List of Previous Titles

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Absolute Joy, Misery, and Miracles of El Gordo

As the world is aware Spain has presented El Gordo, The Fat One, once again to the delight of more people than I can imagine. The lottery paid out Two Billion, Two Hundred million euros. Spain is the only country in the world where thousands and thousands of people dance with joy because they have received a financial boost from the lottery. Even those of us who did not win anything substantial are happy for those who struck it big. Our hope is that it will be our turn next time.

No individual wins the jackpot, as is the case in most other lotteries. No individual needs to win 100 million euros or dollars. To begin with, the average person is simply not equipped to be able to handle that much money at once. The Spanish system is unabashedly socialist. The idea is to spread it around as far and wide as possible.

The prizes don't sound like much compared with Euro Millions, or New York lottery. For first prize we have 4 million euros, second prize is 1,250,000 euros, third prize is 500,000 euros, fourth prizes are two amounts of 200,000 each, and fifth prize consists of eight 60,000 euros. However, these are formulas. The punter can buy a whole ticket, or tickets, in which case you win 4 million on the first prize, as many times as tickets you hold. You could buy ten whole tickets at 200 euros each, and if that number comes up you walk away with ten times the stated prize.

You are also offered the opportunity to buy fractions of a whole ticket. Most people opt to buy a tenth of a ticket for 20 euros, or what is known as a decimó. There are also lesser participations to be had that allow people with low budgets to participate perhaps in several numbers.

This year brought forth an extraordinary result in the form of several winners who are illegal immigrants. I'm thinking of Mohammed from Senegal, a country that Spain has had close relations with in the past. Senegal is a beautiful country, but without economic promise to its young men and women.

Mohammed left his home for the usually mistaken promise of Spain. He crossed the Sahara Desert and the Mediterrean Sea, a journey that results in far more lost souls to the sand or the sea than anyone knows. Once here in Spain he has had to rake and scrape just to eat, but still you will find him at the local locutorio sending small amounts of money home to family. For Mohammed to acquire 20 euros would be like me to acquire 20,000 euros. So, to pay the massive sum of 20 euros to buy a piece of paper was a great leap of faith for him. I have been doing the same thing for years and my number has not come in big yet. His number did, paying him 400,000 euros. He is in total shock!

Of course, everybody who heard this news are happy for Mohammed, however, his problems have just begun. He is an undocumented immigrant so will not have a bank account, but he now has a cheque that is made out to CASH for 400,000 euros. He is part of a large immigrant community of very needy people, and while he was not the only one of his community to win he will have to endure severe pressure to share his fortune.

Since the 22 December draw, at least one of the immigrants has been stabbed to death, so we can imagine there is serious trouble within the ranks.

As much as I would like to be favoured with a big win on the lottery I don't think I would want to be Mohammed. Sometimes it is true to be careful what we wish for.

Copyright (c) 2015
Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, December 20, 2015

My phone, My friend, My Addiction!

To be addicted to something is to say that you are what you are addicted to. Addicted to smoking? You are a chronic smoker who is unable to voluntarily stop under any circumstances.
Addicted to recreational or doctor prescribed drugs. You're a sad druggie and your use will likely lead to an early death.

Now, enter the modern day addiction to IPhones and SmartPhones. Much has been written about this phenemon, but to watch it take place in a loved one is an unsettling experience. Three years ago my wife bought herself a Samsung phone, and progressively she has learned to use its many features. In particular she has become expert in combining the use of the camera with facebook, as well as research on the Internet. Naturally, she is an enthusiast in worldwide communication through Whatsapp.

I have observed her total immersion into her phone, just like so many others, to the extent that every second that is spare is used to text or to do someting or the other with the phone. Even when we are sitting and watching television she is only half watching the program. With her second eye she is following something on her phone.

It is common to observe people who enter a restaurant to seat themselves around a table, and out comes the mobiles. There was a time when people wanted immediate attention from the wait staff, now it is difficult to get anyone to give their order. People walk in the street with their heads down texting as they go. More than one person has walked to their death that way, simply unaware of what they are doing. I watched two drivers at a red light. They were both focused on their phones when the light changed to green, and then back to red without being noticed.

My wife lost her phone. She was equally completely lost. It was as though the major portion of her personality was missing as she experienced withdrawal symptoms. The tension from that spreads throughout the family and friends and nothing else matters but to find the damn phone. The nearest thing I can imagine would be to have your pet cat or dog whom you love, to wander off. At least they don't carry valuable information with them. They just carry your heart.

A mobile phone is such  a small thing. It is entirely portable and very easily stolen or lost. I think the option of uploading everything onto the cloud is something that everyone should do because over the years so much data is created that not to do so is very dangerous.

My wife had attended a special concert where it was essential that mobiles were placed on silence. So trying to locate her phone through calling it did not work. It was finally found, having fallen from her bag and become wedged in a perfect hiding place in the car. The stress caused to her, (and to me) during its absence was overwhelming.

I don't own a Smartphone, but who am I kidding, I will buy one eventually, as I seem to be living in a world all alone with my fliptop. I ask that you remind me not to become so absorbed as everyone else, but that may be asking too much. I must, at least, upload everything to the cloud.

Copyright (c) 2015  Eugene Carmichael

Saturday, December 12, 2015

An American Dictator President

Should the American electorate ever mistakenly elect for its president a person who is bullheaded, racist, misogynist, ignorant, illiterate, medically insane, un-diplomatic, and worst of all, dictatorial, how much damage could such a person do, and how would America get rid of him?

This question is part of a much wider question, because most Western governments are structered in the same way. At the top there is the President, or Prime Minister, or Premier, and that person has a Cabinet that is comprised of Secretaries, or Ministers. Those people hold great power and are usually well taken care of. However, they serve at the pleasure of the person at the top. Failure to support the chief can be expected to lead to those dreaded words, "You're Fired!"

I think what generally hapens in most countries is that the person at the top, whom I will call the CEO, chooses a policy directive which is then supported by the cabinet and the members of Parliament, if the same party holds a majority.

A classic example of this was the sitting president at the time who wanted to bring about regime change in Iraq. This was an unpopular directive that brought American forces into harm's way, which many thought was based on a pretext. Since the war people are more outspoken against that action, but the fact remains that America was dragged into a war that it did not want to be involved in.

