Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Yacoubian Building by Alaa al Aswany

The title refers to an Art-Deco building built in pre-1940's Egypt when the middle-classed elites modeled themselves on the Europeans. The building has degenerated and seems to be represented by a relic from the past - Zaki an ageing sweet-man now fallen on Hard Times.
The building is invaded by hustlers from the Street, stereotypes abound but gives a good insight into the way people have to survive in a society with fairly rigid social mores - for instance, social mobility is restricted for the young, intelligent son of the door-keeper and in frustration gets the recognition he craves from joining the Islamists and dabbles in 'terrorism'. The book gives a good personal view of Egypt from pre-Independence Days to the mid-2000's. The lot of the women still seem to be dependent on the men in their lives- much to Narwal Al Saadawi's chargrin I imagine.
The book had a surprising ending for me but I guess a realistic one.


With my love of reading I was toying with the idea of accessing the digital collection of books electronically and on a trip to NYC a friend persuaded me to try the iPad3. Not being a techie it's been roughly a month before I got around to playing with the controls, I called in a Trini techie who was raving about the graphics and who promptly downloaded the free 3D sexual positions app!  Now the apps are annoying little precursors to the main event-- I got excited to get the Oprah magazine for free and then was bitterly disappointed that ya had to pay for the subscription-- likewise with the 'free' books apps that you can download-- you have to download then go through each laboriously to just see the titles! Thinking I prefer my Laptop...
So now that I've played around I was appalled to learn that Apple has an electronic fingerprint - you can erase the apps on your computer but apparently it stays in your iTunes account which I didn't know to access and ended up deleting everything! I found it hard to do the whole 3D thing and is they were just vague outlines-- people actually waste their time with this stuff??
So I began to get sold on the thing this weekend--- I was working out of town so didn't take my Laptop to work-- the computer at work crashing because of some lapse in memory- and was able to access the important thing online- Facebook - but was unable to play Scrabble because the iPad was unable to support the latest Acrobat Reader. Managed to download one of the Bookclub classic selections from the Gutenburg Press but was unable to download the Audio version.
Was thrilled to take a photograph relating to work but Facebook did not allow it to upload. When I got to my Out-of-town location there was a Blackout just as Dusk was falling-- good timing GPL- I used the iPad screen to brush my teeth and was able to read in the dark without specs as you can enlarge the fonts. Might just be sold on technology.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

World Book and Copyright Day

St George’s Day – April 23rd is the designated day chosen by UNESCO back in 1995.        
Informative talk given at Moray House that essentially pointed out recognisation  of  the person who dreams up any new idea is the basis and first step of an idea of copyright.  This may actually be more difficult than you think as I remember an African-American writer claiming to have written down the key ideas that the Coen Brothers turned into the hit Matrix Trilogy – if you are a little nobody how do you register your idea/s? The USA is the only country to address this issue with a Patent system– useful as it helps to avoid duplication as one can check to see if someone else has registered your bright idea before you dreamt it up.
Maybe with the advent of the Internet we can develop a Wiki-Ideas site so to tap into the ideas from all over the World and acknowledge originality and no pesky Asian can 'steal' and sell a prototype based on your idea - ha- aren't you sorry now World that the manufacturing base has moved East?!
 So the question came up at Question-time about the ‘rights’ of traditional songs and home remedies and Mr Housty said that presented a problem as there was not one person who could be associated with them—in any case the basic copyright premise lasts the Lifetime of the person plus a further 50yrs from their death after which it enters the Pool of Knowledge to benefit all of Mankind.  Wonder how many years Eddie Grant has on ‘Yellow Bird’ and other ‘copyrights’ he bought up?
Guyana’s Legislation on this Topic is the 1956 Law left over from Colonial times!  This may present a further problem for the traditional songs, etc as Guyana wasn’t a recognized entity at the time.  Probably the best thing you can do if you have produced an original piece of work would be to stick a common “c” in a circle next to your name with a month and year and hope for the best.

20th July 2012 - but in the real world --- this is what can happen to you-- in fact, I unknowingly took some pics off the Internet -- now going through the blog to remove, read and weep:

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Abuse of Power + Rape

So a cousin maintains that ALL sexual abuse is about power.
The 'hot' case of Henry Greene, recently-retired Commissioner of Police and the dubious question of rape touches both issues.A brief summary of the case: mother of two had an issue with the Police wherein her Blackberry Cell Phone (!?!) was seized by the cops and held for evidence. She decided the best course of action would be to 'see' the Top Cop himself who promised her he would help her get the phone back and something to do with providing windows in the house she is currently building. Then they both go to a hotel in a seedy part of Town where she claims she had a look at his equipment, was paralysed with fear and submitted to sex. A few days later, and not getting either the phone or the windows, she decided it was Rape and went public with the allegation.
The Anti-Government forces seized the opportunity to demand the case go to trial - the government being grateful to Greene for actually doing something during the Crime Wave as the previous Commissioner cogitated, did nothing and later became a Candidate for the Main Opposition Party - not even going to touch the unholy connection between the main Opposition Party and violent Criminals - and you wonder why a country of under one million can't get its act together?
I agree that this case of the Commissioner represents an abuse of power, but in a country of frustrated people - from fathers beating up wives and children, mothers beating up children, children pelting animals and pretty much everybody abusing whatever position of Power they have - I see it as all a part of an sad spectrum. On the question of Rape - it does not seem so clear-cut. The Chief Justice after local and Jamaican investigators advised the Director of Public Prosecution to proceed with the charge of Rape waded in with his Opinion that there was not enough evidence in this the Case to convict the Commissioner.
With the alarming incidences of minors being sexually exploited, there were changes in Legislation in both the Constitution and a new Sexual Offences Act with much fanfare last year by the previous Administration. All well and noble but almost immediately several people quite high up in their Party Ranks fell foul of it, one of the notable ones being the Public Relations Officer of the last Administration soliciting sexual favours from under-aged males and not asked to leave his position on the Commission of Rights of the Child or some such thing. And apparently the erstwhile Commissioner would have also been afoul of the new legislation - good thing he got around to resigning then?
By the way, I hope that those people agitating for the conviction of Greene also get involved in the cases of the 62yr old shop-keeper molesting a 13yr old and 'paying' her Gy $500 ( approx U$2) several times and the woman and her husband luring young girls to prostitute themselves in the Interior also being reported in yesterday's papers!
Here's an interesting opinion:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Bound To Happen- 3

After the last Bound To Happen -2:   no further action was taken and the tragedy of a 24-yr old dying from a tooth extraction went on to happen and hardly seems possible.  Equally alarming is that there is no reporting of it in any media but lots of people who live 'over the river' know of the case!
As far as I can gather - there is a Columbian 'dentist' who had legal troubles with a previous employer and the Guyana Association of Dentists requested that his Work Permit be revoked - the Government with its distrust of qualified professionals ( mind you that's a word and person that's severely tested!) decided that the Association was presumably as petty as they were and refused. So the Columbian turns up a few weeks ago in the Newspapers-- .
Now you would think someone in Authority would decide to investigate or put things in motion to protect the General Public-- clearly lacking in judgement for supporting these types of establishments - but no-- that would entail someone taking responsibility. So it looks as if a preventable death could have been avoided - in all my years I have never heard of someone bleeding to death after a tooth extraction-- even though we have many extractions being carried out in the Interior by a Dentex under a lot more trying conditions- a sort of Community worker at the rough level of a Nurse-Practitioner I guess.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Things Black People have to Put up with....

So I was unable to get a picture of the 'cake' from the other side where the female Swedish minister was instructed to cut from-- the clitorial region- as it was highlighting female circumcision.
So sad that with all the money and talent - a caricature of an African tribal woman is the best the Swedes can come up with!  Mind you-- the 'artist' is a black guy: This merely perpetuates the view of a backwards people-- those African mercenaries stealing children for enforced miseries and the affluent Africans who 'sold-out' to keep their people in misery not helping!
As someone said on Facebook "If it was a Jewish child/Killed by "Hussein Mustafa"/"would they be saying lets not make a rush 2 judgement...Or if it was a "ANN FRANK" cake, being put in an mock Auschwitz OVEN....Would jews be saying(It's Art) ??? *Hmmm*"

* removed pictures as apparently under Copyright laws can get sued!

Monday, April 16, 2012

and do remember me - Marita Golden

I can't remember a book whose writing was so haunting and whose lead character I so empathised with.
Jessie never fully recovers from ongoing childhood trauma - well ok-- her father starts raping her from the age of 12 and her upstanding mother ignores all the signs as she's recovering from cancer. We meet Jessie running away from home who luckily meets Lincoln, an orphan who attaches himself to the Freedom Movement back in the turbulent '60s when the local whites were making things difficult for the Blacks to register to vote. The author describes vividly the difficulties and the determination that the African-Americans went through.  And yet the picture of Life in the South is a fairly balanced one - Macon the other protagonist has a mother who teaches English Literature at a university and even Jessie's father joins the Police Force. Jessie's siblings' lives reflect that of an average family but poor Jessie never gets over her trauma and her Life is pretty much ruined by the seeds of mistrust and becomes an alcoholic for pretty much most of her productive years. She pushes away the love of her life- Lincoln - I guess Love is not enough, who moves on to be disillusioned in Hollywood. Interesting as I am currently reading "Healing Life's Hurts" by an Irish psychologist who has some good ideas about schooling and of course, feels that 90% of addictions are due to trying to self-treat or evade childhood hurts.
I was very impressed with this writer as the characters were fairly balanced - she managed to show both the good sides and the flaws that make us all human. Courtland - the other 'hero' while intellectually connecting with the bold Macon leaves her without a seemingly backwards glance. The book ended unsatisfactorily for me with Jessie making peace with her mother after 30 odd years or so - I found it a bit unbelievable that the mother would have lasted THAT long and that Jessie was her favourite child and she would not have protected her better.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Outrageous Story/Stories of Poverty and Ignorance

