Archive for August, 2011

Relaxation….

I will be heading off today for a week in the sun. I have packed many books but no laptop or iPad, I will be techno-free. There is no doubt that I will miss my virtual life, I am very fond of it. I admit my techo-addiction, I am currently logged into Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus. I am not sure what this makes me, I wonder what those who only inhabit the real world think of people like me. There are many of us out there, we live a mix of real and virtual and love both. I also find my online world informative and laugh-out-loud funny. People also aren’t afraid to challenge each other on beliefs, politics and the best sauce for a bacon butty (brown since you ask).

One other thing that my social media roundabout does is make me think. When we read and watch the news it tends towards the dark and dire but I do get balance from the kindness I see generated on social media. Yes, there are arguments but if you have a bad day someone will always try to cheer you up and send you ((hugs)). There are many good people out there who send out support for charities, raise money and think of new and inventive ways to raise awareness for their favourite causes. This I will miss, I think those who believe social media is only a tool for cruelty and arranging riots would do well to browse a little and see for themselves.

So, I am looking forward to a rest with no work, driving, cooking or cleaning. I will miss my virtual life but I think it can stand a week without my company. I will read and watch news when I am away, one thing I will not give up at any time. I want to see what is happening in the Horn of Africa and the progress towards peace in Tripoli. I am aware of the irony that I seek the sun while those in Africa pray for rain.

I close, as always, with this:-

  • Donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.
  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are old enough.

I will:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading.

Lesley

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August 28, 2011 at 11:36 am 2 comments

What is News Exactly? Happy Resting Mr Jobs?

I am, as I like to every morning, watching the news. I watch the news as I have my coffee to have some awareness of what is happening in the world. I confess that I don’t read a newspaper every day. I sometimes feel a bit guilty about that as I know this means I only ‘skim’ over the news stories.

I am on a few days off so today I am having coffee, watching the news, tweeting (naturally!) and checking out a couple of news websites. I default to the BBC but will also look at few others.

So, the BBC, what is your website offering me today? Top stories of the day on the Home page:-

  • Rebels appeal for Gaddafi capture
  • Steve Jobs quits as Apple chief
  • GCSE students poised for results. (Good luck everyone).
  • Police could have stopped riots (will read that one later)
  • UN warns on 12 million stateless people
  • US-bound Hurricane Irene swells
  • Man in custody over Jersey stab deaths
  • Riot summit for social networks (will read this one too!)
  • Google pays $500m in drug ad row
  • Savings ‘needed’ in Scotland

I then move to the Africa page on the BBC website and find:-

  • Rebels appeal for Gaddafi capture
  • UN warning over 12 million stateless people
  • Africa heads to pledge famine aid
  • ICC accused Kenya Minister sacked
  • Zimbabwe VP calls for death probe

Now I roam to the Guardian and the Independent. I do not subscribe to any news feeds so will not be covering the Times.

The Guardian has Gaddafi and Steve Jobs as their headliners. Then follows ‘Twitter Study creates Riot Plan Doubt’ and one I will definitely read later – ‘UK in Tax Evasion Deal with Swiss’. One interesting headline on the Home Page is Germany Mourns King of Comedy with the sub-heading ‘Death of Loriot, man who taught Germans to laugh, knocks the battle for Tripoli off the front pages’. An interesting headline that I think will get many readers…

Lastly, I pick the Independent. I pick this on purpose as the Independent is well-known for taking a slightly different tack on the stories of the day. They lead with Tripoli, the headline ‘Terror as Loyalists Fight to the Death’. Then follows Steve Jobs and his resignation. The next two headlines are ones I will read later – ‘Revealed : Climate Quirk that Doubles Risk of War’ and ‘Disaster Looms over addiction to Painkillers’. To pique your interest in the climate quirk story I give you the first paragraph:-

“Wars and civil conflicts are twice as likely to occur during years affected by the El Niño climate-warming phenomenon, a study suggests. The naturally recurring weather system, which boosts temperatures and cuts rainfall over a broad swath of the globe every three to seven years, doubles the risk of civil wars across many countries in the tropics, shows a remarkable statistical analysis by American scientists.”

