Friday, January 23, 2015

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

An unusual choice for the Bookclub, reflecting perhaps new members’ tastes which makes the Bookclub so interesting! This book won the Hugo and Nebula sci-fi awards.

Conceptualised in 1977, like all good science fiction, there are some eerily true predictors of the future—the complete lack of privacy and manipulation by shadowy figures who are able to surmise one’s thoughts and action—foretelling  the massive ‘spying’ online. In the introduction the writer states that his book is different in that most literature contain shades of previous books, implying that his was unique. The immediate thought about Ender in Battle School was that of Lord of the Flies – groups of boys vying for power—except here Ender is the hero and inflicts pain while suffering mentally.
I was a slightly appalled at the obvious relishment of violence, and thought this is definitely a Boy’s Own book.. my nine year old nephew might like the idea of a 6yr old battling it out against all odds but I quailed at the making of a perfect fighting machine—destroying all close human contact and suffering psychological damage.. the idea of the school’s principal to teach the child that in a battle with the ‘other’ there is no one to rescue him (and the rest of the World who depends his victories).
Concurrently in the story, his older siblings also as talented…one obsessed with power and the other too ‘soft’ and full of empathy are using the World’s connected information system to instigate trouble between the peace-pact holding Nations in order for their country to assume superiority. Weirdly, I keep getting emails from somewhere about World politics and have no idea when/if I signed for it!
Then it got a bit Star War-sy and I started skimming through bored not having the patience to revel in the nitty-gritty and a bit guilty my assignment was put on hold. Mercifully the end was near.

Not sure about copyright but here are some poignant pictures from this link:

"The Israel-Palestine conflict has been an ongoing dispute for a couple of decades. Two groups of people share the same land, but have different beliefs. This is what a typical childhood looks like for most Palestinian kids. They are forced to grow up fast in an impoverished and violent environment."

Add caption

"It’s been over 3 years since Syria engulfed in a bloody civil war. Rebel forces are still fighting to overthrow president Bashar al-Assad. These rebels use children as means to transport guns and supplies. Most were robbed of their childhood by this conflict. They have to join the rebels and do what ever is asked of them."

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

No lessons learnt

So everyone and his wife seem to think it would be easy to run a country based on the way the country is being/has been run-- nepotism and elitism since post-Colonial days apart from the Jagans who are guilty about not stamping out incompetence which escalated to their Party turning Animal Farm-like into their Opposition - to which I say... ya have to work with what ya got...

One would think that the Country having had independence relatively late, would sit back, study and decide on a strategy and move ahead (Jagan attempted the National Development Strategy in 1996)..regardless who was in Power...but no. So based on the Winging It By The Seat Of Your Pants mentality we lurch from one whim to another-- I felt I was again in the Twilight Zone when I saw this very revealing picture from SN about the Ministry of Health's (yet again) shot in the dark scheme for exercise in school [note to the wise-- when building those concrete blocks, incorporate a nearby space for a playing field and stick in a Games Session thrice a week or more!]. From my quick skim-- it appears some selected schools as going to incorporate a skipping program (why not all?) - and they have a Corporate sponsor-- naturally promoting its products as in the picture-- totally undoing whatever good limited exercise would do-- sort of like a Tobacco company sponsoring a heart-check up!
Picture taken from toady's edition of Stabroek News

Yup skipping program proudly sponsored by High Fructose Syrup-- ya'll learning dem good!

PS... stand corrected-- this brainwave an initiative of the Ministry of Education -- thanks to an article pointing out my rant a week after this post--- mmm perhaps someone IS reading it?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Only in Guyana!

As the half-century mark fast approaches, an unusual phenomenon has occurred whereby everyone appears less intelligent (I diagnose-- big fish in small pond syndrome). Clearly this is not so as they are all driving by in bigger, newer vehicles; splurging money like no tomorrow on the important things in life like over-priced niteclubs (as opposed to the correctly spelt nightclub) and imported overpriced and overhyped consumer goods while complaining that a U$5 doctor's fee is unaffordable; hair and nails 'done'...or maybe just the movers and shakers who everyone wants to emulate?
So with the rise of 'new money' come the responsibilities Guyanese seem unprepared for... I didn't know whether to laugh or cry on reading in today's newspapers that the 40-something yr old second-wife who was investigated for a hired 'hit' on her 60-something yr old husband but not charged last year was fearful for her life and making plans to emigrate. She apparently asked her daughter who now resides in the US to come back to keep her company. A few days ago she was shot in cold blood in front of the said daughter- today I read that the children are flying the dead body to the US for burial because they are fearful for their safety. It is mind-boggling because usually it is the other way around- someone goes for treatment overseas and is flown back to be buried and give closure to friends and family.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Thank you Germany

Attended a public meeting about the new Protected area in North Rupununi  consisting of 2.8% of Guyana's Landed areas - the Kanaku Mountain Protected Area. This is the third such project - Shell Beach and Kaieteur Falls being the other two-- Iworkama being an entirely separate project. 

