Thursday, 31 May 2007

My Sister's Masters Degree, Viv Richard's 189 and Nature's Battle with Man

My sister who is doing her Masters in Ohio defended her thesis today, thereby completing the work for her degree. Graduation is next week. The doctor says I can go but I will have to restrict my walking and I will obviously have to be be given disability assistance at the airport since the walk from check-in to the gate will be too much. Naturally I am very proud of her especially as she has had to overcome some major obstacles to arrive where she is today. My sisters and I are not the boastful kind. We just do what we have to do unlike most of the people in Barbados who share our surname and who sit and boast endlessly- ironically none of them have achieved anything in their lives and are generally failures and losers. Being boastful is a bad habit, but being boastful while not having done anything with your life is just plain old stupid! All this to say that my sister will just go on back home with her husband and kids who had joined her in Ohio and return to teaching etc and the simple but fulfilling life she lives with her family. Hopefully she will have her excellent thesis (Ethnic Minority Dominance in A Small Island Developing State and the Implications for Development: The Case of Barbados) published. The Committee who evaluated it was extremely impressed by her intelligence, analytical skills and the fact that the research and conclusions go much further than what is required at the Masters Level. Unfortunately, the university only gives out two grades- pass and fail- so while the Committee wanted to bestow a distinction on her, they will be unable to do so. Ok enough of that before I begin to sound like the idiotic relatives who I have nothing to do with!

A few days ago I wrote about Saeed Anwar’s record breaking innings of 194, which still remains the highest ever one day international score. The record Anwar broke was Viv Richard’s 189 runs made in 1984 against England at Old Trafford, an innings still regarded by many people as the greatest ever one-day knock. To put the 170 ball innings (21 fours, 5 sixes) into context, the West Indies were 102 for 7 and then 166 for 9 but ended up with a score of 272 for nine and won the match by 104 runs. Michael Holding made just 12 in the final wicket partnership of 106 and only one other batsman in the team reached double figures- Eldine Baptise making 26. Unfortunately I can’t locate a video of the innings on YouTube although there are some short video compilations comprised of clips of various innings. You can find them by doing a simple search for Viv Richards.

I was reading an article yesterday that once again highlights how in the clash between mankind and nature, nature disproportionately ends up on the losing side. This time it is bison that are at man’s mercy; in Montana the authorities have announced a plan to capture and kill 400 bison, including about 100 calves, which have been roaming outside the confines of Yellowstone National Park. Public protests have led to a stay of execution but the Montana Department of Livestock has said that it still plans to go ahead with the cull. The story can be read here.

In something a little lighter, this article about cheating female cheetahs brought a smile to my face.

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Feeling Loss and Further Confinement

I was out of commission for a few days- my laptop needs a new wireless adapter and so I give it to a colleague on Monday morning so that it could be fixed. Three days without internet and I felt extremely loss! No access to email, all my favourite alternative news sites, cricket news, msn, bank etc. Should I be concerned that I am so dependent on the internet?

The laptop was returned this evening, unfixed, because of unforeseen circumstances. Needless to say I will have to resend it at a later date and for now I will have to contend with an immobile laptop.

I will not comment on the record West Indian loss in the second test except to say how unfortunate it is that Sarwan has been ruled out for the remainder of the series because of injury and that Sidebottom’s performance only serves to highlight the value of playing regular competitive matches. West Indian cricketers play a few regional matches each year along with playing in their domestic competitions. The level of domestic cricket throughout the Caribbean is poor and does not serve to improve the skills of our cricketers. The short regional tournament’s standards are not much better! Sidebottom is no genius with the ball but playing regular cricket at a certain level day in and day out means that he has been able to hone his skills and professionalism. He simply translated this onto the test match arena, bowled a certain line and length and achieved success.

On another note vice-captain Ganga will likely be named captain and it should be distressing to any true West Indian fan to see a West Indian captain with a batting average of 27!

My friend Steve had a barbeque on Memorial Day so I spent most of Monday at his place in Long Island. It was refreshing to be out of my apartment even if it was just for the day! The usual highlights the past few months have been doctor/ therapist appointments and this state of affairs seems likely to continue for another few weeks.

