Mar
24

WHEN SCIENCE DELIBERATELY GOES WRONG

WHEN SCIENCE DELIBERATELY GOES WRONG
By CAMERON DUODU

The Ghanaian Times 24-03-2015

There are thousands – probably millions – of people walking this earth today, who would be dead and buried, had it not been for the ability of practitioners of science to intervene in their degeneration, whether natural or outwardly imposed; in other words, to detect and cure ailments that have afflicted their body systems, either through illness, accidents or the infirmities created by time.

One never fully appreciates the good work done by health practitioners – doctors, nurses, laboratory assistants and other paramedics – until one has woken up from a successful surgical operation and realises that despite all one’s fears, one is – still alive. The marvelling grows as medication restores one’s weak, ravaged body gradually back to a condition as near to what constitutes “normal” in its particular case, as possible. Indeed, we do not give as much credit to men and women of science as we should. And that’s a shame.

It is personal experience of the miraculous powers possessed by modern medicine that makes many of us place total trust in our medical personnel. And it is also that personal experience that gives us a shock that goes right to the very roots of our being, when we hear that a few– probably very few – members of the medical profession not only cut corners when treating sick people, but also, sometimes deliberately make trusting patients worse than they were when they first sought medical assistance. This is such a mind-blowing charge against medical personnel that one shudders to make it. But the evidence is present, and it would be remiss of us not to unwrap it.

On 25 March 2015, a report will be published in Scotland that every medical establishment in the world would do well to force all its staff to read and openly discuss. There is an adage often employed to mock the medical profession – half jokingly – which says that doctors “bury their mistakes”. Well, this report, called “The Penrose Report” will prove to the world that institutional pressures on doctors and other medical personnel, and an insidious corporate culture that swears them to secrecy, can be as dangerous to the health of individuals as disease itself.

The “Penrose Report” has taken six years to produce, at a cost of nearly $20 million. It will describe, in 1,800 pages, what has been called “the worst treatment disaster in the history of the British National Health Service – the infection of thousands of patients with deadly diseases, through [the] use of contaminated blood products.” According to the 22 March 2015 issue of the London Mail on Sunday newspaper, the Report will tell the public how:

QUOTE: “About 7,500 people, many of them haemophiliacs, are known to have contracted HIV and Hepatitis C after being given imported blood products taken from high-risk donors such as prostitutes and prisoners in the 1970s and 1980s. Their lives were devastated, with many unable ever to work again and forced into financial hardship. Scores of victims needed liver transplants or regular dialysis, while others inadvertently infected partners and children. Health officials believe another 27,000 patients may have been infected with Hepatitis without ever being identified.

“The £11 million inquiry led by Scottish judge Lord Penrose was set up by the Scottish Parliament to probe claims that Ministers, civil servants and health authorities were slow to heed warning signs and subsequently covered up their complacency. Since it covers a period before health services were devolved, the heavily delayed findings will have ramifications across the entire country [i.e. the United Kingdom]” UNQUOTE

One instance of how this disaster occurred is that in 1983, a man asked his doctor about reports of haemophiliacs [people with a blood disease that prevents bleeding from stopping once it occurs in their bodies] developing a mysterious new disease called AIDS, that was killing its victims within a couple of years. The doctors told him not to worry. So he returned to his wife and carried on with his life as usual, interspersed with bouts of treatment for his haemophilia. Little did he know it, but he had already been given Hepatitis C from contaminated blood products. Then in the following year, he was infected with HIV. Later, the lethal virus advanced into full-blown AIDS. His condition worsened and he could barely climb stairs; he and his wife were fortunate their son was born healthy. But the roll call of deaths in his family included two of his uncles, a cousin, and several close friends in the Scottish haemophilia community.

According to the Mail on Sunday, “What makes it even worse…. is that he was part of a group of Edinburgh haemophiliacs whose medical records indicate they were used to study AIDS from the year BEFORE he was infected. Clearly, they were being used as guinea pigs. There was medical knowledge of the risks they faced – yet the patients were not asked for consent, or given warnings over their treatments.‘I find this absolutely outrageous,’ the man told the newspaper. The paper added that Britain was “shamefully slow to react to rising concerns over tainted blood supplies as the dangers emerged in the early 1980s. Calls to ban dangerous imported products were made as early as May 1983, with the first British haemophiliac reported to have AIDS that August – yet patients were still being infected with HIV from blood products two years later.”

Altogether, some 1,500 ended up with the virus, many suffering in silence to avoid the acute stigma people faced at the time.

