Is remote working making imposter syndrome worse?


Do you often find yourself faced with feelings of not being ‘good enough’, or that you’ve tricked others into thinking you’re better than you are? A new study has found that you’re not alone

Imposter syndrome is on the rise, according to a study by work management tool Asana. The global study, which sampled 13,000 people – including 2,010 from the UK – has found that the levels of those experiencing imposter syndrome have hit 69%, with 45% saying this has worsened for them since working in a remote environment.


What is imposter syndrome?

Do you ever find yourself second-guessing your qualifications? Feel as though you’ve tricked those around you into accepting you? Believe everything that has happened to you is just luck? Or experience a persisting feeling of being inadequate? This is imposter syndrome.

Rooted in self-doubt, imposter syndrome tells us that we’re not good enough, or that we shouldn’t have the things that we have. It’s rooted in anxiety, linked to perfectionism, and can lead to other mental health problems such as burnout and depression.


Assessing the findings, researchers from Asana have linked this increase to our switch to remote working during lockdown – with less support and communication between colleagues leaving space for anxious thoughts to manifest themselves unchecked.

Speaking to this, Asana’s head of EMEA, Simon O’Kane said: “Our latest research illustrates the increased levels of imposter syndrome, anxiety and burnout many British office workers are currently experiencing.

“With a third lockdown in place, and many now facing the prospect of more remote working in the weeks and months ahead, never has it been more important for companies to not only look after the wellbeing of their staff, but also fully understand the unique challenges their employees may be facing.”

Despite this advice, the study also found that just 19% of respondents felt confident enough to reach out to their employer to speak about the challenges that they are facing.



Speaking to Happiful about tackling imposter syndrome in the workplace, career coach and author Tessa Armstrong notes that imposter syndrome can lead us into vicious cycles of over-preparing and over-thinking tasks, which triggers self-doubt and anxiety. And it’s clear to see how that would be an easy trap to fall into while working remotely.

But there is a way out, and Tessa shares some great tips for addressing your own thinking, and catching yourself before you spiral into self-doubt.

Although it’s never easy, the first step to address any mental health problem is so often reaching out to others. Talking about mental health at work might feel strange, or stressful, but the payoff for your wellbeing could be huge.


To find a life coach near you, head to lifecoach-directory.org.uk



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Russia Working With Venezuela to Ship Sputnik V Coronavirus Vaccine, Envoy Says



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BUENOS AIRES (Sputnik) – Moscow and Caracas are exploring ways to ensure the delivery of the Russian Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine to Venezuela, which is expected to start by the end of January, Russia’s ambassador to Venezuela, Sergei Melik-Bagdasarov, told Sputnik on Friday.

“The Russian and Venezuelan sides signed a contract at the end of last year for the supply of Sputnik V vaccines to Venezuela. The first batch is planned to be delivered this month. Currently, issues related to logistics are being worked out”, the diplomat said.

In October 2020, Venezuela received Sputnik V as part of phase III clinical trials. In December, the Latin American country signed an agreement with Russia for the delivery of the vaccine to kickstart mass vaccination. Venezuela is expecting to receive the first batch of 10 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 in the coming weeks.

Sputnik V is the first ever officially registered coronavirus vaccine. In addition to Russia, Sputnik V was registered by Algeria, Argentine, Belarus, Bolivia and Serbia, while clinical trials continue in Belarus, Egypt, India, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

The vaccine’s dosing regimen is two doses per patient at least 21 days apart. Interim clinical results from latest studies in mid-December established its efficacy at 91.4 percent and at 100 percent against severe cases.



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Why remote working creates security headaches for SMEs


The COVID-19 outbreak has forced many
Aussie SMEs into changing their company policies and allowing their staff to
work from home. An unwelcome consequence has been an increase in risky
behaviour by those remote workers using company-issued devices for personal
business.

In a Mimecast survey of over 1000 remote workers across the globe which included small businesses, 78 per cent of Australian remote workers admitted to using their work tools for personal matters – higher than the global average. Over half of those respondents (53 per cent) confirmed that their personal use of work tools had increased since COVID hit.

Emails a a weak spot

Activities ranged from using personal email
(53 per cent), to social media (40 per cent), financial transactions (51 per
cent), and online shopping (38 per cent).

Personal email and shopping are particular areas of concern for IT support staff. As online shopping ramps up, opportunities for malicious actors to infiltrate corporate networks through malicious online retail sites and bogus ads and scam emails will be abundant.

Awareness
is high, but it’s not fully translating into practice

Encouragingly, 97 per cent of Aussie
respondents said they were aware that links in emails, social media, and fake retail
websites could potentially infect their devices and the company network.

The proportion of employees who have received dedicated cybersecurity awareness training relating to working from home during the pandemic is also high (71 per cent), but there is a disconnect between acquiring this knowledge and actually putting it into practice.

