Archive for January, 2013

Recently I’ve been having a case of “what on earth should I blog about next.” There are so many things happening globally and locally that have had me pondering but usually they represent some common theme with something that I’ve already discussed so I have kind of remained silent in the blogosphere.
In steps Dave from Minnesota (di land of 10,000 lakes, di gofer state) along with his singing companion Mr Jimmy Cliff telling the world that you should drive a VW car and “Get Happy”.

Having heard the now supposedly controversial ad about five times from different people’s computer speakers this monday in the office I decided let me see what this commotion is all about. Bwoy mi a tell yuh Mr Dave had me in stitches not to mention his boss telling poor Winston to “chill”. My second reaction was I’m sure I should be offended but this is funny as hell.

As night follows day I knew there would be some superman in a cape of political correctness that was going to chastise VW for something. And alas that something is being racist. The harshest criticism I heard came from a black American CNN contributor likening the ad to “black face with voices.” With the most humble respect I think that parallel is a bit harsh but I guess it is part and participle of the black experience in America and as such I was not surprised by this reaction.

Another CNN contributor professing to be born in Jamaica also expressed his disapproval, asking if VW tested the ad on actual Jamaicans suggesting WE would be offended. Poor fellow, clearly means well but he is so out of step with the majority of Jamaicans. Based on the public discourse in Jamaica I have been pleasantly surprised that the consensus has been that the furor about the ad being negative is much ado about nothing. We are happy for the attention. Scratch that…we are happy for some unsolicited POSITIVE international exposure. Once again it has been proven that our little rock has made an indelible mark on world culture. I hope the few voices out there in Jamaica that disapprove of the ad, particularly for the use of OUR LANGUAGE realise like most things foreigners see value in what we devalue and often profit from them more than we do. WAKE UP our language something to be treasured not rebuked.

Jamaicans are indeed a happy people despite all the negatives around us and that’s a fact that empirical studies continue to show. We are always near the top of happiness surveys. So when a multibillion dollar international company seeks to highlight something that we through our tourist board also spend millions on I find it hard to be offended. However, a deeper question may be to what extent we have oversold “No problem man” to the detriment of other aspects of Jamaican society.

Either way I think critics of this VW ad need to take Dave’s advice and TAKE THAT FROWN AND TURN IT DI ODDA WAY AROUN.

Blessings

A Blogger Tag is a game (so to speak) where bloggers of all niches endeavor to form links, possibly discover new information and new bloggers and have fun while doing so. It starts with one blogger (in this case, @nasylum of jabajanas.blogspot.com) who chooses the topic of the Tag and then gives a list of questions or one general question which is wide enough to have its answer broken down into list form. After the first blogger answers said question(s), he or she will “tag” other bloggers to continue the tag.

The rules for this tag:
1)Title your post “One Love: Jamaican Blogger Tag
2)Link back to the blogger who tagged you ( you may add a brief definition of what a tag is if you for the benefit of your readers
3)Copy and paste the rules at the beginning of your tag.
4)Copy and paste the questions as well so readers know what’s going on.
5)Answer the questions
6)Tag seven other (untagged) Jamaican bloggers to continue the trend.

The questions are as follows: 1. Why did you give your blog its name? (If it is named directly after you, try and make your answer interesting. eg: Did you feel nervous at all about putting your name out there? Did you just lack creativity at the time?)
2.Why did you start blogging and why do you blog now?
3.Do you think being Jamaican influences your blogging style?
4.What do you think about the increase in bloggers in Jamaica?
5.What is your favourite thing about being Jamaican?
6.Ackee and saltfish or “ (mackerel) run down”?
7.Stew peas or stew chicken?
8.Tastee Patties, Juici Beef Patties or Mother’s?
9.Pantucky or KFC?
10.What do you hope to be the future of blogging in Jamaica?