Haemophiliacs were hit hard since they rely on coagulants made from blood plasma to combat their rare genetic condition that makes their own blood fail to clot properly. They were treated with blood plasma made from pooled donations from thousands of people, including — it later emerged– some of the highest-risk donors imaginable, such as drug addicts and prostitutes. One Canadian company was even “discovered to have relabelled blood extracted from Russian corpses as coming from Scandinavian donors. In Britain, the use of paid donors is banned since it attracts people desperate for money.” Yet imports were permitted of plasma using blood taken from American prisoners paid to give blood!

As the scandal seeped into the open, it emerged that key British Government documents had been shredded, supposedly “in error”.. One Whitehall circular quoted a British Minister as saying ‘only haemophiliacs have died’. A leaked health department memo said that while saving their lives was ‘expensive’ there was a ‘strong cost benefit’ since ‘those already doomed, will generate savings which more than cover the cost of testing blood donations’.

Britain was not the only nation hit by a tainted blood scandal. But in France, Canada and Japan, there have been prosecutions and convictions of bungling officials, while in Ireland, people given Hepatitis C were awarded payouts averaging about $1 million each. One of the lawyers who appeared before Lord Penrose’s enquiry, asked: ‘Why is it so hard for institutions like the NHS and Government departments responsible for its administration to admit publicly [that they have made] mistakes and
misjudgements?’

A reader wrote to the Mail on Sunday: “Yes I am one of these people, our lives destroyed through no fault of our own. I am glad this is now coming to light, We cannot get insurance for health, holiday, houses anything. Our whole livelihoods were taken from us.”

The NHS is expected to come under fire for the way their doctors failed to tell patients they had contracted the viruses, despite knowing themselves that they had. People were not being told they were infected. Their doctors knew their patients had Hepatitis C or HIV but didn’t tell them for years – meaning they unwittingly infected their partners [and] their children.

In 2008, an Edinburgh-based consultant was investigated over claims that he endangered lives by keeping diagnoses about his infected patients a secret. One of his patients, a haemophiliac, said he contracted HIV in 1984 but was not told until 1987. He also accused the consultant of using patients for medical research without their knowledge. A report was sent to the police and other authorities but the outcome has not been revealed.

Campaigners hope the Penrose report will uncover details about medics who “deliberately” infected patients for research purposes.”We think there is certainly a suspicion that some doctors may have taken part in practices where they knowingly infected their patients on purpose,” one campaigner said. “There is a feeling that some doctors deliberately spiked and infected people and then watched to see how the disease progressed. There are a number of people within our infected community [who] would like to see criminal prosecutions come from this.”

To us in developing countries, the question we should ask ourselves is this: If this could happen in a scientifically-advanced country like Britain, then what about us? This was done by whites to whites. What happens when there is undisclosed racism involved? Can we, in the light of such reports, altogether dismiss speculation that research scientists might have used people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, as guinea-pigs in a search for a cure for Ebola?

Only time will tell – just as time has now revealed the mystery surrounding haemophilia, Hepatitis C and HIV/Aids.