Training is key

The primary reason for this is that most

training fails to engage staff to the extent that the knowledge is fully retained,
and future practices are influenced to any great degree.

In short, much of the training is boring.

By introducing short, snappy, visually
engaging and entertaining learning modules, the message resonates. People are far
more likely to remember and share training content that is fun, and more
importantly, use it to change their online habits for the better.

Additional
measures

Engaging and amusing training is one
important factor in reducing the risk posed by malicious actors, but it is by
no means the only option open to IT teams.

SMEs can take other actions to maintain network security in the new hybrid office/home work environment:

  • Have clear policies around the personal use of work devices, with regular reminders sent to staff about these policies.
  • Limit what software and websites can be accessed through the business network when working remotely.
  • Consider whether it is worth the inherent risk of providing employees with the option to access the corporate network through their non-work devices. This can be complex when using contractors, but it does need some risk vs. benefit analysis.

With so many of us now using our homes as offices, and with the holiday retail period already in full swing, SMEs must address any weak spots in their network security, to ensure that 2021 really is a Happy New Year for their business.

Garrett O’Hara, Principal Technical Consultant, Mimecast Australia



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Working on the chain gang – Congress is moving to block goods made with the forced labour of Uyghurs | United States


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Five ways small businesses can incorporate remote working more effectively


While remote working isn’t anything new, COVID-19 has pushed this
concept to the forefront of many businesses. In fact, a Roy Morgan study
revealed that since the pandemic started, 32 per cent of working Australians
have been working from home. When we consider factors such as Government
announcements allowing restricted percentages of workers back to the office and
even global trends – such as the US, where 50 per cent of their workforce are
comprised of the gig economy –  remote
working is going to become a long-term necessity.

However, adjusting to not having a physical office has placed a lot of pressure on businesses. Included in this, is trying to understand how to manage employees and teams remotely.

Mastering remote working is about finding the right strategies.

Establish a structure and expectations

Lack of face-to-face supervision is one of the most common concerns
expressed by managers and employees. Managers have expressed concerns that
employees will not work as hard, while employees struggle with reduced
communication and access to managerial support.

Providing a structure – or plan – helps to resolve some of these issues.
It is also particularly important for younger generations who may lack
initiative or the ability to self-manage. This structure could start with daily
check-ins with employees; a one-on-one call is one of the most successful ways
of doing this. Or, planning out daily or weekly tasks, which is especially
helpful to employees who require a more “hands on” approach.

Consider communication needs 

Communication styles vary amongst employees. Coupled with this, is the
challenge of getting information. A lot of employees find that the time and effort
needed to get information from co-workers, or even answers to questions is much
more laborious than being in the office. Which is why equipping employees with
different methods is key for accommodating styles and mitigating risks around
efficiencies.

Adopt different communication methods

Since COVID-19, the use of video calls/conferencing has risen. Video
calls are great – as they enable face-to-face conversations and a way to have
collaborative discussions. They can also reduce any sense of isolation from
employees. However, use should be balanced as studies have shown that video
call “features” – absence of visual cues, screen fatigue, and technology
mishaps – require the brain to work harder. To mitigate: emails remain a
standard approach, while Instant Messenger Platforms offer a good way to ask
quick questions, or for any matters that are urgent.

Provide opportunities for social interaction

While research indicates that younger generations are struggling the
most with feelings of loneliness and isolation, no employee is immune. When we
consider the difference in personality types – especially those who perform at
their best while around others – this transition proves even more of a
challenge.

One way to mitigate this, is to find ways for employees to interact
socially. Having team meetings to talk about non-work topics or setting up
remote “offsites” that are fun and engaging, are a couple of simple ways to
remove barriers.

Offer encouragement and emotional support

The transition from office to working from home takes time and isn’t
always easy. It is important for managers to acknowledge stress, anxieties, and
concerns of their employees and provide emotional support. Where possible,
businesses should be investing in mental health, diversity and inclusion
initiatives or connecting with relevant support networks to ensure employees
are supported. 

Remote working becomes more efficient when expectations are set for the way things are done. Having a clear structure, and strategies in place, will help ensure teams are supported, and continue to perform.

Jacqueline Cripps, Management Consultant and CEO, JCL



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The Story of One POW’s Working on the Railway of Death


Houston (CA 30) was a heavy cruiser that became celebrated in the 1930s as President Franklin Roosevelt’s favorite warship. She was a thing of beauty, sleek and powerful as her graceful prow sliced though the water at speeds upward of 33 knots. Houston hosted Roosevelt four times, carrying him and his staff on long holiday cruises in 1934, 1935, 1938, and 1939. As the president later remarked, “I knew that ship and loved her. Her officers and men were my friends.”

