Sunday, 31 January 2010

Is God Brazilian?

Brazil has been at the forefront of pioneering renewable energy, but the discovery of oil off her coast has left this country with a dilemma. Brazil, hitherto known as a powerhouse of green energy is facing a major threat and although the majority of the country's cars are powered by ethanol, oil looms large on the horizon. PetrĂ³leo Brasileiro S/A - Petrobras is the embodiment of the Brazilian government's monopoly in the oil sector's integral activities, a monopoly sanctioned by law. The Petrobras platform at the heart of the oil-rich Campos Basin, is capable of producing a world record-breaking 100,000 barrels of crude per day, meaning that when fully operational, Brazil could rocket into the top five world oil producers, alongside Kuwait and Iraq.

The Brazilian government through a spokesperson has suggested that although there are very many poor people in the country and that each Brazilian consumes energy at a rate that is less than seven times what each American consumes, the Brazilian population need, and have the right to have energy sufficient to meet their need.

Brazil's status as a leader in green energy technology is threatened by this new development. But my view is that, just as the Brazilian government intervened at the start of the ethanol programme (expensive though it was) and thereby contributed substantially to its success, the same should apply to oil. Brazil has already designed its economy around renewable energy sources and apart from ethanol for auto-mobiles, there is extensive reliance on hydro-electricity and wind produced energy.

It might be impossible to ask a developing country like Brazil not to exploit its substantial oil reserves, but the country's head-start in developing and exploiting renewable energy technology places her in the unique position where further development can indeed be achieved without the over-reliance on oil for revenue and energy, which has been the undoing of some other oil producing nations. Nigeria, for example, comes to mind.

A big ask, maybe, but the Brazilians have demonstrated a capacity for careful planning. And much of the same will be required methinks, including inter alia ensuring that the oil and gas sectors are as environmentally friendly as possible with emissions as low as possible. Consideration may be given for instance, to the technique of carbon capture and storage, a technique that is currently being employed by Norway in its oil and gas industry. An environmentally friendly approach to the development of the oil and gas sectors will be necessary, in order to achieve an outcome that benefits the majority of Brazilians without at the same time damaging the country's reputation for its renewable energy successes.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Its not that bad after all..

Okay I said I would provide an update on my situation, seeing the headshrinker and all.. so I went to see him today. He insisted I call him by his first name, Julian, and he turned out to be such a lovely guy, oh, I don't know..

We engaged in what he referred to as 'talk therapy', which I found quite helpful, because sitting on the couch talking to this psychiatrist whom I'd only just met less than half an hour previously, I was so relaxed that I was able to say things to him, things that I've never been able to say to anyone before. And guess what, he made me understand that my reaction to my circumstances was not unusual at all, and he seemed to understand my thoughts in such a way that I never knew anyone could. To cut it short, I came away from that mental-health clinic feeling different, but in a good way. Julian didn't think that I needed medication, but he thought it might help if he set me up with one of his teams that work with people in the community, to keep an eye on me and be there to talk if I needed to talk to someone.

All in all, it was a highly positive experience and I'm glad that I chose to go down that road, despite the stigma that often attaches to those who experience mental health difficulties. Julian assured me that coming to seek help was the best possible thing I could have done.. So thats it for now. Lets see how things pan out, shall we.. :)

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

This made me laugh out loud..

Homosexual cites bank managers and policemen

Peace FM Online: "Christian Boateng, the 20-year-old male sex worker who was last week Thursday arrested by the Dansoman police for operating as a female sex worker, has told The Spectator that some of his clients are prominent bank mangers, policemen, businessmen and accountants working in the Kumasi metropolis.

Christian who usually dressed up as a female to lure his clients pleaded with this paper to keep the identities of the clients anonymous, because if their identities and work places are disclosed, the scandal will become a big disgrace to them, destroy their families and elicit public outrage against them. Christian Boateng said any time he was in his female dress and approached by these sex-hungry clients, “I immediately tell you in the face that I’m not a woman but a man who is willing to engage in anal sex if that is what you like.”

