Costs: Assumed and Actual

Save for people living in the DRC I think most of humanity is in problems of their own creation. We have all the technology to feed, clothe and educate everyone down to the last dusty kid in Somalia but we don’t. We don’t even have to go far to see the precipitation of this. Turkana has been ignored since before independence with ignorant politicos seeing zero benefit in investing in the region or trying to up their living standards. Now we know they have more water and oil the the rest of us.

The cost of ignoring the area is the resentment that has built up over the years. The only reason they do not proclaim Turkana si Kenya is because they are too hungry to make such political statements. Maslows Hierarchy. Food first, politics later.

We are notorious at misjudging what true costs are and what we assume are costs but aren’t really. This came to roost a couple of weekends ago when i was hell bent on attending like 5 different events on the same evening. All involved close friends or relatives and I could just see how I would make technical appearances at 4 of them and part the rest of the night away at the last place.

Of Course the problem with technical appearances is that everybody present recognizes the temporary forced nature of your stopover. I doubt anybody wants people at their party that feel they were forced to come and that they have better places to be. Its rarely worth it. Its better to just leave an apology that you can’t make it and go wherever you wanted to go anyway.

Anyhoo, my plan sorta worked though with hefty costs on my part. In the rushes involved some involving passing through Westlands Electric Avenue, there was car prangin, lotsa wasted time and foul moods allover the place. A Lot of money (according to my thin wallet) was wasted in an attempt to have maximum fun.

It is rather hilarious how we sometimes do not follow our own advice. I have always been against bar, club or party hopping. Most of the time is spent on the road, looking for parking or sorting bills so as to move to the next venue. Stick to one joint, have fun with friends and when the time comes call it a night.

The cost that I assumed was that I would miss out on parties were my good friends were having a blast. You could say this was a social cost. The actual cost was fuel burnt, time wasted, car slightly damaged and not enough meaningful time at either party to bond or interact. There will always be more places you are needed than you can go to.

The same skewed judgement is applicable in our lives with assumptions as to the true costs of decisions not being accurate.

A friend once told me the difference between a CEO of a company and the sweeper in the same company is the quality of the decisions made. Its about knowing what an actual cost is and to be able to quantify it and act. Most of the costs we incur are unnecessary, be it sustaining habits, propping up excuses or refusing to move on from acidic friendships, relationships, business or relations.

Recognizing costs is as important as acting to counteract it.

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Laughing at the struggling populace

Watching the news over the past year or so has been a generally unpleasant affair with al the antics that politicians and hangers on are up to. Be it murder, infidelity, grand corruption and a slew of depressing stories emanating from hospitals and police cells, there is little to be happy about.

Of all these “breaking news stories” the worst involve supposedly humorous news bits featuring suffering citizens that are painted as ignorant beyond help. Case in point is one Jane Anyango a mother of 6 that lives on the expansive Kano plains to the west of Kenya.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zm8t1K8Hr18

Jane has had her house flooded with such regularity every year that as soon as River Nyando bursts its banks Citizen TV immediately seek her out to hear how many chickens she has lost this time and whether she can trace her children.

Her footage asking for the government’s help has become the fodder for humor segments  for the better part of the year. Former President Kibaki regularly dismissed poor people asking for help throwing the request back at them asking them what they would help the govenment with.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9X040OiQh4

Coming from the highest office in the land, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that small business owners are treated like a crap heap outside state house. Just avoid it and try push it further down the road for the next government to deal with. Lets not even get started on IDPs who are still in tattered tents while the presidential motorcade could buy more land than is needed.

The despise is evident especially considering government policies and actions that have never been pro-poor. No notable subsidies with former Minister Njeru Githae suggesting that starving guys can easily eat rats. He did not say whether he and his family would be joining the rat fest though.

Its rather baffling where this attitude came from what with our super hyped ubuntu philosophy and what not. Some of it is still intact but I suppose we took to capitalism too hard too fast.  The new tax law recently passed also decided VAT is back on just about everything.

I don’t like it because nobody likes taxes but I don’t necessarily oppose it. My problem is with how my taxes are spent. Ideally the populace should have significant input into deciding how taxes are spent aside from participation of parliament which seems to have degenerated to an insipid club of crass talking overpaid goons and goonettes.

The gap that is going to be increased by this new law between the rich and the poor is only going to be made worse.

We need more cheerful news.

 

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Miley Cyrus:WTF??

If you think that what social media is talking about the most is earth shattering stuff I am afraid you need to log off right now. Most of the content in social media involves supposedly cute cats and assorted cute things right next to females showing off their behinds. Distributing this content has built multi billion dollar corporations that have more money than the US government and are richer than Kenya.

