Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Proverbial 'Bamboo Fire'

I was reading this article in the Jamaica Observer and I swear, certain people in our Jamaican society (READ: certain constituencies on both sides of the political divide) are masochists! They vote the same way for years despite the same 'nothing' going on for these same years. Is it that they misunderstand the importance of exercising their democratic right in achieving their own 'greater good'?

I sincerely hope that with this significant increase in the number of youths that have registered to vote as per the May 31 voter's list that there will be an increase in scrutiny of what is being done and put forward by the political parties in Jamaica. Though some may argue that the type of government we have does not suit us, it is what we have and we may as well work with it. I hope this new interest, whether a 'flash in the pan' or not will bring about a new drive by Jamaicans to do away with voting for a party because of tradition and start something unheard of in Jamaica - voting for better! The old uneducated fools who have been responsible for leading Jamaica down a path of destruction for 18 unbroken years and then some need to be removed, there is still hope for Jamaica - men (and women) like Davies are on their way out, Roger Clarke is gone, A.J. Nicholson 'cut', Portia Simpson-Miller, as we say in Jamaica 'a gyaap', there seems to be a cry for 're-imagination and re-birth' in the People's National Party (PNP) and that is long overdue and welcome.

I am not in a position to fairly judge those members of the Jamaica Labour Party as frankly, I have not seen much of them in leadership of the country. I do remember as a very young child under an Edward Seaga led Jamaica being given a wet $2 note by one of the workers on the farm that I grew up as change for my mother who had asked him to purchase batteries for a flashlight and that worker being verbally reprimanded by another worker for giving me 'so much money' lest I lose it. Bread was cheap, milk was cheap, corned beef and tin mackerel were also cheap. Crime wasn't so bad, the dollar was doing OK for itself and there was not so much lawlessness in Jamaica. Fast forward couple years to the beginning of a Bruce Golding led JLP government. A country inherited from 18 years of PNP 'leadership' debt is sky-high, crime and violence increased, bad roads, worse economy and a beaten and battered Jamaican dollar among many other ills, especially those in our Society. I was fairly pleased with that rather short JLP administration's achievements in comparison to the PNP's 18 years and it is against that backdrop that I am able to make a comparison.

Let's hope this cry for not 'better' but actual 'leadership' is not merely being championed by those with self-serving aspirations but is being done by people who genuinely want to see better for their party second and their country above all. The likes of Peter Bunting, Lisa Hanna and Julian Robinson all seem attractive to Jamaica against the likes of what previously obtained in that of those mentioned in the previous paragraph and also of Robert Pickersgill, Peter Phillips and and the 'youthfully exuberant' Phillip Paulwell who has not done too well for himself since his much heralded entry into Political representation. Let's hope Jamaica stands to benefit from the boat-rocking.

Anyway, the direction I see Andrew Holness taking the country is promising, is it that we will see new governance and leadership in Jamaica or is it the proverbial 'bamboo fire' that just blazes up to die down as quickly as it started?

Friday, February 5, 2016

Devaluation - Who Benefits?

Oil has dropped a huge chunk of its value, so too our currency - back to square one! If I am to meet you at a point equidistant between you and me, you go then double the distance between you and that point in the opposite direction and I go to the point we are supposed to meet, will I meet you, have we made any gains? Same thing with our dollar and the price of oil. If we had kept the dollar stable, and oil prices fell, think of how much more oil our present expenditure on oil would be able to purchase.

Its these things the Jamaican population cannot wrap their heads around because they are too daft, impoversihed, under-fed and fed-up. A significant amount of them were born to this so they are totally unaware that there could be better.

Just imagine how much improvement there would have been in the life of the average Jamaican if the exchange rate was 86:1 when oil is US$46/barrel? Simple math that would be J$3956/barrel as opposed to $5612/barrel now at 122:1. Imagine had the dollar been stable how much less we would pay on electricity bills? I wont even go on to mention anything else, so the IMF, Byles and Phillips and all those fools, I wonder what is it they stand to gain from a devaluing currency?

