Thursday, 2 September 2010
I'm currently reading 'The Shackled Continent' by Robert Guest. I will do a proper right up about it once I'm finished, which at this rate, won't be long. I'm also part of the way through 'The White Man's Burden' by William Easterly and I'm yet to track down 'Dead Aid' by Dambisa Moyo and 'The State of Africa' by Martin Meredith in this god forsaken borough.
I will probably do quite a few posts about these books - it will be something to do and I should really get back to blogging (well seriously blogging like this). I have started a more personal/ranty one (natternatternatty.blogspot.com) with little musings and pretentious philosophical ramblings. As an aside, I really should keep that one light and comedic. Hmm... Food for thought.
OH one more thing: I'M IN LOVE WITH FRANCE.
Currently Listening To: Camouflage - Youngblood Brass Band
Saturday, 13 February 2010
Walking through the shopping centres in the next couple of weeks is an experience in itself. Pink and red have been splashed everywhere and hearts are drawn and stuck on every surface imaginable; as if the shops are anticipating a visit from Cupid himself. There are offers on perfume and lingerie and even my local Chinese herbal medicine shop seems to be restocking its ‘love potion’ at a rapid rate.
Oddly enough, the shops don’t need to do this. In spite of the economic downturn last year, the cost of Valentines Day has gone up and the expectations of men and women have also been duly inflated. 61% of women (a shocking statistic!) say that they would leave their partner if he forgot about Valentine’s Day. (It is hard to forget nowadays!) As a result, the average man will end up splurging out £100, mostly on chocolate and jewellery yet in comparison; we ladies can get away with buying electrical appliances and shirts to the cost of a measly £50!
According to Hallmark, 180 million cards will be exchanged around the week of Valentine’s Day and more than 40% of those cards will be sent by parents. This good news for the singletons out there – someone loves you, even if it is your mum! You don’t have to give in and by countless boxes of chocolate for your prospective girlfriend/boyfriend this Valentine’s Day. Thinking outside the box will save you money and your time and presence is of much more value. A memory is always priceless and in the words of Jennifer Lopez, ‘love don’t cost a thing’.
Currently Listening To: We Are The World - MJ & Co.
Tuesday, 27 October 2009
Discontentment breeds hate. Hitler’s rise to power in the 1930s was on the back of the Great Depression, and when you think back to what Hitler managed to start and contribute to our world from exploiting the economic situation, it was a little more than hate.
History repeats itself, and we still haven’t learnt our lesson. At the end of the 1970s, there were vast riots in Lewisham as the National Front took up Hitler’s bandwagon of fascism. Now in 2009, the demon of racism has reared its ugly head again in the form of Nick Griffin and the British National Party.
The BBC tried to raise its viewers, with a risky and high profile appearance of the British National Party leader, Nick Griffin, and it worked. I have always watched Question Time, usually as I am still awake and therefore had the television on whilst I fall asleep. The audience had Nick Griffin at their mercy and a brilliant opportunity to challenge him on his ideas and political policies. However, Nick Griffin came out pretty unscathed as despite the witty, ad-hominem comments and the YouTube ‘remix’ videos, the audience were not really able to fight Nick Griffin with logical arguments.
I was happy that the three major UK parties were able to take a united stand against the BNP. But I’m going to put the blame on them and the BBC for this botch job of standing up to the BNP. The BBC’s unsubtle choice of audience members (particularly the young Jewish boy with a skullcap!) and questions ruined the occasion. It was solely an attack on the BNP, which I am not complaining about but I wish that Nick Griffin was given more of an opportunity to explain himself instead of being heckled. I wanted to find out about the BNP ''policies'', and two very good questions were turned down by David Dimbleby, it seems like a deliberate set up to allow the angry ‘ethnics’ to shout and possibly exemplify the BNP’s stereotype of non-British people.
Similarly, the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrats annoyed me. They had very good arguments, and as a Labour supporter, I did like what Jack Straw had to say. However I feel that these parties did evade some questions and they need to be straight with the public, if we are to ever get rid of the BNP. These immigration figures, misestimates and calculations need to be said as no matter how small the seed of doubt is, the BNP will pick up on it and exploit it.
I am not completely sceptical however, as this Question Time episode became a national talking point particularly on Facebook and amongst my school mates. If it is anyone who needs to watch out, it is the young people in this country who are more open to change, and a mobilisation of the youth taking a stand against racism in this country is extremely dangerous for the BNP.
Currently Listening To: Blame It On The Boogie - Jackson 5
Friday, 23 October 2009
I want my mail. Having just sent my university application, sometimes the universities send correspondence by post which is quicker than the rate that UCAS Track updates. Well not any more, thanks to the postal strike! The postal strike has been an ongoing crisis that has now accumulated in a mass of wildcat strikes. I am livid. University students are relying on letters from student finance, homeowners on bills, credit cards, chequebooks, and various receipts and refunds. Important things are in the post, I don’t think anyone is foolish enough to take Royal Mail’s job for granted, but I think they are.