Houston was in many ways a microcosm of the Depression-era Navy. Her crew was highly trained, her officers competent and professional, but the ship’s overall fighting ability was weakened by “penny-wise, pound-foolish” budget cuts imposed by Congress. As the flagship of the Asiatic Fleet in the early 1930s, Houston was a familiar sight in Shanghai and other Far Eastern ports of call. She returned to Asia in March 1941, just as Japan and the United States were teetering on the brink of war.

Houston was in the Philippines when war finally broke out. In January 1942, she became part of a hastily assembled and poorly coordinated combined Allied fleet. She escaped destruction several times, mostly from enemy air attacks, but her luck ran out at the end of February, when the Allies engaged an overwhelmingly powerful Japanese task force in the Battle of the Java Sea.

The battle was an Allied disaster, but Houston and the Australian light cruiser HMAS Perth managed to escape the debacle. Ordered to the Indian Ocean, the pair was caught by the Japanese in Sunda Strait. Perth was sunk by torpedoes, leaving Houston to fight alone in an epic, one-sided battle against an entire Japanese task force. After fighting desperately and valiantly, Houston was sunk. Of her roughly 1,100 men, only 360 survived the battle.

Howard Brooks was one such survivor, and eventually he found himself assigned to the infamous Thailand-Burma Railroad, the “Railway of Death.” The 257-mile-long rail line passed though some of the roughest terrain in the world, a nightmare of thick jungles, mountainous ridges, and treacherous streams. The tropical climate was unforgiving, and the half-starved, exhausted prisoners were all too susceptible to cholera, typhoid, malaria, and beriberi. Some 61,000 Allied POWs were slave laborers on the railway, including 30,000 British, 18,000 Dutch, 13,000 Australians, and 700 Americans. Of that number, perhaps 16,000 Allied prisoners died of disease, overwork, and maltreatment by vicious Japanese guards. Another 200,000 native Asian workers also were forced to labor on the line, and 80,000 of them lost their lives as well. Understandably, Brooks has vivid memories of the Railway of Death.

“A heavy cruiser was like a hotel, and I enjoyed it.”

Eric Niderost: Perhaps you could start by giving us some of your background.

Howard Brooks: I was born October 30, 1919, in Greeneville, Tennessee. I grew up on a farm, where we raised mainly tobacco and cows. I was one of eight children, but originally there were three more, two boys and a girl. They died in the great flu epidemic.

EN: Why did you join the U.S. Navy?

HB: One older brother had joined the Navy in 1927, and I was influenced by him. After graduating from high school in June 1938, I stayed on the farm for a time. On September 3, 1939, I went to town and signed up for the Navy. A few days later I got on a bus for the naval training center in Norfolk, Virginia. After boot camp I was sent to San Diego, where I arrived on New Year’s Day, 1940.

EN: Eventually you were sent to Hawaii, where you were given the heavy cruiser USS Houston as your permanent assignment. In time you became a ship’s electrician. What was life like aboard the Houston?

HB: A heavy cruiser was like a hotel, and I enjoyed it. After work or duty hours, a group of friends would chip in and go down to the gedunk [shipboard store] for some pogey bait [snacks], usually Coke and some kind of chips. We’d go to some breezy place topside and all sit down on a wool blanket, and then my best friend, Arnie Arnesen, would play the accordion. Our favorite place was the searchlight station, which was on our mainmast.

EN: How was the daily work routine aboard Houston?

HB: It was all spit and polish. All painted surfaces were kept squeaky clean, and all brass polished almost daily if you were at sea. We had lots of wood decking on the fo’castle quarter deck and fantail, and these would be holystoned first thing daily. Of course, there were a lot of gunnery drills.

EN: In the last months of peace, Houston’s skipper was Captain Albert Brooks, an Annapolis graduate who was known to do things by the book. What were your impressions of him?

HB: A fine man. I never really saw much of him until our first action on February 4, 1942. If we were not at battle stations, he’d come around and say a friendly word.

EN: Admiral Thomas C. Hart ordered most of the Asiatic Fleet to withdraw from China. The Philippines, then a quasi-colonial possession of the United States, would be the fleet’s main base. Houston was a magnificent ship, but her beauty and power hid some flaws. She needed modernization, and her fire control equipment was obsolete.

HB: Yes, and we had faulty antiaircraft ammunition, and we didn’t have the latest radar equipment. Yet, in my 22-year-old mind I felt very confident that we were going to have a short and successful war. We may not have been ready in a material way, but we were ready in a way that counted

“The [500-pound] bomb came though the deck at an angle, then entered the turret barbette and exploded immediately.”

EN: After the war broke out, Houston was mainly employed in convoy escort duties.  But things changed on February 4, 1942, when Houston joined other Allied ships to try and intercept a Japanese force at Makassar Strait, north of Java. But then, formations of Japanese twin-engine bombers appeared. What was your battle station?

HB: I was with the after-damage control party. Our station was on the second deck in the area very close to the barbette of Number Three Turret [one of the eight-inch battery turrets].