I can’t decide whether this is a story that links the ‘mysterious’ powers of weather to people and how they behave or you can get a good story from statistics? I will read it later and see but I suspect a little bit of the latter?

I find it interesting that Steve Jobs resignation has made world headlines. Yes, I do know who he is and what he has done for Apple. Apple are one of the few companies who went from success to almost belly up to instant global recognition. You may disagree with my last statement but in business lore and beyond Jobs is famous for bucking trends, be it management style (micro since you ask) or taking a company on the ropes and making it a contender. I applaud him for his successes and wish him well as he struggles with his health.

But now to the point of this blog. Did you notice anything? Was there something conspicuous by its absence? My gast is flabbered. Why was there only one story on the famine in all of those headlines above? Why is it not front page every day? Why, why, why?

Any regular readers know why I do this blog, I want you, yes you, to donate to a children’s charity and then write to me about it. I try not to dictate to anyone which charity they should choose, that is not my place. I understand how some people feel about charities; there are some out there where the revenue percentage that goes to their stated cause is both abysmal and, to my mind, criminal. However, there are well-established charities out there who are open with their accounting methods and spending patterns, surely you can consider them?

In the Horn of Africa right now there are tens of thousands of people at risk of starvation and death. There are hundreds of thousands of people who have lived in the refugee camps for many years as they literally have nowhere else to go. With the arrival of hundreds more every day the fragile infrastructure creaks a little more; how much more can it take I wonder? Many new people arrive simply to die, they have used their last vestiges of strength to get there and have nothing left, even when given help, to recover. This is horrific.

Please consider helping an organisation that will help those suffering in the drought and famine in Africa, please……

I close, as always, with this:-

  • Donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.
  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are old enough.

I will:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading.

Lesley

August 25, 2011 at 10:38 am Leave a comment

Free Stuff? Not Really….

I posted on twitter last week about doing a spoken blog. I am working on it but wanted to put a few more words out there first…..

There has been a lot of serious faces, ‘debate’ and some head-scratching over the last week in the aftermath of the riots across England. I think everyone is either searching for the ‘one answer’ or convinced they already have it. It is quite stunning the number of theories that abound. All this wisdom is, in all honesty, doing my head in..

David Cameron has ‘asserted’ that it is the moral collapse of Britain he will confront. I am sorry but this makes me want to shout ‘Ooooo, get you’ at the television. I am not sure it is the most grown-up response but it is such a pompous soundbite of a term. Ed Milliband says that ‘we all bear a share of responsibility for the society we create’. Ed’s speech focused on many questions but not yet any answers. Many words again but too few actions. I have also seen some of the parents are saying that they can’t be blamed, ‘you can’t lock them up’ seems to be a popular response. That may be true but you can know where they are, who they are with and bring them home or am I being simplistic?

From the court cases seen so far it is very evident that we can’t blame ‘the unemployed’. They cannot be made a convenient scapegoat as many employed people seem to have been involved as well. I can’t help but think it would have been easier for one subset of society to be the focus for general wrath; this would have allowed ‘the problem’ to be classified, some new measures put in place and job done! It really isn’t that simple and that seems to be a surprise to the establishment generally.

I do wonder was there a madness in the air that brought so many people out in the streets to wreck and pillage. It is hard to comprehend what kind of atmosphere was generated that made many people act in a way that was so different to their normal behaviour. I am not claiming innocence for everyone but there are some surprises I think. That is no excuse but I am still shocked, I cannot believe I would ever behave like that but some who have been charged seem surprised at their own actions.

The saddest thing of all is that people died. I hope that anyone involved in any way in the riots will feel shame about this, all should feel shame at this and work to make sure it cannot happen again.

No doubt you are wondering what my answers are to the problems in our society, it is all very well for me to comment on the words of others. I know I don’t have all the answers but I do consider education, employment and a sense of community to be key for any society. I am sure that disaffection played some part in the start of the riots, where it went from there is still a mystery to me. The root causes of the disaffection? There are no simple answers here or we would all know them already.