Human beings don’t like change. This idea has been proven time and time again throughout the course of history. The management can’t handle the situation and are doing the best they can, but the postmen and women have to co-operate if Royal Mail are going to get anywhere. Royal Mail is losing customers at a rate of 10% a year and they have to modernise so that they can compete. In business speak, modernisation = job cuts. One thing, I think one has to learn from our evolving work climate and from the recession is that there is no such thing as job security. A job for life simply doesn’t exist anymore.
‘We used to work 9 hours a week and now we do 11!’ Oh, my heart bleeds; I probably have school days longer than that, sometimes! The Royal Mail has demolished 1st and 2nd delivery, and they now have fewer hours, but by some miracle I never seem to get post before 11 o’ clock, earliest. These postmen have been pictured in the betting shops, dumping mail or simply posting it back in the post-box for someone else to do it for them. I do not mean to tar all these workers with the same brush, but it is pretty annoying. The fact that they are striking in the midst of a recession is quite frankly ridiculous. 30,000 temporary jobs were up for grabs and 85,000 applied for the jobs; surely, this is not a job worth striking over? Making it hard for the temps to come in and do work, yet cause ‘as little disruption as possible’ is a joke.
What are the solutions to the problem? Lord Mandelson is claiming to be working closely with Royal Mail and it looked like they were coming close to an agreement on Wednesday evening. However, people are either calling for two things: PRIVATISE or LET THE GOVERNMENT SUBSIDISE IT. Privatisation will mean competition and therefore Royal Mail could become a viable business, but there is too much competition out there, Royal Mail could get absolutely slaughtered. If the business is subsidised by the government, the public will take on the huge pension deficit and Royal Mail does end up going belly up, then they could have a real problem on their hands. In China, their mail system is subsidised by the government and it is very efficient, it is more of a cultural thing, nobody would dare strike in China!
In the end, it’s all looking ominous for Royal Mail and it is evident that someone is going to swing for this. So whilst they’re being dismissed, they may as well take a detour to my house and deliver my fucking mail.
Currently Listening To: Million Dollar Bill - Whitney Houston
Monday, 19 October 2009
Upon reading the Bottom Billion, I reflected on what I had read. Reform is needed and quickly. Nigeria had a finance minister, a very knowledgeable woman whom had worked for the IMF, who was very quickly ousted, despite her major improvements and economic policy making. The Nigerian economy has been shaped by a reputation of political corruption like no other, greed, and fuelled by, well the obvious, oil.
Oil is has lured Nigeria into the trap that so many other countries have had to haul themselves out of, ‘The Natural Recourse Curse’. There are many anecdotes of kidnappings and mysterious disappearances in the Niger Delta region where oil is. My father likened the appearance of Shell in his hometown like the second coming of Jesus. ‘At one point, we believed that Shell was going to save us, the next, we wanted to kill Shell and they wanted to kill us.’ A wasteland ruled by rebels who patrol the area, and attack those who intrude, solely for the liquid beneath the ground. Oil turns people into barbarians – and makes people cruder and ugly than ever. Oil wars have plagued Nigeria, and its presence is almost holy and sacred, but in a warped, twisted way.
Nigeria has also had to contend with a civil war. War and the likelihood of war are both severely important factors for foreign investors, and can slow an economy drastically. (Paul Collier addressed this problem in his book). Nigeria must diversify and stop relying on the oil it has, (oil causes many problems). Nigeria can use its agriculture as another source of income but infrastructure must be improved so that exporting produce is not another problem.
Despite its misgivings, Nigeria has done pretty well in the recession in spite of the price of commodities falling, and most Nigerian banks have been able to raise funds in the midst of this recession. There is a joke that Nigerian banks have made a bigger loss over the past 30 years from pure corruption than this recession!
There is hope, however. Many skilled workers and professionals are returning from the UK and US, if only in drips and drabs, it is a promising sign. These people are hoping for better economic conditions and their return will only boost the economy as they build new business and are employed in important jobs. Nigeria is also labelled as one of the ‘Next 11’ in the emerging markets, alongside countries such as Egypt and Mexico and the BRIC countries. Nigeria is full of potential and promise.
A wise man from the Ivory Coast once said ‘Premier gaou ne gaou, c’est le deuxieme qui niata’. In plain English, don’t make the same mistake twice. I pray that Nigeria don’t fall back into the same trap that they’ve had to make small, awkward movements getting out of.
Currently Listening To: Plans - Bloc Party