Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The power of positive thinking

Three months of rain, an office 6 feet underground, the need to find a new job like yesterday - all contribute to a feeling of being 'down in the mouth.' I've been trying a few therapies to get over this. Positive thinking and positive drinking.
Positive drinking is fine - it entails going to my local and downing enough alcohol to make myself feel 'up in the mouth'. But one tends to feel that perhaps this isn't a terribly good idea - I'm sure someone somewhere has said something about the dangers of drinking as a mood enhancer.
Yesterday I tried a bit of positive thinking - and later had a few drinks - mainly rum. Rum's my chum. And I found that worked too - perhaps better than drink alone.
So far today I've just used positive thinking - it ain't drinking time yet - and its carried me through the day quite well.
So I think a combination of the two therapies is called for. Positve thinking followed by a bout of positive drinking followed by a bout of positive thinking. What will happen if I try both at once? Can I multi-cask like that? Does it bear drinking about?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Here at last...

The new government in Jamaica is finally in place. Now the work starts in trying to turn around this country after 18.5 long years of mismanagment at best.

If anyone wants to see what a statesman should look like - they should take a look at Bruce Golding our new prime minister. OK - he may not look all that great - he doesn't have the movie-star good looks of Michael Manley. But his speeches so far have been excellent. Jamaica is lucky to have him. The US would be lucky to have him. Not really sure about Brown at the mo - so I won't say anything there.

Meanwhile, the opposition is attempting to have several MPs disqualified from parliament - in an attempt (hopefully futile) to gain power through the back door. They are saying that as many as 8 MPs have foreign citizenship, in contravention of our constitution. This could open up a real unpleasant can of worms. But hopefully worms or not, there will be some wiggle room - that can allow a sensible legal soloution.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The future is green

Our crazy government in Jamaica is losing the little sense God gave them. The PM called a state of emergency after Dean hit. Nobody knew what that entailed. It was apparant that the elections, set for the 27th would be postponed - nobody knew till when.The Governor General gave one reason for the state of emergency, the PM another. The Electoral body said that we would have elections on the 3rd,. The government said not necessarily. The ministry of education said we would have them on the 3rd.

There were rumours that the government was divided, and that the PM had boxed the minister of education (both formidable women) in the face during a cabinet meeting - and that the minister of finance had to split them up.

The PM said she wouldn't lift the state of emergency until power and light had been restored - which the power company told us could be weeks. It looked like we could have the elections under the state of emergency - as was done by Michael Manley in 1976 - when he used the opportunity to lock up several Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) MPs. Then she lifted it the next day. And we were finally told that elections would be on Sept 3.

I am hopeful (knock wood) that the JLP will in fact win. To help them along, I will be working on election day as a 'cluster supervisor' looking after a few polling stations in the National Arena, for the JLP. This could be a very exciting role - but hopefully will not be. The ruling Peoples National Party (PNP) are not beyond trying to intimidate and to steal boxes. My sanity has already been questioned by colleagues and friends - and I have been asked if I am the right colour for such a role.

I've been having a few meetings at the constituency office - and its been very interesting seeing what's involved and meeting the grass roots people who are involved.

Anyway, its all very exciting. And if the JLP lose this one then God help us all. I think several high-ranking members of the PNP would also like to lose given their poor opinion of Portia the PM. But I suppose there could be some opportunity there too - as people may flee the country in droves, creating employment opportunities perhaps, or real estate deals - a la the 1970s.

This woman really seems to have lost the plot. Referring to herself in the third person as 'Mama P' - up from the former 'Sista P'. The radio ad which sang a happy jingle thanking "Papa God' for giving us 'Mama P' took the cake.

The police and army and election day workers (not me) voted yesterday - and indications are that the vast majority of them (according to the JLP canvas) voted JLP. For one polling station it was beleived to be 134 for the JLP and 19 for the PNP - which is hopefully a good indication that the future is Green (the JLP colour) and not orange (the PNP's).

Friday, August 17, 2007

Dean and the election

Hurricane Dean is barreling towards Jamaica - already a cat 3, it may hit us on Sunday.

What impact could Dean have on the elections?

The elections could be delayed by up to a month if the GG deems it necessary. The big political meeting the JLP was going to have at HWT on Sunday - with atleast 70k people in attendance has been postponed.

If the hurricane hits it may help the JLP - because it may intensify the mood of changing course - but hurt the country.

But if it hits and everyone feels an outpouring of love for portia and her ability to hug and kiss and look caring - then it could help the PNP.

Right now, the jlp should win - so any delay could help the PNP - evn though the JLP has the momentum

So - if its a JLP hurricane it will change course. If its a PNP hurricane - like Portia - it won't be changing no course.

