Tuesday 25 June 2013

Thought Picnic: Plain Clouding My Judgement

Plane clouds
It still remains a mystery much as it is supported by good science how we put mechanical birds in the sky, the way we harness the invisibility of air for fantastic motion faster than transport on land, in water or on water.
Like I noticed years ago, as we reside in the daytime under the gloominess of the weather brought on by clouds, beyond those clouds, the sun glows, albeit unable to penetrate the cloud cover that brings the rain and more.
So, we rose beyond the judder of the lower clouds to be bathed in rays of sunshine, whilst looking out of my window, as I seem to prefer window seats, to the horizon was a sea of levelled tranquillity as if we were on white sands of a desert far from civilisation, but we were just 10 miles up.
All shook up
Then just about 150 miles into our journey, we hit turbulence, quite violent turbulence that the plane shook, rising and falling like we were at rough seas.
The left wing was both rigid and flexible, it almost flapped to my sight that I had to calm myself, with great difficulty. The captain then announced that below us were severe thunderstorms, none of which we could see apart from knowing that the wind in which we flew churned that the pilot’s grip on the joystick was probably firmer than usual.
One piece of advice he gave was apart from keeping our seat belts on, we should keep our seats upright and face forwards because this will reduce the psychological effects of flying through turbulence, it worked for as long as I kept my eyes away from the window.
Suddenly and there
No sooner had he said that, we hit an air-pocket and the sudden dip of the plane had a few drinks hit the luggage compartment above – I was half expecting it, it was probably just 200 metres, like one had just taken a bungee jump – scary stuff.
After a good 30 minutes of this rollicking ride, things calmed down, clouds cleared up, the descent began and all that was left was the applause that came from a few as we landed. We were in sunny Berlin.

Thursday 20 June 2013

The Career Activist: Raising Public Causes for Private Purses

Porn for our times
Snippets of information gathered from sources so varied and diverse and woven in a yarn of a nightmare too bizarre for words that one reels with shock.
As the century turned there came those whose sophistry opened the purse strings of funding for projects that were to attend to pressing needs of people dying of a disease that had defied cure but not the management of it.
Collection tins were shaken in the streets of rich countries tugging at the heartstrings of a public that could only spare little but augmented with international aid budgets you had a pool of resource ready to be plundered by the savvy.
As our screens are filled with famine porn, disease porn, malnutrition porn, disaster porn, war porn and whatever pornography that engages the mind and excites altruistic activists to demonstrate, protest and agitate for more action, the money mountains piled up to be doled out to frontmen, spokespersons, activists and espousers of causes we all seem to hold dear in lands afar.
Black holes of aid
Closer to the needy, there are activists who are doing a lot with very little, their resources stretched to the limit and still they are coping with the situation whilst they are insulated from the real funding they need by middlemen elite who have become professional panhandlers with access to international organisations and influential persons.
With the urgency to act at what has always been a crisis exploited by some who had assumed the role of activist, spokesperson and head of some organisation – be it a non-governmental organisation (NGO) or a community based organisation (CBO) with a cause that is at best a guzzler of dollars for the leaders and a dispenser of cents to the led, money has flooded into named projects and selected hands to do what has generated much paperwork activity but no fulfilling result.
The rain is not getting to the ground, that is why the crops have failed and yet more clouds gather for a monsoon – that is the metaphor for the snippets of stories that have accompanied aid activism for many projects to do with family planning, alleviating poverty, addressing diseases as malaria, tuberculosis and most especially HIV/AIDS.
Squandered on self
Suites at conferences where the footmen invited can barely get a place that they literally lie in slave ship formation on some benevolent floor, as the elite select choice persons for sensual pleasure, living the life of oil sheiks to hedonistic for polite phrasing, they have danced on the graves of the many who suffered needlessly as funds were diverted to acquisitive ostentatious living with unconscionable impunity – Woe betide the ones that remain in this activity even as some are long dead.
The money made available for these causes was unbelievably too much and as they shared the largesse amongst themselves, fights broke out and with those fights some light came into what they were up to but whatever is known is just the tip of the iceberg of schemes hatched in minds so reprobate and rotten beyond redemption.
Sadly, as the love of money is the root of all evil, the dissenters and whistle-blowers have run the risk of loss as great as the loss of support, the loss of influence and even the loss of life (assassinations portrayed as armed robbery murders), the corrupt enterprise built on aid activism that appeals to wealthy donors cannot be allowed to suffer the scrutiny necessary to ensure that funds allocated reach the projects advocated.
Lavish lifestyle
Accountability in the evil enterprise of the aid industrial complex peopled by career activists is of the utmost urgency, auditors have to follow the money from the hand-out for things to be done to the handoff of things completed.
It is contemptible that aid is somewhat now intricately linked with lavish lifestyles because of the lack of transparency and accountability; the altruistic activist is rare, many have joined a cause for the money and the lifestyle than for the purpose and the project.
As Imran Khan observed about aid in this June 2013 interview with the New Statesman, “the ruling elite use aid to finance their lavish lifestyle.”
10 years before, Senator Grassley reported, “Over the years, we've seen incidents in which federal funds for HIV/AIDS have been squandered through overcharges for medicines and laboratories, embezzlement of program funds to support lavish lifestyles, or even diversion of AIDS funds to finance political campaigns.”
The great shame
This is not a problem specific to Pakistan or the United States, it is pervasive and the snippets could well involve Nigerians; a story that is in need of telling as more aid and support flows into fences dressed as NGOs with activists jetting around the globe from conference to conference, peddling influence and living large with no care in the world for anyone but themselves.
The greatest tragedy of this abuse of aids funds which might well be found in many countries and it has had its run in Nigeria too is in these words by Senator Grassley, “It’s tragic if people die because the funds they need to survive are being diverted, misspent, or wasted.
The fact is the funds did come but they were diverted and people died – for this alone, there must be accountability and justice, it is criminal that people have gotten away with this and risen up the ranks as if this is insignificant and of no consequence – it is a shame, a great shame.