It makes one wonder who benefits with a PNP  Government? Obviously not the average Jamaican.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Possible Solution to the Zika Virus Risk for Jamaica for the NSWMA (mainly)

The idiots who run the NSWMA are the ones who placed us at risk for the CHIK-V and now ZIK-V. They cut out communal receptacles and implemented kerb-side collection. As an Environmental Health officer, I will now put forward why that increases the risks of mosquito breeding. The Aedes aegypti mosquito has a flight range of up to 100 metres, some literature put it at 65M max, for our purposes, let's leave it at 100. Communal receptacles are what we call 'skips' or dumpsters and they are to be placed at central locations within an area. Kerb-side collection is collection of garbage from individual receptacles at each house. Now, think about how that is executed: the garbage truck drives up to each home, a man comes off and picks the receptacle up and empties it into the truck - tedious and time-consuming and the truck has to make many stops. Communal receptacles at a central location throughout various points in the community strategically located results in the garbage being handled by the workers in a more sanitary manner if they are implemented properly.

We all know that the NSWMA has issues with trucks and reliability and funds to maintain the trucks, as a result, garbage has been known to go uncollected for weeks - months in some cases. So, uncollected garbage at each home puts the members of that household in a position where there is proliferation of potential (and actual) mosquito breeding sites. Had the garbage been placed at a central receptacle outside of the flight range of the Aedes aegypti mosquito breeding of these mosquitoes would be less likely and people would therefore be less likely to be bitten and control would be a lot less of a problem. Additionally, we would now have only a few places to clean up whereas with the kerb-side collection, each household has a garbage issue.

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes unlike many other mosquitoes prefer human blood upwards of 95% of its blood is from humans - therefore they are considered one of the most 'domesticated' mosquitoes on earth. Other species such as its cousins Aedes albopictus and Ae. medio-vittatus are not as selective, Ae. albopictus rarely being seen with more than 75% human blood and the Ae. medio-vittatus (Tree-Hole Mosquito) having less than 50%. There are other mosquitoes such as the Culex quinquefasciattus, C. negripalpus, C. corniger, C. mediator and C. janitor all of which are found in Jamaica are less picky and bite pretty much anything with blood that moves (species of Culex are known to spread heartworms in dogs).

But I digress...

Problem: kerb-side (house to house) collection of garbage; it has its pluses and is what is used in most 'developed' countries as a means of collection. It is fancy and ideal for the householder but it is not what we must adopt solely because it is used in developed countries - that should never be a reason we adopt anything. These countries use such methods because they are in a position to fund it - Jamaica is not!!! This method puts each household at risk of mosquito-borne diseases especially since the trucks don't work that well and garbage often goes uncollected for weeks on end. It is better to have the garbage piled-up in one location outside the flight-range of the Ae. aegypti than have many small piles of garbage at each premises.

Solution: Go back to a central receptacle, at strategic locations in the communities ideally outside of the flight-range of the mosquitoes, people will eventually start using them. This reduces maintenance costs on the trucks due to less wear and tear as a result of constant stopping, the trucks wouldn't need 3 to 4 workers all lifting heavy loads at frequent stops. Couple this with Public Education, and we will see the billions saved - you can thank me later.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Mosquitoes, Ineptitude, The PNP, Ineptitude and the Iceberg Phenomenon

There are a million-gazillion people in Jamaica presenting with symptoms that 'suggest' Chikungunya. We know it is Chikungunya but can't or should not say it is - all the signs point to it, Chikungunya sweeping the Caribbean, Jamaica being lax when it comes to Disease Surveillance at out ports of entry, poor border protection, the PNP being in power etc. Many of the cases seen recently do present with the symptoms Chikungunya and any old fool could tell you that yes it is. But the PNP has one thing going for it - the fact that confirmation has to be done by Laboratory analysis. The Learned Minister of Health, Dr. Fenton Ferguson maintains that Jamaica is in fact 'controlling' the Chikungunya outbreak and to date only 24 cases (0.2% of the total confirmed for the region) have been confirmed in Jamaica of the 9000 confirmed in the Caribbean Region, such statistics would suggest Jamaica is doing exceptionally well in containing the outbreak - right? Well, read this article first then we can decide.