MY ANSWERS

1) It was a simple play on my surname hence “the cunning one” however I like the idea of me and whoever reads this blog “reasoning” on some topical issue.
2) As I said above I like the idea of me and whoever reads this blog “reasoning” on some topical issue. I do that every day but this medium captures what I was thinking at a particular point in time in a more permanent way and allows others to reason with me or with themselves either way reasoning can only be good.
3) Definitely. Jamaica is at the core of probably 99% of the subject matter that I blog about. I am passionate about Jamaica and seeing it change for the better and deep down I wish my blogging could play even a minuscule part in that process.
4) It’s definitely a good thing and I’m happy to see persons channelling their energies into things that they love as well as some of them even earning from it. The creativity that we see (even if I personally don’t love all the subject matter) highlights the inherent skills and innovation that Jamaica has within her shore which otherwise could go hidden.
5) Can’t pick one but being a part of a little island that has such a big impact on the world – one of my Trinidadian lecturers called us “A Caribbean Greece” due to our impact on global culture a la ancient Greece. DEEP
6) ACKEE AND SALTFISH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! #NoDebate
7) Chicken is my staple but since the choice is with stew chicken in particular Stew peas can get the edge today.
8) TASTEES!!!!!! Honourable mention to mother’s for being first to run with cheese patties. Juici is just ok nah kill dem just not my fave.
9) Bwoy, having gone to the great St Richard’s Primary where KFC mercilessly killed us with the smell from their chimney EVERYDAY I gotta go with the Colonel.
10) I hope it can be an engine for positive change for the nation and personal development and earnings for the bloggers.

I tag:

Jeffrey of: http://simpleisntalwayseasy.tumblr.com/
Keeta of: http://ultimatebrowning.blogspot.com/
Shawna of: http://iaretheshawna.blogspot.com/
Christine of: http://unadulterated-moves.tumblr.com/
Allele of: http://lleleskitchen.wordpress.com/
Ammesha of: http://hauteconsultants.wordpress.com/
Tetrice (lol) of: http://www.youtube.com/afayah

Stuck On Replay

Posted: January 15, 2013 in Politics/Current affairs

So as you would have realised by now whether by choice or out of necessity I try as best as possible to know what is going on in Jamaica the land that I love. To my dismay, that means going through the constant depression that comes on from reading the newspaper or watching the news. Each day without fail frustration is almost the national mood after getting our daily dose of (BAD) news.

With that in mind I have sat in front of my computer for days, seeking inspiration for something to write about, to find the words to express what my current feelings are about all that is going on in Jamaica now. This has led me to be tempted to commit the cardinal sin of intellectual property i.e. Plagiarism. But alas it can’t be plagiarism if I am stealing ideas from myself, hence the title of this post. I have been unable to process the major news of the day every day without revisiting the emotions and thoughts that inspired two previous blog posts. Quite interestingly these two blog posts were written one after the other in fairly close proximity.

https://cunning1jm.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/sad/
https://cunning1jm.wordpress.com/2012/09/17/lack-of-moral-authority-the-plague-of-jamaican-politics/

The links above revisit these two blog posts that really sum up my continued feelings on our Jamaican reality. No matter how many weeks, months have passed the major news stories each day reek of the same fundamental issues.
The first issue tackled in the post entitled “Sad” is the baseness and total disregard for life and the fundamental acceptance of violence prevalent in our society. In 15 days of 2013 I believe the amount of persons violently murdered numbers almost 3 times the amount of days that have passed. Even more frightening is the fact that about a third of those violent deaths has been at the hands of agents of the state. A brand new year but the same old violent nature. WE NEED TO DO BETTER or are we resigned to being the murderous society that the world thinks we are. The memory of being asked by a bajan (no less) in London “If everywhere in Jamaica was like SHOTTAS” just flashed across my mind.