Mar
21

DARKNESS BEFORE NOON

DARKNESS BEFORE NOON

By CAMERON DUODU

K1: Hey Koo, did you know there was a total eclipse of the sun in some parts of Europe on 20 March 2015?
K2: Yes! I was disappointed at the way that the Sun and the Moon do not seem to care about how we on Planet Earth view them (pun intended!)
  • What do you mean?
  • Well, do you know that if their wedding date had been propelled forward by just one week, the wedding would have taken place on Friday the Thirteenth….!
  • Oh? The 419-spiritualists would have had a field day!
  • Just imagine! Friday The Thirteen! At 0900, the Sun begins to turn into an apple with part of it bitten off….
  • Yiee – it would have been like going back in time to see how Adam was caught by God eating the apple Eve had given him!
  • Exactly. And at 0915 – half-eaten Sun! Didn’t God allegedly stop the Sun from setting at one time, so that a particularly horrific genocide could be completed?
  • That’s mere tribal tittle-tattle!
  • Go and say that in Israel and see!
  • And at 0930, total swallowing of the Sun by the Moon!
  • Many people would have timed their sexual activity to coincide with just that moment! I mean, if a spiritualist’s child was conceived at just the moment a total eclipse of the Sun occurred – and on Friday The thirteenth at that? He would walk on the Sea before he could swim on the Land!
  • Koo – you should set up an Interplanetary Pendulum Centre For The Interpretation of Ultra-Galactic Phenomena. (IPUCFTI-UGP) pronounced Ipji-fitiujip. Some would claim that they understood it to be an Egyptian word resurrected from a hieroglyphic papyrus discovered in the River Ankobra, when the Fantis were escaping down to present-day Ghana from Egypt. Others would claim it was a Hindi word copied from a 3,000-year-old vase retrieved from the Summit of Mount Everest. You’d just sit tight and quietly clean up.
  • Could I be your Spokesman, Koo?! Imagine the strong Terrestrial Entities we could call upon: the Holy Ganges River; the unpolluted sections of the Tigris and Euphrates; the Black Nile; Stonehenge; Tongo; Ypala! When someone came to see you with a child that had only one leg, you would charge money and ask the parents to wait until the full eclipse that would occur at Luxor, in Egypt, in 2027, when the Sun and the Moon would conclude their copulation and restore the limbs of all people on Earth who had suffered physical damage due to the fact that in previous couplings, the Sun had left The Moon behind!
  •  
  • Ei – you dey inside o! Do you also know that at Ypala, in Northern Ghana (which, by the way, is the true birth-place of Tigare, NOT Nkwantanang and Pepease, Kwawu, as some people imagine) if you see someone coming towards you, wearing a mask, at a festival, and you don’t run as hard as you can, your soul can be transported back into the animal you were before you were born as a Human Being?!
  • I don’t doubt it! Mankind has always tried to make sense, in its own terms, of anything unusual that the Universe projects at it. Do you understand the term, “Chercher pe aware?” [Chercher loves matrimony!] It is taken from the frequent alignment of the Planet Jupiter and its largest moon, Ganymede, in the sky! Our people say that it is because Ganymede does not want Jupiter to be separated from her husband, Jupiter, that she dogs his footsteps! When one of the other moons of Jupiter comes close – especially bisexual Callisto – it means that Jupiter’s “other wife” is waiting outside his bedroom door, waiting for her “turn” to go and pldeasure her husband.
  •  
  • And in saying this, our people legitimise polygamy as something ordained from the very Heavens?
  • Yeah!!
  • Do you know how the Indians explain a solar eclipse?
  • Don’t they claim that a sex goddess with six arms was dancing erotically and that when she turned her head in a 360-degree movement to make eyes at a potential lover, one of her arms, embarrassed by her lewd action, grabbed a floating chapati and covered her face with it? The received wisdom is that the sex-goddess-choreography of the action became so popular and stylish that even the Sun and The Moon borrowed it in their mating-dances!
  • Hmm – good thing that our Jet-Age prophets don’t understand too much science, or they would have used the eclipse to make even more money.
  • But how could they have made money out of the solar eclipse? I thought Florida Water….
  •  
  • Ho – easy, man! Don’t you know how vain most powerful people on earth, especially heads of state, are? The late Omar Bongo, of Gabon (for instance) used to order couture houses in Paris to fly a large jet to him, filled entirely with personal outfits for himself, so that he could try them on. He also  insisted that each jet brings lovely models, who would help him to decide what suited him best. Now if a prophet represented to such a guy that he was seen in the Universe as a Sun….
  • But because of a Very Powerful Juju (VPJ) possessed by one of his rivals, he was going to be quenched by the Moon….?
  • Yes –just think of it:  because of a Very Powerful Juju possessed by one of his rivals, he was going to be quenched by the Moon….!
  •  
  • I see it! I see it! Dumsor in The Firmament!
  • Yes!
  • He would cough up every dollar he’s hidden in Switzerland, Dubai, Abu Dhabi or elsewhere, in order to prevent his Sun from being quenched?
  • Charlie, let us go to the bank at once. This is a Business Plan that no bank would refuse to finance!
  • Yes!
  • And the next Total Eclipse of The Sun will occur in 2017 – only two years from now!!
  • All we need now is a a Financial Engineer set loose by a court!
  • Yes — I know precisely where we can purchase such financial engineering services.
  • Not in Austria, surely?
  • Hahahahahaha. That’s my secret, Koo!

Mar
18

ICARUS @ 2015 = DUMS⊃ SQUARED!

 