He told The Spectator team that will this information the client, if he is willing, agrees to go with him to a hotel of his choice to have anal sex with him at the cost of GH¢20 for a full-night service and GH¢10 for a half-night otherwise known as ‘short time.’

The suspect who spoke in a rather cheerful and relaxed mood at the Dansoman Police Station explained that he became a male sex worker in 2005 using a female style of dressing as his modus operandi because such a guise was enticing and a good marketing strategy.

As to whether he was aware of the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, he replied: “I am fully aware and that is why I always demand that a client wears a condom before sex,” he said, adding that, “no condom, no sex.”
Christian who uses various female names such as Jacqueline, Ama Pokuwaa, Serwaa and Angela, explained that he had not had any health problem with his rectum all this while he has been practicing homosexuality because of the use of condom to reduce friction and prevent the exchange of body fluids, particularly semen.

According to the suspect, the last straw that broke the camel’s back last week Thursday and landed him in the grips of the police was a single glass of coca cola he asked his client to buy for him at a drinking spot at Dansoman Sahara, Accra, where they both went to take in some alcohol to charge up for the sex act.

“I remember my client pouring the coca cola into a glass with the ice cubes to make it cold but I did not know it had been laced with alcohol which knocked me off into sleep, rendering me helpless.”
According to him, he ended up at the client’s residence where he was given a mattress to sleep on in the hall as he waited for “action” to begin.

“Unfortunately, however, my client who was in a drunken stupor came to sleep by me but later left without doing anything. It was rather his younger brother who later came to lie down by me and was trying to have sex with me thinking I was a woman. However, I insisted that as a prostitute I wanted a down-payment of GH¢10 before anything could take place, but the brother offer me GH¢5.00 which I refused and even told him he was not of my class

“As we haggled over it, I lapsed into slumber, and this younger brother took advantage to remove my female dress only to discover that I was not a woman indeed but a man with two balls between my thighs. He woke me up and asked me to tell him the truth about my gender or else hell would break lose. “True to his words he raised an alarm after making several calls o his friends. This attracted a large crowd at about 2:30am at Sahara Dansoman where a police patrol car pulled up and arrested me in the process. I was taken to the Dansoman Police Station for interrogation,” he said.

Meanwhile the Dansoman District Police Commander, Police Assistant Superintendent (ASP) Wilson Aniagye, has warned men who patronise the services of sex workers not to make the mistake of taking such sex workers to their homes since some of them could be criminals parading as females soliciting for sex.

“To your surprise, these criminals may pull a knife or any offensive weapon to either kill or rob you of your money and other valuables,” he said. ASP Aniagye said as Christmas was fast approaching, criminals were adopting subtle methods to prey on innocent and unsuspecting people. He said Christian Boateng would be charged under Section 29 (Act 60) of the criminal code that has it that any person who persistently solicits in any public place or in sight of any public places shall be liable to a fine. On a second offence, he shall be guilty of misdemeanor or serve a jail term of not more than six months.

The suspect would appear before the James Town Magistrate court on December 21. ASP Aniagye disclosed that the suspect would "help the police to arrest the male client who caused his arrest."

Source: The Spectator

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Madame Butterfly

Set in Nagasaki, Japan Giacomo Puccini's opera Madama Butterfly premiered in February 1904 at La Scala in Milan. The opera was not well received at first but when Puccini revised it and the revised version was performed a few months later in Brescia it was hugely successful. Today it is Number 1 in Opera America's list of the 20 most performed operas in North America. It is the most performed opera in the United States.