The other issue is more upsetting than sad. The title of the post “Lack of Moral Authority: The plague of Jamaican Politics” says it all. As we listen to the current government defend its handling of negotiations with the IMF and we listen to the parliamentary opposition chastise their every move the line from the aforementioned post that said “Jamaican politics is a well-rehearsed play where the roles of antagonist and protagonist simply shift with every change of government” remains ever more appropriate. Sometimes I wonder to myself if our leaders are so well trained in keeping up this charade or do they genuinely and openly just laugh in the face of our national intelligence. The more I think about it the more I think “DEM BWOY YAH TEK MAN FI FOOL”

I realize that most Jamaicans, myself very much included, are particularly apt at pointing out problems BUT WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO TO FIX OUR PROBLEMS? I wish I had a silver bullet but I’m afraid I don’t. One thing is certain, depending on a set of people to fix our problems when the general consensus is that those people and their predecessors are the main cause of or problems is what one would call a classic case of INSANITY. Society is a collection of individuals and as such each individual must take responsibility for his/her individual mindset and actions and each person must value life, shun violence and act with all around personal integrity where the truth is the standard and corruption is frowned upon by all. It may sound overly simplistic in fact it is but really and truly If every individual was “living right” how could we have a flawed society.

Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” may need to be the theme song of the movement to make Jamaica a better place.

What say you?

Well, it’s time to shake off this blogging lethargy. For a while all the various issues bombarding Jamaica I was a bit unsure as to what would inspire me to wade back into the blogosphere. However, comments from a major newspaper in our popular neighbour to the North have ended my blogging slumber. For those who haven’t heard it the Chicago Tribune in one of its Op-Ed pieces has declared Jamaica “The Greece of the Western Hemisphere” and the true cautionary tale regarding debt versus the Greek tragedy that has taken up much more of the public consciousness.

The following two paragraphs represent the crux of the article:

The Caribbean nation actually is in worse financial shape than Greece: Jamaica has more debt in relation to the size of its economy than any other country. It pays more in interest than any other country. It has tried to restructure its loans to stretch them out over more years, at lower interest rates, with no success. Such a move would be risky for its already nervous lenders. So Jamaica is trying to wangle a bailout from a skeptical International Monetary Fund. Another deadline for a potential deal just came and went last week, though negotiations continue.

Jamaica is caught in a debt trap. More than half of its government spending goes to service its loans. The country can spend barely 20 percent of its budget for desperately needed health and education programs. Its infrastructure is faltering. It lacks resources to fight crime. It has little margin to recover from natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy

I must confess my initial reaction to this article was not a constructive one. The first thought I had was quite defensive “it’s quite ironic that a newspaper from the city that could be styled ‘the Jamaica of the US’ due to its high levels of murder and violent crimes is commenting on us so strongly.” This reaction however true I feel is not where the discussion needs to go so I will scold myself no worries. The message here is far more important to pay attention to than the messenger.

Are we really the Greece of the Western Hemisphere? The mere fact that we cannot reject this assertion flatly is enough to highlight the dire state of the Jamaican Economy. And the description of the Jamaican economy proffered in the article though decidedly sensationally flavoured is also patently correct. Despite the tone which may offend some and may evoke hallelujahs from others, the message is clear and simple the economy is really in a bad place.

Several thoughts come to mind after this resignation to the scope of our misery:

• When will the international financial community realise that these debt trapped countries they label as “Middle Income Countries” will need debt relief both for their personal survival and that of the entire international financial system?

• When will our leaders and indeed we the people realise that even more austerity, better yet austerity with an actual purpose versus token “belt tightening” is needed for us to slowly wriggle out of this plight. And these drastic actions must be owned by us with or without the prompting of the big bad IMF.

• The funniest thought I had after reading the article which again highlights some endemic folly in our politics – I AM SURE THIS ARTICLE WILL RESONATE WITH OUR LEADERS FAR MORE THAN THE COUNTLESS ARTICLES WRITTEN HERE IN JA. WHY? CAU WHEN FOREIGNER TALK WI LISTEN!!!!

So anyway after getting over my initial disdain for the messenger, the fundamental message that years and years of fiscal irresponsibility and borrowing that we have fairly little tangible evidence of its utility has put us where we are finds favour with me. Even further the idea put forward, that has also been accepted by all that the public sector wage bill is too large and that there must be tax and pension reform also finds favour with me.