Was that something that happened as a result of a dictatorial decree?

It is possible that in America a president dictator, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of all the armed forces could seek , with the assistance of The Secretary of Defence, to divert those forces for his own purposes, and to turn them against the population of America.

That seems to be a close existing reality when we consider that many police forces in the country have extensive military munitions, and under the Homeland Security powers many freedoms once held no longer exists. Certainly, the armed forces can be deployed within the country to face a domestic threat, and those can possibly be manufactured at will. 

How can the excesses of such a loose cannon in the White House be controlled? Fortunately, under the Constitution a sitting president can be fired if members of the Senate and the House of Representatives deem appropriate. They effectively fired Richard Nixon, and they sought to fire Bill Clinton.

However, before that could happen the Commander-in-Chief could issue orders to the armed forces that could be directly counter to the interests of the country. It would take some very determined generals to say no. It is also why so many people think they need to posses so many guns and ammunition so that if an attempt was made to control the country by a dictator president, who would clearly be a megalomanic, they would be ready to fight their own armed forces.

The choice of who to elect as president, or Prime Minister or Premier is a weighty one with awesome possibilities, both good and bad.  It is one of the most serious responsibilities a voter can have.

Copyright (c) 2015   Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Oscar Pistorious. Finally !

What a peculiar ole broad is Lady Justice. We can have a straight forward case where something happens that is not complicated, but by the time prosecution and defence get done making a mess of it all, everybody is confused.

The Appeal Court of South Africa has declared that Oscar is guilty of murder; that is to say, the unlawful taking of a human life, with malice aforethought.

I held from the start that if I find that there is a person in my house, and if I go and get my gun with the intention of killing that person, I had better have compelling evidence that I had no other option to neutralize the threat, if it was a threat, than to kill that person.

In the defence that was presented, Oscar said that there was someone in his toilet and that he fired four bullets through the door in the intention of killing that person who he considered was a threat to him. For all he knew the person might have simply dropped in to have a shit. I could not understand why he was charged with simple manslaughter. Of course it was an act of murder, clear and simple.

This was South African law, so I assumed that things work differently there, but under common sense law if I aim a gun at another person and deliberately pull the trigger and I send a bullet into a vital organ(s), I have committed an act of murder. Even careless handling of a gun that is discharged, killing someone might be considered an act of murder if we should have known what the outcome would be.

I cannot say that this is what happened in this case, but the often repeated senario goes as follows: an argument breaks out between man and woman. It escalates with the woman running off to the bathroom and locking the door. She is followed by the man who bangs on the door, shouting "open this door!" Now the original argument is forgotten by the man. He is simply royally pissed off that the woman has locked the door.  "I will break this door down!" he declares.

I have been in this situation a couple of times. The first time I didn't handle things all that well. I stayed at the door banging and yelling. Eventually things calmed down and we made up. The second time when she went into the toilet I said, "Well, I'm going out!" I went out, and while I did have a couple of drinks, which might have made things much worse when I got back home, in fact I had such a good time while at the club the argument was forgotten by the time I got home.

This could be all the difference between living in a country that allows its citizens to own guns, or not. The argument that ends in the small hours of the morning with a slap, where there is no gun in the house, perhaps ends in someone lying dead on the kitchen floor if a gun is handy.

Finally, Justice has been done. I am personally saddened for both families because one family has lost their young daughter, and Oscar, a person who overcame such an overwhelming disability has ruined his life and a very promising career. For me he was the pin-up boy that said, "Never give Up!"

It's all so sad!

Copyright (c) 2015  Eugene Carmichael

Saturday, November 28, 2015

African Perspectives: Current and Future

Recently I tuned into a BBC Town Hall meeting which featured a panel consisting a senior physcian/ U.N. High Commissioner; a highly experienced Rwandan Adminitrator, who we will call Louise; and a Lady High Court Judge. These three represented the thinking of future Africa. Historical and current thinking were represented by an opposition political member of Parliament, and one of the loveliest ladies who was perfectly serious in her thinking, but I'm afraid I was so taken with her I didn't get her credentials. I'll call her Marion.

Members of the audience who had been previously chosen put their questions which covereed the following subjects: The status of women in society; The Bride Price; Polygimous marriage; the continuing practice of Female Genital Mutilation; and the prospects for the future of women in Africa.

In my opinion this was probably a broadcast that was inspired by President Obama who had much to say on African traditions and customs that never had any real value to begin with, but that in the 21st century have no place at all. Yet these traditions are honoured as though they were written in stone.

Upon close analysis, not all of the above customs fail to stand the test of modern times. The Future Thinkers were in agreement that the status of women in general throughout Africa leaves a great deal to be desired. In fact it can be said to be scandalous. A lot of work needs to be done in this area, starting first with the men. However, on the subject of Polygimous marriages we have to ask the question: why would a woman want to be the second, third or fourth wife? Can anyone be happy in such a union? I know the man sees lots of ever ready sex available to him, and as this panders to the way in which men are wired it will be tempting. However, the reality must be a very different matter.

The Bride Price is quite controversial because in practice a family try to get as much as they can from a prospective son-in-law, so it really does sound a lot like the selling of the bride. Having said that, many other cultures are guilty of this attitude as well.

Clearly, the subject of the evening was going to be Female Genital Mutilation. Lovely Ms. Marion said that as a young child her mother spared her from the operation as she was too young to choose. When she turned 21 she felt that this was something she should undergo under proper conditions. (Bloody Hell!)  Consequently she requested the operation be carried out, and she was there to say that it is not nearly as bad as critics seem to think, and that she does not consider it a mutilation.

The esteemed physcian pointed out that in his opinion we should call it mutilation; senseless mutilation, and having been presented in his profesional capacity with many complications he had never seen one that was even competently completed. As humans we are constructed in a certain way. True, we men have one or two pieces of equipment that are surplus to requirements, but in general are bodies are perfect. The cutting off of perfectly healthy tissue, when you don't even know why you are doing it is the height of stupidity. Then, when things go wrong, as in the case of botched circumcisions on infants, the problem lasts a lifetime.

The program ended on a hopeful note with the agreement of everyone on the panel, including Ms. Marion, that attitudes are changing towards women and that the future will quite naturally mean more respect and involvement in all levels for them.

