Saturday, April 17, 2021

Our extinct volcano

This latest eruption of Soufriere is really hard on the people in St. Vincent, where the economic fallout of Covid 19 has already been taking such a toll. For just days before the eruption, Prime Minister Gonzales warned that the country was in such dire straits that they may not be able to pay civil servants this month.

Aerial view of La Soufriere

The only good news out of St. Vincent so far therefore, is that there are no deaths. It was also encouraging how quickly Caricom countries have responded. I only hope that those who had to leave their island won’t end up like some of their Montserratian neighbors who have never been able to return home since their volcano erupted in 2012.

This event reminded of how surprised I was when I learnt some years that even Jamaica has an extinct volcano. Yes, I think most of us know that all our islands were formed many millions of years ago from underwater eruptions, but those of us in islands that do not have active volcanos, never give any more thought to this normal destructive force.




The first time I ever heard of our extinct volcano at Black hill in Portland, was some time in 2012, on a ride with friends from Kingston to the parish. We had stopped to rest at the top of the hill just beyond Orange Bay, for rest and refreshmentsA young man, mistaking us for tourists came up and offered to take us for a tour to the volcano at Black hill where he said you could see evidence of the lava and the denuded hills.


Since I had never heard of it before, I asked him when it erupted, he said; "About 50 years ago." That kept me laughing for the day, for as I told him, if it had erupted 50 years ago, I would have heard about it!




Poor kid, to him 50 years was a lifetime away.


Anyway, I decided to research volcanoes in Jamaica and when I could not find anything besides when the island was formed by underwater volcanoes erupting millions of years ago, I forgot about it.

Then coincidentally, in 2014, I got an email from the Natural History Society advising of a field trip to the Orange Bay area in Portland. It would be led by Dr. Simon Mitchell, Professor of Sedimentary Geology and Head of the Dept. of Geology and Geography (UWI, Mona).

When I saw that we would be climbing the extinct Black Hill volcano, I naturally jumped at the opportunity.

This was by far the most informative field trip I had been on for years. We were introduced firsthand, to things like basalt rocks which were formed from the rapid cooling of basaltic lava which had broken down over the years to give places like Orange Bay the black sands. We learned too that Black hill actually got its name because of the color of the rocks there, black because of the high content of iron oxide

Savanna point below the volcano has adequate evidence of an eruption

This extinct volcano, according to 
Prof Mitchell, was quite "young:" having erupted around 12 million years ago, young because Jamaica was first formed by eruptions some 40 - 50 million years ago.
































million years ago. 

We also learnt that Black Hill was 'discovered" around 1860 when the colonial masters, having lost out their cheap labour after the abolition of slavery, decided to do geological surveys in the colonies to search for precious minerals. 

Despite the wealth of information, I gathered from the knowledgeable professor that day, my most interesting lecture that day was on folk lore. This came from a young man named Adrianwho had only recently graduated from Annotto Bay high school. He had come to see what our strange group was doing in the area and joined me under a tree.

 His version of the extinct volcano was that it last erupted just as Columbus was approaching the island in 1492 and when he saw the smoke coming out of the mountain, he did not stop in Portland but went to Discovery Bay instead. He said he knew that was the true version as his grandmother had told him so!

Anyway, with all the strange things happening in the world because of climate change and all that, I just hope our extinct volcano does not have a rebirth, for hurricanes, earthquakes and viruses are proving to be quite enough for us to handle!









Sunday, March 28, 2021

REFLECTIONS ON RELIGION

 I HATE RELIGION. 

Every time I say that, I get lots of glares then someone accuses me of being an atheist!

Atheist? Good God, in my book it takes a great deal of arrogance to be an atheist, for just looking around at this planet not to mention the universe of which we know so little, tells me that there has to be a much greater creative force than humans will ever be able to understand.

So yes, I believe in a much greater creative force than humans, and being human, I too have a natural instinct to worship it. 

Nothing wrong with that I suspect.

My dislike for religion therefore has nothing to do with a belief in God by whatever name. It has  to do with the distorted messages religions send  and the chaos and bloodshed they leave behind as they try to confuse people and yes, TO MAKE MONEY.

