Sunday, June 24, 2007


In my life, I have been besieged by people who, admirably, wish to work but have no jobs. The difficulty is that their appetite for work is not aligned with their appetite for doing the things that are recommended in order to become qualified to work. I once met a young man who, after months of him asking me to help find him work, I agreed to assist. I was impressed by him initially, as based on our conversations, he was obviously a keen observer of the world around him, and despite his somewhat rough manner, was reasonably articulate, which implied a working brain.

I asked him to help me by giving me some personal information, pertaining to experience, qualifications and such like. There was limited experience beyond simply being a virtual beast of burden on various construction sites (you've seen them...they carry water to mix the cement, they move stones, dig trenches and the like), and more importantly, little by way of formal education. I asked why his high school education ended after 4.5 years. It turns out he had been expelled for fighting. The school administration did not like him, he said. All of that is well and good. But what struck me, is that he figured that he had enough of a base to move forward. He had had odd jobs from time to time, but had used that money to live, and acquire material possessions. Not for him, going back to school and depriving himself of the flat screen tv (which subsequently blew up when his stolen unregulated electricity supply fried it). He has also enlarged his current abode, situated on premises leased by a landlord of dubious title, money which is largely irrecoverable.

Where did I learn life lessons like education first, everything afterwards? My parents, I guess, and my peers. I suppose in his hardscrabble world, making yourself into a man requires him to acquire visible and tangible assets.

So, where do we go?

I support a strong national programme where unskilled labour like his is recognised as a national asset that can be employed in projects that have some national utility...whether it is bushing verges, open lots, demolishing derelict buildings. This differs from Portia's Crash Programme Redux, in that the labour is recognised as an asset and this dignified, and rendered in exchange for coupons (and some cash, i.e., a stipend) redeemable at dedicated educational programmes designed to take adult students to at least a first level of educational qualifications. CXC Basic Math and English Language should be a must, and others optional according to aptitude/appetite.

In conjunction with this programme, we would also establish community homework centres, recognising that this programme of academic study requires out-of-class work, and that many of these persons reside in areas and circumstances where that is not an option. Professional persons who have some aptitude could be asked to assist in these programmes by monitoring and offering assistance to students.

At the conclusion of the programme, we would have placement akin to the HEART trainee placement programme. Even if we don't we at least have a far better educated workforce, whether employed or otherwise....which means a better waiter, bartender etc...Am I too much of an idealist? I hope not.

Whether one agrees with me or not, there are some basic truths that we must recognise as a nation. One of them is that our current education system is sorely in need of a makeover. One of the premises on which it rests is that students will have the requisite level of maturity, emotional and otherwise, to pass through satisfactorily. For the vast majority of students, I suspect, it is simply not true. I would wager that the daily life and circumstances of, say, 60-70% of our primary and secondary level students is completely at odds with what the system assumes. We need to either re-design the system to recognise this, or we need to have an educational safety net in place to catch these misfits (I do not use the term pejoratively). We can talk about free education all we want, but that only goes to solving part of the problem. We need to recognise the very different social circumstances that obtain in today's Jamaica. We cannot afford to do otherwise.

Laziness is a curse...

and it is also a human condition. catch up again. I've been terribly tardy in putting anything on this blog that invites reading. This will change however....yes, I know, one has heard it all before.

So much has happened around me in this place that I can't even blame a shortage of material as an excuse.

Let's see...Bob Woolmer murdered/not murdered. Hmm.....everyone wants to jump down Mark Shields' throat, for what reason I don't know. People seem to feel he was "hogging the spotlight". How, exactly, does the senior officer on the case, the lead investigator on a case and one extremely experienced with dealing with the feral media, "hog" the spotlight? I guess his being the person who more often than not delivered the media briefings bothers people not used to seeing regular police briefings or a policeman being adept at dealing with the media. But so be it. Let Mark Shields be. And let's ignore Renato Adams, a personality who knows all about hogging the spotlight with his out of turn comments. He is the first police officer I know who spoke to the media that much. Anyhow....we can hopefully close the book on that now.

Elections? Rumour has it we will be looking at a new administration (whether a new PNP or the JLP) by Emancipation Day. Or we could have a 30-30 split, which, given this country's propensity for drama, would be entirely more consistent. The bacchanal we saw in T&T when that happened would pale in comparison to what would occur here. I wouldn't be surprised if we end up with a quasi-civil war. My PNP problems are many and varied. Complicity in corruption....dodgy decision almost compulsive devotion to spend money on grand projects, instead of doing the small things right (the Trelawny stadium, anyone?) atrophied sense of creativity in developing solutions for our problems....the list goes on and on. Portia does not inspire loyalty. I wished her all the best as she came to power; hoping she would harness the cross-party popularity she appeared to have and put it to good use in starting to fix things that needed fixing. Instead we got more of the same, and worse. We got ungracious behaviour, screaming and un-statesmanlike public stances. Someone forgot to tell her she was now PM and not MP. She now led a nation, not merely a constituency. But I blame her advisors, perhaps more than I blame her.