From my point of view, I think we just have to believe that. Women are the last major class of oppressed citizens, and supposedly enlightened men find reasons for paying them less than their true value. That is an embarrassement for us all.

"Until we are all free, none of us are free."

Copyright (c) 2015  Eugene Carmichael


Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Sexy-Less Woman

A beautiful woman is just that. She turns heads when she passes, and in spite of the golden rule of not judging a book by its cover, our first impression as men is that we want her. The fact is that every woman is a beautiful woman in the eys of the man who finds value in her. In fact, the woman whose beauty is on the surface should be less desirable than the ordinary woman. It's tough having a woman who is stunningly beautiful because you know that every man wants her for himself.

When she says she is going to the hairdressers, do you believe her? When she says she is having lunch with her girlfriend, should you believe her? This causes insecurity and leads to discord in the relationship.

As young men and women, we are programmed instinctively to search out someone with whom to procreate the species. Women are more selective than men. We are the lions of the human world, and if we had our choice we would go about sowing our seeds indiscrimately. For us this is a major problem because life doesn't work that way. Once we help to start a new life, consideration must be given to its care and maintenance. In the Western world the norm is that one man and one woman should come together and rasie a family.

Although I'm talking about the relationships between a man and a woman, the same can be said about same-sex couples. They want the same things, although with some modifications on how to go about getting it.

The point I'm getting at is that a man is driven by his sexual urge and his whole life is about sex. In fact, it is to such an extent that it becomes a real problem, as we've seen in some well publicised cases.

Then, all of a sudden the urge just stops. You may be surrounded by women but somehow they've changed. Your eyes still see what there is to see. Beautiful faces, lovely boobs, hips and bums that move ever so jelly-like, but there's something seriously missing. There's no stirring in the groin, no panting wish to posses her, no nothing. You simply say, "Hello", without having to think of the follow up line that catches her attention.

As a man you have spent your life doing your bit to procreate in your image, but now your time has come to relax. Well done, my son. It's time to hang up your skates and let the younger generation take over the responsibility. So now, women no longer have to be pursued by you. Early in my life every girl I spent time with resulted in sex before the evening was over. Then came change. I spent an evening with a lovely person, and at the point where I would start my seduction I said to her, "would you mind if we simply said goodnight at this point. I would really like to have sex with you, but let's get to know one another a little better."  She replied, with evident relief, "that's a very good idea!"  For the rest of the night I asked myself, " what just happened??"

Now that we are a lot older, when the urge leaves us we change from being the eternal sex machine to a simple decent human being. At first, some of us may look at things slightly different, such as wishing that our Pilates teacher would give the class naked. Or perhaps the woman police office who arrested us did so in her panties and bra. But in time we get over that.

This is the time in our lives when women become unsexy. They become people who are talented and intelligent and capable of achieving great things. Not once do they have to bother about doing the sex thing, and we respect them.

Then, there's that group who are never contented. That's that viagra generation who say,"shucks, I'm just getting started."  I guess hope springs eternal.

Copyright (c) 2015  Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, November 15, 2015

"A Tale too terrible to Tell."

I have spent a wonderful week in Munich, Bavaria, Germany attending a business Launch for Forever Green, in Europe. This is a tale that would be wonderful to tell, should I do so, but in planning to attend it never crossed my mind for a nano-second that Munich is the city that gave birth to the Nazi party, and Dachau is the concentration camp that served as the model for all the concentration camps that followed.

I know the story of Dachau, but I only realised where I was upon noting that the town of Dachau is a stop along the S2 metro line. I won't ask you to imagine my surprise when I discovered this, but being so close I gave in to temptation and paid a visit to the site. I was certain it would be emotive for me as I had no idea of what to expect, so many years since it was closed.

Dachau is a fully functiong town, as it always has been. Imagine having your mail sent to you at an address in Dachau. I got off the train only to find that there was absolutely no mention of the concentration camp. There is no visitor's centre, no special buses to the camp, no acknowledgement that the camp even exists nearby.

In fact, the regular bus, number 726 passes the camp and the fare is 1.40 euros one way. Entrance to the camp is free, and it is sufficiently signposted and explained that a person can follow his own tour, which is what I did.

I will not go into any detail here about what went on there. I have borrowed the title from Dachau's own literature, which I found to be true. It really is a part of history that is so awful it would be more convenient to not remember. However, we must never forget because, in spite of being a thoroughly discredited philosphy, there is always the Neo-Nazis standing in the wing. If we forget we run the risk of it all happening again.

To visit Dachau and to pass through the gates with the inscription, "Arbeit Nacht Frei", (Freedom through work) is to descend into the pit of hell. I felt the sting of evil even before I reached the metro stop, and now my heart was pounding and I was muttering explictives over and over again.

We must remember that the police and customs, and other controlling bodies are a draw for people who have tendencies towards controlling other people. That is not to say that all personnel engaged in these types of work are control freaks, but it is likely there will be a number of people who will make this their life's work. When you add to the mix the top administration whose policy is total hatred, that lets loose the devil. For instance, in what they called "The Bunker" there were cells that were used to lock up SS men who failed to show the right spirit. They got beat up and then sent back in with the command, now get it right this time.

The common concept is that concentration camps were used only for Jews. They certainly got the worst of the hatred, but all manner of people were locked up, including other Germans who opposed the Nazis, Gypsies, homosexuals, and other undesireables. However, except for in the beginning before all the real sick stuff started, Dachau seems to have only dealt with men.

In following my way around the camp and reading the descriptions of what went on, I felt drained of my energy, and my body went into spasmodic shock from time to time. In what was described as the interrogation room I placed my hand against the wall and the negative energy that came to me was so powerful I came as close as one can to a full collapse, without collapsing.

As I toured the musuem the sound of voices in despair seemed to follow me. I didn't realise it until about halfway through, yet, as I stood still and listened the sound was not coming from a speaker. I rubbed my hand over the walls, and I closely held the whipping bench. I held on to the bunk beds that had held so many suffering and starving men. I paused at the eating tables and looked from the windows, and I felt such despair and hopelessness. All but two of the barracks have been destroyed. These are for demonstration purposes.