So apparently Germany has been quietly financing for years and from what was reported-- supporting (financially) guidelines about community participation-- even this meeting was as mandated in the plan of Action... of course-- it was mainly the converted who turned up... and me! I was a bit  amused that there was only one stakeholder-- a representative from Yukupari -- one of the 21 villages around the protected area-- though one can argue that us Coastlanders are also stakeholders.  Of course, the ministry's representative pipped up that there was a 1 billion (Gy) dollar trust fund sent up from mining revenues that hopefully would generate some financial support-- at an interest rate of 3-4% it seems unlikely to be enough as this year's capital costs exceeded 3 million and next year's was slated to be in excess of 26 million -- not counting recurring costs: like my little business-- the major expense was going towards salaries. Maybe they should apply for Norwegian funds- at least the Norwegians might be happier to know the Germans are overseeing where their money is going?
PS.. the wonder of technology and transparency here's the proposal:

Now here's a beautiful picture of Eagle Mountain on the left-- going up the Potaro towards Kaieteur
The teenaged Amerindian guide ( a few years back) told us that a Canadian mining company had applied to dynamite it!
So regarding Chinese Forestry deals-- I would like the process to be as transparent so 'we' can all know what exactly the country gets from these deals and decide whether we want it or not-- not be rewarded with some Minister or the other have a house being built for them!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Why It's Exhausting To Live in Guyana....9

I was very saddened to see the effect of petty politics expanding to affect the National Psyche. A drunk teacher was heckling the lame-duck President on recent outreach to drum up support for the upcoming Elections.  The teacher apparently was slapped by the Presidential Guard, who later reported that no physical action was undertaken and today's anti-Government paper points out the local Leader's Council of the village (it was an indigenous community where qualified teachers are in limited supply) who wrote to request his removal inadvertently mentioned that he was slapped.  It appears the Anti-Government media in their haste to highlight the Government in a bad light conveniently ignores that the encouragement of disdain for officialdom has resulted in disrespect for Laws resulting in increased chaos and accidents on the roads and all aspects of civil life leading to grand disillusionment. My neighbour's son who was a traffic rank and tried to do his best, reported that some of the worse offenders are those drivers who transport people who have the blessing of someone in the Army or Police Force (who maybe even own the vehicle) and KNOW that they can break the rules/law with impunity. I myself came across a taste of this as some idiot came and parked behind me while I was manouvering out of a tight parking spot and as I was being careful to not touch the car next to me, edging out I came to stop in the middle of his vehicle -- now I was already a quarter out onto the road-- how much brains did it take to work out not to park behind a car edging out?? He certainly wasn't there when I started.. so I told him to meet me at Kitty Police Station-- one of the corrupt ones in the traffic department as the Woman Police Officer told me to drop the case when a young woman who was driving her boyfriend's car lashed off my wing mirror and didn't turn up to go to inspect the scene of the accident. I sat and waited for the man for about an hour and when he didn't turn up I drove off--- I rang to find out if anything had been reported within 24hrs and was told no...the Laws state if nothing is reported within 24hrs the Police dismiss the case. I saw him on the road six months later-- an old geezer apparently driving someone's children and was surprised that the Police came to arrest my mother (I drive her car)-- thereby proving that if these people want to, things can happen.
An anti-Government campaigner who invaded the Presidential offices, after being thrown in jail to cool off for a bit has been resurrected as a civil rights campaigner -- after sprouting racist statements and jumping on any cause to get media attention -- one wonders what hate-spewing policy would be formulated, if God Forbid, he was ever in a position to install one.
More alarming for me is the seeming defeat of those who try to be fair and straighten things out - an intelligent friend who was active in social causes has gradually over the years been withdrawing and noted that after 40 minutes of rain it takes 20hrs for the water in his yard to subside; while potential decision-makers are vying for power and 'hoping to be executive power in charge of the people who block the drains and do not repair the drains (see my thoughts but instead build higher and higher houses or buy more duty free vehicles which withstand the water when the lil rain falls.' Alarming to me is-- this is first time I heard talk of wanting to leave.