Monday, January 21, 2013

Slutwalk and other things

So as my TV viewing increased as a procrastination method of avoiding studying I clicked onto Dr Phil confronting an online viewer who operated a Website criticizing the exposure of too much flesh by women in Public. The program was actually interesting as the mousy man was made to justify his site with two young women - one with the full works- impossibly bleached blonde hair, tight revealing clothes and the other an earnest teenager whose Website/blog aired her view that women should dress how they like and that THAT was not an invitation for rape. I sort of found myself craving the middle ground and siding with the overweight young mother who operated a conservative site decrying the sexualization of young children/pre-teen girls as in my opinion things have got too far when preteens want to copy young American media stars who display inappropriate dress for that age group.
It's bad enough here, on Mashramani Day to see under-10 girls encouraged to 'whine-down or up' as the case may be in a vulgar way clearly aping the sex act ( Having said that I quite agree with the women's position that no woman wants to be raped and remember a Police person in London caused a furore when he advised women to be off the streets before Pubs closed and to use Public Transport which had another woman travelling in it - the women's groups countered that instead of putting the burden/restrictions on the women maybe the men should observe a curfew!
Recently, a Canadian police person warned women about dressing 'sluttily' and the women organised 'Slutwalks' to demonstrate their disapproval at that piece of advice. Our local papers have had a volley going between an imam who implied that women who dressed sluttily contributed to getting themselves raped and others who objected to that view.  Guyana is a hot country pretty near the equator - it makes all the sense in the world to wear the minimum of clothing. But the question of the socialization of the men is a different issue - sick people will prey on the vunerable even the company of other males as the tragic case in India demonstrates. Dressing makes no difference to them but if the woman is dressed provocatively they would use that as an excuse for their unacceptable anti-sociable behaviour.
** Postscript 23-Jan-2013  Heard on the BBC that there is a thing such as Slut-shaming-- I guess that must have been the Website run by the mousy man above-- however - this is a bit more creepy - young teenaged boys get pictures of their teenaged girlfriends in various stages of undress and send around the internet-- called sexting-- apparently the girls are complicit in the earlier stages not sure how they feel to be on the world wide web. But worse in the practice in South Africa of teenaged girls being invited to parties by their peers and made drunk/drugged and videoed being raped! As a young American girl speaking up against these practices asked 'Where is the empathy?' (for another human being). One person observed that children take their cues from their parents - it begins to feel like decent people are outnumbered or accused of being prudish to object to these practices!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Succeed at all Cost..

Amused to see those Sunday School lessons kicking in 40 odd years or so, as the line popped into my mind as I happed to flick past a discussion on Hardball (an American current affairs TV show) on Lance Armstrong - for what shall it profit a man to gain the world but lose his soul...

I had half-followed the hoo-ha of the doping allegations and had hoped that it wasn't true - that it was possible to be wonderfully fit and focussed and it was possible to win a gruelling race like the Tour de France seven times!  Sadly it turns out that it doesn't seem possible without 'extra' performance-enhancing drugs. And I've heard the argument that if an athelete chooses to use such drugs which could possibly have side-effects later -- then surely that's his choice. I mean did the original organisers of the Olympics really mean for people to spend a good proportion of their day 'training' for years and now using the science of kinetics for maximum performance? I'm sure it started out as a 'fun' thing between Zeus the butcher and Apollo the farmer seeing who could reach to the end of the street first.

But back to Lance - it intrigued me why he chose this moment in time to make a public confession after denying it strenuously to the point of Lawsuits. And now opening himself up to new Lawsuits - he is living in the most ligitious nation in the World- though I can't see the logic of a sponsor clawing back monies given to support the US Team in return for publicity, as I'm sure a goodly proportion of people tuned in to see and support Lance Armstrong in the midst of doping allegations. Of course being American, he only has to sign a book deal to make a couple of million but having young children I wondered what you tell/teach them - do you destroy their little worlds by breaking the image of a safe reliable world?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Irony Abounds