The site was formerly a massive factory complex, complete with high walls that completely encircled the property. I have no idea of how close the neighbours were in 1933, but today the neighbours are right up to the walls. As we walk towards the back of the property we would have come to The Planation, an herb garden that the commandant ran, with inmate work, that he cared very much about. Today, as a counterpoint to all the evil that still overlays this place, there are five religious organisations represented with welcoming space for adherents to rest, contemplate, and to pray.

There is also a single huge bell that chose three-fifteen to sound, just as I was next to it. The sound broke the absolute silence and frightened me out of my wits. I actually ran from it, so startled was I, but I was not alone in doing so. At lease it gave us a welcome laugh.

At the very end are located the cremortoriums, the memorials, and the shooting range where live targets were used. I made the mistake of passing into the disrobing assembly room where people prepared to enter the shower room. I then entered that room, and all I can say is that its a good thing I'm a sturdy person because that was where the people were gassed to death, and the next room was where all the bodies were dragged, preparatory to being thrown into the fire.

I apologize for including this, but so integral was this to what went on that it would have been a lie to leave it out. After experiencing this I needed a half hour  to sit and build up the energy to walk out the gate that I had entered by.

We must remember that so much horror and evil was committed simply because they could. It seems to have been a matter of doing something even worse than the thing you did before. On a scale of horror of 1 to 100, with 100 being the worst of man's inhumanity to man, I place Dachau, and all the other camps I've read about, at 98.9. I simply am leaving room for what is likely to come. As I write this the story of Friday night in Paris is still very fresh in the news where 129 people were slaughtered while going about their business.

I have said before, the human race has become so unbalanced with more evil than good, there must be something coming soon that will correct it.

That will be such a shame because we are naturally living longer with much more quality of life. Trust mankind to make a mess of things just when life is getting better and longer.

Copyright (c) 2015  Eugene Carmichael 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Playboy: No nudes and no prudes

When it comes to Playboy I am super opinionated. I can claim to have bought the first issue, which blew my mind and changed so many views and opinions about sex and women, it would be very difficult for anyone to fully quantify the damage to society.

Before Playboy, my view of women was that they were a very special mystery, and that they deserved my respect. You see, my mother was a woman and I respected her. In my society women were held on a pedestal. They dressed very conservativly, and they behaved that way as well.

The Muslim society today treat their women in the same way. By covering themselves from head to toe they are available only for their husbands to view their bodies. It has never even occurred to me that such a woman might be well built and sexy. They are invisible as women, as they glide by going about their business.

But there they were, the women of Playboy, naked as the day they were born, revealing everything about themselves, and I couldn't get enough. There was also the Playboy Man, and his lifestyle was something I was supposed to want to emulate. So, I started smoking Kool cigarettes, because it was Cool to smoke Kools. That lasted until Benson and Hedges introduced the Gold brand of cigarettes, lighters and the gold case: I bought it all. I was a Playboy Man.

Until I woke up, looked around and wondered what the hell I was doing.

I threw away the cigarettes, lighter and case, and I started to question whether having so many beautiful women in my face was actually better than when they were a mystery. I've since  decided that I was on a journey of dimishing returns where less was more. It got to a point when I explained that I bought the magazine for the articles and the stories. All that beauty finally led to me becoming jaded. Yes, I saw them as I leafed through in search of reading matter but I no longer dwelt on them. And that, apparently is what has happened to the majority of  would-be male readers.

 Playboy has finally got the message that they could only present cheesecake in so many ways before we all shriveled up and became bored. We have come full circle, and it all happened within Hugh Hefner's lifetime.

Now ladies, when we say we buy the magazine for the articles and the stories you are just going to have to believe us.

Copyright (c) 2015  Eugene Carmichael  

Sunday, November 1, 2015

To Die on your birthday: what does it mean?

Today is November 1st, All Saint's Day in Spain. It's the day when families visit their loved one's who have gone on before them. When I first came to Spain I was unaware of the tradition. I found myself passing a major cemetary on this day, which was overrun with people. I exclaimed, "Wow! Who died?" Well, everybody.

With this date approaching, the thought ocurred to me that surely there must be a record of people who actually died on their birthdays. I wondered whether such an occurrance would be rare or not, so I went on Google to look for answers.

Google has recorded well-known people who inadvertently combined their birthday with their death day. At the top of the list we find William Shakespeare. He was born on April 23, 1564 and died on April 23, 1616. The problem is that there is some doubt about his birthday, but generally it is accepted. Ingrid Bergman, the actress, also has that distinction, having been born in Sweden on August 29, 1915, and died the same month and day, in 1982.

We all have a one in 365 chance of ending our lives on our birthday. Apparently, statistically, once we cross over the age 65 threshold the likelihood of dying on our birthday grows increasingly with each passing year. There are heart attacks and strokes possibly waiting for us, or just simple things like falling down. And then, there are suicides, as many people despair with advancing age and choose to end their lives on their birthdays.

Perhaps the most outstanding person to hold this distinction was Astrid Zachrison of Sweden who lived to a splendid age of 113 years exactly. She was born on May 15th, 1895 and passed away in 2008 while celebrating yet another milestone. There is something very poetic about that, but also a word of warning: don't overdue the celebrating.

I found a long list of people on Google, and these were just the well-known ones, so I suppose in actual fact it happens quite a lot. There are also several examples of people who died on their birthdays, but were revived. One woman has died several times over her lifetime, but was always revived, including one time she sprang back to life just minutes before being opened up for an autopsy. She is still alive today.

What does it mean?  In the Jewish faith The Talmud teaches that Moses died on his 120th birthday, so this has meaning to Jews, but under the Catholic faith no particular significance is given.

Call me an old romantic, however in my opinion it closes the circle perfectly, leaving nothing left over or undone. It seems to suggest that such was a perfect life that was lived and ended with precision. No wonder there were two people from Sweden in my examples. Also, no wonder Sweden is the country that produces my beloved, precision-made Volvo!

Copyright (c) 2015  Eugene Carmichael 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The face of Justice

There is a country, among many, that was once called a paradise. That was before the advent of recreational drugs, and the siren song to the young men that working at a normal job was to work for chump change. They fell in line and traded drugs for massive incomes, but before long jealousy took over and they started to fight among themselves. They reduced their living space from a maximum of thirty-five kilometres to less than a thousand meters.

