Thursday, December 06, 2007

Rising Food prices of concern to CARICOM leaders

Business: News in the Caribbean -

there's been a lot of wailing about inflation and rising food prices, especially here in Trinidad and Tobago. One thing that I keep hearing, that never fails to astound me is "Milk is too expensive. The Government should lower the price"
So - does this mean that the government has a milk farm, and a processing plant, distribution facilities, and that they are selling the milk from a Government store? That's the only way that they can really lower prices - and since that isn't so... well - what can the Government do? There are already few or no taxes and duties on imported milk, for example. But if there is a worldwide shortage of milk, (as there is) and the price goes up, how can the T&T Government "reduce" the price?
I think that many of my conterraneos are woefully ignorant of the realities of a global capitalist society.
But this article does a good job of explaining the external forces that are pushing food prices up.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Ten Practical Online Steps for Government Support of Democracy

Ten Practical Online Steps for Government Support of Democracy
This is a valuable tool for e-government in supporting democracy. 10 easy steps for governments to remember to build transparency and accountability to ensure democracy.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Crude Ideas - from Fast Company

From the Editor of Fast Company: Crude Ideas
This post is interesting as it seems as if the concept of the end of cheap oil is finally becoming mainstream as oil hovers around $90/bb. Finally the people who have been warning us about peak oil for decades are being seen as the true prophets that they are.
Now the question is - what are we going to do about it? Are we going to transfer a lot of corn production to ethanol, fueling rising food prices, so that we can drive an ethanol-guzzling big SUV? Or are we going to look to reduce our consumptioon of energy, as well as transferring the generation of that energy away from the non-renewable, carbon-based sources and into "clean" generation, like wind, wave, solar?
I don't think that the shift to alternative fuel will make any sense without a serious reconsideration of the way we use power. Architecture needs to be more suited to the climates in which the buildings are situated. Remember the tropical architecture in Trinidad in colonial days? Houses were built with thick walls, verandas, jalosie windows that blocked sun but encouraged breeze. Nowadays, we build block houses that block breeze with lots of glass walls that trap adn intensify heat and we counter this with freezing cold air conditioning.
This doesn't make sense in an era when fuel costs are more expensive,, does it?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

On T&T elections - Local issues vs national issues

One thing we need to really start to think about is the role of national government vs local government. National government should be working on macro issues, with the representatives picked to consider the good of their constituency within the policies of the government with respect to things like economic development, national security, highway building etc.

Local government should be the people who deal with things like getting a piece of road paved. However, as our local government is powerless (note that we haven't voted for them and it is overdue by 2 years) the national govt is (in our paternalistic society) looked to for everything. That sucks.

The fact that the Min of Works said in public that they will be taking over certain roads form the local govt because the local govt can't manage road maintenance and repair is wrong. We should be giving the local govt the skills to manage the roads and other items that are their mandate, not taking them over because they can't do it well! That just reinforces the negativity.

The flooding in POS - the City Council hasn't cleaned the drains. That is the mandate of the City Council not the Ministry of Works. So why aren't we picketing the mayor's office, and threatening to remove him from office? OP right - we have no idea when we will be voting for councils!

But the things we need to ask our parliamentarians are things like - why did you vote to postpone the local elections for 2 years? Why did you vote against the evidentiary bill to allow sworn testimony to be read in court when the witnesses have been found to be threatened? Do you have a personal stake in the outcome of this bill? Will it make your private project more profitable?

But we don't ask these questions, we judge our national politicians based on patronage (yes, getting a parliamentarian to get a road paved is patronage!)

We blame the wrong people. We vote for a national election based on local issues, and not the larger national issues that should be at stake and should be debated, and on which we should make our decisions. And even so, we don't bother with facts, we use anecdotal "evidence". Every -ve anecdote can be countered with a +ve one, or vv! Where are the actual facts?

Healthcare - where's the survey for wait times in emergency rooms broken down by severity of injury? Is it that emergency rooms are a total mess and everyone has to wait 4 + hours or is it that triage means that accident victims are treated before others? We don't know for a fact, as this data isn't public, if it has at all been collected.

So - let's ask John Rahael why we don't have that data. That's what they need to be held accountable to - verifiable facts about whether the policies that they have implemented are doing what we want them to do - saving lives, increasing jobs, etc.

BTW - anybody see a plan or manifesto yet from ANY party? Look at the US.

Over a year away, and already all the potential candidates are publishing big detailed plans for healthcare, for national security, etc. We are 4 weeks away, how long are we going to get to evaluate the plans for national policies, debate them and make up our minds?