EN: It was said that Captain Brooks maneuvered the 600-foot cruiser “like a motorboat,” dodging bomb after bomb. But finally, the Japanese scored a hit.

HB: The [500-pound] bomb came though the deck at an angle, then entered the turret barbette and exploded immediately. Most of the blast was inside the turret, but there was still enough outside to kill all of the damage-control party but two. I was one of them.

EN: How did you survive?

HB: Just a short time before the bomb hit, Boatswain Joseph Bienert, warrant officer and head of our damage party, had been asked to send two electricians to check on a problem on one of the five-inch ammo hoists. He sent me and Larry Wargowsky, and we found that the electrical problem was an overheated ammo hoist motor. But when we were there we heard over the PA system that a bomb had hit Turret Three, so we rushed back to our station. Most of the guys had been killed by concussion, but there was Bienert, sitting with most of his insides lying on his lap. He was conscious, aware, and talking, and when we were trying to put him on a stretcher, he asked us to leave him alone and help someone else.

ENHouston had 48 dead and 20 wounded from that bomb blast. The light cruiser Marblehead also had been badly damaged in the same air attack.

HB: About the same time that we were hit, Marblehead was hit by one bomb on her fantail. There was damage to her steering gear and rudder, with about 13 killed and two dozen wounded. Houston and Marblehead headed to Tjilajap [Java] by way of Bali Straits. On our way to Tjilajap, a big work party was busy making plain wooden caskets. Twelve were from the damage-control party; the rest were from the turret crew.

EN: Once at Tjilajap, then part of Netherlands East Indies, there was an attempt to effect repairs. There was also a moving funeral ceremony for the casualties.

HB: A big dock crane repositioned Number Three Turret onto its base and spot-welded it in places so that it would be stable. It was at the shipside ceremony for our dead that I saw Admiral Hart, the only time I ever saw him. After the ceremony, the caskets were loaded onto what looked like Dutch Army trucks. The severely wounded from Houston and Marblehead were taken by Dutch medical vehicles to Dr. Wassell’s hospital [Dr. Corydon Wassell, portrayed by Gary Cooper in the Cecil B. DeMille movie The Story of Dr Wassell]. I didn’t actually go ashore at Tjilajap.

Houston was alone in the midst of enemies, firing in all directions at her attackers.”

EN:  Admiral Hart commanded the Asiatic Fleet before the war. He was the one who had to decide if Houston would stay in a deteriorating Southeast Asian Theater or head home for repairs. With some reluctance, but with Captain Rook’s wholehearted approval, he agreed Houston would stay.

HB: I have always wondered who made the final decision for the Houston to remain out there. Rooks and Hart knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the situation with the Japanese was a totally hopeless one. The Japs owned everything from Shanghai to Singapore, and if they tried, they could have landed anywhere in northern Australia.

ENHouston and Perth managed to survive the Battle of the Java Sea, an Allied debacle that saw the loss of two cruisers and three destroyers. Worse was to follow. Before going down on his flagship DeRuyter, Dutch Admiral Karl Doorman had ordered Houston and Perth to retire to Batavia [now Jakarta].

HB: We arrived at Tanjung Priok [Batavia’s port district] before sunset, tied up to a pier, and were soon taking on oil. I remember sitting on the searchlight platform looking down at the ship’s band as it was playing on the fantail. As I sat there, I heard a plane that sounded like it was near. As I looked up, it came directly over us, and I could see the big red sun under each wing. We didn’t see the plane anymore, but at about 11 o’clock that night we headed for the Sunda Strait.

ENHouston and Perth were ordered by Dutch Admiral Conrad Helfrich to report to Tjilajap, on the other side of Java. This meant leaving the Java Sea and breaking out into the wide Indian Ocean via the Sunda Strait, the passage between the islands of Java and Sumatra.

HB: I remember, in our small talk, we all were looking forward to entering the Indian Ocean. My feeling was, we’re going to out of range of those planes that have been harassing us for so long. We’ll be safe. On the evening of February 28, I was fast asleep on the fantail-starboard, on my blanket near the water.

EN: The two cruisers had the bad luck to run into a major Japanese invasion effort, a landing force consisting of 56 transports and auxiliaries carrying the Japanese Sixteenth Army and its supply train. But the transports were guarded and screened by a formidable array of Japanese vessels, including two cruisers, one light cruiser, and three divisions of destroyers. How did the battle start from your perspective?

HB: The first thing I heard was the battle station gong. It was a little after 11 pm, and Perth had opened fire on something—at least we thought it was Perth. Houston picked up speed, and you could tell the captain [Rooks] was zigging and zagging to avoid torpedoes. We were doing this for a while—it seemed like minutes—when all hell broke loose. Strong lights began to shine on us, and we were keeping up a good speed and doing a lot of turning.