The proud notice in Sunday's newspapers asked for 700 workers for a new Chinese company's venture into a (sounds like) mega-forestry venture-- apparently a wood-processing factory as opposed to the furniture/added value factory promised by an Indian company on receipt of a huge tract of land by the Government under the Champion of the Earth's rule (so I guess that one was okay and approved environmentally). While the world is slowly becoming aware of the importance of standing forests/jungles, Guyana seems hell-bent on convincing the Norwegians that they ought to hand over huge amounts of money ostensibly to prevent the forests from being cut down, to the charlatans in charge while deals are being made to cut down the said forests-- or so it seems to my simple brain! Granted that there is more traffic and people about, a hunter guy whose knowledge of the interior far exceeds mine said he has never seen the area around Linden extending to the Berbice River in such poor shape.
So apparently that Chinese are also asking for hands to construct an International Mall - and on the facing page of today's newspapers-- the Surinamese businessmen of strong 'Indian'(that is with loyalties to India) backgrounds are complaining that their businesses are hampered by traffic and limited space and are losing business to the Chinese over there whose Malls presumably have parking. The local street vendors  and the Mom and Pop stores this Christmas complained that their traditional Christmas sales fell below expected as the new Chinese stores selling sub-standard goods, as opposed to the larger stores buying the sub-standard goods from China and selling those, basically had the sales.
So where and what are the those voted to protect us doing? The main man-- the under-siege Home Affairs Minister has a strong history of benevolence towards the Chinese - I am in awe of the Chinese twenty year plan as they have been using Guyana as a stepping stone to the US since the '80's and have now decided to 'stop a while' to use a local phrase.
With the population never exceeding one million the land was always up for grabs.
In a nice ironic twist the abnormally high tides (um- you people are cutting down the trees and screwing up the climate - are you REALLY surprised?) are causing flooding on the East Coast and the aforementioned Champion builds his new palatial house right near the sea - where is the forward-planning switch in these peoples' brain? That Sunday School song about the wise man building his house upon the rocks and the foolish man building his house upon the sand just about 'fits' in this place- metaphorically and literally!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Why It's Exhausting to live in Guyana -6 /The Fat Cats are incapable of guarding the cream!

So getting a lift back to my office it was pointed out to me by a guy-who-knows-these-things that the GRA has created a parking lot on one of the busiest streets in Georgetown for its employees on a corner lot totally filling it the drains! A letter-writer to the newspapers questioned the wisdom of the GRA leasing a building on Camp St with no thought of the access to parking for visitors. But  back to the filling in of drains -if the Government is engaged in such foolishness associated with the never-see-come-to-see 'Captains of Industry' what hope is there for the rest of us - who is supposed to be upholding the standards? Sadly the level of commonsense and leadership is extremely low in all the Political Parties and Parliament. I feel like the animals in Animal Farm peeping through the window and being unable to distinguish the men from the pigs!
The expectation that resources will be there to be exploited forever indicates the size of their dinosaur-era brains.  High-rise buildings with no apparent precedent with regard to standards are being constructed daily. Having one pass the height of my office building next to me I thought of the British rule of keeping 10ft from the fence in order to limit the spread of fire and would make it mandatory that the higher the building the greater the space from the fence and also that if a fire started in one of those high buildings and the neighbouring building burnt from the flaming debris falling on their roof the owner of the high building should be liable -  I mean if you are rich and stupid enough to put up a high building without regard for your neighbour and community who might suffer as a result then it follows that you should pay for damages due to your stupidity!
Those who ought to know better are blatantly stealing land designed for community purposes such as the land for the Waterworks grabbed by the wealthier sectors of 'society' who don't need it and found a loophole to simply take it over-- Government not bothering to pursue the matters means that when the land is needed-- which it will be in years to come-- it would simply not be available!  This sadly has a knock-on effect of driving away the the ordinary man/Labour as people can't see a way to 'fix' these problems being created now, at least not in their lifetime.  I remember talking to a schoolmate about working for a forestry company notorious for environmental damage and I asked whether they felt comfortable selling out their children and grandchildren's birthrights and was a bit astonished to get the reply that they needed to eat now and the grandchildren got to do what they need to do! That person is now quite a prominent and respected figure with pretensions to being in the ruling class! Just bury me now....