The major disagreement myself and the authors of this Chicago tribune article have is that of the inherent “goodness” of the IMF and its principles and policies both past and present but trust me when I say that could be a series of blogs versus a single comment so save that for the future.

What is clear is that Jamaica is in a tight spot and in dire need of visionary leadership coupled with a united society. Sad to say little evidence of either abounds. I pray this reality can change and sooner rather than later.

Blessings.

I can remember 2012 like it was just days ago… alright kill that corny stuff. As i sit here typing I still can’t fully decide what kind of year last year was. Since I’ve realised I have been abusing the word “paradox” I think I might have to get even more cliché and call 2012 a “mixed bag” or say it had its highs and lows. Long and short is that you get my drift.

Foremost in my mind, the year 2012 will always be inextricably linked with the moniker “Jamaica 50” under which my country Jamaica celebrated 50 years of political independence. With such a momentous occasion attached to it how could 2012 be such a mixed bag. Below are my lists of low and high points of the year.

Lowlights of 2012

  • Continued economic hardship in Jamaica – there is so much to say on this topic it could be a series of blogs for itself but alas who feels it knows so no explanation is needed.
  • Same old dirty/annoying politics of partisanship. – again examples abound. Just listen to the majority of political utterances made throughout the year and you get a picture as to why after 50 years we have not gone as far as we could have. The pinnacle of this being the degradation of our JA 50 celebrations into just another political volleyball, better yet tracing match.
  • Last but definitely not least was the ghastly September into October where almost every other news item made reference to some angry mob killing, maiming or engaging in all manner of evil. To make matters worse the public discourse was awash with persons fully endorsing these killer mobs. It still remains the only period in my life that my patriotism/love for YAAD was shaken.

Highlights of 2012

Despite the negatives described above both personally and nationally even internationally there were several things to smile about.

  • Jamaica 50 – for all the negatives surrounding the celebrations, words cannot begin to describe the feeling that took me and i dare say the nation over during the emancipendence period. A country of persons who barely tell each other morning in the streets were bound together in the black green and gold and we all were a part of something bigger than our individual existence. Kudos to the person who thought up the JA 50 village. IT WAS GREAT. If we as a people were able to re-create this vibe more often we would truly be better off. Someday!!!
  • London 2012 – this was a highlight on so many levels. Most obviously the exploits of the sprinters from the sprint capital of the world come to mind. From arguably the biggest superstar in the world Mr Bolt, to the pocket Rocket Ms Fraser Pryce, VCB, The Beastly Blake we really were made to feel proud especially coinciding with out JA 50 celebrations. Special note must be made of Hansle Parchment and Warren Weir as their bronze medals brought me the most joy of the Olympics.
  • London 2012 was also special to me as I had the great fortune of being in London during the Olympics. A similar camaraderie as felt during the JA 50 in Jamaica swept over the city of London, this one however transcended the colour of flags. Also i was able to visit Jamaica House in London as well as watch some of the events at outdoor public screenings in Hyde Park. I also was able to visit and watch a match at the Emirates Stadium home of my beloved ARSENAL FOOTBALL CLUB!!!! My London Summer was beyond Great and I will never ever forget it.
  • EMPLOYMENT – after a brief stint of unemployment I was blessed with a pretty decent job GIVE THANKS!!!!
  • WELCOME DECREASES – the year ended with two welcome decreases: Road fatalities and Major Crimes. The downward trajectory in both these areas is truly a blessing we hope continues in that vein.

Mixed bag indeed. But for 2012 I had taken a mantra of “Count Your Blessings” & “Give Thanks” and for me rather than making resolutions and changes my first order of business is to continue with these slogans as my guiding theme for the New Year. Despite all the negatives that abound there are a million and one things that we can truly smile and give God thanks for.

SO HERE’S TO A GOOD 2013 WHERE WE FACE THE INEVITABLE CHALLENGES BUT COME OUT THE OTHER END STILL STANDING!!!!!

BLESSINGS