Actually - we don't do that at all, so they don't even have to tell us what they plan to do, far less in detail.

We'll go off and fish, or vote blindly for the party of our parents or of our race, or we'll vote for or against a person because we like how they look. We won't ever vote on actual policies with verifiable results, against which we can judge the government when the time comes around in 5 (or fewer) years to vote again.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Government Election data on a commercial site?

Election fever has hit Trinidad and Tobago. One good thing is that all sorts of people have been working on a registration drive - make sure you're registered, only a few more days left to register, etc. That's great. The Election and Boundaries Commission set up a telephone hotline and has been putting ads in every media outlet to get people to make sure they're registered to vote.


Recently there have been a lot of emails along the lines of the following:

Please have all persons check the following site to check their registration

Now - I have a problem with this. This is not an official Government website. When I registered to vote, I gave my information to the Government. Not to a commercial website. The EBC has publicly indicated that they don't know anything about this site. So HOW did they get the ENTIRE election database?

And more disturbingly, why is no-one asking this question? Why are Trinidad and Tobago nationals blithely logging on to a website that has their national identification information without asking them - hey - whoo are you and how did you get MY INFO?

If the Govt gave it to them, then we need to know under what law are they allowed to hand over something as important as the election database, how do they determine who gets it, and what information do they get? The EBC has my ID number, my address, my age, my date of birth. In other words, more than enough information for anyone to open a bank account in my name, take out a credit card, even a loan or a mortgage.

Who are the people behind this website and what precautions are they taking with my data? What do they intend to do with it besides allow me to find out if I am registered to vote? Will they use it later on to spam me? To steal my identity? To interfere with my life?

Do our laws allow the Government to had this information over to just anyone? Dry so?

Has anyone heard of identity theft? This website and the process that allowed this data to fall into commercial hands needs to be investigated, and precautions put into place to prevent such access to sensitive data and posting it online!

The site is currently offline and I hope it stays that way. It's important for people to have an easy way to check their electoral status, but not at the risk that this poses.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

10 Future Web Trends

10 Future Web Trends
From read/Write Web, one of the standard annual (or more frequent) prediction lists - but this one does have some interesting stuff.

Microsoft + Facebook = Trouble for Google

Interesting take on the MS/Google/Facebook wars that are coming? Who's really buying whom? Both Google and MS have indicated interest in buying FB. But then Google may out-open the FB API with thier own? All that's sure is that interesting times lie ahead. And lots and lots of advertising revenue is at stake.

read more | digg story

Saturday, September 22, 2007

An educated and informed electorate? In Trinidad and Tobago? Not seeing it!

A friend wrote this recently in response to a mailing list thread about development and national wealth building.
Trinidad and Tobago Government has indicated that their goal is for us to attain developed nation status by 2020.

"Please be aware that we have raised a bunch of politicians, the majority of which are only interested in the prestige and money without handling the responsibility.

We have let them get away with it for so long that it is WE who are to blame. We have been lazy in choosing representatives. We need to make the younger generation understand that voting is essentially hiring a group of SERVANTS to run the country.

Prime Minister is not KING. He is HEAD SERVANT.

When the politicians understand that, we may actually have a stab at building a "developed country".


and this is what I wrote in response (I have been thinking on this for a while)

In any democracy , it is the RESPONSIBILITY of the electorate to:

1) Educate themselves abouthte issues

2) Debate in a REASONED manner

3) Decide based on REASON who we are going to put to run the country the way we want them to

4) Hold them to certain standards, and

5) REMOVE them if they do not uphold the standards we set

Unfortunately we have not got 1 or 2, and hence the rest simply cannot follow.

What we have is a mass of people who consistently look for a paternalistic government to “give them this and that” and “take care of them” – totally missing the point that the Government has NOTHING to give. It is OUR patrimony, and we determine who we put as TRUSTEE of the national assets. It is not for Manning or Panday or Dookeran or any one of them to give us anything. It is already ours.

We have grossly abdicated our responsibility as citizens. We have handed over our assets, without any checking on who is managing it and what they intend to do with it. WHenn they unilaterally change the terms of the contract under which we allow them to manage our stuff, we do not complain (Draft constitution anyone? Systematic ignoring of Parliament? Defacto passing of laws by Cabinet instead of Parliament? Postponing of local government elections illegally for 2 years? – the 1 year postponement was legal, the extension wasn’t .)

If we allow people to push the line, the line goes further and further each time. We do not stand up and say – this is enough, we don’t like what you are doing.