ICARUS @ 2015 = DUMSƆ SQUARED! By CAMERON DUODU

UPDATE:
Greek mythology tells us that there once lived a very sagacious craftsman called Daedalus. He was so clever that he was able to create wings, which he attached to himself and to his son, Icarus, to enable them to fly.
But before the flight, Daedalus warned Icarus not to fly too high towards the sun, as the sun would melt the wax with which the wings had been fixed  to his arms.
However, once the flight began, Icarus was so intoxicated with the freedom of the skies that out of sheer euphoria, he forgot his old man’s instructions and flew higher and higher towards the sun.
The sun then melted the wax; his wings fell off; and he plunged into the sea – to his death!
Of course, scientifically, the story does not check out! For if Icarus had flown as closely towards the sun as the story maintains  he did, he would have frozen to death, not plunged to his death, because the wax in his wings was melted by he sun! This is because, the higher you go, the cooler it becomes!
But the Greeks did not tell us the Icarus story to illustrate the veracity of scientific principles. They used the story to open up our imagination to the things that we don’t normally think about, because we regard them as impossible to achieve.
How often had man looked at the sky and wished he could fly like a bird, into and across the vast expanse of it? The Greek story-tellers knew a story about that age-old aspiration would capture everyone’s attention. So they crafted a beautiful one – and damned the consequences of its not being quite accurate, scientifically.
The Wright Brothers of the United States were, of course, the first to realise mankind’s dream of flying into the sky. On December 17, 1903, Orville Wright piloted the first powered airplane 20 feet above a wind-swept beach in North Carolina. The flight lasted 12 seconds and covered 120 feet. Three more flights were made that day by himself and his brother Wilbur. From those 12 seconds of flight came the knowledge that has eventually turned our skies into major highways for all sorts of planes, and which enabled man to fly to the moon and come back to earth to land safely.

The trouble with modern flight, however, is that it depends on hydro-carbon energy for its power, and hydro-carbon energy emits polluting agents into the atmosphere that are so poisonous that they will, if left unchecked, destroy the ozone layer that protects us from the sun’s rays, and bake the earth and all the creatures in it to death.

Now, it isn’t only aircraft that emit poisonous agents into the atmosphere. Motor vehicles – all one billion or so of them, contribute their share. So do factories and the electricity-generating plants that power most of them. Coal, in particular, is absolutely noxious in the pollution it produces, although diesel isn’t much better. Unless the world does something drastic to change our patterns of power-consumption, we are dooming our children’s children to total extinction.

The science is clear – Beijing, in China, is one of the urban centres in the world where the effects of atmospheric pollution are most visible. People often wear face masks in a futile attempt to save themselves from breathing in poisonous air. And motor cars sometimes have to put their lights on in the daytime because the pollution shuts off sunlight. Elsewhere in China, a dense wave of smog began in North-east China, especially in major cities including Harbin, Changchun and Shenyang, as well as the surrounding Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning provinces, on 20 October 2013. Unseasonably warm temperatures with very little wind across north-eastern China coincided with the initiation of Harbin’s coal-powered municipal heating system. Record densities of fine particulates were measured in the city.
It must be pointed out that China is by no means the only country with a major air pollution problem. In April 2014, levels of air pollution smothered London and other British cities. Weeks earlier, heavy pollution had led to restrictions on car use and the offer of free public transport in Brussels (Belgium) and Paris (France).
Prof Frank Kelly of King’s College, London, said: “Periods of very high pollution in London arise usually because the city’s normal pollution emissions are increased further by polluted air arriving on light winds from neighbouring areas such as northern Europe. However, whether home-produced or arriving from the continent, the tiny particles we take into our bodies with each breath cause immediate problems”.
These problems are what make the solar-powered flight of The Solar Impulse 2 from Abu Dhabi  on 9 March 2015 so important.
The aircraft has a wing-span of 72 metres, which is wider than that of a jumbo jet. And yet it weights only 2.3 tonnes, compared to a jumbo’s 300-plus-tonnes weight. Its light weight will be critical to its success. So, too, will the performance of the 17,000 solar cells that line the top of the wings, and the energy-dense “lithium-ion” batteries that will collect and store energy for use to sustain flying by the aircraft at night-time.
Graphic
With refinement, the 17,000 solar cells will be whittled down to a hundredth of that number, if not a thousandth, as the fast-growing science known as “nano-technology”’ is brought into play in the capture and application of solar energy.
The BBC’s Environmental Correspondent, for instance, reports that the flight of the Solar Impulse 2 

“is a deep-breath moment in the history of technology…..because, pinch yourself, solar power is predicted to become the dominant source of electricity, globally, by 2050.”

