diminished hormone levels as an inevitable consequence of aging and dismiss the anti-aging benefits of restoring youthful hormone levels. However, research indicates that, in addition to relieving menopausal symptoms, optimizing hormone levels can benefit conditions such as osteoporosis, depression, fatigue, and excess weight. Among the most important hormones for women to monitor and balance are free estrogen, testosterone, and DHEA.
Estrogen Is Important for Osteoporosis Prevention
Strong, healthy bone is continually maintained through a process of bone resorption (removal of old bone) and bone formation (deposition of new bone). During this process, estrogen plays an important role in protecting against bone loss. Sufficient levels of progesterone and testosterone are also important. A woman's risk of bone loss and osteoporosis increases dramatically after menopause when estrogen and other hormone levels decline. The primary preventative treatment modality in the U.S. for postmenopausal osteoporosis is hormone therapy. Studies show that hormone therapy could potentially prevent 80% of vertebral fractures and reduce hip fractures by about 50%.
Testosterone Linked to Libido and Well-being
Although women produce only small quantities of testosterone, this important hormone helps women maintain muscle strength, bone mass, and sexual function. A woman's testosterone level decreases throughout her adult life, and, by menopause, is about 50% of what it was at 20.
In one study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in September 2000, testosterone patches were tested on 75 surgically menopausal women whose declining testosterone levels had resulted in a loss of libido. Study participants using testosterone patches were two to three times more likely to have an increase in sexual activity and improved overall well being than those not using patches.
Studies Suggest Hormones Affect Skin Integrity and Elasticity
During menopause, when the production of hormones in the ovaries diminishes significantly and eventually stops altogether, it is not surprising that most women notice changes in their skin, most noticeably dryness and wrinkling. Studies show the skin thins out and loses its elasticity causing wrinkles to deepen, and the process of cell renewal slows down, resulting in less radiance and a duller complexion. Some estimates show that skin loses up to 30% of its collagen in the first five years after menopause, and without intervention, post-menopausal skin may continue to degenerate.
Maintaining optimal levels of estrogen appears to exert strong influence on aging of the skin. A study in the British Medical Journal found that the collagen content of skin in postmenopausal women who underwent estrogen therapy was 48% greater than in those who did not -- suggesting that, in aging women, estrogen protects skin similar to the way it protects bones. Another study suggested that skin wrinkling may also diminish as a result of the effects of the hormone on the elastic fibers and collagen. The same study also showed women who take both estrogen and testosterone have skin that is 48 percent thicker (and healthier) than women who don't take either hormone.
Estrogen Helps Maintain Healthy Vaginal Tissue and Prevent Urinary Incontinence
Vaginal dryness and atrophy, urinary frequency, urinary incontinence, and repeat urinary tract infections are problems that many women experience during and after menopause. These symptoms occur because falling estrogen levels can lead to thinning of the vaginal and urethral tissue and weakening of the muscles around the bladder.
Supplemental low-dose estrogen has a very robust local effect on the many estrogen receptors in these tissues and can be useful in reducing vaginal dryness and thickening skin and mucosa. Studies show low-dose estrogen can also lower vaginal pH, promoting a healthy environment for the growth of protective flora, which may then help prevent urinary tract infections.
DHEA - The Fountain of Youth Hormone
DHEA, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands, has been called the ''fountain of youth'' hormone because of its widespread positive role in maintaining youthful function as we age. Levels of DHEA peak in our twenties then begin a dramatic decline, which is associated with diminishing immunity, memory, libido and energy, and lowered resistance to age-related diseases. DHEA also plays an important role in how we handle stress and in bone mineral density.
While over-the-counter DHEA supplements are widely available and may be valuable in the quest for healthy aging, too much DHEA can ''cascade'' or turn into other hormones, creating further hormone imbalance. On the other hand, DHEA levels typically increase on their own when other hormones are brought back into balance. As with all hormones, measuring your hormone levels before supplementation is critical.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
DARKNESS AND INTERNAL WAVES IN THE SEAS
40-... or is like the darkness in a deep sea. It is covered by waves, above which are waves, above which clouds. Darkness, one above another. If a man stretches out his hand, he can hardly see it. For any to whom God gives not light, there is no light.