I went to the doctor today and while there is progress- I can now wear the sneaker for most of the day and can actually walk a bit without the cane- I still have some tendonitis and cannot bear too much weight. The latest verdict is that I should keep on taking it gradually as I have been doing, slowly increasing the bearing of weight, lessening the dependence on the cane and discarding the boot- the new date for my return to work has been pushed forward by four weeks to July 9th. I don’t miss the UN or my office but I am so sick of being confined to this place that I would return to work tomorrow if I could! I had what has become the norm- cortisone shot- and the physical therapist told me that I had gotten approval for a further twelve sessions of therapy. My usual therapist is on vacation for a month and his colleague who has been working with me and who is more aggressive, succeeded in persuading the middle man company to approve more sessions. Kudos to him!

Saturday, 26 May 2007

Another Day, Another Cricket Massacre

Unlike the journalists writing after the first test about a turn around, a new era etc. I did not allow myself to get carried away and my approach to the 2nd test was, as has become the norm, one of pessimism. Yes, it still hurts and frustrates to see the team performing so poorly and getting a whipping but at least I don’t have to suffer the huge disappointment that comes after such high expectations are not rewarded. It is my way of coping.

At the end of the day, the West Indian bowling attack is pathetic and at no point during the current series, or for that matter most series recently, has it looked capable of bowling out England. We can argue about the inclusion of Pedro Collins or Dave Mohammed, but I am sure the England batsmen would still run amok. The batting, with one batsman having an average over 40, and prone to collapse, is almost as weak. With that batsman injured and the captain seemingly out for the rest of the series, the batting looks worse than most county line-ups! When Sylvester Joseph, Runako Morton, Darren Ganga, Chris Gayle and Devon Smith are the crème de la crème of regional batting, one could as well quit test cricket!

Like any true West Indian fan, I will continue to follow the team, get frustrated, angry, depressed, lose the ability to speak at certain points during a game, come to the brink of tears and swear. I will hope for a win or even a fight, but I will not be so naïve to see some new dawn on the odd occasion of a reasonable performance nor will I let my hopes get so high that the disappointment after a thrashing is unbearable. I’ve had enough of that in the past decade and I learnt my lesson a long time ago.

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Some of my Favourite Quotes

Not an exhaustive list:

"Dipped in chocolate,
Bronzed with elegance,
Enamelled with grace,
Toasted with beauty.
My Lord, she is a Black Woman!"
-Yosef Ben-Jochannan

Listen or your tongue will keep you deaf.
-Native American Proverb

Sorrow shared is halved. Joy shared is doubled.
-Native American Saying

"Seduce my mind and you can have my body. Find my soul and I’m yours forever."

"Since the time of Homer every European, in what he could say about the Orient, was a racist, an imperialist, and almost totally ethnocentric"
-Edward Said

“Remember the solidarity shown to Palestine here and everywhere... and remember also that there is a cause to which many people have committed themselves, difficulties and terrible obstacles notwithstanding. Why? Because it is a just cause, a noble ideal, a moral quest for equality and human rights.”
-Edward Said

"My final prayer: oh my body, make me always a man who asks questions"
-Frantz Fanon

“He replied that he suddenly felt overcome at the thought that he had to stand there, before the assembled representatives of African nationalist movements, to try and persuade them that the Algerian cause was important, at a time when men were dying and being tortured in his country for a cause whose justice ought to command automatic support from rational and progressive human beings.”
-Peter Worsely, Professor of Sociology at the University of Manchester speaking of Fanon’s reply to his question of why Fanon had appeared to break down while delivering an address to the Conference on Positive Action in Accra, Ghana, 1960.

“As far as I knew white women were never lonely, except in books. White men adored them, Black men desired them and Black women worked for them.”
-Maya Angelou

“The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.”
-George Bernard Shaw

Why should we take advice on sex from the pope? If he knows anything about it, he shouldn't!
-George Bernard Shaw

“A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”
-Mark Twain

“Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state.”
-Noam Chomsky

“Resistance is feasible even for those who are not heroes by nature, and it is an obligation, I believe, for those who fear the consequences and detest the reality of the attempt to impose American hegemony.”
-Noam Chomsky

“Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it.”
-Noam Chomsky

“You're not to be so blind with patriotism that you can't face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it.”
-Malcolm X