Than out came the guns and they started to kill one another. These were supposed to be the future leaders and husbands, but one by one they ended their lives on a cold slab, in jail, or they ran off to England.

It is a sad thing to witness; however, my son has been out of the country during this period and has, thankfully, avoided the whole sad scenario. There has only been one thing worse to observe than the war between gangs, and that is when one soldier falls out with his own gang, and they turn on him.

I know first hand how this feels. As a very young lad I fell in with a group of other young guys. We didn't do anything illegal, except one of the boys used his grandmother's needles to inject oranges with vodka which he then shared with the group during the morning recess. I was always pissed as a lord for my mathematics class, although I still went on to become an accountant.

My father made me an ultimatum to get an education and to stop hanging out with those losers. When I tried to break away they turned on me with a vengence. That is another story, but the story we are following is what happened when his own gang thought that our lead player was an informant for the police. They set out to assassinate him, which they did with extreme prejudice. The assassin was brought to justice and sentenced to serve time in prison for the rest of his life.

He is a young man of 21 years who must serve at least 35 years before he can be considered for parole. He will be 56 years old by then, so the question arises, why would he even want freedom at that time. He would have to make his own way at a time when absolutely no one will hire him.

In my opinion, this is a classic case of justice. The assassin deliberately took the life of his former colleague, and now he has to forfeit the quality of his own life. To put him to death would simply release him from what he must now face. I assume he would not have been fazed by facing a death sentence. After all, he understands killing.

This case illustrates so well that applying the death penalty is stupid and barbaric. To kill to make the point that killing is wrong is just dopey. Plus, when mistakes are made that convict the wrong person, if that person is put to death then the State commits murder.

One thing more: the argument that the taxpayer has to foot the bill is irrelevant because we will always have full prisons with full staffs, all of which must be paid for. Some of the inmates will be murderers and others will be lesser offenders. That's life.

Copyright (c) 2015  Eugene Carmichael 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Danger! Unbalanced World!

The world functions best when all is in balance. What that means is that all forms of life are instinctive or intelligent and make their own decisions to do good or evil. Specifically, with regard to the world of humans, we are capable of making decisions based on right or wrong, good or evil. Many people ask, "Why does God allow people to do such evil deeds?" The answer is that individuals make up their own minds, but for every act of cruelty there should be an act of kindness that offsets it. For every thing of beauty there is something ugly. For every destructive act there should be something constructive.  If God were an accountant he would be using the double entry system in keeping the books.

Down through the ages we have seen examples of what happens when things become unbalanced, country by country.  Many leaders and countries no longer exist because their goverance went off the rails and they were destroyed.

We have history that describes two world wars that were caused by meglomaniacs, and in fighting those wars we saw the worst of man's inhumanity to man. For a time we have moved toward civility, even having reached the lofty heights during the administration of President Reagen when the relationship between the two superpowers, America and Russia had warmed to such a degree, that it could be said, Peace reigned Supreme!

Since those wonderful days it has all turned pear shaped. Right around the world groups and individuals have engaged in raw acts of sheer evil that has no redeeming qualities at all. The frequency of offensive acts is such that the news media are unable to keep up. Violence is the new religion, to the extent that horrible things now happen without unduly disturbing some people.

Murder, assasination, kidnap, rape, knifings, shootings, theft, muggings, bombings, sexual assault, incest, sexual abuse of children, cheating spouses, slavery, bank theft by the banks themselves; home repossesions, car repossesions, home breakins; daylight drive-by shootings; the killing of many people while they were at prayer meeting, in the movies, having a meal, were in class,  while in church, while shopping for food in supermarkets or markets and at the mall, while travelling on public transport, including by airplane. We have murder by police, gang killings between themselves that kill innocent bystanders; people who are killed for refusing to join a gang, and people who want out of a gang who are killed. Drug dealing crimes, and there is institutional grand theft of land and property, because they can. There is rampant corruption in politics and governance on a mega scale.

The list goes on and on to the extent that the world order is no longer balanced. Mother Nature does not sit still for this state of affairs. We all remember the dinosaurs and how they ran rampant over the earth. Something had to be done, and it was. Now we only have Steven Speilbergs dinosaurs. Given past history I feel sure that something will be done to re-set the platform because mankind is asking for whatever is in store.

When it comes there will be no hiding place. Just don't be surprised!

Copyright (c) 2015  Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sleep! Glorious Sleep!

I parked in front of an apartment block, and right in front of me on the first floor, (the one above the ground floor) there was a large sign displayed on the balcony of one of the apartments. It stated:

"Please! We have lived here for eight years and we have never had a solid night's sleep because of you. Please have consideration and go and play elsewhere."  The apartment next to it displayed a For Sale sign.

How important is it to be able to go to bed at a usual time and to get a good night's rest? Personally, I take this for granted. Even the dogs in my neighbourhood are generally quiet as we all go off to dreamland.

We recall that Michael Jackson's problem was his inability to sleep to the extent that extreme measures were taken to try and help him. Unfortunately those measures worked too well in his case. Spain is a country that learned long ago about the value of the siesta. In many other countries if you take a nap during the day you must be an old person. In Spain, everybody takes a siesta if they can. The health benefit of resting, especially during the long hot days of Summer, are legend. Anyway, when the sun goes down the country comes alive. 

To have your lunch and be able to let your chin sink to your chest and fall asleep is wonderful. The culture even mandates that all phone calls be held until 5 o'clock. What a civilised country this is!

I find one of the fastest ways to lull myself to sleep during the day is to sit in front of the tv. Within minutes of the talking heads telling me of the news I fall into a deep sleep. Sometimes, just as I'm about to slip away the announcer starts saying something really interesting, but too late, I'm gone.

There are times when the neighbours are still very active, especially the children diving and splashing and screaming in the pools. You might think that would keep me awake. Nope! It has the same effect as sitting in front of the tv.

If you walk into the room and you see that I'm asleep with the tv on, please don't turn it off. I'll awake and say, "Hey! I was watching that!"

Copyright (c) 2015  Eugene Carmichael 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Is winning everything?

I am a long term member of Toastmasters, the self-help organisation that assists the individual to develop and refine his sense and skill in communicating effectively and persuasively. The skill to do so is something that we have to work at, it does not come as a talent. It's also one of those things that if not maintained through practise and rehearsal is soon lost.