Of course, they ALL do the same thing, and now people see Government as being a big bran tub, so anyone going into politics, I tend to assume (until they show me otherwise) that they only going to get their chance to dip.

The only solution to this is rational debate and discussion by the population, but with the total lack of literacy and critical thought that exists in this nation - I have serious doubts that this will happen.

For example – the last generation of thinkers are dying out. Who is there to take the place of Lloyd Best in the national discourse? We have stopped creating the intellectual class, who are so necessary to debate and create these ideas.

UWI is hugely responsible – it has been a training college and not a UNIVERSITY. UWI no longer teaches people to think, to exercise intellectual curiosity, and mental honesty. It teaches people to pass the exams, get the paper and get a wuk.

Getting a wuk is not conducive to development or national wealth building.

And as to how it encompasses computers – ICT is vital for development, but it needs to be understood and deployed in a sensible and rational manner by people who UNDERSTAND. If we cannot manage basic literacy for a large proportion of the population, imagine the level of technical illiteracy.

There are many people I encounter who STILL look at a computer as if it were a strange and wonderful thing dropped from the heavens by a beneficial god.

So – when Dookeran says things like – we will give the people 100,000 computers – they are more likely to go - OOOH! How wonderful. And not to think about the HOW, the WHY , the OUTCOMES of such a move. And then say – that’s crap because 1,2,3 or – that could work because a,b,c…

We ignore the BECAUSE. We make statements with no reference to fact or logic to distract from the beauty of the words forming the argument, the malapropisms, the sheer joy of hearing one’s own voice (green verbs, mispronunciations, and all)

AND WE DO NOT CALL PEOPLE ON IT. Where is the back story, where are the facts on which you based this opinion? Are those “facts” even really facts, or are they more opinion, rumour and hearsay dressed up in beads and feathers like Carnival Tuesday and masquerading as “fact”?

Monday, June 04, 2007

Women not participating in IG processes?

This is an update on the 2007 ICANN Nominating Committee (Nom Com).
The Nom Com received 93 Statements of Interest from candidates worldwide during an open nomination period that ran from 1 February 2007 to 18 May 2007. 12 candidates are female, 81 are male.

That is a ratio of 0.14 female applicant to every 1 male applicant in the technical governing body for the Internet.

This is a serious problem. The Internet is a vital part of the infrastructure for development. We cannot afford to have such a large gender gap - it will result in policies and processes that are not adequate and relevant to 50% of the world's population.

I know that women are grossly underrepresented in the technical community, and in the international internet governance arena as well. In IG, we tend to cluster in the ICT4D space, and not involve ourselves in the technical areas. But these areas are where policies that will shape the future Internet re being debated and implemented RIGHT NOW! We need to participate in these areas.

The NomCom this year had many issues getting candidates. Vint Cerf even posted a plea on YouTube and discussed it in the International Herald Tribune. Despite this, we get 81 male and only 12 female applicants for 9 open positions.

What can we do to get more women involved? I am out of ideas.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007 Reaches Agreement to Help RegisterFly Customers Reaches Agreement to Help RegisterFly Customers

Finally! In a week or so the domains will be sorted. And hopefully ICANN can work on the process to improve the handling of any similar situations.

Good News from ICANN

Larry Seltzer at eWeek in this article finally shows ICANN some good press. ICANN has been doing good stuff, but seems as if the nay-sayers were much louder in public.
Finally some good news may get out.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Euralo selects first board and ALAC representatives

The EURALO has finally voted and chosen its representatives and Board members. It has been a long and sometime acrimonious process, and some participants have been very disappointed.

Here's Thomas' blog entry:

And here's Patrick's

Here's my response to the disappointed members:

I understand that it may seem as if the signing ceremonies are pure PR, but really, the idea that we had in ALAC was to get going on the primary task of the Interim ALAC which was to form the REAL ALAC. We want this to happen so that we can STOP spending time and effort on getting the regions organised (this has been dragging on and distracting everyone for over 3 years), and start getting going on the policy issues and getting user feedback. In my first 3 meetings with the Board as a member of ALAC, they really didn't want to hear anything coming from the Interim, they wanted us to tell them what the global users thought, and how we knew what they thought. Implementing the structure seemed to be the best way to get that legitimacy in the eyes of the Board and the rest of ICANN.

I think that if we can get a position on a policy issue that we can show is backed by 100,000 or more internet users from all over the world, then we will be able to get a better hearing than if we continued to be the interim committee, with 15 people who have no linkage to the end users globally.

I think that the RALOS will give the ALAC some legitimacy and will, with some work, give us more people to do policy work, more views on the issues, and more ability to effect some sort of change.

