Sunday, 29 May 2011

How much are we worth?

Once upon a time, someone somewhere said that a human life is priceless. Really now?

Let’s see why. Well, for starters, humans are superior to other creatures (I am quoting from text, in my opinion this is far from the truth). We have the ability to think, to solve, to innovate, to preempt, and to analyze; basically, we have a lot of abilities that single us out as superior.

As far as priorities go, we always get first priority; housing, food, medical care etc. Our needs are always put before the needs of a beaver, or an oak tree for instance. Which kind of makes sense. I mean, surely the contribution of a beaver to capacity building is limited to teeth-related tasks.

However, the claim that a human life is “priceless” has been invalidated, unremittingly, in recent times. People don’t seem to matter anymore. Pay close attention to what I’m about to say next (because you might quote it in the future, and if you do, give me a mention will you!?).

A human life is worth whatever its eradication begets.

This ominous reality seems worse the more you try to comprehend its extremities. The extremities being the return on ending a human life, and the number of human lives deemed expendable relative to the return on their eradication.

It will all make sense soon.

I have compiled a list of places in the world and the corresponding worth of a human life (this is completely from observation):

Iraq: Human Life = a few barrels of oil.

Egypt: Human Life = a political ideology.

Bahrain: Human Life = a crown, a religious ideology.

Congo: Human Life = not much.

Darfur: Human Life = refusal of recognition ≈ not much.

Ivory Coast: Human Life = a few more days in office.

Somalia: Human Life = a fish or two.

Afghanistan: Human Life = some opium, a strategic military position.

US: Human Life = a few barrels of oil, a strategic military position, a few more days in office, some natural gas.

UK: Human Life = whatever the US thinks.

Brazil: Human Life = economic growth.

Myanmar: Human Life = some golden stars on the shoulder, a nice bank balance.

Arab Countries with protests: Human Life = worthless.

Average Human Life = $100.

Please feel free to make additions or criticisms.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

A Bull's Union

Since my Nobel Laureate post a lot has happened in the world. Just to show you how eventful 2011 has proven to be, my trip to Dubai was a mere side-dish.

I know some people might have expected that I would write a piece about Osama Bin-Laden’s “assassination”, but to be honest I don’t regard it as significant. No one should. I will discuss this further in a minute. Now however I want to point out that the putative raid carried out on a compound in Pakistan that resulted in the extermination of Osama Bin-Laden sounds too Hollywood for my liking. Navy seals, special forces, helicopter assault, president watching on live stream, wives used as human shields, random Pakistani cyber-freak tweeting the events as they happened, Pakistani government and army not knowing about it, the US president relaying the news to the world; I’m sorry, it’s ridiculous.

The legitimacy of the situation aside, it shouldn’t matter in the first place. Yes, he was known globally as the embodiment of Satan himself, but he’s had no significance in the last 10 years, none whatsoever. The most ominous part of this GI Joe-like tale is that people were celebrating like they got death threats from Bin-Laden on a daily basis. Was it a publicity stunt? Maybe. Is the world still ignorant? Absolutely.

Based on how blown up the Osama Bin Laden story was, it didn’t last for long in the news headlines, 10 days maximum; which is still a long time regarding how inconsequential the event should have been. Maybe – this is dedicated to the conspiracy theorists – the US government is now trying to take the spotlight of the issue in order to alleviate the demand for evidence. Maybe.

Now, Mr Strauss-Kahn (might be Dr, I can’t be bothered to check) has stolen the limelight. For many reasons. First of all, keeping up with imperialist tradition he goes and assaults a hotel maid from West Africa. How appropriate. This is just service to critics on a silver platter. I bet he violated her natural resources (pun intended). Second of all, a so called socialist, and a primary candidate for the Socialist Party of France’s presidential bid, AND head of the IMF, has always made him a target for critics. Then he goes and stays in a $3000 a night hotel suite. Unintelligent, really, why would you do that? I’m not judging, but it’s like claiming to be celibate then sleeping around and hoping no one notices. Of course there’s the issue of the part he’s playing in securing European bailout packages, his ridiculously wide face and the fact that the IMF’s managing director has to be European.

This is probably the wrong time for someone like Strauss-Kahn to commit suicide, I mean sexual assault. The wrong time primarily for the IMF. Chiefly because the emerging economies have recently been voicing their grievances regarding the must-be-European Managing Director issue at the IMF. Now, these grievances will be voiced louder than ever. For the most part, I think this is absurd. It’s unrealistic. The fact that the emerging economies have such grievances shows how detached they are from the realities of this world. The IMF’s head is European for a reason. This reason doesn’t concern non-western countries. So everyone should stop whining and let Christine Lagarde take it; and concomitantly, let imperialism do its job.