The Corresppondent adds:  “The price of solar electric panels [has fallen by] 70% in recent years and costs are expected to halve again this decade….And Deutsche Bank [of Germany] forecasts that, based on current fossil fuel prices, solar will produce power as cheaply as gas in two thirds of the world before 2020. In the UK the solar industry thinks it can compete with wind within 18 months and with gas in the near future. In the USA, solar jobs already outnumber coal jobs.
The solar revolution was sparked by government subsidies, which attracted venture capitalists to fund innovation and created a huge market that Chinese manufacturers are battling to exploit. The solar boom is a huge help in the battle against climate change, but scientists warn it’s not nearly enough. And we must find ways of storing that mighty but capricious power, and making it work with the [existing national grids].”
A comprehensive report on the economics of solar power usage, entitled: “An Empirical Analysis of Project Cost, Performance,and Pricing Trends in the United States” has been published by the
Environmental Energy Technologies Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, USA. It was authored by Mark Bolinger and Samantha Weaver. I reproduce a few paragraphs to illustrate my belief that any serious person involved in trying to solve Ghana’s power problems, both of today and the future, would be criminal not to pout solar energy on top of the agenda as the Number One Priority. For what the report clearly shows is that living in an African country – with basically, 12 hours of sunshine a day – we can anticipate even LOWER costs than those experienced in North America and Europe (which arte in free fall, it appears!) Says the Report:
QUOTE ”Installed PV project prices have fallen by nearly one-third since the 2007-2009 period, from around $5.6/WAC to $3.9/WAC on average for projects completed in 2012
(with some projects higher and others lower)……
For PV, O&M costs appear to be in the neighbourhood of $20-$40/kWAC-year, or $10-$20/MWh. CSP O&M costs (for parabolic trough) are higher, presumably due to the plumbing and thermal components, and come in around $60/kWAC-year.
Capacity Factors: Like insolation levels, PV capacity factors vary by region. They also
vary depending on whether a project is installed at a fixed-tilt or uses a tracking device, with
single-axis trackers able to achieve capacity factors in excess of 30% in some of the better
locations (thus confirming the industry rule of thumb that single-axis tracking provides a
20% boost in output). In lieu of trackers, and enabled by the sharp decline in module prices,
some projects have instead opted to oversize the PV array relative to the capacity rating of
the inverters as a way to boost capacity factor.
On the CSP side of the market, parabolic trough systems that have been operating in the US. for more than 20 years are still (in 2012) achieving capacity factors in excess of 20% (solar portion only, no storage), which is comparable to newer trough projects. ….Several power tower projects
under construction will soon test that technology on a truly commercial scale in the United
States (several commercial power tower projects have been operating in the Mediterranean
region for several years).
PPA Prices: Driven primarily by lower installed PV project prices (which, in turn, have
been driven primarily by declining module prices), as well as expectations for further cost
reductions in future years, levelized PPA prices have fallen dramatically over time, by
$25/MWh per year on average. UNQUOTE
Over to you then, our DumsƆ operators! You have nothing to lose but your valueless excuses.



Mar
17

“IF SOMEONE SHOWS YOU WHO THEY ARE, BELIEVE THEM THE FIRST TIME!” (Maya Angelou)

 




IF SOMEONE SHOWS YOU WHO THEY ARE, BELIEVE THEM THE FIRST TIME!”

By CAMERON DUODU

 
THE GHANAIAN TIMES   17/03/2015
The above quotation is attributed to Maya Angelou, the African-American writer who lived in Ghana for some time.
It is couched in the same language as our proverbs, and it is therefore possible that she got the inspiration for the saying from Ghana. For while she lived with us, she mined our culture and philosophy and sometimes  put it to very good use in her work.
I am quoting Maya to make the point that at last, we seem to be getting to know why things have come  to such a very bad pass in our country.
All around us, we can see signs that our elected rulers care very little about the public welfare. Dumsor dey; bad roads dey; lack of water dey; galamsey done turn rivers into mud; rundown schools dey; hospitals na turn into mortuaries.
Yet who cares? Even as we ponder what could bring this situation about, we hear that our President has told an audience of Ghanaians abroad that he has got “the dead goat syndrome”: if you cut a dead goat with a knife, it can’t feel any pain!, he is reported to have stated.
Before this, it had also been reported that our rulers believe that they’ve become like “the chicken and the hawk; no matter what the chicken does, the hawk will never be satisfied with it!”
And then, there was the video that went viral on the Internet, which showed two of our most powerful citizens dancing to a tune called, “Yenntie obiaa!” (We shall not listen to anyone!)
Now, all the sayings quoted above are symbolic of a turn of mind that borders on a fatalistic approach to life. If one is a dead goat, why should one try to fulfil the expectations of one’s fellow-citizens? All they can do is to talk. They would talk, anyhow, performance or no performance. So let them talk. Election promises? Election manifestos? Who born dog? What does a dead goat care about election manifestos?

So galamsey is destroying the sources if water? So what? Even if one brought engineers from the advanced countries to de-silt the rivers and re-align them so that they could flow freely and provide clean, potable water once again; even if one restocked the rivers with fish; even if one positioned solders at all the access points which the galamsey operators could use to go and carry out their wrecking activities in the rivers, would the residents appreciate it? When did the hawk ever appreciate the fine dancing of a chicken?