We will see if I'm right or wrong, but it's early days yet.

I agree that the NA and EU regions have not started off well, but I hope that when the voting is done people can put aside the bitterness and work together on the issues that brought them together in the first place.

Given that you have been active for so long and are such a valuable member of the community, I hope that you can put aside the bitterness and disappointment that you feel and continue to make your valuable contributions to the AtLarge community in ICANN. Personally, I hope that you will continue to give me and the rest of the ALAC the benefit of your knowledge, intelligence and expertise.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Domain Tasting lawsuit

Check out this story from MSNBC. Nieman Marcus is suing people for domain tasting on names that are similar to theirs! 5 day add/grace a good idea? The AtLarge Advisory Committee of ALAC will be requesting an investigation into this process very soon.

Neiman Marcus sues over domain names
Retailer accuses companies of registering over 40 Internet addresses
By Anick Jesdanun
The Associated Press
Updated: 8:03 p.m. ET March 23, 2007
NEW YORK - Neiman Marcus Group Inc. is suing a pair of domain name companies, accusing them of improperly registering more than 40 Internet addresses that resemble the department store chain's trademarks.
The lawsuit accuses the companies of domain name tasting, or taking advantage of a five-day refund period to sample which of the addresses might generate traffic — and thus potential ad revenues, before committing to buying them. LLC and Spot Domains LLC, two Denver-based companies that share offices and employees, were named as defendants. The companies told The Associated Press on Friday they do not comment on pending litigation.
The complaint, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Denver, seeks injunctions and damages of at least $100,000 per name.
The lawsuit comes weeks after Neiman Marcus settled a similar lawsuit against Dotster Inc., in which Neiman Marcus accused the registration company of tasting hundreds of names meant to lure Internet users who mistype Web addresses. At one point, the lawsuit said, the misspelled featured ads for Target, Nordstrom and other rivals.
As part of the settlement, Dotster agreed to stop registering names similar to Neiman Marcus or sister chain Bergdorf Goodman. The registration company also agreed to suspend use of automation to register domain names in bulk.
Experts estimate that up to 6 million names are tied up at any given time through domain name tasting, thanks to computer automation and a burgeoning online advertising market.
The practice takes advantage of a grace period originally designed to rectify legitimate mistakes, such as registrants mistyping the domain name they are about to buy. During the grace period, registrants generally put up a generic search site with advertising and keep the ones that might make more than the $6 annual cost of a name.
Neiman Marcus isn't alone in fighting back.
Earlier this month, Microsoft Corp. filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in San Francisco against Mountain View, Calif.-based Maltuzi LLC, which, according to its Web site, registers large numbers of Web domain names using automated processes, and profits from ads placed on those pages.
Maltuzi did not return an e-mail seeing comment, but its Web site says, "We deliberately exclude registered trademarks and known common law trademarks from our buying program."
Microsoft filed another suit, in Seattle, naming as defendants unknown "John Does." Lawyers often use such suits as the basis for obtaining identities through subpoenas and other means.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Female power slogans

A friend sent me these... thought I would share.










And last but not least:


Saturday, March 31, 2007

More pics of mine being used...

I haven't checked out my Flickr comments etc for a while. Nice to see that the photos are being used - New Bunji Garlin / David Rudder collabo at de cooler : soca news

Policy Innovations - Creative Industries as Growth Engine

Interesting how things work. I posted this pic on Flickr. It was used to illustrate this article, written by Keith Nurse, with whom I work!

Empty seats baffle Ponting

This is so true. The WI has not got the support from the fans turning out. We need to go to the matches and support the team. With little local support, we aren't doing well. The WI team needs the crowds to do well.
Cricinfo - Blogs - World Cup Monitor

Empty seats baffle Ponting

Posted by Sriram Veera

Ricky Ponting is used to playing in front of some massive crowds but the
low turnout at some matches in the Caribbean has left him nonplussed.
The first day of Australia's rain-interrupted match against West Indies
at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium attracted only 9000 fans, despite the
ground's capacity of 19,000.

Ponting believes if West Indies crash out during the Super Eights, the
spectator-count will diminish further. "I couldn't believe there wasn't
a full house for the West Indies-Australia game here the other day," he
told AFP. "I'm not sure what the reason was for that. But then,
if the West Indies do go out, there probably won't be much support
around the grounds at all which will be disappointing in a World Cup.

"Getting towards the latter stages there will be a lot of visitors
coming in from around the world but it would be nice if a lot of the
locals got out and supported the games as well. It would be great for
the Caribbean if the West Indies could make it through to the final
stages of the tournament."

