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Monday, July 27, 2015

President Obama in the land of his Ancestors

President Obama would never have been forgiven had he not paid a visit to Kenya while sitting in the office of the White House. It was one of those things that was absolutely essential, lest he never be accepted back again. Some people are saying that he did this to show off. I imagine that aspect gave him the most difficulty, because to be sure, his visit would have overwhelmed the natives.

Those of you who have been there when the president comes to town, will know what a show that is. What with all the Secret Service, security, and the emphasis on everything big! Starting with Air Force One. When that plane comes in for a landing it must surely seem like a landing from outer space, especially if you are not used to that sort of thing. Then comes the massive line of cars flown in just for the event for the entourage, led by "The Beast," the president's own car. The security choreography is something to behold, especially as they were guarding against very real threats. What the Kenyan's have witnessed will be passed down through the ages as the most exciting thing the country has ever seen.

However, there were some very substantial reasons why the president should have visited. As we all know, Africans were ripped from their homes and taken across the sea to serve as slaves, suffering unspeakable degregation in the process. They did not do those things so that we, who now live in the West, can have better lives, but the fact is that we do. At least the opportunities are great, so great that one of us is now the sitting president of the number one super power in the world. That should be respected and honoured; so by visiting the land of his ancestors he pays homage to the people who made that possible.

More western blacks should follow the example as a way of repaying The Debt.

Approximately 200 Kenyans in service to the United States lost their lives in the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. President Obama was able to personally lay a wreath in their honour. That is the ultimate tribute that any country can pay in the circumstances.

Kenya is a third world country, but apparently it responded well to such an historic event. However, as a third world country it has a lot of growing to do. The Visit represented a clash between cultures, and no doubt has left some hard feelings. There will be the brigade that condemns President Obama for having come and "talked down" to the country about some of the most outstanding human rights abuses that take place in Kenya. The most horrific is the treatment accorded to gays and lesbians. Kenya does not accept that it is a part of the DNA of such people, who had no choice in the matter. They think that such people should be simply killed. Meanwhile, in the United States, the thinking is more along the lines that such people should be married to the partner of their choice.

President Obama's role as chief executive of the United States lifted up an entire race of people in the West to know that we can do whatever our ambitions lead us to; and to know that whatever our dreams suggest, we can make them come true. YES, WE CAN!

The late President Nelson Mandela did the same thing for all africans, and now President Obama has come along to underscore that. I never ever thought I would see such progress in my lifetime.

The Visit was right, timely, and well worth every penny as it led to the conference in Ethiopia where the president was able to address all of Africa's leaders. He has said that he will be back after his time in office expires to lead certain social initiatives

Personally, I am very proud of the performance in office of President Obama. I am not a judge of his political decisions because I am not an American. I simply wanted for him to be seen as a responsible and capable leader to prove the point that a black man can be just as worthy as a white man. I also know that a black man can be as useless as the next white man, but that is for another time.

Meanwhile, I am trying to imagine what it must feel like to be the Kenyan half-brother and sister to the most powerful man in the world. That must be very hard to digest!

Copyright (c) 2015  Eugene Carmichael 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sharing my beer with Mr. Bee

The is another in the continuing saga of lunching with Mr. Bee!

It happens almost every time I sit down on the terrace to have lunch. In flies Mr. Bee, drawn by the aroma of my lunch. He flies up to me and he goes through an elaborate ritual of identification. He flies in a zig-zag fashion across and up and down in front of me, which gives me a good idea of what it must feel like to be scanned. Once he completes that process he then turns his attention to what's on the menu.

Typically he goes to the far side of my plate where he will sample the meat selection. Today we were having chuletas, (pork chops). He found a sliver and took that in hand and flew off. He was gone only a short time when he returned, but this time he was curious as to what I was drinking. I could understand that because it was a super hot day. Normally I would be having a juice, but this time I felt like a beer.

I had only poured a little from the can, so the level in my glass was close to the bottom. Bee perched on the rim of my glass and decided he might get into trouble by dropping so far down, so he moved to the can. When you pour liquid from a beer can a small pool is left around the rim. Bee noted this and gave it a try.

I cautioned him about drinking and flying and told him that he was subject to the same rules as airline pilots, but he chose to ignore me. He sucked up all the liquid that was there, then he stumbled over to the opening of the can, looked down into the darkness, and although it was evident that there was more in the can, he thought better of going in, and flew off.

I poured myself some more only to see that within minutes he had returned with a friend, and this time he, or the friend went immediately to the beer and happily sucked it up. I'm not making this up when I tell you that when he flew away from the can he first flew sideways and crashed onto the table before quickly flying off in a very direct path. Sorry, I couldn't help but laugh out loud, and I took another drink. After pouring some more a fly came to see what all the excitement was about. It put down its head and took a drink and the reaction was immediate. It stumbled sideways, then went back to drinking some more before flying off.