For with religion comes people who claim that they and they alone know the truth about everything.

I grew up in a Christian home, where Jesus, the bible etc. were everything and could never be doubted. The ritual was, church as many times as possible during the week and up to three times on Sundays. Added to that, there were nightly prayers and it was drummed into our heads that we should pray to God for everything. 

Well I have a friend who grew up in those identical circumstances and some years ago he told me he was an atheist. When I asked why, he told me that when he was a teenager and taking his Senior Cambridge exams (yes, he is close to 80, for that exam was many decades ago!) he prayed to God every night to let him pass. 

WELL HE FAILED,. 😅

So the next year he repeated the exam, did not beg God for anything and studied fiercely.

HE PASSED.

So, he tells me, from then he decided that he had to rely only on himself to succeed and he and his family  have indeed succeeded immensely.

Well I am not going that far, but I too definitely stopped praying to beg for anything for decades now. WHAT I DO EVERYDAY THOUGH, IS TO THANK HER FOR EVERYTHING.  

No begging only gratitude and I really feel good about it!

But back to religion. 

Of all the established religions, I dislike Christianly the most. 

Maybe it's because that is the religion I know the most about or maybe its because just about everyone I know, claims to be a Christian, and I find most Christians to be such despicable people. 

As to white evangelists, they seem to be really terrible people. I say seem, as I am not aware of ever having met any, but when I hear what their leaders say and read what adherents write, I really cringe. 

However, having grown up in the Christian church, I still enjoy Christian music and play it often.

In fact, its listening to this one that motivated me to write this article!

I liked it so much that I even posted it on Facebook, dedicating it to my Christian friends, during holy week.

However, while I love the music, the boring thought of flying around during the after-life, while drinking milk and honey all day, is enough to send me flying! That's almost as unattractive a thought as being one of the 70 virgins waiting around for some devout Muslim man to come and claim me as a prize.😟

The bible too drives me crazy and most times when I hear quotations, my response rangers from laughter to downright anger. A really laughable one is Solomon having 700 wives and an example of the ones that set me off are the misogynistic sections starting from the insult that I was created from a man's rib. 

Over the years, because of my interest in, especially, the after life, I have looked at many religions but the only one I think I could ever get involved with when I reincarnate, is Buddhism.

My attraction to the Buddhists comes from the fact that they are the most peaceful religion, for they certainly don't believe in or practice killing people to convert them!

My only problem, is that they are so peaceful and against shedding blood, that they are vegans.

Having spent so many decades reveling in the delicious meats, I could never at this point, stomach the thought of living without meat in this life.

So every time I see a live animal, I feel so badly that I promise it that I will become a vegan in my next life, for in this one, I am just so far gone that I can't even find the will to change!

Lets see how that pans out!

Friday, March 12, 2021

Karma is real

 As I listened and watched Dr. Sasa, special representative to the UN representing the parliament of Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) on BBC's Hard-talk, during which videos showing extreme brutality against peaceful demonstrators in that country were shown, my heart  broke. 

For the benefit of those who have not been keeping up to date with matters there, briefly; on the 1st February 2021, the democratically elected government which was led by Aung San Suu Kyi, was overthrown by the military, and she was put under house arrest. 

Suu Kyi had been a Nobel Prize winner for the years she had stood up to the military rulers there and had endured imprisonment. After much trial and tribulations, she was elected by landslide in 2016 and became prime minister,  In November 2020 she again led her party to victory, but the army refused to accept the results, so like Trump, they claimed the election was stolen and staged a military coup. (Trump would have loved to have the support of the USA army to stage a similar coup on the same  grounds, but all he had was a bunch of morons who wrecked the capitol building😡!




Since February 2021, a large majority of the voters in Myanmar have been staging peaceful protests against the military, but instead of giving in,  the brutality of the military rulers has been increasing exponentially and the death toll keeps rising daily, as they fire live bullets into crowds of peaceful demonstrators.

In the interview on Hard-talk on March 12th, 2021, Dr. Sasa was begging the free world to come to the assistance of his country, and as I listened to his pleas, memories start to flood in. 