I read in today's Paper, with feelings ranging from relief to sadness and anger, that the 20 month old child whose tongue and ears were bitten/eaten by Rats in a shack between Mahaica and Maichony died in hospital. Her two siblings aged 5yrs and 6yrs have been subsequently been taken away by Social Services but alarmingly the 'mother'* is pregnant again.  At the risk of sounding like an ignorant, self-righteous Right-Winger, if this isn't an argument for involuntary sterilization I don't know what is!
Adding to that there is a woman put to occupy an empty house in Port Mourant who is in her mid-forties-- pregnant with her 11th child-- the first two 'minded' by relatives in another part of Berbice, the next two -encouraged to enter the neighbours' houses to steal-- taken out of school to 'mind' the younger siblings-- daughter had baby at fifteen, stayed with various men for varying times- baby now back at Shack with the rest of the brood while daughter 'tek another man' less than a month ago(fifth known man so far), brother in remedial home in Essequibo for stealing-- 13yr old taken out of school to 'mind' other siblings. I had actually called Social Services in an effort to prevent the 15yr old contracting any venereal diseases and getting pregnant but the ones in Georgetown were all going to meetings on how to deal with the Problem and that was how I discovered three years ago that there were only two Social Workers for the entire county of Berbice! The one dealing with Corentyne was on leave and the St Francis Xavier Centre-- recipient of so much funding that it could deliver Christmas Hampers couldn't be arsed!  When Social Services finally made it there it was merely to threaten the woman that she would be jailed if she didn't send the kids to school-- no follow-up or practical help with putting the children into remedial classes. The worse thing is... the woman will not give up her children-- a couple came from Scotland looking for a baby to adopt and the woman was not parting with any of her children!

So - this particular ignorance is alive and kicking elsewhere:
where it seems to be the ignorant father abusing their wives and daughters - and having a hair-raising number like 14 children.
The thing is -- coming from a similar background- my illiterate grandmother made 12 children and my mother was the second-to-last child I just have admiration that she worked out that she wanted her children-- girls as well - to be educated and my mother said she and her sister would pretend to do homework while playing tic-tac-toe with my tired grandmother falling asleep at the table. Who am I to advocate for enforced sterilization?
Heard on the BBC of Uzbekistan doesn't even bother to discuss with mother/parents-- just 'tie off' the tubes after the 1st and sometimes 2nd child. Apparently 80% percent of women are delivered by C-section where the enforced sterilization is carried out at the same time- yikes- at 28million people IS this the way to go?

*  The maternal grandmother of the children, in an interview described her son-in-law as an alcoholic and her daughter as mentally-deficient.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Better than doing nothing....

Read a thought-provoking piece about the politics of Charity: -- which raised the interesting point of view that it represented the 'power' of the powerful towards the less fortunate, but whether a concerted effort to change the system so that such destitutes should lessen in number, should be the goal -- more long-term and less ego-massaging.
A relative new group- Redbandaid- took offence about being questioned about a Date Auction (auctioning off dates with attractive youngsters) where alcohol was served for raising funds for a Muslim Girls' orphanage. First the good-- 1 million dollars was raised - well done-- better than doing nothing. Now the question - should we just accept the funds raised or is it necessary to look into the accounting question of what portion , if any (this first case sounds like all funds raised went to Charity) had to be used for expenses. And then the blurred question of monies raised/donated - what proportion actually goes to those in need and should a policy of publishing records for all to peruse be instituted, including long-established ones like the Red Cross, Guyana Relief Committee and relatively newer vibrant ones like the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sahba embanking on an ambitious plan of a Children's Shelter in an area known for Drug peddling?
And is it right to question the wisdom of the Government giving away and not leasing Land to Charities - the propensities of these things to turn into personal fiefdoms after a period of Time.
But I still applaund those involved for doing something--- better than doing nothing....

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Diversifying from Cane-Cutting

Thanks to Facebook and the little running commentary on the top-right I was informed that Guyana now holds the World Record for Power-Lifting. Yaay! Our new champ is Vijai Rahim  who won two Gold medals and set a new Caribbean record in the men's junior category.
He hails from a definitel non-athletic background - his father also being a sugar-cane cutter. Good on him that he didn't go down the usual path of drugs and alcohol in the mind-numbing village of Rosignol and chose instead to go to the gym, where at aged 15yrs he entered a push-ups competition and was subsequently encouraged to enter the field of Power-Lifting. What a great example to set - in five years to be a World Champ while holding down a Cane-cutting job-- though that physically demanding job no doubt contributed to his general fitness-- have you seen the well-developed upper bodies and abs on those people??
So good to see a born-Guyanese beating off those stocky Eastern Europeans who tend to dominate that field - Yaay and by eating he mother roti, not having the funds to purchase supplements-- my personal view-- probably more healthy that way!