By this time there was nothing left in the can, which was just as well as now I had a whole swarm of friendly party types who had come to try out the firewater. It was time for me to make a hasty retreat. I imagined that over at the nest the Queen had a problem with two or three of the the workers, who declared that they didn't feel like doing any more work for the day.

If they have karaoke in the bee world I can imagine three of my visitors doing their impression of The Bee Gees, "Staying Alive." Can you?

Copyright (c) 2015  Eugene Carmichael 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The World's most unlikely Billionaires

I have just heard the amazing statistic that in my country of Bermuda, population 65,000, there are at least 21 Billionaires. The truly outstanding factoid is that most are locals, and most are wholly unintentional.

During my early life, Bermuda was a quiet little island. The second world war brought many American, Canadian and British forces to our shores, and after the war many returned as tourists with their families. Locals made an industry from this, and with savings many people bought land. I know a couple of such people who purchased several plots of land throughout the whole island.

Then they started to build homes. As time rolled on they added on to those one family homes which became multiple apartments. The law, (now changed) restricted home ownership to 100 per person. Therefore, those families hold 100 in each member's name. Then, Bermuda was discovered as a wonderful place to conduct international business and the real estate market suddenly rose in value with the demand for accommodation for foreign workers. The combined value of  real estate holdings, market value plus rental income is just staggering I actually know three people who are in this bracket. One is a woman whose father was a builder and holder of a vast holding. She is an only child. Both her parents have now passed so that she has inherited everything from them.

She married a builder, who like her father held a huge holding, and she also inherited when he passed. I am unable to estimate her wealth, neither in terms of capital value of her holdings or in her monthly income. She is certainly secure, and she passes her time in simply managing her properties.

There is a man who drives a taxi to pass the time. He too is very secure in his portfolio of properties. He limits his time in his taxi to giving tours of the island to visitors. He is a person who has the most warm and welcoming personality, so for those visitors who respond to him in a friendly way, they can find themselves in for a tremendous surprise He lives with his wife on a hill-top splendid home, and he has been known to invite his passengers to his home for lunch, prepared by his staff. He has made many life-long friends this way.

Another man is in the water trucking business. Serving his own properties is enough to keep him fully occupied. He is well respected throughout the island community as a person who gets involved in projects, and he is a leading light in his church who is responsible for the funding of much of the church's building.

I grew up during that same period of time and I did purchase a property that is well positioned in today's market. But, I only purchased the one. I travelled the world with my other savings, so from that standpoint I am rich in experience.

If only we had the certain foresight to know the future!

Copyright (c) 2015   Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Dr. William H. "Bill" Cosby - My Idol with feet of clay?

As a young black man I grew up within a system of education that prepared me for a life of servitude to white people by working in the Bermuda tourist trade. I was constantly reminded that I should not overreach my station in life. If I ever had thoughts of my own busines I should have attended one of the white schools. Our educational systems were seperate and unequal. It was so depressing and soul destroying.

There arose two black men to give me hope. Sidney Poiter was one. He came from The Bahamas and he went to Hollywood and became the first black man to win an Oscar for his performance in "Lillies of the Field." I screamed, Yes! I Can!

Then came Bill Cosby, a very funny man who entertained us with squeaky clean humour that appealed across colour lines. I don't care who you were, you just had to laugh. He did not stop there. He went on to distinguish himself by earning a Doctorate of Education, to which would be added a mulitude of Honorary doctorates. That gave me confirmation that those people who were saying that I could not hope to amount to anything significant were damn liars.

I took stock of myself and I dared to dream. Yes I can do anything that I wanted to, but first I had some work to do. I prepared myself for business and I rose through the ranks, eventually becoming a manager of reinsurance companies for Fortune 500 companies. That was because of the examples of Sidney Poiter and Bill Cosby.

Bill and Sidney and I are old men now. Just when I thought it was safe to relax the bad news started to surface about Bill. Women were heard to say that many years ago Bill had drugged them and had non-consensual sex by using them. NO! This can't be possible.

Here I must point out that he has not been charged with any offense, and of course he has not been found guilty, in a court of law, of anything. Therefore, he is innocent until proven guilty of any allegations.

However, in the court of public opinion  he seems to have been found guilty and condemned. People who were proud to be associated with him are jumping ship in droves. Indeed, if he is guilty of any of the things that are alleged by a number of women, any decent person will be hard pressed to support him because he will have brought down upon his head the wrath of public morals and decency.

His wife said it best: I don't know this Bill Cosby!

I'm not saying, one way or the other whether I believe the allegations being made against him. What I'm trying to do is imagine how any of these things could be possible, and why, oh why would they be. As a man who has led a full sex life I can imagine that he might have been sexually active. Notwithstanding that he was a family man, married to the same woman for all those years, I imagine that as a successful entertainer he would have attracted women to him like a magnet. If you can make a woman laugh she will be unable to say no, so, I imagine he would have had to fight them off. I was someone unknown but I had no trouble finding women to share their bed with me. (If they were too drunk I gave them a pass, mostly because I didn't want them throwing up on me.)