EN: After the gallant Perth was torpedoed and sunk, Houston was alone in the midst of enemies, firing in all directions at her attackers. The Japanese fired shells, launched torpedoes, and even raked Houston with machine-gun fire. What were the ship’s last moments like?

HB: I could feel the ship shudder, and at the same time I could hear what sounded like machine-gun bullets hitting the sides of the ship, so I disappeared real quick down the ladder that was nearby. A short time later, the PA system announced a torpedo hit forward-starboard, and a moment after that, there was another shudder. This time it was starboard-midship—the forward engine room.

“The PA sounded “Abandon ship,” and then, ‘Cancel abandon ship.’”

ENHouston went down fighting, and by some accounts managed to hit three Japanese destroyers and sink a minesweeper

HB: The last thing I saw before going below was that searchlight on us, and I remember hearing an airplane overhead, and of course there was what sounded like machine-gun fire and heavier gun fire, too. The PA sounded “Abandon ship,” and then, “Cancel abandon ship.” I was confused, but continued to look for a life jacket, when over the PA came the final and definite call for “Abandon ship.” By this time I had reached the portside-aft and, sure enough, I found a life jacket. I could see that most of the ship from the quarterdeck forward was burning, the biggest fire coming from the bridge forward.

EN: The second order to abandon ship was at 12:33 am on March 1, 1942. The ship was in her death throes, listing hard to starboard and settling by the bow. How did you get into the water?

HB: Well, I did a stupid thing—I removed my shirt, pants, and shoes before putting on my life jacket. I had to get off the ship, and I figured the clothes I just removed would have become waterlogged and pulled me down. I jumped into the water, and I don’t know how many degrees the list was, but it did help me. As soon as I was in the water, I saw there was a life raft nearby, so I grabbed onto one of the rope side loops. When I grabbed on, I breathed a sigh of relief, since I was a nonswimmer.

EN: Did you look back toward the ship?

HB: Houston was all lit up by Japanese searchlights and, as we floated away from our sinking ship, she was engulfed in flames from the boat deck to the stern. The stern was fast approaching sea level by that time, and any guys that did not get out of the forward powder or ammo magazines were being drowned or suffocated. Those still on deck were being sprayed with machine-gun fire from Japanese tin cans and smaller torpedo boats. As we floated and watched Houston burn, those Japanese vessels were also firing into the water all around the sinking ship where we were.

ENHouston’s final moments were at hand.

HB: As the fantail slowly disappeared into the brightly lit sea, our “Old Glory” still flapped defiantly to the last. To this day I have never seen a more beautiful display of a flag.

“We were put in a camp that had a boundary marked with a string attached to small sticks.”

EN: What happened immediately after Houston went down?

HB: Well, I remember there were several severely injured men in the center of the raft, and three other guys hanging onto the sides as I was. Later, we began to float near some Japanese transports, so close that we could hear them talking. Not long after that we saw what looked like a whaleboat being paddled by four Japanese sailors. They came near and took a good look at us, but then they kept going. We surmised they saw all the badly wounded guys and didn’t want to be bothered with us.

EN: You floated around for three days.

HB: Now, during all that time we were floating along we could see the shore line—at times we would be so near we could see the trees very plainly, but the current would always take us out of reach. On the second day we lost one of our injured sailors. He was gently slid into the deep on the morning of the third day. The other two wounded men followed the first. A lively breeze was blowing, and we were five hungry, thirsty, and awfully sunburned guys. The breeze was pushing us toward shore, and one of the guys weakly said he thought his foot had touched a rock. Sure enough, in just a very short time all of us were lying down on the sand, stretching our weak, hungry bodies.

EN: After capture on Java, you and other Houston survivors were taken to Batavia and placed in the so-called “Bicycle Camp.”  There were occasional beatings, but on the whole—especially when compared with what was to come—conditions were fair.

HB: The food was nothing to write home about, but acceptable. They took us out on work details. Most of the work I had to do was at the Dutch Shell warehouses, where we handled truckloads of grease and oil. But after a few months [October 1942] the Japanese told us that we’d be taken to a beautiful vacation place where we would spend the duration of the war in pleasant surroundings. They put us in an old English freighter, and in a few days we were tied up in Singapore.

EN: Eventually you were shipped to Burma [January 1943] to begin work as slave laborers on the “Railway of Death.”

HB: We learned that we were to build a railway from Moulmein down to near Bangkok. We were put in a camp that had a boundary marked with a string attached to small sticks. There were strict orders not to go beyond that boundary. One evening some of us were standing near the boundary, and a guard accused us of trying to escape. Our punishment was to kneel with a three-inch-diameter piece of bamboo behind the knees. Soon your legs became numb and you could tolerate it better. I don’t remember how long they had us stay there, but when they let us go, we could not walk. We were also slapped many times—the officers did that to their own soldiers, too.

“It was shameful to all POWs, and glamorized by Hollywood to make money.”

