Saturday, October 30, 2004

If you build it they will come - but what if no-one knows you built it? Hmm?

The rapso seminar held by the Creative and Festival Arts Center on Wednesday last was not that well attended. Maybe because no-one knew it was happening?
Even some of the participants were unaware of the event until days in advance, and the time and location seemed to be almost a state secret.
Everything in this country can be promoted by Tantie's email list! And it's free to announce an event. Why would the organisers see fit not to include it there, or in the What's going on section of the newspaper?
I'm so riled up about it cause I missed what I was told was a fascinating 2 days of dialogue on the local calypso/rapso environment. I missed Singing Sandara and Black Sage. I missed Machel Montano and Denise Belfon. I was only there for 3canal and Brother Resistance because 3canal called me at the last minute!
Why is it that so many of our really interesting events are not advertised or marketed? Is it a desire to keep it "exclusive" and then it's so exclusive that it is irrelevant? Or is it that the organisers are too stretched and have no time? Or is it that they don't see the value or need for marketing of the event - along the lines of the "If I build it they will come" model?
But how can they come if you don't tell anyone that you built it?

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

S/he made me do it!

Those are possibly the most annoying words that I hear. And I hear them more and more, over and over. S/He made me drunk and then took advantage of me. They made me go to the party when I didn't want to. They made me do this, they made me do that.

Well - I always want to ask - did they hold you down and pour alcohol down your throat, or inject it in your veins? If so, then you're right, and we need to call the police. If not - then it was your decision.

Why is it that so many people (especially young women) are so uncomfortable with the decisions that they make that they have to put the responsibility on others? Why do they want to have adult rights and privileges without the responsibilities? OK - I know the answer to that one. It was rhetorical. But I do think that it seems to be turning into a virtual epidemic.

When one makes bad decisions and takes responsibility for them, part of the effect that I believe that this has on one is the lessons learnt. If nothing bad is your fault, if you never make a mistake, then where is the learning opportunity?

And of course, what is bad?

If it is necessary to absolve oneself of responsibility for a night out, then maybe what you did on that night out does not sit right with you, with your ethics, with your morals. If you have to have the excuse of being totally plastered to hook up with someone, then I think you need to take a good look at yourself and what you really want. Because if you want it and you think it's right, you don't need an excuse to do it. You won't be ashamed.

And that's what it's really about in the social world of Trinidad and Tobago. It's a small society, and there are many very small, petty, bourgeois rules in that society. That's why so many girls look for excuses to do what they see on cable TV, what they see others do in other societies, what on one hand they're told they should do to be cool, but on the other hand they're told "that's not right, that's cheap and slutty." So they do it, but slough off the decision. If they didn't make the decision, then they are just unlucky, not deliberately cheap.

So what should they do? I say - spend time with yourself, learn yourself, and then do what you think is right. To hell with "What town say". And I try to do it myself. But it is hard. I know that most people won't be able to do it. But somehow I still think that they are hypocrites and cowards. I feel bad sometimes for being so harsh and judgmental, because as John Locke says:
He that judges without informing himself to the utmost that he is capable, cannot acquit himself of judging amiss.

But truth and honesty are so necessary in this life. And they are in such short supply right now, I feel the need to push for honesty and integrity in all areas. Push hard. Maybe sometimes too hard.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Bits and pieces

Wow - I have had so many ideas to write on that I had paralysis - I didn't write anything at all. So I've decided to list what ideas are bubbling, and then I'll do it in order (pretty much)

  1. Journalists in T&T (are there any?)
  2. Feminism and race. Do we spend time looking for discrimination where there isn't any?
  3. Personal responsibility - why do we so often say - S/he MADE me do it? Was there a gun to your head?
  4. Apathy - why do I see so many people complaining every day, every street corner, etc., but never do anything, not even complain to the people who are making the "bad" decisions?
  5. Lack of compassion and caring - Grenada is in a total mess, but there is actually a large and vocal group in this country that says - fix us first before sending our $$ to help them! Unbelievable!
  6. 9 day wonders - we live in a land that has had an MTV attention span long before MTV!
  7. AND Cricket - lovely cricket. We won the Champions Cup. The team looked like a team. Lots of work still to do, but we would (as a people) still have abused the team if they got to the final but lost. What is it that we have with this obsession for first - nothing else counts?

OK - lots to think about. I'll try to write at least every other day, now that I've clarified some of the ideas.