Jamaica has 7% of the Caribbean's population but well below 7% of the confirmed cases of the disease. Yet, day after day we hear of (and see) people with symptoms suggesting Chikungunya. We have never had a Leptospirosis outbreak to the extent where people are showing up with it to the extent we see people with these symptoms and if this happens to be Leptospirosis, as the Minister is suggesting then that is very very bad. Could it be due to the rising prices and rapid devaluation of the dollar that Jamaicans have also been forced to suffer a drastic reduction in Sanitation and Hygiene? Life is hard but not hard enough (yet) to result in regression of our development resulting in sanitation conditions akin to those seen 16th Century London before Pasteur and Koch. Leptospirosis in many cases is not detected too early and often results in liver failure in many patients which manifests itself by Jaundice and I am sure not one of these cases have presented with such signs as yet. So, Leptospirosis is out of the question Minister, come again.

"Well, there is Dengue" he is saying, "well, no there is not," I am saying! How come not even one of these cases are Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever which almost always shows up in a Dengue Fever outbreak or better yet, how come not even one of these cases present the classic symptom of retro-orbital pain (pain in the back of the eyes)? Another lame excuse is, 'it could be Influenza' - a full  two months early? Mr. Minister, come on man, stop taking us for fools! The drought has officially ended so naturally we will see a rise in mosquitoes, so this disease has to or is more likely to be something mosquito-related (further ruling out Influenza and Leptospirosis). Why would we even consider any of the aforementioned when Chikungunya is island-hopping and claiming many casualties on its little trek across the Caribbean?

How fortuitous for the present Government, the PNP that Dengue presents similar symptoms and also Leptospirosis to a lesser extent? So, it is OK for them to say "well the gazillion cases could be Dengue or Leptospirosis" which should underline the PNP's ineptitude just as much (if not more because these are all diseases we are familiar with and should by now be able to get under control). The exoticism and novelty of Chikungunya is what makes it so fearsome and would make the perception of an outbreak worse than the outbreak of Dengue or Leptospirosis when such outbreaks are just as bad if not worse.

In Disease Outbreak Investigation there are various bits of evidence that make laboratory confirmation a moot point such as patient history and behaviour. If, for example a person was exposed to rodents and farm animals and never exposed to mosquitoes then we can rule Chikungunya and/or Dengue out, and if a patient travelled to a country that is experiencing an outbreak of Chikungunya then we can conclude with some certainty that it is in fact Chikungunya as long as they present with the symptoms and further our Caribbean neighbours are being ravaged by the disease then why should the Minister suggest that the cases are mostly if not all Dengue and/or Leptospirosis? All the factors point to this outbreak being Chikungunya. One classic symptom of Dengue that makes lab confirmation unnecessary is the retro-orbital pain, Dengue is the only disease (as far as I know) with such symptoms. But lucky for the Learned Doc and his handlers in the PNP the lab confirmation is the only Technically and Legally acceptable determination.

As far as statistics go, The Ministry of Health can send only the 24 confirmed samples to be tested and technically we only have 24 'confirmed' cases, when a million-zillion suspected samples were not sent to be tested, that keeps figures (statistics) down and everybody happy - especially 'the tourists' and the Ministry of Health did its part in contributing to a phenomenon in Epidemiology we know as the "Iceberg Effect/Phenomenon," (more of a Sunken Rock or Swept Under the Rug Effect).

But guess what, we know better, don't we?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

One Feature I'd like to see on Google Search

When you type 'define: word here' in Google, it brings back the definition of that word, if it exists as a search result, that has been around for some time now. I am sure there are a few other stuff that syntax will get you on google. However, there is one thing I find that is missing and this I believe alienates a complete community of people that would like to see Google becoming the complete service I am sure Google strives to be.

I am an avid learner of languages, I am not good at any yet since it's been a recent interest of mine, I am trying to learn 'natural' languages and a few programming languages. I have completely taught myself Website Design with (x)HTML and CSS and have now moved on to HTML5 and CSS3 since the two are considered the future of the web. While they are not 'programming' languages in the strictest sense of the term they do have a few qualities of programming languages and teach you a few habits you need to know as a programmer. I am also in the process of learning C, C++, Javascript and PHP and MySQL. I plan to move on to Java and Python in a couple months. It has been hard going but I promise my readers (regardless how few that may be) that I will press on and will soon be able to do something useful in all these languages soon.

As part of my goal of learning a few 'natural' languages, I've embarked on a Spanish learning crusade and by now am able to speak basic Spanish to some extent, I want to improve on that too. While doing that, I am also teaching myself American Sign Language (ASL), just started out and knowing a few basic words. Why American and not British Sign Language (BSL), you might ask? Well, one reason BSL is too hard, the simplicity that is inherent in ASL makes it easier on the beginner, look at the various alphabets, a google search will help, which brings me nicely into what this article is about.