EN: The Death Railway was done almost completely by hand under primitive and horrific conditions.

HB: It was very brutal work. Our first work was digging dirt and piling it on the railroad bed. A bamboo pole would be put through the loops of a burlap bag, a POW on each end of the pole. We’d walk to the digging area and lower the bag, where a digging guy would shovel soil into it. We’d then walk over to the railroad area and dump it. There was always a long line of POWs constantly filling the bags and dumping the dirt. Ants had nothing over us.

EN: What was the next step?

HB: After a section of railroad was filled to its proper level, the next step would be to add a surface of crushed stone. They would find outcroppings of stone as near as possible to the railroad, then use dynamite to loosen it. We would sit with a small hammer and break up the stone into smaller pieces, about the size of an egg, then carry it over to the leveled fill.

EN: What were the next steps in construction?

HB: A POW crew would lay ties down on the stone. These ties would have to be carried one by one, and they were not light. Many times we saw that the ties were made of beautiful teak or mahogany. The steel rails were next. The first ones were carried in a railroad flatcar. Later on, as we continued building, there was what looked like a truck, but had railroad wheels instead of tires, and it would push the rail flatcar along the newly completed sections of railroad.

EN: The terrain and climate must have been horrible, especially for abused, ill-fed men not used to the tropics.

HB: The construction process sounds simple, maybe easy, but there were many hills and valleys, and many of the hills contained solid stone that had to be dynamited and dug. This meant long, dreary, hard work days. To make holes for a Japanese engineer to put dynamite in, one POW would hold a long chisel and another would pound it with a 10-pound sledgehammer. During this process, little flakes of stone would fly around and, if it hit you, the wound would be the beginning of a tropical ulcer. Such ulcers were the cause of many lives lost.

EN: The famous 1957 film The Bridge on the River Kwai makes railroad construction a paradise by comparison. What do you think of the David Lean movie?

HB: It was shameful to all POWs, and glamorized by Hollywood to make money. I’ve talked with Aussie and Brit POWs, and they of course agree wholeheartedly. The Japanese government has had an ironclad position on their treatment of POWs, downplaying the barbarity, and I don’t think they will ever change. PBS has aired, and continues to air, a documentary on the Death Railroad that features an elderly Japanese who was an army engineer who worked on the building of the road. In the film he denies any harsh treatment of POWs. [Brooks was also featured in the documentary.]

EN: How long did you work on the railroad?

HB: Two and a half years. The food was absolutely terrible. That’s one of the reasons why so many of us died. The only time you’d see the food was at the midday meal. The other times it was too dark. We would eat in the morning, before it was daylight, midday, and then after sunset. At midday we’d get rice and “stew,” but the stew was mostly water and a few vegetables. Sometimes there were maggots in the stew, but if you couldn’t see them, you ate them.

EN: You had little or no medicine, and “hospitals” were really dumping places where the Japanese placed men too sick to work. It was a place to die.

HB: The worst thing about the experience was to see shipmates die of starvation. When one of us got sick, or was so malnourished they couldn’t walk, we knew it was the end. And if you got a tropical ulcer, it would just eat you away.

“’Are you ready to go home in the morning?’”

EN: How were you liberated?

HB: Near the end of 1944, I was taken with a group of about one hundred men and sent to Saigon, then part of French Indo-China. On August 15, 1945, a Japanese officer came and gave a speech that the war was over and that we’d go home. But we found out from some French residents about the A-bomb and what really ended the war. Then we saw three big four-engine American planes flying over Saigon. We later learned they were C-47s.

EN: It was then you realized liberation was at hand.

HB: A jeep came into camp, and in it were two American Army officers. “Are you ready to go home in the morning?” they said. They gave us candy and cigarettes, and then had us parade by the jeep and give them our name, service rank or rate, and our home address and telephone number. I don’t think many of the guys got to sleep at all that night.

EN: The next morning you were driven to an airfield, where C-47s were waiting.

HB: Those pilots looked not a day older than 19 or 20, but what a sight for our poor eyes! Needless to say, many of us were shedding a few tears. It just seemed too good to be true. We stopped in Bangkok and Rangoon for fuel. Late in the pm we landed in India, where we were trucked to the Forty-Second Army Hospital, Calcutta. We were all given new clothes, and in the dining room we all wanted to take pictures of the food. Some guys did.

EN: What happened next?

HB: That night we slept on snow-white sheets, and the next day we were given a quickie medical exam. After about two weeks we were off for home in a C-54. We stayed overnight at Cairo, Egypt, and at Casablanca, and also stayed at a base in Newfoundland before arriving in the United States. We did get to call our homes soon after arrival from Calcutta.

EN: It must have been quite a homecoming.

HB: I shall never forget meeting my parents, brothers, and sisters, and also our neighbors.

EN: Besides the obvious trauma, how did your experiences as a POW affect your life?