So the Spanish have been protesting. When I heard this I was puzzled, because why on earth would they be protesting? Do they not like the fact that Barcelona wins the Champions League every year? Are they unhappy with the weather? Do those flamingo dance dresses give them epilepsy? Ok, maybe that’s a good reason to protest. On a serious note though, apparently the protestors have real objections. These are some of the things they’ve demanded: electoral law reform, true separation of powers, and political regeneration – which is basically an end to corruption. Fair enough. I say they should protest; everyone should have the right to. This just goes to show that the European countries on the Mediterranean are more alike with their North African neighbors than their European ones. This was always apparent. So yes, the Spanish should protest, and so should the Greeks, Portuguese and Italians. Even though, I think the people that should protest in Spain are those bulls being stabbed for everyone’s gratification. They should have a union.

There are other quasi-interesting stories here and there, but nothing special. I think the news has become too negative. There are too many people being raped, murdered, slaughtered, ran over by tanks, bombed, molested, sexually assaulted, killed, tortured, murdered, slaughtered (repetition was intentional, one for the normal criminals, one for the Arab leaders). Why isn’t anyone portraying good news? Like Porto’s win over Braga last night. That’s nice isn’t it?

I have good news; there’s a post before this one, go read it.

Monday, 16 May 2011


When I was in Dubai I stayed at this pretty decent hotel. 4 stars I think. It was a nice, friendly, “international-ish” environment. The hotel staff at the desk was a paragon for a condensed United Nations conference. One of them was even Sudanese, although he looked a bit Indian with his gel-molested hair. All in all, the hotel had a very welcoming feel to it. So on one of the occasions when I got into the elevator to set off on the relatively long, ear-pressurizing trip to the 44th floor where I stayed, a middle aged man stepped into the elevator with us. I was with a friend, and we were making small talk in our version of Arabic. So the man, most likely Iranian, turns to me and asks where I was from. So I told him. Then he asked, with a bit of gesticulation, “That (my country) and Nigeria.. Same same?” His English was woeful and his gestures were implying geographical locality. “Yes”, I said “Yes they are.” We both turned away, him proud of his geographical knowledge, and me with a smug look on my face.

This wasn’t the first time someone showed a lack of knowledge about my country, but it wasn’t the worse. I usually get the “Which continent is it in?” or the utterly hopeless “Is it next to India?” At least the man in the elevator got the Africa part correct. I don’t blame anyone though, because I think knowledge is acquired when the respective person deems it necessary.

The thing is, ignorance is not an issue, until people take advantage of it. Most of the people around the world don’t know much beyond the confinements of their habitat. That said, it doesn’t make them bad people, or “ignorant” people. At the end of the day ignorance is relative. You might think you know it all, but when compared to others with more knowledge you might be considered ignorant.

Ignorance is dangerous when you are subject to propaganda, like in the west; or when you are duped into thinking that the election of a certain individual will get you out of poverty. Even then it’s not your fault. The people behind the falsified promulgation strategies that target the less acquainted are the ones to blame.

The word ignorant is being misused. It doesn’t mean stupid or idiotic like most people assume. For example, when most Arabs talk about how the American population is ignorant of their strife in the Middle East it’s utterly preposterous. When the whole world talks about the lack of knowledge of western professionals towards certain detailed aspects of people’s lives it’s also preposterous.

The only entity one can blame is the media, and of course the education systems. These are the aspects in peoples’ lives that shape the outcome of their profundity.

I, for example, think that awareness of global affairs, politics, history and culture is necessary for my progression in life. You might not. Or some Genetics PhD student living in Toronto might deem it redundant. All I’m saying is, people acquire information on a need to know basis, and this basis is completely dependent on people’s perception of what they need to know. So, the only thing you can technically disparage is someone’s judgment on what’s necessary and what’s not – from a knowledge point of view – for their own progression.

Ignorant literally means unaware. In theory, there’s nothing wrong with being unaware. It only becomes wrong when one is unaware of something that directly affects them, like all other things in life; like being unaware of the fact that not getting to work on time will get you fired. Being ignorant of something that does affect you is bad, but being ignorant of something more distant, I think, is a personal choice. The morality of this choice can always be brought into question, but that’s beside the point.

On the other hand you can argue that awareness isn’t synonymous with knowledge. Basically, you can be knowledgeable, but apathetic to the realities of a situation. In which case using the word ignorant can be justified, or not, depends how you look at it.

Don’t for one second think I’m trying to promote ignorance, or justify it. I’m all for intellect, it even makes for nice dialogue. All I’m saying is the word “ignorant” is being misused.