"I'm not going to sit at your table and watch you eat, with nothing on my plate, and call myself a diner. Sitting at the table doesn't make you a diner, unless you eat some of what's on that plate. Being here in America doesn't make you an American.... No I'm not an American, I'm one of the 22 million black people who are the victims of Americanism. One of the 22 million black people who are the victims of democracy, nothing but disguised hypocrisy.... I'm speaking as a victim of this American system. And I see America through the eyes of a victim. I don't see any American dream; I see an American nightmare."
-Malcolm X

“I am America. I am the part you won't recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.”
-Muhummad Ali

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

A Celtic Tiger and an Island of Ice

*Photo from BBC website

A few days ago I mentioned Ice Island, a huge chunk of ice which broke off of the Canadian Artic coastline, changed the geography of the area and further highlights the effects of climate change. The BBC team and scientists landed on the Island yesterday and their latest report can be seen here.

Ireland, Europe’s model of economic success and labelled the Celtic Tiger, goes to the polls tomorrow in what is expected to be an extremely close election. This is despite the significant economic gains achieved in the past decade. Ireland has witnessed the same phenomenon as every country before it which experienced a serious economic transformation: conflict between the new and traditional ways of life, prosperity not reaching everyone, ecological/environmental challenges, immigration and a construction/real estate boom putting the price of property beyond the reach of the average person. The BBC website has a series of articles devoted to the Irish election and the various issues that have formed part of the debate leading up to polling day.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Insurance Battles and a Superpower’s Dim-witted Population

I had another doctor’s appointment yesterday- cortisone shot, reminder that I was not to be tempted into going out in the nice weather and advised to keep on alternating between boot and sneaker with a view towards giving up the boot. I am now up to three hours a day in sneakers. It has been ok, although the ankle strap and still slightly swollen foot means that the shoe starts to feel tight towards the end and my foot hurts a bit. My therapy has been put on hold this week as the therapist battles the insurance company to get authorisation for more sessions. For physical therapy, the insurance company works through a middle man company that assesses the therapist’s progress reports and makes a determination on the number of sessions required. In the first instance twelve sessions were authorised and upon a further request for twelve more, they only approved three. So some guy sitting in an office decides that someone who has only now reached the stage of walking with a cane and boot doesn’t need anymore physical therapy. I am far from regaining full mobility in my foot, I still cannot walk without assistance, my big toe still does not have the range of motion it should have, I still have tendonitis and pain in various parts of my foot, but this idiot in his response to the therapist has said that I should do foot exercises at home. What is worse is that when I called the insurance company, I was told that my plan allowed for as many sessions as the doctor and therapist thought I needed. However the request for authorisation must go through the middle company hired by my insurance and they have taken it upon themselves to be anal. I would like to see the fool face to face- my cane can be used for much more than helping me walk! I can only sympathise with the millions of people who cannot afford insurance and must suffer in the world’s most prosperous nation!

And speaking of the world’s most prosperous nation, have a look at these two videos posted on YouTube. There are other similar videos there so help yourselves to a laugh. I have lived in New York City for 2 ½ years and each day it perplexes me how this country remains a super power with such a stupid populace!

Monday, 21 May 2007

Saving a Lord's Test and Saeed Anwar's 194

Did the rain save the West Indies from yet another defeat or did it save England from a humiliating ten wicket loss? West Indian fans would wish that the latter was true but the realists among us fans know that based on the past decade, the former is closer to the truth. Who can forget being bowled out for 54 in the second innings in the corresponding Lord’s test in 2000, a turning point as the West Indies has not beaten England in a test match since. I am just happy that the team showed some fight despite the limitations in the bowling department and the fragile batting line up and I hope they remain positive and keep battling on. The catching needs some serious work, the bowling needs to be more consistent and the top order needs to score hundreds. I would be tempted to play Fidel instead of Collymore or Taylor, both of whom looked out of sorts for most of the match. “Collyslow” produced a good spell on the fourth morning but I honestly can not see the value in playing a fast bowler who bowls slower than the part time slow and medium pace bowlers in either team, rarely gets wickets these days and is not exactly as economical as he is made out to be. It would be a better long term strategy to develop Morton’s medium pace and use him as a Collymore type bowler and play an extra pacer!