One last think I do know, there is no such thing as free stuff. I think those who thought there was realise this now.

I close, as always, with this:-

  • Donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.
  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are old enough.

I will:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading.

Lesley

August 15, 2011 at 11:17 pm Leave a comment

Riots, eh?

Oh my, watching the news is so rarely a source of pleasure these days. This week it is even more painful. I have been watching the riots in London and Birmingham and am puzzled, there is no other word for it. Rioting doesn’t really get you very far you know. You already know this, I am stating the obvious again aren’t I? However, sometimes the obvious needs to be stated again and again. Rioting will not get you very far.

I have seen rioting in my lifetime. I grew up in the early 60s in Northern Ireland, the early civil rights marches were hijacked by some and what was powerful, quiet protest became riots. I remember when I was quite small riots at the end of the street where I lived. Police and B-Specials everywhere. To me it was noise and burning and shouting, my parents made sure all of us stayed indoors and were safe. It still took another 30 years before the signing of the Belfast agreement and we still get sporadic rioting every summer. It mostly dissipates after a couple of days but is still as unpleasant when it ‘kicks off’.

What does devastate me about all of this is the waste. I know material goods are in the main unimportant but peoples’ homes are important, they are their safe place and people should not feel threatened there. On top of this local business are being looted and destroyed. What help is that to your community, to destroy the liveliehoods of those you live next to? This isn’t protest, it is lunacy. Some are out to destroy all, some to take all. No theme, no grand ideal here, just wrecking and fear. I do not and can not understand this.

A couple of other things to remember. While this tops the news other stories of drought, starvation and suffering fall down the headlines. There are people out there who cannot fix their situation while those causing issues take the headlines? I am puzzled again.

I will give you one quote from Ghandi – ‘I have nothing new to teach the world. Truth and Non-violence are as old as the hills. All I have done is to try experiments in both on as vast a scale as I could’. Isn’t it a pity that others are not thinking this way?

I wish peace and calm to those who need it tonight. Stay safe all.

I close, as always, with this:-

  • Donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.
  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are old enough.

I will:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading.

Lesley

August 8, 2011 at 11:09 pm 4 comments

Imagine.

Today was and still is Monday. After a couple of domestic disasters last week, exploding shower causing flooding in the kitchen, I felt that the weekend had been far too short. I woke this morning and wanted to just turn over and dream for a little longer. Needless to say I got up and went to work.

It was that kind of day though. You know the kind I mean? I did all the things I needed to and prepared for a busy today tomorrow. I then came home and was, quite simply, grumpy and tired. It took me ages to gee myself up to do a few bits and bobs round the house.

Then I did what I do every day at the moment. I went to the BBC news site for Africa.If you ever want to stop a pity-party then that is the cure. They say if you want to understand someone else’s life then walk a mile in their shoes, I will briefly try.

My alarm wakens me in the morning. My family are all sleeping peacefully at this time, just after 6am. I like to lie there for a minute or two and listen to the birds singing in the trees behind my house. I then quietly slip out of bed. I have about 40 minutes of precious time on my own to shower and get ready. It really is one of my favourite parts of the day once I have recovered from the shock of waking. I love the quiet, no talking, just me and my thoughts.

So, if I was a mother in Dadaab, what would my morning be like? The heat would start to rise as dawn breaks and the noise starts to build. The smell I imagine would be harsh, a camp built for less than 100,000 people with over 300,000 in place would struggle with sanitation; it would have to be extended and extended to cope with the numbers. Thoughts of disease such as cholera and diarrhoea would then strike you, how to protect your children from this? I imagine that would be a constant thread of fear in my head.

But the worst part I can imagine? The sounds of children. Hungry and distressed babies have a very unique cry, it sounds hoarse and from the back of the throat. I know the sound from when my children were ill for, thankfully, short periods. It is the most heart-rending sound I know, guttural and primal. You know the sound I mean.

Next time I want to have myself a pity-party I will remind myself of this post.

I close with this:-

  • Donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.
  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are old enough.

I will:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading.

Lesley

August 1, 2011 at 10:55 pm 4 comments


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