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

First bookclub choice of the year and we started out with a fairly long Classic.
I had not read it before but the story was vaguely familiar.   Pip meets and helps an escaped convict Magwitch when he is quite young. There is a good description of his life with his domineering sister and easy-going Blacksmith brother-in-law. There is a half-hearted effort to get him educated and circumstances lead him to meet the local rich eccentric Miss Haversham, who never quite got over being 'taken advantage of' - a sort of physical representative of what many jilted women have to suck up and push aside to continue with Life?  At this meeting Pip meets Estelle the rather cold adopted daughter of Miss Haversham whom he falls in love with and basically remains true to her throughout the novel, even though she warns him that she is incapable of returning that sort of Love.  This introduction to a different Class begins to make Pip ashamed of his own humble beginnings and his future prospects of becoming a Blacksmith himself. Redemption comes in the form of an unknown benefactor via a London lawyer who indicates that he need not work and leads Pip to have Great Expectations. Pip basically drifts about central London and becomes a bit of a snob - I actively disliked his character when he treats Joe, his faithful brother-in-law and serving girl, Biddy very poorly. There was a saving grace in that Pip remains a loyal friend to Herbert - a 'soft' layabout like himself whom he serectly supports with the allowance that he is given.
His benefactor turns up congratulating himself on producing a worthless 'gentleman' and to Pip's horror, the benefactor is even lower on the social scale than Joe! Estelle turns out to be a bit of a Becky Sharp (Vanity Fair) and gets what she deserves-- though I thought the end was a bit ambiguous and Dickens left it to his readers to decide whether the twarted lovers ever get together. There was a lot of 'coincidences' as Dickens made tenuous connections between his characters - good and bad - in an effort to tie up the end of the book. I thought the pyschological formations of the characters were interesting - that 200yrs ago writers were attempting to illustrate how people become who they are from their experiences in their formative years.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Virtual Identities

'Just as we are driven to spread our physical DNA, so apparently do we have an urge to spread our virtual identities, so that we cannot be erased. Instead of physical descendants, we are offering our own virtual selves to posterity.'

The last sentence of the article stuck in my mind but with a slightly different twist as I noticed at supposedly the biggest party of the year a good proportion of people were excluding themselves by texting to their other friends - tending to their virtual selves one could say and not being actually present in the moment - I don't think the yogic masters had that in mind when they said 'live in the present' but it does sort of sum up the current trend. Is the present so awful that we have to constantly be anaesthetising ourselves? Instead of interacting with our fellow humans it is easier to watch a mindless soap on TV and be swallowed up with that drama. 
I must confess to happily ignoring the World when engrossed in an interesting book, even in company but I guess internet could and would be a good substitute as more and more discussions and ideas get online - and the article is right-- not seemingly for any sort of profit.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

BUT but ..why?

Saw in the New Year at the refurbished Palm Court with primarily a bunch of 20-somethings and 30-somethings last night and my basic view of Nightspots hasn't changed much-- a bunch of bored people looking at other people with loud music blaring and overpriced drinks. The party was livened up with the Naya Zamana group ignoring everyone and dancing away - the girls looking very glam in beautiful evening gowns.I derived considerable amusement at the seriousness of about half the people to compulsively keep checking their cellphones for most of the night! I hadn't realised we had such power-brokers of the World in a humble square of Georgetown!
Utterly complexing, to me, was the behaviour of the couple next to us at the secondary Bar tucked away in a quietish corner in the front from which we got a great overall view of the evening's proceedings. So the couple initially were standing next to us and I thought they would be moving off pretty soon after 1am as his hands roamed over her body squeezing bits quite openly, I gawped as a finger paused at roughly the crack of her butt`underneath her dress, then he left to get a high Bar stool for her to sit on. They must have had a previous pre-arranged signal because at least twice for no accountable reason-- maybe at some signal I hadn't notice, she got off the stool or rather re-arranged herself across the stool, tilted up her hips and bent over and they did a furious doggy-style for 3-5 minutes with clothes on, then she resumed sitting regularly on the seat and carried on as if nothing had happened-- they left around 3am after a few bouts of this.
Mich snidely commented on a bunch of vacant-looking girls with odd complexions, impossible straw-coloured hair and vacous looks on their faces wearing tight cream-coloured dresses with bits missing that it seemed like buy-one-get-two-free. We hadn't realised how close to the truth we were as Mich's friend recognised them as the Girls from the Varoom Bar whose girls supposedly got deported in November for 'overstaying their Visitor's Visa'. I might have had an inkling as the young teen in the group kept making herself very familiar with the contents of the old Chinese man's suit - he came with them - we were duely informed about the three levels of  'girls' at the Varoom Bar-- the dancers, the hookers and the escorts.