HB: You have a greater appreciation for the simpler things in life. You don’t have to be rich to be happy and satisfied.

This article was first published by the Warfare History Network.

Image: Wikimedia



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Working From Bed Is Actually Great


Those with chronic illness or disabilities say that they hope that, much as the way the pandemic has made companies more open to remote work, the stigma around working from bed will also be broken. “I hope one of the things that come out of this is it reveals you can still do good work from your bed, or bathtub, or living room sofa with a heating pad and I hope that will create opportunities for people who are chronically ill or disabled n fields they maybe didn’t feel welcome in before,” Ms. Miller said.

Amy Patel, 34, a product manager for a life sciences software company in Austin, was forced to work from bed in the early months of the pandemic when she was placed on bed rest during her pregnancy with twins. She did not love it. However, proper gear helped. “My husband bought me a really nice desk that you could put your laptop with a mouse on,” she said. “I did everything on there.”

If you want to replicate the feeling of working in bed without actually being in bed, you could purchase an Ergoquest Zero Gravity Workstation for $5,995 or buy one of the many, much cheaper computer mounts made for reclining in bed. Supportive pillows are also key for avoiding back pain. Having a spill-proof cup or a mug with a lid helps too, as some have learned the hard way.

While some people turn on computerized backgrounds to avoid revealing their bedroom workstations on video calls, others have embraced their cozy surroundings. Ms. Stephens said that she’s decorated the wall behind her bed with children’s artwork to make a more engaging background for her Instagram Live performances.

Abie Sidell, 27, a filmmaker in New York, often works from bed because of his chronic illness, but he has found it helpful even when he’s not having a flare-up. “I think that being horizontal is conducive to creative thinking,” he said. “When we’re horizontal, whether it’s sleeping or dreaming, is when we’re doing a lot of subconscious or unconscious creative work.”

If Mr. Sidell is stuck on a project or needs to think, he’ll go lie down. “Being in bed is great,” he said. “I wish, in general, there were fewer norms and standards around where it is and isn’t acceptable to work.”

If this year doesn’t shatter them, what will?



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Army veteran says he feels safer in a war zone than working for Queensland Health


A Queensland army veteran working as a security guard for Queensland Health says he is being used as a “punching bag”.

“I’ve been kicked, punched, spat at, scratched, attacked,” Dean Douglass told 9News.

In hospitals around the state, hundreds of attacks are unfolding every day.

Footage from the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital shows one nurse trying to treat a patient — before she is kicked, falling to the floor and suffering a broken leg.

In this footage, a nurse, on the right in black, can be seen trying to treat a patient before she is kicked, falling to the floor. (9News)

And Mr Douglass’ experience on the frontline of the state’s healthcare system has allegedly been so scarring, the former soldier says he feels safer in a war zone.

After serving a decade as an infantry soldier, completing four combat tours, he decided to take a job with Queensland Health in 2016 as a security guard.

“I had a really high temp deployment, there were 10 Australian soldiers killed while I was in Afghanistan,” he said.

“The reason I felt safer in Afghanistan is because the boys beside me and the support that I had — versus at the hospital, the danger comes in the form of physical violence.

“At the hospital, it is mayhem … f*** mayhem.”

Dean Douglass
Dean Douglass served for a decade as an infantry soldier, completing four combat tours. (9News)

There have been more than 12,000 physical and verbal attacks on Queensland hospital staff in the last year.

That’s compared to nearly 8000 two years ago.

“One day it will be a real bomb, one day it will be avoidable, and someone will have blood on their hands, and it’s not going to be me,” Mr Douglass said.

But Mr Douglass claims the entire security system at hospitals right across the state needs to change.

Dean Douglass
Former security guard Dean Douglass says he has been ‘kicked, punched, spat at, scratched, attacked’ on the job as a health worker in Queensland. (9News)

The first initiative he is calling for is to introduce on-shift police officers inside emergency departments at peak times to alleviate pressure on frontline staff.

“New legislation can be written to support hospital security, it’s a very unique environment and we can be given powers to search and detain,” he said.

Queensland Shadow Health Minister Ros Bates said there’s been a 55 per cent increase in assaults over the last three years.

“We need to make sure we are valuing our frontline staff and they are not punching bags,” Ms Bates told 9News.



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Check Out This Raspberry Pi-Powered Stargate with Working Lights and Sounds – Review Geek


Kristian Tysse

Stargate SG-1 is one of our time’s finest sci-fi series, thanks to smart writing, excellent acting, and the sense to not take itself too seriously. If you’re a fan, you probably dreamed of stepping through the stargate and visiting another world. Well, that’s still not possible, but this Raspberry Pi-powered replica might be the next closest thing.

Stargate fan Kristian Tysse put the whole thing together and painstakingly wrote about the process on his website. He started by 3D printing the pieces he’d need to build a stargate, a base, a DHD (that’s a dial-home device), and a map of stargate addresses.