I have just attended one of our conferences where members from different area clubs come together to observe styles and levels of expertise, and to compete for awards that result in the declaration that this one is a winner of this, and that one is a winner of that. This appeals to the competitive nature in lots of people, but frankly, I find it offensive that people who are in training are effectively told you are not as brilliant as I am.

It could be that I am not a good loser, but in spite of that I do not join in the festivities to be judged above my fellow students. Being together in large groups like this and spending time learning from one another is really great fun and just plain instructional. We make good friends and grow our network. What does it mean to be judged: First in Class? Well, I got a certificate and a very nice bottle of red wine. I'm sure I will enjoy the wine but the certificate means absolutely nothing to me.

How would it work if we simply had the same challenges without anyone judging us? The audience can certainly decide whose presentation they liked, and the speakers do get evaluated at club level as to how their speeches were received, so they have a good idea of how they are progressing. The real value of presenting your own work in a major congress is the experience you gain.

The simple fact that you are prepared to work hard to develop your skill makes you a winner, and in that regard, everybody is a winner. Enough said?

Copyright (c) 2015  Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, September 27, 2015

An Active Mind

In a few short days I am due to celebrate my 76th birthday. The projection at my birth was that my maximum life expectancy was to age 47. So said the Actuaries, taking into account where I was born and my access to good health care. It's good that they are not always correct, although for many of my contemporaries they were indeed proved, sadly correct.

At age 76 I am firmly in denial. My place is supposed to be with my age group, spending leisurely days at the retirement home for seniors in day care, playing cards, and dominoes, and chatting away the time. I just don't see that happening. I feel no more than 55, and rather than to spend my time with the old folks, I have places to go, people to see, and things to do.

Having said all that, this week I attended a concert where the average age of the musicians was about 70. The band was all male, except one sole young woman, and one young man. They presented a full two-hour concert, in two parts with completed works by Spanish composers. It was wonderful to see all of these men conduct themselves with confidence, both on the stage and off. While their average age may well have been about 70, I think that they, like myself were all, in our heads about 55.

I recall as a young man being seriously impressed by a classical pianist who gave a one-man concert at the age of 90. He walked on the stage with vigor, gave his concert, including delightful comments to the audience, just as though he were a young artist. It occurred to me then that to keep ourselves young we should have something to focus our mind on that makes us grow. The key is growth, because in life we never stand still. We are either growing or diminishing. Even simply liiving in a foreign land with a language to learn means growth. You learn something new everyday.

It was wonderful to enjoy proof of this theory. I think I am on the right track. This may be something to bear in mind as we all grow older and older.

Copyright (c) 2015  Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Power of a Smile

When I wrote my last blog, "World Noise" I was truly in a very dark place. I rarely allow world events to grind me down to that level, but there I was, thoroughly depressed. There is much to be depressed about, but such things are beyond my control. I have to remember the Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." That part about having the wisdom is really important, but when you see so much human suffering it is emotive, and as a simple human being, I just can't seem to be unaffected.

Ever since  I arrived here in Spain we have had images of Africans washing up on the shores, having drowned at sea in their quest for a better life. In many cases they were simply trying to remain alive as they fled despots who would have killed them on the spot. They were the trickle before the flood. All that they were trying to do was to get to the place in which I had arrived in the comfort of an airplane.

So, yes, there is a world of uncomfortable noise that surrounds you and me, and I accept that from time to time it will get to me. My task was to pull myself up and shake it off. The day after I wrote the blog, I was driving down my estate road when I saw coming the other way a man on a pedal cycle. I have been seeing this man for the past eleven years. I don't know his name, but he always reminds me of Robin Williams, and he always smiles a Robin-esque smile. I always feel good after I see him.

In my native Bermuda we have Johnny Barnes, a man who for decades has greeted people on their way to work with a huge smile and a "I love you!" It is impossible to arrive at work in a bad mood after that.

During the week I have deliberately tuned out the negative, allowing space for only positive sound bytes. I have found there are many which lifted me and kept my spirits high. The owner of a dog that constantly barked, day and night, said, "Don't listen to him!" Well, I have turned the sound down on the negative, and up on the positive.

Today, I feel good! 

Copyright (c) 2015  Eugene Carmichael 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

World Noise!

My principal sources of world news are: TVE, Channel 1, Spain, CNN, BBC, The Royal Gazette of Bermuda, and The Costa Levante News of Spain. It occurs to me that all these sources are in the business of reporting a lot of noise. They simply don't report much, if any news of a happy nature. What passes for news are those events that involve corruption, death, murder, rape, theft, political mismanagement, refugees, drownings, assassinations, drugs, gang wars, police killings, incest, slavery, prostitution, extreme weather,  forest fires, war, local conflicts, floodings, kidnappings, economic and financial disasters, among every other form of perversion and negativity we can think of; and now, we even have had a news reporter murdered while on a live over-the-air television feed. At least she was reporting on a simple non-controversial local event.  What a sick world we are all a part of, and the news has become the new pornography.

So, why on earth do I sit myself down in front of the television and let all of this crap wash over me every night. Why do I buy the papers or go on-line? It's all so depressing, and addictive, I have to wonder what effect this is having on me, and you? Why don't I simply turn off the news and content myself with watching people make love to one another. At least they are not trying to kill one another, or even to hurt one another...much!

A picture of a little dead boy lying drowned on a beach in Turkey, and the thousands of economic and war refugees enduring so much hardship; and now, the latest sad news is of a mother, in my native Bermuda who has been found guilty of murdering a sixteen-year old boy by deliberately crashing him over the head with a baseball bat.

According to the boy's mother, he was her only shining light and was full of hope for her, but there was another side to him that acted out when she was not around.  That was a dark side of gross disrespect to the public at large. He certainly seemed to have needed a strong hand, but that hand came from his neighbour, but it was too strong and now he is dead, and his killer, a mother of three, will have to spend a great number of years behind bars. It is almost incalculable how many lives have been totally messed up as a result.

Watching world events is like watching a slow moving disaster. I just can't seem to turn away. What's worse, I choose entertainment programs that re.enact these events for my "pleasure." What's up with that?

I have to ask, has the whole world gone mad? Are we totally off our collective minds and just don't realise it? Living as we do surrounded by the constant noise of so much ill-will cannot be deemed normal. It just isn't!