Portia has called a meeting of the emergency services to discuss hurricane preparation. This surprises me - I would expect her to call a meeting of churchmen and pray instead. Except perhaps, she would be praying for it to hit.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Change is coming baby

Our elections in Jamaica are around the corner. Nah change no course with the PNP - or voting for a better Jamaica with the JLP.

To me there is little choice. Had the JLP been in power for 18.5 years I'd probably think they had been in power too long, especially if the end result was one of the highest murder rates in the world, corruption without equal, children leaving school without being literate, stagnation and inflation. The danger to democracy should we have one party in power for 23 years is too scary to contemplate.

So I will be voting for the JLP - and I am happier to do so now that I have seen their manifesto, which is even better than the manifesto they had in 2002 - and is a document which inspires and brings hope. There is very little hope in Jamaica anymore. Most people seem to think that we can not transform ourselves and that we should be happy with a growth rate of 1 or 2 per cent. That we should be content with having a per capita income that is now the second lowest in the region, after Haiti - now that Guyana has overtaken us.

And yet, we expect so much from ourselves in other areas - golds athe Olympics, the song of the century, etc.

No government after 18+ years in power can come up with new ideas - all they can offer is more of the same at best. The JLP offers more of the same at least.

So - I hope if you are a Jamaican with a vote that you also want to vote for a change of course. If not, I hope you will won't bother yourself with a trip to the polling station - especially if you live abroad. Visit after the election! I beleive the JLP will win - but if they don't there will be much opportunity I expect - as there will be renewed emigration.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Stealing manifestos

The JLP - Jamaica's opposition party - is launching its manifesto today, the first party to do so before the general elections of August 27th.

No doubt it will be a thick and well thought out document - outlining their plans for their hoped for term in government.

No doubt the ruling PNP - which will be launching its manifesto on August 9th - will pilfer,lift, plagerise and down-right steal most of the best ideas, which they will then scramble to put in a basic and flimsy document 10 days later.

That is what happened 5 years ago - so there's no need to expect different this time. Hopefully though, the electorate will not be fooled this time around.

Fact is 99% of the electorate, if not more, do not read the manifestos anyway - although some will get to hear about them trough the media. The JLP had the better manifesto by far last time and it made little difference. Or did it?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Any number can play - not just a 7

Hey guys - you still out there? Were you ever?

OK - topic of the mo. is the upcoming election. August 27 is the date. And its deja-vu all over again. The PNP's slogan -Time for a Change - which it ran with in the 1972 election is back again. But now its on the JLP's lips. And the PNP is left saying 'We not changing no course.' While at the same time proving their gymnastic capabilities by saying 'We are the party of change'.

Quite how they will not change while changing remains to be seen.

Portia Simpson Miller (PSM being the correct TLA) - is busy painting herself as God's chosen one - while at the same time taking an unholy interest in the number 7. We have 7 national heros, this is the 7th month, blah, blah, so nomination day is the 7th of August and election day is the 27th.

Her religious defenders tell us that the number 7 is very relevant to Christians. Haven't heard them speak of the 7 deadly sins though.

Meanhwile, the poll by the Gleaner (and PNP's) pollster puts them at 40% and the JLP at 34%. But the analysis shows the JLP leading in every segment bar one - the oldest group. So quite how that can be, I don't know.

Violence appears to be up - as the climate and the politics heat up, we can expect more of the same.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Redemption or Retribution

Back in 1994 the Privy Council stated that Earl Pratt had been on death row for way too long - about 16 years at the time, and could no longer be hanged for the murder that he and Ivan Morgan were convicted of in 1978.

I interviewed him the next day in the Spanish Town Penitentiary. At the time it seemed to me that there were way more people that I would have preferred to see hanging from a rope than Earl Pratt, who seemed like a decent enough murder. I even hoped that he might have been unjustly accused.

I interviewed Ivan Morgan the next day. He did not look like a man who had just escaped the death penalty and seemed much more concerned about his poor state of health. He died in jail about a year later.

About a week ago, after almost 30 years in jail, Earl Pratt was released. He has since been to church and has preached to youngsters about not following his footsteps. On radio this morning he admitted that he had infact committed that murder.

But still - I believe that he will be able to make a positive contribution to Jamaica's society - as a man who is seeking redemption. If he can convince people here to turn away from the gun - if less people are murdered as a result, then the society benefits more than it would had his own life been extinguished by the state.