24-The Light, 40
The construction of submarines dates back to the 17th century. A vessel that navigated under water was first contrived in 1620 by C. Drebber. Submarines developed rapidly, and in 1954, nuclear submarines were made. The development of submarines made possible the study of submarine geology and topography, and life in the depths of oceans. Collection of data had been possible thanks to the means developed in recent centuries without which a man could not dive to a depth more than 50 meters.
At a depth of 200 meters from the surface of the sea, darkness reigns. At this depth, then, “If a man stretches out his hand, he can hardly see it,” as described in the verse. The bottom of seas and oceans are pitch dark. While broad daylight reigns on the surface, 200 meters below it is again completely dark. At the time of the descent of the Quran, there were neither scientific data nor knowledge based on observation about the darkness reigning in the depth of seas. Just as it told about many aspects of heavenly phenomena comprehensible by man without the help of satellites, the Quran also provided information about submarine life in the depth of seas and oceans hardly accessible to man without submarines and instruments. The Quran - whose range of information is vast enough to cover everything, from the space high above down to the depth of the seas - itself proves its divine origin by the very fact that it is flawless.
WAVES ABOVE WAVES
In general, we have the impression that the wave only breaks on the surface and that the water underneath is calm and still. That is why the expression in the Quran, “by waves, above which are waves,” may seem puzzling. These waves were discovered in 1900 and are as described in the Quran. The dark depth of the sea contains these waves topped by the waves on the surface.
In the verse, we also observe the motion of light. The sun’s rays are refracted as they strike the clouds and lose some of their luminescence. The rays that reach the surface of the seas diffract as they continue their journey in the spectrum, the first layer holding onto the yellow, while the second holds onto the green; in the last layer, the seventh in fact, the blue disappears. Thus, as the journey goes further downward, light vanishes. The sunlight refracted in the clouds, the light that vanishes in the levels of oceans, completely disappears in the depths of oceans and cannot light the bottom. Not even fish can see their way unless they themselves generate some form of light.
6- Say: “The Quran was sent down by Him, who knows the mystery that is in the heavens and the earth: verily He is Forgiving, Merciful.”
25-The Distinguisher, 6
Copyright © 2001-2010 Quranic Research Group
Monday, December 21, 2009
Beberapa penyelam telah menemui sebatang sungai di dasar laut dekat Cenote Angelita, Mexico. Sungai berkenaan dikatakan ditemui di dalam sebuah gua, di sana di kedalaman 30 meter. Apa yang menakjubkan ialah air di dalam gua itu pada mulanya tawar, namun jika anda menyelam sampai kedalaman lebih dari 60 meter, airnya menjadi air asin, lalu anda dapat melihat sebuah "sungai" di dasarnya, lengkap dengan pohon dan daun daunan.
Subhanallah! Betapa hebatnya ciptaan Allah, walaupun di dalam medium yang sama air tawar dan masin itu tidak langsung bercampur, malah kelihatan dengan begitu jelas keadaan fizikal sebuah sungai yang seolah-olah sedang mengalir di atas tanah biasa, bukan di dasar laut!
Adakah ini peninggalan kaum terdahulu yang ditenggelamkan Allah? Sama-sama kita fikirkan...
Thus, Allah had said in Al-Quranul Karim that "... and when He decrees a matter to be, He only says to it ' Be' and it is." (Al-Baqarah:117)
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
PASIR MAS, 20 Okt (Bernama) -- Warga Sekolah Kebangsaan Tok Sangkut di sini, gempar apabila 35 helai sejadah di dalam surau didakwa berdiri secara misteri dengan sebahagiannya menyerupai individu sedang menunaikan solat.Kejadian itu disedari seorang murid yang kemudiannya memaklumkan kepada gurunya, Adnan Abdullah, 37, ketika sesi pembelajaran dijalankan berhampiran surau berkenaan."Kejadian berlaku pukul 10.40 pagi, ketika saya menjalankan sesi pembelajaran di luar kelas disebabkan kelas sedang diubahsuai, seorang murid yang terpandang ke arah surau memberitahu sejadah kelihatan berdiri," katanya kepada pemberita di sini, Selasa.