Ten years ago in Chennai against India, Saeed Anwar smashed 194 runs off of only 146 balls, breaking West Indian legend Viv Richards’ record of 189 runs made in 1984 against England at Old Trafford. Anwar’s 194 still remains the highest ever score in one day international history. On his day Anwar was as good as any bastman in the world and was a joy to watch when he got going with his graceful stroke play. Someone posted the highlights of his 194 on YouTube:

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Will Rain Save the Day?

The Windies could not survive until lunch but at least the tail wagged, added some valuable runs and consumed precious time. Lacking any real bowling fire power, it was expected that they would find it difficult to restrict England to an overall lead of less than 400. England on the other hand erred by being too defensive earlier on- it would have been in their interest to start the hitting out a little while before they did, declare a bit earlier and bowl at least 10 overs to the West Indies before close of play putting the tourist’s fragile batting line up under pressure. Needless to say none of this may matter with rain being predicted tomorrow. It is probably best because I still cannot trust the West Indies to bat out 90+ overs and save the game. The coach’s statement about going out to win is just an attempt to make the West Indies appear a confident team.

Saturday, 19 May 2007

West Indian Fightback, Monty's Magic and Malcolm X

It was wonderful to see the West Indies fight back today. I was expecting the usual collapse and at 187-5 it seemed business as usual. Excellent innings by Bravo, Chanderpaul and Ramdin along with a gritty knock by Ganga ensured that the follow-on was avoided. Monty who many did not even expect to be selected to play on a pitch thought to be seamer friendly weaved his magic, but West Indians will feel that he was ably assisted by umpire Asad Rauf who give out three batsmen LBW in contentious circumstances. Some umpires have only recently begun giving batsmen out when struck in front playing forward to spinners. I believe that cricket is a game between bat and ball, I hate to see batsmen playing with their pads and I think in the past spinners have been disadvantaged by batsmen lunging forward with their pads in the knowledge that they will not be given out. However, if there is going to be a change it has to be across the board and it has to be implemented consistently- by each umpire every time he is called upon to make a decision and by the entire panel of international umpires. Yesterday Rauf made a mockery of the game- he had denied the West Indies a plumb LBW decision against Collingwood on the first day but then decided to undertake his experiment in interpretation of the rules when the West Indies were batting. I don’t want to appear paranoid but one must wonder if he has something against the West Indies.

West Indies did a lot yesterday but the game is still far from saved. It would have been ideal if one of the top order had made a significant contribution and Ramdin had not gotten out a couple of overs before end of play. England will still feel they have a chance of winning while West Indies will need to keep fighting hard to save the match- they will have to bat till lunch and reduce the England lead to fewer than 100. One plus for the Windies is Harmison’s miserable bowling performance. The man who destroyed us in 2004 was made to look just as bad as our bowlers looked during England’s first innings! Hopefully his confidence will be severely affected for the remainder of the series!

On May 19th, 1925 one of the greatest men of the 20th Century was born- Malcolm X, also known as Malcolm Little, Detroit Red and El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. I read his autobiography when I was about 14 years and it has been a source of inspiration for me since then. Besides the fact that he had the courage to stand up and tell it like it is without any thought of the consequences for himself, what is outstanding about Malcolm is that firstly, unlike any of the other black leaders of his time, he made the link between the fight of blacks in America for their rights and the international fight of colonised people for freedom and secondly, he was man enough to stand up in public and say that what he believed when he was a member of the Nation of Islam cult was wrong. Not many people and furthermore those in the public eye have the guts or the humility to admit in public that they were wrong. His bravery in defying the status quo would ultimately lead to his murder but his message continues to inspire and enlighten millions.

Friday, 18 May 2007

An Ice Island and West Indian Woes

Torturous viewing! West Indies did not bowl badly in the morning session but they dropped catches; after lunch it was all England as the weaknesses of the bowling attack were cruelly exposed. Of course, poor umpiring did not help as Collingwood was plumb LBW to Taylor in the morning and was not given out by umpire Asad Rauf. It is amazing how many times poor umpiring decisions go against us, whether we are batting or bowling.