But, the majority of Jamaicans no doubt disagree - and if the government had been legally able to overtun the Privy Council ruling it would have. It is still working on that by wanting to create a Caribbean Court of Justice as our highest court.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Muslim clerics, Virgin's progress and Slavery

Jamaica has been in the news this week - not much of it good. A mad muslim cleric is being sent back to Jamaica (what's old is what's new). He has lived in England since 1992, and now he's been released early from prison to become Jamaica's problem. Hopefully he won't create a terrorist base here. But, as he hasn't been found guilty of any crime here, he will be free to give it a shot.

Air Jamaica has sold its route to Virgin - so there will be no more Jamaican national carrier flying into Heathrow. But as its on its last wings anyway, hopefully this could actually help to save the the little piece of Jamaica that flies. How it was losing money on that route when the planes were always full beats me. Maybe Virgin will have better luck.

And last but not least John Prescott came to Jamaica. For what I don't know. But he announced to a Jamaican audience that Britain had no reason to apologise for slavery. Mike Henry, a member of parliament here, walked out in disgust. Prescott's also added that the effort now should be on helping African nations rather than formal apologies.

This sounds to me like madness - akin to Japan refusing to apologise to Korea for its crimes against humanity there during World War II. But why the effort should be now on helping African nations - when they were the Africans who escaped slavery and who escaped the middle passage, I don't know. The Africans who were ripped from their motherland and who now live in the Caribbean should be given no thought at all it seems.

Meahwhile, Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean are supposed to be happy at losing their protected markets in Britian for sugar and bananas, the sidelining of the Commonwealth in preference to the EU and ..... well that's about it I think.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

More crickets than cricket

May Day! May Day!

New month - also the cricket is now well and truly over. Our white elephant in the green fields of Trelawny can now kick back and watch the grass grow. Well, really, our white elephant has been doing just that since the last guest left the grand opening ceremony more than six weeks ago.

Sabina Pork put on a good show. I went to two matches - the first one, between the WI and Pakistan and then the St. Patrick's Day massacre. That one was fun, watching from the 'party stand' and watching Ireland do the impossible. The first one was fun too - when it seemed that the WI really had a chance.

But fun or not, I think I could have had more fun for Ja$9 billion than that. And the sad fact is that Jamaica may never recoup anything like that $9 billion, no matter what the spinners say. Hardly anyone came for a start. Not even Jamaicans (except for that first game). No ships were needed to house the thousands of tourists.

And the white elephant certainly wasn't needed - and I'm certain that there is no practical plan in place to try to recoup its cost. It makes the Forum Hotel look like a God send. Greenback Fields is destined to see more crickets than cricket.

Hopefully, the public will believe their eyes and not their ears when election time comes. It may then finally vote against a government that thought it better to play with 9 billion desperately needed dollars than to actually try to improve our schools, hospitals, police and economy.

The party's over - it never really began. Now that the hoopla is gone, empty promises, chirping crickets and the occasional passing of tumbleweed have taken over.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Elvis celebrates St. Patrick's day in Jamaica

Elvis and his twin joined the Conga line on the Party Mound at Sabina Park on St. Patrick's Day - as they cheered on Ireland in their cricket match against Pakistan.

Well - as incredible as it may seem - its true. There's the picture to prove it.

But even the greatest Elvis-sceptic would have greater ease in swallowing that one, than beleiving that the minnow Ireland would whoop killer whale Pakistan. Impossible.

But I witnessed it - and survived hundreds of beer swilling Irish men, women, six-foot tall leprechauns, Elvis and his dopple-ganger - to tell the tale.

Unfortunately, that is more than can be said for the Pakistani coach who died hours later- presumably a stress-realted heart attack.

Anyway - after 15 consecutive months of being on the rock, it is official, I have islanditis. Only known cure is getting away. I'm going to Graceland, (Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee I'm going to Graceland) where I expect to see either Elvis or his twin ( I still can't tell them apart).

But perhaps he will be here cheering Ireland onto victory over the WI at their next match on Friday.

Weirder things have happened.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

V/C in the capital

Went to my first World Cup cricket game yesterday - West Indies vs. Pakistan at Sabina Park. There were about 10 Pakistanis there - give or take - and 19,946 West Indians, mainly Jamaican.

The most exciting part of the day, however, was not the match - but my first attempt of getting to the match.

At about 8:15 a.m. we are just past the first lights on Waterloo in the regular morning traffic jam when my fellow cricket fan sees a Gleaner guy. I don't have $30 and nor does he. So he takes $100 from his wallet and gives the vendor/cretin - who gives him $50 change. 'Do you want an Observer?' asks the v/c - no says David - mi just want mi change. So the guy says, is the magazine in there? There isn't and so on that pretext the v/c gives him another and drops one on the floor of the car. David is bending down to get the paper while the other guy has his arms in the car supposedly picking up the paper or something. I know he's up to something, so I grab my phone and my camera. The traffic is moving - David still hasn't got his extra $20 change and the guy goes off and I move with the traffic.

