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.

Anyway...

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!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Making Money on the Internet

Life is hard - yes. What my salary could by last year, week, month  or even night for that matter, it cannot buy now. I was never really able to save much before so it is exponentially harder now. I do manage to save but those are as a result of compulsory savings attached to a loan I have running so I guess that's not half bad - guys, join a credit union somewhere. I am not talking the COKs or the big ones who are almost as terrible as the commercial banks. I am thinking of one that small and has a little niche thing going on. You will be pleasantly surprised how easy it is to deal with one of the smaller credit unions.

Anyway, to the matter at hand, making money online. Let me point out one thing before I go any further, please do not expect to make zillions of dollar or to see money rolling in overnight - unless you are very lucky or are among the first to be a part of the next big opportunity (or scam). All methods are some of what I have tried and have actually seen money coming in albeit slowly and unpredictably, but money comes in nonetheless and a little extra never kills.

I know you want to get the details but to be able to make money you will need somewhere to keep it - right? Since accepting payments online on your own is very hard I suggest getting one of two of the following:
  1. Paypal
  2. Moneybookers/Skrill
For me, I have both accounts and I will proceed to explain the pros and cons of each.

Paypal
This is pretty much the de facto paympent processing system on the internet. It is as ubiquitous as kitten memes, and that annoying Gangnam Style video. From my very very informal personal survey it is used by more than 75% of the sites I have shopped on and everybody and their dog has a Paypal account. Once you have access to email you can accept paypal payments. The fees to both sell and to receive money through it are fairly small that you should not complain about unless you are this woman.

So, if you have a website that sells rocks or people's toenails or whatever curio you may think is a sure-fire way to make a quick dollar, then you ought to go paypal.

Aah, but not everything in life is all about smooth-sailing right? Yeah, if you are lucky enough to have happened upon the next"new hype" that sells like Moringa leaves, pod, seeds, sap and pretty much every imaginable aspect of the tree on the streets of Kingston and Montego Bay, and you plan to peddle your wares on the good old "interweb" then a paypal account would serve you well but the one drawback I found is in order to take advantage of your new found wealth, you would have to request a cheque from paypal and wait for it to be mailed which is typically 2 weeks and then you have to wait a further 30days to have that cheque drawn on a US bank to clear. Well, if you are making money hand over fists then that shouldn't be much of a problem. There is fee for each withdrawal of US$5, this can be avoided however if you are lucky enough to have a US bank account to which you can have the money wired. There are also monthly spending limits and sending and receiving limits, these limits can be raised if you have a verified account, this can be done by inputting your credit card details. What's that, you don't have a credit you say, well, you can open an account at the Bank of Nova Scotia (I hate commercial banks like a strong dose of poison and politicians), they will give you a Visa debit card that acts as one once there is money in your account. If the little hurdle of getting a Scotia account is too hight to overcome then you are hopeless and should consider other methods of earning a living.

Then there is...

Moneybooker/Skrill
This happens to be my favourite, like Paypal, people can pay with their credit cards or Skrill/Moneybookers account through all the ways Paypal allows, they also apply fees per transaction much the same was as Paypal but they take it a bit further, they added the one thing Paypal overlooked which is allowing persons to wire money to their personal commercial bank accounts regardless of the country, this attracts a pretty standard US$30 fee per transaction and the money is usually in your account and clear within 24 hours - neat huh? That little extra thing is what makes me prefer this option. However if making a little extra online is on the books for you, and you don't already have accounts with them, then visit the sites and have a look around.

I notice that we are not particularly fond of reading so I will save the meat of the matter for my next post which will be available here.

Making Money on the Internet II

This is a continuation of my series on Making Money on the Internet. I know that you have sent the previous post to everybody in you address book who you care about and are aching to read on so let me not keep you waiting any longer.

Please bear in mind that these methods are in no way an exhaustive list and are just ways that I have used in the past to see a dollar or two pop up and if at least the same effort I put in is I did then you stand to make a couple extra dollars on the side like me.