I was not at all surprised that Prior scored a century on debut. We have made it a habit in recent years to gift centuries on debut to batsmen and from the time the fools started bowling short at him and he kept swatting them away, a century was there for the taking. What sense does it make to bowl short at a batsman if he keeps putting you away? Nothing makes my blood boil more than to see a pathetic so-called fast bowler from the West Indies bowling sugary short balls to a batsman and then giving him chat and glares. You should be on a plane back to the Caribbean in disguise! I wish I could feel positive but it appears as if an innings defeat will be the result.

In more depressing news- almost everyday we hear negative news about the destruction of the environment and climate change- I saw a feature today on BBC about Ayles Ice Island, an iceberg that broke away from the Arctic coastline in summer 2005. The iceberg is huge- 10 miles long and three miles across- and while it separated almost two years ago, it has only now received public attention. The event is significant as it has transformed geography of the region and provides more evidence of the effects of climate change. A BBC team along with two scientists have departed for the island and will be providing daily updates.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

New Day, Same Old *^%$*

I bought the package to watch the cricket just before I went to bed last night and diligently woke up early… another day, another overseas test, another bad start! Sarwan began on the right foot by winning the toss and choosing to bowl first in bowler friendly conditions. The bowlers, not exactly boasting much pedigree in the first place and woefully short of match practice/ preparation in English conditions could not capitalise on the environment. To their credit they did put in a much better performance after lunch but England had already been given a platform to build on. Sarwan did a good job in his first match as official captain, especially his 7-2 field in the afternoon which forced the bowlers into bowling a much more disciplined line. I do think however that he should have bowled Bravo much earlier.

A special paragraph of criticism must be reserved for that entity which has largely destroyed our cricket and which is doing its utmost best to ensure that the game stands no chance of returning to its glorious days- WICB. Only idiocy can explain the Board agreeing to merely one three day practice match before the tests in a country where conditions play a major role in the game and where players from all over the world struggle to adapt. As if not having the most talented or mentally strong players is not enough! Obviously, the fact that the rain falls a lot in England was also ignored- the only practice match was ruined by bad weather. The WICB in its wisdom sent a poor team into a test series without any preparations! A pat on the back for the old boys!

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Sarwan’s Initiation, Honouring Lara and Not Having an Impact

The first match of the four test West Indies versus England series begins tomorrow at Lords. I have not yet decided whether to purchase the package being offered by I am still contemplating whether I should waste $100 to watch the West Indies get beat. I would love for the team to win but I know better than to get my hopes up high. Fazeer Mohammed has written a good preview which can be read here.

While the West Indies play England on the field, off the field the MCC Museum at Lords is holding an exhibition in honour of Brian Lara. The exhibition which charts his career and numerous achievements will feature various types of memorabilia including the bats with which he scored his 375, 400 and 501. Here is the BBC’s take.

I came across an interesting blog about a man and his family’s attempt to live in New York City for one year and not make an impact on the environment. I try my best to do whatever I can for the environment but I know it’s far from enough. This guy must be admired for going to such lengths. His fascinating story is a must read. I have also added it to the sidebar.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Hydrogen Bombs and Ankle Straps

50 years ago, the British exploded their first hydrogen bomb over Malden Island as part of a series of tests in the Pacific. Operation Grapple and Operations Grapple X, Grapple Y and Grapple Z were the names given to the nuclear testing operations conducted in 1957 and 1958. While the main base for the Operations was Christmas Island (now called Kiritimati and part of the Republic of Kiribati), an inhabited atoll two degrees north of the Equator with an economy based on the export of coconut, the tests for Operation Grapple (May 15, May 31 and June 19, 1957) were carried out over Malden Island (now part of the Republic of Kiribati), an uninhabited atoll about 400 miles south of Christmas Island. The test for Operation Grapple X was carried out over Christmas Island on November 8, 1957 and resulted in widespread damage to buildings and infrastructure there. Operation Grapple Y was detonated just off of Christmas Island on April 28, 1958 and Operation Grapple Z, the largest of the four Operations was conducted at different points in 1958 on Christmas Island.

The British tests were part of a major escalation in the arms race and would also lead to them signing a comprehensive nuclear co-operation treaty with the US- 1958 US-UK Mutual Defence Agreement. The treaty allows for extremely close collaboration between the two allies but the heavy UK reliance on the US for assistance in developing and maintaining its nuclear supply has been criticised as being in breach of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Of course contraventions or allegations of contraventions of major international instruments are afforded differing reactions depending on the country accused of undertaking such an act.