Religious ministers say they can solve the dumsor problem in 3 months! People are calling on the Attorney-General to appeal against the Woyome acquittal. Others claim that some former party bigwigs should have been charged alongside Woyome and that Woyome was acquitted because these people were not charged with him. Shall we listen to all this? If we listened to everyone, what time would we have left  to govern the country? Shrug. Shrug. Shrug.

Ei, na so, eh? So because your little child cries every morning until it is fed, you will not feed it? If you feed it today, it will cry again tomorrow morning, right? So why feed it today only for it to cry again tomorrow morning?
That is unwise, isn’t it? If anyone treated a child on the basis of that philosophy,  he or she could be reported to the police and I am sure they would charge him under the law that prescribes punishment for the cruel treatment of an infant, not so?
Or – because a motor vehicle can be involved in an accident, you won’t travel with one – no matter how urgent it is for you to travel? Then, how could you keep your relationships alive? Fulfil your duty to members of your family who might not be resident where you live and yet who need to see you from time to time?
If your father and mother had approached life in that spirit, would they have been able to earn enough money to feed you and look after you, until you reached adulthood? Even when you became an adult, didn’t your parents keep an eye on you, offering you advice here and there, and buoying up your self-confidence by patting you on the back whenever your performance rose to, or even exceeded, their expectations?
But family matters apart, there is an even more important concern: and that is the issue of leadership. To be at the head of a government is a great responsibility. In certain countries, politicians cannot move up the ladder just like that – without having experienced the art of governing at a lower level. Many MPs in the UK and Congressmen in the USA start their political careers at the local government level by becoming councillor in their local government area or precinct. If they work hard, they become popular in their communities and then catch the eye of the political power-brokers at the local level. It is then that they are then sponsored for positions at a higher level, from city mayor, right up to the national stage.
So by the time a person becomes a national legislator, he would have been involved in politics for quite some time. He would have garnered experience that teaches him that although success in politics requires a tough skin, it also demands quite a bit of subtlety. He watches what he says in public, for it can be quoited back at him and make him look bad to the electorate.
In the more mature democracies, the political parties have “”elders” who are essentially  “watchmen” or “guardians” at both the local and national levels, and  who will call one of their legislators to order if he/she makes unwise or indiscreet  statements.
 
It is true that in the advanced democracies, too, money plays a large part in determining who may, or may not be elected to higher office within a political party. But it is in each party’s enlightened self-interest to ensure that its elected officials stay acceptable and present a good “profile” to the public, because if a party’s candidates continually makes outrageous statements or misbehave in public, the parties would get tainted with the brush of their inept officials and be punished at national elections.
So it is up to the elders of each party to call the party’s leadership – from Assemblymen, District Executive Officers to Members of Parliament, and from Deputy Ministers to Ministers and the President himself – to order all the time. Those who are inept and are always slipping on “banana skins” must not be allowed to ruin the chances of those who are better at the game of politics.
 
When a party is in power and is in charge of national resources, it may think that the “war chest” it may have built up secretly  to fight the next election will be adequate to ensure its return to power. But that often turns out to be an illusion. The electorate  may take a long time to make up its mind, but make up its mind it will. In due course. Remember how Winston Churchill was booted out of office after heroically leading Britain to win World War Two?
The metaphor which our President used in his most recent speech abroad – the “syndrome of the dead goat”, is a singularly unfortunate one. For dead goat – or dead sheep – is also the term used to describe children who are very dense in school. I remember one teacher of mine constantly shouting “Human Goat!” at classmates of mine who could not answer his questions satisfactorily. Even a living goat was bad enough, as far as this teacher was concerned. What would he have said of a dead goat?
As Maya Angelou’s aphorism, quoted above, illustrates, the terms used by people to define themselves are important in helping us to understand them. We don’t need to go into the theories of Freud to dig out what he said about what lies buried deep down our sub-conscious minds and which may impel us to do things, some of which we ourselves are surprised by and cannot understand.
We do things without know why we do them? If you don’t believe me, go and book an appointment with a psychiatrist. He would confirm to you that the “real us” is hiding somewhere and always trying to come out through our actions! And Maya Angelou spotted that through her various relationships  with men and women and distilled a truth out of it, which she has shared so magnificently with ut.

Our President can tell us that he “misspoke” when he said that he had got the “dead goat syndrome”.

 
Better still, he can demonstrate to us that he has NOT got the dead goat syndrome!

How? He could quietly call the church minister who said he could solve the dumsor problem in three months and listen to him outline his ideas. For all he knows, the church minister may have some ideas that could solve the problem not in three months but in  six months.