Recently released court documents have him admitting to have brought Qualaades with the intention of giving them to women he wanted to have sex with. (Sounds like Ectasy tablets used by the unscrupulous in today's nightclub scene.)  However, he has not admitted actually slipping them to anybody.

This is a continuing story and we shall just have to wait and see where it goes. It does not look good! We seem to be confronted with a tale of two Cosby's, and no doubt scholars will weigh in with their assessments of how a person could be a very public and popular Dr. Jekyll, while at the same time carrying on life behind closed doors as a sinister Mr Hyde.

For what Bill Cosby has meant to me, I have to say that I am so grateful to have had him as a role model. He gave my life real meaning and that cannot be taken away. For this I say: "Thank you Dr. Cosby!"

I am super saddened by what he is presently suffering. He will end his life having already fallen from a very great height. He has accomplished so much good. He has helped so many, many people financially and through his inspiration. This is not a time to turn our backs against him as though none of that ever happened. He is hurting, presumably because of his own alleged actions, but we would be only fair weather friends if we simply gave him the thumbs down when he needs us.

I am not forgetting his alleged victims. I am not laughing at the experiences he allegedly imposed on those who say they were his victims. I have never forced myself on a woman, even once having stopped and walked away when I thought it totally unreasonable for the woman to have said stop! But stop means stop! That is my morality, so I cannot understand anyone who would deliberately incapcitate a woman to take advantage of her. How enjoyable could that be?

If it does come to pass that he is guilty of any of the claims against him, then none of that will be funny in the least, and that will be the most severe judgement of all. A comedian who was not funny.

I am personally very distressed by the position Bill Cosby now finds himself in, but it cannot be laughed away. I wish I were a wizard who could erase it all so that none of it had ever happened, but a wizard I am not. Alas!

Fortunately for me, there have come on the scene many new examples for my son to follow, including Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama. Also, I still have Sidney. I still believe in Sidney, a man who I actually got to meet and have dinner with.

Sidney, stay as sweet as you are!

Copyright (c) 2015  Eugene Carmichael   

Sunday, July 5, 2015

What to make of this?

Last week we spoke of the horrorific events that took place in Sousse, Tunisia where 38 people, all semi-naked lying on a beach taking the sun, were summarily executed by a demented young thug in the name of nothing sensible. We ask the question: What has the world come to, and where do we go from here?

It seems that we can no longer expect to go about our daily business in peace and safety. People have been shot down in extreme cold blood while having a hamburger; while at the movies; while in prayer and bible study; while engaging in wholesome compamionship; while in school; while shopping at the mall; while simply sunning ourselves on the beach; and in our own homes. Nowhere are we safe, at no time are we safe. We are aware of what is happening in war zones but what we fail to understand is that the entire world is a war zone. We have this beautiful planet to enjoy, but mankind, in all our massive stupidity are destroying the world and our selves. We are the enemy!

Following the Sousse massacre most visitors left Tunisia immediately. Of the 38 killed, thirty were British. However, not everyone did leave. Some stayed on. A TV interviewer asked one couple why did they not leave. As close as I remember their reply was as follows:

We came here to enjoy ourselves and we are determined not to let whats happened spoil our vacation. We think that if we leave early that would mean that the bad people will have won. We aren't going to let the bad people win.

What are we to make of this statement? Perhaps we may think those are the words of the most selfish, cold-hearted, self-centered  brigade. At first blush it certainly sounds that way. To begin with, how is it even posible to carry-on with holiday making; dining, drinking, swimming in the sea, shopping, all without giving any more thought to the 38 people who lost their lives around you. Back home in Britain the entire nation stopped in silence out of respect to those who lost their lives, so how could that couple do otherwise?

I was so appalled when I heard them speak, but it was only when I calmed down did I accept that they too had a point. Clearly it was the intention of the monster to kill the tourist business while killing the tourists. That was the case also with the attackers of tourists in March while they visited a musuem in Tunisia. The country relies for its livelihood on tourism, so what we are seeing is a concentrated effort to shut the country down. A State of Emergency has now been declared in that country as the reality sinks in. Tunisia is at war, as part of the world war against terrorisim.

What do the terrorists hope to gain? A world shaped in their own warped view? They have to know that if they ever do gain the upper hand there will only be others who will follow their lead to try and re-shape the world once again.

Life lived in peace, harmony and love is the best template. All right thinking people will agree with that. However, because we, as human beings are showing we are so flawed, perhaps that model is simply too sensible for us to comprehend. It seems we are only happy when we are killing each other.

What a sick world this is!

Copyright (c) 2015  Eugene Carmichael