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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Interesting Reading for Sunday 30th November

BC Pires interviews noted economist Eric St. Cyr on the current global economic crunch

Raffique Shah writes on religious zealotry and its impact on the Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent and the world

TIME Magazine article titled "Tourism is Whorism" dated August 3rd, 1970

JAMAICA GLEANER: Study shows alarming tourist practice

Published in the Jamaica Gleaner on Saturday 29th November is an eye-opening article on tourist traffic, sexual behaviour and the potential for HIV transmission given that behaviour.  Given information available on HIV and AIDS, the numbers shared in the article are somewhat startling.  Scarily, they're likely representative of wider Caribbean statistics which must give us pause here at home given our own Simona Fricker debacle many years ago.

I think I recall somewhere the contempt of Dr. Eric Williams and other early Caribbean leaders for the tourist trade as an income earner.  After Simona and now the study summarised in the Gleaner article, given the clearly displayed disdain for the local populace, one can understand why.

Simona showed us that all it took was one person to spread a killing infection and then leave our social support system to clean up the resultant mess.  Given the potential impact, it's activity more criminal than some nowherian picking up a gun and going on a short-lived rampage.  We can prosecute nowherians for their crimes, and perhaps even see them meet their end in street-style justice.  I'm pretty sure that, given the work of the Medical Research Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago, we can trace the source of tourist infection, but sadly we may not be able to do anything about them and the situations they create except try to take care of our own after the fact.  The Government and your tax dollars at work cover the cost of counselling and comprehensive treatment.

The text of the Gleaner article runs as follows:
TWENTY PER cent of tourists who participated in an HIV and AIDS survey indicated that they have had sex with acquaintances that they met while on their trip to Jamaica, with only 49 per cent reported using condoms.

Within that group, 92 per cent reported that they had between one and four sexual partners while on vacation here.

The study titled HIV/AIDS and the Tourism Industry Fact Finding Survey Report was funded by the Department for International Development UK.

It was produced by Lisa Taylor-Stone, Research Development Specialist at the Jamaica Employers' Federation in collaboration with the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Alliance for the Accelerating of the Private Sector Response to HIV/AIDS in Barbados and Jamaica Project.

The aim of the study was to determine the possible impact that the adoption of HIV and AIDS policies and campaigns would have on the tourism sector.

Resort areas tested

The study, which was launched yesterday at the Knutsford Court Hotel was conducted in the resort areas of Montego Bay, Negril, Ocho Rios and Kingston.

A total of 600 participants were surveyed: 389 tourists and 211 hotel workers.

Additionally, the study revealed that 32 per cent of the tourists, surveyed had sexual contacts with sex workers and 27 per cent with Jamaican nationals who did not fall in the category of sex workers.

Another 23 per cent of sex partners were hotel workers and the others were guests from other countries.

Taylor-Stone said 14 per cent of tourists believed that HIV could not be passed from one person to the other, while five per cent of hotel workers were of the same view.

Meanwhile, the study revealed that hotel workers who perceived HIV as "not serious", were more likely to report never using a condom during sex.

Income earner

The workers said sex with tourists adds to their income. Taylor-Stone said some described the relationship with tourists as business and note that they may have this sort of transaction with several tourists at any one time.

One hotel worker said tourists had the mindset that Jamaican men are well endowed and Jamaican women "can do it good as well".

"It is obvious that the approach to combating the effects of HIV and AIDS on the tourism sector needs to be revisited. Jamaica has sold itself under the sun, sand and sex paradigm for decades and unfortunately this paradigm still saturates the psyche of our visitors," said Taylor-Stone.

Monday will be observed as World AIDS Day. The Ministry of Health estimates that 27,000 Jamaicans are living with HIV and AIDS and 18,000 are unaware of their status.

SOURCE: Jamaica Gleaner, Saturday 29th November 2008
Get tested.  Be sexually responsible.  Keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Seth Godin on how one doesn't get rich...

Marketing guru Seth Godin writes on the overnight millionaire's scam:
You probably don't need to read this, but I bet you know people who do. Please feel free to repost or forward:

Times are tough, and many say they are going to be tougher. That makes some people more focused, it turns others desperate.

You may be tempted at some point to try to make a million dollars. To do it without a lot of effort or skill or risk. Using a system, some shortcut perhaps, or mortgaging something you already own.

There are countless infomercials and programs and systems that promise to help you do this. There are financial instruments and investments and documents you can sign that promise similar relief from financial stress.


There are four ways to make a million dollars. Luck. Patient effort. Skill. Risk.

(Five if you count inheritance, and six if you count starting with two million dollars).

Conspicuously missing from this list are effortless 1-2-3 systems that involve buying an expensive book or series of tapes. Also missing are complicated tax shelters or other 'proven' systems. The harder someone tries to sell you this solution, the more certain you should be that it is a scam. If no skill or effort is required, then why doesn't the promoter just hire a bunch of people at minimum wage and keep the profits?

There are literally a million ways to make a good living online, ten million ways to start and thrive with your own business offline. But all of these require effort, and none of them are likely to make you a million dollars.