Miley Cyrus is a former child star bred in the Disney universe of cute princesses and catchy songs. She had all the makings of brilliant success in the path of Beyonce where her maturing sexuality could have translated to millions of dollars if manicured properly. She instead decided to go the britney spears way and destroy every little girls heart and pulverise her role model status. That is unless your role model is a tongue hanging, crass talking undressed crazy acting person.

Her performance in the VMAs this week left me with grimace the entire period. I couldn’t believe the cute girl shaved her hair, put on the atrocious outfit and attempted to twerk. I mean has she seen her competition? Even the dancers next to her were light years ahead of her in the voluptuousness scale.

Some suggest that it is a diabolical plot by her handlers to shatter the psyche of her fans in a grand plot to show young girls everywhere that they will amount to nothing. I think it only goes to help the jealous girls justify why they hated on her in the first place. Generally, women don’t like women.

Others suggest that this is her way of breaking into the bad girl persona like Rihanna that has made her into an idol for her fans. This is actually more plausible though I wonder why it had to be so crass to get this effect. Another school of thought actually turns this into a racist issue. I kid you not. Something to do with being surrounded by voluptuous black women with bears strapped to their back. I wonder how these guys come up with these things. Then again you should see the analysis that olympics opening ceremonies go through. It just fires up your conspiracy theories mostly because half the time you don’t understand wtf is going on.

Anyhoo that was a very uncomfortable performance for me and I tend to be more of the liberal type. She will probably sell more records now though.

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Tecno n7

Being an Android loyalist, for the purpose of preserving the notes in my wallet, I only buy android handsets. They happen to be the only kind of smartphones that can hold 2 SIMs. This helps alot when I need MPesa but also need Orange Kenya’s cheap internet.

Samsung products are in my opinion overpriced for what they wind up delivering compared to their Chinese counterparts. But then again these may just be sentiments from a broke guy and I might have to eat my words sooner rather than later.

The first phone I tried out due to its price point was the Mi-Fone A351 for about 6,000/-. It was bought in a hurry since I was travelling and needed a smartphone. It also seemed to have reasonable specs . Humongous mistake. The build quality was atrocious, it crashed every other hour and simple things that even the Huawei Ideos could handle it struggled with. For instance when an app crashes, I cannot report to google the play store keeps crashing.

Later I got a chance to get something better and I decided that Tecno deserved a chance. Their previous offerings have been solid in performance and basically delivered precisely what was suggested on the box without fail. That tends to be important.

I fired up Olx and looked for the nearest deal. long story short I got a Tecno N7 for a steal and was pretty proud of myself, for a while.

It has pretty much what you would expect in a midrange phone with features balancing out. It has a dual core processor, 5 inch screen, 4GB internal storage(About 700MB available for apps and 2GB for your other stuff) a 5 MP shooter at the back, 1.3 MP at the front and the usual sensors, compass, accelerometer, GPS etc.
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I was pretty proud of myself until I updated the google play store. There is this app called Google Play Services that is supposed to do mysterious things on behalf  of google for developers of apps or vice versa. All I know is some of the apps I need want it and refuse to work otherwise. Case in point Foursquare. For those with space issues, the app is humongous like 20MB and so it is not popular with them. I hate it for a totally different reason though am not sure whether its Google or Tecno at fault here.  The app simply refuses to install claiming it is incompatible with another app with the same shared user ID. Google just gives me people with similar issues albeit its not so widespread.
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The soft keys at the bottom of the screen also only work when they are in the mood. I donno if this is a flaw with my particular handset or if this happens to all Tecno N7s.

But Aside from that everything else works fine and the humongous screen is just the best when watching the downfall of Miley Cyrus.

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World Youth Day Rio 2013

World Youth Day 2013, Rio de Janeiro
World Youth Day 2013, Rio de Janeiro (Photo credit: Jota_BRAZIL)

The World Youth Day is an event for young people and the young at heart organised by the Catholic church. It is an international event with all nationalities invited and all countries invited to send pilgrims. It is held in different cities across the globe and over the years and 2013 marked the 15th celebration. This year Rio de Janeiro got the opportunity to host the fete and I got an opportunity to participate. 

Cristo Redentor do Rio de Janeiro
Cristo Redentor do Rio de Janeiro (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Getting there took a good 26hrs on Ethiopian Airlines. The flight wasn’t necessarily 24hrs but the stop overs and waits were rather long especially in Lome and Addis Ababa.  The travel was mostly uneventful save for one drunk guy causing drama at the the Addis terminal and subsequently missing his flight. The ground crew and staff had phenomenal patience with him in my opinion.

The first problem that hit us (the contingent I travelled with repping our parish) was the language barrier. We had been warned severally of the fact that only portugese is spoken in Brazil but we assumed we will find english speakers there. Well we did find people who speak in english but these were other kenyans and other Africans working at the Consolata Mission in Sao Paolo. The more interesting people were Brazilians and the other South Americans who joined us for the missionary week. With them only Portuguese or Spanish made any sense.