Monday, 25 January 2010

The demons inside my head

I woke up one cold winter's morning years ago. I was in love and I felt wonderful. My love and I had been on the phone the night before and everything seemed fine. It was only weeks previously that we had slept together in this very same bed in which I was now waking up to behold the whiteness and the magnificence of the snowy vista that was the view from my bedroom window. There was not the slightest indication that there might be a problem. I was in love and as I re-entered the bed and curled myself up under the duvet, warm thoughts of this love in my mind, I assumed that this must be what happiness feels like..

This love and I had met nine months before. During that time we had developed the kind of relationship that I had always dreamt of, both of us at par intellectually. The relationship was stimulating and exciting and the feeling of knowing that this person felt the same as I did was heart-warming. I thought it was a secure place to be, a place that I hoped would be intact forever. But how wrong I was proved to be, because on this very same day, by sunset, I had received word from this love by email and by phone, that unfortunately we would not be continuing with our relationship. In short, I was being told the words "It's over!" An attempt was made at providing an explanation, and the reason given made sense too.. We were separated by distance.. But this was a factor we had known about from the onset and one that we had both agreed we would work around, with a view at some point to removing this barrier completely. Somehow, I seemed to have been the bolder, more optimistic one, because although I could see no immediate prospect of removing the distance barrier in the foreseeable future, I held on to the hope that our love would see us through. Haven't we all heard that love conquers all..? Anyhow, this 'news' hit me like a freight train. I was disbelieving at first and thought it might be just a bad dream. Then I speculated, "No, he couldn't have meant that", trying to make sense of what I'd just been told, you know, trying to rationalise..."He'll soon come to his senses...", I would say to myself. But as the hours went by and turned into days, the reality became more apparent.

Because I was so mentally and psychologically unprepared for this calamity, the full impact of it was lost on me for a few days yet. But when the pain and the rejection eventually crashed upon me, I became a complete wreck. Its effect upon me was that it is likely that I didn't eat a proper meal for weeks and I have a vague recollection of wandering the streets aimlessly, sometimes not even remembering to wear a coat to keep out the cold.. I failed to turn up for work for about a month and remember once being brought home to my front door in a police patrol car in the middle of the night. I think I must have been found walking alone, dazed, on the deserted street. The fact is that I basically lost my mind..

It took a gargantuan effort on my part to get through this period and to pull myself together. But the pain, always, the pain.. It caused me to dig deep into my emotional and mental reserves and forced me to button up, sit down and study for my qualifying exams, which I'd been putting off for years. But the emotional wound was deep and it healed very slowly indeed. I was never going to let this happen to me ever again, I promised myself. So going forward, I seem to have carried with me to any further relationship that I've been engaged in, the baggage from this episode in my life. I am constantly haunted by the fear that this will happen again and this fear has influenced my conduct within subsequent relationships that I've been in. And I'm not sure if its a good thing, since I'm constantly treading carefully (perhaps overly) being too fearful to commit and to give my all, as I know I'm capable of doing.

I have written this post in the hope that talking about it will purge my mind of this fear. My self-confidence and self-esteem have taken a severe bashing. Its impact upon my life is profound and I have considered seeking some kind of professional help. Sometime this week I'm booked to see a psychiatrist. I guess this sounds like I'm a bit wonky in the head, but really, I think its for the best..

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Great stuff, Steve Bloom..

I've recently become a fan of Steve Bloom, a "writer and a photographic artist who specialises in evocative images of the living world. Born in South Africa in 1953, he first used the camera to document life in South Africa during the apartheid years. He moved to England in 1977 and co-founded one of London's leading photographic special effects companies."

I stumbled upon this image, which is speculated to be the "world's widest panoramic photograph.." and parts of an interview of Mr Bloom by the BBC, where he talked about his new book, Trading Places: The Merchants of Nairobi

On how he took this photograph, Mr Bloom states: "I started at the Hilton Hotel at the far end on the right, and moved along to the Jeddy Hair Salon, taking a photograph every four paces. I used a 50mm lens, which approximates the field of view of the human eye for the 35mm film format, and a small aperture to maximise focus. The resulting images are painstakingly stitched together. As the eye moves along the photograph, the viewpoint changes continually, as if the viewer is physically moving down the road. Because we read the image from left to right, the viewer goes backwards in time through a period of about forty-five minutes. Some of the traders such as the knife sharpener, are seen repeatedly going through their business in different parts of the road at different times. This image opposes the 'decisive moment' approach to photography and is more cinematic in its structure."