That is, memories of the images of mainly women and children who belonged to the Rohingya tribe.

They had lived in Myanmar for decades, but suddenly, they were being attacked and beaten, raped and brutalized and their homes and villages burnt to the ground by that same military. 

This started in 2017, when the majority people in Buddhist Myanmar decided that they did not want those Muslims around. Of the 1.4 million Rohingya's who lived there, thousands were killed and almost 800,000 now live under the most terrible conditions in camps in Bangladesh.

When those atrocities were being committed against the Rohingya's, the International Curt of Justice, in January 2020, unanimously ordered the government of Myanmar to stop the genocide. 

But guess who had gone to the court in December 2019, to testify court that the military were not committing atrocities against those hapless people?

Aung San Suu Kyi of course!

As I watched the interview with Stephen Sackur on BBCTV, this poem came to me. It is said that the writer is unknown for it had been found in one of the gas chambers in Germany, after the holocausts;

First they came for the Jews

and I did not speak out

because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists

and I did not speak out

because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists

and I did not speak out

because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me

and there was no one left

to speak out for me.

As I listened to the interview, I wondered out loud if Aung San Suu Kyi and the people of Myanmar had ever heard that poem!

There is now absolutely no doubt in my mind that Karma is real.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

The case for republicanism

Jamaica used to be the most independent and progressive of what was known as the West Indies, but on the issue of becoming masters or mistresses of our own destiny, we are 
certainly falling behind. 

While we were the first of the former colonies in the Caribbean to declare independence from Britain, on the matter of totally breaking away from those who oppressed out ancestors for centuries, we are acting like morons. For the Queen of England remains our head of state although we have been independent for almost 60 years.

In the meantime Dominica, Trinidad, and Guyana have become republics and the prime minister of Barbados, announced that in November 2021 Barbados will also ditch the British monarchy as its head of state. 

Yes Barbados, which has always been considered more British than the British. 

The insignia given to black Governor's General by the Queen shows the Archangel trampling Satan who is black!

Even in white Australia, the topic has resurfaced, with ex-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, tweeting that in light of the very 'sad revelations' by  Megan and Harry in that famous interview with Oprah Winfrey, it should bolster the call to cut ties with the British monarchy.

In the meantime, Jamaica seems doomed to remain forever hanging on to the skirt tail of the British monarchy, even with a governor general representing the British Queen and wearing an insignia that depicts the archangel St. Michael trampling Satan, who is drawn with dark skin.

In light of the recent revelations where Megan and Harry confirmed what we should already have known, (that the British monarchy is a racist institution,) I again wondered out loud on facebook about when or if Jamaica will seek republican status.  The responses were many, swift and diverse. While most respondents rued the fact that we still maintain the royal family as the head of our country, one respondent declared that Jamaica will never change this situation as it is a racist country!

I had to disagree with that respondent, as I really don't believe that Jamaica is still a racist society although there is no doubt that we still have a number of racists among us. And we have a handful of monarchists too, (some of whom contend that such a move will spell economic disaster, although there is no evidence of this in the former west indies territories which ditched the monarchy.) who believe it would be a sin to remove the royal family😁 and replace the head of state with a local person.

Yes, mental slavery is still alive and well among a few.

 Let me make it clear that despite the fact that Queen Elizabeth is a descendent of those who committed the most serious atrocities against our ancestors, I have nothing against her personally. In fact, I dare say she has done her job with good grace, dignity and diplomacy. Even she however realizes that her type of character will no longer be displayed, once she steps down and her son, Charles takes up any role, including in the predominantly black commonwealth, so she is holding in for as long as possible. 

I am personally repulsed by even the thought that Charles, that despicable person, could become Jamaica's head of state and his wife Camelia, the first lady! For it is no secret that the cold fish Charles, drove Diana to her death.

In the famous interview, Prince Harry said that it was neither the queen nor her husband, who were upset that he and mixed race Megan may have a black child, but he refused to say who it was. In my book, such a petty concern, would fall right into Charles' character. Besides why else would he stop taking Harry's phone calls after he opted to stand up for his wife and child?