I had therapy and a doctor’s appointment today. I’ve been having some pain this past week just above my toes and around my ankle where the straps of the boot are located. The doc says it’s just the muscles that have not been used for so long and the foot getting used to the weight combined with the stress placed by the boot straps. He thinks its time I start getting used to life without the boot so I am now supposed to wear an ankle strap with my sneaker, beginning with one hour a day and gradually increasing till I see him next Monday when an assessment will be made. I will still be wearing the boot when I am not wearing the sneaker. If by next week all I am feeling is discomfort rather than severe pain, I will continue the gradual move back to sneakers. If there is too much pain, I will have to be in the boot for longer! I also received what is becoming normal now- a cortisone shot- and was warned not to go out for a stroll in the park or go and hang out etc. I am still supposed to rest my foot and my walking must be restricted to my apartment. It seems as if spring will come and go while I am stuck inside : - (

Young, Gifted and Black/ Aicha

Nina Simone. No need for commentary!

Khaled performing Aicha in 2005 at the BBC.

Neither of the two videos was posted by me on YouTube. I am just taking the liberty of sharing them.

Nina Simone was posted by this person.

Khaled was posted by this person.

Monday, 14 May 2007


400 years ago, a group of Englishmen settled on James River and established Jamestown, the first English colony in North America. It was the beginning of a grim history of oppression, genocide and slavery as Native American tribes were systematically slaughtered and driven from their lands and African slaves were brought to the new colony to provide labour. Today, the US commemorates 400 years of settlement, but as I sit here in my apartment in New York City, a thought goes out to those millions of people who suffered and died over the course of the past 400 years so that a certain group of people could enrich itself.

Saturday, 12 May 2007

Books and Pests

I have been working on cataloguing my books on and have nearly finished. I have done it the hard way: taking a set of books at a time in a bag to my computer. It’s not that I have much else going on in my life at the moment anyway and I am also a bit more mobile these days since I progressed from crutches to cane! The little red and black librarything widget close to the top of the page should take you to my list.

The pests next door have kept up their circus act. I was awoken this morning by shouting, screaming, running and doors slamming. When I looked at my clock it was 7:23 am! I am a deep sleeper so it takes a fair bit of noise to wake me up! I called the landlord later in the afternoon and told him that the situation had gone beyond ridiculous and there was no way I should have to wake up so early on a Saturday morning because of noisy neighbours. He said he would speak to the guy but either he didn’t or they ignored him because the noise continued for the rest of the day until I heard them leaving in the evening. Please don’t come back. Ever!

Thursday, 10 May 2007

South Africa’s First Black President

On May 10th, 1994 (I was still in secondary school!) Nelson Mandela was sworn in as South Africa’s first black president after more than three centuries of white minority rule and the country’s first ever democratic elections. It was the culmination of a long journey from lawyer to co-founder of the ANC’s armed wing to political prisoner to symbol of the fight against apartheid and ultimately President.

Speaking at his inauguration, Mandela stressed reconciliation and forgiveness, stating: “We saw our country tear itself apart in terrible conflict... The time for healing of wounds has come... Never, never again will this beautiful land experience the oppression of one by another.”

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Of Canes, Crutches and Books

I have finally managed to reach the stage of walking with a cane. I bought it last week and started using it last Friday. It has gone pretty well and I can now even take a few steps without the cane. I am obviously still wearing the boot though.

I bought a number of books recently when Amazon had a sale; mostly political works but a novel, short story collection and photography book also. I also bought some books for my nephews/nieces.

I have been meaning to do an inventory of all the books in my library for a while but I have not gotten around to doing it. I also joined in February but because of my mobility issues I have not been able to catalogue the books. The wireless adaptor on my laptop going dead hasn’t also helped since I can’t take the laptop to the bookshelves and be connected to the internet. Technology can be such a nuisance.