I understand that in the book, this image stretches across the title page and sixteen pages of the introduction. When printed, the print is about 40 metres long. Pretty amazing..

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Been looking forward to this..

There's something on Blogger that deletes my posts even when I've not deleted them or asked for them to be deleted. Its the second time that I'm having to re-post a video because it got deleted while I was trying to edit my own commentary. I can't explain it, but what I'd said previously about Sade's new song and album is now lost..

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Such a loss to the world

Rest in peace Teddy, you were an inspiration to many..

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Not Haiti again...

Before and After photos of the presidential palace in Port au Prince, Haiti

It bothers me that we wait until an event such as this devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti occurs, before we rush in relief aid and assistance. Haiti, which in geographical terms is a close neighbour of the world's wealthiest country is ignored for much of the rest of the time, except by aid agencies and the US authorites when threatened by what is perceived as an influx of Haitian migrants desperate for the chance of a better life..

How unfair this world can be. Considering that is was not that long ago that this country suffered from severe floods, it seems that it is the poorest and therefore the weakest that Nature targets for the harshest treatment...

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Dispelling rumours of his death..

Nigeria's president not seen in public since going into hospital in Saudi Arabia for heart treatment in November has told the BBC in a telephone interview that he is recovering. The BBC reports it here.

Monday, 11 January 2010

CNN iReport speculates Yar'Adua's death

I came across this posting at CNN's iReport stating that Nigeria's President Yar Adua died yesterday in Saudi Arabia. The full text of the report appears below:

By Hodderway Books
January 11, 2010

Nigerian President, His Excellency Umaru Yaradua is dead according to authoritative sources at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre.

He died on the 10th of December at 3.30pm at an Intensive Care Unit at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in Jeddah Saudi-Arabia. Sources at the Hospital say that the First lady wants to keep the news secret for the next few days for personal reasons.

At the time of his death he was surrounded by his wife, Turai and a childhood friend, Nigerian Member of Parliament,

The president left Nigeria fifty days ago after complaining of Chest pains. Sources at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in Jeddah say that the president suffered among many other things, kidney failure, stroke and massive brain damage.

The President has been bedridden ever since. Nigerian officials had previously lied to the country that the president’s health was getting better while his situation got worse. The president was conspicuously silent regarding the Christmas day bombing in which a 23-year-old Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to detonate a bomb on an aircraft that carried nearly 300 people.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

US discriminating against Nigerians unfairly

I cannot but be proud that my roots are in Nigeria, a country of about 150 million people. Of course in modern times there are those aspects of Nigerian society that leave much to be desired. Many people of Nigerian origin, especially those of us who live outside the country, have to carry around with us a mostly undeserved reputation for fraudulent activity and even the Internet is replete with 'warnings' about Nigerians and their 'fraud'. The country's misguided leaders have over the years since independence, demonstrated a disturbing lack of insight and foresight. What natural wealth the country is blessed with has been mismanaged to the point where some like me, believe that the chance that the country was given to achieve real development has been squandered and irretrievably lost.

The standard of living and the quality of life for most citizens of Nigeria have not improved appreciably for decades. Indeed life expectancy at birth for the citizens of the country has seen a steady decline since 2003. Estimates for life expectancy at birth explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to HIV/AIDS. This can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected. Life expectancy at birth is also a measure of overall quality of life in a country and summarises the mortality at all ages. But there are other things to be said about Nigeria and Nigerians and not all of it is negative.