Monday, March 26, 2007

ICANN Lisboa - Day 1-3

SO I got to Lisbon, but my luggage remained in Heathrow. This seems to be a major problem with this meeting - I've met more than 30 people whose luggage decided not to come with them to Portugal! However, I was lucky and only lost my luggage for 1 day. It was finally delivered on Sunday. In the mentime, it was cool that we got ICANN tshirts in our registration pack. Socks and undies would also have been useful!
ICANN Lisboa has some really cool giveaways in the participant pack. I even got a full length apron - to wear while I see what .cat is "cooking up"! :)
Now I'm in the Registerfly session. This is really important to the end users that ALAC is reponsible to. I have to do a whole post on that - it's important.
Now - ICANN now has loads of really cool innoovatins specially for people who cannot make it to the meetings in far-flung areas of the world. There's the public participation website at and they are also webcasting the meetings.
Documents are often translated, and there is simultaneous interpretation for people who do not speak English (something that esp LAC has been asking for)
We'll see how the whole thing pans out. There are some very very important issues on the table at this meeting.
All for now!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Protests against Elton John in Tobago?

The Jamaica Gleaner has a story about and "ArchDeacon of Trinidad and TObago" trying to get Sir Elton John banned from Trinidad and Tobago. He's due to perform at the 2007 Plymouth Jazz festival. This is interesting as, living in Trinidad and Tobago for 42 years, I have no idea who this "ArchDeacon of Trinidad and Tobago" is.
Yes, the Immigration Laws do provide for the ability to deny entrance to homosexuals, but then the immigration laws in most countries allow for denying entry to pretty much anyone. Just try to get a visa to Europe or the US as a Trinidadian citizen.
The point is that this is a minority religion, a minority opinion. Most people are thrilled that Sir Elton is coming. It's been impossible to get lodging in Tobago for the Festival this year, as so many people are going just to see him. A lot of the people who own villas and rental properties in Tobago are not renting them, as they want to go themselves. My friend who rents villas has told me she wishes that Sir Elton could come every year - business is soooo good. If the country were anti-Elton, would this happen?
Yeah, there are bigots in T&T, but there are bigots everywhere. All countries have their share of idiots.
If they demonstrate, it might even be good, in that we can see who these bigots are, and we can then boycott them, their businesses, their social events, etc. \

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

ICANN and online morality?

A friend of mine wrote:
>> I don't think that I can agree with Milton Mueller's statement that ICANN
>> should stick to it historically technical role. This might have been
>> possible when no one cared but is no longer possible or desirable. Someone
>> has to do policy and politics. If not ICANN then ...?

The answer to this after WSIS II was "the Internet Governance Forum" which met in Athens last November, and will meet in Rio in June 2007. That, and the many many legitimate organisations that are set up to deal with things such as legality and morality in different jurisdictions.

The GAC is flexing its muscles. It's up to us to stand up and balance the scales.
It is unacceptable that ICANN, a US corporation, which is responsible in the final account to the US government, and is not a representative body, with no legitimacy other than that given by the US govt and what we choose to give them, should make decisions of this nature.

It is equally unacceptable that the GAC should bully the Board of ICANN into accepting a defacto veto from ANY country. To show the absurdity of it - it's like Saudi Arabia deciding that a Brazilian or Trinidadian website cannot show half-naked women at Carnival? So a culture that has nothing to do with us can determine that we may not do something that is totally legal and permissible in our society? If I wanted to live by the laws of another culture, I would MOVE there!

What we need to do is have discussion on these sorts of topics on these lists, and develop a position that can be presented to ICANN. As individual Internet users, we need to become active in the management of OUR Internet. Otherwise, one day we';ll wake up and find that or even has been taken down from the Internet because someone in another part of the world with a different culture has determined that it is "immoral".

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Photo: Samsung's Ultra Smart F700 phone - CNET

One of six Samsung handsets unveiled at the 3GSM World Congress, the F700 features a QWERTY keypad, touch screen interface, 5-megapixel camera and large screen.
This is a really cool phone- I can't wait to check it out. Compared to the Apple iPhone (now able to be called that!) - seems to be more practical in that the keyboard is more usable for my large hands, and the camera!!! We'll have to wait and see. :(
But I am not sure that anything will replace by beloved Blackberry 8700!

read more | digg story

The new Board of Directors of IGovTT

The new Board of Directors of  IGovTT  was presented with congratulatory letters by The Honourable Maxie Cuffie, Minister of Public Admini...