Now...onto the JLP. Is Bruce the Messiah? He certainly behaves like a statesman, not being given to staged public hysteria on cue. So much so that he has been going around the country stirring up apathy. We like a showman. Charismatic leaders were our mother's milk, from Busta to Michael (no last name necessary). Even the somewhat dull PJ Patterson, whose personal flavour, if represented as an ice-cream, would have been "wet cardboard", could give a good quip or two. Remember "shoot that horse"? But Bruce...none of that for him. Is that a problem? Not in a perfect world, so the answer is yes. Would I mind him as PM? Not really. I think if after almost 18 years in power more things are wrong than are right, someone else deserves a fair try. Plus, why does a party need to be in power for 18 years, given the absence of blinding prosperity and a sense that the Government is making all the right moves?

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Nope....I'm alive

In case you were wondering and assuming you all cared, I am very much alive. I was engaged and engrossed in cricket for March through April, spent the rest of April and the first half of May travelling enjoying life and now I am back.

There is a whole lot of shit I have on my chest, and this weekend, I swear, I will let it part. So stay tuned. No doubt, you are all perched on the edge of your seats.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Gay bashing rampage in Half Way Tree in pictures

So, I got these on the 'net circulating today. The first two pictures show the mob waiting expectantly outside the pharmacy in which the men were holed up, apparently asking for them to be released to their care and custody.

Then, there is a dramatic shot of a policeman with his rifle held aloft, waiting to spring into action. Note the grinning face of one of the girls behind the policeman. This is bloodsport, folks. of the "alleged homosexuals" (what a term!) emerges, with a hint of drama, from the shelter of the pharmacy in the care and custody of the police, who have cleared a tunnel for him, and finally, the "alleged homosexual" is ducking, apparently from stones thrown as he prepares to duck into the police car.

Wow. I had watched the TV coverage with horror, as I didn't really think that this scene was possible even in Jamaica. I expect that maybe if they were caught having sex, then perhaps this could happed.

After all, I saw THAT happen in Downtown Kingston in 1986 or thereabouts, on the corner of Tower and Duke Streets. On that occasion, I think the story was that three or two men were caught in a compromising position in an abandoned building. This seemed plausible, as the man who was being beaten was clad only in his underwear. I can remember the scene to this day. The man had blood pouring out of his head, was crouching down with his hands clasped crying "unno nuh beat mi, do....mi beg yuh!!" (For non-Jamaican readers, this translates to "I'm begging you not to beat me, please!!") The crowd's response to this was to roar some more for blood, and one man slapped him in his head with a shovel, while another ran in and banged him in his head with a 2 x 4 piece of lumber.

I stood, transfixed, unable to grasp the enormity of what I was seeing. Because I was still locked into a different way of thinking at the time, while it was disturbingly violent to me, I don't think I comprehended what it really meant. And I learned later that day that (a) the other participants had been beaten elsewhere, and (b) the man I saw being beaten had eventually died.

Only much later in life did I really realise what I had seen and what monsters walked amidst us. Because that is the face of violent homophobia. When a DJ says "batty bwoy fi dead", those lyrics mean that they are to be beaten -if you choose to beat vs shoot or stone - and that scene I saw so many years ago is to be re-enacted in a thousand different places. Incredible.

I don't know if people see it as a bit of harmless blood sport, a modern day version of Christians vs the lions, but I will bet money that anyone who watches someone get beaten to a pulp will think twice about articulating it. This is not about whether you like gay people or not. You can be Hardaway-ian about it as in "I hate gay people" or you can murmur your disapproval, even as you are gracious towards them. But you cannot stone, beat, shoot or wish death upon them.

Does the state have a role to play in this? Of course it does. The state needs to set a moral tone. And the correct moral tone is that it is NOT ok to mete out your own brand of Old Testament justice on those deserving of your ire....if that were the case, fornicators and adulterers would be stoned in the middle of Constant Spring and Liguanea and the lofty heights of Manor Park, and woe to those who wear blended fabrics...might be ripped from your body, followed by a right flogging. But the cowards in Parliament, otherwise known as the Honourable Members of Parliament, are not about to sip from that poisoned chalice, and are content to be modern day Torquemadas, sitting in judgment of those who fail to adhere to Judeo-Christian principles of moral rectitude, and want to enlist the jackboots of the state to enforce compliance. (Hear that, Errol Ennis??)

The other day, I heard Collin Hines, the DJ from FAME FM complaining on-air about the rise of violence in the music...apparently someone has a song out where killing someone else's first-born is being advocated or some such. I was incredulous....this is a DJ who has been defiant about playing songs of peace, love and harmony like "Boom Bye Bye" at fetes where he has been billed as a selector. So, if I understand him, advocating the killing of a "batty bwoy" is one thing - acceptable - but advocating the killing of someone's first-born child is unacceptable.

Here's a moral dilemma for Capt. Hines....suppose that first-born child grows up and is discovered to be a "batty bwoy"? Should there be a boom bye bye for him? If so, then what would have been the issue in killing him in the first place? If not, then what...? Kill second-born children who are "batty bwoys"? Wash bellies? (J'can slang for lastborn child) I feel an entire post could be devoted to this one...

