Monday, June 23, 2008

Using, legally.

The City of Paradise is only a cultural desert if you are interested in buying original gear. Whatever you need can be gotten on the street for a price, usually one that is determined by the cost of mass-produced blank CD-Rs and DVD-Rs. My video store- which has a prominently displayed bizness license, so they might actually be paying taxes- can sell you any movie from their catalog at 2k a disc. And don't even get me started on the music ripping/downloading/supply industry: I have no idea how our local artists live off their art. Oh wait, they mostly don't- their producers and "distributors" do.

It isn't so bad for bookworms. There is a chain that will gladly source for you whatever your printed poison is for roughly six million Shillings and the fresh blood of your newborn son. Per copy. Food, shelter and employment are all well and good but a woman needs her gear! Being able to afford an album/book/concert only once per Haley's Comet sighting is not on. Thus, serious 'starvation' coupled with the ridiculous hoops one has to jump through shop online from Paradise taught me how to use torrents. Necessity is the mother of all...

This is not ideal. I am not entirely comfortable with intellectual property rights and their commercial applications, but I do believe in thanking artists and their industries for sharing their work with us. In this day, cold hard cash is all the preferred method of showing love. Sure, Britney Spears might not need my few cents but I am sure that James Brown's estate could use a hand in catering for all the, um, women, children and grandchildren et cetera. And the local industry needs to be supported- some of the talent is too brilliant to languish in starvation.

But how does one get to use legally? What low-tech, reasonable cost, accessible solutions are available for the two or three denizens of Paradise who don't earn enough to open credit card accounts at hostile financial institutions* but want to spend their five or six disposable dollars on a GENUINE item? Perchance, the new copyright watchdog might want to brainstorm/flipchart/workshop/seminar this idea as part of their strategy to get rid of piracy. Otherwise they are going to be as effective at their job as the Prevention and Combatting of Corruption Bureau.

* A Love Note to the Bankers of Paradise:

Dear Sirs:

Do you factor in the country's average per capita income before setting up the trials of the nine hells that you so coquettishly call 'requirements for opening a bank account?' Or is despising the great unbanked masses and tormenting us with images of services we will never afford part of the unique pleasures of your job? I eagerly anticipate the day your customer service is of better quality than that offered by Bank of Under My Mattress.

Sincerely, etc.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Performance and Attractiveness: A causal relationship?

Maybe, maybe not, but it is fun to speculate. May I offer the theory that the hotter a person is, the better they are seen to be performing in their public duties. The President, fully cognizant of the powerful magnetism of his smile, regularly deploys it in difficult situations to distract the adoring masses. This tactic absolutely never worked for Mr. Benjamin Mkapa, who is arguably a more accomplished man in many respects but never managed to find his charisma. Mr. Ali Hassan Mwinyi used a soft-core version of the charm bomb: he was just so accommodating that it was and still is difficult to rouse any particularly strong emotions towards him either negative or positive.

To test the attraction-attention hypothesis, JADIP-SRD has released a poll to gauge the perceived level of attractiveness of a number of members of the Cabinet. This researched has been (rather insistently) commissioned by La Dee, and JADIP readers are strongly encouraged to participate. Mugshots of the honorables are available at under 'Cabinet' for those who need a visual refresher prior to voting. In the interest of 'mambo ya Beijing,' the female version of the poll will be released shortly.


The former Attorney General, former Minister of Infrastructure, currently beleaguered owner of a few billion 'vijisenti' Mr. Andrew Chenge was caught on CCTV a few nights ago doing something very fishy inside Parliament. Mheshimiwa was filmed entering the building after hours in the company of a Parliament staff member, and sprinkling an unknown substance on every all the MPs' seats. He spent an especially long time hovering around the Speaker's chair. I am guessing it was not linen freshening spray.

Yes, for really. Seriously! No lie. Straight story. A senior politician and reputed lawyer has resorted to shifty shenanigans to get his vijiploblems fixed in the Bunge. Personally. He did it his own grow-ass self. And got caught too. I guess when your career is going up in flames, no measure is too desperate or too stupid to be attempted. Add in that dratted security technology and a once-respectable man becomes a bit of a joke.

Dear Mr. Chenge, may I advise you to go sit in the corner and take a time out? I understand that it may not be in your nature to give up without a fight, but matters have progressed beyond the stage of struggling. Your goat, Mr. Chenge, is roasted. Your chickens have come home and they are roosting. You are reaping what you sowed, et cetera. What you have left in the public eye at this point is a tiny little modicum of dignity, that stuff that we so willingly accord to old men with money and pot-bellies. I suggest you hold on to it with both hands. Sneaking around ju-juing your fellow MPs isn't the way to do it.

The Domitable Lions

Tanzania ranks something like one-hundred-and-whatever in the FIFA table thingy. And Cameroon ranks, like, thirteenth. So when they came to play us in our brand spanking new Chinese-donated National Stadium many of us were justifiably skepitcal even as we flooded into the place to catch the likes of Eto'o and Song. No one could have imagined that the match would have turned out the way that it did, with a draw that all self-respecting Tanzanians have translated into a definitive win for us. 