That's the way it is on this day, the 13th day of September, 2015.

Copyright (c) 2015  Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Lonesome Billionaire

A man who is a billionaire has complained that in spite of the many friends and people in general who surround him, he feels isolated and loney. How can this be? If such a person wants to simply talk at any time, there will be someone of his choosing available to talk. If he wants someone to love him, there will surely be any number of people of his choosing who will be available to put their heart and soul into convincing him that he is loved.

Through the use of the pre-nuptial agreement he can even wed and raise a family while safeguarding his fortune. So, what could possibly be the problem?

I don't have the definitive answer to that question, but I do have some thoughts: Firstly, I believe that the gentleman in question has a lot of company across all social lines. This calls into question the dynamics of how attraction works between partners. From a man's viewpoint we are driven by the visual. We are told over and over again not to judge a book by its cover, but we see a woman who has the type of cover that turns us on, and right away we have to have her. Mistakes are made, sometimes lasting for life. I believe that women place a little more criteria on their sense of choice, but mistakes are also made, some of which turn out to be deadly. (Thirty-six women have been killed by their partners this year in Spain.)

Through my own experience with a wealthy woman I have an idea of the kind of problem money imposes on choosing and maintaining a mate.  We like to think that our partner's interest in us is based soley on our personality, but having said that we do tend to draw attention to our finer points.

The woman who dresses to reveal her best charms, such as the deep cut blouse, and/or the short shorts draws attention to those parts of her, and the man who wants to meet her because he likes what he sees, will want to get his hands on her. The man who deliberately shows off his wealth can be sure that the woman who is attracted by it will want to get her hands on it.

In my own case, many years ago I met a woman who seemed perfectly ordinary, and over a period of time, through the exchange of ideas and opinions I came to really adore her. I had no idea at all that she was wealthy because she lived in America and I lived in Bermuda. The time came when, evidently she decided that I needed to know something of her background, and so she told me what I needed to know.

Apparently, this had been a long standing problem for her because when she did this the guy would instantly realise that he was in love with her. In my case it was a complete turnoff. I read many years ago that if a man falls in love with a woman for her money, he will be made to earn every penny, every day. As I drew away from her she practically lost her mind, making me all sorts of offers to develop a relationship. They were wonderful offers, but the sad truth was that in every case she held the purse strings. For the sake of my own ego and sense of dignity I went my own way, doubting my sanity as I went.

What she needed was a relationship with someone from her own financial strata. It probably would not be something genuine, but such is the price of living in those lofty heights. Ironically, the social level where relationships are likely to be formed most honestly is at the bottom layer. The man will still be attracted by what he sees, but the woman might be short or tall, thin or stocky, beautiful or homey; but to her he will be just himself, as he will not have anything of a material nature as a distraction. If this couple are lucky they might build up some assets and have a nice life together.

At least their foundation will be built on honesty and solid ground. No-one of great wealth can be sure of that, so I think it's wonderful that we who have not much have a reason to feel better than the super rich.

Copyright (c) 2015  Eugene Carmichael

Saturday, August 29, 2015

A Crisis of Epic Proportions

Those of us who live in Europe have a human crisis, and no-one is quite sure what to do about it. We have a human migration where people of Africa and the Middle East are moving into Europe like a growing human tsunami. I am an immigrant to Europe, although I am not seen as such as I arrived legally on an airplane holding a British passport. At the time that I arrived there were Africans landing on the beaches in search of a better economic life.

I always wondered who those people were. From what we understood large sums of money had been paid to the people traffickers, so they must have been people from subtantial levels of society in their homelands. In many African countries when a change of government occurs the new opposition lays bare a number of people who will simply be killed by the new intolerant administration. Those people will do well to flee for their lives.

Then came the Arab Spring and that has led to constant movement within a number of countries. We in Europe have no real idea of what is taking place on the ground. People are drowning themselves and they are dying in the desert to get away from a hell that only they know. We can't even begin to imagine what they have left behind.

Those people who are fleeing Syria are genuine war refugees. That we understand, but whether you are getting away from the Assad regime or some warlord, the end result is just the same if you are caught up in the're just as dead.

For years bodies have been fished from the Mediterranean waters, but the latest abomination is that a refrigeration truck, left parked along a highway yielded 71 dead bodies, including 4 children. Seventy-one people climbed into this truck that clearly had no ventilation, and allowed the driver to close the doors and lock them. With that simple action he deliberately snuffed out the lives of all those people. They say that desperate people do desperate things. None of us can even begin to understand this.

Some Europeans are behaving in the most shameful manner towards the migrants, particularly in Germany. However, it is a bewildering sight to have hundreds, if not thousands of people crossing your backyard. These are humans whose lives matter. They have nothing, not even a home.

The good news is that Europe actually does need more people. The question is how to turn these newcomers into productive members of society?

Copyright (c) 2015 Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Ashley Madison. Life is Short. Have an Affair.

A little over 50 years ago I walked into a hotel cocktail bar where The Woman, a stranger to me, was sitting alone at the bar. I went over to her and said, "Well, hello there!" She replied, "Absolutely, Yes! Let's go!" Slack-jawed, I followed. On the short walk to her room she said, "These are the rules of engagement: I don't want to know anything about you, and I don't want you to know anything about me. Let's just go to my room and get busy."

I have often thought of her and that encounter. That was when my education began.
To begin with, I had always thought that I was a seducer of women, when the truth was that I chased them until they caught me. Secondly, women need sex as much as men, (and sometimes more so when they are trying to get pregant) because we are both programmed to at least replace ourselves. Men are wired to lay down our seed as much as possible. It really doesn't matter whether the woman is beautiful or homely, short or tall, thin or stocky, our natural drive is to pass our seed.

Somewhere along the way the morality police came into being, and in today's Western society we are supposed to confine ourselves to one woman in the building of our family.

Enter Ashley Madison! Life is short. Have an Affair.
This flies in the face of everything we think of as moral, and frankly, is just plain offensive. I can see why the hacktivists targeted A.M. because it is just so in your face. I am a bit surprised that the culture of seeking a mate via a website has been so successful. Before computers people met one another the old fashioned way. There was work, church, social clubs, happy hour, etc. I believe meeting someone over the Internet is no less work.