While I agree that the queen has been unobtrusive and diplomatic in her role, that second generation of hers, including Andrew, the alleged pedophile, have nothing to contribute to Jamaica!

You know, for around three or four decades, we have been debating this issue of republicanism, but both the JLP and PNP have been standing in the way of progress. For while both parties claim that they support replacing the monarchy, they cannot sit down and agree on the type of president we should have, executive or ceremonial

Good god, this is not rocket science. If the two parties were really in for of republicanism, they could take the gradual route Guyana did, or some variation. For Guyana first started with a ceremonial president to remove British, then moved on to the executive presidency.

It is totally disgraceful and demoralizing to majority of Jamaicans who do no to wish to have any further association with the despicable British royal family, the racist oppressors of our ancestors, that our politicians continue keep skirting around the issue.


Friday, February 12, 2021

Enforcement and corruption

 I don't mind if you consider me a prophetess of doom, but for decades I have been warning that corruption is going to be the death of our beautiful little country. And we seem to be right on the way, with the totally unnecessary spike in covid 19.

What do you think is mainly the cause of us not enforcing the myriad of laws that we have on the books to protect the society?

While it is quick and  easy and in many instances correct, to point fingers at the legendary and oft highlighted corruption in the police force, they are by no stretch of the imagination the only problem. 

For many politicians and bureaucrats at both local and central government level are just as corrupt. But none of them could succeed if,  we the people were not so selfish, have this deep love for shortcuts and so steeped in the entrenched practice of dropping money.

This national acceptance  of corruption is so visible and in your face as you enter our cities and towns, many of which are eye sores. Why? Mostly because those being paid to enforce our laws have no interest in doing their jobs but simply use their positions to enrich themselves.

In fact, I am here to tell you that the Town and Country Planning Act, only serves the interest of the enforcers.

This is a situation I know well, having resided in an area where the blatant disregard for this law has led to widespread commercialization which has not only destroyed the aesthetics but also the roads as well. For increased commercial activity causes a massive increase in  traffic, thus destroying the roads which are not maintained.

Bedford Park Avenue in St. Andrew North East,  is nothing but a series of potholes, due to traffic caused by commercialization.

The blatant infringement of this particular law in our community, has over the decades, been brought to the attention of just about every enforcer, be it, political representative, every town planner at the KSAC, every councilor and every mayor, to no avail. But as the first and main creator of that commercialization told the residents many decades ago, "mi have money suh nobady caan move mi". He has indeed been right, and his presence, growth and development has only caused others with the same mentality, to move in, pay who they must and live happily ever after while the community deteriorates.

Oh yes,  in my beleaguered country, most citizens, know exactly who to pay to look the other way so the laws cannot be enforced. And if you think the ever growing, dangerous and troubling problem of squatting on gully banks will every go away, think again for while it may not be a matter of making money, it is in the interest of politicians to have the regulations ignored so more garrison enclaves can be established.

Corruption here is so widespread and clearly acceptable, that even supposedly 'upstanding' citizens  think nothing of dropping money to get vehicles passed. This is something that often takes just about an hour to complete, for its a process which I have been doing at 'Swallowfied' for decades. But to some people who have no problem gossiping or participating in other time wasting and trifling activity, it is too much as, dem nuh hab time fi waste! So, they happily pay thousands of dollars to someone to get the documents stamped, without the vehicle ever being inspected.

This latest troubling spike in the spike in Covid 19, which now has now reached an alarming 18,527 cases, 368 deaths and hospitals being put under serious strain, is just the latest example of what happens because we refuse to enforce the rules.

I  have maintained, ever since the debate started, that locking down the country is a ridiculous solution as it is disastrous for the economy and pushes the vast majority of the Jamaican poor further into financial ruin and despair.

If we were serious about enforcing the protocols like hand washing, social distancing etc, we could learn  by now to survive effectively with this invisible enemy. In fact, although being in the vulnerable age group, I have continued doing most of what I love to do, because I make sure to take the necessary steps to protect my health and those with whom I must come into contact.