On the whole Nigerians have for centuries lived harmoniously and at peace with each other and with their neighbours. And while I do not intend to blame colonialism for Nigeria's troubles, there can be no disputing the fact that interference in African affairs by the powers of Europe caused upheaval in Africa so substantial that even half a century after Europe's withdrawal, Africans continue to suffer from the consequences of this interference. There has always been a multiplicity of cultures and religions among Nigerian societies and this will always be. And all along these different peoples have found ways to co-exist in harmony, the only exception being the bloody and tragic war of secession of the late 1960s, sometimes referred to as the 'civil war' or the Biafran war.

Despite all of this and quite apart from it, Nigerians tend to be the more industrious, personable, confident, self-assured, hardworking, peace loving, hospitable, enterprising, generous Africans to be found anywhere. I would have added 'honest' and 'sincere' to that list, but you wouldn't believe me anyway. This is not surprising since as I stated earlier, all of us Nigerians have been tainted with those rumours being bandied around about fraud and dishonesty, whereas in actuality only a minority of Nigerians are responsible for the acts that have given rise to this unpleasant reputation. Moreover fraudsters come in all shapes, colours and nationalities. And so do paedophiles! But we never hear that all British people are branded as child abusers, despite what we know about predatory child-sex tourism in south Asia and East Africa. Nigerian fraudsters are not different from fraudsters of other nations, including the United States itself. But instead, and rather unfortunately, there seems to be a zealousness to criticise, malign and even blame Nigerians as a whole for any crime committed by a person of Nigerian origin.

Recently the holder of a Nigerian passport was apprehended before he could successfully detonate an explosive device said to be strapped to his body while aboard an aeroplane that was about to land at an airport in Michigan, USA. Of course this story is not news, neither is it news that the US government acting in what seems like a knee-jerk reaction, has declared that special checks must now be conducted on passengers arriving at US airports from any of the following countries - Nigeria, Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Libya, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria. To include Nigeria in this list of countries is not only unfair, it is also misleading.

Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria are countries that the US believes to be state sponsors of terrorism. The other countries in this list (with the exception of Nigeria) are known to harbour terrorists of varying political hues, but for all of whom the underlying objectives are the same as Al Qaeda's. Why is Nigeria on this list, you may ask. Well, apparently one of the country's citizens was recruited by Al Qaeda elements in Yemen and having been trained and indoctrinated by them, he has travelled from Yemen through Ghana, Nigeria and The Netherlands before arriving in the US with incendiary explosive material concealed in his underwear. He was apprehended while trying to set off these explosives with the intent of blowing himself up, along with the hundreds of innocent fellow passengers on the aeroplane. This person has over the last several years been outside Nigeria for longer than he has been in the country. Reports suggest that he became radicalised not in Nigeria, but while abroad. I suppose it was not at all relevant to the US authorities, or indeed to anyone, that the father of this suspected terrorist had alerted the authorities well in advance about the threat that his son posed and that this terrorist's father is a Nigerian too.

Richard Reid the Boston "shoe bomber" is a British citizen who converted to Islam. He too was apprehended in the US in similar circumstances, but I have not heard that British people or air travellers to the US from Britain have as a result been subjected to more rigorous body searches since that incident occured years ago. It was in Amsterdam that the Nigerian terrorist suspect boarded the US bound flight that he attempted to blow up, supposedly evading the security systems at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport. Yet travellers from The Netherlands are not subjected to the 'special checks' that have been imposed on Nigerians, when in fact Nigeria is a country with no past record of involvement in international terrorism activity of any kind. The US government should hang its head in shame at this announcement. Blaming an entire country's population for the act of just one of the country's citizens and then proceeding to impose sanctions on the entire travelling public from that country, is unbecoming of the intelligent leadership that we thought the world had gained when the result of the last US election was announced. This is a disappointment to me and I am pleased to hear that Nigeria has officially criticised the decision.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Happy New Year

Now that the fireworks have been extinguished and the dust has settled, its time to raise some more dust..
Happy New Year everyone..