Ebay
Yes, everybody knows about Ebay - "if its on your mind its on Ebay" is quite possibly the truest statement I have ever heard. Go ahead, test my little claim, think of something this minute, go over to there and do a search for it and see if I was wrong, you will be surprised. That said, there is great potential to make tonnes off this site selling pretty much literally anything from used underwear to old horseshoes. Do a search, so if you can look around and see anything that may be worth a couple small ones then go ahead, get an Ebay account if you don't already have one and get it listed. There are various types of listings on Ebay, you can "auction" or or offer the option to "buy now" and so on. I prefer the buy now option as you have immediate control over your price. "What about shipping" you ask, well you will have to use your head on that one. Find out which is the most feasible method of shipment and don't forget to charge the buyer what it will cost you, some people use this as a means to make some more money but I think that is robbery. If you really look into it your Post Office has very reasonable rates to ship to various parts of the world, they are far more reasonable than the DHLs, and FedEx, takes a bit longer but it is a lot cheaper and all parcels are shipped through registered mail and I am yet to have any issues shipping.

That's it for me with today's posting, the next in my series will be put up as soon as I am finished writing, you can follow me on and Twitter to see when they go up, you will be the first to know.

Planning a Trip or Vacation to Jamaica?

Aah, the world knows about us, beaches, sand, sun etc. We are well-known for our Cruise ships that come here, our world-famous coffee from the Blue Mountains and our rum, the T-Shirts, the Music. The potential for weddings that are breath-taking and an equally wonderful honeymoon and the people, that is a lot of the positive stuff for which we are known. I deliberately left out the athletics, due mainly to the negative publicity we have received recently and no, Marijuana (weed) is not positive if you ask me. Anyway, since Jamaica is so renowned worldwide, I figure many people plan trips to travel to Jamaica. The North Coast is by far the most beautiful portion of the island in my opinion. I love especially the portion that stretches from Portland in the north-east to roughly about Discovery Bay in St. Ann., Ocho Rios being my most favourite part of the country.

I'm pretty much an average Jamaican person, I have stayed in a little more than my fair share of hotels on the island and after every single stay I wonder if I am the only Jamaican that has had less than fantastic stays there. I hear tourists go on and on about how wonderful Jamaica and Jamaicans are but I can't help but concluding that especially in the hotels, staff are wonderful to you if you are not black and if you are black you need to meet two criteria to be treated at least like you are spending money, these are: you have to have an accent from a North American or European country (or anywhere the staff will feel as if you are a big spender) and the other is you will have to be a big spender.

Jamaica (in my estimation at least) is no longer the destination of choice for the world's wealthy, all-inclusive hotels don't help. We are like the crack-whore of the tourism world. We don't partial any visitor neither do we direct our advances to any specific group, we target any and all foreigner with a dollar to spend. That waters down your product offering and though these offerings were once great and are in fact still great, the beauty and appeal is lost on those who don't care about it, they only care for the weed and the liquor and the sex. That is a sad state of affairs that unfortunately we have found ourselves in and that does not add to the value of our tourism product.

I have had my fair share of profiling visiting these hotels, I am not scared to relate on very terrible experience I had at the Iberostar Hotel in Rose Hall, St. James. I stayed there on two occasions and both occasions were terribly horrible! The first, my daughter was a few months old, my wife and I after checking in requested a crib for her at about 4:00pm, we were assured that we were getting it in a couple of minutes - 20 minutes to be exact. Suffice it to say, their 20 minutes turned out run from that time until 11:30pm or thereabouts, all this not before it took nearly 3 hours for us to get our room. When we go to the room, it wreaked of tobacco, and was hardly prepared. By this time I was just so tired of waiting for the room that I figured I would just go to sleep. In the middle of the night there was a knock on the, there was a young man holding the crib I had requested six hours prior, I felt like asking if it took them so long to make the crib but upon inspecting it I found that it was a dirty old crib that probably was borrowed from a nearby home in the adjoining community. In an effort not to be rude or disrespectful, I took it and went to bed, my daughter was already asleep on the bed so the need for the crib was no longer there. The next morning I went on the balcony to just sit and what I saw was the most disturbing site, on the edge of the balcony there was dried, what was obviously vomit. I went straight to the front-desk to register my disgust, I was sent to who was apparently the manager of something or the other. I explained the situation to "Miss" Manager and was told to write an email and send it to some person or the other, that I did and since 2010, I am awaiting a response.

Point: don't waste your money at Iberostar!

I guess they would have treated us with a bit more respect had I been either:
1. White
2. Black but obviously a big spender or
3 Black with a non-caribbean accent.

Stay tuned, I have the story of my subsequent stay at the same hotel as part of a conference that was held there.

One question I have before I go, isn't a dollar in the hands of a black Jamaican worth the same as that in the hands of a white foreigner?