However, because of the lack of strict enforcement by the authorities (for whatever reason!) on those who refuse to follow the sensible protocols, we now see this frightening spike in the spread of the virus as delinquent taxi drivers have continued to pack up their vehicles with unmasked drivers and passengers, young people continue to hold and attend events totally unmasked, and the rich have continued to have their carefree parties both at home and at sea, and on and on, right under the noses of the so-called enforcers.

So now  we are facing  crisis and there is the heavy handed response and widespread panic response by the government.

Can someone please tell me why they should implement national restrictions on the entire country and not just on those pockets where the spread is now a problem? For example, why are Clarendon, Portland, St. Mary and Westmorland being treated the same as other parishes where the spread is rife? Isn't it more logical to deploy people and other resources to enforce the protocols where they are needed and leave the less affected parishes alone?

 No , I guess that is too simplistic in a country where the mantra has always been that the good must suffer for the bad

As long as we continue to ignore the fact that corruption and the lack of enforcement go hand in hand, and only a few continue to benefit to the detriment of the vast majority, we will continue on the slippery slope to our own destruction.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

HURRAY I GOT IT!

I feel as if I have climbed Mount Everest and am back, for I got my covid vaccine!  And amazingly, the process only took 9 minutes.

This reaction to what should have been an easy process, occurred as previously, just getting the appointment had appeared to be mission impossible.

I had recently seen a lady on tv saying getting her appointment made her feel as if she had won the lottery. It was not getting the appointment that made me feel that way, for when my cousin Everett told me he had gotten it for me, my reaction was disbelief. Even when he sent me the screen shot of the confirmation from Jackson Health System, I remained unconvinced. Even when Jackson sent me their confirmation by email, I still remained  skeptical as I had seen so many horror stories about people getting appointments and meeting nothing but chaos when they went to get their shot.

Well, my appointment was for 9am today at the Miami Gardens Jackson facility and though still remaining doubtful, I was up by 6am getting ready, preparing breakfast and even putting together reading material ("Melania and Me, the rise and fall of my friendship with the first lady". Very interesting) and even a snack. 

For that is how one prepares for a long wait, right?

I was not even convinced that the appointment was real until I arrived at the venue, they took my id and assigned me a number. 

After that it was smooth sailing. Nine minutes in and  out! Then there was a ten minute waiting period in a separate room to ensure that recipient had no adverse reaction to the vaccine.

My pessimism about even getting the appointment in Florida, arose from the frustrations caused by what had to date appeared to be such a monumental task before. For regular calls and visits to the sites announced by both Broward and  Date Health, had for weeks come to naught. 

Then out of the blue, my dear cousin Everett, called yesterday to find out if I had yet been vaccinated. I guess he immediately picked up the frustration in my voice, as he told me he had gotten appointments on a Jackson web page for quite a few relatives. Reluctantly, I sent him my information and was shocked when he called last night to say he was on the web page, appointments were available and what time did I want my vaccine! Apparently, slots were available the very next day, for early birds as well as late risers like me. So I chose 9 am , still not believing it was possible.

Well not only was it possible but I actually got the shot. And although I hate needles and always feel the prick, I felt nothing today.  I guess its because I was feeling so elated.

Now why on earth could Everett manipulate so easily through the mire that is Florida health system while thousands of people are having so many disappointments when they try the advertised links? Even the local television stations got into the fray, inviting viewers to go to their page, and follow their links to appointments. 

Well I am here to tell you that  none of that works.

Nothing worked for me until I got that call from Everett.

Forever grateful  to him and to google maps which got me to another place unknown, seamlessly. 

Three weeks time I will get my booster shot at the same efficient facility and hopefully, soon, the world will once again be my oyster.

Friday, January 8, 2021

IF OBAMA HAD DARED TRY THAT!

America is a flawed democracy, yet despite that it has operated as the "policeman of the world," supposedly trying to make democracy worldwide practice.