There is no shortage of websites that try and bring people together. They thrive on testimonials from people who say they met each other on this or that on-line service and now they are married with family. However, a lot of the time people get together on-line to just plain have sex. But at least there is redeeming quality in most on-line sites.

So, why would a married man and woman reach out to have an affair?
The problem with life is that your relationship starts out fresh and passionate, but with the passing of time a cooling takes place. Men have always been the ones to seek outside passion. Tradionally we have always thought that sex was something that men did to women, but the fact is that once a woman casts off her inhibitions men have to step up our game just to keep pace. So, Ashley Madison sought to capitalize on the yearning for passion in one's life, and they were successful.

They also stood out like a red flag, thumbing their noses at society, encouraging, aiding and abetting people to break their vows and to throw trust to the winds. I imagine The Church would have been especially annoyed, so the destruction of this company will be greatly welcomed, and the 39 million people whose records are wide open for inspection will get no sympathy from anyone. However, it will change anything.

Life will go on. People will continue to seek passion from others in discreet ways. However, the truth is that the moment one partner has a one-night stand, the other will know about it. You tell your partner in lots of little ways, and it can't be avoided.

Men love sex, and women love good sex. Ideally, they want to be fully involved, not just some love object. Just as my encounter over fifty years ago taught me, we have our needs and when we are able to act out with a consenting adult, even if we know nothing about that person, it can be one of the most satisfying of experiences. However, if it is just for the moment, when its over it no longer has any meaning. (That's what men mean when they say, "it didn't mean anything.")  If it is done within the circle of love, to advance your love for one another, then its called making love, rather than simply having sex.

Here's a suggestion: Husband or wife, if you feel that your sexual relationship has grown stale and you yearn for passion from someone new, together, join a swingers club. There are many outlets for you to spice up this part of your life together. There is always the danger that you will get carried away with your emotions, but that might happen anyway. At least you won't be unfaithful and dishonest with one another.

The two most precious commodities in a marriage worth treasuring are Trust and Love. They should be preserved at all costs!

Copyright (c) 2015  Eugene Carmichael 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Wedding Traditions

I finally received an invitation to a Jewish wedding. There was a time in my life when I met and befriended many Jewish couples, but always they were on their honeymoons, so I never got to attend the wedding.

This wedding was held in the community of Wimbledon. The bride was the youngest of four sisters and the last to be married. No expense was spared and the event was a first class production. I was  very much impressed, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Just getting to the wedding was a whole story in itself as on that day the Ride London+100 mile took place that involved up to 80,000 cyclists, and we had to cross their path, on foot, three times. If you ask me, I think we must have had a death wish. That apart, I got to thinking about wedding traditions and customs. This arose because close friends attended a Hindu wedding a couple of days later, and we compared notes. Surprisingly, we discovered similarities between the two ceremonies that are different to Christian weddings.

In all three ceremonies it is customary that bride and groom do not see one another shortly before the wedding day. The language of the service is according to the religion: Hebrew, Sanskrit, and English or nationality.

In both the Jewish and Hindu ceremonies the couple stood on a raised stage under a canopy, while usually in British Christian ceremonies bride and groom and party are on the same level as the congregation.

In all three the bride is still, in these modern times, given away. I only mention this because modern young women are so independent I'm surprised they follow this tradition. After all, no one gives the groom to the bride.

The Hindu couple take seven steps, and the Jewish bride walks around her husband seven times. There is no similarity in the Christian service.

Hindu and Christian weddings usually take place inside a temple or a church, while Jewish weddings traditionally take place out of doors.

After being declared husband and wife the couple are showered as they pass along the line of well-wishers. Rice has been the preferred material but is hellish to clean up, so soft rose petals are generally used in all three situations.

At the celebrations that follow, both Jewish and Hindu couples were sat in chairs and hoisted by strong men and danced around the room. That simply doesn't happen in Christian weddings in England. Something to do with health and safety, no doubt.

As usual, when we do comparisons we find that we are more alike than we are different. Ours is a very small world and it really is better when we all get along.

Copyright (c) 2015  Eugene Carmichael

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 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Where shall we go for our vacation?

With Summer firmly upon us people are looking forward to spending their vacations abroad. With ever more problems afflicting the world, we were talking about safety being a factor when considering where to go. Tourists have come to grief in Egypt where they were specifically attacked; they have died and suffered as a result of being on a cruise ship; and they have been seriously inconvenienced due to strikes and political upheaval in various places.

Last week we were reacting to the barbaric action of a monster who took the lives of nine gentle people who were in prayer and bible study. Since then I have been concentrating on the role of the gun. It is the only article that is available for purchase by members of the public, the purpose for which is to kill living animals and people. A knife has many uses. It can be used to slice and to butter bread, and to do many things of a domestic nature. It can also be used to kill, but that would be extending its use beyond its principal purpose.

A gun has only one objective: to extinguish life. Everything else is leading up to that ultimate end. I have heard people say as part of the debates that inevitably follow gun outrageous that they do own a gun, but that they are responsible gun owners. What's that? You own a gun presumably so as to kill something or someone. In far too many cases, those responsible gun owners end up killing their own family members, by accident.

I also said in my blog from last week, the gun has killed people not only in prayer, but in many other walks of life where people were simply going about their daily live in peace. This week, June 26th, 2015, we have to reckon with the deaths of 39 people who were simply sunning themselves on a beach in Sousse, Tunisia. They were practically naked. You don't get less threatening than that. They were thirty-nine people who were visiting the resort area  in Tunisia, bringing trade to the country to make it possible for the country to thrive. They reacted to the invitation of the Tourist Council to come and enjoy our country. For that they were gunned down in absolute cold blood.

On the 18th March, 2015, an attack was also launched on tourists in Tunisia who were visiting the Bardo National Musuem. It was said that the attackers were part of an element who do not want visitors in Tunisia.  They killed 21 people in that incident, but yet the 39 people came to Tunisia anyway. Many people will wonder why they did that, having such a recent horrid example to think about.

I think that it's common thinking, following some tragic event, that the situation will be greatly tightened and now will be the safest time of all to go while security forces are on full alert.

 It may be time to discard that trend of thought.

With the world in such turmoil answering the question as to where to holiday has become a real crap shoot.

Copyright (c) 2015  Eugene Carmichael