The goal was to make a stargate with an actual spinning piece, chevrons that lock, and a wormhole effect. To achieve that last part, Tysse used an infinity mirror effect. The DHD features light-up buttons, including the big red button at the center. The DHD is essentially a USB keyword, and Kristian created a custom PCB to connect all the buttons and lights.

When you tap the address symbols, the DHD connects to a Raspberry Pi hidden in the base and checks against a list of valid addresses. Tysse culled this from a list of addresses used in the show. If your sequence matches, the stargate “opens a wormhole.”

As you dial, the stargates spins its coordinate symbols, and the pieces lock into place exactly as seen in the show. And you only get a wormhole if you dial the correct address. To help with that, Tysse 3D printed a list of them on a replica of a goa’uld tablet.

Speaking of show accuracy, the wormhole will only stay open for 30 minutes. Once that time limit hits, the whole setup plays a quote from the show and shuts down the wormhole.

You can see the entire write up of the project at Tysee’s website. Better yet, he offers a plan so that you can 3D print, wire, and build your own. And if that sounds like something out of your skillset, he plans to make one more to auction off. 





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More working from home will transport us back to the future


If you measure the rise in house prices over the years, you find the closer homes are to the GPO, the more they’ve risen, with prices in outer suburbs having risen least.

But if WFH becomes lasting and widespread, that decades-long trend could be reversed. If you don’t have to spend so much time commuting, why not live further out, where bigger and better homes are more affordable and there’s more open space?

Maybe apartment living will become less attractive compared to living in a detached house with a garden, with a corresponding shift in relative prices. And if we’re going to be working at home as a regular thing, maybe we need an extra bedroom to use as a study.

It’s interesting to contemplate. But before we get too carried away, let’s remember one thing: in human history, there’s nothing new about working from home. Indeed, when you think about it you realise humans have spent far more centuries working at home than not.

We’ve been working from home – not having a factory or office to go to – since we were hunters and gatherers. That was all the millennia before the beginning of farming about 10,000 years ago.

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In all the years before the start of the Industrial Revolution in Britain in the 1760s, most people earned their living from farming, and farming was done next to – and sometimes inside – the hovels of peasant workers or, in less feudal times, the homesteads of farmers.

You know that in Europe and other cold climes, families lived with their farm animals during winter. Much work would have been done in nearby sheds.

In the Middle Ages, most tradespeople worked at home. Blacksmiths, carpenters, leather workers, bakers, seamstresses, shoemakers, potters, weavers and ale brewers made their goods in their homes and sold them from their homes.

This was work suitable for women as well as men, and it could be combined with childcare and other, income-earning farm work.

In the early days of capitalism, from the 1600s to until well into the Industrial Revolution, much use was made of the “putting-out” system, as The Economist magazine describes in a recent issue.

“Workers would collect raw materials, and sometimes equipment, from a central depot. They would return home and make the goods for a few days, before giving back the finished articles and getting paid,” it says.

“Workers were independent contractors: they were paid by the piece, not by the hour, and they had little if any guarantee of work week to week.”

Is this ringing any bells?

Being economists, the magazine notes that when Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations, in 1776, it was perfectly common to work from home. Smith famously described the operation of the division of labour in pin-making – not in a dark satanic mill but a “small manufactory” of perhaps 10 people, which could well have been attached to someone’s house.

Eventually, however, the putting-out system gave way to full-on manufacturing in factories – despite the resistance of the machine-smashing Luddites who preferred the old ways.

The move to factories was an inevitable consequence of the development of bigger and better machines in the unending pursuit of economies of scale. Workers moved from the farm to the factory and then, as technological advance continued, from highly automated factories to city offices and, eventually, sitting at a desk staring at a screen.

In the Middle Ages, most tradespeople worked at home. Blacksmiths, carpenters, leather workers, bakers, seamstresses, shoemakers, potters, weavers and ale brewers made their goods in their homes and sold them from their homes.

It’s economic development and the pursuit of ever-greater material prosperity has opened the geographic divide between home and work. Which is not to say that further technological change – including the advent of Slack and Zoom – can’t make it possible to bring them back together for many, though obviously not all, workers. Provided, of course, that’s what workers and, more significantly, bosses see as being to their advantage.

Here, too, it’s worth remembering a bit of history. The Economist notes that, according to some economic historians, workers were exploited under the putting-out system. Those who owned the machines and raw materials enjoyed enormous power over those whose labour they used.

It was difficult for workers spread across the countryside to team up against the bosses and their take-it-or-leave-it offers. Crammed into a big factory, however, workers could more easily join together to ask for higher wages. Trade unions started to grow from the 1850s onwards.

Happy speculation aside, there’s no certainty how much working from home will take on. If it does, there’s a risk that will be because bosses see it as a new way to cut costs. That really would be turning the clock back.

Ross Gittins is the economics editor.

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