What I want to see Google do someday is allow me to type in the search 'ASL: dog' much like the define example above and it would give me the sign for dog and the same would apply for the various other languages. It would really helo those like myself who want to learn the language and don't have the mastery of the language yet. This would be somewhat of an image search or a video search. I know it may need a site dedicated to that sort of stuff, I would happily build such a site for free and host it for free as long as Google can link to my site. That would be my donation to the Internet and the Deaf Community that I so want to offer my help to but am not able to where I live. It is quite a task finding useful causes where I live in Jamaica to dedicate my time to so, I go on the net with that sort of stuff. I have so many things I would like to be a part of that is virtually impossible here and as a result some movement or cause suffers as a result but such is life from time to time.

If I am lucky, and some influential person reads this that can make it possible contact me, I'm dying to offer my assistance.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Tessanne Chin and The Voice

Tessanne Chin was always an awesome performer ever since she was with her group Mile High, they rocked and rocked real hard, she needs to bring them back together! Anyway, it shows how our taste in music has degenerated over the years, it now takes foreigners to make real Reggae and that is way sad. We were once the little country with great music, now we live off the past and we have sucked Toots, Jimmy Cliff, Bob Marley, Desmond Dekker and the like dry, like one done-out bag juice or suck-suck aka serve-me-long. When mediocre talents the like of Chronixx, I-Octane Konshens etc come up with a couple half-assed attempts at good music we laud them out of hope that this flash of brilliance may be long-lasting but they in fact turn out to be like a bamboo fire, blaze up then die down (or revert to crap) just as quickly.The Jamaican music palate has been abused with utter rubbish over the years that we look at true talent as something new and amazing.

Tessane was always good and it should not have been The Voice that showed us that. Her sister Tami is more recognisable (or was) than her because she was less talented, more pretty and evenly mediocre than Tessanne Chin. Sad, sad, SAD! I hope that she can make up for what she missed out on from this new wave of hype she has received from her "success" on The Voice. I used to watch The Voice religiously since it started something like 5 years ago and I chose not to this season because I think it an insult to her huge talent that she had to, in essence grovel to show the world how good she was, I wanted nothing to do with that and out of honour I chose not to watch it, talk about it much less vote. Now, she has eventually "made her name" though through a route I would have much preferred she had not taken, I hope Jamaicans have learned that people are better than what they sing and how they look and we are a very capable country when it comes to music.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Statistics as a Lamppost

The Jamaica Observer reported in this piece that Audi's sales have increased by a whole 50% in September, it did not state whether it was over the previous month or the corresponding period in 2012, 1911 or any period for that matter. I used to love the brand with the four rings until ATL Motors took it over, hate the direction they have taken it and hate the people who think it is a necessity to own one (and all the brands ATL carries - especially Honda) and I do not want to be associated with them. Therefore, my ultimate vehicle is a Toyota and if Luxury is ever in my intention, it most likely will be a Lexus.


O.K., um, 2 units were sold in the previous month and this month 3, is a 50% increase, huge figures as a percentage but rather modest sales figures in reality if you consider the actual numbers rather than the percentage. Anyway, some local figures would be really nice and comparisons with BMW's sales would also be nice! Since we are into performance, if we are to gauge any performance we need benchmarks, BMW (Audi's local target and a nice benchmark for comparison), could have sold 100 units in the corresponding period and not sold any for the same period under comparison (from my hypothetical figures above), that would still mean that BMW is outperforming Audi in actual sales but not as far as percentage goes, again, some figures would have been helpful! I'd much rather have been in charge of sales for the latter rather than the former had I been some 'big-waist' car sales executive.

This is irresponsible reporting, percentages always sound good, even better when the figures are small as any change would reflect large percentages the smaller the number. Statistics is a very destructive yet very helpful area of study. We keep hearing percentages being thrown about everyday in the media and by governments the world over and figures are quoted that sound impressive as percentages when had we been given actual figures we would have seen that the wool has been pulled over our eyes.

Andrew Lang once said: "He uses Statistics much like a drunk uses a lamppost, for support rather than illumination."

Moral of the Story: Be careful of those who quote only percentages and don't give figures to support, it is the hallmark of the under-performer who is seeking to paint a rosier than actual picture!