Sunday 16 June 2013

Thought Picnic: Keeping Our Secrets and Lies

The way we are
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the issue of choices we end up making by reason of our loss of innocence, this topic is one I chose to write about because I felt a burden, the need to give voice to a matter we rarely deal with.
We however do need to appreciate that our experiences inform the way we interact within our social circles both far and near, more importantly, we must know the things to share from the things to keep secret.
It is unsettling to realise that some people failing to see life from perspectives completely different from theirs think everyone should follow the template of their example in terms of how revealing and open they should be about their private lives.
Off my turf, you militants
It is almost as if they are suggesting others are not entitled to some privacy, secrecy or talk less of confidentiality whilst defining their friendship on the basis of the total revelation of self.
This thinking is taking on a militancy where unpalatable words are bandied around to coerce and bludgeon the non-pliant into a defensiveness with the hope that the affected divest themselves of their self-esteem in the pursuit of the narrow focus of acceptance satisfying the assailant rather than maintaining the status quo of comfortable accommodation that embraces the many – this is an acceptable compromise the majority resides in and it is not unhealthy.
Boxes and labels
People just want to be accepted as human beings and active participants in the global village of humanity without having to be identified by labels some feel others should have by reason of race, gender, ability or sexuality much as it is trendy to identify with all sorts of minority tags to appear hip.
Much as we compartmentalise our lives in the hope that things we reveal and the other things we conceal will retain a modicum of mystique about ourselves, it should always be the prerogative of the individual and that person should not be under pressure to expose themselves beyond what they are comfortable with.
The conceit
I do hope that those who have successfully created boxes and labels for their lives should realise that the perfection they have achieved is not a one-size-fits-all for everyone else, it is utterly pompous to even hazard the thought that your definitions automatically form the full assessment of a subject.
The hubris of those who have not walked in the shoes of others reeks of conceit and in pushing back it is necessary to make it clear to them that it is at first none of their business and then not everyone really wants to be like them, however strongly they feel labels give them the fulfilment they think it brings to them
Mind your own business
Frankly, besides being livid with rage, one is not impressed – they should get on with whatever they want to do with their lives and stories but stop being judgmental of those with a greater sense of discretion and decency, it is no shame to have secrets and fear is a healthy emotion for the assessment of risk.
Just think, the reason why people might not be so open with you might not be because they do not trust you but because you have not earned their confidence – it is a process, it does not come by probing inquisitive intrusion into the inner recesses of a person; that is utterly disrespectful.

Friday 7 June 2013

Thought Picnic: Discussions with recruiters of my ire

Don’t they just irk you?
Daily, one is presented with opportunity for some decision-making as to whether it would be worthwhile or just another waste of time.
Here, one has to engage with supposed professionals who do not bother to skim talk less of read the profiles they have harvested off the Internet before they are on the telephone to suggest a general consider become a corporal for their convenience and in the hope that the general has no guiding principle apart from a mercenary quest for filthy lucre.
Half this stuff amounts to adding insult to injury as one bites the tongue to avoid the much deserved expletive if you are wont to being that expressive without reservation.
It is no favour
The other day, the conversation went along the lines of the recruiter hoping to negotiate on my behalf whether the employer will up the rate from 50% of what I am currently on to possibly 60% - the effrontery.
Without being as terse as I was at rights to become, I informed him that there was no need to negotiate because we were nowhere near the spectrum of acceptable remuneration to give it any consideration apart from the fact that he should not be deluded into thinking he was doing me a favour when he was not recognising my particular interests.
The conversation ended as I drew a sharp intake of breath at having to run the gauntlet of the most atrocious engagement I have had in quite a while.
Get me the job first
In other cases, these people want to have references long before they have committed to anything, I have come to the knowledge that they use that to obtain names of contacts they can harangue for other positions they want to fill.
I do not want to bother my referees for references if the job is not yet in the bag that when my referees ask at some future time they realise it has been a waste of their time, I have many times been embarrassed by this that I have been firm – get me the job first and references will follow.
Building solid bridges
However, the best legacy one can leave at the completion of a contract is the willingness for your ex-colleagues to have you return to work with them if another opportunity arises.
I might well be that within a week of completing one tenure that started as a 6-week engagement and ran for 2 weeks short of 5 months, they might want me back if the funds can be sorted out – a bit of waiting as I brush up on some theory and practice, I am amazed about what new stuff I have learnt of what I was doing before – I am ready to go. That’s excitement.