I say to David- that guy was up to something funny - at which point David realises he is no longer in possesion of his wallet.

I pull over to the left, stop the car - get out to find the guy (what I'm going to do if I find him I don't know) but he has disappeared. I call 119. Police say come in and make a report. I go back to car - the wallet is definately gone.

So the wallet is gone. With a hunk of money in it. I was not a happy camper. And David wasn't either. Anyway - we drove around like lunatics - because I was heading for the police at Half Way Tree, but David didn't want to bother make a report because what would be the point.

Long story short - went to Liganea police - they said go to Half Way Tree. Make a report there - but they really don't seem interested at all. Can't blame them really - nobody murdered so why bother? And with the cricket here, I guess they are stretched enough.

After all that negativity, David doesn't want to go anymore. I call a friend and we go together, getting to the cricket a little late. My mood has improved by this point, but if it hadn't the general atmosphere of genuine bonhommy (is that how you spell it) would have. Getting there late turned out not to be so bad. Our seats were in the very first row - so were in the sun until just after we got there - which was good timing really.

The only real prob was food. We were starving - but so were 20,000 other people. At 1:00, food lines were long and stationary (an unpleasant reminder of the Waterloo incident) and then the food ran out. So we gave up. It wasn't until around 2:30 that we discovered an air conditioned bar that we could have gone to all along - no lines and great hotdogs.

Hopefully the memory of the enjoyment of the cricket will soon supersede that of the v/c and his monetary gain - in the not too distant future. The Windies won after all.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Potty pots

I have a computer that slides along at the pace of an arthritic snail. After defragging and checking for spyware (whatever that is) I have just finished checking for viruses. Hopefully it will pick up speed now. But I doubt it.

I watched the 9/11 documentary last night - thanks to the fact that there was a power cut somewhere between my cable station and my house. Well, happily I had light - but no TV. Some of the apartments around me were in pitch black. Anyway, I'm not a big fan of Michael Moore, but I had nothing else to watch - so watch it I did. Turned out to be not that he's not that rabid after all. And the plus side for Bush is that he doesn't come out looking as too stupid, just evil.

And then the cable came back and I watched a documentary about Abu Graib and the torture that American troops put potentially innocent Iraquis through. And how such torture appears to have been approved by Rumsfeld.

And who know's what is going on in Guantanamo Bay.

So it was really refreshing to read today that the US government is critisizing the Jamaican government for its treatment of prisoners! Do as I say, not as I do.

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! Why can't the pot call the pot black for a change?

How seriously does the American government think such a remark will be treated? Where is their moral authority?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Sabina Pork Barrel

Pictures of Jamaica and elsewhere are all very well, but I haven't taken any decent ones in a while, and feel the need to post something.

Only a few days left before the official opening of the Cricket World Cup - at a spanking new stadium in the back of beyond. In a country that has one of the highest (if not the highest) rates of debt per capita the Greenback Fields stadium has been built only for the opening ceremony. With that kind of fiscal responsibility, it makes you wonder how we ever got into this position in the first place.

The actual games are to take place in Sabina Pork, which has been radically transformed into what should be an equally impressive stadium. Total cost to the country is said to be $8.17 billion. Hopefully any positive spin-offs will exceed that - but it seems doubtful.

Meanwhile a group of church members are now busy trying to tart-up Kingston just in time for our guests - cleaning streets and what not. But they may need to clean-up much more than they bargained for, as they dodge all the mud that is being slung at them from afar.

What sort of Christians are they, it is asked, if the only time they ever venture to do anything about Jamaica's social decay is when some foreigners are coming over to watch cricket? Why not before? What about after? Or why at all as what do we pay taxes for? And why don't they get excited about crime - murder especially? But government should be happy anyway, that somebody is doing something - as should most people, many of whom may have forgotten what a clean city looks like.

So far there doesn't seem to be any overwhelming feel-good factor at play. There's no real buzz. I wonder if this is what Athens felt like just before the Olympics?

But the governing party will be hoping that these games will be such a success that the electorate will feel like adding another five years to their 18 years in power. A miraculous win by the WI would probably do just that. If I knew enough about cricket I could put in a few funny lines here about sticky wickets, spin bowlers and googlies and things like that. But I don't, so I won't.

And now that the government claims it has paid back Trafigura Bequeer for the $31 million dollars that mysteriously ended up in their party's coffers- it is hoping that the claims of hanky panky will die a convenient death.

That, however, is as likely to happen as the West Indies becoming the next world champions.