Needless to say this is what I bought:

Tragedy & Farce: How the American Media Sell Wars, Spin Elections, and Destroy Democracy By John Nichols, et al

It's the Crude, Dude: Greed, Gas, War, and the American Way By Linda Mcquaig

Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy By Noam Chomsky

And We Are Not Saved: The Elusive Quest for Racial Justice By Derrick Bell

Mad Sheep: The True Story Behind the USDA's War on a Family Farm By Linda Faillace

The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals By Michael Pollan

Holy Cows And Hog Heaven: The Food Buyer's Guide To Farm Friendly Food By Joel Salatin

Mecca and Main Street: Muslim Life in America after 9/11 By Geneive Abdo

Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People By Jack G. Shaheen

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier By Ishmael Beah

George Orwell: An Age Like This 1920-1940: The Collected Essays, Journalism & Letters (Collected Essays Journalism and Letters of George Orwell) By George Orwell (Author), et al

My Country Right or Left 1940-1943: The Collected Essays Journalism & Letters of George Orwell (Collected Essays Journalism and Letters of George Orwe By Sonia Orwell (Editor), et al

George Orwell: As I Please, 1943-1945: The Collected Essays, Journalism & Letters (Collected Essays Journalism and Letters of George Orwell) By George Orwell (Author), et al

In Front of Your Nose, 1945-1950 (Collected Essays Journalism and Letters of George Orwell) By George Orwell (Author), et al

Face Time By Patrick De Wilde (Photographer), Laurel Hirsch (Translator)

Short Stories of Langston Hughes By Langston Hughes (Author), Akiba Sullivan Harper (Editor)

Their Eyes Were Watching God By Zora Neale Hurston

Monday, 7 May 2007

Noisy Neighbours

I moved into my apartment in Park Slope in November 2004. I like my apartment and its location and I enjoyed whatever little time I got to spend in it until recently. I have a new neighbour and his three kids make tons of noise. It is only since he moved in a few months ago that I realised the walls are paper thin! My building is a new one and has seven floors. I am on the top floor which has four apartments and when I came here I was the only person living on the floor. A weird woman with a parrot and two dogs (one morning she told me that the dog was still a baby and went to nursery school!) then moved in, an elderly couple followed by her and then a couple with a little girl. Weird woman I smelt more than I saw or maybe it was the dogs; either way the scent in the corridor or inside the elevator always meant she had just came/went. She moved out just over a year later and a young couple with a little boy moved in. The elderly couple seems to live part of their time somewhere else and is very pleasant. The couple with the little girl lived in the apartment next to me and it is when they moved out a few months ago that my nightmare began. I never had any problems with them and I even remember asking the lady once when we were in the elevator if she by any chance ever heard my music and she said no but she wished she did becaue her bedroom faced the street and the noise from the traffic bothered her.

Now, instead of my peaceful retreat from New York City, I feel as if I am living next to a school. My apartment is filled with constant loud screaming- both babysitter and kids, doors banging, balls bouncing, kids thumping hardwood floors as they run up and down, and toilet seats, yes toilet seats slamming! I say my apartment is filled because that is what it seems like- the noise is so loud and the walls so thin it appears as if it is next to me. I love children and I believe in them playing and being happy so I refrained from complaining at first. However, there is also something called discipline and consideration for others and when it got to a point where it became unbearable I knocked on the door and politely asked the babysitter (father was not there) to ask the kids to tone it down a little. A few minutes of peace and then the ruckus resumed. I called the landlord next day and told him that I was having a problem with noise from my neighbours and I was letting him know before I went to speak to the father. The landlord said that the guy was a reasonable man but if the noise continued he would have a word with him. I waited a few days to see if there would be any change but there was none so I went to speak to the father. Before I could finish what I was saying, he bluntly said that they were kids and there wasn’t much he could do! I said I know they are kids, but the noise is quite a lot and I am just asking for them not to bang on the walls, not to scream so loudly and not to run up and down so much. He then stated that I should be grateful as they only stayed with him for two weeks each month- he is divorced and they spend the other two weeks with their mom. So I should be grateful that children who don’t belong to me or are not related to me only invade my apartment with noise for two weeks a month!

The noise abated for the next two weeks but today it returned with a vengeance- the twirps are back. They came home from school and the noise began. I started to get a headache so I called the landlord who told me there was nothing he can do as it is just kids playing and not loud music in the middle of the night! I was flabbergasted. He was insistent that there is nothing he can do. I decided to go and once again ask them to keep down the noise. The babysitter answered, I was very polite, she gave me attitude and parroted the father- they are kids, full stop.