Thursday, September 16, 2004

Shaping a Secure Society

Yesterday the Fulbright Alumni Association of Trinidad and Tobago, of which I am currently PRO, held a panel discussion on "Shaping a Secure Society". Many very intelligent people gave their views on the causes of crime and lack of security in our world, globalisation, and possible solutions. BUT there is one thing that they really never got to. The issue that I think is the meat of the problem - lack of long-term life expectancy.

Consider a hypothesis:

A 14 year old boy growing up in a depressed area. Life expectancy in the inner cities and similar areas is low - http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/314/7089/1271 - therefore there is a "discount factor " that needs to be applied. Simply put, children growing up in these areas don't thnk that they will live long.

So - let's assume that the hypothetical 14 year old boy wants what we all want - friends, family, a decent salary, ability to purchase the better things in life.

Given that he expects to die before 30, can we possibly expect him to intelligently make any decision towards a career that will require him to be in school for years? Or would it make more sense for him to drop out of school at 15, go to "work" in a gang (here he gets family, friends, "brothers" to watch his back and take care of him, more than decent money) and by the time he would normally be expected to graduate high school, be earning enough to get what he wants - a BMW, a house for his mom, maybe?

I know that as an intelligent person - if this were put to me - it makes no sense whatsoever to stay in school and get a degree and go to work in a junior position with lots of school loans to pay off. Especially if I KNOW I won't live long enough to pay off these loans and start enjoying the benefits. In this situation, joining a gang is the most intelligent choice. The reason that we don't understand this is that for most of us, life is precious and we want to cling to it and live long lives.

In my opinion, the discount applied to life expectancy by children in the inner city is a major factor in the lack of success of many anti-gang initiatives. What's the point of not being in a gang so that you won't get killed, when you get killed anyway - by the police, by gangs, by drive-by shootings, by poor health care? Better be in a gang and get the benefits while you are alive.

Last night, at the panel discussion, there were many comments on the lack of vision in these youth. I disagree. There is a vision. It just isn't as long term as ours would be. The problem we face is to replace this gang and drug-related career vision with another equally valid one.

And going to school and studying hard isn't it right now.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Bloggers - please use English!

As you probably have noticed I have a major issue with the misuse of English, especially in blogs and email. Sometimes I do split my infinitives - I'm not a total tight-arse, but...
This is a really nice blog about English grammar and good writing in your blog. Everyone should read it and consider. At least those who write in English. Other writers should take the lessons to heart as well.

Blogger Knowledge

Monday, August 30, 2004

Twelve - the band

Saw a really good band this weekend. It's called Twelve. The funny thing is that they have been toiling away, honing their craft, and they've now done a 2nd CD. I know the guys and I didn't even pay attention to their first CD. But they have my attention now. Appearances are so important, and unfortunately and artist in T&T has to be a jack of all trades - doing his own bookings, press, distribution, production, sales, marketing, you name it. And a musician isn't supposed to be good at all this- he's supposed to be good at writing songs, playing and performing them.
But we live in a place (T&T) where everyone is so creative, that there is no management. I've noticed this before in the theatre - management is scarce, but there are many actors and actresses, and these have to do their own box office, programmes, etc.

Is it that all ah we is stars?

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Burglarised!

Right - on crime again.
So I FINALLY got burglarised again. First time in about 3 years. They took a laptop, a DVD player and left a knife on my bed.
And guess what?
I STILL don't want to have a guard in front of my house. I will STILL go out by myself. Ok - I'm more sensible about locking the door when I'm home, especially after dark, cause I sometimes used to forget that, but I still, even though I know I might have been raped or killed, believe that life is not meant to be lived in fear, and that if the criminals prevent me from living MY LIFE, then they have won.

So - the radio and the Chamber of Commerce are calling for a state of emergency (SOE). Limited, of course. Yeah right! So - the criminals lay low, bury their guns, hide out in the mangrove swamps of Venezuela. The SOE ends, with everyone beating their chests and saying - we've licked crime!

And... we'll be right back where we started. But worse, because we'd jump back into another SOE. And another. And then... continuous SOE = Military Rule = Lack of Civil Liberties = BAD BAD BAD.

I noticed this in the US after 9/11 - people rushed to give up their rights for the hope that they might feel safer. But I am convinced that no-one can be safe, even if giving up these rights gives us no crime and no terrorism, without our civil rights.

Our ancestors fought too long and too hard for them. They MUST be worth a lot. What did they know that we don't? Well - how about living without rights? Most of us who are rushing blindly to give the police more and more power have never lived in a police state, have never lived as slaves, have never lived without. And it's our responsibility to carefully consider what we are giving them up for - is it worth it? Because when we give them up - we may not get them back.