 

That would still be better than what the Government has done about the problem in the past two or three  years. Anyway, the President ought to perceptive enough that the church minister may not necessarily be talking about himself, but that he’s merely relaying a message from a member of his congregation, who has convinced him, through private discussions, that a good  knowledge of engineering, married to sound economics,  can solve the dumsor problem easily.

 
Even I, the quintessential non-engineer,  can ask this question: what were we doing before Akosombo came on line? Did we not have adequate power for Accra, Kumase, Takoradi and the mines (for instance)? Not everything should be taken literally. So the church minister could be called or even visited and asked to outline his ideas, instead of being ridiculed.

The President could also re-energise the Anti-Galamsey Task Force and ask it to work in tandem with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Lands and Water Resources Commission to revive the rivers and streams that have been destroyed by galamsey operators throughout the country.

And he could breathe fire to the Minister of Education with regard to broken schools and schools without toilets; whilst offering assistance to our hospitals to do their work better than they are doing now.

For if he takes ownership of the “dead goat syndrome” it will only lead him and his party to one place – a dead-end.
Dead goat/sheep (odwanfun in Twi)  equals dead-end.
QED.

Mar
03

WHY CRICKET IS SUCH A WONDERFUL GAME (2)

WHAT A WONDERFUL GAME CRICKET IS (2)
By CAMERON DUODU

 

 

T he Ghanaian Times 03.03.2015

The reason why I am returning to the subject of cricket today is that the matches that have been played, so far, in the ICC World Cup tournament of 2015 taking place in Australia and New Zealand, have provided excitement that is far in excess of what even the most ardent cricket fans would have hoped for. In their wildest dreams at that!

But enough of the cliches. What has actually happened?

First on my list would be the maddening unpredictability of the West Indies batsman, Chris Gayle. He is a big, tall man (six foot four), who bats with his left hand. When he gets going, few bowlers can survive his onslaughts. He just constantly sends cricket balls out of the park, hitting bowlers for six very often, and – when he is being relatively merciful – collecting fours off them as if boundaries grew on trees.

Gayle, who will be 36 in September, was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and bats with such power that his nicknames include “Gayleforce,” and “Gaylestorm”. In other words, when he gets going, it’s as if the opposing team has been hit by a ”Force Nine” gale!

Gayle excels in all forms of the game – Test Matches (in which the contest can last up to 5 days!); One-day Internationals (50- over matches that last most of the day); and Twenty-20 Matches (20-over matches that take half a day or less.) To those who do not yet know too much about cricket, an “over” is the number of balls bowled by any one particular bowler at a time. Six balls normally constitute an over. But an over can consist of more than 6 balls, if the bowler makes certain mistakes — known as “wides” or “no-balls” – in which case the bowler is punished by being made to bowl the ball again, thus giving the opposing batsman an opportunity to hit more runs.

Gayle is the only player in the world to to hit a triple century [300 tuns] in Tests, a double hundred in One-Day Internationals as well as a hundred in Twenty-20 Internationals. And last week – 24 February 2015, to be exact — he crowned his achievements by scoring a record 215 runs against Zimbabwe in the World Cup. Whole teams of batsmen were being bowled out for less than 200, yet he alone made 215.

You may say, “Ah, but that was against Zimbabwe, who are regarded as ‘minnows’!” Okay then, answer this: is Sri Lanka, former World Cup One-Day Champions, also to be classified as a ‘minnow’? The answer is No, of course. And yet it was against Sri Lanka that Gayle scored his Test Match triple century (333) in 2010! He had preceded that with another triple century against another ”non-minnow” – South Africa. Gayle’s score against that country was 317. That was in a Test in 2005.

It was also against South Africa that Gayle set the first world record for the highest innings in a Twenty-20 International, scoring 117 against South Africa in the 2007 World Twenty-20 Tournament. Gayle’s innings was not only the highest score but also, the first century in international Twenty-20 cricket.

Add to that the fact that in 2008, Gayle, playing for Royal Challengers of Bangalore, in the newly-created but incredibly competitive Indian Premier League (IPL), scored a 30-ball century (the fastest across any format by any batsman) finishing the match with the highest individual Twenty-20 score of 175 not out – and you can see the scale of Gayle’s star status.

And yet…. and yet! Yes – and yet – as so often, having written himself into history with that monumental score against Zimbabwe, Gayle could only make a paltry three runs – repeat: three runs only 3 days later – against his old ‘doormat’, South Africa, on 27 February 2015! South Africa, having so easily got rid of the “Danger Man”, then demolished the West Indies by 257 runs! Supporters of the West Indies had been taken to the summit of Mount Everest, and then dumped down again into the valleys below – without a parachute! And yet, they knew they could rise again and sail back to the top. If only Gayle….!!