I am at my wits end and I have no idea what to do. I love children. I have 14 nephews and nieces and I know how noisy they can be, especially boys and for the most part the noise does not bother me. However, there is a limit and I don’t see why I should have to sit in my apartment and be subjected to a racket caused by a stranger’s kids!

Sunday, 6 May 2007

The Doha debates

The Doha Debates broadcast on BBC World are a forum for public debate in Qatar and organised similarly to the traditional “Oxford Union” debate. They focus on issues related to the Arab and Islamic worlds and the format allows for open debate: two teams of invited speakers (speakers have various backgrounds and hold diverse views) debate a topic which is usually controversial and the audience participates by asking questions. The debate is chaired by Tim Sebastian who formerly presented the BBC programme “Hardtalk” and at the end the audience takes a vote in favour or against the motion.

I watched one of them earlier today entitled “This House believes the pro-Israeli lobby has successfully stifled Western debate about Israel's actions.” It took place at Oxford University, the first time one of the Doha Debates has been held outside Qatar. A very interesting discussion and appropriately, the House decided in favour of the motion.

If you want more information or want to watch past programmes, check out the website.

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

No Surprises in Squad for English Tour

The West Indies squad to tour England was announced today on the recently retired (forced into retirement?) Brian Lara’s 38th birthday. Given the pool of players to choose from, it comes as no surprise that there were not any major changes from the World Cup team. However, I think the selectors made some key mistakes by the inclusion/exclusion of some players. Why is there no back-up wicketkeeper? On what basis was Sylvester Joseph selected? It certainly cannot be because of his poor performance on the A’ team tour to England last year. Darren Sammy is more suited to the one-day game. He does not strike me as a genuine batsman or bowler and someone like Ryan Hinds or Narsingh Deonarine would have been better options being authentic batsmen who also bowl well. I am also not sure why Collymore was picked. He never seems like he will take a wicket and he rarely does. I think it is time to move on with respect to Collymore. On a tour to a country that favours swing bowling, Pedro Collins would have been a more appropriate selection. Samuels deserved to be omitted based on his attitude and I would have also liked to see Chris Gayle dropped!

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Weight Gain, Swimming and a Cricketing Legend

The doctor give me another six weeks home when I saw him yesterday, which means I will be indoors for most of spring! Spring is the best time of the year and I have to be inside. I am not a winter person but I also don’t like the extreme heat of a New York summer, so the arrival of the mild temperatures of spring is to my liking. I am not happy about this at all. It also means six more weeks of minimal activity and more time to put on weight. The time I have spent immobile at home has resulted in a realisation of one of my worse fears- putting back on all the weight I had lost last year. I will now have to work extra hard when I get back into the gym. The therapist has strongly suggested that I do some swimming to strengthen the muscles in my foot and the doctor agrees. The resistance in the water would help the muscles but there will be no weight bearing on the foot. I checked the YMCA near me yesterday but I have to be a member to use the pool. Membership is $55 a month plus a $110 initiation fee which I am not inclined to pay as I am already paying a tidy sum for my gym membership. Oh how I long for the sea! I have never been in a pool- the idea of a small body of water filled with sweaty bodies doing God knows what does not appeal to me. I prefer the sea but I guess in the interest of healing my foot I may have to bite the bullet and take to the pool. I will probably have to try and obtain some guest passes and at least get in a few sessions.

While I hate being stuck at home, I honestly do not miss my office, the UN or my job! My job can be exciting at times, but for the most part it is stressful, frustrating and an exercise in futility. Besides all of this I have to deal with various personalities and that is one of the most difficult and exasperating things to be burdened with!

On May 1st, 1951, Gordon Greenidge, one of the greatest openers in cricket history and a member of the finest opening pair cricket has seen was born. He possessed an excellent technique and matched it with brutal strokeplay- who can forget those vicious cuts and off-drives and the hook and pull executed with one foot in the air. Exactly forty years later, he would play his last test innings against Australia in Antigua. He made 43 before he was run out. He went on the subsequent tour to England but hurt his knee in the second one-day international and would never play for the West Indies again. Since his retirement and that of his opening partner Desmond Haynes, the West Indies has not managed to find a real opener. It is a sad indictment on our cricket when Chris Gayle is touted as the premier opener of the past few years!