Thomas Jefferson said "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. " Are we ready to pay that price? Seems not.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

"The past is a source of knowledge, and the future is a source of hope."
�Stephen Ambrose, Author, "Nothing Like It in the World"
I've also been listening a lot to Cazuza recently - O tempo nao para. In this song, he says - Eu vejo o futuro repetindo o passado, eu vejo um futuro cheio de grandes novidades...
And also our Government's Vision 2020. Developed nation status by 2020.

Where on this spectrum should our future lie? In Trinidad & Tobago, we look forward - Forward ever, backward never. This way, we run the grave risk of never learning from the successes and mistakes of the past. We see it daily. The immediate pronouncements - were they already working on a plan? Or is this a knee-jerk hasty band-aid for the symptoms of the societal illness that are showing up now?

Where is the structural plan that shows that we have looked at ourselves, our culture and our history and thought, really thought, about the way that we want our society to be in the future, whether it is 2020 or 2040? I don't see it in the Vision 2020 plan. I don't see it in the Crime Plan, either the first one or the mysterious "Plan B". How can we put our country "back to the way it was" in one month? And the way it was when? 1600? 1900? 1952? 1970? 1990?

We have a history of great thinkers - where is the CLR James of our generation? And if s/he exists, then why isn't that input being solicited by the Govt? If we focus on economic growth by sucking more gas out of the ground, where will that leave the large and growing hopeless underclass? What will happen to children in a system where we have a school in which 90% fail the final exams juxtaposed with a school that gets 99% passes? Where do the failures go? What do they do when they can't read? How do they fit into the Vision 2020?

We can say that we will not have this in the future, but they already exist. How do we integrate them as useful members of the society? Banditry doesn't need O-levels!

Friday, July 16, 2004

So my new committment to blogging has slowed - I was abroad, and didn't feel to write while on vacation.
Some people are wild about  blogging on vacation, but  for me - vacation means taking a break form keyboards and all things technology.  Thus, for 2 blissful weeks, I was not tied to checking my email, not feeling responsible to reply to the emails I got, etc.  Case I was on HOLIDAY and my email access was sporadic.
I feel so much better. I highly recommend taking out of contact breaks! Try it. Turn off your phones, shut down the email client, etc. Do this for just one day, and RELAX. Cool huh?
Now.
Back to work...

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Teachers in Trinidaad and Tobago are agitating for higher pay - they've marched and stayed home from work. They absolutely need to be paid more, but the rationale that I've been hearing isn't quite kosher.
Yes, teachers have degrees and advanced degrees. Yes they need to be paid more. But they should not attempt to compare their salaries to those of contemporaries in other fields. I have multiple degrees, but I don't earn as much as a friend of mine who went to school with me - she's a lawyer. Ergo - she can charge $500/hour. If I wanted to make that much, I'd have become a lawyer too! Some fields pay more and some less. One chooses one's profession based on many factors - money is just one of them. To decide that the salary in the field that you chose (knowing it was not as well paid as others) now needs to be commensurate with other professions can't be supported.
Can it?

Monday, June 07, 2004

Today the news was al about kidnapping yet again. A 3-year old was abducted from school, and the knee-jerk reaction was - apply the death sentence for kidnappers. We haven't applied the death sentence for murder in the recent past, and there are serious concerns raised by the Privy Council about the application of the penalty.
Do we apply it fairly? Or will we tend to kill people because they can't afford an excellent lawyer? Will the people who can afford a QC get off compared to those who have to go with Legal Aid?
And, there are many studies that show that the death penalty isn't even a deterrent! If the penalties for kidnapping and murder are the same, then we might even get an increase in the brutality of the kidnappings - if you're going to hang, then murdering the victim is better, cause at least you don't have a witness!
I'm not sure if I'm for or against the death penalty, but I think that there needs to be a lot of thought and analysis applied before we take such a drastic and final step for abductions.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

I got so pissed off at a stupid ignorant comment today - here's my response. First I should post the comment that pissed me off...

"I'm sorry guys. Maybe I'm just an old fashioned fool like those guys who sit around and talk about the better days, but I still remember when my sister could go out and not have an 80% chance of getting raped or killed or both. A time when a member of my family or friends being 10 minutes late was not a reason to worry unduly."

And my admittedly furious and pissed off response...

80% chance of being robbed or raped or both? Unless your sister frequents some very dodgy areas, and assuming she moves around T&T in a general, average manner, like myself, as I've not been robbed or raped and I'm out of the house a lot, then I would think that I should lock myself up RIGHT NOW, before the statistics even out! And I'll tell my female friends that we've been VERY LUCKY and our ticket is overdue to be punched. I've had MUCH closer calls in NYC, Sao Paulo and London than here. I get SO fed up with the fear and panic and gloom and doom.