The only person I can liken Gayle to is the Ghana Black Star goal-merchant, Edward Acquah. Gayle is almost the same size as Acquah, and like Acquah, he tends to fumble trying to get his huge feet into position before he dispatches a ball. Acquah would stumble, steady himself and let go. And he scored more goals for the Black Stars and the Real Republikans than I care to count. Gayle does not have that luxury – if his feet are too slow to help him balance his body, the cricket ball goes past him to hit the stumps, or to hit one of his legs that would be firmly planted “before the wicket” and which causes him to be dismissed “lbw” (leg-before-wicket). Gayle’s first ten minutes or so at the crease are therefore always crucial. Once he gets settled, expect fireworks. But if he doesn’t, then he gets out pretty early. And his team often collapses spectacularly after him.

So now that you know about the uncertainties connected with good performance in cricket, you can appreciate why cricket is so scintillating. You can never take anything for granted when it comes to that game. Okay, there are upsets in football as well, I know. But can you realistically imagine say, Argentina, thrashing Brazil in a World Cup match, and then being taken to the cleaners by a margin of, let’s fancy, 9 goals to nil by (say) the Congo Democratic Republic? Bizarre wouldn’t it be? Well, in cricket, that can – and does – happen. I remember Viv Richards, another amazing West Indies batsman, sitting, annoyed and disconsolate, on a concrete step (as if doing penance!) after being bowled by Devon Malcolm, a Jamaican-born bowler who was playing for England. And the supreme batsman of the West Indies, Brian Lara (who holds the record for the highest number of runs ever scored in a Test match) was once hit very painfully on the helmet with a ball by the Pakistani fast bowler, Shoaib Akhtar (known as the ”Riwalpindi Express” because of the lightning speed at which he bowled).
You may remember that in my earlier piece, I reported that Ireland knows the measure of England when it comes to cricket? Well, Afghanistan, which until last year, was fighting a deadly war against the United States and Britain, with bombs and drones killing scores of people each day, managed not only to put a team together to show up at the World Cup in 2015, but also to beat Scotland by one wicket! An Afghan batsman, Shenwari, nearly made a century – he was knocked off with only 4 runs shy of 100 – at a titillating 96!

For cricketers “Down Under” (that is in Australia and New Zealand) I wouldn’t be surprised if the World Cup Final was seen as having come “early”. For certainly, the match between the two countries in Auckland, New Zealand, on 28 February 2015, must have counted as one of the most thrilling so far. New Zealand won the match by just one wicket. Australia lost with 161 balls remaining, which makes it their second-biggest defeat in ODIs. The “Kiwis will be laughing and laughing and laughing till their sides ache. But there is a theoretical possibility that both sides could reach the Finakl – and meet each other again! That would be the Mother of all Finals, for sure.

England, which like Australia, was regarded as one of the “big fellows” going into the World Cup, has been experiencing what the BBC calls “a horror” World Cup run. Defeated earlier by both Australia and New Zealand – defeats that, for once, would have united New Zealand and Australia in poking fun at the “Old Pommies” – then went on and lost to Sri Lanka.

It wasn’t the loss to Sri Lanka that has disheartened England supporters, but the size of it. England made 309-6, while Sri Lanka lost only one wicket in a 312-1 victory, secured in 47.2 overs out of the scheduled 50 overs – that is, Sri Lanka won with sixteen balls to spare. Two Sri Lankan batsmen made centuries: they were Thirimanne (139 Not out) and Sangakkara (also 117 Not out. Sri Lanka thus won by the enormous margin of nine wickets England’s blushes were somewhat saved by the fact that one of its batsmen, Joe Root, made 121 runs.

According to the BBC, “England will almost certainly be eliminated if they lose either of their final two games – against Bangladesh and Afghanistan.” Lucky for England that their two last matches won’t be against either Australia, New Zealand or South Africa. Bangladesh can create surprises, however, so unless Afghanistan brings about the most apocalyptic upset ever to take place in international cricket by managing to beat England, it is Bangladesh that England will have to worry most about.

India, Pakistan and South Africa have all maintained a fair level of success so far in the 2015 Tournament, though Zimbabwe gave Pakistan a fright that Pakistan will not easily forget. I know dumsor is making it difficult for even those Ghanaians who possess satellite TV, to watch the World Cup. But anyone who tries, whenever there is an opportunity, to watch any of the
matches, or even to listen to a sound streaming of it on a computer, will find that it will help to soothe away the dumsor-induced blues that hangs on Ghanaians like a wind that blows no-one any good.

 

Older posts «