We got by but the struggle was real and I vowed that next time I travel to a non-English speaking country it would be a matter of necessity to have at least a rudimentary grasp of the official language.

View of Rio going up Corcovado

South Americans are generally very friendly people or maybe the warm reception was due to us being African. We were generally referred to as Africanus or Quenyanos which may at first sound like insults but the smiles and hugs allay most of these fears. We were a rather popular tourist attraction with our ornate flag and queer accent and mannerisms. Just about everyone was curious about these strange loud people who cant speak Spanish or Portuguese and don’t know how to dance to Brazilian cultural music.

I had a series of culture shocks starting of with the liberal nature of the girls dressing. The girls could practically walk around with hotpant or yogapants including during mass and not an eyebrow would be raised. They would walk out of their houses with their parents in tow dressed like this and it would be as normal as the sun rising in the morning. 13 yr old boys and girls also happily make out in public and on their parents sofas as their parents watch the news. Being gay is like being protestant. This has led to a government policy that severely punishes any form of discrimination whether based on gender, race, sexual orientation, age etc that attracts a 7 year jail-term if found guilty. The church thus plays safe and does not broach the subject of homosexuality and the related fire and brimstone.

Metropolitan Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro

Brazil is a matriarchal society where the females dominate most affairs specifically the household. This may explain the intense emotional state of the population. Those guys will cry over anything and will go out of their way to help you in a manner that is quite strange for modern Africans.  All the families we stayed with cried when we left and you could tell the emotion was real.

The Brazilian diet is as diverse as any other but is more euro-centric with bread being present at just about every meal. Wheat based products are in plenty including pasta, pizza, bread, biscuits etc. I also found the food to be too salty and sugary where applicable to my taste. There is very little obesity however since there is a very robust exercise culture with all the parks and common areas fitted with exercise equipment. Maybe the problem with lifestyle diseases here is that we simply don’t exercise enough and not necessarily what we eat. They are also generally not heavy drinkers with even the national cocktail Capirinha, having way more mixer than alcohol.

At Copacabana Beach

Brazil is a beautiful country with friendly people. Lots to see hear, taste and feel. The women love geting hugged too. Thats always a plus.

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Olympus Has Fallen

I have just finished watching this flick and I could not help but shake my head throughout half this movie.

I will not bore you with details but the basic premise is Jack Bauer being played by Gerard Butler and saving the day with everyone else including the main bad guy being pitifully inept at hand to hand combat though he does let in afew left hooks on our “Starring”

I was more interested in the general story arc and the intention of the movie makers in terms of what emotions they meant to stir in the viewers. After I watched the Matrix and then much later  Inception I began to understand just how powerful movies are in molding the psyche of the target audience. I am a conspiracy theorist at heart and I do not fight it anymore. I smell a well articulated staged scenario that will scare Americans into believing they could easily be victims irregardless of the fact that they are the biggest aggressors on the planet.

Destruction or rather breaching of the white house by a foreign aggressor is like the end of days for American national pride. Thank their heavens they are saved by a tough talking all round bad ass loyalist who beats up everyone in his way.

That the main protagonist is a rogue North Korean is no coincidence and may help to temper the public to being more understanding when Obama decides that the threats by Kim jong have gone too far and ordering a preemptive strike.

There are so many plot holes in the movie that I stopped caring about the logic and just went with it.    It isn’t feasible that anyone would get that close to the white house in a military plane (especially after 9/11) just when a foreign dignitary was visiting. And why are all those secret service guys so incompetent? and does noone have a bazooka to bring down 1 plane?

Its interesting that most US presidents are depicted as such die hard nationalists that would rather die than give up codes but we all know they are politicians first and hardly soldiers.

I give it a meh rating

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Obama in Africa

So Obama just finished his prance across the continent to mixed reviews from the armchair analysts.

In my opinion this was a lackluster trip that has even less oomph because it is obviously a reaction to the Chinese onslaught on Africa with way more agreeable deals.

Many Kenyan pundits were up in arms that not stopping by was rude seeing as his father was Kenyan. I personally don’t think this is even remotely important even to historians. Barrack is as american as 95% of the American population. Authentically ethnic Americans are the Red Indians that were either exterminated or pushed to reservations and allowed to run casinos without paying taxes. I suppose they like this arrangement however much it may sound like a horrible deal to the land loving Africans.

So Obama promised $7bn towards building out Africa’s power capacity. The fact that he came in with hundreds of US investors and the increased activity of the likes of General Electric in the country tells me that most of that money will wind up paying US companies for consultancies and services.