But folks....what really bothers me, is we don't really have time to waste in beating "batty bwoys". We have an anemic economy, a burgeoning crime rate, and girls getting pregnant from straight men. So, what is the social urgency involved in a crusade against queer people? What is the social dividend?

Let's ask ourselves that before we rush to the next episode of "Boom Bye Bye - Making the video".

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Stone dem...bun dem out

Let's see....fellows stoned in Tropical Plaza on Valentine's Day by an angry life exposed on man murdered in Montego Bay...three little boys caught doing something compromising in a building, one caught and beaten (apparently 9 years old). So what on earth is going on? Are we being overrun with gayness? Is something in the water? Scientists should check it out. But more perplexing is the 'beat dem, bun dem out' mentality that afflicts some people. Since when did the moral majority get the right to pass judgment on people? John Maxwell's article in the Sunday Observer today is a gem, and may explain a lot!

ICC Cricket World Cup

As I drive through the city, and see the frantic rush of preparation for Cricket World Cup, the emotion I feel most of all is annoyance....sheer annoyance at the fact that (a) the authorities waited until the absolute last minute to decide to fix some things, including some things that probably didnt need fixing, which means that its probably not going to be done properly, and money will be wasted, and (b) it takes this bloody tournament for the authorities to determine that the place don't look so good and need sprucing up.

Now, you and I will fix up our house when visitors come because we want to leave a good impression, right? So far so good...BUT...big difference....we are the ones living in our house, and we have a right to determine what is a priority and what is not. We decide what we are comfortable living with. The Government can't claim that privilege. That argument doesnt belong to them. Is not dem alone live here!!! We are the ones who live here, and the Government is in charge of fixing up the place. So basically, the Government is acting like a slum landlord who only fixes the building and the plumbing because the inspectors are coming. To hell with the people who have to live here all the time. We don't care if you have to trip and fall over unever sidewalks...potholed roads ruin your vehicle....whatever. But...visitors are coming...lets look good for them. Forget that less than a few hundred yards west of Sabina Park are some horrendous slums. One wrong turn off South Camp Road, and you will be in the place that time forgot, a modern day Island of Dr. Moreau, where humans live in conditions that could be mistaken for the habitat of wild animals.

Then don't get me started on Greenfield!!! What a collossal waste of money....and to do what? Why didnt the architects of this idea put their country first, and not their own egos? The Chinese built it, funded with cheap money, but couldn't we have asked the Chinese to maybe...oh...I dunno.....improve the many shitty hospitals we have....lend us money to buy medical equipment.....fix all the primary schools in the country...surely it would have been cheaper to do that than build a massive new stadium that will be hardly used but expensive to maintain. We can build magnificent edifices, but we cannot maintain. Emancipation Park is a standout exception to the rule. We need to see why that works and why the National Stadium doesn't. Why wasn't the National Stadium used for the Opening Ceremony? Who in their right mind really wants to drive to freakin' Trelawny (!) to spend three hours looking at bloody moko jumbies and corny stilt walkers? The crowd aint coming from Montego Bay, nor, I wager, are people gonna drive from Kingston, certainly not enough to fill the stadium.

Lord help us.

Friday, February 23, 2007

In the beginning.....

In the's more like in the wee hours.....thoughts wicked this way come. Why blog? Because I have something to say, and I prefer to say it in the privacy of my own blog. Is that a completely weird thing to say? Not in the 21st century I suppose. So who gets this blog when I am gone? My incorporeal hereditaments.....I like that phrase...not sure what it means, but I think a blog would be one. I'll leave this blog in my will. Yup. You all can have it. So maybe this blog will give some structure, some outlet to these very random thoughts I find I have wandering out of my mouth from time to time, amazing even cynical me with their coherence and..dammit...sheer brilliance!!

So, folks.....this is very much a Seinfeldian blog, which means for those of you who don't pick up on these pop culture cues, that it is about nothing in particular and everything.

So..some specifics....I'm in my 30's.....male.......single, goodlooking (no, I'm not writing a personal ad...its a blog, dammit!!!)...bright enough, and reasonably well educated. The challenge will be whether this blog lasts beyond tonight....! I hope so, as I do have a lot of stuff swirling around in my head and a feverish desire to type as fast as both fingers will allow. Its approaching 3 am nonetheless, and one hopes I can tear myself away from this thing and go to my damn bed. I have reservations about putting all this stuff OUT THERE for the world to see, which means I will have to face the slings and arrows of outrageous people who will have a lot to say, critical or otherwise, about whatever I write about or views I take. So here goes.....the beginning of a journey that I might or might not enjoy. But it comes at a point in my life when I am restless about a lot of things, and maybe it might actually anchor me to allow me to vent, release, relax and otherwise be happy. I have one very important anchor right now, about which I will not speak. Not ya bizness, zeen? So lef it alone....But yeah, come one come my shit, hear my crazy thoughts. Now. Where was that witty thought I had earlier? Dammit, where did I put it? It was just here a moment's flown the coop. But wait there's more......nope....that's it. Can it be true? can a blog end before it begins? nah..I will write...still I you can hear this caged bird sing. Stay tuned. The revolution will not be will be blogged.