I drove myself down to MOBs last night. No robbery or rape. I get so pissed off with all these people who say - It's so unsafe! My friends who visit from abroad are thrilled that it IS safe. Everyone who comes here to visit me thinks it's safe and wonderful. We walk down to Pelos, go out to parties. I leave Trotters at 2 am and drive home by myself to my house that I live in BY MYSELF.

The police even showed the stats that said that crime has dropped. AND IT HAS! But do we believe it?

3 years ago I was at risk of getting mugged going to Pelos, in the carpark, on Cipriani Blvd - and what did we do about it? The St.Anns and Cascade residents and businesses got together. They fixed streetlights, fixed pavements, cut bush, and the businesses in the area agreed to have tier security do a bit more to look out at the neighbourhood. We now have a police post outside Queens Hall - this because they moved the Police Station. We didn't just whinge and moan!

Murders have risen, kidnappings have started. BUT the AVERAGE person is safer. At least if the average person is me and my friends and my parents. I couldn't believe when I read that people are moving to Miami cause it's safer! SAFER!!??!! I lived there. I couldn't go down the road to the shop after dark, and even during the day it was a bit dodgy!

I just get so fed up with these whiners and do-nothings. If it were up to them, we'd have Jouvert in broad daylight with police on every corner! And we have to do something, cause they are definitely making inroads! Look at the decisions that are being made based on crap info. There are NOT more crimes today than before. There are more MURDERS. That is a BIG difference. And these assholes are affecting MY way of living. I like to finish jouvert by 9, so I can sleep and then get back out. When we move Jouvert from 2 am to 5 am - I didn't get home until nearly 1 this year - thus - no Monday afternoon mas for me. If they don't like being out at 2 am - stay home until the sun comes up! Don't interfere with MY events.

Ooooh - I'm getting too pissed off for a Sunday.
Ah gone

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Well - I'm starting to think on the society in which I live... It's strange, because my life is so different to that of many others, it seems.

I found out yesterday that a friend of mine was mugged and had her handbag snatched in Tobago. Walking from Crown Point to Sandy Point. This is unbelievable - every year for the past 8 years we've safely walked those 3 blocks at all hours of the day or night during Angostura Sail Week. But- I've been mugged a lot in Trinidad in the past, but not Tobago.

Petty crime is on the rise in Tobago, apparently. What's strange is that to me, it feels safer to walk in Trinidad. Serious crimes are on the rise, murders, kidnappings, etc. But my handbag is safer, my house hasn't been broken into for 3 years (after a consistent yearly burglary for many years), I can walk to my car from a bar on Cipriani Boulevard without a security guard. So, my perception is that I feel safer. I guess this will last until I or someone I know gets kidnapped or murdered, and then I'd feel "Oh my Gawd! Crime is RAMPANT!"

Perception is everything. But Trinidad does feel safer. I leave my bag on the beach at Maracas and go to swim, and everything is there when I get back. This is my experience.

Tobago seems not to be publishing the crimes - especially against tourists. This is interesting. Trinidad crime is splashed over the front page. People have been suggesting the same to the Trinidad newspapers and media for YEARS. They haven't taken the suggestion. Is it that, in the Tourism world, if they don't publish it, it doesn't happen or doesn't exist and the tourists continue to come and are happy? Or will the tourists who are victims of crime tell their friends, who tell their friends, and so on and so on and so on (to quote the ad)
And then no-one comes. So...

When my friend's handbag was stolen, the police knew EXACTLY who to go look for. And they promptly removed the rubble on the road that he used to hide behind before jumping out at her. So why didn't they do something before?

Proactive policing sounds like an answer to me... regular police patrols, street lights, and very importantly - quicker justice system, so that people are not
1. On bail for years and years - continuing their job of crime
2. In remand for years and years - if they're innocent
And the witnesses remember what happened, and the evidence isn't lost, or degraded.

Monday, May 24, 2004

OK - so we start ALL over again.
I'm really reconsidering a lot of things right now. I've been really sick, adn I guess that, coupled with getting older, does make you think. I've done an almost complete withdrawal from newspapers and TV news for the past while. The negativity was making me feel ill, and I didn't have the energy.
I probably still don't have the energy, but what is filtering through to me - via friends and family - is that things are not well in the state of Denmark, and it's time for all of us to step up and do something. So.. that's what I'm thinking about now -