This is expected and that the money is being split between 5 countries over several years says this is not much investment. The US has for the longest time treated Africa as a weird awkward neighbor that is given aid but not really helped. There are few actual American industries that invest in the continent and do stuff like build out roads,hospitals or power plants that are sustainable. Maybe they exist but they are far less conspicuous than the European brands and this is very visible seeing ad they are the wealthiest country on the planet. The “neglect” is conspicuous in light of their willingness to steer geopolitical affairs especially internal country policies.

American power is also amusing if you compare its size to the African continent. All of the US easily fits in the Sahara Desert. That’s it.

We should get off the Obama euphoria and wake up to the fact that he is an employee of the US industrial-military complex and stop viewing him as some sort of Savior.

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How badly do you want it?

There are a plethora of super star start-up founders who seem to have built their dreams into massive profit churning entities and in the process turning our underachievement into a big elephant in the room that keeps pooping.

It is tempting to think that these guys built up their enterprises by pure grit determination and alot of faith. Books such as Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell however try and explore the idea that pure inborn skill brings success. It is an interesting book and everyone should read it.

So what is the formula for success? What is the template that can be reproduced in every corner of the world to become successful?

I am afraid I have no idea and nobody else seems like they do. The one thing they seem to agree on is that how badly you want to do whatever it is you want is the most important factor determining your success. As Henry Ford said, ” Whether you think you can or you think you cant., either way you are right.”

It all comes down to how much you want whatever it is you want. Be it that girl, that job, that raise, seed money, recognition, respect etc. How badly you want is mostly the only thing that will determine whether you get it or not.

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iPhone 4 locked to Three UK

If there was ever a pain in the rear quarters it would involve a slab of fancy glass, aluminium, plastic encasing even fancier electronics in the name of an Apple product that so happened to be sold by a certain telephone company trading as Three in the UK.

For those not in the know(And I hope that is very few) once you buy  an iphone who’s origin is “overseas” you better hope it is unlocked. This is to mean it is not locked to a particular network which would mean you are shit outta luck if you put your battered Safaricom or Celtel Sim card in it. It will look back at you like you cant afford it.

I happened to be given the seemingly simple task of unlocking an iPhone 4 for a pal. This ought to be more routine than a walk down the street or buying a smokie from one of those roadside guys but just like Murphy discovered, what can go wrong definitely does.

Of all the networks the damn thing could be locked to, it happened to be locked to Three. Unlocking it using the IMEI ( The only permanent and easiest method) happens to cost 5 times what unlocking from other networks costs. I actually googled it and there are zero alternatives. If the Phone happened to be from O2 or Verizon then I would have gotten away with a 3,000/- unlock but Three demands a 14,000/- payment. Damn you Cupertino.

I have no idea why there is such a discrepancy between providers from the same country but I have to assume it is because some manager somewhere is being anal. All I know is this is aking my life unreasonably expensive. It even stops being economically feasible.

A second hand unlocked iphone 4 on OLX costs 25,000/-. Little incentive to spend 15,000/- on an unlock on a used phone when you can get better quality and less battered hardware for 10,000/- extra.

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Margaret Thatcher

The Iron lady is dead.

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ll be the first to admit I know very little of her seeing as she ruled before my time. What I can glean from the media though gives me a good idea about what she was all about. She seems like Martha Karua on steroids without the affectionate dancing side.

She called Nelson Mandela a terrorist for crying out loud and thought the Apartheid regime was pretty rad. Now this was the 80’s so such sentiments were rather archaic & jarring even in her time.

English: Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, Gaute...
English: Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, Gauteng, on 13 May 1998 (Photo credit: Wikipedia). The backdrop many british lovers like to use is that she was protecting british interests and it is quite possible that she decided to be the fall guy(or girl in this case) to absorb all the bad press.

But years, nay, Decades later it is especially her countrymen that despise her. I gather that she devastated the mining communities and by extension the working class and precipitated lts of suffering for them. A documentary I watched a while ago insinuated that the whole global warming fiasco was started by her and others to popularize use of nuclear energy for power generation so as to reduce the influence of coal workers unions. This would make her a highly intelligent leader if true and the effects of her decisions are reverberating to this day. Now that is influence.

The reaction to those that are happy to see her go is however what is most amusing to me. We generally(Africans) avoid speaking ill of the dead but a line can be drawn somewhere right? I mean the Americans nearly called a national holiday when Obama murdered Osama and dumped him in the sea. This was blatant happiness over an individual’s death. Why should this be any different for those who suffered under the iron lady’s rule?

I am personally indifferent to her death or influence if it still exists seeing as she is no longer a shot caller and I doubt whether her policies to Kenya were to Kenya’s benefit. The right for people to be glad she is dead should be protected though same as an entire country can be proud of itself for murdering a supposed terrorist and celebrating it.

 

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