Patriotic Moment: Taifa Stars did us all proud. They were aggressive from the get go, and never flagged throughout the 90 minute game. The stuck to the Cameroonians like shikanguo, took every single chance at the goals that presented itself, and hung in there like scrappy little hyenas. It was beautiful to watch, and finally Maximo has proved to his detractors that his approach is bearing fruit. Patriotic Moment Over.

We also played rude. I know that winning should be everything, but what happened to sportsmanship? There were at least three instances where a TS player shoved a Lion with both hands, evidently looking to foul and not playing the ball. But it was a lion who got a yellow card after gently shaking off one runty TS player during a defensive move. It was sad to watch the Cameroonians (who admittedly tower over us) play with reserve as though they feared that if they handled us any harder they would all get red-carded. So, we drew. Better to lose with respect that be handed a fake draw...

The proof of our skills of course lies in our performance in the return match in Cameroon this Saturday. We milked home advantage while we had it, and it went straight to our heads. I fear that the Lions are going to shove it down our throats and then some when they get back to their turf. Still, at least they gave us that one glorious Saturday in June when Taifa Stars tangled with the Indomitable Lions and came out alive. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The 99 Cent Game

I went to stock up on exotic foodstuffs at Shoppers Plaza. A strange and guilty pleasure, to be sure, since whenever I am not in Paradise I will not touch canned foods. But when I am home, I am a slave to tinned goods, especially of the fish kind. Anyways, after buying some ridiculously overpriced single cream imported from the UK I wasn't given all my change. This is the third time that the charming lady at the counter offered me an apologetic smile in lieu of a 50 shilling coin. "Hatuna chenji, karibu tena..."

Yeah, right. I've never seen THAT tactic before! All those 99 cent deals in the US used to pile up nuggets of cash for the supermarkets that were smarmy enough not to stock pennies. I can understand snatching a penny out of the consumer's hand, but 50 shillings is real money. That's 150 shillings that Shoppers owes me just this month. I like them, you know, but not that much. From now on, I will be going armed with my own change to offer them whenever they feel like "running out" of 50s.

The single cream, you ask? Quiche, baby. Haven't had a home cooked one since circa 1988 and the Gods of Kitchen Experimentation are baying for a sacrifice.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Ticket out of Phlegmville

Winter is here, all 25+ degrees Celcius of it, so it is only natural that a cold is making its way around the city. I caught it sometime last week and have been wading through buckets of antihistamines, panadol and tissues for the past seven days, the usual regime. Colds are good for one thing though: finding out about people's various 'sure-bet' remedies for the sniffles. This time around I was advised to:

1. Go see a doctor. ( cough syrup, more antihistamines, antibiotics, decongestants, expectorants, lozanges, waiting lines, weighing machine, tongue depressors etc...ha! find some other victim)
2. Drink lots of honey (this one works a treat actually especially in tea)
3. Take lots of Vitamin C tablets (dunno, tried this one and still not sure of its efficacy)
4. Have plenty of citrus fruit juice (Ugh. good for hydration, hell on the tongue)
5. Eat garlic (as part of chicken soup, no problem)
6. Drink chicken soup (Golden, this one works every time. need real chickens though, not those depressed battery convicts)
7. Drink shikanguo tea, aka dandelion infusion (ugh, double ugh. but good for hydration)
8. Drink lots of fluids (gets all that phlegm out into the world instead of dried up inside you)
9. Take antihistamine/paracetamol combination (personal favorite. i heart coldril)
10. Get some rest (good, but boring)
11. Get on Smiling Lady's nutrition experimentation plan for continued good health (um, don't think so. Still haven't forgiven the raw egg-yold thing during my childhood, and the memories of the chinese mushroom tea are all too recent)
12. Drink watermelon juice (mh. de-seeding is too much hassle)

May your nasal passages stay clear this weekend.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Kipima Joto # 1

This just in: according to the results of a recent poll conducted by the Just Another Day In Paradise Social Research Department (JADIP-SRD), Tanzanians are split in their views of President Jakaya Kikwete's performance in the War Against Corruption*. 40% of the respondents feel that the War Against Corruption is a sign of the President's inability to protect his powerful friends, while another 40% are unable to tell whether the President is active or passive in the anti-corruption campaign. Only 20% of Tanzanians believe that the President is orchestrating a massive and delicate clean-up drive with canny political finesse. Thankfully, none of the respondents were confused about who JK was.

This important piece of research late in his first term of office shows that Tanzanians may have lost some of the faith in the President that garnered him an utterly ridiculous 80% of the votes in the last elections. His performance in the War Against Corruption coupled with recurring problems in Zanzibar have caused JADIP-SRD political analysts to predict a massive 15-20 point drop in the polls. This means that President Kikwete may only manage a minor landslide victory in the region of 60-75% in the 2010 elections.

*JADIP-SRD would like to thank the five intrepid readers who voted in the poll. The significance of JADIP-SRD's contribution to political research cannot be understated.

A little birdie told me...

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