The lack of democracy in the USA did not arise with the recent Trump instigated attempted coup in that nation's capital which saw a handful of racist thugs invading their parliament. The fact is, in the USA, the majority has never necessarily ruled, although that is what democracy is all about. So, in 2000, George W. Bush 'won' against Al Gore although he only got 47.9% of the votes cast while Gore got 48.4%. In other words, Gore got the majority of the votes cast, resulting in over half million more votes than Bush, but Bush became President. 

The same situation occurred in 2016, only the disparity was much worse. For in those elections, Hilary Clinton got in excess of three million votes more than Trump, yet he ended up as president. No wonder the autocrat Trump can insist he should remain president in 2020, although he got almost eight million votes less than Biden!

Trump is nothing but a fascist, potential tin-pot dictator though, for from 2016, he has consistently declared that if he did not win the election, it would be because of corruption! And he came back with the same song and dance in 2020, and this time it became a crescendo since November 3rd, because he was rejected at the polls. 

Amusingly though, he quickly accepted the representatives in his own party, who got elected in the states he was disputing and under the same system he calls corrupt.

I think Trump is the most corrupt politician in the history of modern America.

In his very first term, he was impeached, though not removed, for trying to strong-arm Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, to come up with fake information on his opponent Joe Biden, for use in the 2020 election campaign. Then after he lost the popular vote in 2020, the electoral college votes, every challenge in the courts, he tried to strong arm the Secretary of State in Georgia to find him votes to overturn the results in that state and find him some votes so he could be declared the winner there.

When all that failed, as a last desperate attempt, he ordered his Vice President to lie about the number of votes he earned from the electoral college, despite the fact that the Vice President had no such power, as his job was basically ceremonial, going no further than declaring how many votes there were coming from each state.

So, like a modern-day Papa Doc (former Haitian dictator), he turned to his thugs, the Proud Boys, urging them to turn to violence. Those Proud Boys, are a far right group of white supremacists, who he told on the 29th, September 2020, to "Stand back and stand by.

Well on the 6th January 2021, they were given the command by the president of the USA himself which led to the violent assault on Capitol Hill. When the smoke cleared, one female insurgent was found dead, a policeman was killed, four others died from other causes, many were injured and pipe bombs plus a car with explosives found nearby.




When this pathetic failed coup was met with national and international condemnation and Trump censored by Twitter and Facebook, the barefaced president in his typical self-serving fashion, threw his stupid supporters under the bus, declaring; "Those who violently besieged our Capitol are the opposite of everything this administration stands for."

What a scandal. In a civilized country, Trump as the instigator of the riots he belatedly pretended to condemn, would be arrested.

Anyway, despite the USA having a flawed democratic system, they do have strong and tested institutions, the most outstanding in this situation being the courts. For at every level, despite the fact that Trump had appointed the majority of the judges, they stood up for the constitution. 

 But back to the failed coup; I have to wonder if General Michael Flynn had still been in the army, if that attempt to violently overthrow the democratic system in the USA might not have succeeded in at least starting a civil war?  For using tactics like those of their hero Vladimir Putin, Flynn could probably have been able to mobilize enough troops under his command to do some meaningful damage. For he had even suggested after Trump lost the November 3 election, that he should declare martial law and rerun the elections in the states he lost under military supervision! Although since Trump consistently used bone spur as a medical excuse to avoid military duty and called soldiers suckers and losers, between the both of them, they probably couldn't find enough white racists to sacrifice their lives for that loser. 

 But who knows, for although he is clearly delusional, he found millions of even more delusional Americans to vote for him!

 But I am straying into conjecture.

What the attempted coup in Washington on the 6th January 2021 further exposed, is just how racist a society the USA is.


Can you imagine if President Obama had become stark staring mad and had dared to mobilize a mob to take over the capital city after his second term had ended and he was obliged to give up power? I guarantee that not only would a significant number of his supporters have been shot on sight, but Obama himself would most likely have been lynched and so would any other black man that the white racists encountered for days and probably weeks to come! 

Although the democracy in the USA is very flawed as it can make the will of the majority irrelevant, Trump and his mob ha now taken away the ability of the Americans to ever again try and lecture any other county in the world about democracy!

But maybe that's not such a bad thing is it?