Short version of my opinion: If someone offers to sell you the secret system, don't buy it. If you need to invest in a system before you use it, walk away. If you are promised big returns with no risk and little effort, you know the person is lying to you. Every time.
In what might appear to be a weakening economic times, one might be tempted to shore up one's financial position by getting involved in plans that promise quick and heady returns.  Trinbagonians in particular seem to have a penchant for multi-level marketing and other complex pyramid schemes.  At least one renowned local film maker has been taken by advance-fee fraud.  (If anyone can send me a link to the newspaper article where she bared her soul about being taken by a 419 scam, I'll do an addendum with full credit.)

With the Lotto and other hopes for ready wealth soon to disappear, my people need to be careful not to be taken by anything more insidious than a late hand in a sou-sou .  Colombians did recently, and when de mark buss, they did themselves more harm than good by rioting in the streets, some of their scammers long gone with collected millions.

There is no quick buck, not without being grossly unscrupulous and causing another to come to harm, hardship, or financial ruin.  So watch your dollars.  Spend wisely.  Make good choices.  Rather than look for quick ways to make more, make what you have work better for you. [Link 1, Link 2]

Sunday, November 16, 2008

New York Times on the Boissiere House

IN the evening, when the heat breaks and a walk around Queen’s Park Savannah — the sugar-estate-cum-public-park here — becomes a reasonable proposition, the visitor is struck by the diversity of architecture along its perimeter, where commercial buildings sit incongruously amid Victorian structures. Even the Magnificent Seven, a row of famous colonial buildings including a French Baroque mansion and a castle inspired by the one at Balmoral, in Scotland, represent a random assortment of styles, in various states of repair.

But perhaps no building on the Savannah is more emblematic of Trinidad’s chaotic history than the Boissiere House, a 1904 cottage as majestic as any of the mansions and a rare example of turn-of-the-century Trinidadian architecture.

New York Times, November 13th, 2008
In February of this year, I wrote on the Boissiere House , speculating on whether corporate Trinidad and Tobago could not find money in their growing year-on-year profits to save just one bit of local history.

The New York Times' David Shaftel picked up the story of the House in their November 13th print edition, with online version of the story under the caption, "In Trinidad, a Painted Lady in Distress."  The piece includes a gallery of images of the house and other historic Port of Spain houses, some restored and at least one in a grave state of disrepair.

According to the article, the building is still up for sale, but:
...the National Trust was trying to discourage the owner from selling to someone who would knock it down, and that the owner has been “cooperative.”
My own call to corporate Trinidad and Tobago remains.  Can we still save this and the other architectural gems across the country?

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Choice is Yours '08

I'm keeping things light tonight...  There's some heavier material to come soon, including a post with the caption "Sticker Shock" and another that I've been trying to pull together summarising my experiences and impressions as a mass transit commuter.

When I was growing up though, I'd loved the original track.  The artist, Dres of Black Sheep, reprised his group's hit hip-hop track in support of President Barack Obama's campaign.

President Barack Obama... Oh how sweet the sound!  Incidentally almost as sweet as original The Choice is Yours (provided here by Songza.com)

The choice is ours here in sweet Trinbago too... and I'm not just talking about elections either...

Friday, November 07, 2008

Yes, We Can: How The People Won The Presidency.

On November 4th, 2008, the people of the United States of America elected a new President in the person of Barack Hussein Obama. Mr. Obama received in excess of 350 Electoral College votes, greater than 64% of those available, far more than the 270 he required to secure the Presidency.

On the way to victory, he and his team won key and critical states carried by George W. Bush in 2004, including Ohio and Virginia, Colorado and New Mexico in America's heartland, and hotly contested Florida, the fourth largest State.

With numbers still coming in and votes still being tallied, the election is being touted as one of the highest numerical and proportional voter turnout ever in the United States of America, at least in the last forty years.

The run-up to the election also saw massive registration and voter education drives, ensuring that the average eligible voter knew that he had both opportunity, reason and right to exercise his franchise.

The campaign race featured the vilest rumours and mudslinging, race baiting and fearmongering. And still, on the early morning on November 5th, the United States' first minority President Elect took to a stage in Illinois to thank his supporters - American and otherwise - via the international media.

For all of Obama's oratory and his ability to inspire, none of the above could have been achieved without the individual activism of his supporters, the people on the ground. Says Obama in his victory speech (Full text transcript, Audio at NPR.org):
...above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to — it belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn't start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington — it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.

It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give $5 and $10 and $20 to this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation's apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this earth. This is your victory...

This is our moment. This is our time — to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.
It is a clear example of what a determined people can do, to bring about what they believe to be right for their country, and for each other, and for themselves.

In the face of bigotry (despite losing a number of Southern states, the Democratic candidate showed growth in his support base throughout), the threat of disfranchisement, and lies, tricks and various other shenanigans, the people who Obama inspired, the people who felt a connectedness to the man who they would have be President, ensured him victory.

It is clear testament to the word of another inspirational young man who, on January 20th, 1961 at his own inauguration advised his people to think not on what their country could give to them, but of what they could give to advance their country.

It's a lesson that we as Trinbagonians could stand to learn, that to achieve the things we want, to make our country a better place, it's not enough to sit on our hands and complain.  We need to move.  We need to act. We need to be positive.  We must work.

I extend heartfelt congratulations to President Elect Obama, and to the people of the United States of America.  They have showed the world what a people united can do, and one hopes that we take example here at home.

Yes, we can.

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